Uncategorized

NASA authorization bill postponed, and other reaction

Space News reported late this morning that a vote on the NASA authorization bill by the full House now appears unlikely before the August recess. While individual lobbying may have helped play a role, other factors also contributed, including a letter by 13 House members from California–all Democrats–to science committee chairman Rep. Bart Gordon that technology development and commercial crew program funding be restored in the bill. The bill also required some modifications, replacing a $100-million-a-year loan guarantee program for commercial crew with a similarly-sized grant program after the Congressional Budget Office raised concerns about the long-term cost of the loan guarantee program. Making those changes while still moving the bill through under suspension of the rules may not have been possible, Space News reports, because of opposition from California and other House members.

While action on the bill may be postponed, organizations and companies continue to take stances both in favor and against the legislation. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) released a letter supporting the House NASA authorization bill, calling it a “viable way forward for NASA and America’s human space flight program”, while at the same time the union’s web site posted a note citing a recent report that it claims “slams space privatization”. However, two other unions, the American Federation of Government Employees and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, opposed the bill in a joint letter, in part because of plans to bring it to the floor with minimal debate. “This kind of process pushes the arrogant perspective that parliamentary tactics can be used to supplant thoughtful legislative deliberation.”

Meanwhile, despite considerable differences between the House and Senate versions of the NASA authorization legislation, Lockheed Martin indicates that it supports both bills. There’s a good reason for that, of course: both include funding for a crewed vehicle much like, if not identical to, Orion. “We commend the cooperation between Congress and the Administration in achieving this important step to assure continued U.S. leadership in space,” Lockheed’s John Karas said in a statement. Just how much cooperation there is between the two branches of government, or even between the House and Senate, is an open question.

250 comments to NASA authorization bill postponed, and other reaction

  • Private space is not going down without a fight.

  • Jay Solomon

    While the House and Senate dither and take their vacation more lay off notices continue to go out. By the time they get anything done it will be too late for too many. At least while on unemployment we can excercise one remaining benefit……voting them out so they can get their pink slips.

  • amightywind

    Isn’t Lockmart a commercial company? So why duplicate effort and cost just to placate a Silicon Valley adventurer’s ego?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Isn’t Lockmart a commercial company? So why duplicate effort and cost just to placate a Silicon Valley adventurer’s ego?

    Cause thats not what is being discussed. And you would know that if you bothered to actually pay attention.

    But that is asking too much

  • amightywind, Lockmart would make more immediate money building Orion than they would building a man-rated Atlas V. The original plan had them doing both, this one may or may not have them man rating the Atlas V any time soon. I support them if they get crew development. I don’t expect many jobs will be saved by it though. They’re using any kind of shakeup as an excuse to get rid of people.

    Jay Solomon, sadly I feel that the people being voted in will be even more anti-private space.

  • Major Tom

    Some pretty incompetent staffing on House Science if they can’t get a loan guarantee proposal through CBO without raising red flags. Loan guarantees for launch vehicle development have been worked on since the days of X-33/VentureStar.

    FWIW…

  • Ferris Valyn

    whoops,

    bollucked that up

    The
    Cause thats not what is being discussed. And you would know that if you bothered to actually pay attention.

    But that is asking too much

    was my comment

  • Major Tom, loan guarantees get iffy when companies… default. Rocketry is a high risk business. One might argue the most high risk of them all.

  • Loan guarantees for launch vehicle development have been worked on since the days of X-33/VentureStar.

    Yes, they were a bad idea then, too. It’s where Paul Eckert got his baptism by fire in space policy.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom, loan guarantees get iffy when companies… default. Rocketry is a high risk business. One might argue the most high risk of them all.”

    No argument from me. I’m just pointing out that if the staff didn’t do their homework with CBO ahead of time, i.e., understood how CBO would likely score such a program and its risks, especially when the idea of loan guarantees for launch vehicle development has been around for more than a decade — well, they’re not very good staff. There’s no excuse for this kind of fumbling when many of the same staffers were setting up public meetings on loan guarantees back in the VentureStar days.

    FWIW…

  • GoNASA

    Josh, – Yes, the private space millionaires smell the taxpayers money now and don’t care how many aerospace workers lives they destroy going for it.

  • red

    From the 2nd IAMAW link above:

    “The report also cited concerns that a commercialized space program would not meet needs and expectations of the U.S. military, which relies on NASA for access, launch and maintenance of space-based assets.”

    No, the U.S. military doesn’t rely on NASA for access, launch and maintenance of space-based assets.

    The report has nothing to do with some weird idea of relying on NASA for military access, launch, and maintenance of space-based assets. It’s about improving commercial space launch and commercial space access to launches to improve national security, which relies on commercial launch and commercial payloads.

    ““Problems identified earlier with government support for the commercial space launch industry that provides major support for U.S. national security interests have not been addressed in the Obama administration’s new National Space Policy, and threaten future military operations if they are not addressed,” said the CSIS study.”

    You have got to be kidding me. Did they read the report?

    From CSIS:

    “A successful strategy to sustain a viable space industrial base then must be far more dynamic. It must rest on several key pillars. First, we must invest in research and development so that the newest and most advanced space technologies remain in America and help to sustain our competitive advantages. Second, we should encourage international activity so that American companies are not disadvantaged in the global competition. Third, we need to refresh our approach to technology and export controls, so that we limit access to truly unique American technology but not create perverse incentives to block American industry and provide sheltered markets to foreign entities.”

    CSIS is promoting space technology research and development, which is the centerpiece of the Administration space policy for exploration and other space purposes. It’s also promoting a dynamic U.S. space industry, which is also part of that policy. Finally, it pushes for ITAR reform.

    From the CSIS report itself:

    http://csis.org/files/publication/100726_Berteau_CommcialSpace_WEB.pdf

    “because commercial services are vital to national security, assuring commercial access to space in order to ensure provision of those services is therefore a national security imperitive … assured access in this context means pursuing policies that allow the development of robust launch options at affordable prices for commercial satellite companies so that, ultimately, the United States has access to the critical payloads and services they provide.”

    In other words, encourage the development of more options for commercial launches, which is what the FY2011 approach does, by stregthening the new COTS offerings through additional funding and more ISS business, upgrading the Florida launch range to encourage more commercial launch options on that side, encouraging commercial crew to open up more launch options, moving to a more vigorous launch tempo for robotic precursor missions and technology demonstrations in space, encouraging smallsat and suborbital RLV industries so to give a path to even more affordable launch options in the class the report discusses in later years, etc.

    The CSIS report has nothing to do with building a giant NASA HLV. It has to do with strengthening the commercial launch industrial base for the national security benefits that would provide.

    The report is critical of the new National Space Policy (not NASA policy) beause it claims this policy continues what hasn’t worked in previous administrations.

    “[the existing policy requiring the government to use commercial launch services] has been implemented in a manner that does not promote new U.S. entrants into the launch market …”

    That’s a complaint about past national policy, not the new NASA plans. The new NASA approach provides lots of on-ramps for new entrants: a smallsat technology demo program, use of commercial suborbital RLVs, commercial cargo, commercial crew (which is intended to divide funding across existing and new entrants), etc. The House bill would keep us doing part of the things CSIS says have failed.

    The report is critical of relying only on the EELVs and 1 company for GEO comsat class launches. The new NASA approach gives a path for new competitors in that class, while at the same time strengthening the EELVs themselves and allowing them enough business to possibly lower their per-launch cost.

    “because launch is expensive, the government generally opts for fewer, long-lived, very capable satellites. This in turn limits launch rates, which keeps launch costs and prices relatively high, and generates demands for additional expenditures to enhance mission assurance out of the fear of losing an expensive satellite.”

    In other words, the path we are on is a vicious circle of higher launch costs and prices leading to higher payload costs and prices and back again. We need to reverse that cycle and make a vituous circle of lower launch and payload costs and prices. Ares and Orion, as called for in the House bill, don’t do that. That’s what the new FY2011 plan is all about.

    The CSIS report gives 4 options for improving commercial space access:

    1. reform ITAR and get access to foreign backups

    2. encourage more competition in U.S. commercial space launch (the report specifically mentions various things in the new NASA plan like allowing new commercial launch entrants to launch more government payloads, modernizing launch ranges, and cancelling Ares as good ways to do this)

    3. increasing government control over commercial launch (i.e. pick ULA as “the winner”, invest government funds in launch R&D)

    4. enhance demand for commercial launch services (i.e. encourage more satellites and other payloads – satellite constellations, smallsats, new space applications, etc).

    NONE of these options have anything to do with Ares or a SDHLV or anything else like the House bill. They are all to some extent embodied in NASA’s new approach.

    From the report:

    “NASA R&D funding and planned relaince on commercial launch vendors rather than its own launch vehicles could translate to better performance capabilities and more launches for current launch provides and new market entrants such as SpaceX. Additional launches could translate into higher production rates, lower cost, lower launch prices, and, indirectly, to better access to launch for commercial satellite launch customers.”

  • GaryChurch

    VentureStar SSTO has alot in common with SpaceX actually. They are both trying to accomplish a mission cheap. SSTO was trying to save money on stages by going hi-tech and SpaceX is trying to save money by going lo-tech.

    Both are doomed to failure.
    Inferior Lift Vehicles using 1950′s propellants and cheap and nasty clusters of engines will strand us in low earth orbit for decades to come.

    Buy if you space adventure club fools with your childish hero worship and fantasies of going on space vacation have your way- Human Space Fight will again be thrown away.

    While all the cold war toys continue to roll out of the factories. The wailing and gnashing of teeth over NASA’s budget is the red herring in all of this.
    The DOD money is there as the think tank report indicates. They are right – we need to keep our HLV infrastructure intact in the interest of national (and planetary) defense.

    Red did not mention option 3 in the report- to “pick a winner.” It has double plus’s ++ for security and protection from denial. That is what the D in DOD is about.

  • Coastal Ron

    It’s a weird political year, and it’s likely to get weirder.

    The machinations on the space policy have certainly showed politically-vested interests running rampant. I don’t know if it’s the administrations lack of being able to articulate their vision, or a perfect storm of other political interests (Giffords, Nelson, Shelby, ATK, etc.), but what a mess.

    The only good news so far is that Constellation is dead – everyone seems to agree with that, and it went down with hardly a whimper. However, remnants of the Constellation program are threatening to be reanimated zombie-like, and just like zombies, they will have zero chance of being contributing members of a future space society (not that it matters to their supporters).

    I think some groups have taken the approach to just get through this legislative session with something they can call “OK”, and regroup for next years budget battle. I think the Administration can certainly learn quite a few things from this current budget battle, as can the commercial space folks. As for the anti-commercial folks, they have to hope that things go BOOM during this next year, otherwise their arguments will lose validity.

  • common sense

    @ GaryChurch wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    “That is what the D in DOD is about.”

    You mean Department?

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    The machinations on the space policy have certainly showed politically-vested interests running rampant.

    I think the first half 2010 is about Obama friendly entities (like SpaceX) trying to be dealt in to (indeed hijack) NASA funding, despite having no track record or credibility. The second half is about congress fending off the assault.

    I don’t know if it’s the administrations lack of being able to articulate their vision

    Ya think? Sounds like a common refrain from a bunch who were supposed to be great political communicators.

    The only good news so far is that Constellation is dead – everyone seems to agree with that, and it went down with hardly a whimper.

    I guess, except for the Orion spacecraft, Ares I booster, and a 150mT shuttle derived launcher. I’ll take that dead.

  • DCSCA

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 1:46 pm
    “Private space is not going down without a fight.” <- If you mean a 'fight' for access to government funding and subsidies, it deserves to be knocked out cold. The capital markets in the private sector are the place for commercial space to access funds and investors, not the government.

  • Coastal Ron

    GoNASA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Josh, – Yes, the private space millionaires smell the taxpayers money now and don’t care how many aerospace workers lives they destroy going for it.

    Another way to put it is that private investors are risking their own money to create a service that will save the government (i.e. you the Taxpayer) money, which means that NASA can do more with the same amount of funds.

    Now if that means a change to the NASA workforce, that’s life. Projects come and go, and the mix of talent at any company or agency changes over time. NASA is not immune to this, and to imply that NASA’s workforce must always do the same job is stupid.

    The private sector is already entwined with NASA – companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and all the myriad companies that NASA relies upon for products and services. Your snide comment about “space millionaires smell the taxpayers money” ignores the fact that every company NASA deals with is in it for a profit, and to assume otherwise is being naive.

    The real question is whether the product or service they provide is a better value for NASA and the country than if NASA does it themselves. Should NASA make it’s own paper & pens? Should NASA build and operate it’s own fleet of aircraft to shuttle NASA employees around the world? At some point it makes sense to farm out the routine stuff to companies that can do it less expensively.

    Transporting payloads to LEO & beyond has been done by commercial companies for years, and is now routine. The knowledge needed to transport crew to LEO is very well understood, and NASA (as well as the Russians) have been doing this on a routine basis for many years. Transitioning this routine task to commercial space firms could be fairly quick if NASA were allowed to help them (just like they do on the COTS program), and NASA would be able to save money and have a tighter focus for non-routine stuff.

    The government spends a lot of money on “investment” projects, where money upfront allows huge savings in later years. This is what can happen with commercial crew, which makes great fiscal sense, but means that Shuttle/Constellation employees and contractors will have to change jobs. It sucks, especially in this economy, but that’s life, and I went through it in the private sector, and I see no reason why government employees (or government contractors) should be immune.

    Sometimes you just have to trim your garden, other times you have to hack away the old growth to allow the garden to be revitalized – time for hacking.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    “The only good news so far is that Constellation is dead – everyone seems to agree with that, and it went down with hardly a whimper.”

    I guess, except for the Orion spacecraft, Ares I booster, and a 150mT shuttle derived launcher. I’ll take that dead.

    Those are just zombie-like remnants of Constellation – pieces and parts, but with no coherent structure to them like what Constellation was (Apollo on steroids). Whereas Ares I, Ares V, EDS and Altair were a packaged deal, a capsule that “that builds on the investments made to date in the Orion”, or a launcher that “shall take maximum benefit from the prior investments made in the Orion, Ares I, and heavy lift projects”, are not reliant on each other, and can each be killed off individually. The Ares I booster is just an expensive SRB, and there is nothing inherently good or bad about it – unless you stick some poor soul on top of it and light it… ;-)

    It’s dead, Jim.

  • Byeman

    The more and more I read these posts, the more that is proven that
    amightywind
    DCSCA
    GaryChurch

    Have their rightful place on this troll roster.
    http://gaetanomarano.blogspot.com/

    They are clueless about system engineering, spaceflight history, economics, launch vehicle engineering or any topic on this forum.

    Not one of you have the background or experience to disagree with most of the other posters on this forum.

  • Byeman

    “Inferior Lift Vehicles using 1950′s propellants and cheap and nasty clusters of engines will strand us in low earth orbit for decades to come. ”

    Another clueless and uninformed post. Unaffordable launch vehicles like SDLVs with over expensive payloads with strand NASA to LEO, just like the shuttle did.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Poor DCSCA. You still haven’t taken a class in finance, and still don’t understand the basics of how to save money. Commercial space would love business from the government – that is not in dispute. What confuses you is the fact that competitively awarding commercial crew contracts to the private sector would save the government money fairly quickly. I know you don’t have experience with this, and you’re having a hard time grasping the concept, but it’s being done all the time, and this would not be something new.

    Commercial space companies will progress on their own for cargo and crew, but in this case it makes economic sense for the government to pay what effectively would be called a “set-up charge” in manufacturing, that funds the commercial space sector to implement improvements necessary for delivering crew to LEO per NASA specifications.

    For Delta IV Heavy, that “set-up charge” would be $1.3B, and then NASA would only have to pay $300M/flight to launch whatever capsule they want to LEO. Or, they could pay $400M for Atlas V. Or $300M for SpaceX, and SpaceX will provide the capsule, and charge as low as $20M/seat to the ISS, where the Dragon capsule can stay docked and provide the ability to increase the crew complement of the station.

    These are all things that can put in place before the end of 2015, and for the small “set-up charge” of $2B, NASA can have three crew-rated launch systems, with one that already includes a crew-rated capsule.

    What can NASA do with $2B? Get 1/10 of one government-run, infrequently launched, crew launcher. You tell me, which is a better use of our taxpayer money?

  • GoNASA

    Byeman – Excuse me, but I didn’t see your qualifications posted anywhere here…

  • red

    “Red did not mention option 3 in the report- to “pick a winner.” It has double plus’s ++ for security and protection from denial. That is what the D in DOD is about”

    Actually I did mention that option (“pick a winner” was one part – probably the most important part – of their third option).

    Although the “pick a winner” suboption got a good score in a couple areas, it got bad rankings in an awful lot of other areas. It did badly on all of the “reliability” and “affordability” criteria, for example.

    At any rate, even the “pick a winner” suboption doesn’t support the House bill and its emphasis on Ares/Orion as the union was suggesting. The winner the report is talking about is clearly United Launch Alliance. The whole point of the report is to look at ways to improve the commercial launch industry and access to commercial launch for commercial and military satellites. They are specifically looking at typical GEO satellites. They’re not interested in a SDHLV or Orion at all. Those are outside the scope of the report. The only time they mention anything like that is as something to cancel so they have funds to solve the problems they’re studying.

    Judging from their pluses and minuses, it looks to me like they like “USG enable more effective commercial launch competition”. That suboption had only 1 minus, “Consistency with existing laws/policies/objectives/culture” (what improvement over the status quo won’t have a minus there?), and tons of pluses. “Encourage new entrants for USG payloads” and “USG enhance range launch rate, flexiblity, responsiveness” also did quite well, getting tons of pluses and only a few minuses. These are all part of option 2, “Encourage competition among U.S. launch providers” (the launch infrastructure one is also part of the “heavy government involvement” option 3). Those “competition” suboptions also matched the “pick a winner” suboption in the security and protection from denial categories, while beating them in the others.

    The report also seemed to favor “Enhance demand for launch” suboptions “USG enhance business environment”, “USG fund R&D for low-cost access”, and “USG reduce size, complexity and cost of satellites”, giving them lots of pluses (although some minuses in timeliness and feasibility — i.e. these efforts would take a lot of time and effort to pay off.

    As they mention in the report, options and suboptions could be mixed together in different ways.

    The report would make good educational reading for Congresspeople defending Constellation using fantasies about national security problems solved by Ares. The report addresses real national security issues.

  • Byeman

    The US does not need an HLV, it needs inexpensive launch services.

  • red

    “in this case it makes economic sense for the government to pay what effectively would be called a “set-up charge” in manufacturing, that funds the commercial space sector to implement improvements necessary for delivering crew to LEO per NASA specifications.”

    Here’s an analogy I’d use.

    Let’s say NASA or the DoD is already using the STK (Satellite Toolkit) software. The STK software already exists. It already has commercial and government customers. However, NASA (or DoD) wants some feature that doesn’t currently exist in the STK software. The feature could reasonably be added to STK.

    What should NASA (or DoD) do in this case?

    1. Develop their own government version of STK with the feature they want, and maintain this in-house government software through the ages?

    2. Pay AGI to add the feature to STK?

    If they choose #2, will a host of protesters attack AGI for not fitting their definition of ‘commercial’? Will it endanger out national security if #2 happens? Will it be the end of human spaceflight? Will it be the end of NASA or the DoD?

    Now in this scenario, what if NASA (or the DoD) already had an in-house legacy software application that was sort of like STK, but it used giant computers from the 1970′s that filled acres of real estate and required armies of administrators and programmers to run. This legacy application has been scheduled for retirement for years. A similar mainframe application is planned to replace it and to do some additional work, but this application is also shut down in favor of paying for the new STK feature and using the savings from going commercial to develop a modern application using new hardware for the additional work. This new hardware and application will have multiple uses, and will be cheaper to operate.

    Is that the end of HSF? Is it the end of NASA? Is it a violation of the sacred definition of ‘commercial’?

  • Coastal Ron

    GaryChurch wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    VentureStar SSTO has alot in common with SpaceX actually

    Uh, no.

    VentureStar was a concept for a service, but never got past the conceptual phase. VentureStar would supposedly have evolved from the X-33 program, which was a technology demonstrator. Like all good technology demonstration programs, they learned a number of things on the X-33, especially that their approach was not going to work as hoped.

    SpaceX was created as a profit-making service company. They plan to be successful by using a lower cost approach to building and operating launch vehicles in order to offer a lower price point to the launch market. By lowering their prices far below the current price points, SpaceX can not only capture existing customers, but also create new markets at those lower price points. In other words, they are not just taking a bigger piece of an existing pie, but they are also growing the pie larger by lowing the cost to access space.

    They are both trying to accomplish a mission cheap

    There is a difference between what you call “cheap” and what I would call “low-cost”.

    Lowering cost is typically a by-product of addressing the cost drivers in a product or service. In the case of SpaceX, they looked at why launchers like the Shuttle, Atlas and Delta (and others) cost as much as they did to build and operate. Starting with a clean slate, they were able to build a launch system that utilizes the knowledge acquired over these past 50 years of rocketry. That’s not cheap, that’s smart.

    SSTO was trying to save money on stages by going hi-tech and SpaceX is trying to save money by going lo-tech.

    SSTO is a concept whose time has not come. Maybe it never will, but that will likely be based on the physics of where you are launching it from, as opposed to the technology you use.

    For SpaceX, using technology that has been proven to work is smart, as it lowers their development costs and timelines. So what if the technology for their Merlin 1C engine was originally developed for the Apollo Moon lander – it does the job they need. Do you berate Boeing for still using wings? Do you laugh at Ford for still using rubber tires? You’re making a silly proposition.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    “Do you berate Boeing for still using wings? Do you laugh at Ford for still using rubber tires? ”

    They do??? Yeah, they do. Note that Boeing actually use wings AND rubber. They probably are even worse than Ford. And Boeing’s CEO went to work for Ford… Smells like conspiracy to me. The commercials in this scheme once again pull the whole technology advances down by uniting front in their use of old technology. All the while the government funded cars and airplanes… Well anyway.

  • DCSCA

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 1:46 pm
    Private space is not going down without a fight. <– Well, at least it's going in some direction.

  • Eric Sterner

    “Private space is not going down without a fight”

    Why is it that “private” space requires a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck?

    Just askin’…

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 6:09 pm
    The US does not need an HLV, it needs inexpensive launch services.

    More prattle from a musketeer. Who says, you?! Nothing is stopping the private sector from creating ‘inexpensive’ launch services except the very constraints of the free market it’s trying to service. The demand is limited. If commercial space can’t raise investment capital in the private sector to get flying in this era- tough luck. It’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to assume the risk.

  • Why is it that “private” space requires a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck?

    It doesn’t, but having the government be a good customer will not only accelerate progress, but save the taxpayer billions.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Socialist Ron wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 5:26 pm Ah, Ronnie, the only ‘poor’ person in this fight is Elon Musk, craving government subsidies. Yes, that learning curve for you will be a steep one– and you’re experiencing it now.

  • DCSCA

    “Commercial space companies will progress on their own for cargo and crew, but in this case it makes economic sense for the government to pay what effectively would be called a “set-up charge” in manufacturing, that funds the commercial space sector to implement improvements necessary for delivering crew to LEO per NASA specifications.” =yawn= Earth to Conestoga 1; Earth to Conestoga 1. Talk, talk, talk. Three decades of chatter. Time for the musketeers to shut up and fly.

  • Eric Sterner

    In re Loan Guarantees

    Folks….you’re missing the point re loan guarantees. CBO has to score the bill, which means it has to assign a level of risk to the prospects that these companies will be able to deliver the goods. If CBO scores the bill high, requiring a greater reserve, that means that CBO believes the risk that they won’t be able to perform is high. If CBO comes to that conclusion, it supports the Science Committee’s reluctance to bet the farm on these companies. If CBO scores the guarantee low, it means that the risk is modest and makes it easier for the Science Committee to leverage the money in the bill into some significant investments, reducing the need for the direct federal subsidies advocated by the Administration. It’s not “poor” staff work, it’s an elegant policy solution and brilliant politics.

  • Eric Sterner

    @ RAND

    So, would it be fair to say that “private space isn’t going down” if the House bill were enacted? (Humor me when it comes to the politics of getting a meaningful authorization enacted.)

  • Martijn Meijering

    It’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to assume the risk.

    No one is suggesting it is. And you have yet to provide a justification for the government assuming the risk for developing an SDLV that isn’t necessary, that isn’t even cheap and which is very risky because it is being designed by MSFC in addition to being an obstacle to private development of cheap launch vehicles. In other words, you are being hypocritical.

    If procuring launch services from private industry is bad, then paying a government design bureau to do it instead is much, much worse. Either the government doesn’t launch payloads, or it should use the private sector to do it. Anything else is misuse of taxpayers’ money.

  • DCSCA

    Eric Sterner wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 8:23 pm
    “Private space is not going down without a fight” Why is it that “private” space requires a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck?”

    Privatize the profits; push to socialize the risk of course. It’s all the rage these past three decades or so. Ask any Wall Street firm. Or a banker. Of course, you might ask why the capital markets of the private sector continue to be wary of investing big in small time commercial space operations. Limited market, high risk and questionable ROI no doubt. But commercial space ventures would have an easier pitch if they’d just shut up and fly three or four successful orbital missions of an operational, manned spacecraft and return crews safely. But you might just see Branson fly on his own spacecraft before Musk ever does.

  • DCSCA

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 8:35 pm
    It’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to assume the risk. No one is suggesting it is. You might mention that to Elon.

  • DCSCA

    Eric Sterner wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 8:34 pm re Loan Guarantees- They don’t deserve a dime from a deficit-riddled U.S. Treasury that has to fund virtually the entire United States government with borrowed money from foreign powers. The place for commercial space ventures to go for financing is the private capital markets. Not the U.S. Treasury- especially as we already have a space agency.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You might mention that to Elon.

    He is not suggesting it either. And you still haven’t addressed the point that having the government do it itself is even less justifiable than procuring launch services on the open market. Until you do so your commercial purity is just posturing.

  • So, would it be fair to say that “private space isn’t going down” if the House bill were enacted? (Humor me when it comes to the politics of getting a meaningful authorization enacted.)

    Yes, both sides have been somewhat (to put it mildly) hyperbolic in this debate. Nonetheless, while private space will ultimately prevail, it will be both better for the taxpayer and those who want to see space opened sooner to see a policy closer to the administration’s budget request from February. The status quo benefits only those who want to continue the space jobs program.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Until you do so your [DCSCA] commercial purity is just posturing.

    DCSCA can’t help it, he’s forever stuck in the past. He thinks that mistakes of the past are barriers for the future, and no one is allowed benefit from their lessons. He watches “Destination Moon” over and over, hoping that George Pal was really making a documentary, and not a science fiction movie.

    He’s definitely a space enthusiast, but his snide comments really show that he doesn’t like to put much work into little things like facts and details.

  • DCSCA

    “He is not suggesting it either.” Yes, he has. But the time for talk from him is past. It’s time for musketeers to stop talking and start flying.

  • DCSCA

    “Nonetheless, while private space will ultimately prevail, it will be both better for the taxpayer and those who want to see space opened sooner to see a policy closer to the administration’s budget request from February.”

    The 80 year history of rocket development has shown otherwise. Private space has demonstrated it is going no place fast. See Conestoga 1 for details.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    …the only ‘poor’ person in this fight is Elon Musk, craving government subsidies.

    See, there’s that ignorance problem again. Musk has plenty of cash from his Tesla IPO stock sale, and he has tons of equity in three companies that are doing fine. You must have lots of envy to really hate him so much – did it gall you that he got a cameo in the Iron Man 2 movie and you didn’t? Tut, tut.

    SpaceX is no different than the Boeings, Lockheed Martin’s, ATK, Orbital Sciences, United Launch Alliance, United Space Alliance, or any other contractor that NASA or the government relies on daily for doing things the government either can’t do, or can’t do as good or less expensively.

    SpaceX is a launch services company, and they would be glad to have more launch business, just like ULA, or ESA, or Energia, or anyone else. Why you see them as “special” is pretty narrow minded. SpaceX has a combination launcher and capsule that they would love to finish developing for crew, and if they can get government business that helps them do it, they are fine with it. If they don’t get government funding, they still have it in their business plan to do it anyways. It’s just a matter of time and money, which applies to both SpaceX and NASA.

    They also know that any crew transportation business will only come through competitive contracts with NASA, and that they will be competing with the Boeings and Lockheed Martins of the world for that business, so it’s not a fait accompli that they would be the winner. However, since they are the only launch provider that already has a capsule, and their overall costs are already lower than everyone else, it’s very likely that they would win at least part of any competition for crew services, and the Boeings and Lockheed Martins of the world also know this.

    But the whole focus of this issue is really the money that the government could be saving by using the private sector to provide crew services to LEO instead of NASA. NASA will never be the least expensive option – that’s a given. Commercial space is very close to being able to do it on their own now, and with NASA accelerating that process, the U.S. Taxpayers could benefit greatly by paying Billions of dollars less for government transportation, and put that money into actual R&D or exploration. What a concept!

    I know all this information this hurts your brain, so I don’t expect a long response… ;-)

  • Martijn Meijering

    He’s definitely a space enthusiast, but his snide comments really show that he doesn’t like to put much work into little things like facts and details.

    I’d he say he is eager to protect the privileged position of the Shuttle workforce, hence the double standard: the current workforce and supply chain can get money from Uncle Sam without preconditions, potential competitors have to finance their own systems first.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    The 80 year history of rocket development has shown otherwise. Private space has demonstrated it is going no place fast. See Conestoga 1 for details.

    I’ve finally figured it out – you were one of the investors in Space Services Inc. of America or EER Systems (who bought SSIA), the companies that were building the Conestoga rocket, and you’re just trying to make sure that no one makes the same horrible mistake you did. How noble. Did you ever recover financially?

    In any case, just as the phrase “Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results” is a warning to investors to not assume the good performance of the past will indicate good performance in the future, so does it also mean that bad performance of the past does not indicate bad performance in the future. Get a life.

  • DCSCA

    And for all the other ‘musketeers’ listening in:

    Lou Costello: What makes a balloon go up?
    Bud Abbott: Hot air.
    Lou Costello: What’s holdin’ you down?

    Stop talking. Start flying.

  • red

    Eric Sterner: “Why is it that “private” space requires a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck?”

    I don’t know. That’s a good question for ATK.

  • Rhyolite

    Is there ever a circumstance where loan guarantees make sense?

    Loan guarantees are a classic heads-they-win-tails-we-lose scheme. The lender assumes all of the potential profit and the tax payer assumes all of the potential loss. It’s more of a subsidy to the bank than to the borrower.

    If the government made the loan directly – not that I am advocating this – it would at least provide the tax payer with some upside potential.

  • Rhyolite

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    That would be better advice for MSFC.

    Altas, Delta, and Falcon are all flying.

  • red

    Eric Sterner: “If CBO scores the bill high, requiring a greater reserve, that means that CBO believes the risk that they won’t be able to perform is high.”

    If I were scoring a scheme to divide $50M/year for 3 years among several commercial crew competitors when the Augustine Committee analysis suggested a total amount 2 orders of magnitude greater than that yearly amount, and $100M/year for 3 years of loan guarantees, plus legal roadblocks, potential resistance from within NASA, certain resistance from certain hostile members of Congress with cost-plus contractor funding and/or constituent interests opposed to U.S. commercial space, competition from a government Ares 1/Orion rocket/capsule system that has no chance of doing anything but compete with commercial crew for ISS access, a willingness of some members of Congress to fund that Ares 1/Orion system over its development span at 3 orders of magnitude higher than the $50M commecial crew yearly amount, plus the addition of crew rescue requirements …

    Yes, I’d score that pretty low.

    “If CBO comes to that conclusion, it supports the Science Committee’s reluctance to bet the farm on these companies.”

    No, we already bet the farm and lost it in 2005 with Griffin’s absurdly wild anti-VSE gamble on Ares 1/Orion. The House proposal basically would kill commercial crew, and bets the farm not on multiple independent companies but on a single Ares 1/Orion system that we already know from CBO, GAO, and the Augustine Committee will not work even with much greater funding and time.

    If CBO came to the conclusion the way you described, it means the CBO knows the House proposal is completely unrealistic if the intent is to actually start commercial crew rather than wipe it out.

  • Major Tom

    “… stop talking and start flying”

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    Atlas V and Delta IV have been flying for years.

    Falcon 9 has flown to orbit.

    A boilerplate Dragon capsule has flown to orbit.

    Another Falcon 9 will fly again later this year with a functional Dragon capsule.

    Taurus II and Cygnus flights are planned for next year.

    Atlas V and Delta IV will continue to fly.

    Has Ares V flown to orbit? Are any Ares V flights to orbit planned? No, Ares V never got past the PowerPoint stage.

    Has Ares I flown to orbit? Are any Ares I flights to orbit planned? No, Ares I never fully completed PDR.

    Has Orion flown to orbit? Are any Orion flights to orbit planned? No, Orion doesn’t even know what its launch vehicle is anymore and the latest NASA funding bills have cut Orion’s budget.

    Is any other Shuttle-derived vehicle flying? Are flights by any other Shuttle-derived vehicle to orbit planned? No, the NASA funding bills underfund the development of such a vehicle by billions of dollars.

    Even the most oblivious idiot can tell which vehicles have been flying and have solid plans to continue flying and which don’t.

    Don’t waste other posters’ time throwing stones through your own glass house.

    Cripes…

  • Major Tom

    “Why is it that ‘private’ space requires a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck?”

    Who said they did?

    Don’t make things up.

    “If CBO scores the bill high, requiring a greater reserve, that means that CBO believes the risk that they won’t be able to perform is high. If CBO comes to that conclusion, it supports the Science Committee’s reluctance to bet the farm on these companies.”

    No, it doesn’t. It means that loans are a poor way to service the development of a new product or service. The private sector doesn’t fund new products using bank loans. They use equity and venture capital. Loans are used to expand a business, not create it.

    It also means that the staff on the House Science Committee are ignorant of what undergraduate business majors learn in their second or third year of class and that those staffers still havn’t learned these business basics in the decade-plus that has passed since X-33/VentureStar.

    “It’s not ‘poor’ staff work, it’s an elegant policy solution and brilliant politics.”

    How is being too lazy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at CBO about how your loan proposal is going to be scored before you waste time on a DOA bill “elegant” or “brilliant”?

    Forget the ignorant stupidity involved. It’s such incredibly lazy staff work that it’s not even worthy of the title “work”. How hard is it to walk a few blocks, send an email, or just pick up the phone and talk to relevant CBO staff about how such a loan program would be scored before wasting time writing it up, debating, and releasing it? Why did the U.S. taxpayer have to pick up the bill for lord knows how many hours of staff and representatives’ time for a bill that was DOA because of a lousy CBO scoring issue?

    That’s not elegant or brilliant. It’s pathetic.

  • Major Tom

    “They don’t deserve a dime from a deficit-riddled U.S. Treasury that has to fund virtually the entire United States government with borrowed money from foreign powers.”

    If you believe that the nation should have a civil space program, it’s idiotic in the extreme to argue that the U.S. taxpayer shouldn’t go single billions of dollars further into debt to develop two or more efficient ETO providers, when the only other option is going tens of billions of dollars further into debt to develop one grossly inefficient ETO provider.

    Think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • Spaceboy

    Major Tom wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    “Atlas V and Delta IV have been flying for years.”

    Yup, unmanned vehicles.

    “Falcon 9 has flown to orbit.”

    Yes, a very shaky, orbit that seemed to be unstable and erratically spiralling before the video feed was cut. Good they made orbit, but would have been a real bad day for say the Space Shuttle if it cork-screwed into orbit like that.

    “A boilerplate Dragon capsule has flown to orbit”

    And Ares launched a “boiler plate” rocket that you all mocked and Orion did a pad abort test which was full up functional LAS and higher fidelity crew capsule than that boiler plate. No, neither went to orbit, but while the Falcon 9 launch was completly valid, the boilerplate dragon was a PR stunt.

    “Another Falcon 9 will fly again later this year with a functional Dragon capsule.”

    Will? You have proof of this, I mean, I know they set a launch date, but can you guarantee it? BTW, we go by FY around her, not CY. Launch date, Sept 2, FY ends Sept 30. Have they even delivered a rocket yet? I have heard nothing about it if they have and that is only a month away.

    “Taurus II and Cygnus flights are planned for next year.”

    Last year they were set for this year.

    “Atlas V and Delta IV will continue to fly.”

    Yes they will, and they will continue to be unmanned.

    “Has Ares V flown to orbit? Are any Ares V flights to orbit planned? No, Ares V never got past the PowerPoint stage.”

    This is just stupid, Ares V never received any funding how would you expect them to ever advance beyond anything then early requirements development and powerpoint slides. There was never anybody working it.

    “Has Ares I flown to orbit? Are any Ares I flights to orbit planned? No, Ares I never fully completed PDR.”

    Again, just stupid. First of all, Ares I completed PDR. Second of all, yes, there are Ares I flights to orbit planned. Of course, given the budget screw ups nothing can move forward. But there are two planned orbital flights with functional Orions and btw, they are both planned to occur before 2015. Second flight crewed.

    “Has Orion flown to orbit? Are any Orion flights to orbit planned? No, Orion doesn’t even know what its launch vehicle is anymore and the latest NASA funding bills have cut Orion’s budget.”

    See above, there are two Orion flights planned to orbit, both aboard Ares I (at this point, although that launcher could change) and both before 2015. Just because you dont like it or dont believe it does not mean it is not planned or is incapable of happening. The thing to derail it all is the budget, not lack of progress or design.

    “Don’t waste other posters’ time throwing stones through your own glass house.”

    I think you should live by your own preachings, because obviously your only insight into Orion and Ares is NASA Watch. If Elon Musk told you he could launch a human next week to Mars, you would take it as gospel because he released a press statement that said so. If Orion says they can be ready by 2014 you cover your ears and say Augustine said 2017 Augustine said 2017 Augustine said 2017! or later! Doesnt seem very objective to me.

  • Bennett

    Spaceboy wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Do you have a link to the launch schedule, or is this hearsay?

    If so, from whom?

  • Major Tom

    “Yup, unmanned vehicles.”

    Which is dozens of flights more than Ares I, Ares V, or any other new SDLV.

    “And Ares launched a “boiler plate” rocket that you all mocked”

    Ares I-X was not a boilerplate test. A boilerplate test article has to have the same dimensions, clearances, structure, etc. as the operational article. Ares I-X did not — not by a long shot.

    “Orion did a pad abort test which was full up functional LAS”

    Which analysis by an independent, federal technical authority (USAF) states is more likely to kill the crew than save them during an abort at altitude.

    We can test whether an airbag will stop a driver from going through a windshield all we want, but if that airbag design also routinely put holes through the driver’s chest when inflated, it won’t matter.

    “the boilerplate dragon was a PR stunt.”

    Boilerplate capsules are not stunts. They measure loads, clearances, etc. The old 60s capsules relied on them.

    “I know they set a launch date, but can you guarantee it?”

    If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on a Falcon 9/Dragon flight later this year way before I’d put my money on an Ares I/V/SDLV/Orion flight before 2015-2017. At least I can point to a schedule, budget, and funding sources for the former. None of those exist for the latter.

    “First of all, Ares I completed PDR.”

    No, it didn’t. Ares I had to have a delta-PDR, and that delta-PDR never took place.

    “Ares V never received any funding how would you expect them to ever advance beyond anything then early requirements development and powerpoint slides.”

    Well, that’s exactly the point. After Ares I/Orion kept ballooning in cost, NASA could never afford to get serious Ares V work started. HLV kept slipping over the horizon.

    “Second of all, yes, there are Ares I flights to orbit planned. Of course, given the budget screw ups nothing can move forward.”

    Again, that’s exactly the point. What good is a vehicle design and program that you can’t afford to develop?

    It doesn’t matter whether a program blows schedule, budget, or technical — it all results in nothing getting flown.

    “there are two Orion flights planned to orbit”

    No, there are not. There is no funded manifest for such anymore.

    “both aboard Ares I”

    Which has all but been terminated. Orion’s LV program no longer exists in any useful form.

    “Just because you dont like it or dont believe it does not mean it is not planned or is incapable of happening. The thing to derail it all is the budget,”

    It’s doesn’t matter what I like. What matters is whether the program is executable within the budget. It’s not.

    “If Elon Musk told you he could launch a human next week to Mars, you would take it as gospel because he released a press statement that said so.”

    Where did I say that?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “If Orion says they can be ready by 2014 you cover your ears and say Augustine said 2017 Augustine said 2017 Augustine said 2017! or later!”

    Forget Augustine. The House and Senate bills _reduced_ Orion’s funding while adding requirements to the vehicle and restricting it to existing contracts and workforce. If the vehicle couldn’t make 2014-17 under the old budget, it certainly isn’t going to make it now.

    Think before you post.

    FWIW…

  • Matt Wiser

    Before any commercial provider gets a NASA contract for crew/cargo services to ISS, they need to demonstrate safety and reliability. That means flights, and more than one. You want to show skeptics that you can do the job better than the Space Agency? Fine-go and fly. Repeatedly. Demonstrate that you can handle the mission. And with strong NASA oversight every inch of the way. Until then, while the House bill is a start, the Senate one is better, IMHO. As Sen. Bill Nelson-the only Congresscritter who’s flown in space said in Florida Today after talking to some Commercial Space advocates, “It’s not rocket science, it’s political science.” Read: Commercial Space hasn’t won over enough votes in Congress to go their way. And why is Lockheed-Martin happy? Simple: they get Orion-and not the rescue variant Obama wanted, but a full-up version. And the Senate bill means either an Ares V light (as per the Augustine Commission’s reccommended heavy-lift launcher in their report) or a inline shuttle derived vehicle (a Direct version). I don’t like sending money to the Russians any more than you do, but until a commercial provider (Boeing, Orbital Science, ULA, or even the Musk crowd) stands up and proves their capabilites with a cargo and then a crewed flight, have a government vehicle as a backup in case these providers fail to deliver on their promises. And any money spent on commercial crew should be loans, so that the taxpayer (us) gets a return.

  • Rhyolite

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 1:43 am

    “Before any commercial provider gets a NASA contract for crew/cargo services to ISS, they need to demonstrate safety and reliability. That means flights, and more than one.”

    We trust our national security – not just the lives of a few volunteer astronauts – to ULA launch vehicles. The EELVs have been in service for almost eight years now. Their safety is well demonstrated.

    “You want to show skeptics that you can do the job better than the Space Agency? Fine-go and fly. Repeatedly.”

    NASA hasn’t successfully led the development of a launch vehicle in thirty years. Even the interns from the Shuttle development years are pushing retirement age now. In fact, they have failed at launch vehicle programs over and over again since then – Ares I being the latest glaring example. Orbital Science, Lockheed, Boeing, and SpaceX have successfully developed new launch vehicles in the last ten years. These companies have already demonstrated that they can do a better job at launch vehicles than the Space Agency.

    “…but until a commercial provider (Boeing, Orbital Science, ULA, or even the Musk crowd) stands up and proves their capabilites with a cargo and then a crewed flight, have a government vehicle as a backup in case these providers fail to deliver on their promises.”

    Does the circularity of your argument even occur to you? We can’t trust Boeing, Orbital and Lockheed (the other ULA partner) to build commercial cargo and crew capabilities therefore we have a government backup, Constellation, which coincidentally is built by Boeing, Orbital, and Lockheed – the very same companies who weren’t trustworthy enough for you in the first place. We can’t trust A, B and C so we should trust A, B and C to create a back up. That’s nonsense.

    “And any money spent on commercial crew should be loans, so that the taxpayer (us) gets a return.”

    Why not just give them contracts that pay on delivery? There is no repayment risk. Or better yet, just copy a standard commercial launch vehicle contract with late fees and penalties. That seems to work just fine with billion dollar military satellites.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Gee, where to begin.

    Before any commercial provider gets a NASA contract for crew/cargo services to ISS, they need to demonstrate safety and reliability. That means flights, and more than one.

    OK, done. For Orion, ULA has launched Delta IV Heavy three times, so now we can feel good about canceling any government-built, government-run crew launcher for it. Also, Atlas V has launched many times, so if we want a commercial capsule to save money, we can use Atlas V.

    The first flaw in your theory is that Congress knows about these options, as did Griffin when he proposed Constellation. So obviously it’s not proven reliability that is at issue here, but government funding for constituent needs.

    The other flaw in your theories is that Ares I was never “proven” before it was chosen to be the only crew launcher for the United States, even though no living person has ever been launched to space on an SRB-only launcher. Saying that the 4-segment Shuttle SRB proved the safety of the 5-segment Ares I SRB doesn’t equal real life testing, and then you have to consider the brand new J-2X upper stage engine that has no flight heritage. Falcon 9 has more engine and flight heritage than Ares I does.

    Apparently you are proposing two sets of standards here, stacked against commercial space. Isn’t that bias? Is that in the best interests of the country?

    And why is Lockheed-Martin happy? Simple: they get Orion-and not the rescue variant Obama wanted, but a full-up version.

    If an HLV is a launcher without a payload, then Orion as proposed by Congress is a exploration vehicle with nowhere to go, and no solution that it solves.

    The whole point of the Administration proposed budget was to fund the basic technologies we will need in the future, but not to lock in the design of the vehicles until you know what you need. Do we need to drag a heat shield around with us in space? If astronauts are forced to carry out expeditions in an Orion capsule, how will they exercise, use the bathroom, sleep, or just get some privacy?

    Why does Congress want us traveling around in space in a crew return vehicle, when we should be using a purpose-built spacecraft. Congress is not smart enough to understand the needs of living, working and exploring in space, but they have no problems in spending money on their imagined solutions years before they plan on actually funding such missions (if ever).

    Orion is a jobs program, and does not have a defined need.

    And any money spent on commercial crew should be loans, so that the taxpayer (us) gets a return.

    ULA and SpaceX are launch service providers, and currently make their money off of payloads, not crew. ULA has two proven launchers, and the DOD is perfectly happy sending Billion dollar payloads up on them. SpaceX is already under contract with NASA for the COTS/CRS program, which means that NASA is reviewing a large part of their operations to make sure that they can deliver cargo to the ISS safely. Both companies only get paid if they deliver their customers payloads to space safely and in the orbit, so their motivations are very much oriented towards not blowing things up.

    Between the two, only SpaceX has a company motivation to add crew delivery services to their portfolio, and they are certainly using the COTS program to leverage most of their crew development. Without a government contract, they might take longer to do crew, but most likely they will eventually do it, with or without NASA.

    ULA, by virtue of their charter from Boeing and LM, cannot develop payloads – they provide the launcher, and others provide what goes on top. Because of this, ULA has to partner with a capsule provider to offer integrated crew delivery services. Capsule manufacturers are not inclined to pony up money for a capsule until they have enough demand to justify the business case. Who has the largest potential crew delivery needs? NASA, especially after the Soyuz contract is up in 2015.

    Now the government could follow your suggestion and build their own capsule and launcher – what Congress is suggesting. The costs to do this would be about $15-50B, depending on what Congress finally decides on.

    Instead, for $3B they can man-rate three commercial launchers (Delta IV Heavy, Atlas V, and Falcon 9), and crew-certify the Dragon capsule with an LAS. For another $1B, I’m sure Boeing could build & test their CST-100, but let’s call it $2B for the fun of it.

    So for $5B NASA could have three launchers and two capsules that are certified for commercial crew, saving the U.S. Taxpayer somewhere between $10-45B, and providing launcher & capsule redundacy. And you don’t think that’s a good enough ROI for the U.S. Taxpayer? Weird.

  • brobof

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 1:43 am
    “Before any commercial provider gets a NASA contract for crew/cargo services to ISS, they need to demonstrate safety and reliability. That means flights, and more than one.”
    Sorry to join the scrum but both ATV and HTV both R&Ded on their first flight. Jules Verne to the Russian Seg and HTV to US Seg. Both required ‘permission’ from NASA. IMHO SpaceX are being forced to jump through too many hoops by an overcautious NASA. The ATV mission: approach and abort to safe distance test followed by close approach followed by docking (well… retrieval) should be sufficient. “What is sauce for the Japanese…” If NASA had any ‘cojones’, the first flight of a Dragon could be a resupply. But they don’t, so it won’t.
    We have a phrase about level playing fields. It would seem that SpaceX and other American commercials, unlike the other IPs, are having to play up a steep hill!
    Go figure.

  • Todd The Usurper

    It is interesting to read some of the comments on here. It’s rather obvious who one works for just based on what they’re saying. Regarding letting the Russians be the taxi drivers and how that will help to placate them. Quit trying to placate them? It doesn’t work and it only makes us look weak. The Russians were invited to take part in Space Station. What a Kumbaya moment that was. Under another liberal administration in order to get them on board they got to choose the orbital inclination. That ultimately caused a redesign of some the Shuttle components primarily the External Tank. It came down to that or bigger SRMs.

    Okay so they’ve now made us blow a bunch of extra money and schedule, then they come to us and need 500 million dollars to finish their portion of the station. One would think that we’d have learned the first time, but liberals were running the show and we didn’t learn squat. We had to put up with the 500 million shake down again. During all of this we also had to go through several of their Proton Rockets to make certain they were up to our standards. That cost a lot of money to do and I suspect we ‘accidentally taught them things we shouldn’t have in the process. We caught them getting ready to use one of those upgraded missiles for something they wanted to put up…when we called them on it they told us to shove off. They used it anyhow. When they finally delivered their part of the Station, it was so noisy that it required the astronauts to wear earplugs while inside it. Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

    On the lighter side of this ‘partnership’ issue was one rather amusing occurrence. Back before the commercial interests bought their way into the space program with Obama campaign donations, Russia offered to partner with us on Constellation. Griffen said “No thanks”. (About the only thing I’ve agreed with him on BTW) The Russian response to that was a statement that they’d beat us to Mars and they would be mining H3 on the moon before we were. The following day the Russian part of the Space Station crapped out. Talk about a Kodak moment. PRICELESS

    Regarding the commercial people having to go over extra hurdles? Not even close they were basically handed the entire space program and it was for campaign donations. Musk and Bigelows names appear in the FEC report for Obama and I believe a few other key players. One poster on here said that if NASA had any nerve the first Dragon flight would be a resupply to the Space Station. That’s why this individual will never be in charge of anything important. It’s always a good idea to make sure the brakes work on the vehicle you’re going to be using. Numerous reliability tests must be performed before one can trust the system in question, but that isn’t really the only thing that’s being tested. The other thing that’s being tested is the group of people that are working on said product. That’s the other reliability factor that never gets discussed and that’s the factor that’s being chucked in the dumpster by this administration and congress. Since those who’ve been doing this for years are being scattered to the wind with layoffs while Capital Hill dithers and flinches, there will soon be no more ‘team’ that anyone can trust. It’s pathetic and inexcusable. What passes for leadership these days is really sad. Maybe we can redo the old ‘Uncle Sam wants you’ sign. Instead of pointing at you he can be holding his hand out for campaign donations etc.

    Do I hate the idea of having a few extra launchers available one day? Not at all. I actually think that’s a great idea. What’s pathetic is the narrow and foolish focus on one thing. With a few other man rated systems if there’s a screw-up with one launch system we wouldn’t have to stop altogether while we figured out what went wrong. And that does happen occasionally. Having other man rated launchers actually makes us stronger and less like to have to partner with countries that don’t like us at all.

    As for the concept of LEO and deep space being separate issues? I agree and I was really disappointed with Bolden’s statement that we’ve already been to the moon and so we needn’t do that again. He says we want to stay here and develope groovy new engines that will take us to the great beyond. Using what? Hydrogen and Oxygen? Kerosene and Oxygen? Grow up dude. The moon has that really neat stuff called Helium 3 and that’s the fuel of the future. Isn’t it odd that Russians know what’s there and the current myopic administration doesn’t? Once again pathetic.

    The idea of building an External Tank derived vehicle is the smartest thing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s what Griffen was tasked to do by Bush. Instead Griffen comes up with an uber mega booster that makes me think he was hoping to call Putin on the day of the first launch and say something like “Mine’s bigger than yours.” The fact is that the numbers are already in for an External tank with two SRMS strapped onto it. The dynamics are all worked out too as are the viability of the people that build it and the reliability of the system. This option will be going away very soon if Capital Hill doesn’t grow up really fast. On the brighter side, for the first time in years the peeps are paying very close attention to the self centered knuckle heads they put into office. I can see November from my front porch. LOL

  • Major Tom

    “… have a government vehicle as a backup in case these providers fail to deliver on their promises.”

    That makes sense as long as the backup is actually a backup, i.e, we spend less on the backup than we do on the primary procurement.

    But Constellation didn’t do this and the current House and Senate bills don’t either. They spend tens of billions of dollars on the backup, while spending hundreds of milions of dollars on commercial crew. That’s like ensuring my $30 thousand car with a $3 million tank. It’s goofy.

    “And any money spent on commercial crew should be loans, so that the taxpayer (us) gets a return.”

    It makes no sense to procure development of a legitimate government need (ISS crew transport in this example) through a loan. It’s incredibly inefficient, delaying a capability we need yesterday, and very dishonest. If we taxpayers need something, we should pay for it, not expect private investors and businesses to build it for us for free.

    FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    That makes sense as long as the backup is actually a backup, i.e, we spend less on the backup than we do on the primary procurement.

    And as long as the private vehicle is more risky than the government vehicle, but it is the other way round. All these reasons are nonsense, they are no more than pretexts and justifications to continue to send money to the bloated NASA bureaucracy and Shuttle supply chain.

  • Major Tom

    “Regarding the commercial people having to go over extra hurdles? Not even close they were basically handed the entire space program”

    No, they weren’t. The FY11 budget proposes moving ISS crew transfer to commercially owned and operated vehicles. ISS operations, development of BEO human space capabilities, etc. all remains with NASA owned and operated systems.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “and it was for campaign donations. Musk and Bigelows names appear in the FEC report for Obama and I believe a few other key players.

    How do you know? Were you a fly on the wall in the smoke-filled room where your imaginary deal was struck?

    Neither Musk nor Bigelow has won a single dime of government money since the last election.

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Major Tom

    “And as long as the private vehicle is more risky than the government vehicle, but it is the other way round.”

    Good point.

    FWIW…

  • Todd The Usurper

    There was another poster on here that pointed to some independent analysis performed on the LAS that was recently tested for Orion. This analysis said that the system would kill the people it was supposed to save. Maybe they should have been paying closer attention. The system will be accelerating away from a disaster at a much slower rate when in actual use. The reason the system was tested so severely was to ensure it was robust enough to be trusted. This is something that the commercial entities had better just get used to. It’s part of what it takes to be man rated. All of you commercial types need to grow up.

    The first Ares1 test flight? I guess the same person could get those experts to comment on that test too. They could say something like…”That doohickey doesn’t work. Anybody launched aboard that thing would have been killed. The second stage didn’t even fire and it just fell apart in the air.” Never mind the fact that it was supposed to do exactly what it did. The test wasn’t to see if they could make it to orbit. It was to get vibration/oscillation numbers and to see if the bugs had been worked out. The main point here is that there are two raging successes here and the Musk/Bigelow camps show their ignorance with their comments.

    The current administration has an opportunity here to save a viable team and get the space program back on the track Bush wanted it to be on. He could even point to the fact that Bush made a proclamation and then dropped the ball. He could also be putting us back out in front. If the current rates of layoff continue leading up the next election, the political scene will be pure mayhem. You can bet your bootie that everyone who gets laid off will be very active politically. These are people who are educated and don’t tolerate any media or politician spoon feeding of information. They investigate, read, study and think for themselves. They will remember in November.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Major Tom responded

    “Regarding the commercial people having to go over extra hurdles? Not even close they were basically handed the entire space program”

    No, they weren’t. The FY11 budget proposes moving ISS crew transfer to commercially owned and operated vehicles. ISS operations, development of BEO human space capabilities, etc. all remains with NASA owned and operated systems.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “and it was for campaign donations. Musk and Bigelows names appear in the FEC report for Obama and I believe a few other key players.

    How do you know? Were you a fly on the wall in the smoke-filled room where your imaginary deal was struck?

    Neither Musk nor Bigelow has won a single dime of government money since the last election.

    Don’t make stuff up.”

    This is ground control Major Tom. I was referring to the first FY2011 budget. Nice try. There was zero BEO in that one. Try to pay attention.

    Where was I when this deal was made? I wasn’t in the smoke filled room I was in the one with all of the mirrors. Was I a fly on the wall? I was right here —->http://fec.gov/ While you were being spoon fed. You can be a fly on the wall now too. Now. Where did I put that floppy swingy thing? Ah! Here it is. Splat!!!! Let me go wash Major Tom off of this swingy swatty thing.

    No they haven’t won anything yet. Technically you’re right. That budget never went anywhere…the one you never read. They tried to hand it to them, but that battle isn’t over yet. Jeepers you were technically correct on something. Bravo! LOL

  • Eric Sterner

    @Major Tom

    Heh. It’s called a rhetorical question asking why Josh’s first post on the list proclaims the death knell of private space, presumably based on whether or not the government offers “a guaranteed government customer, contract, and paycheck.” I won’t make stuff up. You learn how to read.

    You wrote: “It means that loans are a poor way to service the development of a new product or service. The private sector doesn’t fund new products using bank loans. They use equity and venture capital. Loans are used to expand a business, not create it.”

    Untrue and irrelevant. Companies use a range of financing instruments, including debt, to develop new products and services. If you’re talking about “creating” a company from scratch using loans, your point is irrelevant, since all of the serious prospective offerors are existing companies with business cases based on existing demand for unmanned payloads.

    You wrote: “It also means that the staff on the House Science Committee are ignorant of what undergraduate business majors learn in their second or third year of class and that those staffers still havn’t learned these business basics in the decade-plus that has passed since X-33/VentureStar.”

    That’s not logical. It doesn’t follow at all that members (who own the bill) or staff is ignorant of a measure’s limitations just because they choose to use it. e.g., 1 year appropriations cycles are inefficient and massive limitations; they’re also constitutionally proscribed and suit the continuing changing interests and goals of those who use them. They just respond to a set of incentives that are different from those you envision.

    You wrote: “How is being too lazy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at CBO about how your loan proposal is going to be scored before you waste time on a DOA bill “elegant” or “brilliant”?”

    How do you know this didn’t happen? How do you know CBO didn’t decline to answer a question about a draft proposal? How do you know that CBO didn’t offer an answer and the committee declined to publicize it? You don’t.

    Don’t make things up.

    Seems to me that you entirely missed the point of the bill, which is a conscious and bipartisan statement of strong disagreement with the Obama Administration’s civil space programs and plans. Given Mollohan’s decision to punt over to the authorizers, it would represent a pretty strong position going into negotiations with the Senate on either an approps or an auth bill. It was a risky strategy, but might have paid off handsomely if they could’ve gotten the bill off the floor under suspension this week. Failing the bid for suspension, though, would likely force the committee to come up with a plan B, which it may already have.

    What’s pathetic, and lazy, is trashing others behind the veil of anonymity.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What’s pathetic, and lazy, is trashing others behind the veil of anonymity.

    That happens on both sides of the debate.

  • Justin Kugler

    If they’re really so independent and such critical thinkers, Todd, then they’ll know that the situation we are in now has more to do with Congress than the current White House.

    The current administration wants NASA to invest in next-generation space technology R&D and demonstration. They don’t want Apollo-redux. They want NASA to get back out on the bleeding edge and do things no one else can or will do.

    This is an opportunity to build a truly in-space transportation infrastructure with robust, affordable technologies that would enable us to select the missions and destinations our country decides are most important.

    I’m curious why you’re pushing helium-3 as the fuel of the future and admonishing others, though. There are no helium-3 reactors. We haven’t even tested D+He3 or He3+He3 fusion yet on a large scale because the Coulomb barrier to ignition is higher than for D-T fusion, which has itself yet to lead to a viable powerplant.

    Additionally, over 100 million tons of lunar regolith would have to be processed to produce just one ton of He-3. That would require an immense industrial capability on the Moon that we’ve only barely begun to consider.

    Most studies of aneutronic fusion are focused on hydrogen+boron because off-world mining infrastructure is not required, simply the facilities for a higher ignition temperature and backscatter radiation confinement (all of which would be necessary with He-3 fusion, anyways).

  • Ferris Valyn

    Todd – go look at the actual reports, you’ll see that, up until this year, Musk gave equal amounts to the Republican party. I haven’t looked at Bigelow, but I know that, up until the 2010 timeframe (and, lets be up front, thats when the republicans decided they didn’t like private enterprise, so I don’t blame him for pulling his funding back) Musk was a businessman, pure and simple.

  • Ferris Valyn, SpaceX employees in general have given 10 to 1 to Democrats though. Look up their PAC.

  • GoNASA, the vast majority of private space companies are suborbital, and some of them even argue against getting government money. There are some of us, however, who believe that the government can spur private orbital space, and bring prices down sooner rather than later. The money required to do this is not that much when you consider the vast amounts of money being thrown away on old space. You could literally build 5 companies like SpaceX with the funds put in to Ares I, for example. I do not think it is governments responsibility to build companies, but with milestone-based contracts I believe government can make more robust companies that already exist. If ULA got a crew contract for their rockets I have learned that they can be rather competitive with SpaceX in that regard. We need to change how we do rockets, or we’re not going to get anywhere.

    I’m OK with the DIRECT based rocket, I don’t think it’s going to come as low cost as private space could build a rocket with similar specs, and I don’t think it will ever fly, and I think that all of those jobs being saved by that approach are at any time going to be at risk, but it does give us heavy lift, which I believe is a good thing. The best thing we could’ve done for the space program is shake it up a bit, and let private space build it out, so that costs could go down, and so that the future of space travel could be cemented in actual economics instead of government handouts.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Josh – I’d be curious as to the values given, particularly when you compare the total they gave vs the total Elon gave. I’d also be curious to see the trends before 2010, and after the 2010 budget cycle started (and if there are charts, feel free to post em). However, thats not really the point.

    The point is Todd was claiming that it was Elon, directly, who was donating to Obama’s campaign only, thus getting Obama to go to commercial space.

    If that was the case, then why was he donating $50,000 to the RNC?

    Crony capitalism has never had anything to do with this, and Todd should actually research it, before he makes stupid statements.

  • Here’s the link to their PAC information. Since there are so few donors in their PAC it may not be truly representative of SpaceX as a whole. I’ll see if I can find a better source. I don’t see any donations to Republicans by Elon Musk this year, verifying what you said, at least, but I have to go or I’d check other years.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:17 am

    The current administration has an opportunity here to save a viable team and get the space program back on the track Bush wanted it to be on….

    why should the current administration salvage the track that another administration tried and tried ineptly?

    First off who cares about “the team”? Unless we are simply down to technowelfare the “team” needs to be doing something that is cost affordable and has some value to The Republic. The Bush effort was never shown to have.

    Second…Ares 1-X might have been “a success” but at enormous cost. Why should we continue down the road of something that every year takes more money then a commercial replacement?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 8:48 am
    Is anyone seeing a pattern here?..

    yeah the pattern is that NASA HSF cant finish things and eventually despite a lot of money the program that they are working on has to be descoped, find help or simply shelved.

    Look I didnt like the Russian deal and unlike you I have the op eds in Space News/Houston Chronicle and a few other places to prove it. But having said that by the time the Russians got brought in on the project NASA had been chugging away at it since 1984 spending billions and billions on modules that ultimatly became playground equipment and not being able to put together things as simple as a prop module…

    Worse the vast majority of American “modules” are really Italian.

    The Space Station program and Ares/Constellation are the same pattern. Instead of doing what is possible for the dollars there, NASA HSF comes up with goofy designs and then dithers on them. How much money in the space station program was wasted on “dual keel, single keel, racetrack etc ” studies and viewgraphs before we came up with what is?

    You complain about 500 million to the Russians, heck there is more then that from past “modules” sitting as playground equipment in various places. From 1984 to when the Russians were brought in NASA went through 500 million in the space station project in “months”.

    Ares 1X went through it in just a short period…really for nothing.

    The AiLi tanks was at least some good technology effort.

    The points you raise are incoherent.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Eric Sterner

    @Martin

    Very true and very unfortunate.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://onorbit.com/

    scroll for “Zombie takes a flight” or something like that.

    NOT ONLY DO WE STILL make Rockets in the US…but this time we are making them as a commercial product.

    Free Enterprise always wins…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Space Cadet

    DCSCA wrote: “It’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to assume the risk”.

    That is the point actually. With the cost-plus contracts to ATK and LM for Constellation (or it’s Congressionally-authorized zombie) the taxpayer assumes 100% of the risk. With performance based contracts such as commercial crew, the contractors assume the risk – they get paid a fixed amount of government $and only when and if they perform. Zero financial risk to the taxpayers.

    Constellation would be like Shuttle and ISS. $ Billions in overruns, all at taxpayer expense, while the contractors actually get more $ when they fail to meet the budget and fail to meet the schedule than they would if they maintained the budget and schedule.

  • brobof

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 8:48 am
    “[...]”
    As a refreshing antithesis to the excised cold war rhetoric I would recommend: http://suzymchale.com/ruspace/issover.html
    and note in passing that without the Russians, post Columbia, the American segment would be resting in pieces. I also note that the America still cannot build a ZG Commode :)

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:17 am
    “There was another poster on here that pointed to some independent analysis performed on the LAS that was recently tested for Orion.”
    Rookie mistake. I think you will find: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792
    Refers. (Follow link therein for full report.) Yep the USAF “Fratricidal” study… 14 to 16 Gee and it still might not work! Ouch.
    Whilst we are on this Off Topic. New article in NS BTW http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19239-whats-the-best-way-to-eject-astronauts-during-liftoff.html
    Discusses pusher technique by Boeing, SpaceX.

    Re: Ares-I X. Todd the U. Even I know that the acoustic resonant frequencies of a four seg are not the same as a five seg and IANARS! Even worse the TO is not fixed. Solid fuel burns chaotically so some solids burn ‘quietly’… others not so much. The truth is until you launch a 5 seg full on Ares-I all you have are computer modelled guesses… But is that a viable and cost effective experiment worth pursuing? I would hazard a guess: No.
    As to your political scene. Despite the bluff and bluster I would suggest that most Americans have bigger worries: like a double dip recession…

  • Dennis Berube

    Everytime a spacecraft is launched, either manned or unmanned, there is risk of failure. Does that mean we shouldnt keep pressing on with the exploration of the Universe? Presently it seems people only want space for the profits they might gather from shooting tourists spaceward. While this is not bad, it does alter the concept of space exploration. It slows the progress of addressing whether we should return to the Moon, or go on to Mars, and perhaps an asteroid, or beyond (there is even talk now of a manned Venus flight to orbit that planet). We are creatures that must never give up the thrill of discovery. We must push on, but to attempt to rely on commercial services who only want profits for orbital flights, just doesnt fill the bill. As the inflation spiral keeps getting worse, so to will the cost of spaceflight. Do we really want to give it up? Everyone talks of cheap access to orbit. It may never happen. Unless some totally new and different approach is made, perhaps like the space elevator, rockets are going to cost, plain and simple.

  • brobof

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 11:30 am
    “Worse the vast majority of American “modules” are really Italian.”
    That was part of the deal so that the Europeans didn’t build a Free Flyer of their own. Ah! Hermes. (Wipes a tear.) Early days…
    But look on the bright side: at least you own the FGB! :)

  • Major Tom

    “presumably based on whether or not the government offers”

    If you have to presume what another poster wrote, then you’re likely taking their quote out of context or reading things into it that aren’t there.

    Don’t presume — quote accurately.

    “I won’t make stuff up.”

    You just did. You even admitted to such presumptions in your prior post.

    “You learn how to read.”

    I’m not the one making presumptions about what other posters’ wrote.

    Don’t blame me when you’re the one throwing stones through your glass walls.

    “Companies use a range of financing instruments, including debt, to develop new products and services.”

    Not if they have any choice, they don’t. It’s irresponsible and risky for a company to take on debt before they have the revenue stream from which to service the interest on that debt.

    That’s why the development of new products and services is funded through equity if at all possible. When revenue is still downstream, it’s much better to pay shareholders a fraction of future profits, than pay lenders cash from the company’s coffers now.

    Again, this is undergraduate business major 101. The fact that the House authorization bill demonstrates actual or willful ignorance of these business basics either means that House science members and staff are undereducated with respect to their responsibilities or that they were purposefully designing the bill to torpedo industry efforts. Or that they never took the bill seriously to begin with. It’s probably all of the above depending on the specific member or staffer, but regardless, it’s piss-poor representation of voter interests and a waste of taxpayer money.

    “How do you know CBO didn’t decline to answer a question about a draft proposal?” You don’t.”

    Oh, come on. If CBO staff decline to score a draft bill, how hard is it to have a chair or ranking member call over and tell CBO leadership to make it a priority? Or to have committee staff discuss over the phone with CBO staff what the range of scoring is likely to be?

    It’s not like we’re asking committee staff to fly to Europe to meet with a Swiss bank about scoring a loan. It’s the _Congressional_ Budget Office, for cripes sake. There’s no excuse for committee staff not to have done their homework with CBO to ensure that their bill wasn’t going to be DOA based on loan scoring issues.

    “How do you know that CBO didn’t offer an answer and the committee declined to publicize it?”

    If CBO offered the negative answer described in Mr. Foust’s post above before the bill was introduced, and the bill was introduced anyway, then that speaks very poorly of the committee’s intent with respect to the bill.

    “… statement of strong disagreement with the Obama Administration’s civil space programs and plans.”

    Setting aside the loan guarantee proposal, the bill was an irresponsible attempt to preserve Constellation pork at a lower budget level than the program previously had when there are multiple independent reports from the GAO, CBO, and now a White House blue ribbon panel showing how inexecutable the program was at it’s previous, higher budget level.

    It doesn’t matter whom the bill agrees or disagrees with. If the bill had gone forward and been reflected in appropriations, it would have flushed tens of billions of more taxpayer dollars down the Constellation toilet, put the development of any actual human space exploration capabilities on the back burner for another umpty-ump years, and practically guaranteed U.S. dependence on foreign access to ISS for the remainder of the station’s lifetime.

    “What’s pathetic, and lazy, is trashing others…”

    Where did I name and trash anyone specifically?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    I’ve referred to the committee members and staff only in a general sense. When a bill originates with a particular committee, it’s practically impossible not to at least do that.

    “…behind the veil of anonymity.”

    Grow up.

    What’s pathetic is when a former congressional staffer (and NASA civil servant and member of a public policy institute) argues that U.S. citizens, voters, and taxpayers shouldn’t criticize the work of the congressional members and staff whose votes got them elected and whose salaries their taxes pay.

    It’s a representative democracy with freedom of speech — learn how it works.

    Oy vey…

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Presently it seems people only want space for the profits they might gather from shooting tourists spaceward.

    Uh, no. You’re missing the big point here.

    NASA is a public entity that buys most of it’s products and services from for-profit companies. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATK, ULA, USA – these are some of the for-profit companies that NASA pays a lot of money to, and they will gladly continue to do any kind of work NASA wants to pay them to do, regardless how cost effective it is for the U.S. Taxpayer.

    By introducing competition and multiple suppliers into the space transportation market, NASA can spend less time and money doing routine tasks, and have more money and time to spend on what they do well – cutting edge research and exploration. This happens already everywhere around you, and all commercial space advocates want is to expand it to LEO.

    You don’t seem to have an argument with Southwest Airlines or American Airlines making money off of NASA, nor do you seem to be bothered by the use of ESA and ULA to launch NASA satellites and missions.

    Through the COTS program, NASA is already preparing two American companies to join the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) in delivering cargo to the ISS.

    With a COTS-like commercial crew program, the U.S. would have multiple LEO crew deliver systems, and NASA would spend far less getting to LEO than anything Congress is trying to force onto them.

    To me, it’s a matter of saving money and creating a better space transportation system. There are no non-profits that build space transportation systems, so of course companies will get paid for their services. But with competition, those costs will be far less that what NASA can do on it’s own, and the costs and equipment will improve over time. Capitalism 101

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 5:01 pm
    . As the inflation spiral keeps getting worse, so to will the cost of spaceflight…

    there is no inflation spiral, we are bordering in the US on deflation.

    What you cannot seem to grasp is that the choice is not commercial access to space or some mythic effort of exploration. The latter is not going to happen…NASA HSF has demonstrated that it is not competent to do that on the dollars that are available.

    The choice is are we going to spend tens of billions so NASA HSF can ferry its astronauts to LEO or are we going to spend hundreds of millions/ a few billions to enable a commercial launch industry.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Todd The Usurper

    Robert G Oler said
    “http://onorbit.com/

    scroll for “Zombie takes a flight” or something like that.

    NOT ONLY DO WE STILL make Rockets in the US…but this time we are making them as a commercial product.

    Free Enterprise always wins…

    Robert G. Oler”

    Gosh Robby that’s really neat. All I can say is whiskey tango foxtrot. What a ridiculous thing to put up there in a discussion regarding the future of the space program. If that is a commercial product what purpose does it serve? LOL

    Robert G. Oler also spewed
    “Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 8:48 am
    Is anyone seeing a pattern here?..

    yeah the pattern is that NASA HSF cant finish things and eventually despite a lot of money the program that they are working on has to be descoped, find help or simply shelved.”

    It’s called underfunding and I’ll finish this response when I close all of this. That means it will be at the very end. I’m typing slowly for you.

    Robert said
    “Look I didnt like the Russian deal and unlike you I have the op eds in Space News/Houston Chronicle and a few other places to prove it. But having said that by the time the Russians got brought in on the project NASA had been chugging away at it since 1984 spending billions and billions on modules that ultimatly became playground equipment and not being able to put together things as simple as a prop module…

    Worse the vast majority of American “modules” are really Italian.”

    Yeah Boeing had that contract. Hey isn’t that one of those ‘special’ companies? The really neat…… potentially commercial companies? Yes. It is. Nice. Sorry buddy. You’ve got published Op Eds and I’ve got 35 years in the industry. You’ve dropped a few names in here and I’ve met or knew over half of them.

    Robert also said
    “The Space Station program and Ares/Constellation are the same pattern. Instead of doing what is possible for the dollars there, NASA HSF comes up with goofy designs and then dithers on them. How much money in the space station program was wasted on “dual keel, single keel, racetrack etc ” studies and viewgraphs before we came up with what is?”

    Isn’t that weird? I actually agree with you on something here. What was proposed to them (NASA) and what was ultimately decided on is beyond my comprehension. Like I said, it’s like Griffen wanted to be able to call Putin and says his was bigger.

    Robert said
    “You complain about 500 million to the Russians, heck there is more then that from past “modules” sitting as playground equipment in various places. From 1984 to when the Russians were brought in NASA went through 500 million in the space station project in “months”.

    It was 500 million twice not just once.

    Robert said
    “Ares 1X went through it in just a short period…really for nothing.”

    At the rate we’re going we’ll never know.

    Robert said
    “The AiLi tanks was at least some good technology effort.”

    Yeah. I was involved back then.

    Robert said
    “The points you raise are incoherent.

    Robert G. Oler”

    The points you raise are not as clear as the one on the top of your head.

    Robert G Oler wrote
    “Dennis Berube wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 5:01 pm
    . As the inflation spiral keeps getting worse, so to will the cost of spaceflight…

    there is no inflation spiral, we are bordering in the US on deflation.

    What you cannot seem to grasp is that the choice is not commercial access to space or some mythic effort of exploration. The latter is not going to happen…NASA HSF has demonstrated that it is not competent to do that on the dollars that are available.

    The choice is are we going to spend tens of billions so NASA HSF can ferry its astronauts to LEO or are we going to spend hundreds of millions/ a few billions to enable a commercial launch industry.

    Robert G. Oler”

    You say that NASA is incompetant and can’t cut it economically. Why don’t the commercial people do it all on their own and then offer NASA a ride when they get’er done? “Mythic effort of exploration?” Really? Kennedy would have told you to man up. Now is that kilt or a skirt?

  • Todd The Usurper

    One other thing regarding the administration and the “New Plan” for KSC. There was a lot of talk about revamping KSC and building new infrastructure. I have to ask one very important question here. “Infrastructure? For what? Infrastructure supports something. That’s it’s purpose. If the infrastructure is built first it just has to get redone later. Either that or it ends up limiting what it should have enabled. Stupid!!!”

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 11:46 pm <–Get this through your head, Porthos: SpaceX has flown nobody in space. Nobody. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has– for nearly half a century. Any attempt by musketeers to compare 'SpaceX' with NASA operations is bogus. "Cripes' indeed.

    Bud and Lou were right:
    Costello- "What makes a balloon go up"
    Abbott- "Hot air."
    Costello- What's holdin' you down? "

    Another day ticks by and still no Dragons cross our skies.
    Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Brobrof said
    “Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 8:48 am
    “[...]”
    As a refreshing antithesis to the excised cold war rhetoric I would recommend: http://suzymchale.com/ruspace/issover.html
    and note in passing that without the Russians, post Columbia, the American segment would be resting in pieces. I also note that the America still cannot build a ZG Commode”

    Sorry skippy that wasn’t cold war rhetoric it was recent history. Your note in passing is ridiculous. The space program didn’t rest in pieces after Challenger. If people like you were in charge it might have. You don’t need a ZG toilet you can stick with diapers.

    Brobrof wrote
    “Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:17 am
    “There was another poster on here that pointed to some independent analysis performed on the LAS that was recently tested for Orion.”
    Rookie mistake. I think you will find: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792
    Refers. (Follow link therein for full report.) Yep the USAF “Fratricidal” study… 14 to 16 Gee and it still might not work! Ouch.”

    No you are clueless again. That’s old information and at least two years old at that. The way to correct that problem is to change the opening time of the chutes or some other engineering change. What you’re looking at is an engineering analysis and you seem to think that rather than aiding in the engineering process it’s exposing something. (Why yes. Brobrof I’ll take fries with that. Thank you for asking) Did you see the chutes melt during the test? LMAO If you’d been paying attention during the test you would have heard that the actual acceleration for the LAS will be 12 g’s not the rate used when testing the robustness of the system. Duh!

    Brobrof said
    “Whilst we are on this Off Topic. New article in NS BTW http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19239-whats-the-best-way-to-eject-astronauts-during-liftoff.html
    Discusses pusher technique by Boeing, SpaceX.”

    Awesome. They’ve invented an additonal stage that will be attached to them like a cow tick and sucking the life out of their maneuverability because it will require additional fuel the entire time instead of being dumped when it’s not needed. A real stroke of genius there. Go commercial! LOL

    Brobrof said
    “Re: Ares-I X. Todd the U. Even I know that the acoustic resonant frequencies of a four seg are not the same as a five seg and IANARS! Even worse the TO is not fixed. Solid fuel burns chaotically so some solids burn ‘quietly’… others not so much. The truth is until you launch a 5 seg full on Ares-I all you have are computer modelled guesses… But is that a viable and cost effective experiment worth pursuing? I would hazard a guess: No.
    As to your political scene. Despite the bluff and bluster I would suggest that most Americans have bigger worries: like a double dip recession…”

    Actually the way you test a theory is to see whether it can predict. You run your analysis and then your test. You don’t seem to understand what tests are for. And that’s why most people don’t care what you have to say Brobrof. They’re too busy worrying about the economy too. So…..what are you doing in here if that’s all that matters? So far most of what you understand isn’t so.

  • DCSCA

    @Cryer: “There are some of us, however, who believe that the government can spur private orbital space…”

    No. The capital markets in the private sector are where commercial space can go to to convince investors to finance such ventures, not the U.S. Treasury. The U.S. already has and finances a civilian space agency and DoD space operations. The place for commercial space to get deep pockets to back them with cash or just crash, is in the private sector.

  • Todd the Idiot wrote:

    They’ve invented an additonal stage that will be attached to them like a cow tick and sucking the life out of their maneuverability because it will require additional fuel the entire time instead of being dumped when it’s not needed. A real stroke of genius there. Go commercial! LOL

    No, they’ve got a launch abort system that has utility on nominal missions, reducing the performance requirement on the launch system and providing additional payload, relative to a parasitic system that is almost never needed, but adds a lot of cost and weight to each flight. In addition, failure to jettison it doesn’t kill you on an otherwise-nominal flight, as a tractor system does.

  • red

    DCSCA: “The place for commercial space to get deep pockets to back them with cash or just crash, is in the private sector.”

    That might be true if we were talking about the private sector simply going after private business. However, the situation is that NASA needs to be able to get crew to the ISS.

    It can do this using the Shuttle, but that has already been effectively shut down, it’s dangerous, it’s too expensive to allow NASA to do things every seems to want it to do next, and it does nothing to reduce reliance on the Russian Soyuz.

    It can do this with Ares I/Orion, but we’ve already seen that this is so expensive that it will require the ISS (and much else) to be lost, leaving Ares 1/Orion without their jobs.

    It can start over from the beginning with a new Shuttle-derived vehicle, but that will also be extremely expensive (the amount varies depending on the details selected) and will take many years. It will probably also be too expensive to be used for ISS crew rotations, and more suitable for BEO missions.

    It can fund commercial crew, which is affordable, comparatively timely, helps generate additional jobs through non-NASA business, robust (allowing multiple independent solutions), and allows NASA the funds to do other things (like keeping and using the ISS, sending HSF robotic precursors out, demonstrating affordable exploration technologies, observing the Earth … or take your pick).

    Since we’re talking about solving NASA’s problem, not private industry’s problem, there is nothing wrong with NASA paying to have its problem solved, just like there’s nothing inherently wrong when NASA pays a Shuttle contractor to do their work. The difference is that those other cost-plus solutions don’t work with the budget we have and the schedule we have to live with (i.e. Shuttle just about done and ISS needing support).

    All we are talking about is NASA getting what it needs by either paying for cost-plus contracts or fixed-price service contracts.

    Now it is possible for some sort of hybrid solution to work, or at least be part of an affordable solution, like more traditional NASA funding for EELV human-rating.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Rand SImpleberg spewed
    “Todd the Idiot wrote:

    They’ve invented an additonal stage that will be attached to them like a cow tick and sucking the life out of their maneuverability because it will require additional fuel the entire time instead of being dumped when it’s not needed. A real stroke of genius there. Go commercial! LOL

    No, they’ve got a launch abort system that has utility on nominal missions, reducing the performance requirement on the launch system and providing additional payload, relative to a parasitic system that is almost never needed, but adds a lot of cost and weight to each flight. In addition, failure to jettison it doesn’t kill you on an otherwise-nominal flight, as a tractor system does.

    I know this might be hard for you to understand, but an abort system isn’t for nominal missions and when it’s not needed it gets dumped. One other thing too. It’s like a lawyer homie you hate’em till you need them. When you need it you really need it. Your flying cow tick will be there from start to finish. Go commercial. Nice job. So what magical type of energy is this system using that it weighs less than the LAS yet still performs the same function? Or is it made from super light weight unobtanium and shielded with impossibellium? Since your awesome system never has to be jettisoned, I’m wondering if you’re thinking it can double as a heatshield. I have to question the wisdom of using something with that much energy in it as a heat shield. Oh yeah…it will kill you if it doesn’t get jettisoned won’t it? Which commercial enterprise do you work for? LOL

  • Todd The Usurper

    Red wrote
    “All we are talking about is NASA getting what it needs by either paying for cost-plus contracts or fixed-price service contracts.”

    There’s only one problem with that concept. NASA is the customer and they end up setting the price because of their oversite requirements. I don’t blame them for having the level of oversite they have either. They spend a fortune training these astronauts and then some upstart company says they can get them there cheaper and NASA’s just supposed to tell the astronaut to get his butt in there and quit whining? By the time all of the NASA oversite is installed into the commercial effort it will cost the same. That fixed price will grow. It always does.

    It’s a shame but it’s a fact of life.

  • red

    Eric Sterner: “it’s an elegant policy solution”

    Do you think Bush’s COTS effort was appropriate, and is working well?

    If you disagree with COTS, what do you think is/was wrong with it?

    If you agree with COTS, but disagree with the commercial crew proposal, what do you think is different about the commercial crew proposal and COTS that makes you disagree with commercial crew?

    Do you think the House proposal is intended to kill commercial crew (i.e. solving NASA’s ISS crew problem), or do you think it’s intended to help it succeed?

    If you think it’s intended to help it succeed, why do you think that? Consider the magnitude of the required effort to solve NASA’s problem, and the likelihood that, if any commercial crew company actually took up the offer, and that crew company managed to survive it and create a commercial crew service for NASA, it’s going to have to charge NASA to make up for those loans?

    If you think it’s intended to make it fail, why do you think it’s an elegant policy solution?

    If you think loans on the order of 5% of what Augustine thinks NASA’s commercial crew contribution need to be are a good idea, do you think it’s a good idea to fund the Ares I/Orion contractors using $2.5B in loans instead of $50B in cash, thereby saving the taxpayer $47.5B in an elegant policy solution, or allowing NASA to do all sorts of other useful things with the $47.5B saved while still getting Ares I/Orion for an amount comparable to a commercial crew solution?

  • red

    “By the time all of the NASA oversite is installed into the commercial effort it will cost the same. That fixed price will grow. It always does.”

    I think NASA, the commercial crew companies, and the Augustine Committee that looked into commercial crew all expect NASA to have considerable oversight for their astronauts. That’s part of why the commercial crew budget is so much higher than COTS (i.e. NASA’s contribution is $6B and $50M for CCDEV compared to $500M) even though making COTS operational will be a big step toward commercial crew for 2 of the companies.

    It looks to me like the plans already include a buffer for expected cost growth due to oversight requirements and other factors. I also think the commercial crew companies and NASA already have a good idea what NASA’s oversight requirements are going to be like, and they will know exactly what the requirements are by the time they start bidding. If NASA changes requirements, then NASA may have to pay more, just like any other similar situation. NASA will have to make solid, clear initial contracts and requirements so this can hopefully be avoided.

    COTS has some issues like the ones you mentioned for ISS safety, although to a lesser extent. It seems to be working well so far.

    If the costs go beyond those buffers, the companies will just have to eat the difference or give up. If they give up, they won’t get their milestone payments from NASA and those funds will be available to get another competitor started as happened in COTS.

  • @ red

    The ISS is not some essential public service. It should probably be terminated after 2015 so that NASA can focus on beyond LEO missions. Keeping the ISS going as a corporate welfare program for private spaceflight companies is going to cost the tax payers nearly $3 billion a year. Sorry, but there’s no way we’re getting $2 to $3 billion a year of incredible science out of the ISS program. No way! That $2 to $3 billion would be better spent on a Moon base.

    Private industry needs to focus their efforts on private space stations, not the ISS.

    The space shuttle has only had two fatal accidents in nearly 30 years of flight. And has had no fatal– launch accidents– in nearly a quarter of a century. That’s remarkable, IMO. The idea that we should just toss away everything we learned from the shuttle program and just start from scratch– makes no sense.

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    NASA is the customer and they end up setting the price because of their oversite requirements.

    You make it sound like you’re a government contracting specialist, and any NewSpace company that would be competing for commercial crew business has never done work for the government. Weird.

    Government contracting is not something new to any of the companies that would be vying for commercial crew. Most likely all of them already have NASA contracts, and I would imagine a number of them already have DOD contracts too, so unless Congress sticks some weird stipulations into the program, no one is going to respond to the RFQ without a good idea of what they are getting into.

    They spend a fortune training these astronauts and then some upstart company says they can get them there cheaper and NASA’s just supposed to tell the astronaut to get his butt in there and quit whining?

    Yeah, Boeing sure has balls trying to say they can launch crew to orbit cheaper than NASA. Or were you talking about Lockheed Martin? Or, maybe you were pining for Ares I, and when they were going to send astronauts up on the second flight of a brand new launcher. Oh, I know, you’re really using this as a stalking horse to put down SpaceX. Gotcha.

    Of course you ignore the fact that by the time SpaceX (or even Orbital Sciences) gets to the point where they would be ready to launch astronauts, they would have already launched lots of cargo flights to the ISS for cargo. For SpaceX, they not only prove out their launcher on every flight, but also the same exact capsule design that will be used for crew. I would say that any astronaut that gets into a Dragon capsule will have far more confidence in the ride than they would have for an Ares I/Orion flight.

    By the time all of the NASA oversite is installed into the commercial effort it will cost the same.

    Not unless they make the companies redesign and rebuild their entire product and infrastructure from the ground up. Remember we’re talking about NASA here, where it costs them $10B just to design and build a capsule.

    You’re also forgetting that NASA standards for crew are a moving target, and Bolden already said that they will be looking for equivalency, just like they did with the Soyuz. I would imagine that NASA will lay out the requirements in the RFQ, which is the normal place for dictating standards. Considering how punishing Ares I was going to be on humans, anything Delta IV, Atlas V, Falcon 9 or Taurus II do will seem mild in comparison.

    Unless Giffords and Shelby are defining the requirements, the competitors for commercial crew probably already know most of the relevant requirements, and SpaceX has been trying to incorporate as many as possible into their COTS Dragon so they can qualify them ahead of time. After 50 years of human space flight, the requirements for keeping people safe and alive are pretty well known.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    The ISS is not some essential public service. It should probably be terminated after 2015 so that NASA can focus on beyond LEO missions. Keeping the ISS going as a corporate welfare program for private spaceflight companies is going to cost the tax payers nearly $3 billion a year. Sorry, but there’s no way we’re getting $2 to $3 billion a year of incredible science out of the ISS program. No way! That $2 to $3 billion would be better spent on a Moon base.

    I have heard a number of people voice this opinion, but I do not share it. I think that the ISS will morph over time, especially if people know that it will be there, and there are going to be cheaper & more reliable ways to access it. I also think that without the imperative to support the ISS, that we may never get out of LEO except for temporary “programs” like Constellation. The ISS to me is an outpost in the far-off wilderness, and it’s something we can build upon as we move out to the Moon and beyond.

    The space shuttle has only had two fatal accidents in nearly 30 years of flight. And has had no fatal– launch accidents– in nearly a quarter of a century. That’s remarkable, IMO.

    Yes, that is remarkable. Unfortunately, the U.S. never decided to expand or improve the Shuttle system, and so now it’s a lack of money and mission that is causing it to come to an end. All good things…

    The idea that we should just toss away everything we learned from the shuttle program and just start from scratch– makes no sense.

    In some ways I think the Shuttle program ossified. Over the years there were some incremental improvements, but nothing really major that changed the costs, operations or function of the Shuttle.

    But the Shuttle is not the only space-related hardware out there, and traditional launchers have been improving over time, both increasing their capabilities and in some cases reducing their costs. Some of those improvements have been because of the Shuttle program, or part of related efforts. So I see the current situation a little differently, in that we’re taking the good from the last 50 years of spaceflight, and hopefully leaving behind the not-so-good.

    Already there is some competition in the payload launch marketplace, and once we get commercial crew going, there will be competition there too. When a marketplace has competition, prices tend to go down and service tends to improve. If that happens, then it won’t matter what legacy parts we’re using, only that they have brought us that far.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    you wrote
    You say that NASA is incompetant and can’t cut it economically. Why don’t the commercial people do it all on their own and then offer NASA a ride when they get’er done?

    because of three reasons

    First it has never “worked” as you suggest in The Republic, particularly when government has had exclusive domain of a role for so long.

    The turbojet airplane never would have made it to commercial service had the government “not” done the heavy lifting in terms of giving the various companies the technology base and to some extent the “market” for the development of the aircraft. Airline ops in general would not have made it to where it was by the start of WW2 if there had not been government as a customer to some product that it had tried (and failed) to do on its own.

    Second; the history of The Republic is that where possible government spending fosters the innovation of free enterprise; because that is how even government products use to be superior to products built by other governments as a pure government effort. The P-51 is the example here as is the B-52 over the YB 66 and B-29 over the B-32.

    Even our military efforts do better, the Cougar for instance when we eschew the “design bureau’ effort.

    Third in a government which takes tax payer money for the common good the effort has to have value to the taxpayers and not just to hte infrastructure that the spending creates.


    “Mythic effort of exploration?” Really? Kennedy would have told you to man up. Now is that kilt or a skirt?

    the old canard. JFK’s Apollo challenge has little or no relevance to today. JFK could come alive, make the same Speech at Rice and it would flop…today it would have no relevance to our time.

    You folks are stuck in an era long gone

    Robert G. Oler

  • I know this might be hard for you to understand, but an abort system isn’t for nominal missions and when it’s not needed it gets dumped.

    That’s not at all difficult to me to understand. But it’s not a feature — it’s a bug. It’s dead weight on every mission on which it is not needed, and it carries multiple hazards that can kill crew on every nominal mission. I analyzed the LAS for the Orion on OSC’s contract, and that was a major concern.

    One other thing too. It’s like a lawyer homie you hate’em till you need them. When you need it you really need it. Your flying cow tick will be there from start to finish.

    It’s not a “flying cow tick,” you moron. It is part of the means of getting to orbit, and as I said, it reduces launch system requirements, and is useful every flight, unlike an LAS. Are you incapable of understanding cost and performance?

    Go commercial. Nice job. So what magical type of energy is this system using that it weighs less than the LAS yet still performs the same function?

    OK. So you are incapable of understanding cost and performance.

    Or is it made from super light weight unobtanium and shielded with impossibellium? Since your awesome system never has to be jettisoned, I’m wondering if you’re thinking it can double as a heatshield.

    No, but it has a lot more time to be jettisoned before it has to act as a heat shield, unlike the LAS, which has to be jettisoned right now, or you don’t even make orbit. So there is a lot more time to deal with the issue, and resolve it. But you seem to be constructed from imbecilium.

    LOL

    One very good hint that you’re dealing with an Internet moron is that it LOLs at its own unfunny “jokes.”

    And we have a new idiotic troll to add to the list, along with “abreakingwind,” Gary Church, “DCSCA,” et al.

  • red

    “The ISS is not some essential public service.”

    None of NASA’s HSF work is an essential public service.

    “It should probably be terminated after 2015 so that NASA can focus on beyond LEO missions.”

    That’s what Griffin tried to do, even though he says keeping the ISS beyond 2015 is essential. There is no political support for getting rid of the ISS by 2015 when it’s just getting finished now. All of the political compromises on the table include the ISS and full use of the ISS. There are serious international policy barriers to getting rid of ISS by 2015. I’d consider getting rid of the ISS by 2015 to be much more difficult than getting rid of Constellation politically, and look at how difficult that’s been. I think it’s futile to push for getting rid of the ISS to free funding for other things. I think the only way the ISS will go away that soon is via some technical problem (i.e. commercial crew not funded, Soyuz problem, SDHLV delays … or debris hit … or system malfunctions … etc).

    “Keeping the ISS going as a corporate welfare program for private spaceflight companies is going to cost the tax payers nearly $3 billion a year.”

    The ISS isn’t a corporate welfare program for private spaceflight companies. The ISS was under development and construction for decades before COTS.

    “Sorry, but there’s no way we’re getting $2 to $3 billion a year of incredible science out of the ISS program. No way! That $2 to $3 billion would be better spent on a Moon base.”

    We definitely aren’t getting that much science out of the ISS because we’re spending the ISS budget on building and outfitting the ISS. We’ve just started with a full crew. We’ve hardly had a chance to start ISS science.

    Will we get full science value out of the ISS once it’s fully built and outfitted? I think that remains to be seen. The FY2011 budget does include considerably more funding for actual ISS science. I’d suggest letting actual ISS use with serious funding run its course for a few years and then assess whether or not we’re getting enough science value out of it.

    You mentioned (although not using particularly attractive words) the commercial capabilities that are fostered by the ISS. The COTS cargo capabilities are solving other NASA problems, like NASA’s need for a Delta II class replacement. Of course they are also putting the U.S. seriously back in the global commercial launch business, which is not at all a bad thing. It remains to be seen whether commercial crew for ISS has similar or even greater “side benefits”. I think this aspect of the ISS is quite positive.

    The FY2011 budget also proposed doing getting considerably more benefit out of the ISS than just more ISS science and encouraging commercial space. An example is the Flagship Technology Demonstration mission to outfit the ISS with an inflatable habitat technology demonstration module. This would demonstrate exploration technologies that could be used on the lunar surface, in exploration spacecraft, and so on. It could also encourage commercial space stations. It would also be operationally useful at the ISS. This module would be the home for closed-loop life support technology demonstrations, which would also have exploration, commercial, and ISS operations advantages. Delivering the module would demonstrate a space tug capability that could be used for exploration, commercial space, and ISS operations.

    “Private industry needs to focus their efforts on private space stations, not the ISS.”

    Private industry needs to focus on meeting customer needs while making a profit. NASA is a potential customer with ISS needs right now, and it doesn’t look like they’re going away. Private industry can meet some of those needs if encouraged by COTS and commercial crew. Otherwise we will be stuck with a much-too-expensive government transportation solution for ISS that should be geared towards the BEO work that it’s more suited for.

    Private space stations are another possible market for private space. Right now it doesn’t look like the business case closes for that. For instance, Bigelow seems to be holding back until there is some sort of way to get crews to his stations. Commercial crew capabilities are not here yet, and might not be for a long, long time if NASA doesn’t fund commercial crew for ISS, since without commercial crew there is no commitment on the part of NASA to use commercial services, and the private space station market may not be enough, or the size of that market may be too uncertain, by itself, given the cost of developing commercial crew. Those will be expensive, difficult capabilities to develop. I think NASA funding for commercial crew offers a way to accomplish what you want with ISS:

    1. Develop commercial crew capabilities.
    2. This enables commercial space stations.
    3. Once commercial space stations are established, NASA can gradually shift ISS work to these stations, phasing out ISS.
    4. The political backers of some ISS work will be satisfied with using private space stations because they are on the “use” side.
    5. The political backers of the ISS “operations” side can be satisfied by replacing the ISS with a BEO station or stations, or a surface habitat.
    6. Thus we could at this point remove the ISS, and shift funding to use of private stations as warrented, and to BEO.

    “The idea that we should just toss away everything we learned from the shuttle program and just start from scratch– makes no sense.”

    I think we could have a compromise that makes sense with both commercial crew and a BEO shuttle-derived system. With ISS (which I think is futile to worry about at this point) we won’t be able to do a full-up Orion at the same time as doing the FY2011 things we need to do (i.e. commercial crew, robotic precursors, technology), even if we compromise on a lot of those latter items. However, I don’t see why we couldn’t have a compromise that

    - develops the SD-HLV on an appropriate schedule
    - puts technology demos and robotic precursors that tend to use extra mass and volume for low cost rather than cramming additional features on the SD-HLV
    - does the bulk of Orion to be launched on the SD-HLV later when we are past the SD-HLV and commercial crew development humps

  • “while at the same time the union’s web site posted a note citing a recent report that it claims “slams space privatization”

    I followed the link and read the CSIS report. It generally supports Obama’s proposal and perhaps more so with Senate alterations. The Unions website statements suggest they cited it as a reference without completely reading it. If they had they might have voiced a different position.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 11:00 pm =yawn=
    Stop talking. Start flying, ‘musketeer.’

    @TheGreatWaldoOler “the old canard. JFK’s Apollo challenge has little or no relevance to today.” <– Nonsense, Waldo. Of course it does. But you go on believing it doesn't. It's amusing.

  • brobof

    Agreed. Your cold war rhetoric was recent hysteria. My point that the Russians are the second greatest financial contributor to the ISS still stands. As for the value of their experience in LEO… priceless! The Russians have been and continue to be a reliable space partner. Unlike the USA.

    “you can stick with diapers”
    You can get sticky in diapers if you want Todd but I think the grown up people on Station prefer the commodes.

    “That’s old information”
    So is the rocket equation but it is still valid.
    “least two years old” Er July 2009 – July 2010??? But that’s Todd, falling behind in STEM for you.

    “The Ares-1 capsule, with an LAS, will not survive an abort between MET’s of ~30-60 seconds.”
    No Todd that’s not you saying that, that’s the 45th Space Wing.

    “The way to correct that problem is to change the opening time of the chutes or some other engineering change”
    …and how many engineering changes would you like with that Ares-I, Todd? Too many for even Congress to swallow. McDonalds: GIGO

    Personally thought that the PA-1 went swimmingly. For a test. Shame it didn’t launch when it was supposed to Todd… in Sept 2008.
    But that’s was Cx: a vanity project; subject to political fiddling; overbudget; at least two contractors too many and behind schedule. Alas the Ares-I LAS is over-engineered for a kerolox booster and performs no useful function for some 30 seconds. If all goes well it is DEAD WEIGHT. As if the system wasn’t already carrying too many lbs. A pusher LAS is an elegant engineering solution; unlike the Ares-I which was making an inelegant cludge out of an earlier inelegant cludge. With extra cludges.
    Time for a clean sheet. Your diapers leaked!
    But thanks for caring, Todd.

  • red

    “The Unions website statements suggest they cited it as a reference without completely reading it.”

    I agree. I think they didn’t read the report. Maybe they just read a summary or something like that, and misinterpreted that.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:48 pm
    “The space shuttle has only had two fatal accidents in nearly 30 years of flight. And has had no fatal– launch accidents– in nearly a quarter of a century. That’s remarkable, IMO. The idea that we should just toss away everything we learned from the shuttle program and just start from scratch– makes no sense.”

    Like I said earlier re heavy lift, the numbers are already in for how an external tank reacts with the SRMs and an engine while in flight. The tooling already exists for building all of that. The only thing that needs to be developed is the platform for the cargo and engines. They need to make sure they don’t let all of the people go who actually know how to build all these systems. I don’t have anything against the concept of LEO commercial. I actually think it’s a good idea. It makes us more robust…especially if something goes wrong with one system and there’s a stand down.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 10:25 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    “NASA is the customer and they end up setting the price because of their oversite requirements.”

    “You make it sound like you’re a government contracting specialist, and any NewSpace company that would be competing for commercial crew business has never done work for the government. Weird.

    Government contracting is not something new to any of the companies that would be vying for commercial crew. Most likely all of them already have NASA contracts, and I would imagine a number of them already have DOD contracts too, so unless Congress sticks some weird stipulations into the program, no one is going to respond to the RFQ without a good idea of what they are getting into.”

    It’s called 35 years of experience and those requirements change all of the time. Those requirement changes don’t always result in a contract change either. If all of those requirement changes caused a rewrite of the contract there wouldn’t be a single flight. All of the action would be taking place in the contracts department. I noticed the use of “Most likely ” and “I would imagine” clearly the voice of someone ‘in the know’.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Yeah, Boeing sure has balls trying to say they can launch crew to orbit cheaper than NASA.”

    Well then..what are they waiting for? Go do it! Why are these manly men waiting for a contract with someone if they know they can do better on their own?

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Oh, I know, you’re really using this as a stalking horse to put down SpaceX. Gotcha.”

    Don’t it just tick you off when those you’re trashing come back and do the same thing to you? I know you thought nobody would respond, but it’s clear that people are responding. Quit whining. BTW I’m not against COTS or commercial crew where as you are against anything but. I just think we should be looking beyond LEO and that’s the only thing on your mind.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Of course you ignore the fact that by the time SpaceX (or even Orbital Sciences) gets to the point where they would be ready to launch astronauts, they would have already launched lots of cargo flights to the ISS for cargo. For SpaceX, they not only prove out their launcher on every flight, but also the same exact capsule design that will be used for crew. I would say that any astronaut that gets into a Dragon capsule will have far more confidence in the ride than they would have for an Ares I/Orion flight.”

    The astronaut may very well have the same level of confidence in a dragon capsule. The only reason for that will be that they got rid of the flying cow tick of a pusher abort system and the cost went up exponentially because they had to live to the same requirements as a real aerospace company does.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Not unless they make the companies redesign and rebuild their entire product and infrastructure from the ground up. Remember we’re talking about NASA here, where it costs them $10B just to design and build a capsule.”

    I think commercial may be better off not going with NASA. Maybe Congress is right cutting their funding. You keep saying they can do it on their own. I didn’t originally agree with Congress, but you guys are helping to convince me that the best way to go would be to let them do it on their own. Maybe the way to do this is to build a shuttle derived vehicle and then take up about fifty times what a puny commercial flight with a cow tick escape system could take. Now your talking about some serious savings because it happens in one flight.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “You’re also forgetting that NASA standards for crew are a moving target, and Bolden already said that they will be looking for equivalency, just like they did with the Soyuz. I would imagine that NASA will lay out the requirements in the RFQ, which is the normal place for dictating standards. Considering how punishing Ares I was going to be on humans, anything Delta IV, Atlas V, Falcon 9 or Taurus II do will seem mild in comparison.”

    Since I’ve actually had to work with them and the Air Force I’m not forgetting about shifting requirements. You are… as are all of the commercial flight pimps. That just happens to be the driving force behind the cost. BTW since commercial might just decide to quit flirting with NASA and roll up the ole sleeves and do it on their own…they might want to develop their own astronaut corps, so NASA doesn’t have a say there either.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Unless Giffords and Shelby are defining the requirements, the competitors for commercial crew probably already know most of the relevant requirements, and SpaceX has been trying to incorporate as many as possible into their COTS Dragon so they can qualify them ahead of time. After 50 years of human space flight, the requirements for keeping people safe and alive are pretty well known.”

    There you go again….the paragraph before this you said the requirements are ever shifting and now they’re fixed and have been for 50 years?

  • Todd The Usurper

    I wrote
    You say that NASA is incompetant and can’t cut it economically. Why don’t the commercial people do it all on their own and then offer NASA a ride when they get’er done?

    Robert G. Oler wrote
    “because of three reasons

    First it has never “worked” as you suggest in The Republic, particularly when government has had exclusive domain of a role for so long.

    The turbojet airplane never would have made it to commercial service had the government “not” done the heavy lifting in terms of giving the various companies the technology base and to some extent the “market” for the development of the aircraft. Airline ops in general would not have made it to where it was by the start of WW2 if there had not been government as a customer to some product that it had tried (and failed) to do on its own.

    Second; the history of The Republic is that where possible government spending fosters the innovation of free enterprise; because that is how even government products use to be superior to products built by other governments as a pure government effort. The P-51 is the example here as is the B-52 over the YB 66 and B-29 over the B-32.

    Even our military efforts do better, the Cougar for instance when we eschew the “design bureau’ effort.

    Third in a government which takes tax payer money for the common good the effort has to have value to the taxpayers and not just to hte infrastructure that the spending creates.”

    So you just undermined every argument you’ve put forward in here. I love it. Or as one pin head in here hates so much LOL

    I wrote in response to Robert G. Oler
    “Mythic effort of exploration?” Really? Kennedy would have told you to man up. Now is that kilt or a skirt?

    Robert G. Oler wrote
    “the old canard. JFK’s Apollo challenge has little or no relevance to today. JFK could come alive, make the same Speech at Rice and it would flop…today it would have no relevance to our time.

    You folks are stuck in an era long gone

    Robert G. Oler”

    Yup! It’s a skirt! Your understanding of history is as irrelevant as your understanding of Aerospace.

  • Justin Kugler

    Todd, I do work for a major contractor and I don’t think you get it. The lesson of the past 30 years is that NASA can’t keep on doing things the same way over and over again and expect to get out of LEO. The Von Braun paradigm is not sustainable within the fiscal environment NASA has had since Apollo ended.

    Oler is absolutely right that Kennedy’s speech does not resonate with the American public today. That’s why there hasn’t been a national outcry over the cancellation of Constellation. Most Americans didn’t even know anything about it. The program was not relevant to their needs or their priorities.

    Kennedy himself didn’t even care that much about space exploration, per se. What he cared about was establishing dominance over the Soviet Union. Once the Space Race was won, NASA was no longer such a priority that it could get a virtual blank check. We, as a community, have been struggling to live with that, ever since.

    Instead of waiting for the next Kennedy, whom we have lionized to our own detriment, we need to learn how to conduct meaningful space exploration and technology development within the budgets we are given. We have to give something of value back to the American taxpayers that is relevant to them.

    I’m sure you’ll have some insulting comeback remark, though, or you’ll just ignore this like you did my deconstruction of your helium-3 claims.

  • Todd The Usurper

    I wrote
    I know this might be hard for you to understand, but an abort system isn’t for nominal missions and when it’s not needed it gets dumped.

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “That’s not at all difficult to me to understand. But it’s not a feature — it’s a bug. It’s dead weight on every mission on which it is not needed, and it carries multiple hazards that can kill crew on every nominal mission. I analyzed the LAS for the Orion on OSC’s contract, and that was a major concern.”

    And there are no hazards involved with the pusher concept? Amazing. The really neat part is that you point to the LAS and talk about the additional weight and this amazing system of yours doesn’t weigh anything. Yes you took part in some analysis and ran away like a girl instead of fixing the problem. Engineering is about fixing problems not running from them.

    I wrote
    One other thing too. It’s like a lawyer homie you hate’em till you need them. When you need it you really need it. Your flying cow tick will be there from start to finish.

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “It’s not a “flying cow tick,” you moron. It is part of the means of getting to orbit, and as I said, it reduces launch system requirements, and is useful every flight, unlike an LAS. Are you incapable of understanding cost and performance?”

    That’s not an escape system you idiot…it’s called a second or third stage. Maybe Orion should just beef up their Service Module, but since they’re on contract with NASA and you guys aren’t you can just do it on your own whereas they’ll have to get permission. Go for it commercial. BTW if your cow tick can’t accelerate at some stunning rates it is useless as an escape system. If it does accelerate at those rates it’s useless as an additional stage and wouldn’t be used except in an emergency. It would also be attched to the capsule right up to re entry. Now there’s one other thing I didn’t address with you. You claim that there’s a shorter window for getting rid of the LAS than there is for getting rid of the “cow tick” This system of yours will be there right up until the retros are fired for re entry. After that they have X amount of time to get rid of it or they’re gonners. I do understand cost and performance.

    I wrote
    Go commercial. Nice job. So what magical type of energy is this system using that it weighs less than the LAS yet still performs the same function?

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “OK. So you are incapable of understanding cost and performance.”

    But you repeat yourself

    I wrote
    “Or is it made from super light weight unobtanium and shielded with impossibellium? Since your awesome system never has to be jettisoned, I’m wondering if you’re thinking it can double as a heatshield.”

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “No, but it has a lot more time to be jettisoned before it has to act as a heat shield, unlike the LAS, which has to be jettisoned right now, or you don’t even make orbit. So there is a lot more time to deal with the issue, and resolve it. But you seem to be constructed from imbecilium.”

    Part of the problem with your argument is that you just don’t seem to understand that carrying your flying cow tick beyond LEO is a huge waste and getting rid of it so that you don’t have to take it with you is an even bigger waste. I don’t have a problem with commercial LEO. I think it’s a good idea. You can think of nothing else. You are myopic.

    I wrote
    LOL

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “One very good hint that you’re dealing with an Internet moron is that it LOLs at its own unfunny “jokes.”

    And we have a new idiotic troll to add to the list, along with “abreakingwind,” Gary Church, “DCSCA,” et al.”

    Oh the pain. I was just insulted by an idiot. It just makes me want to cry. Oh yeah. Just for you.

    LOL

  • Martijn Meijering

    Oh the pain. I was just insulted by an idiot. It just makes me want to cry. Oh yeah. Just for you.

    Fewer people might think you were an idiot if you didn’t say such idiotic things and if you didn’t use such an idiotic screen name.

  • Todd The Usurper

    Justin Kugler wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 10:30 am
    “Todd, I do work for a major contractor and I don’t think you get it. The lesson of the past 30 years is that NASA can’t keep on doing things the same way over and over again and expect to get out of LEO. The Von Braun paradigm is not sustainable within the fiscal environment NASA has had since Apollo ended.”

    I think I get it a lot better than you think I do. NASA with Griffen decided to not do what Bush told them to do. He decided to use only one thing from the shuttle project SRB’s He just decided to throw everything else out the window. If he had decided to go with a shuttle derived vehicle we would be doing everything a lot cheaper. I lay the blame for what’s happening now on Bush and Griffen, but this administrations idea about NASA as a Moslem outreach? Yeah right. It wasn’t just Bolden talking out of his keester one day in Qatar. This idea was first uttered a long time ago when Obama announced the end of manned space flight. Maybe you missed that. I didn’t. What is happening now is the politcizing of NASA.

    Justin Kugler wrote
    “Oler is absolutely right that Kennedy’s speech does not resonate with the American public today. That’s why there hasn’t been a national outcry over the cancellation of Constellation. Most Americans didn’t even know anything about it. The program was not relevant to their needs or their priorities.”

    No national outcry? What do you think the Congress critters are responding to? They don’t do anything unless there’s an emergency or an opportunity.

    Justin Kugler wrote
    “Kennedy himself didn’t even care that much about space exploration, per se. What he cared about was establishing dominance over the Soviet Union. Once the Space Race was won, NASA was no longer such a priority that it could get a virtual blank check. We, as a community, have been struggling to live with that, ever since.”

    And we now have an administration that’s doing its best to give that hard won dominance to Russia.

    Justin Kugler wrote
    “Instead of waiting for the next Kennedy, whom we have lionized to our own detriment, we need to learn how to conduct meaningful space exploration and technology development within the budgets we are given. We have to give something of value back to the American taxpayers that is relevant to them.

    I’m sure you’ll have some insulting comeback remark, though, or you’ll just ignore this like you did my deconstruction of your helium-3 claims.”

    There’s the problem. “We have to give something of value back to the American taxpayers that is relevant to them.” I can guarantee you that nobody forsaw the amazing changes that took place as a result of the space race. The medical technology the microminiturization of electronics and all of that. It’s stunning when you stop to think that a simple calculator these days or even a phone would have taken up two city blocks in the early sixties. Nobody knows what will come of any of this research. It’s not something we can even guess at. As for your deconstruction of the He3 argument? We’ll never find out will we? You were talking about something where you would have to take everything with you and I was talking about taking the ability with you to refuel while your ‘out there’ Obviously either approach will take tons of work and we have no idea what technological spin offs will happen.

  • Todd The Usurper

    ” Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 10:41 am
    Oh the pain. I was just insulted by an idiot. It just makes me want to cry. Oh yeah. Just for you.

    Fewer people might think you were an idiot if you didn’t say such idiotic things and if you didn’t use such an idiotic screen name.”

    I just knew that there’d be an Ann Landers or a Hints from Heloise in here.

  • amightywind

    Justin Kugler wrote:

    Todd, I do work for a major contractor and I don’t think you get it. The lesson of the past 30 years is that NASA can’t keep on doing things the same way over and over again and expect to get out of LEO. The Von Braun paradigm is not sustainable within the fiscal environment NASA has had since Apollo ended.

    Justin, I don’t think you get it. Your new age, Silicon Valley bullsh*t bingo about ‘paradigm’ this and ‘sustainable’ that are no substitute for an active spacecraft development plan. Congress has overwhelmingly rejected that notion.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand…a question since you have some knowledge of LAS…

    on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being something simple and 10 being Ares (grin) how would you rate the difficulty of doing a pusher type LAS?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Todd The Usurper

    “Rand…a question since you have some knowledge of LAS…

    on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being something simple and 10 being Ares (grin) how would you rate the difficulty of doing a pusher type LAS?

    Robert G. Oler”

    That’s an easy one. One is an idea and one is built and tested.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 11:04 am
    you wrote:

    There’s the problem. “We have to give something of value back to the American taxpayers that is relevant to them.” I can guarantee you that nobody forsaw the amazing changes that took place as a result of the space race….

    my reply

    even if that were accurate and its not, it was 40 plus years ago when that was relevant.

    Most of the things that are attributed to the “space race” in terms of technology really came as a result of the Vietnam war and the techology drive it triggered. The dollars spent on technology in Vietnam far outpaced the technology effort of Apollo.

    For instance the “computer” advances touted from the “space race” are, particularly in what become “microcomputers” are attributable to the desire to improve the A-6 bombing system…

    Sorry

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    and from what I have seen of the Orion LAS it is what test pilots call “a cluster frack”….and the last word really should have another F word.

    I have but have not reviewed the LAS system test data from Orion, but have talked to some classmates from Navy Test Pilots school who have and they are not impressed. It is simply an effort to “redo Apollo”

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 11:04 am


    No national outcry? What do you think the Congress critters are responding to? They don’t do anything unless there’s an emergency or an opportunity………………………..

    there was no national outcry when Apollo ended and almost no one outside of the technowelfare bubble of hsf cares about the fact that we have ended Bush’s “vision” to return to the Moon.

    I take it you are on the “technowelfare” train. YOu need to get outside of that bubble and see what the rest of America is worried about.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Todd The Usurper

    ” Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:02 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 11:04 am
    you wrote:

    There’s the problem. “We have to give something of value back to the American taxpayers that is relevant to them.” I can guarantee you that nobody forsaw the amazing changes that took place as a result of the space race….

    my reply

    even if that were accurate and its not, it was 40 plus years ago when that was relevant.

    Most of the things that are attributed to the “space race” in terms of technology really came as a result of the Vietnam war and the techology drive it triggered. The dollars spent on technology in Vietnam far outpaced the technology effort of Apollo.

    For instance the “computer” advances touted from the “space race” are, particularly in what become “microcomputers” are attributable to the desire to improve the A-6 bombing system…

    Sorry

    Robert G. Oler”

    Sorry I was actually around during that. You obviously weren’t. Making microrocessors made the trip to the moon and ICBMs possible. I’m sure Grumman made use of the technology like everyone else did. That is once the technology was declassified. Nice try.
    http://www.web-friend.com/help/general/tech_history.html#1946

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    That’s an easy one. One is an idea and one is built and tested.

    Yes, the Ares I LAS was tested, and found to be almost as lethal as doing nothing. The bottom line for the Ares I approach is that it is not “Safer”. The failure mode for an SRB crew launcher is far more dangerous than a liquid-fueled one, and regardless of the type of LAS you use on a liquid-fuelded launcher (pusher, tractor, etc.), your chances of survival are higher than if you were on an Ares I.

    Now if Ares I was a product of the private sector, many of you commercial space bashers would be screaming “They have to prove SRB’s are safer before we’ll let our astronauts ride on them”. But being a NASA program, it’s assumed that given enough money and time, NASA can make anything acceptably safe (whatever that is).

    For you Todd, it’s obvious that you haven’t read anything about how the pusher LAS would work, so you obviously like to diss instead of discuss. Since there are a number of companies that are looking at this approach, there is enough potential upside to the approach than what you are aware of. Will it ultimately replace tractor LAS? Only time will tell, but it certainly addresses legitimate problems with the current LAS designs.

  • Todd The Usurper

    ‘Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:07 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 11:04 am

    No national outcry? What do you think the Congress critters are responding to? They don’t do anything unless there’s an emergency or an opportunity………………………..

    there was no national outcry when Apollo ended and almost no one outside of the technowelfare bubble of hsf cares about the fact that we have ended Bush’s “vision” to return to the Moon.

    I take it you are on the “technowelfare” train. YOu need to get outside of that bubble and see what the rest of America is worried about.

    Robert G. Oler’

    There’s no national outcry over Shuttle ending either. Like Apollo it’s served it’s purpose. So why is Congress reacting if nobody cares? One thing they aren’t going to allow is the creation of a new technowelfare program. As I’ve said several times. Both Commercial and BEO are good ideas. You are for only one thing the new technowelfare.

  • amightywind

    All. Be reminded that a pusher abort design for Orion was studied and rejected (Orion MLAS Concept 1 & 2), due to weight, complexity, and performance issues. The same fate awaits other pusher concepts. The problem with spacecraft engineering today is nobody ever learns a lesson in design. The Ares design has been successfully tested. How are the’ vapor’ escape systems performing?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    All. Be reminded that a pusher abort design for Orion was studied and rejected (Orion MLAS Concept 1 & 2), due to weight, complexity, and performance issue..

    anything that NASA HSF puts together has weight complexity and performance issues. When NASA takes a simple amateur radio, one that is in use all over the world and requires 1 million dollars worth of documentation and test to fly it on the shuttle and station. Goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Get this through your head, Porthos:”

    Ohhh, literary references — so relevant to space policy and engineering discussions.

    [rolls eyes]

    “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has– for nearly half a century.”

    Oh really? The rest of us had no idea.

    [rolls eyes]

    Your point?

    Shuttle operations will end in 2011 and that capability is going to disappear. In fact, it already is disappearing:

    abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=11262328

    The question is not what competes against Shuttle operations, because nothing ever will compete against Shuttle after its termination.

    The question is what will replace Shuttle for civil human ETO transport the most quickly and cost effectively.

    And on that question, there’s no doubt that Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9, and Dragon have a huge lead over Orion and whatever its next launch vehicle is suppossed to be. We’re talking dozens of Altas and Delta launches and demonstrated orbital capability in Falcon 9 versus an Ares I launch vehicle that never passed PDR. And we’re talking a Dragon capsule that’s flown boilerplate and will fly functional later this year, versus an Orion capsule that doesn’t even know what it’s next launch vehicle is going to be, nevertheless completed any orbital flight or even have one scheduled.

    To accuse competing launch vehicles and crew capsules of not flying, when in fact they are already flying all the way to orbit, and your favored solution hasn’t done an orbital flight, doesn’t have one scheduleed, can’t get out of preliminary design, and can’t even figure out what it’s launch solution is going to be is the height of hypocrisy.

    “to compare ‘SpaceX’ with NASA operations is bogus”

    You’re the only one making that comparison. You’re debating yourself.

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    When is the first Orion launch on the manifest and in the budget?

    What vehicle is it launching on?

    When will that vehicle be ready?

    How much will it cost?

    Is there enough budget to meet that schedule?

    Doctor, heal thyself.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:19 pm ..

    well you might have been around but you really didnt grab much of it.

    Going to the Moon had little or nothing to do with “microprocessors”. What drove it were military projects, you touch on one, the ICBM’s…but mostly not even that. Microprocessors evolved to deal with dynamic situations of combat and the attempt to make “smart bombs” to cut pilot casualties.

    As for

    “here’s no national outcry over Shuttle ending either. Like Apollo it’s served it’s purpose. So why is Congress reacting if nobody cares”

    Congress or more correctly individual Congresspeople react whenever federal pork ends sin their district. Notice however the layoff notices continue coming out. Shuttle is toast.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Todd The Usurper

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    “That’s an easy one. One is an idea and one is built and tested.”

    Yes, the Ares I LAS was tested, and found to be almost as lethal as doing nothing. The bottom line for the Ares I approach is that it is not “Safer”. The failure mode for an SRB crew launcher is far more dangerous than a liquid-fueled one, and regardless of the type of LAS you use on a liquid-fuelded launcher (pusher, tractor, etc.), your chances of survival are higher than if you were on an Ares I.”

    Gosh the Ares 1 LAS was found to be almost as lethal as doing nothing? I already addressed that and haven’t had a rational argument in return. The G’s are reduced in actual use and the reason for the high G’s in the test were to verify the robustness of the system. The chutes getting melted? That’s a two year old problem and in case you didn’t notice they didn’t melt. That got fixed. What you and Robert don’t get is that what he was reading was analysis for decision making purposes…not an expose regarding a dark secret.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “Now if Ares I was a product of the private sector, many of you commercial space bashers would be screaming “They have to prove SRB’s are safer before we’ll let our astronauts ride on them”. But being a NASA program, it’s assumed that given enough money and time, NASA can make anything acceptably safe (whatever that is).”

    You’re right on that first statement because the design wouldn’t be a proven design. However how many have been used to carry astronauts? Do the math.

    Coastal Ron wrote
    “For you Todd, it’s obvious that you haven’t read anything about how the pusher LAS would work, so you obviously like to diss instead of discuss. Since there are a number of companies that are looking at this approach, there is enough potential upside to the approach than what you are aware of. Will it ultimately replace tractor LAS? Only time will tell, but it certainly addresses legitimate problems with the current LAS designs.”

    I’ve read about it and I hope it works out one of these days. I hope commercial does okay for LEO. I’m not interested in LEO and that’s all you are interested in.

  • Ferris Valyn

    However how many have been used to carry astronauts? Do the math.

    Well, that would be zero. Don’t know what other math you want.

  • Todd The Usurper

    I wrote
    However how many have been used to carry astronauts? Do the math.

    Ferris Valyn wrote
    “Well, that would be zero. Don’t know what other math you want.”

    Zero five segmented. Hundreds as four segmented. BTW I never really liked the idea of using solids where humans are involved. I wish they’d gone forward with the hybrid solid idea. You could actually shut those off.

  • brobof

    Muslim outreach: “There is no reply to the ignorant like keeping silence”
    (Turkish proverb.)

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Ferris Valyn wrote
    “Well, that would be zero. Don’t know what other math you want.”

    Zero five segmented. Hundreds as four segmented.

    No, it’s zero.

    No SRB-only crew launcher has ever existed. The Shuttle used SRB’s as part of the thrust needed, and liquid-fueled engines for the balance. The SRB’s were attached to the external tank, and the Shuttle was attached to the external tank. The SRB’s were never directly attached to the vehicle carrying humans.

  • Justin Kugler

    Todd,
    I agree with you that Griffin went in the wrong direction with Constellation. I think you’re completely wrong about Obama “announcing the end of manned space flight,” though. I know you aren’t interested in LEO, but extending the ISS is still human space flight. Besides, if you aren’t interested in LEO, I would think you’d be all about the Flagship Technology Demonstrators.

    As for the “politicization” of NASA, it was political from the very beginning. I refer again to Kennedy’s true motivation for the Moon Shot. Another example would be bringing the Russians and Europeans onto the Space Station Program to keep them focused on a shared goal. NASA is political. It’s a fallacy to pretend otherwise. Besides, how is making a mountain out of the molehill that is Bolden’s remarks to Al-Jazeera not political, in and of itself?

    Congress is responding to perceived threats to the gravy train, not a public outcry. Obama proposed a realignment of NASA back to a tech development and exploration agency from an operations-focused agency and did so without consulting Congress first. The reaction of the opponents to his plan is almost entirely parochial politics, as evidenced by the House’s inability to articulate a coherent response.

    As for helium-3, there is no business case for it. We can’t even get D-T fusion to work yet and that’s easier. If you want the American people to get behind you in space exploration, you’ve got the make the case for how and why what you are going to do will make their lives better or, at least, serve some national interest. They’re not going to buy into a scheme to mine fuel for powerplants that don’t even exist yet.

  • Todd The Usurper

    ” Coastal Ron wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:44 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    “Ferris Valyn wrote
    “Well, that would be zero. Don’t know what other math you want.”

    Zero five segmented. Hundreds as four segmented.”

    No, it’s zero.

    No SRB-only crew launcher has ever existed. The Shuttle used SRB’s as part of the thrust needed, and liquid-fueled engines for the balance. The SRB’s were attached to the external tank, and the Shuttle was attached to the external tank. The SRB’s were never directly attached to the vehicle carrying humans.”

    Which is why there are so many test flights. Maybe you missed the number of tests that are being performed. You’re probably complaining about the number of tests. However you still just don’t get the fact that four segmented have been flying for a long time.

  • Todd The Usurper

    “brobof wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:16 pm
    Muslim outreach: “There is no reply to the ignorant like keeping silence”
    (Turkish proverb.)”

    And because it was the truth you couldn’t keep silent. You idiot!

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/14/nasa-outreach-program-confirmed-despite-white-house-denial-rep-says/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlcNUq77_LM

  • on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being something simple and 10 being Ares (grin) how would you rate the difficulty of doing a pusher type LAS?

    A pusher is a more difficult development (assuming that it’s going to do double duty as an insertion stage), due to the need to have high enough thrust for the abort maneuver and low thrust for the nominal case. Fortunately, it’s not as much of a problem if you don’t have to get away from a solid motor that cannot be shut down and might be chasing you, or exploding with flaming fuel flying at you, so the requirements for Falcon, Atlas or Delta are much easier to meet. The pusher would have a big operational pay off in terms of safety, cost and performance, which is why everyone is interested in it (going all the way back to OSP). It was even considered in Apollo, but Apollo stressed schedule, not ops costs, and the tractor was a more sure thing.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Todd

    Which is why there are so many test flights. Maybe you missed the number of tests that are being performed. You’re probably complaining about the number of tests. However you still just don’t get the fact that four segmented have been flying for a long time.

    No, sorry, your wrong. The number of claimed test flights is 3, and the real number is 2. There is the Ares I-X, which was a PR stunt and nothing else. There is the Ares I-Y test, which does test the complete first stage, and there is Orion 1, which is a full-up Ares & Orion.

    Those are the tests, and then they are putting people in it. 3 tests total, 2 real tests, and only 1 test of the entire vehicle.

    Sorry, but that doesn’t count as “many” test flights.

    And, as stated before, the Shuttle launches don’t actually give you real data points to consider for the safety of an Ares I vehicle.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Should’ve included this in the first post

    So, to make certain there is no mistake on this – previous heritage hardware for Ares I is effectively zero, and number of real test flights before we put humans on board is 2.

    And this is somehow safer because???????????

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you. I would have thought that a pusher LAS would have been primarily useful for deorbit burns. I claim no real expertise in this, but what strikes me how this would work (and correct me if this is flawed) would be that a number of solid rockets would be used…fired simultaneously in terms of an LAS but fired in some sequence in terms of a deorbit or I guess orbital insertion?

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    “Free Enterprise always wins… Robert G. Oler”

    Hmmm. The world’s first ICBM; the first satellite; the first object to escape the Earth; the first object to hit the moon; the first man and first woman in space– all ‘wins’ by Korolev and his socialist/communist, Soviet team built on captured rocket technology crafted by Nazi facists in Germany. ‘Free enterprise’ has never led the way into space; it has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could.

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:35 pm <- Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Byeman

    Orion MLAS was not a pusher, it was still a tractor and it used solid motors.

  • ferris valyn

    dcsca – commercial has

    Its orion\ares I\side-mount\ares V-lite with menthol that needs to stop talking and start flying

  • Stop talking. Start flying.

    SpaceX has been flying, and it’s possible to both talk and fly, though it’s apparently not possible for you to both type and emit anything of intelligence or wisdom. Your idiotic mantra is not magically rendered smarter from rote repetition.

  • red

    Todd: ” I can guarantee you that nobody forsaw the amazing changes that took place as a result of the space race. The medical technology the microminiturization of electronics and all of that. It’s stunning when you stop to think that a simple calculator these days or even a phone would have taken up two city blocks in the early sixties. Nobody knows what will come of any of this research. It’s not something we can even guess at.”

    That’s why we should considerably increase our space research, technology development, and technology demonstration budgets rather than our government rocket building budget. Examples include increasing ISS research and development, increasing the human research budget, and various items overviewed here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/new_space_enterprise/home/workshop_home.html

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/industry_day_info.html

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    The chutes getting melted? That’s a two year old problem and in case you didn’t notice they didn’t melt. That got fixed.

    Funny, but I didn’t bring up the subject of the parachutes melting – the Air Force did. But since you mentioned it, you’re wrong, the problem has not been solved, not unless they have invented parachute material that doesn’t melt when burning SRB fuel sticks to it. Shows how much you know about the subject…

    The G’s are reduced in actual use and the reason for the high G’s in the test were to verify the robustness of the system.

    I don’t know where you spent your 35 years in the aerospace business, but wherever it was, you didn’t have to worry about physics. There has already been someone that worked on the Orion LAS that has commented about this on a different topic post, so I’ll just summarize.

    - Ares I is accelerating towards orbit, and something triggers the LAS.
    - The LAS not only has to out run the Ares I as it is currently accelerating, but it has to overcome 1) a vacuum created between the capsule and the rest of the rocket, 2) after separation, the Ares 1 will be accelerating even faster with less mass on top.

    Liquid fueled launchers shut down their engines when igniting the LAS, and don’t have to contend with a still accelerating rocket that they have to avoid. There is still momentum with the rocket, but it is not accelerating like the Ares I would be.

    If the Ares I SRB exploded for some reason, that is where the Air Force said that the debris field would very likely envelope the escaping Orion when the chutes open, and the burning solid fuel would melt the chutes enough to cause failure – you know what comes next…

    Liquid-fueled launchers don’t need as large of an LAS as an SRB launcher would, and that is why pusher types are being investigated. Will they be deployed? Who knows, but everyone knows the pros & cons of a tractor system, and it’s worth looking into for a pusher.

    You seem to have already reached a conclusion about the pusher types, but not being an expert on the subject, I doubt Boeing and SpaceX are knocking on your door for your opinion. You’ll just have to be a spectator like the rest of us…

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    “Free Enterprise always wins… Robert G. Oler”

    Hmmm. The world’s first ICBM; the first satellite; the first object to escape the Earth; the first object to hit the moon; the first man and first woman in space– all ‘wins’ by Korolev and his socialist/communist,….

    lol “wins” that other then in the world of political testosterone meant nothing. On the other hand free enterprise built the worlds first geo synch satellite and changed history…and the economy.

    F minus for you

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    ‘Free enterprise’ has never led the way into space; it has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could.

    Who said winning was being first? Weird.

    There’s usually little money in being first, unless there is a contest like the X Prize, but even then that typically is not a lot. And it is traditionally governments that have been able to spend the money to do the “firsts”, like going to space or the Moon – they pool our collective money (taxes) to do things that companies cannot afford to do. No, the real prize for the free market is creating and expanding the markets opened up by the “firsts”.

    Free enterprise converts the “firsts” into markets that can be exploited.

    In business, it’s not who’s first or who’s best, but how well you benefit from your marketspace. Apple is not the leading computer maker, and is dwarfed by the Windows market for their operating system. But now Apple has a larger market cap than Microsoft, and is close to generating more revenue.

    SpaceX is mocked for their low-tech approach to their launcher and capsule, but they have low overhead and operational costs, and their designs are “good enough” for what the market wants. With their lower prices, they stand to not only take a significant slice of the current market, but lower the price points and expand market.

    Governments paved the way for satellites, and private companies have benefited from that market, both directly and indirectly. It’s not being first that matters, it’s what you do after that.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 6:35 pm <- Get this through your head, Aramis: Space X has flown nobody into space. Nobody. Nada. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has, for nearly half a century. Any comparisons by 'musketeers' of SpaceX to NASA's space operations is bogus. Stop talking. Start flying. Another day ticks quietly by and still no Dragons cross our skies.

  • Eric Sterner

    @Major Tom

    Sigh….which service by the way? Current? Retired? I always thought Bowie was kind of lame.

    Not going to rehash the debate point by point. I don’t believe you addressed mine, but we’re not likely to agree on that. So…moving on.

    These are your words with regard to the staff:

    “they’re not very good staff. There’s no excuse for this kind of fumbling when many of the same staffers were setting up public meetings on loan guarantees back in the VentureStar days”

    “How is being too lazy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at CBO about how your loan proposal is going to be scored before you waste time on a DOA bill “elegant” or “brilliant”?

    Forget the ignorant stupidity involved. It’s such incredibly lazy staff work that it’s not even worthy of the title “work”.”

    These would be the people to whom you referred as “not very good,” and “lazy,” seeing as they constitute the subcommittee staff:

    •Dick Obermann, Staff Director
    Dick joined the Committee in 1990. Initially, he served as Science Advisor for the Subcommittee on Space, including oversight and budget authorization responsibilities for science, exploration, and the space station program. He currently is serving as Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, with primary authorization and oversight responsibility for civil space and aeronautics activities. Dick holds a B.S.E. and Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences from Princeton University, and an M.S.E. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. He also completed the Senior Managers in Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Dick started his career working on the technical staff at the MITRE Corporation and as a senior program officer on the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the American Astronautical Society and a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

    •Pamela Whitney, Professional Staff
    Pamela Whitney serves as Professional Staff on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. In her former position as Senior Program Officer at the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council, National Academies, she directed studies and workshops on international cooperation in space, Earth remote sensing, Mars planetary protection, space policy, astronomy science centers, among other space technology and research topics. Pamela also served as the Executive Secretary of the U.S. national committee to the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science (ICSU). She held previous positions as an analyst at the aerospace consulting firm CSP Associates, Inc., and as a researcher and writer for Time-Life Books, Inc. Pamela holds a B.A. in Economics from Smith College and an M.A. in International Communication from American University. She is a member of Women in Aerospace and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

    •Allen Li, Professional Staff
    Allen serves as Professional Staff on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. He joined the Subcommittee in January 2008 after retiring from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in May 2007. As Director of GAO’s Acquisition and Sourcing Management Team, Allen led GAO’s work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and reviewed numerous defense acquisition programs. He also served as the Team’s Director for Operations, managing day-to-day activities of a geographically dispersed group. During his career at GAO, Allen also served as Associate Director in GAO’s Energy, Resources, and Science Issue Area; and Associate Director of the Transportation Issue Area, where he specialized in aviation safety and air traffic control modernization. During his tenure at GAO, he testified numerous times before Senate and House Committee and Subcommittees on civil and military issues such as the International Space Station and the F-22. Allen was selected for GAO’s Senior Executive Service in 1993. He holds a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

    •Devin Bryant, Research Assistant
    Devin Bryant joined the Committee originally as an intern for the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in June 2004, and went on to serve as Staff Assistant for the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards, and the Full Committee. In 2007, he joined the Democratic staff as Research Assistant for the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. He currently handles commercial space and exploration issues. He graduated with a B.A. in Space Policy from the University of Redlands in 2004 and is originally from Los Angeles.

    Ed Feddeman – minority staff
    Ed Feddeman has been with the Science Committee for the last seven years, and has a wealth of experience on Capitol Hill, having previously served as Chief of Staff for both Rep. Bill Clinger from 1994-1996 and Rep. George Nethercutt from 1996-1999. Feddeman also served as Professional Staff for the Committee on Public Works and Transportation from 1984-1994. He earned his Bachelors Degree from Washington and Lee University.

    Ken Monroe – minority staff
    Ken Monroe was the Director of New Product Development for Qwest Communications from 1999-2001. He has also held various engineering and management positions, including Executive Officer to the Kennedy Space Center Director, at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1987-1998. Monroe earned a Bachelors Degree in Engineering from the University of Central Florida, as well as a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology.

    These are the cosponors of the bill who publicly claim ownership:
    Rep. Bart Gordon
    Rep. Ralph Hall.
    Rep Gabrielle Giffords
    Rep. Pete Olson

    Trying to pretend that you didn’t mean them specifically by claiming that you’ve only referred to them “in a general sense,” as if yor insults were aimed at people who don’t exist, is just plain…well…pathetic.

    By the way…I haven’t questioned your right to speak or criticize anyone, anonymously or otherwise. I’m rather enjoying this. A little think skinned are you?

    Cheers

  • Eric Sterner

    @red

    Good questions for exploring what the role and relationship government should/shouldn’t have with the private sector and commercial markets. I’m still noodling that one myself and hope there’s a little back and forth on it in a newer thread when Jeff raises it. I was hoping to see more of it in response to my first post in this one, but was apparently too sarcastic. I’ve always wanted to see gov’t get creative when it comes to supporting the development of new commercial space activity, but the older I get the more I worry that the LAST thing commercial space needs is a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians mucking about in it. They’re only likely to swamp market signals with other interests.

    FWIW, I like the administration’s initiatives on new technology, but worry they’ll get wasted, thrown under the bus, or turn into corporate welfare, and am glad to see a commitment to “commercial” space survive from one administration to another, even though I don’t agree with this administration’s definition of it as laid out in the space policy. What I really don’t like is the admin’s decision to unwravel a political consensus on Moon/Mars and decision to bet the entire future of U.S. human access to space to a model of “commercial” space that I suspect is fundamentally flawed.

  • Major Tom

    “they’re not very good staff. There’s no excuse for this kind of fumbling when many of the same staffers were setting up public meetings on loan guarantees back in the VentureStar days… ignorant stupidity…”

    I stand by those words. Obermann was on this subcommittee when loans for VentureStar were extensively discussed. Li and Whitney were both in space policy circles at that time. They should all have awareness of and/or know from that experience how much of a nonstarter loans are for financing LV development. With that background, there’s no excuse to have taken the House bill forward in the form it took. It’s fumbling ignorant stupidity.

    “How is being too lazy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at CBO about how your loan proposal is going to be scored before you waste time on a DOA bill ‘elegant’ or ‘brilliant’? It’s such incredibly lazy staff work that it’s not even worthy of the title ‘work’”.

    I stand by those words. There’s at least six professional staff on the subcommittee. Why didn’t anyone bother to talk to someone from CBO before the bill was introduced so that they knew it wouldn’t be DOA due to a CBO loan scoring issue? It’s incredibly lazy staff work.

    “By the way…I haven’t questioned your right to speak or criticize anyone, anonymously or otherwise.”

    Yes, you did. You wrote:

    “What’s pathetic, and lazy, is trashing others behind the veil of anonymity.”

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “What I really don’t like is the admin’s decision to unwravel a political consensus on Moon/Mars”

    What consensus? After its first fiscal year, Congress never funded the agency at anywhere near the levels proscribed in the VSE.

    Don’t make things up.

  • Major Tom

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    So far this year:

    2010-02-11, 15:23[1] Atlas V 401 AV-021 CCAFS SLC-41 SDO Solar Observatory GTO Successful

    2010-03-04, 23:57 Delta IV-M+ (4,2) 348 CCAFS SLC-37B GOES-P Weather satellite High perigee GTO Success

    2010-04-22, 23:52[2][3] Atlas V 501 AV-012 CCAFS SLC-41 X-37B OTV-1 Orbital Test Vehicle LEO Successful First Atlas V 501, maiden flight of Boeing X-37

    2010-05-28, 03:00 Delta IV-M+ (4,2) 349 CCAFS SLC-37B USA-213 (GPS IIF SV-1) Navigation satellite MEO Success

    4 June 2010, 18:45 Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit SpaceX Success 1st Successful Flight of Falcon 9 Block 1

    Where are the Ares I launches to orbit this year?

    Where are the SDLV launches to orbit this year?

    Where are the Orion orbital flights this year?

    If not this year, when are they scheduled?

    FWIW…

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 10:49 pm
    >> Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 9:48 pm
    >> The space shuttle has only had two fatal accidents in nearly 30
    >> years of flight. And has had no fatal– launch accidents– in nearly
    >> a quarter of a century. That’s remarkable, IMO.”

    > Yes, that is remarkable. Unfortunately, the U.S. never decided to
    > expand or improve the Shuttle system, and so now it’s a lack of
    > money and mission that is causing it to come to an end. All good things…

    2 loss of craft accidents out of 130+ is not that good – though for space craft its the best anyone has done.

    And Shuttles not out of money – and its out of mission largely because NASA being scaled down in scope and breadth – so I don’t see that as good. And that NASA wanted a higher cost / lower flight rate system to replace it – which is REALLY not good!!
    >>The idea that we should just toss away everything we learned
    >>from the shuttle program and just start from scratch– makes no sense.”

    True, a giant step back away from space.

    > In some ways I think the Shuttle program ossified. Over
    > the years there were some incremental improvements, but
    > nothing really major that changed the costs, operations or function of the Shuttle.

    There were lots of them developed by the contractors and offered, though saving costs was politically untenable – the potential to do that (or operate the current shuttles cheaper in a commercial operation) and lower costs a lot, is certainly there. So going back to higher cost, much lower capability, fully expendable systems – its disgusting.

    > Already there is some competition in the payload launch
    > marketplace, and once we get commercial crew going, there
    > will be competition there too. When a marketplace has competition,
    > prices tend to go down and service tends to improve.==

    The costs only come down with competition when the market is big enough to support multiple providers operating efficiently, otherwise it could drive costs up. Given the small, and rapidly declining, market for launch services – I’m not optimistic you’ll even keep the current providers in the market.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 12:25 pm
    >== There’s no national outcry over Shuttle ending either. Like
    > Apollo it’s served it’s purpose. ==

    Apollo certainly was seen as having finished its mission (I.E. to beat the Russians) but shutting down Shuttle oddly isn’t realized even by many folks in aerospace?! They idea it was going to be shutdown to be replaced by a Apollo clone – shocked folks I explained it to.

    NASA space program hasn’t done much that gets folks attention – but they expect its going to continue and advance.

  • Paul D.

    But since you mentioned it, you’re wrong, the problem has not been solved, not unless they have invented parachute material that doesn’t melt when burning SRB fuel sticks to it.

    The problem wasn’t SRB fuel sticking to the parachute, it was radiant heating from the cloud of burning fuel fragments.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Given the small, and rapidly declining, market for launch services

    You keep saying this, but I don’t see any facts to support it. If anything, the facts support that the cargo market is steady and primed to expand. ULA has been working with the Air Force to try and improve launch efficiency at the Cape, and they have a backlog of 33 Atlas and Delta rocket missions. Add to that the SpaceX backlog of 21 Cape launches thru 2015.

    The other factor you ignore is that when competition introduces lower price points, customers can afford to offer new products and services that were not possible earlier. With SpaceX lowering the cost of payloads to almost half what ULA offers, those savings go directly to the bottom line of payload customers, and can induce them to lower their prices or introduce new products & services. That spurs even more competition. Economics 101

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:00 am

    They idea it was going to be shutdown to be replaced by a Apollo clone – shocked folks I explained it to.

    Well then you explained it wrong, because Orion was not a replacement for Shuttle. Orion was designed to support a Moon mission and other exploration, whereas no Shuttle replacement was ever designed, authorized or built. The Shuttle program ended. Period.

    The tipping point came after the loss of Columbia, and a combination of cost, safety and change in direction is what lead the Shuttle program to end.

    It’s funny to see people forgetting what happened four years earlier when the decision was made, and when Congress was fine with the decision. Now it’s an election year, and politicians needs to show their constituents that they are sticking up for their jobs, and everyone is suddenly surprised that “Obama is ending the Shuttle”. That shows you have much attention the space program has…

  • Kelly Starks

    > Paul D. wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:41 am
    >> But since you mentioned it, you’re wrong, the problem has not
    >> been solved, not unless they have invented parachute material
    >>that doesn’t melt when burning SRB fuel sticks to it.

    > The problem wasn’t SRB fuel sticking to the parachute, it was radiant
    > heating from the cloud of burning fuel fragments.

    No I’m pretty sure hes correct, its the chunks of high temp burning fuel, not radiant energy, that were considered the big problem.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:12 pm
    >>Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:00 am
    >> “Given the small, and rapidly declining, market for launch services”

    > You keep saying this, but I don’t see any facts to support it.
    > If anything, the facts support that the cargo market is steady
    > and primed to expand.===

    Global launches per year has been declining for some time (down from 60 launch per year a few years back to 50 last time I checked). Obviously shuttles been a big fraction of global launches in tonnage and a decent amount of numbers, and its ending.

    Even industrial types like comsat, have been getting phased out as their market dies.

    > ULA has been working with the Air Force to try and improve
    > launch efficiency at the Cape, and they have a backlog of
    > 33 Atlas and Delta rocket missions. Add to that the SpaceX
    > backlog of 21 Cape launches thru 2015.

    That would be a little under 11 a year – not sure what that means to the total – but obviously a pretty damn small market?

    > == The other factor you ignore is that when competition
    > introduces lower price points, customers can afford to offer
    > new products and services that were not possible earlier. ==

    Even now launch costs are not a major fraction of the sats installed total costs. So surveys don’t see a lot of growth potential without major cost cuts. A lecture at JSC back in the mid ‘80’s was talking about needing costs down to $400/lb (under $750/lb now ish) to really get a market surge.

    Also your assuming competition can lower prices ni such small markets with so much fixed entry costs. That’s often not true.

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:00 am
    >> They idea it was going to be shutdown to be replaced by a
    >>Apollo clone – shocked folks I explained it to.”

    > Well then you explained it wrong, because Orion was not a
    > replacement for Shuttle. ==

    Not true given it was to take over Shuttles remaining functions, especially the high profile crew carry to ISS.

    >== Orion was designed to support a Moon mission and
    > other exploration, ==

    Well not really “other exploration” though the PR sometimes suggested that, but that still goes to Apollo clone.

    But the fact Orion adn the return to the moon made so little impact on people – even folks in aerospace – seemed a BIG red flag.

  • Not true given it was to take over Shuttles remaining functions, especially the high profile crew carry to ISS.

    No, it wasn’t. Shuttle carried tens of thousands of pounds of payload, could return almost as much, provided a base for EVA, provided a temporary space station for research, and delivered astronauts to and from orbit. All Orion did was the latter. There will never be a single replacement for the Shuttle, because one of the reasons that it failed was that it tried to do too many things.

  • Dennis Berube

    At the timeof shuttle development NASA was afraid of what would happen when the Moon program ended. The idea of a space station and shuttle to supply it came into focus. The shuttle had the dual purpose of keeping the manned space program going, even if it was just to orbit, and carrying supplies. Orion however is not made to replace the shuttle. It is strictly for carrying people. This is why NASA is able to go back to a LAS, to make a safer craft to carry astronauts. Orion is a crew transport system, only, but much safer than the shuttle which has no launch escape system.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Oler, I thought that both types of LAS systems have been tested?

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, I thought that the new LAS system for Orion was actually trimmed down due to its design. Plus it has been stated that it would be able to steer the Orion section away from the following SRB. I dont really think that the push type has much chance of becoming reality with regards to Orion! I could be wrong.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Even now launch costs are not a major fraction of the sats installed total costs. So surveys don’t see a lot of growth potential without major cost cuts.

    If you put $50M on the table in front of a business owner, and tell them they can they can have it if they use product A instead of product B, they will use product A. In the real world, $50M can make the difference between a profit and a loss, especially when you are talking about thin profit margins and emerging competitors with new technology.

    A lecture at JSC back in the mid ‘80’s was talking about needing costs down to $400/lb (under $750/lb now ish) to really get a market surge.

    30-year old marketing lectures at an institution that does not compete in a market are not relevant to the current situation. Projections are guesses, and until a business actually does something, the projections cannot be validated.

    Since the market has been paying $10,000/lb or more for a long time, imagine what businesses would do if the prices fell 20-50%. It takes a couple of years to ripple through a market, but once it can be depended upon, the market starts to respond to the lower prices and what it can do for their product line and bottom line.

  • Plus it has been stated that it would be able to steer the Orion section away from the following SRB. I dont really think that the push type has much chance of becoming reality with regards to Orion!

    Not if it flies on Ares. If it flies on a reasonable launcher, it might.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I thought that the new LAS system for Orion was actually trimmed down due to its design. Plus it has been stated that it would be able to steer the Orion section away from the following SRB. I dont really think that the push type has much chance of becoming reality with regards to Orion!

    An LAS is sized for the launcher characteristics as well as the payload that it has to extract (the capsule). The Orion design has be jerked around by Ares I issues, so the present LAS is in response to all of that. What they would do for Orion on a liquid-fueled launcher is probably unknown at this point, and until it gets funded, it’s all a guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept the tractor-style, but just derated it for a lighter weight Orion.

    The pusher-type LAS is being talked about for the Dragon and CST-100, and Blue Origin supposedly been working on this too. So far it’s an engineering exercise, and it remains to be seen if they will have enough confidence to spend money to test or deploy it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There will never be a single replacement for the Shuttle, because one of the reasons that it failed was that it tried to do too many things.

    This is a popular concept in New Space circles, but I wonder if it is true. Suppose Shuttle had been successful in its number one goal, to reduce launch costs by one or even two orders of magnitude. Then the fact that it could serve adequately though not spectacularly in a number of different roles would not have been enough to declare it a failure. It would probably mean that it would eventually be replaced by a series of specialised vehicles, but in the mean time having a jack of all trades vehicle would have been a good thing. Unless the jack of all trades aspect is fundamentally incompatible with its main goal (as opposed to merely making it harder to achieve), I don’t think it’s a bad thing. In particular I think it would be a good thing for a deep space vehicle, provided it was compatible with fostering cheap lift, which it would be if it were refuelable.

  • Major Tom

    “Suppose Shuttle had been successful in its number one goal, to reduce launch costs by one or even two orders of magnitude. Then the fact that it could serve adequately though not spectacularly in a number of different roles would not have been enough to declare it a failure.”

    To be brutally honest, even at Shuttle’s exorbitant costs, it may have served longer and been considered more of a success (if not a complete success) were it not for Challenger and Columbia. Despite the existence of budget pressures and pressures to move to a BEO launch capability since the early 1990s, and attempts to replace Shuttle with (presumably) more cost-effective solutions like VentureStar, SLI, and OSP, it was only after Columbia that Shuttle retirement became part of national policy and NASA’s budget.

    Soyuz is an interesting counterpoint. It is a much less capable and older (and smaller) jack-of-all-trades type of vehicle. But Soyuz hasn’t caused loss of life since 1971 (IIRC), and there are no concrete plans to retire the system. It’s not a perfect counterpoint, as one could also blame the lack of a Soyuz replacement on lack of resources and poor Soviet and Russian economies. But I suspect the fact that Soyuz hasn’t killed any crews since human space flight became “routine” plays an important part in keeping Soyuz around.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Yes, if the overall costs could have been reduced significantly, it could have survived as a product/service. The true test of this would have been if a company either took over the operation of the Shuttle, or built it’s own version. Sadly the overall costs did not drop over time, or as much as needed.

    The other reason to have kept it would have been if we were doing enough work in LEO that required the Shuttle’s services, which is essentially as a temporary space station. However the commercial market has learned to live without it, and because of the dependability issues, the science community has migrated to launching payloads on dedicated launchers.

    Not until you are doing work that involves space walks & space work does the Shuttle really shine. But that market is pretty limited and sparse at this point, and now that the ISS is nearing completion, and the Hubble has had it’s last service call, there is not much unique stuff for the Shuttle to do.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    >> Not true given it was to take over Shuttles remaining functions,
    >> especially the high profile crew carry to ISS.

    > No, it wasn’t. Shuttle carried tens of thousands of pounds
    > of payload, could return almost as much, provided a base for EVA,
    > provided a temporary space station for research, and delivered
    > astronauts to and from orbit. All Orion did was the latter. ===

    Which since the later was the highest profile action – and about the only capability were retaining – NASA/DC are pretty much dismissing the other abilities.

    Yes, I agree, shuttle

    >== one of the reasons that [shuttle] failed was that it tried to do too many things.

    No that’s not a factor given it did them all pretty well, and at reduced cost. We (or at least NASA and DC) just decided we don’t want big projects in space, or have a nation capability in space that’s even a shadow of what the shuttles were.

    So shuttles was to be replaced with much higher cost (likely much less safety), then shuttle. Shuttles was to open up space as a national realm for large scale operations. Orion was Part of Griffen’s desire to close space back to occasional, extremely high cost, space spectaculars.

  • Coastal Ron

    Major Tom wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Soyuz is an interesting counterpoint. It is a much less capable and older (and smaller) jack-of-all-trades type of vehicle.

    I agree, and because it is far less expensive to operate, it has an easier time finding willing customers. It is certainly being underutilized when it is used as an ISS taxi, but it’s simple enough that it can still do that at a low enough price point.

    It’s potential replacement suffers from the same market demand issues that everyone else is facing – is there enough demand to justify the cost to develop and run a new capsule service? They would have to compete with the U.S. commercial crew hopefuls for 2016 & beyond ISS crew services, and it would have to take a government funded commitment to make that happen.

    I guess we’ll see if Medvedev & Putin want Russia to stay in the crew launch business if Congress ever funds commercial crew sufficiently.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    “Plus it has been stated that it would be able to steer the Orion section away from the following SRB. I dont really think that the push type has much chance of becoming reality with regards to Orion!

    Not if it flies on Ares. If it flies on a reasonable launcher, it might.”

    If you are refering to the MLAS then it will not come reality. Or at least I hope not. Here is one majoe issue: The abort motors lie on the circumference of the vehicle and the thrust vector does not go through the vehicle CG. If you lose one engine or it misfires or it does not provide full thrust, you can kiss goodbye your stability and hence your crew.

    Another great design… Then again there is sidemount…

    Maybe Congress will soon provide another design dictate to force physics through pace!

    Oh well…

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    No that’s not a factor given it [Shuttle] did them all pretty well, and at reduced cost.

    You continue to have this skewed sense of Shuttle cost. It did practically nothing inexpensively, and it required an army of USA contractors costing $100M/month to keep it going – even if it didn’t fly. The overall cost of the program was probably the second highest reason to end the program, with safety being the first.

  • No that’s not a factor given it did them all pretty well, and at reduced cost.

    On what planet did this occur? Because it certainly wasn’t this one. Shuttle costs are horrific. That Orion/Ares would be even more costly doesn’t make Shuttle economical.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:47 pm
    >> Even now launch costs are not a major fraction of the sats
    >> installed total costs. So surveys don’t see a lot of growth
    >> potential without major cost cuts.”

    > If you put $50M on the table in front of a business owner, and tell
    > them they can they can have it if they use product A instead of
    > product B, they will use product A. ==

    Not if avoiding the risks with A, is worth more to you then the $50M. It was one reason given by companies why they did pass up lower cost options. I mean the cargo isd generally multi-billion dollars sats, and are parts of even more multibillion dollar projects.

    >> A lecture at JSC back in the mid ‘80’s was talking about needing costs
    >> down to $400/lb (under $750/lb now ish) to really get a market surge.”

    > 30-year old marketing lectures ==

    Never heard of any newer ones to contradict it – and given the utter lack of interest when L/M and McDac tried to market 10 fold cheaper launchers. I tend to think its still inforce.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    >> There will never be a single replacement for the Shuttle, because
    >> one of the reasons that it failed was that it tried to do too many things.

    > This is a popular concept in New Space circles, but I wonder
    > if it is true. Suppose Shuttle had been successful in its number
    > one goal, to reduce launch costs by one or even two orders of
    > magnitude. Then the fact that it could serve adequately though
    > not spectacularly in a number of different roles would not have
    > been enough to declare it a failure. ==

    Given it could do all the separate missions better then anything else, and real effort was made by NASA/Congress to keep it high cost, “what might have been” questions of shuttle REALLY haunt me. Its margin cost per flight was only about $60M. Much, likely most, of the overhead costs – are total waste. Commercials tried to operate shuttles commercially in parallel to NASA, and could have demonstrated much lower costs. (NASA was shall we say – not open to that.)

    Certainly fleets of specialized craft with this small a demand would be expected to greatly increase costs for everyone compared to a big jack of all trades craft. Its why 18 wheelers, and pretty standard airliners, have taken over such a huge fraction of all transportation business.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> No that’s not a factor given it did them all pretty well, and at reduced cost.

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    > You continue to have this skewed sense of Shuttle cost. It
    > did practically nothing inexpensively, and it required an
    > army of USA contractors costing $100M/month to keep
    > it going – even if it didn’t fly.

    No sorry. You miss added the math again. Operating the shuttle doesn’t cost that much, the shuttle PROGRAM costs that much. PROGRAM, not operating the shuttle. I’ve little doubt the commercial crew program will cost a similar amount. Its a NASA / Gov thing, not a shuttle thing.

    High cost was not a accident, its a goal. Bloating costs is HIGHLY rewarded in government agencies and civil service laws. Whole departments in NASA that did nothing that wasn’t tossed were retained. Cost cutting measures were squashed by congress etc.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:05 pm
    > On what planet did this occur? Because it certainly wasn’t this
    > one. Shuttle costs are horrific. ==

    Compared to what? Gemini? Apollo? Orion? Ever proposal to lower costs made to NASA has been rejected. Ever proposal by NASA (or congress) to replace shuttle would be several times more expensive.

    So whats your lower cost comparison?

  • Major Tom

    “I guess we’ll see if Medvedev & Putin want Russia to stay in the crew launch business if Congress ever funds commercial crew sufficiently.”

    The fact that Falcon 9 beat Russian alternatives for the lead Iridium launch contract portends even bigger shifts (launch generally, not just ETO crew) and sooner. It will be very interesting to see where the floor is on Russian launch costs and whether SpaceX pricing is below it.

    FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    Major Tom wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    It will be very interesting to see where the floor is on Russian launch costs and whether SpaceX pricing is below it.

    Agreed. I wonder what their Angara launcher will be priced at. That will be very telling.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Operating the shuttle doesn’t cost that much, the shuttle PROGRAM costs that much.

    Now I think I finally understand your confusion. You think that individual vehicles can exist without their support organizations. You think the Shuttle, if magically separated from the burdens of the costs it takes to process the Shuttle and keep the infrastructure going, that it will of course be very cost competitive. What a wonderful world you must live in…

    Get a clue! The Shuttle does not launch itself, the Shuttle does not repair itself, and it certainly cannot do all of that without the Shuttle PROGRAM. You want to fly the Shuttle? Fine, you have to fund the program. Without the program, the Shuttles are museum pieces, which is what they will be by the end of next year. Weird.

  • Given it could do all the separate missions better then anything else, and real effort was made by NASA/Congress to keep it high cost, “what might have been” questions of shuttle REALLY haunt me. Its margin cost per flight was only about $60M.

    The marginal cost of the STS was never that low. Even in the eighties, ETs were $35M, and SRB refurb was at least fifty million. In the late eighties, we assumed that marginal cost was about $120M. Of course, marginal cost is irrelevant if the flight rate is limited, as it was for the Shuttle. Marginal cost is a useful parameter only when deciding whether or not to fly an additional mission, not for comparison to other launch systems in making policy decisions.

  • Todd The Usurper

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVHcuxiTis0

    Gosh the chutes didn’t catch on fire….weird.

    Like I said the problem got fixed. The pusher design is just a concept and it’s explained in here as perfectly safe by comparison. The reason given is that you’re not being chased by an SRM if you’re on a liquid rocket that can be shut down. Okay, but what if the liquid holding structure is rupturing behind you and exploding? (A disaster usually has elements in it that can best be described as chaotic or like totally out of control dude. Throw gas on a brush fire and tell it to shut down. The point being that you might not have that option.) Now you’re trying to outrun heat shield damaging shrapnel and at a lower speed too. For reliability your flying cow tick will have to be either hypergolic or solid fuel. The last time I checked neither of them get along very well with shrapnel.

  • …your flying cow tick will have to be either hypergolic or solid fuel.

    I don’t have a “flying cow tick.” Nor does anyone else in the space business.

    If you don’t want to be thought an idiot, stop repeating idiocy.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Like I said the problem got fixed.

    Erm, you may have noticed that there wasn’t an exploding SRB raining down flaming debris in this test.

  • common sense

    @ Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    “Okay, but what if the liquid holding structure is rupturing behind you and exploding? ”

    You design your base heat shield and overall structure to withstand the explosion overpressure. Simple. In either case you have to do it. What you have to show is the magnitude of the overpressure when a solid detonates and compare it to a liquid with the correct propellants. Then the solid has the added inconvenience that it actually possibly keeps chasing your escaping vehicle. There is no one scenario. The liquid still can be shut down, the solid cannot.

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Like I said the problem got fixed.

    No, it didn’t.

    Just to add to what Martijn Meijering and “common sense” wrote, the melting problem that I have been addressing is talked about in a Florida Today article last year, stating:

    “Recent Air Force studies have called into question the survivability of the crew module in the fratricide environment from a destructing first-stage solid rocket booster.”

    The burning SRB solid fuel would melt the parachute and parachute control lines – you can imagine the outcome…

    What problem are you stating that got fixed?

  • Todd The Usurper

    I wrote
    “Like I said the problem got fixed.”

    Martijn Meijering wrote
    “Erm, you may have noticed that there wasn’t an exploding SRB raining down flaming debris in this test.”

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792
    This is what was put up was evidence. Sorry it’s irrelevant. You have in their example a Titan with two SRBs representing a single SRB. This Titan is filled with hypergolics. You may be unaware of this but those fuels tend to blow up when they come into contact with each other. It’s really a lot worse than liberals and conservatives mixing. So in their example you have an explosion in the middle of two SRBs sending a shower of flaming SRB chunks everywhere. In reality with a real SRB failure the destruct charges run down the side and when detonated they drop the pressure thereby preventing the explosion you clowns are fantasizing about. It can be a disconnect command from the capsule or a Range Safety Officer decision.

  • Todd The Usurper

    “Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 7:06 pm
    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    “Like I said the problem got fixed.”

    No, it didn’t.

    Just to add to what Martijn Meijering and “common sense” wrote, the melting problem that I have been addressing is talked about in a Florida Today article last year, stating:

    “Recent Air Force studies have called into question the survivability of the crew module in the fratricide environment from a destructing first-stage solid rocket booster.”

    The burning SRB solid fuel would melt the parachute and parachute control lines – you can imagine the outcome…

    What problem are you stating that got fixed?”

    I’m actually referring to a different problem that did get fixed later. It was relative to the LAS doing the chutes in. However the analysis put up before as chute burning evidence is deeply flawed and I commented on that because the comparison is ridiculous between a Titan with 2 SRBs and a single SRB. The destruct charges on a SRB don’t send showers everywhere they depressurize. No shower of sparks. At least not like the ones they have in their analysis.

  • common sense

    @ Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    “In reality with a real SRB failure the destruct charges run down the side and when detonated they drop the pressure thereby preventing the explosion you clowns are fantasizing about. It can be a disconnect command from the capsule or a Range Safety Officer decision.”

    Clown? Hmm okay. You can only split the casing if you know something is going wrong. Now can you tell us they can monitor the pressure and temperature inside the SRB casing? Inside the solid fuel? How do you know a malfunction is in progress? So yes indeed you can rupture the casing to avoid some of the problems. But do you know they are happening? What is the lead time before bailout? Do you know? Apollo was about 2 sec if memory serves. What is the timeline of a detonating SRB? How much time do you have?…

  • Martijn Meijering

    This is what was put up was evidence. Sorry it’s irrelevant. You have in their example a Titan with two SRBs representing a single SRB. This Titan is filled with hypergolics. You may be unaware of this but those fuels tend to blow up when they come into contact with each other.

    I’m well aware of it and the good thing about hypergolics in this case is that they react so quickly when they get into contact that you don’t actually get a detonation. This is why Gemini could use ejection seats. It’s the SRB propellant that’s the problem, not the hypergolics. Also, the single solid has a much higher max Q, making it that much more difficult for the capsule to get away from the debris field and to *stay* away.

    It’s really a lot worse than liberals and conservatives mixing. So in their example you have an explosion in the middle of two SRBs sending a shower of flaming SRB chunks everywhere. In reality with a real SRB failure the destruct charges run down the side and when detonated they drop the pressure thereby preventing the explosion you clowns are fantasizing about. It can be a disconnect command from the capsule or a Range Safety Officer decision.

    You cannot assume there won’t be a catastrophic failure and besides, the SRB has to be broken up into relatively small pieces, or so I’ve heard experts say.

  • Byeman

    Todd The Clueless wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    “I commented on that because the comparison is ridiculous between a Titan with 2 SRBs and a single SRB. The destruct charges on a SRB don’t send showers everywhere they depressurize. No shower of sparks. At least not like the ones they have in their analysis.”

    And what you basing this wrong statement on?

    1. You have more knowledge than Air Force Range Safety? That has been proven wrong.

    2. Challenger? Wrong timeframe. Challenger SRB were near depletion and therefore would not response like the Titan’s which were less than a minute from launch.

    3. 2 SRM vs one SRB? The number of solids is not going to change how they respond to destruct charges.

    4. All SRM’s explode when unzipped early in flight. See Titan 34D-7, Titan IV A-20 (the perfect example and the source of the USAF study), SRMU static test at EAFB, Delta II GPS IIR-1, and many others.

    The destruct charges on a SRB DO send showers everywhere. Period.

  • Byeman

    ““In reality with a real SRB failure the destruct charges run down the side and when detonated they drop the pressure thereby preventing the explosion you clowns are fantasizing about”

    You could not be more wrong. SRB destruct charges would cause the same effect as the TItan. That is a fact and that is exact what Range Safety wants to happen. It renders the vehicle nonpropulsive and disperses the propellant.

  • Byeman

    More from Todd the Clueless:

    “This Titan is filled with hypergolics. You may be unaware of this but those fuels tend to blow up when they come into contact with each other”

    Wrong, they do not explode, they deflagrate (burn) on contact vs detonate,

  • Martijn Meijering

    Titan IV A-20 (the perfect example and the source of the USAF study)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqlgUuYQU30

    Picture, thousand words.

  • Byeman

    I just hate it when people post blatantly wrong statements. Todd the Clueless is the winner of the most incorrect posts on this thread.

  • lookin atcha

    I just hate

    Yes, Jim, you do. You also work for United Launch Alliance.

  • Byeman

    Jim does not work for ULA.

    Elifritz, you are a troll and you also hate.

  • Paul D.

    Kelly Starks wrote:

    No I’m pretty sure hes correct, its the chunks of high temp burning fuel, not radiant energy, that were considered the big problem.

    No.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792

    B) CAPSULE ~100% FRATRICIDE by SECONDARY RADIATIVE WILTING of NYLON CHUTES The capsule will not survive an abort between MET’s of ~30 and 60 seconds – as the capsule is engulfed until water-impact by solid propellant fragments radiating heat from 4,000F toward the nylon parachute material (with a melt-temperature of ~400F).

  • Todd The Usurper

    ” Byeman wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 7:49 pm
    More from Todd the Clueless:

    “This Titan is filled with hypergolics. You may be unaware of this but those fuels tend to blow up when they come into contact with each other”

    Wrong, they do not explode, they deflagrate (burn) on contact vs detonate,”

    I worked on Titans you tool! Doesn’t it just deflagrate your drawers when someone actually knows what they’re talking about? You dont even know your own language as evidenced by your posts. I’m glad I retired. I won’t have to deal with pointy headed little R tards like you. What a freaking dolt! LMAO

  • Todd The Usurper

    Bi-man really? Are you from like the Silicon Valley or something?

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm
    >> “Operating the shuttle doesn’t cost that much, the shuttle PROGRAM costs that much.”

    > Now I think I finally understand your confusion. You think
    > that individual vehicles can exist without their support organizations. ==

    Its not the shuttles support organization – it’s the shuttle program. Not shuttle repair folks, its not shuttle launch prep folks, its not even folks who sign the paperwork to order new shuttle parts. Most of the shuttle program HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE SHUTTLES!!!.

    Hint Ron, Commercial crew is budgeted for $100M a month under Obama’s proposal, and they haven’t even agreed to the concept of the commercial crew vehicle.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    >> shuttles– margin cost per flight was only about $60M.

    > The marginal cost of the STS was never that low. Even in the
    > eighties, ETs were $35M, and SRB refurb was at least fifty million. ==

    GAO disagrees, and the ET’s cost is virtually nothing. It takes $300M a year to keep the ET plant outside New Orleans open regardless of it making no tanks or a dozen – so virtually nil for margin cost unless you build over a dozen. Don’t know what the SRB’s really cost

    >== In the late eighties, we assumed that marginal cost was about $120M.=

    By who?

    > Of course, marginal cost is irrelevant if the flight rate is limited, as
    > it was for the Shuttle. ==

    True, though it suggests potential if they ever actually wanted to fly them often.

    As to what it would cost compared to another NASA craft – likely the bureaucracy and pork loaded into any big NASA program, would completely overwhelm any cost related to the actual craft.
    …ok, the Constellation programs $1-$3B per launch dev costs would push even NASA normal program bloat.

  • Coastal Ron

    Todd The Usurper wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I worked on Titans you tool!

    Come on Toddy, you can use big words – it’s OK.

    Please, explain why “I worked on Titans” is relevant to our discussion of Ares I SRB’s endangering the Orion. While you’re at it, also point out where the Air Force is wrong in it’s concern.

    All hat, no cattle?

  • lookin atcha

    Jim, you are an embarrassment to the United Launch Alliance. And I know your last name, because I am looking at you with your clean suit on. So you just keep spamming the trolls, because you have the right to spam space blogs just like they have that right. You are no different them any of them. In fact, as a representative of ULA, you are much worse. Tick tock. Tick tock.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Paul D. wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote:
    >> No I’m pretty sure hes correct, its the chunks of high temp
    >> burning fuel, not radiant energy, that were considered the big problem.

    > No.

    > http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792

    > B) CAPSULE ~100% FRATRICIDE by SECONDARY RADIATIVE
    > WILTING of NYLON CHUTES The capsule will not survive an abort
    > between MET’s of ~30 and 60 seconds – as the capsule is engulfed until
    > water-impact by solid propellant fragments radiating heat from 4,000F
    > toward the nylon parachute material (with a melt-temperature of ~400F).

    Check out the slides 15+ and see where they were expecting the capsule to be in the debrie field.

    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2009/fratricide.report.pdf

  • Byeman

    “I worked on Titans you tool!”

    You do not know what you are talking about and it is evident in your posts.
    You must have been a dumb wrench turner tech because you don’t know squat about propellants or rocket science.

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4203/ch2-5.htm

    “Titan II’s self-igniting propellants had still another advantage. [42] They reacted much less violently with each other than did the cryogenic propellants of Atlas or Titan I”

    Who is the dolt now. Now I know why Titan was an expensive program, they needed many people to fix and re-verify the work done by people like Todd.

  • Major Tom

    “Gosh the chutes didn’t catch on fire….weird.”

    Of course not. There was no deflagrating SRB to melt the parachute nylon in the Orion pad abort test.

    Watch your own video before you post.

    “Like I said the problem got fixed.”

    It’t not fixed, not by a long shot.

    FWIW…

  • GAO disagrees, and the ET’s cost is virtually nothing. It takes $300M a year to keep the ET plant outside New Orleans open regardless of it making no tanks or a dozen – so virtually nil for margin cost unless you build over a dozen. Don’t know what the SRB’s really cost

    Everything written here is completely nutty. Provide a GAO citation. The notion that there is no marginal cost for ETs is, with all due respect (and frankly, it’s not much) is insane.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 5:45 pm
    Major Tom wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    “It will be very interesting to see where the floor is on Russian launch costs and whether SpaceX pricing is below it.”

    “Agreed. I wonder what their Angara launcher will be priced at. That will be very telling.”

    ESA also noted with some apparent concern, the SpaceX price for the Iridium contract, and indicated tht they probably couldn’t match it with their existing organisational structure.

    If SpaceX can keep the lid on their costs, then they would appear to be the price-setters. Doesn’t mean they’ll get all the business but it should shake up the industry generally and may create opportunities for other potential launch customers who to date have been shut out due to launch cost.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:17 p

    Its not the shuttles support organization – it’s the shuttle program. Not shuttle repair folks, its not shuttle launch prep folks, its not even folks who sign the paperwork to order new shuttle parts. Most of the shuttle program HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE SHUTTLES!!!.

    I keep imagining that when you go to buy a car, you first try to get your wife to agree to buying you a Ferrari. When she complains about the $192,000 sticker price for the Ferrari California, you respond by saying “yes but Honey, the recurring cost for gas is only $100/month!!”.

    Or, that you think American Airlines is holding a 757 on the flightline waiting for you to buy your ticket, and you’re still only paying $350 to fly cross country.

    That’s how much sense you’re making right now. You keep pointing at the marginal cost as something important, but it only becomes a factor when you’re flying enough – and the Shuttle never flew that much.

    You have some fictional idea that NASA managers are raking in multi-million dollar salaries with bonuses for extra work they create, and that the real costs to keep the VAB, mission control, thousands of people trained and standing by for the next Shuttle – that all of that cost nothing.

    The Shuttle Program Manager has stated that it cost him $200M/month to run the program, and that would cover at least two flights per year. If you went beyond that, then additional costs started being added, but the $200M/month did not somehow disappear.

    A simple internet search reveals the following:

    ATK Thiokol Propulsion – $68.5M/SRB set
    NASA has extended to May 2007 its six-and-a-half-year $2.4 billion contract with ATK Thiokol Propulsion in Brigham City, Utah, for the production and refurbishment of 70 Reusable Solid Rocket Motors for the Space Shuttle Program.

    Under the modified contract, Thiokol will produce and refurbish 35 Reusable Solid Rocket Motor flight sets (70 motors) and three flight support motors. The modification adds $429 million to the contract.

    Lockheed Martin – $173M/external tank
    The cost plus award fee/incentive fee contract will conclude Sept. 30, 2010, and brings the total value of the contract, awarded October 2000, to $2.94 billion. The contract calls for the delivery of 17 external tanks to NASA.

    United Space Alliance – $97.2M/month for Shuttle processing

    This contract was first signed in 1996, and subsequent contract mods makes it hard to add up the totals. However, this initial contract gives a good view into the tasks and the annual costs in 1996 dollars.

    The contract will have a base period of performance of six years with two two-year options. Anticipated value of the initial Phase I six-year contract is approximately $7 billion.

    The Space Flight Operations Contract includes responsibility for the orbiter, flight and ground operations, and logistics support. USA’s operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida encompass ground processing of the Space Shuttles including preparing the vehicles for flight, stacking the solid rocket boosters and mounting the external tank, mating these elements to the orbiter to complete the launch-ready vehicle, conducting launch operations, and deservicing the vehicles after landing. Mission operations performed in Houston include training the astronauts, operating the Shuttle flight simulators, maintaining facilities at the Johnson Space Center including the Mission Control Center (MCC), operating the MCC, planning mission schedules, and performing flight design including ascent, on-orbit and descent analyses.

    Now you may be waving your hands around yelling “but those aren’t the marginal costs”, and I would say they are, because they reflect the recurring costs of a multi-year program. If you wanted to buy each external tank or SRB by themselves, you would have to pay far more, so you really only get reasonable prices when you buy in bulk, and that’s what these reflect. Like it or not, these are the real costs, and these are only the three most visible.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Commercial crew is budgeted for $100M a month under Obama’s proposal, and they haven’t even agreed to the concept of the commercial crew vehicle.

    You definitely have a conspiracy streak in you, and I have no idea where you get your information from. You’re also confusing an internal NASA program (Shuttle) that relies on cost-plus contracts, with a fixed-priced services contract (most likely the commercial crew type).

    The concept of the commercial crew program is that NASA will send out an RFQ for commercial crew services. The winners will provide and operate their own equipment, although NASA may help pay for the development or testing, and for sure will be involved in the certification of the complete systems.

    This should end up being like the COTS/CRS program, where NASA did not tell the providers what launchers or cargo vessels to use – the providers pitched their own solutions, and NASA agreed that they were acceptable.

    NASA does not have a flat per-month budget for commercial crew, and wouldn’t even when it gets funded. They would have a program budget that would get divided up between the providers and the NASA (program management, etc.). Again, if they follow the COTS format (which everyone hopes they do), then the providers would only be paid for achieving milestones. Milestones could be for development, test, or ultimately for crew delivery and return.

    Once the program is strictly services (delivering or returning crew from the ISS or ???), then the prices should end up being listed on a GSA schedule, in which case any government agency can use it for pre-negotiated commercial crew services. This is what commercial crew supporters want – published prices for services to LEO, and NASA can focus on getting beyond LEO.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 11:13 pm
    >> GAO disagrees, and the ET’s cost is virtually nothing. It takes $300M
    >> a year to keep the ET plant outside New Orleans open regardless of it making
    >> no tanks or a dozen – so virtually nil for margin cost unless you build over
    >> a dozen. Don’t know what the SRB’s really cost

    > Everything written here is completely nutty. Provide a GAO citation. ==

    For what the ET costs or shuttle costs?
    Not that I really feel like digging through all my stuff (assuming its with me in CT) to dig that up for you.
    Quick survey of the web for incremental cost of a shuttle flight finds
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/59xx/doc5935/doc24c-Entire.pdf oct 1986 p 62 $65
    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/94xx/doc9437/85doc07.pdf ‘85
    Page 5 lists
    Short-run marginal cost, $42 million per flight—
    Long-run marginal cost, $76 million per flight
    adjusting for inflation that would be $125.50 in 2009, but these docs also mentioned margin costs will normally decline as a program ages, adn NASA braged about 30% drops in per flight costs in the ’90′s(?).

    Though its about what I’ve been hearing in general.
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=11586.0;attach=39417
    from February 22, 2007 lists $104M

    Titan was listed in ‘88 http://www.fas.org/ota/reports/8826.pdf as about $95M

    >== The notion that there is no marginal cost for ETs is, with all due
    > respect (and frankly, it’s not much) is insane.

    Guess you not into manufacturing simple structures. The ETs are just big tanks. The material costs very little (look up what tens of tons of aviation grade Aluminum cost) you need a trained full basic operation staff (the whole staff of Michoud is only 2,000) regardless of you doing anything with them. It takes no more staff or equipment there to make a dozen tanks a year.

    So with no extra labor cost to speak of, and virtually no material costs, that huge fixed overhead cost is pretty much it. So your program cost for the care and feeding of the ET staff and Michoud, per tank, runs about $50 million. But the margin cost per tanks nearly nothing.

  • Kelly Starks

    Man these are getting long.

    Triming…

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    >== You keep pointing at the marginal cost as something important,
    > but it only becomes a factor when you’re flying enough – and the Shuttle never flew that much.

    Agreed, but it is useful in distinguishing program and fixed costs vrs operating costs.

    > You have some fictional idea that NASA managers are raking
    > n multi-million dollar salaries with bonuses for extra work they create, ==

    No but they are under civil service laws are automatically given raises and promotions for larger staffs. So they try to bulk out staffing levels.

    And of course waste has tremendous political support.

    ===
    > A simple internet search reveals the following:
    > ATK Thiokol Propulsion – $68.5M/SRB set
    > NASA has extended to May 2007 its six-and-a-half-year $2.4 billion
    > contract with ATK Thiokol Propulsion in Brigham City, Utah, for the production and refurbishment
    > of 70 Reusable Solid Rocket Motors for the Space Shuttle Program.
    > Under the modified contract, Thiokol will produce and refurbish 35
    > Reusable Solid Rocket Motor flight sets (70 motors) and three flight
    > support motors. The modification adds $429 million to the contract.”

    To vaugue adn niconsistent. Refurbished adn new SRBs supposedly cost about the same, yet your numbers show a factor of over 5.

    $2.4 billion/35 pairs = $68.6m set
    $429 million/35pairs = $12m set

    > Lockheed Martin – $173M/external tank

    See other post

    > United Space Alliance – $97.2M/month for Shuttle processing
    > This contract was first signed in 1996, and subsequent contract mods
    > makes it hard to add up the totals. However, this initial contract gives a
    >good view into the tasks and the annual costs in 1996 dollars.

    Though it mixs operational costs, much less margin costs, with program costs. In NASA (and many gov programs) programs must carry a lot of costs for things unrelated to the program. Like maintaining the facilities at KSC and JSC (some of which haven’t been used since Apollo as I remember.

    And these paras arn’t clear what is what?

    Or no another topic what fraction is not shuttle related, but any nASA launcher related like Mission operations, training, etc

    >=Phase I six-year contract is approximately $7 billion.
    =$1.17b/year

    >= The Space Flight Operations Contract includes responsibility for the
    >orbiter, flight and ground operations, and logistics support. USA’s
    > operations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida encompass ground
    > processing of the Space Shuttles including preparing the vehicles for flight,
    > stacking the solid rocket boosters and mounting the external tank, mating
    > these elements to the orbiter to complete the launch-ready vehicle,
    > conducting launch operations, and deservicing the vehicles after landing.
    > Mission operations performed in Houston include training the astronauts,
    > operating the Shuttle flight simulators, maintaining facilities at the Johnson
    > Space Center including the Mission Control Center (MCC), operating the
    > MCC, planning mission schedules, and performing flight design including
    > ascent, on-orbit and descent analyses. ”

    > Now you may be waving your hands around yelling “but those
    > aren’t the marginal costs”, and I would say they are, because they
    > reflect the recurring costs of a multi-year program.==

    Which would be the multi year program costs, not the margin costs of the product.

  • Kelly Starks

    Humm… Seems its blocking urls?
    Triming urls..

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 12:26 am

    > Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 10:17 pm
    >> “Commercial crew is budgeted for $100M a month under
    >> Obama’s proposal, and they haven’t even agreed to the
    >> concept of the commercial crew vehicle.”

    > You definitely have a conspiracy streak in you, and I have no
    > idea where you get your information from. ===

    commercialspaceflight.org/?p=1091

    …..$6 billion proposed over the next five years for commercial crew

    thespacereview.com/article/1592/1
    the $6 billion projected by the president over the next five years and use that not for human certification of the commercial vehicles

    spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30110
    … $6 billion competitive, commercial crew program .. –

    spacenews.com/civil/031910nelson-nasa-commercial.html

    …$6 billion the U.S. space agency is seeking for developing a commercial crew taxis..

    5 years = 60 months so above is $100m a month for Obamas proposal for the NASA commercial crew program costs.

  • Paul D.

    Check out the slides 15+ and see where they were expecting the capsule to be in the debrie field.

    And your point is? Radiant heating can be the problem even if the capsule is inside the debris field.

    You seem to stuck on an assumption, even after I showed you a direct quote that disproved it. Do you have a phobia to admitting mistakes?

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    5 years = 60 months so above is $100m a month for Obamas proposal for the NASA commercial crew program costs.

    Well, we know you can so at least some math, but you continue to draw the wrong conclusions. Who ever said that the budgeted amount would be peanut-buttered across the five years? No one, because that’s not how the funds would be used.

    If you want a clue how they will be used, then look at the COTS & CRS programs – see how the spending is divided up into development (COTS) and the actual deliveries (CRS)? No peanut butter.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 11:19 am

    To vaugue adn niconsistent.

    Sometimes you are just too hilarious to take seriously… ;-)

    Back to the topic at hand. If you’re not able to read simple press releases, or too lazy to find the information yourself, then I’m sorry for you. Those are the recurring costs that the Shuttle program needed spend in order to run.

    As you finally admitted, “marginal costs” only matter when you’re doing lots of flights, and the Shuttle never was, nor ever will, so they are irrelevant – they are fleas on an camels back.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 10:56 am

    But the margin cost per tanks nearly nothing.

    The world is in so much better shape while you are not involved in accounting or program management – otherwise our national deficit would be that much bigger!

    If you think the “margin cost” (which is actually marginal cost) is near zero, go tell Lockheed Martin that they will get “nearly nothing” for the an external tank. You explain it to them, and I’m sure they’ll recognize what kind of financial genius you are, and realize that they have been over-charging NASA for all these years. Maybe that’s how we’ll reduce the deficit!

  • Kelly Starks

    > Paul D. wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    > You seem to stuck on an assumption, even after I showed
    > you a direct quote that disproved it.

    Not a assumption, When this issue came up I was reading something about actual fuel chunk impacts being a bigger problem given experience with other solid explosions – but I can’t find it.

    Given I was still worknig Orion at the time, it was a topic of some niterest around the office.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    >> “5 years = 60 months so above is $100m a month
    >> for Obamas proposal for the NASA commercial crew program costs.”

    > Well, we know you can so at least some math, but you
    > continue to draw the wrong conclusions. ==

    Its seems to be your prefered mode.

    And it also contradicts you dis that I’m just a conspiracy buff that doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

    > If you want a clue how they will be used, then look at
    > the COTS & CRS programs – see how the spending is
    > divided up into development (COTS) and the actual
    > deliveries (CRS)? No peanut butter.

    Obviously the later is irrelevant since the funds are to be used before any deliveries, and why spend $6B to develop “off the shelf” commercial craft already developed that NASA is just going to buy space no, not develop in a cost plus contract structure – to paraphrase you?

    ;)

    As to my point. Your insisting the commercial crew program will be dramatically cheaper per flight, yet the above alone already pushes its cost per flight half way to shuttles long before they even fly and the program really starts.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 11:19 am

    >> To vaugue and inconsistent.”

    > == Those are the recurring costs that the Shuttle program needed
    > spend in order to run. ==

    Yes, but not the costs needed to run the shuttles. So you can’t tell which parts would be replicated for the Commercial crew or anything else.

    Its raw data without enough detail to actually tell you anything. Modern journalism at its best. Sound bytes with no meaning or context.

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 10:56 am

    >> “But the margin cost per tanks nearly nothing.”

    > The world is in so much better shape while you are not involved in accounting ==

    Ironic statement given I’m quoting GAO numbers.

    ;)

  • Your insisting the commercial crew program will be dramatically cheaper per flight, yet the above alone already pushes its cost per flight half way to shuttles long before they even fly and the program really starts.

    Really? So tell us, what will be the cost per flight?

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    As to my point. Your insisting the commercial crew program will be dramatically cheaper per flight, yet the above alone already pushes its cost per flight half way to shuttles long before they even fly and the program really starts.

    None so blind as those who cannot see…

    Kelly, I’ll type slowly so you can try to understand this.

    The budget is for program funds, not monthly payments to “Commercial Crew Delivery Service Company A”. The $6B would be used for a multitude of uses, including development and services rendered.

    Here is the statement from the NASA budget proposal:

    NASA will allocate these funds through competitive solicitations that support a range of higher- and lower-programmatic risk systems and system components, such as human-rating of existing launch vehicles and development of new spacecraft that can ride on multiple launch vehicles. NASA will ensure that all systems meet the agency’s stringent human-rating requirements.

    As one example, ULA has stated that it will cost $1.3B to man-rate Delta IV Heavy, and then $300M/flight for Orion or whatever large capsule you want to put on top. SpaceX has estimated that it will take $300M to build & test an LAS for the Dragon, and that they will offer $20M/seat to LEO.

    You keep trying to justify how inexpensive the Shuttle was. Weird.

    But that’s OK, because the Shuttle will soon be gone, and any claim you had regarding costs will be irrelevant. And, any claims you have about commercial crew will be proved wrong by what actually happens.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Ironic statement given I’m quoting GAO numbers.

    I can quote Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I understand it. Apparently the same is true for you and the GAO numbers… ;-)

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 3:40 pm
    >> As to my point. Your insisting the commercial crew program
    >> will be dramatically cheaper per flight, yet the above alone
    >> already pushes its cost per flight half way to shuttles long
    >>before they even fly and the program really starts.”

    >None so blind as those who cannot see…

    I could by you a cane?

    ;)

    > The budget is for program funds, not monthly payments to “Commercial
    > Crew Delivery Service Company A”. The $6B would be used for a multitude
    > of uses, including development and services rendered.

    So everything in the Shuttle program budget should be considered part of the shuttles launch costs, but the Commercial Crew program budget shouldn’t?

    >== Shuttle will soon be gone, and any claim you had regarding
    > costs will be irrelevant. And, any claims you have about commercial
    > crew will be proved wrong by what actually happens.

    Commercial Crew is already gone, rejected by both the Senate and House Obama dropped it.

    ;)

  • Todd The Usurper

    ” Coastal Ron wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 5:58 pm
    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    “Operating the shuttle doesn’t cost that much, the shuttle PROGRAM costs that much.”

    Now I think I finally understand your confusion. You think that individual vehicles can exist without their support organizations. You think the Shuttle, if magically separated from the burdens of the costs it takes to process the Shuttle and keep the infrastructure going, that it will of course be very cost competitive. What a wonderful world you must live in…

    Get a clue! The Shuttle does not launch itself, the Shuttle does not repair itself, and it certainly cannot do all of that without the Shuttle PROGRAM. You want to fly the Shuttle? Fine, you have to fund the program. Without the program, the Shuttles are museum pieces, which is what they will be by the end of next year. Weird.”

    And so it shall be for your program as well. I would like to add and for the same reasons. It would be interesting to hang around and keep ticking you commercial guys off, but I have rational things to do. I have wrenches to turn..nuts to tighten. Now that I’m done with yours, that is. I succumbed to the usual sinful pleasure I always do when I go to a message board that’s tilted one way or the other. I had a great time too.

    I really hope that the Senate version gets passed or something similar. I would actually like to see both types of programs flourish. The fact of the matter is this…Commercial will always be at odds with those who aren’t. It’s kind of like a bar brawl between Army and Navy. Deal with it. I know I sure had fun with it these last few days.

    You commercial people will discover that if you want your costs to stay down it will take a while and this is why. If you have the Government as your customer that will determine your costs. People on board? Now they’re really in your knickers. If you want to launch a satellite they own they’ll be in your knickers there too. I’ve watched over the years as the government has deleted inspections and then for reasons unknown added even more back in. Have a serious problem and they are going to add a hole new meaning to the term “Knee jerk reaction” Quite often to give the appearance of fixing a problem all kinds of things will happen. Commercial really needs to eventually and as soon as possible find a way to divorce themselves from any government funding. That relationship will end up producing eight fingered kids if you’re not careful.

    There was an interesting discussion in here regarding the Russian program versus ours. When the Russians have had a disaster they’ve just said “Get up rub some dust in it, quit crying and get back on your horse.” Over here? Never mind the fact that most errors really do in the long run boil down to some idiot making a bad decision..we have speeches, press conferences, comittees, investigation panels and then quite a while later we have a fix. A classic example and this is something that I still laugh about to this day. A cryogenic flex line was being tested. It was filled with Helium or Neon. I don’t remember which at the moment. The line had to be filled, pressurized and cycled several times. Now it’s never a good idea to fill something with liquid helium and not have a vent valve on it right? There was a vent valve of course. Once the flexing started along with the pressure that valve had to be closed. There had been numerous glitches and leaks up to this point and they’d finally beaten all of their problems. They finally got to the closing the vent valve part. Then they decided to go have lunch. Ooops!

    The resulting rupture and flying shrapnel even destroyed the hardware from several other projects. Obviously someone made a really dumb decision. What was the fix? They put up a security fence to keep the commies out. Like I said I still laugh at that. That’s a 32 year old story at least. That quite sadley is how most organizations react.

    Denial always adds another layer of cost. A phoney fix has to be added in and it’s always a no value added solution.

    If the Russians screw up they find out what happened, fix the problem and say screw the media “We care so much and we’re doing stuff about things.” media blitz that also adds nothing.

    And as a parting comment…I hope you commercial guys can get that flying cow tick idea working.

    No I couldn’t help it. LOL Bye

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    So everything in the Shuttle program budget should be considered part of the shuttles launch costs

    If you want to determine the real cost of what it took to perform the Shuttle missions, then you have to consider all the related costs.

    Without the maintenance on the crawler-transporters, the Shuttle could not get to the launch pad. Without the the external tank barge, the ET would never get to the VAB. Without the Transoceanic Abort Landing Sites, and the equipment and staffing needed there during Shuttle launches, the Shuttle would not be able to have safe abort destinations. None of these fly to space, but the Shuttle could not operate without them.

    Everything in the Shuttle budget (or at least the vast amount) is focused on getting the Shuttle to & from orbit, and take any one department or function away, and the Shuttle does not fly. These are all part of recurring costs.

    For Commercial Crew, the funding will break out across a number of crew delivery companies, and a variable amount of funding for each of them depending on risk, reward and need. Just like COTS/CRS, some of the funding will be for direct development costs (R&D, infrastructure, testing, etc.), and some will be for purchasing rides to the ISS (services rendered).

    I think the key thing to point out is that when the Shuttle funding is turned off, then the Shuttles can no longer fly. When the NASA funding for Commercial Crew is ended, the end result should be an industry with a number of companies that continue to offer crew services to LEO, and that anyone (NASA, DOD, companies, individuals) can buy passage to LEO on.

  • Commercial Crew is already gone, rejected by both the Senate and House Obama dropped it.

    No, the Senate kept it, slightly reduced. The House bill is going nowhere. Again, you seem to be posting from an alternate reality.

    I hope you commercial guys can get that flying cow tick idea working.

    Contrary to your idiocy, there is no “flying cow tick idea” to get working. However, the pusher abort system is likely to succeed.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Commercial Crew is already gone, rejected by both the Senate and House Obama dropped it.

    Remember what I said about being so blind – it’s still in the Senate version. SpaceX even endorsed it. I guess you don’t stay up on current events as much as you think…

  • Spaceboy

      Bennett wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 12:50 am

    “Do you have a link to the launch schedule, or is this hearsay?
    If so, from whom?”

    Yeah, I could provide a link if you have the right accounts and access.

    This is not hearsay, this is the current plan under the current budget constraints that have been thrust upon us all over the last 6 months. Based on the fact tha CxP is not officialy dead, but we have budget challenges (program termination liability) as well as the now inevitable continuing resolution for 2011. CR means CxP will still be alive on life support. Orion 1 in March 2014, Orion 2 in Nov 2014. Orion Project came up with slightly different dates when the program and the project were diverging earlier this year (both would fly by March 2014).

    Now, when I spoke of the budget being screwed up, I was not referring to Orion or Ares blowing their budget I was referring to the White House/Senate/House budget train wreck which will never be resolved. The longer it takes to resolve, the more damage it does.

    Like all launch dates and I do mean *ALL* launch dates, I realize these dates will change, especially considering the lack of a budget. I was responding to the claims that there are no planned Orion or Ares launches. There are plans, there are dates, there are flight test objectives. For anybody to claim otherwise just tells me they are misinformed, I won’t say uninformed because if one does not work on some aspect of the program or one of the Projects, then there probably is no visibility into that. Also, remember these are based on current program and continuing resolution budget, since officially CxP is not dead. You can’t say the plans are meaningless until the program is 100% dead. Right now and for the many months to come, it will be alive, in critical condition, but alive. Under both the Senate bill and the House bill, this plan could continue.

    Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but I don’t have access to my pc (and will not use my work pc to post even after hours), so I am responding from my phone, which wasn’t easy with a thread this long.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 7:16 pm
    >> So everything in the Shuttle program budget should be
    >> considered part of the shuttles launch costs”

    > If you want to determine the real cost of what it took to perform
    > the Shuttle missions, then you have to consider all the related costs.

    But we weren’t discussing the shuttle missions, we were discussing operating the shuttle. To operate the shuttle you need the VAB crawler, etc – but you don’t need the mission equipment (you don’t charge the truck for the cost of the customers shipping crate), mission planning, unrelated KSC, JSC, Marshal repairs on unused buildings, etc.

    More to my point with Commercial crew you ONLY want to consider the launcher cost, not any of the training, KSC/JSC ops costs, etc. But with shuttle you insist everything under “shuttle program” must be related to the launch costs even if it has no relation to doing or even supporting the launching and supporting the operation of shuttles.

    >==
    > Everything in the Shuttle budget (or at least the vast amount) is
    > focused on getting the Shuttle to & from orbit, ==

    This is your primary error – and a strangely obvious one? Why would you think operating teh shuttle would take the bulk of the shuttle program? Its like assuming the bulk of the Apollo program was the costs of developing and launching Saturn-Vs – or even that the bulk of the cost of food at a restaurant is the cost of the raw food?

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 8:24 pm
    >> Commercial Crew is already gone, rejected by both the
    >> Senate and House Obama dropped it.

    > No, the Senate kept it, slightly reduced.==

    Slightly?! And with Nelson’s statments pretty much patting it on the head adn telling it to go away until it grows up?

    And the House bill (actually both) are dead in the water, but the house was starting at zeroing out CC. So given both houses adn Obama are now walking away frmo commercial crew – its dead.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    >> Commercial Crew is already gone, rejected by both
    >>the Senate and House Obama dropped it.”

    > == SpaceX even endorsed it.

    The endorsement of a chrony hoping to get money out of a bill doesn’t carry much weight; especially what congress adn press are nolonger supporting it.

  • Slightly?!

    Yes, slightly. Commercial crew is alive and well in the Senate bill.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:55 am

    But we weren’t discussing the shuttle missions, we were discussing operating the shuttle.

    Exactly. The Shuttle is a government funded program, one that takes in no outside money, and so it lives off of the money allocated by Congress. Take away the money for one critical item, like the crawler-transporters, and the ability of the Shuttle to carry out a flight goes away. The test here is if something is needed for the Shuttle to carry out it’s mission, then it’s costs have to be included in the total costs of the Shuttle program.

    More to my point with Commercial crew you ONLY want to consider the launcher cost, not any of the training, KSC/JSC ops costs, etc.

    SpaceX will provide the launcher and capsule, and they have their own mission control and recovery. It remains to be seen whether their costs include any safety training, and this might be handled as a separate charge (like a type rating).

    SpaceX operates independently of NASA, and if they do need any NASA or DOD services, then that is taken into account as part of their $20M/seat price. It’s just like with any scheduled transportation company (bus, ship, airline, etc.), where you don’t get charged separately for all their individual operating costs – they roll it up into their current price. This is the model that commercial space wants to get to.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:55 am

    But we weren’t discussing the shuttle missions, we were discussing operating the shuttle.

    To understand this from a commercial perspective, go look at the commercial airline business.

    When they buy a new Boeing 747-400, they are not just buying the airplane ($234M), but they are also committing to spending money on type-rating for their pilots, maintenance facilities for the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, and a whole host of other 747-400 related costs. This is known as Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Here is the Wikipedia link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_cost_of_ownership

    The 747-400 just happens to be the part of the cost structure that the public sees, but it is not the entire cost the airline incurs to offer that service.

    Sure, it would be simple to take the total passengers that fly on a 747-400 in a year, and divide that by $234M to get a per-passenger price, but that is far from the actual cost of offering those rides. The same with the Shuttle, where the External Tank costs $173M, not because of the material & labor, but because of all the associated costs that it takes to build them on a continuous basis.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:13 pm
    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:55 am
    >> “But we weren’t discussing the shuttle missions, we were discussing operating the shuttle.

    > Exactly. The Shuttle is a government funded program, one that
    > takes in no outside money, and so it lives off of the money allocated by Congress. ===

    So’s the commercial crew program.

    >== Take away the money for one critical item, like the
    > crawler-transporters, and the ability of the Shuttle to carry out a
    > flight goes away. ==

    Sorry no. Again your confusing the shuttle program, with operating the shuttle. Much if not most of the shuttle program costs do no go to anything necessary to fly the shuttle. The shuttle is necessary to support the shuttle program, but it is only a part of it.
    The test here is if something is needed for the Shuttle to carry out it’s mission, then it’s costs have to be included in the total costs of the Shuttle program.

    >> More to my point with Commercial crew you ONLY want to
    >> consider the launcher cost, not any of the training, KSC/JSC ops costs, etc.”

    > SpaceX will provide the launcher and capsule, and they have their own
    > mission control and recovery. ==

    Utterly irrelevant, and likely inaccurate. Certainly SpaceX is one of the least credible bidders, NASA will use their mission control etc regardless –and whatever the launcher crew does is a small fraction of the commercial crew program. So, again, with commercial crew you only want to count the fraction of commercial crew program cost directly relating to launch costs against the flight costs, but with shuttle you insist on counting total program costs against the flight costs.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    > SpaceX will provide the launcher and capsule, and they have their own
    > mission control and recovery. ==

    Utterly irrelevant, and likely inaccurate.

    As long as all you have to pay is $20M/seat, who cares what their costs are, and what services they contract out for? You’re over thinking this.

    Do you know how many government agencies airlines end up paying? Lots, and you don’t ever see the breakout in your ticket, because the airline rolls that cost up, and you could care less.

    Honestly, get your head out of the cost-plus world, and look around you to see how the commercial world works. That is the debate – the way it’s always been done (cost-plus) vs the way a true commercial space market would run (fixed price).

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Certainly SpaceX is one of the least credible bidders

    Why?

    Compared to whom?

    Other than schedule slips, what have they announced they were going to do that they haven’t? What makes them not credible?

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Again your confusing the shuttle program, with operating the shuttle.

    They are one and the same. There is a whole army of people that it takes for the Shuttle to fly, and only the smallest fraction ever fly on it. Are their costs part of the cost of flying the Shuttle? Yes. No Mission Control = No Shuttle flights. No tile inspections = No Shuttle flights. You see the pattern here.

  • Byeman

    “Again your confusing the shuttle program, with operating the shuttle. ”

    They are one and the same. One does not exist without the other. The money allocated to the shuttle program each year is the operating costs of the shuttle. Plain and simple, no if’s, ands, or buts about it.

    “The test here is if something is needed for the Shuttle to carry out it’s mission, then it’s costs have to be included in the total costs of the Shuttle program”

    Exactly, and guess what, everything in the shuttle program is needed to Shuttle to carry out it’s mission. This is where Starks is confused but has a point. The cost to use commercial crew will be the cost that the contractors charges plus a small amount to fund a NASA commercial crew program office*. The program office will manage the contract and provide some insight/oversight duties and will be small like the CRS program office and not add much to the total cost. However, the commercial contractor can still operate without the NASA program office, where as the shuttle program office has a large role in shuttle operations.

    “Utterly irrelevant, and likely inaccurate. Certainly SpaceX is one of the least credible bidders, NASA will use their mission controL”

    No, your point is utterly irrelevant, and 100% inaccurate. Spacex will control their vehicle from their own mission control, just like ATV and HTV had their own. NASA will continue to control the ISS from the Houston MCC and coordination Dragon ops with Spacex MCC.

    * This is how the Launch service program works and when it announces the award of a contract and its cost, it is the total cost, which included launch vehicle contractor cost, mission unique modifications, processing facility cost, telemetry, program office, support contractor, etc. So, when NASA announces launch service costs for a mission that uses an Atlas V at 150 million, it is not proper to compare this to a Spacex F9 cost at 56 million. People are going to be surprised when NASA buys its first F9 and see that the cost is going to be near an Atlas

    Starks, since you are the “brilliant” one who advocated jet engines for the shuttle at launch, you are clueless and don’t know what you are talking about. You have now been inducted into the Space Forum Troll Roster of Shame

    http://gaetanomarano.blogspot.com/

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    >>Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    >>> SpaceX will provide the launcher and capsule, and they
    >>> have their own mission control and recovery. ==

    >>Utterly irrelevant, and likely inaccurate.”

    > As long as all you have to pay is $20M/seat, who cares what their
    > costs are, ==

    Because your (NASA cost are $600M a flight and still counting.

    >== look around you to see how the commercial world works. ==

    Irrelevant, its how NASA programs and cost work.

    …Oh, and this isn’t like getting a airline ticket or buying a standard product in retail.

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    >>Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    >>Certainly SpaceX is one of the least credible bidders”

    > Why?

    Negligible experience, limited resources, adn high political risk if they win.

    > Compared to whom?
    Boeing and L/M

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    >>Again your confusing the shuttle program, with operating the shuttle.

    > They are one and the same. ==

    No, they sound like they should be – but that’s not how the program is done — nor really how NASA generally does big programs.

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Concur, on all points. Including the last one.

  • John Smith

    You have now been inducted into the Space Forum Troll Roster of Shame

    Jim, why are you continually spamming the space blogs and forums with a link to your spam blog? That’s very unbecoming of a United Launch Alliance employee. Maybe I should start throwing your last name out here, so your employer ULA knows what kind of person you are and what you say and do in your spare time. Bye the way, you do look really buff in that clean suit.

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>