Congress, NASA, States

Authorization bill discussion and more from Florida

POLITICO has a few more details about the detailed effort to get the NASA authorization bill to the House floor before the House went on recess. According to the report House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was briefly involved when members of California and Ohio objected to plans to bring the bill up under suspension of the rules; he directed them to discuss their concerns with Rep. Bart Gordon, the bill’s primary sponsor, but they could not work out a deal that would allow the bill to come up before recess. The report also adds that it’s unlikely the full Senate will take up its NASA authorization bill before leaving on recess.

On Sunday, Florida Today endorsed the Senate legislation in an editorial, stating that it is “imperfect, but contains major elements that make good sense.” Those elements include immediate development of a heavy-lift vehicle and Orion spacecraft while also supporting commercial crew development. The House version, by comparison, is “badly flawed” because it would “essentially terminate” the commercial crew program while supporting continued development of a Constellation-like program whose long-term costs would be “unsustainable”.

Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), in a brief Florida Today op-ed, suggests the Senate version of the bill is better than the House version. The Senate version “comes much closer to the goals outlined in our bipartisan plan for NASA and strikes a better balance in terms of continuing the development of a NASA-led vehicle while supporting the growth of the commercial spaceflight industry,” she writes, saying only of the House version that it was “important to move the process forward”. In a companion op-ed, Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) indicates he’s not pleased with either version, saying they “move in the right direction but still fall short”. He is particularly critical of plans, as he puts it, to “outsource our space program to the Russians”.

In response to a series of questions posed by the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek called the White House’s NASA budget proposal its biggest policy mistake to date. The proposal “does not provide adequate funding to implement NASA’s priorities”, Kendrick responded in the excerpted responses published by the paper, adding that it would also “disproportionately impact Florida’s economy”. In response to another question, Meek identified NASA as one area, along with clean alternative energy, that deserved additional federal funding. Meek’s opponent, Jeff Greene, who has a 10-point lead over Meek in a new poll, did not address NASA in the responses published by the Sentinel.

Finally, at the end of an interview with local businessman Bernie Simpkins, Florida Today asks him what he thinks of the president’s space policy, including its emphasis on commercial space. “I have no objection that he’s encouraging commercialization or privatization. I still believe that entrepreneurs or private industry can do better than government,” he responded. However, he added, “space is like the telephone company or national defense. It’s such an important industry that we can’t let it go.” Of course, in an era of multiple telecommunications providers, the concept of the telephone company is something of an anachronism…

189 comments to Authorization bill discussion and more from Florida

  • amightywind

    outsource our space program to the Russians

    That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Proponents in the NASA administration of relying on the Ruskies for anything in HSF should summarily fired.

    space is like the telephone company or national defense. It’s such an important industry that we can’t let it go.

    Well, I’ve said all along NASA is the 6th branch of the military. I suppose it is too late to add another face to the Pentagon though. NASA needs to get back to its core function of HSF and slash peripheral programs. That goes for the rest of the federal government as well.

    Of course, in an era of multiple telecommunications providers, the concept of the telephone company is something of an anachronism

    Not much of an anachronism. I would be reluctant to crow about our government subsidized and snooped telecommunications oligopoly.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 11:49 am

    outsource our space program to the Russians

    That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?,,,

    nope that decision was made by your hero G. Bush

    another goofer

    Robert G. Oler

  • Derrick

    Oh windy. What a predictable troll.

  • red

    “That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Proponents in the NASA administration of relying on the Ruskies for anything in HSF should summarily fired.”

    Don’t worry; Griffin was already fired.

    Let’s see Griffin’s plan:

    – Shut down the Shuttle a month from now and rely on the Russians for crew and cargo access. Check.
    – Make Ares I/Orion operational in 2019, and rely on the Russians for crew access until then. Check.
    – Rely on the Russians RD-180 engine for military and other critical payloads. Check.
    – Rely on the Russians for PU-238. Check.
    – Abandon the ISS, perhaps to the Russians, in 2015 for Ares funding. Check.

    Let’s compare that to Bolden’s plan:

    – Extend the Shuttle for another few months to reduce our crew and cargo gap somewhat, reducing our reliance on the Russians.
    – Improve the COTS cargo funding to strengthen our cargo capabilities so we rely less on the Russians for that.
    – Fully fund commercial crew, which would be available around 2015 or so, to reduce our crew gap and thus our reliance on the Russians.
    – Develop a U.S. alternative to the Russian RD-180 engine.
    – Develop U.S. PU-238 production ability so we don’t rely on the Russians for that.
    – Develop an Orion-based CRV to reduce reliance on the Russians for that capability.
    – Keep the ISS, and use it in partnership with the Russians and others instead of in reliance on them.

  • red

    “Oh windy. What a predictable troll.”

    I think amightywind is being paid by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    outsource our space program to the Russians

    That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?

    Constellation supporters are backing a program that required retiring
    the Shuttle in 2010 and relying on the Russians for Western crew
    transport to the ISS until the station was de-orbited in early 2016.

    FY11 supporters are backing a program that would create at least two
    and possibly three independent American crew transport systems that
    would be ready to fly around the end of 2014. That would provide
    six years of service to the extended ISS, which would fly ’til 2020.

    You comment as though you think relying on the Russians is a bad
    thing, but you support Constellation, which requires relying on the
    Russians for the duration of the shortened life of the space station.
    A smart man would notice the discrepency and re-evaluate his positions.

    Mike

  • Justin Kugler

    It’s obvious he’s never read the Space Act, either. Human space flight is not one of NASA’s defined “core functions,” nor is it the “sixth branch” of the military. NASA was explicitly created to separate civil space functions from the armed services.

  • amightywind

    which requires relying on the
    Russians for the duration of the shortened life of the space station.

    I certainly supported the wisdom 2015 shutdown date of the ISS. The Russian space rides would have been rather inconsequential. Never has more money been thrown down a rat hole than with ISS. Until it is deorbited NASA is in a funding straight jacket, marooned in orbit with US enemies, desperately fixing the broken station to order to stay alive. Pointless.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Never has more money been thrown down a rat hole than with ISS.

    Don’t forget that ISS was the Shuttle’s reward for killing 7 astronauts.

  • Justin Kugler

    amightywind,
    The ISS is our first major attempt at building a permanent structure in space and operating it over long duration. That knowledge will be key to building an in-space infrastructure for deep space exploration. Those lessons will be applicable on any Moon or Mars base and any long duration transit. If we learn nothing else from ISS science (and we will certainly learn more), that has been worthwhile.

  • amightywind

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Don’t forget that ISS was the Shuttle’s reward for killing 7 astronauts.

    By now it has paid in full may times over.

    JK wrote:

    The ISS is our first major attempt at building a permanent structure in space and operating it over long duration. That knowledge will be key to building an in-space infrastructure for deep space exploration.

    Really? Deep exploration will require a 1,000,000lb white elephant spacecraft? It will be a long time before we explore then. How long will we study the debilitating effects of long term weightlessness before we get smart enough to build a spinning habitat module? the $100G price tag for this knowledge seems a bit high.

  • Deep exploration will require a 1,000,000lb white elephant spacecraft? It will be a long time before we explore then.

    It will be a lot longer if we hold up exploration waiting for a heavy-lift vehicle that is both unnecessary and unaffordable to either develop or operate.

  • Egad

    > The ISS is our first major attempt at building a permanent structure in space and operating it over long duration. That knowledge will be key to building an in-space infrastructure for deep space exploration. Those lessons will be applicable on any Moon or Mars base and any long duration transit.

    That would certainly be good. Does NASA have any formal mechanism for evaluating, recording and archiving ISS (or STS) lessons learned that’s intended to provide useful information for future efforts? For that matter, do the Russians?

    I ask because my experience inside the gummint (I suspect that it’s somewhat the same in the private sector) is that lessons tend *not* to get learned, at least not for very long. Changing that would require a focused and continuing effort.

  • Dennis Berube

    Lets not forget about the Russians and their drive for a spacestation. The Mir cost a lot less then our ISS, and had many first accomplishments achieved on her. That is how it has always been with Russias space program. They hold records for many firsts in space. While we did beat them to the Moon, if Korolev had survived I believe they would have beaten us. They do achieve what they want with less money, but when we do it, we better them, as we spend a lot more on these programs.

  • GaryChurch

    The Russians could not beat us to the moon- they were too far behind on the enabling technology which was hydrogen upper stages.

    A guy asked me explain why I was down on Commercial space on the space review, here is my reply:

    OK. since I Jeff will not let me get into space politics discussion right now, I might as well answer your question.
    Like many people you appear to read a little bit of false advertising and think you have been schooled up. If you took the time to read a couple books on space and the space industry you might find out that cosmic radiation and solar events are what keep human beings from exploring the solar system. The same escape velocity that let Apollo go to the moon could have taken manned missions to mars or other destinations decades ago. Why didn’t they go back in the 70’s and 80’s? They had the resources and the will to go but their were some showstoppers. They did not go for the same reason the main instrument on skylab was a solar observation telescope; they were trying to understand solar weather so events could be predicted and avoided. Because one good solar event will kill any spacecraft crew dead. The mass penalties for shielding to protect a crew is what makes the missions impossible with chemical propulsion. The heavy nuclei of cosmic radiation is even worse on long duration missions; it takes massive shielding to stop these particles, much heavier than what is required to protect against solar events. The Radiation is why you often hear about a fast 39 day mission to mars. It is the only scenario that gives the crew a good chance of survival versus a poor chance. Unfortunately the nuclear propulsion systems for this kind of speed so far require lightweight reactors putting out a minimum of 10 to 15 megawatts- which is about as likely as anti-gravity. So the slow trip will have to use a less powerful nuclear systems and will have very very heavy shielding.
    This is the here and now Neil.
    If we want to go beyond earth orbit with humans the first requirement will be heavy lift vehicles, the second will be nuclear propulsion, and the third will be some source of shielding from off world (water). You could launch an HLV once a week for a couple years before getting enough shielding and chemical propulsion up there to propel and shield a crew vehicle for any long duration mission.

    So before you reply with any snappy comeback quotes from SpaceX or Bigelow, you might want to google some articles about space travel and radiation and space propulsion. You will find out very quickly that everything I have said is fact, and everything you have read in the commercial space advertisements is qualified with maybes and if’s. Commercial space does not want any HLV’s because it will take money out of their pockets. But their inferior lift vehicles will cripple any spaceflight beyond earth orbit. The commercial space schemes for fuel depots and orbital assembly are false advertising. I could go on and on and answer all the likely comebacks but I have given you enough of my time. Good luck.

  • Martijn Meijering

    By now it has paid in full may times over.

    You appear to have missed by point. ISS was not Shuttle paying back for its failures, but Shuttle being rewarded for its failures. After they killed the first 7 astronauts they got a near monopoly on ISS resupply and construction as a reward. The next 7 dead astronauts got them Constellation. The failure of Constellation may yet give them an SDHLV and a crew capsule. Fortunately, this time round no one was killed, so in a sense they are making progress. At this rate maybe in thirty years we will have gotten rid of the Shuttle stack entirely, just when I’m about ready to retire. The entire space program from when I was born up until that point will have been a dead end. Way to go NASA.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It will be a lot longer if we hold up exploration waiting for a heavy-lift vehicle that is both unnecessary and unaffordable to either develop or operate.

    Not to mention an enormous obstacle to commercial development of cheap lift.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Lets not forget about the Russians and their drive for a spacestation. The Mir cost a lot less then our ISS, and had many first accomplishments achieved on her.

    unless one view HSF as some sort of National high school competition where “first” are to be celebrated at National keg parties afterwards, the reality is that neither Russian/Soviet or American HSF programs have done a thing to justify their existence…and for the most part are a drain on resources not an enhancement of capabilities.

    neither the Soviet military nor the US military with almost unlimited resource allocation has ever found a thing to do with HSF that justified its existence. If shuttle flights were not in the “lexicon” of NASA “free” even the Hubble revisits would have given way to the DoD model of simply launching a new one…the cost to do the revisits are far more then the cost of launching a new Hubble.

    In retrospect Apollo had far to much capability for what it was used for, and that capability drove up the cost so much, no one was prepared to pay for it once we had it. Like shuttle or all the viewgraphs coming out of MOD about what a heavy lift could to…there were lots of “Apollo applications” but none of them were something that the American people wanted to pay for.

    One reason I support Obama’s space policy so much is that in the end if cost are not lowered and lowered a lot then hsf is going to become a sort of last gasp at faded glory. We (and I mean all the partners of ISS) are going to keep sending people to ISS because its what “great nations do” even though no one can really explain why or what is being done there…other then mere survival which in itself is just a costly exercise. In the last two or three years of MIR that is all they were doing, just hanging on giving some entertainment to the people of former glories.

    Which is really all NASA has been doing in HSF for about thirty years.

    Oddly enough I think that the PRC has figured this out…that is why they have a human spaceflight effort, but its not moving all that rapidly.

    (I know Mark Whittington they are secretly going to take over the Moon)

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    “…the reality is that neither Russian/Soviet or American HSF programs have done a thing to justify their existence…and for the most part are a drain on resources not an enhancement of capabilities.” <- More absurd babblings from The Great Waldo Oler. Your disdain for the progress of the space age, manned spaceflight and high regard for the ancient days of aviation, 1903-1953, is wrong headed, not unlike another fella from those days named Corrigan.

  • I could go on and on and answer all the likely comebacks but I have given you enough of my time.

    Far too much of it, actually. I can feel my intelligence drain away as I try to wade my way through your illogical and repetitive posts. Fortunately, I have plenty to spare.

  • Well, I’ve said all along NASA is the 6th branch of the military. I suppose it is too late to add another face to the Pentagon though. NASA needs to get back to its core function of HSF and slash peripheral programs. That goes for the rest of the federal government as well.

    Stand up and salute while Windy is giving his Great Patriot Speech with Ol’ Glory flappin’ in the background, priceless! LOL :D

    Gimme an effin’ break!

    The only reason NASA ended up being the silent “fifth” column for the DoD was because the shuttle was the military satellite carrier du jour for a decade and a half. And because of the massive amounts of pork going to Red State NASA districts that usually have military installations too.

  • amightywind

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 1st, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Lets not forget about the Russians and their drive for a spacestation.

    Yes, let us not forget the carnival of danger that was Mir. I remember the oxygen generator incident vividly, and the collision with the Progress ship, and Lord knows what else.

    After they killed the first 7 astronauts they got a near monopoly on ISS resupply and construction as a reward.

    Well, to make an omelette you have to crack a few eggs. At least they weren’t all Americans.

    Stand up and salute while Windy is giving his Great Patriot Speech with Ol’ Glory flappin’ in the background, priceless!

    I have always found it useful to wrap myself in the flag.

  • DCSCA

    Fortunately, I have plenty to spare… <- Which speaks volumes about the demand for your engineering skills. Little wonder our skies remain clear of soaring Dragons. Gives you time to bone up on your space history and Musk time to yuck it up with Stephen Colbert.

  • Ferris Valyn

    I have always found it useful to wrap myself in the flag.

    As opposed to wrapping yourself in the Constitution or the Law.

    Radical Concept, I know

  • Which speaks volumes about the demand for your engineering skills. Little wonder our skies remain clear of soaring Dragons. Gives you time to bone up on your space history and Musk time to yuck it up with Stephen Colbert.

    Was any of this gibberish supposed to make sense? If so, it was an epic fail.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch- “So before you reply with any snappy comeback quotes from SpaceX…” <– Musk had an opportunity to do just that with Colbert but, to borrow a favorite phrase known well, (mostly likely through personal experience) to a 'musketeer' posting above, it was an 'epic fail' indeed. But funny to watch.

  • DCSCA

    @Dennis “While we did beat them to the Moon, if Korolev had survived I believe they would have beaten us.” <– Korolev's successor is on record indicating that they'd not have been able to do it against the Apollo timetable. The Saturn was a better design than the N-1.

  • Everyone had a “cant do” attitude towards Korolev.. even during his greatest successes. He literally had to fight for every win and never got any kudos.

    The reason Apollo 8 went around the Moon was because the Russians were set to do an Earth-Orbit-Rendezvous Moon shot. A dozen cosmonauts signed a letter volunteering for the mission. They were denied the opportunity..

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Thanks for the lesson Gary however I’m well aware of the studies that have been made regarding long duration missions, radiation, et al.
    I’m not suggesting that anyone (NASA or Commercial) has all the answers. And I’ve never once suggested that Commercial should do all of what NASA is doing. What I’ve said is that NASA Cx program has killed any possibility of it developing any of the technology required for exploration missions beyond leo. Mainly because NASA can’t manage a program to budget and timeline and that it’s been focused on having huge missions that swallow any budget it does have plus sucks money from other programs to boot.

    Commercial will enable NASA to get out of the space vehicle design and build program into partnering with commercial to do the R&D that’s needed to move beyond leo, and to make the move in staged, manageable chunks. Probably the course the Chinese are moving along.
    We need both NASA and Commercial to do the bits they’re best at. It’s just that NASA’s been sidetracked into leo for the last 30+ years and it seems to be stuck there.

    Oh incidentally, if you do the R&D you just might eliminate the need for those humungous lv’s and the tons and tons of radiation shielding.

    You know, you need to move on from that and look for alternatives, particularly as it appears a pretty remote possibility (like zero) that NASA will ever again have the funding required from successive administrations to do an HLV.

    Cheers

    PS All the best living in the past. It’s gets to be a cold and lonely place after a while.

  • GaryChurch

    “He literally had to fight for every win and never got any kudos.”

    yeah, I read Gushkov, his rival, ratted him out and got him sent to gulag for several years. But he gets plenty of respect from me. He started the whole show. I like Russian equipment- some things they just seem to build better. Never got along well with Russians though- or Australians. Both beat their women and drink too much. Usually not in that order.

  • @GaryChurch

    Galactic radiation is the 800 pound gorilla when you’re talking about traveling beyond cis-lunar space. That’s why I don’t take plans like traveling to an asteroid or to Mars using chemical rockets seriously. The only way we’re going to send humans safely through interplanetary space is with vehicles capable of carrying several hundred tonnes of mass shielding in addition to the weight of the vehicle itself.

    Titanic, yet light weight, light sails deployed and launched from the Lagrange points are the only practical way of transporting hundreds and even thousands of tonnes of payload cheaply through interplanetary space within reasonable amounts of time. The best way to go to Mars– is to sail to Mars!

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Marcel F Williams,

    Unless there is some unanticipated technological breakthrough that allows for energy-based shielding. It sounds sci-fi, but there has been some serious work done towards it.

    Frankly, I think that one major objective for the near-term is to evaluate exactly how much (or little) threat is posed by GCRs. Some claim it is certain death and others say it is nothing. Right now, there seems to be a lack of data that everyone is willing to agree on.

  • Dennis Berube

    Korolev would certainly have pulled off a lunar run, maybe not landing, but a free return trajectory, or orbital mission, which would have taken away from our Apollo 8 success. I knew several cosmonauts had signed on, and while the N1 design proved unworthy of a lunar mission, an Earth orbit and link up with Soyuz could have been pulled off. It could still happen today if the Russians had the drive to go for it. I think they should.. A kicker stage set into orbit and then linked to Soyuz, could power them out to the Moon, on a scientific mission.

  • Dennis Berube

    Various outlines have been addressed as to radiation problems with regards to astronaut survival. Even shapes of certain spacecraft surfaces have shown that radiation can be directed along certain paths. Talk of Bigelows inflatables, has even addressed the issue with the idea that water jackets surrounding the crew could add protection on a Mars bound mission. There is also studies underway that seek out plasma shielding as an answer to crew protection. I understand a probe is being readied that will attempt to generate a plasma shield around itself to see if it is feasable. Studies too, to determine ways to make shorter time durations to Mars and back are being analyzed as well. I think in the end when all these avenues have been looked at, we will be ready to go to Mars.

  • @ Dennis Berube

    It is my understanding that a Soyuz plus Proton Block D or Briz M upper stage (and maybe a Fregat) is sufficiently capable to attain lunar orbit or arrive at EML-1 or EML-2.

    Thus, the Russians could emulate American EELV lunar architectures, readily enough.

  • MrEarl

    WOW!!!!!!!
    41 years after the first landing on the moon and we’re talking like lunar orbit and L1 or L2 destinations are big deals. I know I’m going to be excited when we circle that big nothing of L1!!!!!!!! Whooopeeeeee!

    The N1 would have NEVER put anything it orbit. 32 engines are just too many engines to control now much less 40 years ago. That’s why the Falcon 9 heavy will never have a successful flight. 27 engines introduces too many variables.

  • GaryChurch

    “Right now, there seems to be a lack of data that everyone is willing to agree on.”

    No, the data is in. “Everyone”, meaning commercial space fans, is ignoring it.

  • GaryChurch

    “I think in the end when all these avenues have been looked at, we will be ready to go to Mars.’

    I do not think so Dennis.

    We have people on this site who think kerosene is a better upper stage than hydrogen. Who think scramjets will make space travel like the airlines.That solar sails are the way to go. That we can cheat on radiation shielding or speed our way Beyond Earth Orbit with megawatt reactors. That we can keep liquid hydrogen stored in space and transfer it to spacecraft like car gas stations. That we can build anything we want in orbit like tinkertoys.

    It is all ignoring the hard facts.
    The hardest fact no one is willing to accept is that space flight is inherently expensive. The only source of funding capable of taking humans Beyond Earth Orbit is the DOD. Entrepreneurs wanting to land on Mars are going to get us nowhere except watching billionaires frolic on the space station on youtube.

  • That’s why the Falcon 9 heavy will never have a successful flight. 27 engines introduces too many variables.

    That’s probably why SpaceX won’t go that route;

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22395.0

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Earl, the present Semyorka booster has 32 engines in it. It has a continual high rating for successful launches. 20 main engines and 12 vernier engines make up the first stage.

  • Dennis Berube

    One thing about having many engines, is the ability, that was shown in the Saturn 5 on occassion, that if one engine fails, the others can make up the difference with regards to its orbital path. On the Saturn, a few times first stage engines shut down early and the second stage made up the difference in necessary firing time. I believe one of those flights was actually Apollo 13.

  • GaryChurch

    “if one engine fails, the others can make up the difference with regards to its orbital path.”

    It depends on how early in the burn of the stage the engine goes out and how much reserve fuel is available. Dead weight is dead weight and usually results in a lower orbit- or no orbit. And Five big engines with 4 gimbals is not 9 little engines. Or 27. Falcon is cheap and nasty.

    One engine per stage and an escape system is the ideal.

  • GaryChurch

    “20 main engines and 12 vernier engines make up the first stage.”

    A quick google tells me that:

    The Soyuz vernier engines are used for guidance instead of gimbals and the engines use one pump per 4 thrust chambers.

    Falcon has in the first stage 9 pumps versus 5 for Soyuz and 27 gimbals for guidance versus 12 verniers.

  • GaryChurch

    “That’s probably why SpaceX won’t go that route;”

    So I guess a kerosene upper stage isn’t better than a hydrogen one. And fewer bigger engines are better than many smaller ones. And Nuclear Propulsion is required for Beyond Earth Orbit. And a Heavy Lift Vehicle is required.

    Suddenly everything the SpaceX crowd has been telling me I am wrong about is right. Amazing.

  • Jim

    The Semyorka booster has only 5 main engines , they just happen to have 4 thrust chambers.

  • GaryChurch

    One question.
    SpaceX is going to build heavy lift vehicles with hydrogen upper stages and nuclear engines?

  • Dennis Berube

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_(rocket_family) Here is a sight with picture of 5 four engine sections to the first stage of the Soyuz or Semyorka rocket. The 12 Vernier engines are used for steering. It still comes to 32 engines, no matter how you count it.

  • Dennis Berube

    To re coop here. The four nozzles do derive their power from the same fuel sources, however each nozzle has its own working parts. So who is correct here? Does the same fuel source feeding separate chambers equal one engine or four? Lets get some help here!

  • MrEarl

    That’s interesting Dennis. According to Oler, Simberg and many other on this site there is no need for heavy lift. If there isn’t why would SpaceX go to the expense of developing the Merlin2, a 6 then 10 meter core and launchers capable of up to 170mt to LEO?
    So tell me Oler, Simberg and the rest, who is wrong, you or Lord Musk?

  • So tell me Oler, Simberg and the rest, who is wrong, you or Lord Musk?

    No one here thinks that Elon Musk is a lord. Stupid comments like this make it impossible to take you seriously.

    Obviously, I disagree with Mr. Musk that heavy lift is necessary at this point. I know that a government-developed heavy lifter is unaffordable. Perhaps SpaceX can develop one that makes economic sense.

  • Dang, didn’t close tag properly.

    No one here thinks that Elon Musk is a lord. Stupid comments like this make it impossible to take you seriously.

    Obviously, I disagree with Mr. Musk that heavy lift is necessary at this point. I know that a government-developed heavy lifter is unaffordable. Perhaps SpaceX can develop one that makes economic sense.

  • MrEarl

    Dennis: THIS is the site you need to look at.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RD-107

  • MrEarl

    Just yankn’ your chain Rand.
    Anyone have more info on the Merlin2?

  • Kelly Starks

    >GaryChurch wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 11:26 am

    >== space flight is inherently expensive. ==

    Its actually not much more “inherently expensive” (I.E. costs driven by science and technology) then long haul airfreight.

    >== The only source of funding capable of taking humans Beyond Earth Orbit is the DOD

    Given the only group to eve send folks BEO was NASA, not DOD, that’s a little specious.

  • Kelly Starks

    > MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    >== So tell me Oler, Simberg and the rest, who is wrong, you or Lord Musk?

    No all of the above option?

    ;)

  • @Ben Russell-Gough

    Astronauts should be able to survive such a trip even without any mass shielding. But such a journey could significantly increase their chances of getting cancer, especially women, while they would also enduring significant amounts of permanent brain damage.

    About of meter of water surrounding your space craft is enough to protect you from a major solar event. About two meters of water can protect you from most galactic radiation. About 5 meters of water is required to protect your brain from the deleterious effects of high velocity heavy nuclei. Replacing water with pure hydrogen for shielding could could cut these mass requirements by 2 to 3.5 times.

  • amightywind

    GaryChurch wrote:

    So I guess a kerosene upper stage isn’t better than a hydrogen one.

    When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When SpaceX finally has to launch something other than a papermache simulator they will realize the limits of kerolox, just like NASA did in 1962.

    The Ruskies have traditionally solved the problem of combustion instability in high pressure engines by using multiple thrust chambers served by a single turbopump. The Zenit 3SL works like this. But there is generally a loss of efficiency due to increased weight and decreased effective nozzle area. See Sutton for more info.

  • Just yankn’ your chain Rand.

    Do you find “yank’n chains” a productive means of discussing space policy? Let me know how that works out for you.

  • MrEarl

    There’s not a lot to discus right now and it is enjoyable to yank the chains of the humorless and watch them get bent out of shape. So I guess you can say that it’s working out ok. :-)

    Your right Kelly, All of the above should have been option 3.

  • There’s not a lot to discus right now and it is enjoyable to yank the chains of the humorless and watch them get bent out of shape.

    Don’t confuse your lack of ability to commit acts of actual humor with humorlessness on the part of others. I’d suggest growing up, but as with the other trolls (because, you know “yanking chains” is the hallmark of a troll), I know that it would be futile.

  • Dennis Berube

    I will certainly look at that sight. I was just looking in a book I have (The Soviet Manned Space Program), that states the first stage was made up of 5 clusters with 4 engines each. It is like the Saturn 5 where its 5 engines drew fuel from the same tanks. So perhaps in light of it, we are both correct. The nozzles and chambers are separate entities of their own. Perhaps it falls under definitions as to what constitutes engines vrs. a single unit. Anyway, perhaps the author of my book defined it in his own terms. I do understand that each of the pressured chambers are suseptable to their own failures, so would that make them separate engines? Do the pumps feeding them constitute separate engines?

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Earl, just looked at your sight. It is interesting that these chambers used only one pair of pumps. So I will default that your view is correct. Apparently the author of the book mistook the situation as well, and called each nozzle an engine. Ive got way off subject here.

  • GaryChurch

    “About 5 meters of water is required to protect your brain from the deleterious effects of high velocity heavy nuclei.’

    Wow! I have been looking for some info on this; what is your source?
    Awesome- I am so excited. New things to think about.

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    Any viewpoint that is different than full, blind support of SpaceX and condemnation of NASA is considered to be “troll-like” on this site.

  • Dennis Berube

    Throw a couple of SRBs on the side of Falcon 9 and it will lift more! Lets give them credit, as their first flight was a success with minor glitches. I dont think there is a perfect flight, always something pops up. The collected data is analyzed and attempts are made to fix the problems that appear.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    That’s interesting Dennis. According to Oler, Simberg and many other on this site there is no need for heavy lift. If there isn’t why would SpaceX go to the expense of developing the Merlin2, a 6 then 10 meter core and launchers capable of up to 170mt to LEO?

    You have to look at this from a business standpoint. They have an initial product catalog that covers the basics of their business (Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon Cargo/Lab). Just like other large product companies, they are floating product evolution ideas so they can gauge the market.

    I agree with Rand and others that there is no HLV demand right now, so Musk pushing his HLV is purely to go after a potential market (i.e. Congress wants an HLV). Whether there is enough demand for the launcher is up to the customer (NASA in this case), so as long as SpaceX gets paid for the work, they are no different than a Boeing or anyone else in the government contracting world.

    SpaceX is in the business of staying in business, and if they can get government contracts to do work that is useful for them, then why not? COTS is certainly a good example of this. However, if Congress isn’t wild about turning over crew access to LEO to commercial space, then I doubt they would be enthusiastic about a contract to SpaceX for the next government HLV.

    Unless the Merlin 1 engine limits their ability to acquire orders, I don’t think SpaceX will move quickly on the Merlin 2 – they have to have a pretty good business case to spend $1B on it. And without that engine, they are not scaling up beyond the Falcon 9 Heavy. Which at this point is OK, because there is no demand for even the payload range Falcon 9 Heavy targets.

  • MrEarl

    That’s not unusual Dennis. In the US it’s one nozzle=one engine. I would have to defer to the real rocket scientists as to the advantage of multiple thrust chambers vs a singe thrust chamber. Rand isn’t speaking to me anymore so I guess it will have to be someone else.

  • Any viewpoint that is different than full, blind support of SpaceX and condemnation of NASA is considered to be “troll-like” on this site.

    This is as stupid as the claim that we think that Elon is a lord. When people can’t make actual arguments, they apparently resort to straw men. Or are you (as trolls do) just “yanking chains” again?

  • Throw a couple of SRBs on the side of Falcon 9 and it will lift more!

    And triple the cost, and shake the hell out of it and the payload. No thanks. Cheaper and easier to just add cores, as is planned for the heavy version.

  • Rand isn’t speaking to me anymore so I guess it will have to be someone else.

    I’m not? Fooled me.

    Why do you feel this ongoing compulsion to make things up?

  • Dennis Berube

    The Deltas use SRBs, though smaller in size, but a greater number in the cluster Am I wrong here?

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Earl, well the rocket sure has a GREAT record behind it! It works and the Russians have stuck for the most part with it.

  • The Deltas use SRBs, though smaller in size, but a greater number in the cluster Am I wrong here?

    Not any more, at least not the Delta IV, and they aren’t “SRBs.” SRB is a term specifically to apply to the large multi-segmented boosters that the Shuttle uses. Atlas still uses solid strap ons, but they’re not “SRBs.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    That’s interesting Dennis. According to Oler, Simberg and many other on this site there is no need for heavy lift. If there isn’t why would SpaceX go to the expense of developing the Merlin2, a 6 then 10 meter core and launchers capable of up to 170mt to LEO?
    So tell me Oler, Simberg and the rest, who is wrong, you or Lord Musk?..

    whose wrong is you.

    There is no Falcon 20 right now, That doesnt mean that in the future there would not be the need for one. Particularly one that is affordable and has a market for “things” other then just the government.

    You really need to learn how free enterprise works.

    In 1949 Convair built the XC-99, it could carry about 100,000 pounds of cargo and was a BDV (bomber development vehicle) ie built on the basis of the B-36. The cost of operation were on par with the B-36…

    Neither the Government nor the private sector found any use for lifting 100,000 lbs at the cost that the XC-99 required.

    now that did not mean that in the future there was not a market for 100,000 lbs of lift, if the cost could be made ‘reasonable”. Eventually that is what happened.

    the market developed and the cost to carry 100,000 lbs came down to the point where todays “mid sized” airlines operate at a far cheaper price then the XC-99 could have imagined on a PER HOUR basis.

    This is how market technology works. What folks like you demand is that a HLV (or a shuttle derived vehicle) be developed with no real regard for market forces or operating cost. To you (and Whittington and a lot of other big government folks) WE NEED ONE NOW and that means who gives a darn about cost.

    When the first geosynch satellite went “up” the cost to launch it, without any existing commercial basis were just about at what the private market would bear, and even then it took some government help (government bought the rocket and Hughes did the work on the satellite)…but today of course comsats are the driving force behind launch vehicle improvement.

    What a SDV is, is in all respects a XC-99 looking for a mission and someone who wants that mission so bad, that they will pay the cost. There is no mission that justifies it.

    Learn some economic and technological history and Musk’s viewgraphs on the Falcon 20 make a lot of sense.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “I would have to defer to the real rocket scientists as to the advantage of multiple thrust chambers vs a singe thrust chamber.”

    If you have to defer to “real rocket scientists” on something as simple as the pros/cons of various thrust chamber comfigurations, then you likely don’t know know enough about aerospace engineering generally and space propulsion specifically to repeatedly troll these boards with same ignorant statements about engine number.

    The same goes for using the ignorant term “rocket scientist” when referring to aerospace engineers.

    Ugh…

  • brobof

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:59 am
    MARIE
    In lay terms: “These factors are incompletely understood. [I’ll say!] The Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE) was launched in 2001 in order to collect more data. Estimates [My emphasis] are that humans unshielded [do.] in interplanetary space would receive annually roughly 400 to 900 milli-Sieverts (mSv) (compared to 2.4 mSv on Earth) and that a Mars mission (12 months in flight and 18 months on Mars) might expose shielded astronauts to ~500 to 1000 mSv.[7] These doses approach the 1 to 4 Sv career limits advised by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements for Low Earth orbit activities.

    More here
    and
    http://www.minimagnetosphere.rl.ac.uk/latest_paper.html

  • Dennis Berube

    Okay solid strap ons are not the same as SRBs, though they both produce added thrust. I think that was the point I was making. If you would rather, solid strapons would help the Falcon lift more was all I was getting at, call them what you will…

  • Major Tom

    “So I guess a kerosene upper stage isn’t better than a hydrogen one.”

    It depends. If the lower stage(s) are kerosene, and especially if they use the same engine, substantial savings can be had. And avoiding cryogens always reduces costs.

    But if your first stage employs a different fuel, the savings will be substantially reducee. And if your target payload/market needs more performance within the same design envelope and the lower stage(s) are maxed out, the point is moot — you have to go to a more expensive and powerful upper stage.

    “Amazing.”

    Only the ignorant would find this “amazing”.

    This is space propulsion 101. If you don’t understand these simple system tradeoffs, then you shouldn’t be repeatedly trolling this board with the same ignorant posts about upper stage engines, nuclear pulse propulsion, and sidemount HLVs

    Ugh…

  • Jim

    Delta calls their solid strapons “SRM’s’ and Atlas calls their solid strapons “SRB’s”

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/product_cards/AV_product_card.pdf

    “The solid rocket boosters, the largest monolithic solids in the world,”

    The shuttle uses a 4 segment SRM and when combined with a forward enclosure, nose cone, recovery system, separation motors, aft skirt, TVC system, avionics, etc, it becomes an SRB

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    The Falcon 20 is a small corporate jet. The HLV’s that SpaceX has specked are called the Falcon X and Falcon X Heavy.

    MT:
    I have never claimed to be a rocker scientist, a.k.a aerospace engineer. Either you’re not one either or are not very good one if you couldn’t answer a simple question.

    Rand:
    Ok, so what are the advantages and disadvantages to multiple thrust chambers and why do most US designs use only one?

  • Dennis Berube

    thank you Jim for clearing that up!

  • Ok, so what are the advantages and disadvantages to multiple thrust chambers and why do most US designs use only one??

    I don’t understand the question. How are you defining a “multiple thrust chamber”? If by that you mean that there are multiple engines (thrust chamber plus nozzle), I would assume that it costs less than having to have a separate power head for each one, at the risk of a common-cause failure for them if you have a power-head problem. But I’m not acquainted with the trade studies that led to the Russian designs.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I vaguely recall reading combustion stability was an issue and that that was easier to achieve with multiple smaller combustion chambers discharging through a single nozzle than with a single larger one.

  • SpaceX is in the business of staying in business, and if they can get government contracts to do work that is useful for them, then why not? COTS is certainly a good example of this. However, if Congress isn’t wild about turning over crew access to LEO to commercial space, then I doubt they would be enthusiastic about a contract to SpaceX for the next government HLV.

    That’s the gist I get of SpaceX’s HLV chart, just offering the product if the demand is there for it.

    But Elon seems to be bit of a dreamer too;

    …He wants to secure humanity’s future by turning the human race into a space-faring people able to colonise other planets. It’s the only way, Musk believes, that we can be saved, either from destroying ourselves or from some outside calamity. To put it mildly, Musk thinks big and takes the long view. “It’s important that we attempt to extend life beyond Earth now,” he says in an accent hinting at his childhood in South Africa. “It is the first time in the four billion-year history of Earth that it’s been possible and that window could be open for a long time – hopefully it is – or it could be open for a short time. We should err on the side of caution and do something now.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/01/elon-musk-spacex-rocket-mars

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Oler:
    The Falcon 20 is a small corporate jet. The HLV’s that SpaceX has specked are called the Falcon X and Falcon X Heavy…

    http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=22430

    I can see where 20 instead of XX would have tossed you but two points.

    First I dont think of the Falcon X or the heavy version as all that heavy…the Falcon XX or 20 in my words is heavy.

    and two none of that changes the points I made on the XC-99 and “lift”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “I have never claimed to be a rocker scientist, a.k.a aerospace engineer.”

    Then why do you keep trolling this site with ignorant statements about the number of engines per stage?

    “Either you’re not one either or are not very good one if you couldn’t answer a simple question…

    Ok, so what are the advantages and disadvantages to multiple thrust chambers and why do most US designs use only one?”

    Can’t you even use a search engine?

    science.ca/askascientist/viewquestion.php?qID=793

    Sigh…

  • MrEarl

    Dennis:
    Mr. Earl, well the rocket sure has a GREAT record behind it! It works and the Russians have stuck for the most part with it.”

    You’re right. The Russians stick with what works and then upgrade by evolution. For the limited resources the Russian space program receives compared to NASA, it has worked very well for them.

  • MrEarl

    MT:
    There are plenty of people on this site who espouse on subjects they know nothing about. You would be one of those people.
    I was asking the question of Rand since he IS an aerospace engineer. If I need information on old planes I’ll go to Oler.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Having fun today so far? ;)

  • Dennis Berube

    Rand, this is what the question was. Does the Soyuz launcher have 20 main engines or 5? Mr. Earl pointing me to the sight, set me straight. I have seen though where it is claimed the number of 20 plus in books. At the sight it said that each engine has four combustion chambers and 4 nozzles, that feed from the same fuel tanks. Only two pumps per 4 chambers and 4 nozzles. These nozzles are not movable, and do not gimble. The launcher is instead steered via smaller vernier engines. It is interesting the differing configurations engineers come up with to solve certain criteria. Just like designs in automobiles.

  • Major Tom

    “There are plenty of people on this site who espouse on subjects they know nothing about. You would be one of those people.”

    Where, specifically, have I talked about a subject I knew nothing about? Dates, posts, quotes?

    Forget me. I’d take anyone’s professional aerospace engineering background up against your repeated ignorant trolling on engines per stage and inability to even use a search engine before you post, any day.

    “I was asking the question of Rand since he IS an aerospace engineer.”

    And then you asked me. Specifically you wrote:

    “Either you’re not one either or are not very good one if you couldn’t answer a simple question…”

    Did you want me to answer the question or not?

    Go away, think really hard about it, and get back to me when you’ve figured it out.

    In the meantime, you might want to read the link I provided.

    Lawdy…

  • Does the Soyuz launcher have 20 main engines or 5?

    That depends on how you define an “engine.” If you think it’s turbomachinery, there are five. If you think it’s combustion chambers and nozzles, then it’s more. There is no right answer.

  • MrEarl

    CS:
    Slow day at work so I’m trying to entertain myself. As expected, Oler, Rand and MT have preformed admirably. ;-)

  • Aggelos

    I think this
    http://www.astronautix.com/engines/rd107.htm
    engine has one pump only..

    one pump for 4 chambers and nozzles..

  • MrEarl

    MT:
    I read your link and it was helpful, thanks. You could have just provided that FIRST instead of being such a schmuck about it.

  • Dennis Berube

    Major Tom your link was very interesting too, concerning Russian engines vrs. US. Also of interest was the section stating that the Russian design utilizes more parts! I guess it is all in definitions. 4chambers, 4 nozzles, 1 engine, or 4 chambers, 4 nozzles, 4 engines. Wow! Learn something new everyday….

  • Dennis Berube

    Obviously all of us here are space buffs. Some with more knowledge than others. Im always willing to learn something. I have always been of the idea that there are no dumb questions. Someone is wanting to learn something, so the best way is to ask. I think now we are all patiently waiting to see how the vote will go concerning our space program. I for one do want to see us get back into deep space with exploration as our major goal. The idea of commercial flights as becoming available is also good and may prove in the end to lower cost. It all remains to be seen. I just hope it happens soon. Im 62, years old and lived during the historic Apollo days. They were tremendous times. My grandmother, who has passed on lived to see mankind go from the airplane to landing men on the moon in her lifetime. Amazing. Just think what many of you younger people will see in your lifetime. I regret that I will not live to see man reach Mars. The pace of the present space programs, whether commercial or governmental, is to slow for that to happen.

  • Slow day at work so I’m trying to entertain myself.

    You must be easily entertained. That’s another characteristic of trolls.

  • MrEarl

    Never having anything nice to say about anyone or anything and being humorless is the sign of a lonely person, Rand…..

    Think about it.

  • Major Tom

    “instead of being such a schmuck about it”

    This from the troll who admits he lacks an aerospace engineering background but repeatedly litters this forum the same ignorant statement about numbers of engines per stage, in the absence of any data or references to the reliability of the individual engines being compared or any other system-level considerations? Even after other posters have wasted their time repeatedly pointing out to him how uninformed his point is?

    Please…

  • MrEarl

    MT:

    Your still a schmuck.

  • Major Tom

    “Obviously all of us here are space buffs. Some with more knowledge than others. Im always willing to learn something. I have always been of the idea that there are no dumb questions.”

    Agreed. But some trolls on this site repeat the same ignorant points ad nauseum, even after they’ve been shown how uninformed their position is.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Your still a schmuck.”

    Grow up. Take your juvenile namecalling and ignorant trolling elsewhere.

  • Major Tom

    And in this context, “your” is spelled “you’re”, genius.

    Ugh…

  • MrEarl

    Sorry Major Schmuck.

    You’re am schmuck.

    Happy?

  • Major Tom

    “Sorry Major Schmuck.

    You’re am schmuck.”

    Again with the juvenile namecalling and illiteracy?

    Can’t you come up with anything original?

    Ugh…

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    The Deltas use SRBs, though smaller in size, but a greater number in the cluster Am I wrong here?

    You know Dennis, you could answer your own questions by just doing a little research before you post. That way you don’t take up everyones time in answering basic questions.

    If you want to know what configurations the Delta uses SRM’s for, just check out their website. Or, you could use Astronautix.com and Wikipedia. It’s hard to take anything you say as informed if you keep acting uninformed.

  • Dennis Berube

    While I havent looked at the Delta nor Atlas sights much, I have been more interested in how Orion will play out in the end. You are correct though in that I could look up answers to my questions myself. Im use to my sailing sight where everyone attempts to help everyone else, with sailing questions. Almost took my sailboat out to the Bahamas one year. Havent yet, but hope to one day! Apparently sailors get along better than space buffs!!!!

  • Dennis Berube

    I heard that the cape has a bay where one can anchor and watch the rockets lift off. That would be cool to visit too.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Im use to my sailing sight where everyone attempts to help everyone else, with sailing questions.

    Unlike your sailing website (not “sight”), we’re not tinkering on our private rocketships, we’re discussing spaceflight in general – with maybe the hope of going to space someday…

  • MrEarl

    MT:
    You are so predictable. It takes so little to get a rise out of you.

  • Major Tom

    “MT:
    You are so predictable. It takes so little to get a rise out of you.”

    Why are you trying to “get a rise” out of people? Are you here to discuss space policy or are you just a troll?

    Do you want to be taken seriously? Or do you want to be regarded as an useless annoyance?

    Lawdy…

  • MrEarl

    You guys are such pompous a..holes.

    Dennis holds an interest in spaceflight and has plenty of questions. He’s just trying to get some answers and you treat him horribly!
    I’ve been yankin’ your chains all day so I can understand your rudeness tword me but Dennis is just trying to expand his understanding a little.
    The future of US spaceflight dose not turn on the wisdom just pouring forth from this site so lighten up a little.

  • MrEarl

    MT:
    You and I know each others position very well by now and neither is going to change. Congress is going into recess for the next 6 weeks so there’s nothing new on that front and it looks like the if something gets passed this year for NASA funding it will look alot like the Senate bill.

    But If you promise not to be condescending I would be interested in a short synopsis of your position for human space flight for the next 20 years.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’ve been yankin’ your chains all day so I can understand your rudeness tword me but Dennis is just trying to expand his understanding a little.

    He also appears to be shilling for the Shuttle workforce.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I am a space enthusiast, and not a space industry professional. I don’t pipe in on every subject, but just the ones I think I have some informed opinion on. What I do try to do is make sure what I write is correct with regards to the facts.

    It’s not uncommon for me to spend as much time researching a response as I do writing one, and though I’m sure I’ve made my share of errors, I feel pretty good about the facts I provide. My opinions, of course, are always open for disagreement, as are everyone else’s.

    Over the past number of months that I have been a regular reader of this website, I have learned a number of facts that I did not know, and some have even changed my opinion of a number of things. That’s good, because that’s one of the reasons I spend time here – to learn what the issues are, and the different approaches towards solving them.

    What obviously irritates me is when people want to be willfully ignorant of basic facts, and the blog bogs down into strings of posts that could have been cut short with a little research. I guess I figure that if people are not putting enough effort into learning the facts, their opinions must be as ill-formed. And that is a waste of photons on my display…

  • Major Tom

    “Dennis holds an interest in spaceflight and has plenty of questions. He’s just trying to get some answers and you treat him horribly!”

    I only replied once to Mr. Berube, and I said no unkind word in that reply. In fact, I agreed Mr. Berube on the old saw about there being no dumb questions.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “I’ve been yankin’ your chains all day”

    Again, why are you yanking anyone’s chain? Are you here to discuss space policy or are you just a troll?

    Do you want to be taken seriously? Or do you want to be regarded as an useless annoyance?

    “You guys are such pompous a..holes.”

    Take the juvenile namecalling and profanity elsewhere.

    Grow up or go away.

  • Never having anything nice to say about anyone or anything and being humorless is the sign of a lonely person, Rand

    I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but since I’m not someone who never has anything nice to say about anyone or anything, or humorless, I fail to see the relevance. Please continue on in your bizarre fantasies, though.

  • Dennis Berube wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    “Someone is wanting to learn something, so the best way is to ask.”
    Agreed but threads concerning space flight and space politics are worlds apart. If I may make a suggestion. If you are looking for technical answers, in addition to Coastal Ron’s excellent suggestions of Astronautix.com and Wikipedia, I would also suggest the NASA technical report server (NTRS) is also a good source of information. I would also suggest you look over the threads at NASASpaceflight.com. Very educational! After about three years of lurking and reading and then doing some research and yet more reading I am just able keep up with the ‘Rocket Scientists’ there. But IANARS! Just the son of one!

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp
    And a lively thread on a subject close to my heart:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22343.0
    Finally for a different perspective:
    http://www.russianspaceweb.com/index.html

  • Why are you trying to “get a rise” out of people? Are you here to discuss space policy or are you just a troll?

    I think that this thread alone has answered that question. He’s even admitted it.

    As for answering Dennis’ questions, the difference between this site and his sailing site is that answers to many of the questions asked at the sailing site may not be accessible on line, and may be available only to someone with experience. The questions he’s asking here are readily found by a little googling. I don’t think that people have problems answering questions that are raised by doing the research, as long as there’s some good-faith sense that that source has been exhausted, but no one likes to waste time answering questions that are either trivial, or requires them to do the research themselves that the questioner could have done..

  • Coastal Ron

    brobof wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I did not know about the NTRS site, so that’s a good example of me learning something. Thanks.

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 2nd, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Concur. And probably a better/nicer way of putting it.

  • GaryChurch

    As for the SPS mission that Oler ridiculed with such fervor, the cheap access to space so many people wail and gnash their teeth over on this site is to be found in SPS. Not for such a mundane purpose as supplying electricity, but for beam propulsion. It is the only airliner to space we are going to see by the end of this century in my opinion. And this experiment will hasten that happy day along.

  • GaryChurch

    Hey Marcel, I would really like to know your source for that 5 meter water shielding. If Jeff will please post this.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Well I just spent the last 5 minutes scanning though this blog and got to say that I didn’t see much OT stuff at all. ‘Bout the only useful bit I saw was that Congress is going to be in recess for the next 6 weeks. Guess this site will become fairly quiet for that time unless a couple of the protaganists continue the name calling.

    Oh and Dennis, enjoy your sailing. I’m out this weekend, fine and sunny, since we don’t seem to get rain in Winter time anymore here in Western Australia. Hey, maybe we could discuss another controversial topic – Climate Change. Seems a better way to spend time that trying to make sense of the politics of U.S. space policy. That said, have learn’t a lot about it – just haven’t liked it much.

  • Dennis Berube

    Well I would like to get to space one day myself. Probably will get to the Bahamas first though. I dont understand guys. I thought everyone was here to keep talk of spaceflight going. Sometimes even on the sailing Web page, we get a bit off subject. By asking about the Russian launcher I did not mean to get off subject. I will instead attempt to keep into the wind. As to me pushing for a shuttle derived vehicle, Im pushing for space exploration beyond Earth. However we get there is fine with me. If LEO is for the public in the future GREAT. However until a company like SPACEX can put a person into space, for both military and science purposes we should not yet rely on them. That is all I am saying. I think too that paying the Soviets all that money to taxi people to orbit is out of line as well. Talking about each persons favorite ride to orbit, doesnt really solve the problem now does it? What our government decides willl fly, will fly. On the sailing page, we often discuss what type of sailboats we would like to own, but cant afford. That is the same way with our space program. However it still is fun to talk about.

  • Dennis Berube

    Beancounter, believe it or not, we have talked about Global Warming many times on our sailing page. Also some people believe it is our space program bringing on these changes in our atmosphere. Nonsense of course. I jokingly stated that since my hull was already black, that I could sail the oil slick. Also wouldnt have to put any bottom paint on my boat this year, as nothing will be living in the water to attach to my hull. Joking of course. I could also wear a gas mask as the toxic fumes are hazard too. Good sailing my friend… Sorry guys I had to respond to a fellow sailor…

  • Dennis Berube

    Some people here attempt to be technical, in their post. This is fine as it provides a learning curve. However I too can be technical in my field, which is Geology. Today for the first time in history, and due to the space program we can view both Lunar and Martian geology up close and personal. This is a tremendous thing to achieve. We need to send geologist to these places, which I hope will happen in the future. While we may make artificial intelligence with high IQs at some point, I still do not think it will ever replace the judgements of a person. Fossil hunting on Mars, will have to be carried out by people. If there are fossils there. No doubt they would be micofossils and very difficult to find. When I first came on this page, my first impression was of the name calling, which stood out. Because someone doesnt quite understand the technical stuff, is no reason to call them the various names I have seen here. Lets be friends, and talk in a civil manner. Just possibly we can all learn something. We do not have to agree with what one is saying, but listen and respond in a mature fashion. Thank you…

  • Dennis Berube

    Gentlemen, as I dont recognize any females here, today science is searching for Earth-like planets. What will happen if one is discovered? The next question will of course be, how do we get there? Perhaps your technical minds can ponder that for awhile. At least until our government votes on NASAs direction in Sept, if then! Just perhaps it wont be until after elections. So to fill in the time, how will we get there from here? It certainly wont be with anything on the table to date.

  • Brian Paine

    Reading comments on this block is an interesting and sometimes informative passtime for me. However it has not escaped my notice that there is a contempt by supporters of the commercial/Space X ideology for anyone who has the gaul to dissagree with their oppinions.
    Thank God these opinions do not carry any authority. Whatever their substance the application of these opinions often demonstrate utter contempt for all opposition.
    NO WONDER IT IS CALLED SPACE POLITICS!
    Dennis Berube has made a good request, but do those more aggressive contributors have the emotional intellect to understand that?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Brian Paine wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 9:33 am

    . However it has not escaped my notice that there is a contempt by supporters of the commercial/Space X ideology for anyone who has the gaul to dissagree with their oppinions….

    Well since I agree with the Obama policy no doubt this is self serving (grin) but I dont see the point you are trying to make.

    I have contempt (grin) for people on either side who are just babbling rhetoric.

    So when someone comes up and says ” we shouldnt spend money in Russia on Soyuz instead we should spend it on shuttle flights to maintain access to space”…I have a bit of contempt for that.

    We will spend money on Soyuz even if we were to fly the shuttle until the creator comes. Thats how it works with the Soyuz as the ACRV…

    or someone who says “commercial has to prove themselves” and has nothing to say about a NASA effort (Constellation) whose only “proof” so far has been to be over budget, off schedule and not a chance to have flown in any reasonable timeframe for any reasonable cost. (and I wont mention NASA killing 14 astronauts due to incompetence).

    If one wants to have a discussion then one needs to at least argue things that have some reality. It is OK to argue that we should have taken out Saddam because he was a bad dude and ….I dont agree with that but it is at least a valid viewpoint. TO argue “he was coming to kill us” is just nutty and nowhere based in reality.

    If one wants to argue to maintain the status quo (IE more NASA) then one needs to argue why that is a good thing…

    I havent seen that argument based on reality…and I have no problem mocking those people.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dennis Berube

    First Mr. Oler, to you it may be babbling, but to others they are stating their respective views. I thought this page was here to interact with others views, not be an all one sided view of yours! So I am babbling, well it happens to seem that with Russian partnership, we are footing all the bills! How is that a parnership, with them charging upwards of 50 mil. per seat. We dont charge them for a seat aboard the shuttle. Partnerships should be working together and not with the idea of making a profit off the other guy, or is that your view of an equal partnership? The only context with regards to extending the shuttle is to keep the money here at home instead of in Russian pockets, at least to some degree. Soyuz should keep flying to the ISS but without charge to us! They are utilizing the station as much as we are. They get the money for taking tourist to the station, do we get any of that? Of course not. Actually NASA was against the idea when it first emerged. If mocking is your bag, well obviously you have no respect of others views on anything, and that goes for any one else who insist on making fun of others.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Oler would you presently buy stock in any of the commercial space enterprizes?

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ brobof,

    So, the unshielded estimates for radiation exposure on a DRM-3.0/Mars Direct-style mission is up to the low end of current estimated maximum dosages. I wonder how much difference the hydrocarbon-rich composite hull of a Transhab-style hab module would make to that. I have no doubt that NASA has people working on that.

    It is worth noting that even Robert Zubrin doubted that any given crew could carry out a Mars mission more than once in a lifetime.

    @ Dennis,

    Interstellar flight in less than multiple human lifetimes is still a long way off. Gary’s beloved nuclear pulse engine (if ever built large enough) would probably be able to get a moderate payload to Alpha Centauri in ~40 years. Even assuming the most advanced propulsion systems, such as fusion-assisted ramjets, are possible, there is good reason to assume that the distance limit for a single ‘hop’ is about 21 l.y. for crewed missions (a ‘Type-1′ destination, reachable within 100 years). So, anything beyond that (and there aren’t many Sol-type stars in that radius) is impossible, even if you invoke either ‘flying planetoid’ generation ships or massive advances in artificially-induced hibernation.

    However, a robotic probe is not necessarily so limited. I personally favour a design based on the BIS’s old Daedelus with magsail-based braking and steering system. The latter would be used to ensure that, instead of racing right through a target system at about 0.1c, a probe could actually spend time exploring.

  • Brian Paine

    Mr. Oler, contempt demonstrated for any reason in the contexts of this blog depreciates it, plain and simple. In the end it is a perfect example of what we as a species are threatening to export to the stars!
    Regarding NASA my problem is with the management of the human resources that presently exist. It is an example of what I define as “mad management.”
    This term I apply to those people who are so lacking in certain qualities, such as ingenuity, initiative, inventive, etc. that their only response to a challenging financial bottom line is to “downsize”  the organisation.
    Pools of human resources are thrown away in acts of unbeleivable ineptitude simply because any alternatives are to damned difficult. Rationalization of their actions quickly takes care of any critisism, and behold failure becomes success!
    In moddern speak millions of bits of valuable information (human resources) are simply trashed.
    Regarding “commercial space…”
    The inclusion of commercial enterprise and true commercial competition into the manned space experience holds great promise for the future. To believe it is the answer to all ills is absurd.
    The concern should be that free enterprise wants free money to achieve commercial objectives. If that is the future I could do with a small percentage of the 5 billion myself.
    Now how about some constructive discussion about manned space flight minus the barbs.
    We really do have the same interests here.

  • Ferris Valyn

    The inclusion of commercial enterprise and true commercial competition into the manned space experience holds great promise for the future. To believe it is the answer to all ills is absurd.

    And I have yet to see any real evidence that most commercial space advocates are suggesting that it is the answer to everything. It is, however, the answer to taking humans to LEO.

    The concern should be that free enterprise wants free money to achieve commercial objectives. If that is the future I could do with a small percentage of the 5 billion myself.

    Except that, we aren’t asking for free money. Yes, we are asking for money, but that money will be tied to successfully completing technical milestones, and demonstrating capabilities. And once those capabilities are demonstrated, then NASA could purchase rides to LEO from them, as could other entities, resulting in a new industry that benefits the US directly (lower costs for going to LEO), and indirectly (new industries creating that produce new tax revenue)

  • Brian Paine

    Ferris, please, you are asking for free money.
    If the final outcome is the equation you are suggesting then it could be a win/win, and in gross terms of expenditure v results may be, even with the “free money transfer,” the most cost effective solution. I hope so…
    It would be even better if commercial interests could start with a brief that the returning capsule not only took advantage of the existing aerobraking system but complemented that system with a degree of guidance and control in the final descent phase to a soft landing…practically and politically!

  • Ferris, please, you are asking for free money.

    This is stupid. “Free money” implies that they have no obligation to provide anything in return for it. No one is asking for that, but if anything can be called “free money,” it is the Constellation cost-plus contractors, who are reimbursed their costs regardless of whether or not a product ever flies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Mr. Oler would you presently buy stock in any of the commercial space enterprizes?..

    Yes…I am looking forward to at least two of the companies IPO’ing. When I was a child SWA was flying with three then two airplanes when they IPOed…the investment has paid off well.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Brian Paine wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 11:08 am

    three points

    First contempt directed at people who refuse to realize facts and present arguments consistently based on fiction is a correct emotion and action. Rational decision making and action requires an acceptance, no matter how painful of the facts of the situation; not decisions based on how one wishes things are.

    So for instance you (and I actually) might not like the notion that we are paying the Russians to use their ACRV (I have that notion in print actually on several Space News and Houston Chronicle op eds) but the fact is that this did not occur because we are not going to continue to fly the shuttle nor will continuing to fly the shuttle stop this situation…so to use it as a talking point is an attempt to mislead the debate and cause decisions made not on facts but emotion.

    Sorry that is how the bush era went and I wont sit silently by and let that method of discussion go forward.

    Second I dont care about the human capital of NASA at least in terms of the decisions that need to be made. Each situation is a tragedy but the decision needs to be made on what is good for The Republic. There are simply put to many people on the NASA gravey train…it needs and can be downsized.

    Third. Commercial groups are not looking for free money. The ones that are looking for Free money are the NASA and “save our program” people. Commercial groups are offering a service.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 10:12 am

    First Mr. Oler, to you it may be babbling, but to others they are stating their respective views. I thought this page was here to interact with others views, not be an all one sided view of yours! So I am babbling, well it happens to seem that with Russian partnership, we are footing all the bills! How is that a parnership, with them charging upwards of 50 mil. per seat. We dont charge them for a seat aboard the shuttle….

    in theory the entire government structure on ISS is a carefully balanced effort where (again in theory) governments trade their services for either other services or station time. For instance we delivered a Russian module to the station. and they deliver Progress modules.

    There is a lot of fiction there of course. The Space Station program is almost a “coalition of the willing” (a goofy phrase) which is more or less paid for by the US…but that was a decision a long time back. We pay people and nations all the time to be our friends.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Oler, you are correct. We pay for our friends!

  • Dennis Berube

    Yes NASA can be downsized, and money saved, and I support commercial efforts to reach space. As I have said before, until commercial efforts can put a man in space, and return him safely, which by the way even the experienced governments havent always succeeded in, we should not rely in a total way on them. Also NASA has already paid SpaceX for services regarding supplies to ISS. They havent even proven automated docking yet! Russia who is the leader in that field, even after all these years still has problems from time to time. Im just saying, give the commercial side a chance, but also keep pushing the deep space envelope. Dont stop and mutter about it. Otherwise we falter.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Brian –

    Huh?

    Whether you are doing commercial, or Constellation (or son of Constellation, or Direct), you are still spending money on the private sector. The issue is whether they have to meet specific technical requirements, and only get paid when they deliver results, or effort is good enough.

    Would you consider the SBIR program to be free money?

  • Dennis Berube

    Yes we pay the private sector already to build these things. However the big complaint is the continual cost over runs! This is the real problem. I guess that everyone thinks they can soak government projects for all the money they can get. There needs to be agovernmental overview board of somekind. This would also apply for the military. When NASA orders something, that board would over see why a toilet seat cost 500 dollars, joke intended here, if you get what I mean! This board should review every aspect and steps as the ball rolls toward completion of said goals. At the point of cost over run, the project should be paused and the board given power to review the company pushing the over runs. Are the over runs legal, etc. etc. and what the problems are. The old story that NASA paid 500 dollars for a toilet seat for the shuttle is of course an old joke, but it points out what the problem is. Of course specific fabrication always costs more than mass production.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ok Dennis, lets have a review of contracts, so you understand what is being discussed.

    In either proposed future, Commercial or Constellation, we will be giving money to private entities. The fundemental issue is whether they use cost-plus contracting, or use fixed price contracting.

    In cost-plus contracting, the customer (usually the government) agrees to pay whatever the cost, plus a fee on top of the costs, to the companies (IE, if a vehicle costs X dollars, the government pays X dollars, plus Y dollars that is the profit for the company). Thats why cost overruns are such a problem with cost plus contracts – it means the government is going to have to spend more.

    In fixed price contracting, the customer agrees to pay X dollars upon delivery of hardware, or service, and no more – its up to the company to make certain that they are profitable, and if there are cost overruns, the provider, not the customer is responsible for covering those costs.

    So, if a company has a cost-plus contract, they have built in incentives for cost-overruns. If a company has a fixed-price contract, they have built in incentives for not having cost overruns.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Yes we pay the private sector already to build these things. However the big complaint is the continual cost over runs! This is the real problem.

    Dennis, I can see that you are primed to be a commercial space advocate, but you just need a little more education. Since you like to learn, I’m going to give you an assignment, and when you’re done, you should have a much better idea of why commercial space advocates like me see commercial crew as a way to lower costs, and provide multiple avenues to LEO for NASA and everyone to use. Then NASA can focus more of it’s efforts on the truly hard stuff, which is beyond LEO (we too are big NASA fans).

    Your assignment is to learn all you can about the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) and the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) programs. Why? Because these will very likely be the templates for a commercial crew services program run through NASA.

    Here is the Wikipedia page, which has a good summary, and lots of relevant links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services

    And the NASA page:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/home/

    What you should realize after digging into this, is that the COTS & CRS programs only pay for completed milestones, and that non-performing companies can be booted off the program completely, and replaced with a runner-up. Also, you will see that NASA plays a strong oversight role, and that there are strict requirements that the participants have to follow, otherwise they will not be allowed to progress to the next step (and eventually replaced). This is not a typical cost-plus contract – it is fixed-price, with clear milestones that must be completed.

    Enjoy!

  • common sense

    Re: cost-plus

    I think a lot of people do not understand the terrible effect of a cost-plus contract. A contractor pretty much has no real incentive (and actually the opposite if you think of it), save for their good will and patriotism, to deliver any product. Indeed the contractor is being paid no matter what. If there is any delay of any sort from NASA (here) then the contractor is still being paid. In its best form it helps with very high risk programs. However Constellation was supposed to be very low risk since it was based on existing technology, unlike Apollo or Shuttle. LEO access even simpler. If the programs is dragging then the contractor makes more money.

    Fixed price… Well it says it all. The contractor needs to deliver or the contractor loses money.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Dennis Berube wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    >== The old story that NASA paid 500 dollars for a toilet seat for
    > the shuttle is of course an old joke, but it points out what the problem is. ==

    Actualy that was the military – adn it turned out it wasn’t a tolet seat.

    The story was part of the investigation most famed for the $100 hammer or screwdriver. In the real world the congressional hearings were ended after a couple hours when the witnesses pointed out the $100 tools were billed for $1.25, but the paperwork (legally mandated by the various congressmen in the hearing) cost over $99 dollars when done with the federally mandated processes, procedures, and pay rates (legally mandated by the various congressmen in the hearing).

    The myth is the government contractors are ripping off the gov, the reality is they are going broke adn out of business in droves trying to work their way through all the crap like this.

  • Kelly Starks

    > common sense wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 2:02 pm
    > Re: cost-plus

    > == Constellation was supposed to be very low risk since
    > it was based on existing technology, unlike Apollo or Shuttle. =

    Except it turned out nothing in Constellation could use existing tech.

    The reason for cost plus, was it saved the gov money. If the gov (as it frequently does) either wants something no one ever made – so no one knows how much it will cost , or the gov changes its mind and changes the requirements over and over. In fixed price contracts, the contractor can get creamed unless it quotes an insanely high price that no screw up or gov whim can drive the price over. So in a cost Plus, the gov lets them bill a fixed amount over their expenses and monitors the expenses in detail. But then the oversign drivse costs up 3-4 fold due to the bureaucratic overhead.

    :/

  • GaryChurch

    Fixed price or Cost plus- space flight is inherently expensive. Saying it is not much more expensive than commercial air is ridiculous. Complete and total nonsense. I have heard all this before; that rockets are really actually very simple and it is all just a question of cleverly going cheap. I have seen how much going cheap costs with the space shuttle and all the programs that went belly up trying to do it cheaper and trying to make human space flight somehow profitable.
    Cheap kills. There is no cheap.

  • common sense

    @ Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    “Except it turned out nothing in Constellation could use existing tech.”

    Tell that to Mike Griffin and NASA CxP former/current management. If they listen to you anyway…

  • Except it turned out nothing in Constellation could use existing tech.

    This statement is unadulterated nonsense. What new tech did Constellation require?

  • Martijn Meijering

    I think he means existing systems, not technologies. For instance, 4 seg vs 5 seg, 8m ET vs 10m core, J2-X vs SSME, RS-68B vs SSME (or RS-68) etc.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    The reason for cost plus, was it saved the gov money.

    Not really – see below.

    In fixed price contracts, the contractor can get creamed unless it quotes an insanely high price that no screw up or gov whim can drive the price over. So in a cost Plus, the gov lets them bill a fixed amount over their expenses and monitors the expenses in detail. But then the oversign drivse costs up 3-4 fold due to the bureaucratic overhead.

    You have this “thing” about “bureaucratic overhead”, and the clearest sign of it is that you can spell “bureaucratic” correctly, but then you bungle easy words like “oversign drivse”. There is something Freudian going on there…

    But back to the subject of Cost-Plus and Fixed-Price.

    Cost-Plus (aka cost-reimbursement contract) – Wikipedia.org:

    “A cost-reimbursement contract is appropriate when it is desirable to shift some risk of successful contract performance from the contractor to the buyer. It is most commonly used when the item purchased cannot be explicitly defined, as in research and development, or in cases where there is not enough data to accurately estimate the final cost.”

    Fixed-Price – BusinessDictionary.com:

    “Contract that provides for a price which normally is not subject to any adjustment unless certain provisions (such as contract change, economic pricing, or defective pricing) are included in the agreement. These contracts are negotiated usually where reasonably definite specifications are available, and costs can be estimated with reasonable accuracy. A fixed price contract places minimum administrative burden on the contracting parties, but subjects the contractor to the maximum risk arising from full responsibility for all cost escalations. Also called firm price contract.”

    Having been part of the management team on fixed-price contracts (as well as cost-plus), I can tell you that you have to very aware of how they work, and how you are going to profit from them. Also, costs are not always negotiated before a competitive contract win, but could be negotiated after the win (as it was with our C.O.T.S. DOD contract). In that case, the supplier has to open their books to the government, since the government typically has set rates for profit (at least on DOD programs). This turns into a cat & mouse game of costs, but the DOD still ended up with a fantastic value compared to what the alternatives were. It’s not personal, it’s business…

    Your statement of “oversight drives costs up 3-4 fold due to the bureaucratic overhead” is either wishful thinking or just plain naivete. It does not happen on normal programs.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    GaryChurch wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:17 pm
    “Fixed price or Cost plus- space flight is inherently expensive.”

    Gary you keep saying this like it’s some sort of prayer to you and if you repeat it enough (broken record syndrome) someone will believe you.
    Well it’s not a given. Simply saying it, doesn’t ‘make it so’! For a piece of light reading check out the following:

    http://www.dunnspace.com/leo_on_the_cheap.htm

    This study was admittedly written up some years ago however most of what is in it is still entirely relevant and indeed some has been clearly picked up by SpaceX.

    Let me say that FWIW I don’t agree that spaceflight to leo has to be as expensive as it currently is today. Now what constitutes ‘cheap’ is a matter for discussion however reducing cost by a factor of 50% should be achievable and if someone can get reusability up and running efficiently and effectively then greater reductions should be achievable.

    Cheers

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    On the cost+ and fixed price question, I believe the following to be relevant:

    Cost Plus applied to situations where:
    – the end result may or may not be relatively well understood or easily defined;
    – the technologies for achieving that end result are not well defined and may be problematical;
    – oversight may be required;
    – milestones for budget and technical requirements not be easily defined.
    – proposals are of a research and some development nature.

    Fixed Price can be readily applied to situations:
    – where the end result is well understood;
    – there are various methods available using exisitng technologies for achieving that end;
    – little oversight is required;
    – milestones for both budget and technical requirements are able to be well defined.
    – proposals are of an ongoing operational nature.

    So using the above as a guide, launch vehicle development for both leo and beo and say on-orbit propellent storage facilities should use fixed price contracts whereas the development for say deep space exploration vehicles should probably be a cost plus contract although even with this example there may be sections that could use existing technologies and spun off as fixed price.

    Cheers

  • Coastal Ron

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    So using the above as a guide, launch vehicle development for both leo and beo and say on-orbit propellent storage facilities should use fixed price contracts

    If you are using existing launch vehicles, then it should be fixed price. ULA has some sort of price list, though it may not be published, and I know SpaceX advertises their prices on their website. Development is done, and now it’s just recurring costs. Although, if you want something special like a unique fairing, you may have to pay the development costs yourself.

    For the on-orbit propellant storage facilities, since that is not a developed product yet, I can’t see that as being fixed-price.

    whereas the development for say deep space exploration vehicles should probably be a cost plus contract

    Yes.

  • DCSCA

    “…. SpaceX advertises their prices on their website. Development is done, and now it’s just recurring costs….”

    Meanwhile, in the real world, another day tick-tocks by, and still no Dragons cross our skies.

    Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, the Soviets have been utilizing refueling tech. for many years. They presently refuel their core module to keep the ISS in the proper orbit. I dont think fuel barges in space would be that much of a stretch.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Coastal Ron, the Soviets have been utilizing refueling tech. for many years. They presently refuel their core module to keep the ISS in the proper orbit. I dont think fuel barges in space would be that much of a stretch.

    The problem is that NASA won’t embrace it until NASA ITSELF has done it. And nobody has actually demonstrated cryogenics, only storables.

  • Jim

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    Are we going to keep seeing the same idiotic statement for the next few months?

    Anyways, this is more applicable to Ares I and Orion. They always have been much further from launch.

    So when it comes to MSFC manager crew launch,
    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

  • Ferris Valyn

    Are we going to keep seeing the same idiotic statement for the next few months?

    Sometimes its very hard to shut off a broken record

  • Kelly Starks

    > GaryChurch wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:17 pm
    > Fixed price or Cost plus- space flight is inherently expensive. ==

    inherently? Per cargo ton the RLV’s designs, ship costs, current rocket engine cost, and consumables costs as a few times similar energy distance airfreight costs – not the current thousands of times. So its not “inherently” expensive.

  • Kelly Starks

    > common sense wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:03 pm
    >> “Except it turned out nothing in Constellation could use existing tech.”

    > Tell that to Mike Griffin and NASA CxP former/current
    > management.=

    Griffen was told before hand and didn’t listen. But now they both admit it since they droped all the shuttle parts from the designs..

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:55 am

    the Soviets have been utilizing refueling tech. for many years. They presently refuel their core module to keep the ISS in the proper orbit. I dont think fuel barges in space would be that much of a stretch.

    As Ferris Valyn has pointed out, this is not a skill set that we have in the U.S., and it still needs validation and development to make it “off-the-shelf” technology.

    This is the type of stuff that NASA excels at – new technology development. This also has the type of payback that is great for the U.S. to invest in, in that it transfers to industry fairly quickly, and can be used to support NASA as they expand out past LEO. Win-Win.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Rand Simberg wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    >> Except it turned out nothing in Constellation could use existing tech.

    > What new tech did Constellation require?

    New:
    – SRBs
    – Liquid engines
    – cooling systems
    – life support system
    etc

    I.E. virtually all new equipment, as apposed to Griffins assertion that the existnig serbs, SSME, etc could be repackaged at low cost/risk.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    >== Your statement of “oversight drives costs up 3-4 fold due to the
    > bureaucratic overhead” is either wishful thinking or just plain naivete.
    > It does not happen on normal programs.

    I guess aerospace and NASA/DOD aren’t normal programs then – since it was the normal rule of thumb I was given at McDonnell Douglas, and was confirmed (and in some cases grossly exceeded) on various NASA/DOD programs. The worst case I encountered was with SpaceShipOne where various NASA and contractor estimates, a projections from “leading experts” were that it would take NASA 30-40 times as much to implement it. Rutan mentioned similar issues with a NewSpace program he was involved that tried to big no Orion, but found they were incapable of handling the staggering “oversight” support efforts and had to bow out.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    Excellent and concise summary of cost+ vrs fixed price.

    >== So using the above as a guide, launch vehicle development
    > for both leo and beo and say on-orbit propellant storage
    > facilities should use fixed price contracts ==

    The problem is though the technologies to do this are well known, what the government wants is not known, and different parts of NASA and DC were giving contradictory definitions of what CC was to be. It will use existing systems, a custom designed system, a version of Orion tailored to these forms. Given these requirements (almost all requirements for any significant program in gov) has almost constant redefinition of the requirements virtually until its shipped out the door – the contractors are stuck with the nonsensical unpredictable expenses. So they ain’t going to touch these with a ten foot pole on fixed price when they are this fluid.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    since it was the normal rule of thumb I was given at McDonnell Douglas

    Since you had nothing to do with the accounting side of MD, you’re just repeating anecdotal water cooler chatter. Can you point to any specific examples of “oversight drives costs up 3-4 fold due to the bureaucratic overhead”? If so, that would quickly prove me wrong.

    The worst case I encountered was with SpaceShipOne where various NASA and contractor estimates, a projections from “leading experts” were that it would take NASA 30-40 times as much to implement it.

    You keep chanting this as some sort of gospel, when in fact you even admit it was just a conversation someone had, and not a serious budgetary exercise. Did NASA actually put together a formal cost estimate? No. Did NASA ever seriously consider entering the X-Prize? No.

    Next thing you’ll say is the NASA should be consulting their horoscopes more often to lower program costs. Weird.

  • common sense

    @Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    “Griffen was told before hand and didn’t listen. But now they both admit it since they droped all the shuttle parts from the designs..”

    A little late isn’t it? To admit anything…

  • New:
    – SRBs
    – Liquid engines
    – cooling systems
    – life support system
    etc

    None of those are new technologies.

  • Jim

    Where were all the commercial naysayers when Spacehab built modules for the shuttle? There was no NASA oversight in the construction and operation of these modules. They didn’t have any serious anomalies.

  • Martijn Meijering

    New:
    – SRBs
    – Liquid engines
    – cooling systems
    – life support system
    etc

    You are confusing new systems with new technologies. Microgravity transfer and long term storage of cryogenic propellants are new technology. Van Allen resistant solar panels are new technology. VASIMR is new technology. The things you mentioned are new systems using existing technologies.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    >>
    >> since it was the normal rule of thumb I was given at McDonnell Douglas”

    > Since you had nothing to do with the accounting side of MD,
    > you’re just repeating anecdotal water cooler chatter. ==

    Since it has nothing to do with the accounting, but has to do with proposal bids (which I did work on) your comments incorect.

    >== Can you point to any specific examples of “oversight
    > drives costs up 3-4 fold due to the bureaucratic overhead”?
    > If so, that would quickly prove me wrong.

    Doesn’t mater – you’d ignore it anyway.

    >> The worst case I encountered was with SpaceShipOne
    >> where various NASA and contractor estimates, a
    >> projections from “leading experts” were that it would
    >> take NASA 30-40 times as much to implement it.

    > You keep chanting this as some sort of gospel, when
    > in fact you even admit it was just a conversation someone had,

    Incorrect, unless you consider formal statement in speeches by the NASA administrator, paid analysis by contracted experts, “just a conversation someone had”.

  • Kelly Starks

    >common sense wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    >> Griffen was told before hand and didn’t listen. But now
    >> they both admit it since they droped all the shuttle
    >> parts from the designs..”

    > A little late isn’t it? To admit anything…

    I don’t know. NASA also now claims reusable space craft are beyond current technology, after reusing the shuttles for dozens of flights over 30 years. So to NASA its never to late to not admit teh obvious.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    >>New:
    >> – SRBs
    >> – Liquid engines
    >> – cooling systems
    >> – life support system
    >> etc

    > You are confusing new systems with new technologies.

    I’m not, and did state these are all new equipment (as apposed to Griffnis suggesting Ares/Orion would be really cheap and quick since it could just repackage Shuttle systems.). Sorry if I phrased it confusingly.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Starks I thought the Orion design was reusable? Did something change?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Dennis – yes. Most of the reusability was stripped out, thanks to Ares I

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    NASA also now claims reusable space craft are beyond current technology

    Can you cite a reference? This is either the biggest story of the day, or you’re misinterpreting what someone said.

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    as apposed to Griffnis suggesting Ares/Orion would be really cheap and quick since it could just repackage Shuttle systems

    The term Griffin used was Safe, Simple, Soon, and cost was not declared. However, since it was assumed that the Shuttle was a sustainable price, and reusing Shuttle components was assumed to be “cheaper”, that the Ares I/V costs would be acceptable. Both assumptions, of course, turned out to be wrong, and Ares I was spiraling out of cost control.

  • Can you cite a reference? This is either the biggest story of the day, or you’re misinterpreting what someone said.

    “NASA” doesn’t claim that, but when he was center director at MSFC, Art Stephenson declared that X-33 “proved” that we weren’t ready to build reusables. Yes, it was a dumb and illogical statement. But clearly, Mike Griffin’s NASA didn’t believe in them, or they wouldn’t have wasted billions on Ares.

  • common sense

    “Both assumptions, of course, turned out to be wrong, and Ares I was spiraling out of cost control.”

    They happened to be wrong because it takes a little more than 90 days (was it 60? I cannot remember) to define an architecture. ESAS was wrong because it was a dictate. With all the available horsepower at NASA they did not even run ascent/abort analyses on their preferred LV. How bad is that?

    “But clearly, Mike Griffin’s NASA didn’t believe in them, or they wouldn’t have wasted billions on Ares.”

    Design by belief… Oh well…

  • DCSCA

    Jim wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 9:48 am <- In other words, it hits home. Months? Try years. Pitching anything less is idiotic. Stop talking. Start flying.

  • DCSCA

    “So when it comes to MSFC manager crew launch…” <- Bogus, bogus bogus. NASA has been flying people in space for nearly half a century. SpaceX has flown nobody. Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    ESAS was wrong because it was a dictate.

    Yes, top down design is hardly ever right, especially if you don’t have tons of data to use for the evaluation. Competitive bids, when structured properly, are usually better since they bring out the creativeness in people/companies.

    Congress doesn’t realize this, and they really are just looking out for their bottom line (i.e. how much does my district/state get), so we’re pretty lucky at least one of the Congressional plans is worth not puking over… :-Q

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    What is sad, really sad is that the CEV started under O’Keefe as a competitive bid. Their approach was making sense. Frustrating because it was slow, yet more reasonable. Too bad that Columbia took O’Keefe away as well. He was no scientist, no engineer but had good common sense.

    I think Congress knows very well. They are not stupid. Just selfish.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Dennis Berube wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    > Mr. Starks I thought the Orion design was reusable? Did something change?

    Yeah, that was striped out year before last. Some say it was to save weight, others because they thought all expendable designs ment they didn’t need to worry how bad it would be after being shaken like crazy on Ares-I.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    >>NASA also now claims reusable space craft are beyond current technology”

    >== This is either the biggest story of the day, or you’re
    > misinterpreting what someone said.

    It was said in a new conference 2or more years ago – so its old news.

    Given it was right after a shuttle landing it was pretty galling.

  • common sense

    Re: Orion reusable

    They had this requirement that CEV would land on land. It could not of course use retrorocket, a la Soyuz. So they came up with airbags, then a blend of airbags and rockets, LMT also had retrorockets in the parachute in their proposal… Then there was the issue of dumping the heatshield. Then they went from a PICA tile TPS to an AVCOAT TPS (Apollo). All in all land landing was a poor (outside of contingency) requirement for Orion. Especially in view of the (lack of) performance of Ares I. Cart before the horse and all those kind of things…

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    It was said in a new conference 2or more years ago – so its old news.

    Well, considering your record on remembering things, you’ll have to cite an actual link before I’ll believe you on this.

    I’m still thinking you took something out of context, because it’s obvious that NASA already operates a reusable spacecraft, Orion was originally planned to be reusable, and other companies have designs for reusable vehicles. It’s clearly not technologically difficult. Hence my disbelief in your statement.

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