Congress, NASA

Nelson and Hutchison defend their NASA plan; Nye suffers from hero disillusionment

In a joint op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel today, Sens. Bill Nelson and Kay Bailey Hutchison defend their plan for the space agency that’s incorporated into the NASA authorization legislation currently in the Senate. “Working with the White House, Senate colleagues and others, we have developed bipartisan legislation to get NASA on what we believe is the right track,” they write, adding that the House is “preparing a similar plan” (although different in a number of key details, something they don’t mention.) “In a nutshell, President Obama has declared Mars to be an ultimate goal — and, the bills now emerging from Congress provide a blueprint for NASA to lead the way for humans to explore beyond low-Earth orbit.”

What follows is a discussion of the key elements of that blueprint: adding another shuttle mission, extending ISS operations to at least 2020, developing a heavy-lift vehicle, and supporting development of commercial crew and cargo capabilities as well as key technology. They write that “our legislation would reduce the time we would have to depend on Russia for access to the space station by extending the shuttle for another year.” (Actually it would extend it by several months by adding one mission, while still relying on Russia for ISS crew transfers.) The legislation “would make a significantly higher investment in commercial space ventures, specifically by accelerating development of both commercial cargo and crew carriers.” (Although it’s still considerably less than what the administration requested.) Also left unanswered is whether the funding authorized in the bill is sufficient to develop a heavy-lift vehicle by the end of 2016, as the legislation states.

Meanwhile, in a Space News op-ed, Bill Nye, TV’s “The Science Guy” and the incoming executive director of The Planetary Society, finds it hard to believe he is in disagreement with “two of the world’s heroes”, namely former astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. The two of them strongly disagree with the administration’s NASA plan that Nye and The Planetary Society support. “They, along with a few others, believe that the U.S. is ending its human (manned) space exploration,” he writes. “I cannot help but ask, have these opponents read the same documents that I have? Are we all talking about the same NASA?”

He later notes that he and Armstrong and Glenn probably agree on a number of issues, including that plans to cancel the shuttle were first announced back in 2004, and that Constellation “would not take anyone back to the Moon before 2020, or even 2025″. “Would we agree that the Constellation program somehow got away from its managers? Would we agree that it was not going to accomplish much, while spending a lot of money? Would we agree we need a plan that will work?”

187 comments to Nelson and Hutchison defend their NASA plan; Nye suffers from hero disillusionment

  • amightywind

    I am sure neither Neil Armstrong nor John Glenn know who Bill Nye is. All they are concerned about is defending NASA HSF from irresponsible neo-leftists.

  • Dennis Berube

    You know in all of this, one thing I do not understand! Obama says he wants us to go to Mars and or an asteroid, forget the Moon. Okay well way back before Obama even came along, NASA was talking about the Constellation program being capable of going to Mars and or an asteroid, plus the Moon. So now I cant understand everyone thinking that Ares was strictly a Moon mission program? Everyone also admits that Orion is needed for missions beyond LEO. With these plans in the works, and Griffin in charge, the ground work was already set for any destination beyond LEO. So what is Obama attempting to do with what has already been planned? He claims he wants to see these destinations reached, yet he kills Constellation? Makes no sense to me! Now I can understand the desire to cut cost, and the continual cost over runs that plague NASA. This should be curtailed. But with the groundwork already in place for deep space exploration with the Constellation program, and the money already spent on Orion, why kill it? Until certain companies can prove they can place people into space and return them safely, both for military and science purposes they should not be relied on. We also should not pay the Russians 50 mil. a seat for taxi service to the ISS. Put that money back into Orion and maybe it will fly sooner rather thanlater.

  • RocketBuilder

    Well, Bill Nye and the Planetary Society can whine all they want about the position they are taking but the reality is that the President’s budget will not pass no matter how much engineering sense it may make. You cannot get around the fact that the things that pass in these situations end up making more political sense than engineering sense. Ignore the appropriators in Congress at your peril, that is why the Administration has learned in this process. This is why the Senate bill, or a compromise final bill that looks like the Senate bill is the best you are gonna get in this budget cycle.

  • Paul D.

    He claims he wants to see these destinations reached, yet he kills Constellation? Makes no sense to me!

    Good grief. Constellation is manifestly ridiculous. It will spend a great deal of money and accomplish almost nothing. Its purpose is to not reach destinations, but to consume federal funds and keep tax-fattened parasites employed.

    You don’t seem stupid enough to actually not understand this, so I have to assume you’re one of those parasites.

  • Good Grief! Another Constellation phobic! The only one stupid here is is you. Stop running with the crowd like an internet pop-culture lemming. Just because it’s cool on this or other cyber forums to hate Constellation does not equate to to the facts. This rant and knee-jerk reaction by those of your ilk is really worn thin. The Obama budget was a non-starter from the beginning and Constellation has enjoyed WIDE Congressional support all along.

    Grow up… no wait… better yet… keep ranting here in cyber space- because NO ONE important is listening.

  • “So now I cant understand everyone thinking that Ares was strictly a Moon mission program?”

    It WAS a Moon, Mars, and Beyond project. But due to budgetary and scheduling overruns asteroids eventually fell off the map and Mars was pushed out beyond the meaningful horizon. Even the once ambitious moon base plan was reduced, very quietly and without fanfare, to Appollo-style two-week sorties, and even those weren’t to happen until mid to late next decade instead of VSE’s goal of the middle of this decade. And that timeframe was very likely to slip further and marginalize its goals even further. The difference between Obama and the old path in regards to Constellation was that Obama ripped the band-aid off while the old program was allowing Cx to bleed our manned program to death over the course of 2 decades.

    “So what is Obama attempting to do with what has already been planned?”

    He’s trying to return it to at least where it was. Cx wasn’t getting us there and it was slowly but surely restructuring and cancelling large pieces of its original goals. Even if we wanted to return, word-for-word to the VSE, we’d still have to can Cx.

    Now to be fair, Orion was a good design (well several good designs as they had to keep retooling it to respond to performance shortfalls from Ares I). I agree that we should keep the progress on that vehicle. But Ares I/V were debacles. By the time Ares I would be ready to launch Orion for the very first time, we will have had 4 years of steady commercial cargo delivery to the ISS by even the most Cx biased predictions. If we get CCDev, multiple commercial crew vehicles would be supplying the ISS a year after Ares I got off the ground. And again, that’s using the most optimistic (2015) estimate for Ares I/Orion and the most pessimistic (2016) estimate for commercial crew. Realistically, commercial crew would likely be launching crews to the ISS in more like 2014-15 and Ares I, per Augustine et al, would be launching in 2017.

    Back to the subject at hand, the Senate bill I really feel is the best of both worlds. We get a nice big shiny government rocket on a standard ‘we’ll give you all the time and money you need just give us a rocket’ plan, and we get enough investment in commercial crew to give several of the commercial providers a shot at it. So in the end we keep the Moon, Mars, and Beyond goals, but invest in stable and redundant access to LEO at the same time.

  • “The Obama budget was a non-starter from the beginning and Constellation has enjoyed WIDE Congressional support all along. ”

    And by wide congressional support you mean tacit approval via apathy. No one ever gave them an alternative, and as 98% of them could care less about NASA and even fewer know anything useful about it, no one asked for anything different either. And note no one yet has proposed we re-add the actual Cx program in the course of the appropriations debate.

    I’m not opposed to a NASA supported and contracted manned rocket program, but I AM opposed to Constellation. In theory it wasn’t a bad program when it was proposed, but when the rubber met the road, it fell on its face.

  • Egad

    The Nelson-Bailey op-ed says, “Our legislation would push NASA’s development of a new heavy-lift rocket forward, with the goal to fly by 2016.”

    Let’s suppose that happens and by 31 December 2016 the US has a tested HLV that can be produced at a rate of, say, one or two a year. What does it do with them? What would the payload manifest look like through 2020 — can we at least pencil in some payloads and launch dates?

  • “The Obama budget was a non-starter from the beginning and Constellation has enjoyed WIDE Congressional support all along. ”

    And with how quietly all of the pieces of Cx were slowly defferred, altered, or cancelled (a fact supported by everyone including NASA), I’m quite certain few in congress even knew what they were supporting anymore.

  • “What would the payload manifest look like through 2020 — can we at least pencil in some payloads and launch dates?”

    I guarantee you NASA won’t do it until they get a more solid idea that that is the approach we are going to take. Remember, this whole proposal is less than a month old from the Senate side and only a week or so old in the House. I’m sure some NASA folks have thought about it, but I doubt anyone is breaking out the pen an paper over a plan that has yet to see a full floor debate in either house.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Egad,

    Initially, the only payload for the HLV would be Orion as a back-up to commercial crew (assuming it is working to NASA’s satisfaction by that point). The real point of the HLV, above all other things (IMHO, at least), is to give NASA an in-house crew launcher. The politicians don’t like the thought of having to rely on commercially-sourced or international partner-provided solutions unless there is no alternative.

    JSC also would like to have a robotic logistics carrier for the ISS launched on the HLV to replace the Shuttle’s volume lifting capability. However, that would run into several Space Act issues (protecting commercial cargo from NASA competition) unless it was so big that it couldn’t be lifted on even the largest commercial LV. That is possible and the cargo carrier could be modified to act as an LEO mission module for Orion, allowing satellite repair missions. Would there be funding though?

    The 2016 HLV would be LEO-only. I suspect that the upper stage required to go BEO would be ready by about 2020.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Max Peck wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Constellation is dead…human exploration of space is “not happening” for quite sometime…

    Robert G. Oler

  • MECO

    I’ve been watching this site for months and Robert seems to be drifting more and more into “sour grapes”.

    It seems to me that the Constellation program got away from it’s management and became the “Blob that ate NASA”. It really became a new rocket development project instead of an evolution of existing designs like the shuttle stack, sans shuttle of course, and the EELV’s.

    It seems to me that the Senate bill is a good stab at trying to put things back on the right path. Nobody on the extremes are totally happy with it which tells me tells me there is some merit there.

    So to me Robert, this is a way to get get the human exploration of space going sooner rather than later.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “So now I cant understand everyone thinking that Ares was strictly a Moon mission program?”

    Wow. Where have you been for the last five years? What began as using the Moon as a training ground for voyages more distant, where missions would be sent there briefly to practice surface operations with short-term visits, turned into “outposts” that looked a whole lot like colonization. Everyone knew those outposts were the death of any near-term plans to go further, in that such outposts would suck up huge amounts of cash. The ISS is a perfect model of that, where maintenance of that “outpost” has put up fiscal barriers against more ambitious travels.

    In fact, in 2007, NASA scientists and engineers were specifically told to stop planning for trips to Mars. That was a no-distraction edict from Griffin’s office. Mars remained the long term goal, but without much of any investment in it. So NASA would talk up Mars in a hand-wavy sort of way as being the long term goal of Constellation, but they weren’t walking the talk. That the plugs were being pulled on serious efforts to go to Mars was a major discouragement to space scientists and engineers.

    What the Obama plan would do (and there are reasons to be skeptical about that plan as well) is to remove outposts on the Moon as fiscal quicksand.

    The idea that extensive lunar development would enable travel to Mars via ISRU is an intriguing one, but one for which there are huge programmatic uncertainties. Many of those uncertainties could be retired with robotic missions. In fact, such developments don’t really enable a trip to Mars, but may well enable LOTS of trips to Mars, as one might need for colonization. Is that our goal?

    In this context, Bill Nye’s perspectives are interesting in that they are fresh. It’s partly about disagreeing with “heroes”, he says, and also that Constellation may have just gotten away from its managers.

  • But with the groundwork already in place for deep space exploration with the Constellation program, and the money already spent on Orion, why kill it? Until certain companies can prove they can place people into space and return them safely, both for military and science purposes they should not be relied on.

    This is a stupid argument. Lockheed Martin has never proven that it can place people into space and return them safely. For that matter, neither has NASA — it’s killed fourteen people. Why should they be relied on to build Orion?

  • Dennis Berube

    Wow! First of all certain people here keep bringing up the fact that NASA has indeed lost astronauts. Did anyone here really believe a space program could progress without people being lost? How quickly we forget the miracles that NASA has given us to amaze at over the years. The inherent design of a spacecraft wiithout launch escape systems, automatically left astronauts in a dangerous situation should something go amiss. It happened. Remember too, men died aboard Apollo 1, which had wiring problems and a pure oxygen atmosphere. Whos fault was that? Designs change as cuts are made. Look at the present Mars Science Lab for an example of budget problems and cuts in scientific payload. As to Orion, I know it was slated for greater things, as I mentioned above, but the ground work for deep space was already underway. Talk was even that the lander Altairs could have heat shielding added to the design for a Mars landing. An unfortunate idea is to plan say a mission to Mars with only a perhaps one time trip or at best two. After that we dont go back? Just like the Apollo, after 17 there was no more. Talk existed of maybe attempting an Apollo 18 to land on the far side but it was at last deemed to dangerous. If we do not establish a permanence in space and only make one time jaunts out to the planets, what do we gain? At most a few rocks for scientist to study. A real established outpost is what is needed.

  • Egad: “Let’s suppose that happens and by 31 December 2016 the US has a tested HLV that can be produced at a rate of, say, one or two a year. What does it do with them? What would the payload manifest look like through 2020 — can we at least pencil in some payloads and launch dates?”

    Good question and given the development time we need funded missions in the pipeline well before the SLS IOC.

    Along those lines, there are a number of new breakthrough missions (commercial, civilian, military) being discussed roughly grouped into two time frames IOC to 2020 and 2020-2030. At a launch rate of 2 per year we have more breakthrough mission ideas right now than launch slots.

    The key issue is the cost of mission not the fixed cost of the SLS that looks to be around $1.5 Billion per year at two launches per year based on extremely well understood STS cost structure ‘if’ NASA takes a direct SDHLV approach. On a $/kg to orbit basis a direct SDHLV actually represents a $/kg savings vs ULA.

    Though this doesn’t really matter since the primary commercial organizations that will likely support SLS are identical and nearly proportional to ULA. So in summary launch cost per kg to orbit and industrial/experience base will remain about the same. Fortunately with the additional diameter, volume and mass margins these breakthrough missions can be ‘more’ capable than past missions while simultaneously being ‘less’ expensive (ie the other 80% of the total mission life cycle cost that isn’t launch cost).

    Though I’m sure the concept that higher launch system margins will generate lower mission life cycle costs will confuse those who know nothing about spacecraft and mission design or even basic engineering for that matter. Anyway, the engineering relationship between design margins and cost is well known, occurs in nearly all engineering endeavors, and is major cause of the cost overruns of both MSL and JWST; cost overruns which ironically would have paid for half to the SLS development cost at this point. A free “in kind” launcher from ESA for JWST isn’t so free when you need to triple the development cost of spacecraft in order to use it.

    There is also no reason why the SDHLV based SLS needs to be any less commercial than ULA (effectively owned by DOD) and SpaceX (non-viable without the lucrative (ie a higher $/kg than STS) government ISS CRS contract). If we’re really serious about increasing the commercial utilization of space, not to be confused with contract modifications already attempted in the past on prior government contracts, we would follow CSIS advice; namely

    An Analysis and Evaluation of Options for Improving Commercial Access to Space , July 2010

    “Allow the launch vendor to charge commercial customers the marginal cost of launch. This again would be intended to attract commercial launch opportunities, resulting in the potential for larger production runs for space launch vehicles, which should reduce per vehicle manufacturing cost, build a more robust industrial base, and allow for the amortization of range costs over a larger number of launches. The government could also reasonably expect to benefit from each of these results.” Pg 45

    I would add two observations, if lowering the launch cost by a factor of 10, via a simple stroke of the policy pen no less, doesn’t stimulate a serious increase in commercial space utilization activity of what will always be strategic asset than our current long shot high tech innovation and/or contracting model shift approaches won’t work either.

    On the other hand, if a factor of 10 cost reduction in launch costs does significantly increase the commercial utilization of space, the new private capital in flow used to take advantage of this lower launch cost will more than compensate the government via increased payroll taxes alone for its initial fixed cost support for a this strategic industrial base. A fixed cost support that we tax payers will pay with or with commercial launches because of the central role that space access plays with regards to national security.

    So it’s a win-win, either we will be successful at significantly jump starting and then expanding the wider commercial utilization of space or we will finally know that significantly lowering launch cost by any means (policy, technology, contracting) is not the answer. At which point our energies could finally be focused on the other 80% of the life cycle cost that isn’t launch cost. Ideas like developing in-space technologies and architectures that enable spacecraft reuseability that leverage in-space resources come to mind.

  • Dennis Berube

    Paul D, I am not one of those parasites either. Constellation would not have achieved anything? It would have given us the abillity to venture Beyond LEO. Spaceflight is going to be expensive, so do not think the private sectors will allow cheaper access to space where you or I could afford a trip! Well maybe you can but I cant, so it wont happen for many, many more years if ever. Perhaps the space elevator idea, if produced, might lower cost to orbit, but as long as we ride conventional rockets, cost wil be high! As to lunar bases, if we had continued on back in the days of Apollo, we would already have a small base of operations there, much like what is set up in Antartica. This would have been a plus. Back then hope were for a large telescope also to be set up there. Both projects never happened.

  • amightywind

    aremisasling wrote:

    And by wide congressional support you mean tacit approval via apathy.

    How obtuse can you be? Both houses cared enough to reject the President’s budget plan outright. When was the last time that happened? Never. President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration and Constellation program were greeted enthusiastically by a democrat house. Obama’s plan was rejected by a democrat house and a senate democrat supermajority! No, recent developments are a resounding rebuke for the Bolsheviks in the Whitehouse. But the damage of the Augustine Commission sabateurs is done. NASA currently lies in ruins as a result.

  • Both houses cared enough to reject the President’s budget plan outright.

    Nonsense. The Senate basically approved the president’s budget plan, funding commercial and killing off Ares. The biggest change was the acceleration of the heavy lifter. The House rejected the attempt of the committee to restore Constellation, and hasn’t yet approved an authorization or appropriations bill for NASA.

  • Did anyone here really believe a space program could progress without people being lost?

    No. I’m simply saying that it’s illogical to claim that commercial companies can’t be relied on to safely deliver people but that NASA and a contractor with no experience at that can.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    There is also no reason why the SDHLV based SLS needs to be any less commercial than ULA (effectively owned by DOD) and SpaceX (non-viable without the lucrative (ie a higher $/kg than STS) government ISS CRS contract). ………………………..

    ah words masquerading as facts.

    There is no data that shows SpaceX as a company is non viable without the spacestation contract and its babble to say that the cost per kg of the Falcon 9 are higher then the shuttle.

    Likewise there is no indication that a shuttle derived vehicle would have any commercial OR MILITARY involvement.

    As for the payloads for a heavy lift…well if you read what is coming out of NASA they are all either ludicrious, make work or all three.

    From the solar power demonstration that works out to be the most expensive 1 KW ever generated to the “wow” test on inflatables the entire notion is kind of like Bush the last’s speeches…words looking for a meaning.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    ah you have confused the glee of mocking losers with sour grapes…sorry my side is winning…and I enjoy shouting the wounded in an ideological arguments, particularly when they started wounded.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Wow! First of all certain people here keep bringing up the fact that NASA has indeed lost astronauts. Did anyone here really believe a space program could progress without people being lost? …

    I dont know about anyone, but I certainly did not believe that any form of “motion” can be had without people being dying.

    But there is a difference between people dying of incompetence and stupidity and people dying of the unknown.

    Edwards AFB is named after Capt Glenn Edwards. He died trying to tame the “flying wing”…as he wrote describing it “”the darndest airplane I’ve ever tried to do anything with. Quite uncontrollable at times.”

    (I had sort of a flashback to that recently, a chum has built the ultralight version of “the wing” and I did the initial testing on it)…

    The 14 astronauts killed in the shuttle program did not die “pushing back that ragged edge” (with apologies to the Right Stuff)…they died from incompetence of flying with a known malfunction that was accepted as normal operating. Worse in the Columbia incident (death) they died because NASA Knew that there was a problem (the foam hitting the wing) and the leadership sat on their asses doing nothing to try and figure out 1) how bad it was or 2) any fixes.

    So when people like you say “commercial has to prove itself” my response is “goofy”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I dont know about anyone, but I certainly did not believe that any form of “motion” can be had without people being dying….

    sorry a bad edit took me into SArah Palin speak. “…being dying” should be simply “dying”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Better Sarah-Palin speak than Robert-Oler speak. I’ll bet she at least knows to put quotes around other people’s words, and not to use random and inappropriate quote marks.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I would add two observations, …

    the problem is of course that the “bi” solution set you have proffered is not the complete set.

    There is a third possibility…that if commercial lowering cost does not produce a breakthrough in use (to paraphrase one of your choices) THEN the dollars spent on maintaining a government infrastructure (heavy lift) that really has no use even to the government will be wasted.

    Since neither the military or any other branch of the government other then NASA corporate has indicated that it has any use for a SDV heavy lift…it is hard to see that this is not a complete possibility.

    I know you are aware of all these secret military uses for a SDV but gee no one else is.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Did you read the Augustine panel report? Please make an effort and do it http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf Once you have read it come back with questions that don’t already have an answer. Also please make an effort and try not to put your blinders on. The panel was made of highly respected aerospace professionals including astronauts and the former CEO of Lockheed Martin. There was nothing “leftist” to this panel quite the contrary.

    We would like to have an intelligent conversation with you based on facts, not on what you think things should be, should have been, ought to be. See what I mean?

    Please make the effort you will understand and feel better about the whole thing being debated.

    PS: Russia is not equal to the former USSR and the Russian people are not soviets. Join us in the 21st century.

  • “How obtuse can you be? Both houses cared enough to reject the President’s budget plan outright.”

    I’ll grant you that the house tips the scale firmly away from commercial and toward government rockets. Aside from that, little is different from Obama, and it sounds like there’s more than a little push back on the idea. So the thought that somehow they roundly rejected his plan is at the very least overstating the situation.

    “President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration and Constellation program were greeted enthusiastically by a democrat house.”

    First off, it was the only thing being offered at the time, so again, it wasn’t really much of a debate or decision. I was VSE/Cx or continuing the shuttle that had recently lost a crew. Additionally, it was the first time since Apollo was killed that a president put forth a serious program that aimed to go beyond low earth orbit. I was enthusiastic, too.

    And as I said earlier, Cx looked like a functional program when it was created. But now $9 billion and 5 years down the road, we are almost as far from seeing Ares I put Orion in orbit as we were in ’05. And all of the promises of scouting missions, living off the land, and commercial investment that were in the VSE and NASA Authorization faded into oblivion. If you’ll recall, the VSE very explicitly stated that we were to use government rockets only if and when commercial programs couldn’t provide the services and that we were going to invest in those services to accelerate them with the intent of phasing out the government rockets in the future. Yeah, I was all for it, because it was practically the same program Obama put forth in his FY2011 proposal.

    “Obama’s plan was rejected by a democrat house and a senate democrat supermajority!”

    No, it was modified in a couple of select committees. In the case of the Senate bill, it was only slightly modified. Neither bill has seen debate or a vote on the floors of their respective houses.

    Your facts aren’t the issue, mighty, your interpretation of them and the conclusions you draw from those interpretations are truly dishonest, or if you really believe them, very deluded.

  • MECO

    Robert said….”So when people like you say “commercial has to prove itself” my response is “goofy”.”

    So you think because lives were lost on the shuttle that commercial doesn’t have to prove itself? To me that’s a “goofy” statement. ANY new program to take humans to space has to prove itself.

    To Common Sense;
    I think the Augustine commission was put together to reach a certain conclusion. The opinions of many on the panel were well known in advance and many of it’s recommendations are very similar to the report from a committee chaired by Mr. Augustine in the early ’90’s. It’s my opinion that the committee was created to give cover to the presidents’ budget not as a planning tool.

  • Additionally, it was the first time since Apollo was killed that a president put forth a serious program that aimed to go beyond low earth orbit.

    In what way was the VSE more “serious” than the Space Exploration Initiative?

  • common sense

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

    “I think the Augustine commission was put together to reach a certain conclusion.”

    Can you back up this claim? If not…

  • “In what way was the VSE more “serious” than the Space Exploration Initiative?”

    Touche. You certainly have a point there. The similarities to the VSE are uncanny. They even had an Augustine Commission. It was pretty soundly defeated, however. Aside from what eventually became the ISS, nothing ever really came of it.

  • It was pretty soundly defeated, however. Aside from what eventually became the ISS, nothing ever really came of it.

    That’s because NASA itself sabotaged it. Truly actually lobbied against it on the Hill (which is one of the reasons that Bush canned him).

  • “So you think because lives were lost on the shuttle that commercial doesn’t have to prove itself?”

    You continue to miss the point here. He’s not suggesting that commercial doesn’t have to prove itself, just that there is no more reason for commercial space to do so than for NASA/Lockheed Martin as LockMart has never made a manned spacecraft, and NASA hasn’t participated in such a program in decades.

    “…and many of it’s recommendations are very similar to the report from a committee chaired by Mr. Augustine in the early ’90′s.”

    No, the Augustine Commission in the 90’s concluded that we shouldn’t pursue missions beyond earth at all and should focus on Earth and space science. The recent one concluded that other options are more economical, but never said we couldn’t do it, just that we wouldn’t on the budget and program we had in place. It’s a very different conclusion. I’ll also note, one of the biggest proponents of a BEO program in the late 80’s and early 90’s was Sally Ride, who was a member of the more recent Augustine panel. Perhaps she’s made a 180 degree about face in the intervening decades, but I doubt it.

  • “Truly actually lobbied against it on the Hill (which is one of the reasons that Bush canned him).”

    True as that is, the BEO program at the time finally died under Goldin, his replacement. I’m not disagreeing, by the way, just refining.

  • common sense

    The Augustine panel was very well balanced and people are trying every other way to discredit their findings since they don’t like said findings.

    Someone here might compare this attitude with WMD in Iraq ;) But I won’t go there. Couldn’t help, sorry.

  • common sense

    @aremisasling wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I think it is easy to see why an ISS would survive what a BEO program would not. BEO does not provide anything while ISS was a diplomatic effort at rapprochement. There was at least one reason for ISS. Not so much for BEO, nor is there any today that satisfies the current public demands of the US or its allies.

  • amightywind

    common sense wrote:

    PS: Russia is not equal to the former USSR and the Russian people are not soviets.

    The current Russian empire has lesser extents than the old one, and that is good. I would prefer to see a further disintegration. But as recent events in Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltics, and Iran remind us, Russia is still a dangerous, malevolent force.

    aremisasling wrote:

    No, it was modified in a couple of select committees.

    Ah, those select committees must be dominated by Republicans, but…they’re not! I hope you take comfort in your preposterous reasoning. As long as traditional NASA wins out, it is all the same to me. But to paraphrase Sarah “Mama Grizzly” Palin, Obama has been “refudiated”.

  • “Ah, those select committees must be dominated by Republicans, but…they’re not!”

    I never said they were. You were the one who brought the red team vs blue team dynamic into it. But they aren’t representative of the opinions of the whole of either house. Furthermore, ammendments were proposed to the House proposal to restore the commercial funding, so even in that smaller committee, there was pushback. The basic facts still argue against your conclusion that a Democratic supermajority rejected the plan. No vote took place in a situation where the congressional supermajority was relevant and no round rejection of the plan occurred. Even the VSE and Cx were subject to heavy tinkering by congress, were they, then, rejected in your eyes?

    Any president that expects his policies to be accepted as written by congress has no business being in that position. Fortunately, even the most brazen presidents we’ve had were conscious of the dynamics of congress.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Do you actually know what happened in Georgia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_South_Ossetia_war
    “During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military attack against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reconquer the territory.[48] The following day Russia reacted by deploying combat troops in South Ossetia and launching bombing raids deep into Georgia.[49]”

    “Russia is still a dangerous, malevolent force.”
    They are our partners, are they not? So are you saying the US partners with dangerous malevolent force?

    Oh well…

  • MECO

    Common Sense……
    These commissions are created all the time to give cover to pre-determined change in direction of programs or agencies.
    Look at the Executive summery of the 1990 report. There are a lot of similarities to the 2009 report.
    http://history.nasa.gov/augustine/racfup2.htm
    Mention is made of new launch technologies, empowering commercial space and the Mission to Planet Earth. Is it just a coincidence that two members of the 2009 committee were deeply involved in the Mission to Planet Earth?
    You’ll also see a preference against any shuttle derived vehicle just like in 2009.
    On the administration side you have Holdren and Garver who lean tword commercial Human space flight rather than NASA and the president seems to just defer to their decisions on these matters being preoccupied with issues and policies that are more important to him. So if I was to put together a committee to “study” Human Space Flight” and I had a predisposition tword commercial solutions and against NASA and shuttle derived this is the type of committee I would put together.
    Can you state with certainty that it wasn’t created to cover a change in policy? This IS politics and everything has to be viewed with a skeptical eye.

  • amightywind

    common sense wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military attack against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reconquer the territory

    The territory is located with the internationally (UN) recognized borders of Georgia. There is a difference between an attack and quelling an insurrection overtly supported by Russia.

    So are you saying the US partners with dangerous malevolent force?

    Yes, precisely. The US should have dissolved the ISS consortium immediately after the invasion. The ISS gives Russia international stature way beyond their merit.

  • Dennis Berube

    Common Sense, I am 62 yrs. of age, a Vietnam vet, and have been brought up using the word Soviets to describe the people of Russia. To me they are Soviets, alnd always will be. Nothing bad about the word. While they are people of Russia, they are still soviets. Sorry but that is my view. I will still side with Armstrong and Glenn, and I believe they know what they are talking about. Obama was led down the wrong path with regards to NASA. Perhaps the next Pres elect wll do better. In mylifetime I had hoped to see mankind established in space. Either witha base on the Moon, or a Mars mission underway. Because there is no vision from within our leadership, I will never see these things in my lifetime. Plus I hate to tell you guys again, that whatever our government selects to do, that is what will fly, be it side mount for HLV, with an Orion on top, or whatever, and there will be nothing any of you can do! If we go with commercial all the way, we will never get out of Earth orbit.

  • Egad

    Is there any current indication what the Congressional supporters of HLV mean by “H”? Presumably it’s > 50 metric tons to LEO, but is it 50-100, 100-150, 150-200 or what?

  • Dennis Berube

    I thought 75MTs had been stated. That is if memory serves me.

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    “Sorry but that is my view. ”

    But Dennis it is wrong. Just plain wrong. I understand where you are coming from but people change, countries change. Russia is/was in total chaos and things could have been a lot worse than they are today. There is nothing sovietic about today’s Russia. Quite the opposite actually! You need to be able to change your view come on!

    “I will still side with Armstrong and Glenn, and I believe they know what they are talking about. ”

    You “believe” is the issue. Get your facts, don’t just blindly believe. Glenn and Armstrong are heroes. Armstrong left the job and essentially was distant from any space ativities all these years. He was brought back in by the CxP management a while ago. I sure understand his opinion but that does not make it the “right” opinion. I am not sure what to do with what Glenn is saying though.

    “Obama was led down the wrong path with regards to NASA”

    And what path is that? Read the VSE by GWB and read the new plan. They are almost identical.

    “In mylifetime I had hoped to see mankind established in space. Either witha base on the Moon, or a Mars mission underway. ”

    Well I thought I’d be in space too but I am not and will most likely not. So?

    “Plus I hate to tell you guys again, that whatever our government selects to do, that is what will fly, be it side mount for HLV, with an Orion on top, or whatever, and there will be nothing any of you can do! ”

    Okay then.

    “If we go with commercial all the way, we will never get out of Earth orbit.”

    No one is saying anything like this. Commercial to LEO and NASA to BEO is what is being planned and is what is going to happen.

    See you only react to things maybe out of sincere passion for this but you do not accept reality. In order to fight reality you must first accept it, see how to approach the problem and find solutions. I’ll say that politics is quite often remote from reality: Congress designing an HLV! Come on!

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Egad,

    As I understand it, the Senate bill specifies 70t (70,000kg/154,320lbs) IMLEO for the version to be operational by 2016. The Senate specified that it be scalable to >100t with the upper limit at around 150t.

  • Paul D.

    Constellation would not have achieved anything? It would have given us the abillity to venture Beyond LEO.
    As Tonto said in the joke: what you mean “us”, Paleface?

    Constellation, assuming it worked at all, would have given the government the ability to send a few government employees beyond LEO, at ruinous expense, for no good purpose. This kind of thing is what I might call Potemkin Village Futurism — all symbolism, no actual content. At a deep level, it would have been a sham, an empty exercise in national vanity.

    The basic problems with the manned space program are two: extreme expense, and lack of tangible benefit to justify the expense. Obama’s commercialization would begin to address at least the first problem. Constellation would just ask us to close our eyes and minds and try to think happy thoughts, and keep the pork flowing, please.

  • CSIS Report suggests declining demand for medium and heavy lift launches in the second half of this decade. I suspect that’s why Obama was deferring heavy lift development until 2016. What missions do we have for heavy lift once completed if we build it in a rush? Crew transfers? Atlas V could be doing that reliably in 3 years for far less. I do favor heavy lift development but as a good choice among good choices including those made by the President.

    Without commercial being fully funded, DoD will see secondary and tertiary launch suppliers fail in the second half of this decade due to lack of demand imperiling national security missions unless the government props these suppliers up. Many of our protected technologies have been recreated and are now cheaper to obtain overseas driving down demand for American built.

    Without technological investment, space technology proliferation (already well underway), will reduce America to the status of “also ran”. Obama’s timing of investment was well thought out but a bit off the mark politically and underfunded for it’s most probable missions. The heavy investment in technology is essential and it is essential that America not sacrifice too much so a politician can say he or she has “made the hard choices” it is false economy.

    These contentious debates are a symptom of NASA being underfunded. That underfunding does have national security implications not being appreciated in terms of future American capabilities. Neither the WH, Senate, nor House spending proposals are meeting national security needs.

  • Ben Joshua

    Saw a road sign today that goes to the kernal for me:

    “Expect Delays
    Use Alternate Routes”

    Politicial bodies and government agencies, heavily influenced by entrenched powers, are finding change difficult to navigate.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    “These commissions are created all the time to give cover to pre-determined change in direction of programs or agencies.”

    Of course they are, especially when they relate to failing programs. They also look for otpions to save a failing program and so did the Augustine panel. They did not write Constellation off. They said how much would be needed for it to survive and a hypocritical Congress did not listen. Congress was given an opportunity to hold to their words and they did not. So?

    “You’ll also see a preference against any shuttle derived vehicle just like in 2009.”

    We all know that SD vehicles are the reason of the high cost of our NASA programs. Remember Shannon saying $200M/month no matter what for Shuttle?

    “On the administration side you have Holdren and Garver who lean tword commercial Human space flight rather than NASA and the president seems to just defer to their decisions on these matters being preoccupied with issues and policies that are more important to him. ”

    Issues and policies more important to the nation! Believe it or not Space is not that high on the list of the US people. I would even add that I “believe” the President favors commercial space. Where did he go when he went to Florida recently? So he does not “defer”. The NASA and OSTP administrations are only there to support and implement his policies.

    “Can you state with certainty that it wasn’t created to cover a change in policy?”

    No I cannot nor will I try. You made the assertion it was created to cover a change in policy, prove it! Until then this is only hear-say, speculation, you-name-it.

    “This IS politics and everything has to be viewed with a skeptical eye.”

    Yep! And you seem to be playing politics so much more the skeptical if you don’t mind.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Nye’s blatherings is the usual nonsense coming out of the Planetary Society. Hopefully the Senate Compromise will salvage enough from the wreckage Obama wrought so that the next President can reconstitute the space program.

  • “Common Sense, I am 62 yrs. of age, a Vietnam vet, and have been brought up using the word Soviets to describe the people of Russia.”

    Soviet is a Russian term meaning, essentially, ‘council’. In theory, the USSR was a large collection of smaller ‘councils’ that made up a larger body of ‘councils’. Those councils have been disbanded and removed from most governmental designations, replaced by other governmental grouping terms such as Okrug (territory), Oblast (province), and Respublik (republic). So in strictly literalist terms, ‘Soviet’ is no longer an applicable reference.

    Of course the usage in English is separate from the Russian meaning as it was an independant borrowing and held none of the original meaning. Linguistically it’s hard to say if it’s applicable to Russia in the same way that we call Cote d’Ivoire the Ivory Coast, though they legally changed their official name years ago or that the Amish still call us the English, though that has long been inaccurate. Essentially, as with most linguistic topics, there is no right answer. However, if we are to use common usage as the guiding principle, ‘Soviet’ would be an incorrect term for modern Russians.

  • “Hopefully the Senate Compromise will salvage enough from the wreckage Obama wrought so that the next President can reconstitute the space program.”

    Obama hath not wrought anything. He stated his plan and they had the option to accept it, alter it, or reject it. They weren’t ‘salvaging’ anything as nothing had been set in stone in the first place. The senate chose to alter it, and not by all that much.

  • Robert: “I know you are aware of all these secret military uses for a SDV but gee no one else is”

    Robert do you consider it at all possible that you don’t know everyone or everything?

  • common sense

    @ aremisasling wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Soviet is also a natural tendency in people to refer to the bygone communist era. We all know that most people relate to the “soviets” in a cold-war type fashion. The people of Russia is trying really hard to move from the communist Cold-War era into a capitalist era. Referring to our partners in such a way is insulting to them.

    Closer to home: Not every one is a yankee and, to some, yankee is not a nice thing to be…

    In any case, in the 21st Century there is no Soviet Union, there is a Russian Federation though.

  • “Robert do you consider it at all possible that you don’t know everyone or everything?”

    I don’t think he has to for his point to stand. Generally, the military hasn’t engaged NASA vehicles beyond launches that could be achieved with smaller rockets. They never tapped Saturn for military purposes, and aside from small-scale satellite launches, little military application was ever proposed for shuttle. Most of the other vehicles NASA has developed were purpose-built for the kind of payloads the military and commercial vendors were interested in. The few exceptions were rockets that NASA got from the military instead of the other way around (Mercury-Redstone).

  • Ferris Valyn

    If we go with commercial all the way, we will never get out of Earth orbit.

    Who has said that it was commercial all the way? Where has any advocate of Commercial space said that NASA isn’t going to play a major role? As Common Sense said, the whole idea is Commercial from earth to LEO, and everything beyond is NASA.

    Why is that bad?

  • Jim

    “US should have dissolved the ISS consortium ”

    Then the ISS would have had to be deorbited. No Russians, no ISS.

    “as long as traditional NASA wins out”:

    That is a left wing platform. Commercial is a right wing platform.

  • “Hopefully the Senate Compromise will salvage enough from the wreckage Obama wrought so that the next President can reconstitute the space program.”

    That one would embrace the Senate compromise indicates an appreciation for the merits of Obama’s proposals.

    Hard to argue with almost all his plan except for launch vehicles and the argument there is as much about jobs and coporate profits as about launch capabilities and needs.

  • MECO

    Common sense….. It’s like you pick out little sentences out of context then miss understand than miss represent them.
    Shannon was talking about the Space Shuttle Program when he said it is costing approximately $200 million per month. I think the Space Shuttle Program released a study for a shuttle derived vehicle that gave a figure of $400 million per launch.
    In my original post I said that I “THINK” the commission was created to cover a predetermined policy change and in the second post I went on to list some of the reasons why I think that was the case. It’s speculation because it would be impossible for either of us to prove either way. The difference is I gave reasons for what I believe but you either can not or will not. Here I go again, My BELIEF is that this commission largely fits your preconceived notions of how the US should proceed with human space flight, and I’ll admit most of it it doesn’t fit with my preconceived notions of how to proceed. Politics is not strictly Republican vs Democrat, Right vs Left. On the grander scale it’s one set of beliefs against the other.
    You said…”Issues and policies more important to the nation! Believe it or not Space is not that high on the list of the US people.” No argument there, what I was trying to convey was my thought that the president was disconnected from the decision and left it to others to flesh out. I also believe that he doesn’t want to expend any political capital this so will be perfectly happy to just go along with the Senate bill.
    Physics and spacecraft design are pretty black and white. There may be rockets involved but this is politics we’re talking about so everything is really a shade of gray in that arena.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I am only trying to respond to your comments.

    “I think the Space Shuttle Program released a study for a shuttle derived vehicle that gave a figure of $400 million per launch.”

    Link please? And we need to know what $400M/launch actually means. Does it include the $200M/month for the workforce Shannon was talking about. Yes $200M/month for Shuttle without any activity. That is what Shannon said.

    “It’s speculation because it would be impossible for either of us to prove either way”

    Yes “you” think. It does not mean it is real. On the other hand, I looked at the panel and the results and I say it was a well balanced committee with a very good report. I don’t think it was good, it just was good. Balanced with options as intended.

    “My BELIEF is that this commission largely fits your preconceived notions of how the US should proceed with human space flight, and I’ll admit most of it it doesn’t fit with my preconceived notions of how to proceed. ”

    I have no “preconceived” notions. I have experience and base my judgement on my experience. They provided options including the POR. They saved POR might survive if and only if they were given the cash that Congress is unable to provide which is a true statement.

    “No argument there, what I was trying to convey was my thought that the president was disconnected from the decision and left it to others to flesh out.”

    The President role is to make sure that he can delegate the work indeed. He will not be personaly involved at this level. He gives directions and expects the people to work accordingly.

    ” I also believe that he doesn’t want to expend any political capital this so will be perfectly happy to just go along with the Senate bill.”

    That now is a different story. As any manager would tell you if you want x millions of dollars you ask for more, much more. So when the bean counters come around and cut your budget you have a good chance to have what you actually need. And if you have to compromise in order to gain support it is just the way of life.

    “Physics and spacecraft design are pretty black and white. There may be rockets involved but this is politics we’re talking about so everything is really a shade of gray in that arena.”

    It probably is even worse than shade of gray. Unfortunately. I wonder why the NSF does not seem to be subjected to this kind of delirious politics. Maybe NSF actually is doing something serious for the country?

  • aremisasling wrote: Furthermore, ammendments were proposed to the House proposal to restore the commercial funding, so even in that smaller committee, there was pushback. The basic facts still argue against your conclusion that a Democratic supermajority rejected the plan.

    Actually you are wrong. I happen to have a copy of the final House bill as well as the committee markup bill from the Senate. The facts are the Congress as a WHOLE refutes the budger PROPOSAL of the President (or should we be totally honest and say Lori Garver and her commercial promotion pals like Nye et al). The facts are in the House Bill. Now admittedly the holy terrors from California want to add an amendment to the House and the Senate Bill to put money in for their butt buddy, Elon Musk but at this point, there is minimal chance of their success.

    Consider that the anti-NASA Budget PROPOSAL feeling in the Congress was the widest majority BI-PARTISAN group that this congress or the last congress has seen should give you some IDEA. Congress is not ready to turn the space program over to corporate CFO, Accountants et al in the private commercial world who would outsource components to China to save a couple of bucks.

    At least the Congressional Representatives I have spoken with PERSONALLY indicated their concern with the propensity of commercial companies to maximize stockholder and profit lines ahead of quality and safety. Airlines do it, manufacturers of all stripes do it. You actually think Musk wouldn’t do it to save a few dollars?

    Anyone who actually would like to READ the damn legislation you are all pontificating about, I have no problem sending you a copy by email.

  • common sense

    @ Jim wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “Commercial is a right wing platform.”

    It is a good common sense platform. Nothing to do with left/right wing.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    “Physics and spacecraft design are pretty black and white. ”

    BTW you’d be surprised how many shades of gray there are in physics and spacecraft design, but it is another topic.

  • Gary Anderson

    Off topic of left vs right, pro vs pro, constellation vs commercial, etc etc…

    LES was the 1st chosen for Ares. MLAS was tested once as alternative. LES pulls, MLAS pushes as the non-tech accountant views the pictures.

    Refering back to countless bickerings (discussions) here, Crew abort stands in the way of quick commercialization of crew transport because LES couldn’t be added to ‘Dragon’. Now is it possible, or did I miss something, that a 2nd MLAS test is being considered or is that canned -closed as well? Can MLAS be added to Dragon?

    Caveat disclaimer: – republican registered, formerly staunch pro constellation, but was sorely disappointed years ago with that decision, but stood behind it, so we wouldn’t keep changing plans as a political football. Can’t we all just get along? I’ve been all along a dreamchaser….

  • common sense

    @ Harvey wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Man talk about pontificating! Do you know what this means?

    http://www.google.com/dictionary?q=pontificate&langpair=en|en&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ibtZTK2CNInGsAOV3aXOCw&ved=0CBQQmwMoAA

  • I’m starting to think these comment threads have jumped the shark. Not Jeff Foust’s excellent reporting and commentary, of course. But the endless and predictable propaganda from certain individuals that bear little resemblance to reality.

    Personally, I see no point in repeating my opinion over and over.

    And quite frankly, the national news has pretty much ignored the fighting over the NASA budget, which demonstrates that most people simply don’t care.

    The masses never turned out in the streets with pitchforks and burning torches to protest the cancellation of Constellation. All we got were some ginned up political rallies here in the Space Coast by a strange-bedfellows alliance of the local labor unions and Tea Party activists.

    The main problem remains. NASA is a government jobs program that directs pork to the congressional committee members. All the rhetoric is irrelevant to that basic fact.

  • Egad

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote:

    “As I understand it, the Senate bill specifies 70t (70,000kg/154,320lbs) IMLEO for the version to be operational by 2016. The Senate specified that it be scalable to >100t with the upper limit at around 150t.”

    OK, 70t is >2x bigger than Shuttle or Ares 1 payload for the initial version, comparable to SDLV for the 100t one, and close to Ares V at 150 t.

    If the 70t version is for ISS missions, it would be interesting to think about what all that additional lift capacity might lift that STS/Ares 1 couldn’t. Are there opportunities there?

  • common sense

    @ Gary Anderson wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    “LES was the 1st chosen for Ares. MLAS was tested once as alternative. LES pulls, MLAS pushes as the non-tech accountant views the pictures.”

    It is a LAS for Orion, LES was for Apollo.

    “Refering back to countless bickerings (discussions) here, Crew abort stands in the way of quick commercialization of crew transport because LES couldn’t be added to ‘Dragon’. Now is it possible, or did I miss something, that a 2nd MLAS test is being considered or is that canned -closed as well? Can MLAS be added to Dragon?”

    Not sure where you got that Dragon cannot have an escape system(?). Don’t know about the 2nd test. But I can tell you that it is yet another very poor design. A design made at a restaurant by Mike Griffin if I remember correctly. The MLAS has major conceptual issues with stabilities. The engines are located at the circumference of the vehicle. Any minor firing issue will send the crew in some pretty lethat ride. MLAS will not see the day of light. Just like Ares I.

    “Can’t we all just get along? I’ve been all along a dreamchaser….”

    Don’t stand behind a failure! Constellation is a failure. Dreamchaser? We shall see. I think they won’t have enough cash to make it work. But we’ll see.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Harvey – um, the individual committees do NOT speak for the whole of the House and Senate. To claim otherwise is wrong. Yes, you have a copy of the Proposed bill – its freely available to anyone and everyone via Thomas.

    It has NOT been voted on. Therefore, it is NOT representative of the Congress, or even the House or the Senate.

    As for only the California delegation fighting it – remember, it was Mark Warner of VA who was proposing to protect Commercial Crew in the Senate. And it was Kosmas who introduced an amendment restoring Commercial Crew’s full funding.

    At least the Congressional Representatives I have spoken with PERSONALLY indicated their concern with the propensity of commercial companies to maximize stockholder and profit lines ahead of quality and safety. Airlines do it, manufacturers of all stripes do it. You actually think Musk wouldn’t do it to save a few dollars?

    And the reason Lockheed wouldn’t do it with Orion?

    Jim – if commercial was right wing, then why would Obama, or people like those of us on Dailykos, endorse commercial?

    As common sense says – its an intelligent/common sense wing.

    Stephen Smith – I tend to agree with you, which is why I don’t post as much as I use to. The said thing is how quickly they fill up with comments that are jumping the shark all the time.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    > I’m starting to think these comment threads have jumped the shark.
    > Not Jeff Foust’s excellent reporting and commentary, of course.
    > But the endless and predictable propaganda from certain individuals
    > that bear little resemblance to reality.

    Agreed. And the willingness to have reasoned discussion is pretty nil.

    >==
    > And quite frankly, the national news has pretty much ignored the
    > fighting over the NASA budget, which demonstrates that most people
    > simply don’t care. ==

    Frankly, no ones arguing for anything the public would find interesting. I mean when the big debate is “do we a >commercial crew< development contract to redo '60's style capsules on boosters" vrs "NASA should do a traditional coat + development contract to redo '60's style capsules on boosters"…. I can see why neither would generate broad based public excitement. Unless your fantasizing that these plans mean something utterly unlike what they do – its really a very insider, academic, debate.

  • common sense

    @ Ferris Valyn wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    “The said thing is how quickly they fill up with comments that are jumping the shark all the time.”

    I tend to agree but I sometime wonder about the person who shouts the loudest if you see what I mean. I don’t know who actually reads posts here except we saw Alan Ladwig for example a couple of times. But I would really hate to see people making decision(s) based on hallucinatory comments by some here…

    Oh well…

  • But for an unfortunate lack of interest in the Moon, I’d say Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson have articulated a nice balance between the various constituencies that shape NASA policy.

    Stick to the simplest possible SDLV:

    Rather than throw away investments and capabilities, like the shuttle and President Bush’s Constellation program, we direct NASA to pursue an evolvable system — one that can build from the shuttle and other existing hardware.

    At the same time, we insist this be affordable. Designing and building within a budget will be challenging for NASA. But minding the budget is a critical element to get the program moving forward again.

    Discipline will be needed on NASA’s part to keep requirements tight, and on Congress’ part to maintain effective oversight.

    Also invest in commercial crew and cargo:

    Our legislation would push NASA’s development of a new heavy-lift rocket forward, with the goal to fly by 2016. And it would make a significantly higher investment in commercial space ventures, specifically by accelerating development of both commercial cargo and crew carriers.

    And, maintain focus on the long term goals:

    Our objectives are no longer about getting to or being in space. We must now seek answers to the following questions:

    Can we harness new sources of energy in space for use there and on Earth? Can we sustain human life on distant journeys? Can we develop the technology for these journeys? Can we establish permanent outposts beyond Earth?

    Our vision is that we will explore asteroids and the surface of Mars — as America and the rest of humanity journey toward our ultimate destiny in the stars.

  • MECO

    Well common sense, here’s to link to a site for the shuttle derived vehicle study, http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/06/sd-hlv-assessment-highlights-post-shuttle-solution/
    There is a reference to 6 flights per year at $450 million each.
    What’s so sad is that you are so blinded by your own preconceptions, a.k.a “experience” you won’t even consider what others have to say.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    “What’s so sad is that you are so blinded by your own preconceptions, a.k.a “experience” you won’t even consider what others have to say.”

    You’re wrong. I do consider what others have to say. I did ask you a link, thanks. I wish the “others” would pay as much attention to what “I” have to say. And the SDLV camp has been pretty bad at that only riding on daydreaming fantasy: Church, DCSCA, windy, Hillhouse and others like them.

    Now about SDLV. Why do we need one? Please give me a good substantiated answer. Ort in short show me the payload.

  • MECO

    Common sense…..
    It was clear way before the hearings were over that the PoR or anything shuttle derived was a non-starter with them and that they were heavily leaning tword a concept called flexible path.
    Tell me, if this group came out with a report that leaned heavily tword the PoR, you would have still believed it was an impartial report or a cover for NASA to continue as they were?

  • DCSCA

    “human exploration of space is “not happening” for quite sometime…Robert G. Oler” <- Nonsense, Waldo. But you go on believing it. It's amusing.

  • Q: Now about SDLV. Why do we need one?

    A: To persuade Congress to fund a human spaceflight program.

    = = =

    I could go on and on about the other reasons but that would generate more heat than light.

    I don’t see SDLV as pure pork and I believe a Jupiter 130 Moon program would be less expensive and more capable than a Delta IV Moon program (both programs should be leveraged by EML & LEO depots)

    But lets assume for sake of argument that SDLV is pure pork — you still need it to persuade Congress to fund human spaceflight.

    Therefore, package SDLV with early on-orbit fuel depot demonstrations.

    NSF L2 has a nice paper Jon Goff contributed to about an in-space depot demo that can be done by 2015 or so for about $500 million (IIRC).

    Include that in the Senate bill — pass the sucker and get Obama’s signature — and start cutting metal.

  • common sense

    Also this http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/A8.jpg is a conecpt that was looked at where the engines would come back in a “pod”. That has some cost advantages. And it is “inline” for the payload. But the killer is and will remain the overall Shuttle infrastructure.

    There is very little info but “Several references are made to the three-degrees-of freedom Program to Optimize Simulated Trajectories (3DOF/POST) analysis methodology, which is an industry standard, again thinking in advance to a potential transition of the SD HLV concepts to a commercial company.” A 3-DOF analysis will not get you a proper analysis for an abort. A 6-DOF will most likely be required. The different moments must be driven by the CG not by the analyst.

    “At a flight rate of 6 launches per year, the HLV recurring cost is about $450M per flight”

    I’d like to see the analysis about this. Bear in mind that no one has ever been able to come up with the correct figure for Shuttle, why would they for any SD LV? And it requires 6 launches/year! What and where to?

  • @ common sense

    NASA has detailed budget projections for various flavors of SDLV which are not available to the public. I also would like to see the analysis however I am not holding my breath.

    IIRC, certain FOIA requests made by DIRECT advocates for information such as you describe remain unanswered even after the departure of Mike Griffin.

    = = =

    What would an SDLV do? A great question, but going beyond LEO would seem an obvious part of the answer.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    “It was clear way before the hearings were over that the PoR or anything shuttle derived was a non-starter with them and that they were heavily leaning tword a concept called flexible path.”

    It was clear because Constellation was underperforming. Do you agree about that? If you don’t then there is no possible conversation.

    “Tell me, if this group came out with a report that leaned heavily tword the PoR, you would have still believed it was an impartial report or a cover for NASA to continue as they were?”

    Had they shown that the POR did not have all the technical issues it has, some of which I was aware of before the panel was assembled. Had they shown it might be done within budget. Had they shown we could have done the VSE. Yes of course. Let me remind you I worked on the POR. I too was excited about the VSE. But I learned my lessons. Did you?

  • Dennis Berube

    Guys the word Soviets was used at a time when they had their missles aimed at us. Well guess what, they still do. Now does that sound like a partnership? There was a short period a few years back where both the US and Russia agreed to turn their missles away from each other. That didnt last long and are today aimed at you and me. Soviets they still are, as far as Im concerened!

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    “What would an SDLV do? A great question, but going beyond LEO would seem an obvious part of the answer.”

    You want me to support an SD HLV? Then show me the requirements. Until then it makes no sense. Most of the failure of Ares/Orion is due to the requirements – lack thereof or forever changing. Define a mission and the associated requirements. Tell me why this mission is necessary. Run the trade study that shows such or such SD HLV is the answer. Publish the results and I might support it.

    Until then…

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Egad,

    The main purpose for all that extra lift capability is dual-manifest crew rotation and logistical delivery to the ISS (essentially the same mission as the shuttle) with the difference that an Orion can remain on-station as a CRV for six months, if required.

    Orion is about 23t, the carrying frame would probably be about 10t, especially if it includes its own RCS, RMS and LIDS docking port. That leaves about 35-37t logistics in an MPLM-type pressurised module and/or as many ORUs and ULCs as you can fit on the frame. You could even carry something similar to the Dragon capsule in the carrying frame so that cargo can be returned to Earth rather than burnt up in the atmosphere when the frame is expended towards the end of the mission. I’d personally make the cargo mass limit 30t unless more is urgently required so as leave margin in case of an engine-out on ascent.

    Alternately, you could fund the development of an all-new HLV-optimised logistical module.

    In terms of satellite launch (such as NASA’s proposed orbital solar power and orbital propellent transfer demonstrators) some sort of upper stage would be required. The DIRECT team’s people have, I know, done some work on the viability of utilising the Delta-IVH’s 5m-diameter upper stage in this role.

    As I’ve mentioned before (and I’m sure that Major Tom would be glad to elaborate) the real issue is funding. However, it does show that, at least in theory, a 2016-introduced SLS/Orion system could have some useful function.

  • MECO

    As for SDLV…..
    I believe that heavy lift, over 75metric tons, will be needed to do human space exploration beyond Earth orbit. I have considered modular design and fuel depots but it still leaves a lot of limitations like weight, flight rate and volume to contend with.

  • MECO

    Common, I think in an earlier post I said that Constellation had become the blob that ate NASA so yes I would say it had become totally out of hand but unlike you I don’t have reconditions to talk to anyone.
    It also sounds like you are confusing the VSE with Constellation. They are not the same thing.

  • @ common sense

    Whether we persuade each other is beside the point, no?

    What will Congress do?

    and,

    How might Congress be persuaded to fund something useful?

    Would seem to be more relevant questions.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    “so yes I would say it had become totally out of hand but unlike you I don’t have reconditions to talk to anyone.”

    Not sure what you mean. “Preconditions” to talk? Am I not talking with you?

    “It also sounds like you are confusing the VSE with Constellation. ”

    No I am not.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ MECO

    That consideration is why the Senate plan calls for the 75t IMLEO design to be evolved to a 130t IMELO one for BEO.

    FWIW, though, I think that an 100t IMLEO upper limit is fine once propellent transfer is proven. You can then launch your EDS dry and fuel it in orbit, meaning that your launch weight is reduced. As a good rule of thumb, an Orion-like CRV, a Altair-sized mission module and a dry EDS/propulsion unit would mass in the 80t to 100t range. That’s good for a single crewed launch for a lunar mission. The requirement to add more delta-V for NEO missions would probably stretch it to two launches.

    The super-heavies like Ares-V, Falcon-XX and Atlas-V Phase 3 are all based on the assumption of a requirement for a single-launch throw of very high payload through escape velocity. If (and I acknowledge that this is still an if) orbital cryogenic propellent storage and transfer becomes a reality, then this requirement is reduced somewhat.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “Whether we persuade each other is beside the point, no? ”

    Hmm, why is that?

    “What will Congress do? ”

    Congress will do what is in the best interest of 1) their re-elections and 2) their constituents, in that order.

    “How might Congress be persuaded to fund something useful?”

    If we can show Congress it is in their best interest to do something anyhting. Unfortunately the question is biased. Useful to whom? To them? You and I? ATK? Lockheed Martin? Sierra Nevada? What really is destroying this community is that there is no clear leadership for anything and that most plans are based on “beliefs” not facts. Assume you were able to creat a coallition of people under some slogan/banner. Assume that people would be erady to compromise: We need nuclear reactor in space but I understand we cannot do it right away kind of approach. Then there is a slight chance at them doing something useful for the majority. In the mean time they’ll do whatthey do best: Take care of themselves.

  • DCSCA

    It’s fairly bogus of Nye to try to equate his opposition to Armstrong and Glenn with similar weight, being on a par with their perspective and experience– and the ‘few others” he dismisses. Along with John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, Nye finds himself ‘at odds’ with the ‘few others’ like: Walter Cunningham Apollo 7;Chris Kraft, past director JSC;Jack Lousma, Skylab 3, STS 3;Vance Brand, Apollo-Soyuz, STS-5, STS-41B, STS-35;Bob Crippen, STS-1, STS-7, STS-41C, STS-41G Past Director KSC;Michael D. Griffin, past NASA Administrator;Ed Gibson, Skylab 4;Jim Kennedy, past director KSC;Alan Bean, Apollo 12, Skylab 3;Alfred M. Worden, Apollo 15;Scott Carpenter, Mercury Astronaut;Glynn Lunney, Gemini-Apollo Flight Director;Jim McDivitt, Gemini 4, Apollo 9 Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager;Gene Kranz, Gemini-Apollo Flight Director Past Director NASA Mission Ops.;Joe Kerwin, Skylab 2;Fred Haise, Apollo 13, Shuttle Landing Tests;Gerald Carr, Skylab 4;Jim Lovell, Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, Apollo 13;Jake Garn, STS-51D, U.S. Senator;Charlie Duke, Apollo 16;Bruce McCandless, STS-41B, STS-31;Frank Borman, Gemini 7, Apollo 8;Paul Weitz, Skylab 2, STS-6;George Mueller, past associate administrator for manned space flight;Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17, U.S. Senator;Gene Cernan, Gemini 9, Apollo 10, Apollo 17;Dick Gordon, Gemini 11, Apollo 12.

    But what do thay know, eh Bill? Nye’s street cred is on a par with Howard Beale (‘… you’re on television, dummy!’) Nothing wrong with that, but it’s hardly in the same league. He’ll be right at home at the Planetary Society.

  • @ common sense:

    “Whether we persuade each other is beside the point, no? ”

    If the Senate wants SDLV, our arguing about whether we need SDLV is beside the point. At least IMHO.

    Given what has happened in Congress since February 1st (including that unanimous committee vote arranged by Nelson & Hutchison) I believe it is very safe to say Congress wants NASA to develop an SDLV.

    Therefore, even if you are an SDLV opponent, its time to make lemonade, and I assert that packaging a funded on-orbit depot demonstration with SDLV would be some tasty lemonade.

    Personally, I also believe that the DIRECT approach for BEO exploration (blended of course with LEO and EML depots) would create ginormous ancillary markets for every commercial company out there.

  • GaryChurch

    “As for SDLV…..
    I believe that heavy lift, over 75metric tons, will be needed to do human space exploration beyond Earth orbit.”

    The orbital cryo storage and transfer is just false advertising. Considering the trouble they had getting Centaur to work- and that was just storing it for a couple hours- the whole fuel depot concept is about as big an if as megawatt reactors for VASIMIR.

    Unobtanium.

    The only BEO path is with HLV’s and massive shielding using off-world water from somewhere not at the bottom of a deep gravity well. The water is shielding and closed loop life support medium. Figure out the space required for a crew to survive, surround that space with several feet of plastic shells and water, make it strong enough to spin on a tether and produce 1G, and then put a reactor spinning on the other end of the tether to make electricity- and you have a true spaceship. Except for how to propel it. Nuclear Electric makes for multi-year missions; which can be done with sea level radiation, one gravity, and a giant aquarium to recycle air through.

  • “But what do thay know, eh Bill? ”

    I’d have to dig it up, but there was recently a letter written to congress regarding restoring funding for commercial with a similar list of people with similar resumes including Armstrong’s crewmate, Aldrin. We can argue all day over what it all means or whether the percentage for one solution over the other makes any difference (the pro-Cx folks were on top by last count, but by less than 2/3 majority), but in the end, few of them are engineers. Most are pilots. I respect their opinions and their service in our space program. I also fully appreciate that they have a better understanding of crew safety and the necessities of spaceflight than myself or many here. But they are not the be-all-end-all experts on space POLICY. They are the experts on space FLIGHT.

    I don’t ask an astronaut how to run my space program for the same reason I don’t ask a taxi driver to design my next car or a landlord to draft the blueprints for my next apartment. Their profession, while related, doesn’t make them emminently qualified to complete the task.

  • MECO

    Common Sense said…..
    “It was clear because Constellation was underperforming. Do you agree about that? If you don’t then there is no possible conversation.”
    That sounds like a precondition to me.

    Anyway,
    A heavy lift vehicle between would be needed to lift fully outfitted modules for either a ship to Mars or a base on the moon. ISS modules are launched practically empty then outfitted later. With a lift capacity of 75 tonnes you could launch two fully outfitted and integrated modules in one launch rather than three or four using a Delta IV or an Atlas V. A shuttle derived vehicle could also use dedicated launch facilities at complex 39 rather than waiting in line at the Delta and Atlas pads that have a backlog as I understand it.
    The real sticking point is your use of the word “requirements” and what you want to accomplish. We don’t require heavy lift to do sorties to the moon. It will be required to create bases and laboratories on the moon. We could build a Mars ship at 20 tonnes at a time taking a decade or we develop a 150 tonne launcher and cut that time to a couple of years.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Bill White

    Personally, I also believe that the DIRECT approach for BEO exploration (blended of course with LEO and EML depots) would create ginormous ancillary markets for every commercial company out there.

    I fully agree. Propellent transfer (cryogenic or storables depending on detailed archetecture and requirements studies) not only would support considerable commercial launch to LEO, it could also encourage the development of commercial launch to near-Lunar space. Ditto the requirements for equipment and consumables deliveries to the area of LEO and EML depot stations, crewed or uncrewed.

  • Separating NEW Space ‘HYPE’ from REALITY.

    BN & KBH plan is the best way to grow space for both NASA and private aerospace companies.

    Good plan but it’s still dependent on a healthy economy.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I know what you mean. But I still think it is a bad idea and it is going to be a huge waste if it ever works. A long time ago I had predicted that Constellation would be terminated except for Ares V that would go on to address the workforce concerns until (most of all) have retired (or transfered) then would get cancelled. The Senate bill is exactly that.

    But what would be more effective for the US is to have a strong technology development program, not to retain the obsolescent LV know-how. If HSF was an important aspect of the political life and relevant to the public there would never be any such insanity passed. With such a bill NASA HSF will become the GM of aerospace: Irrelevant.

  • common sense

    @ MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “It was clear because Constellation was underperforming. Do you agree about that? If you don’t then there is no possible conversation.”
    That sounds like a precondition to me.”

    Yep it was a precondition more intended as a figure of speech but I’ll take the blame.

    “We could build a Mars ship at 20 tonnes at a time taking a decade or we develop a 150 tonne launcher and cut that time to a couple of years.”

    Okay let’s put it this way. There is no ship, today, that can safely assure the trip for the astronauts to Mars. So 100 or 20 or 500 tonnes won’t make a difference. We do not have the technology. The astronauts will be fried by the time they arrive.

    You want a HLV, it seems, and I want the technology to achieve similar goals. HLV is the cart before the horse. It’s only my view. Future will tell.

  • Derrick

    @ what Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:13 pm…

    Well said.

  • @ common sense wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Sure, NASA could wreck the BN/KBH compromise easily enough, with SDLV “bloat” being the most likely cause — things like requiring 5 segment RSRM, stretched tanks, J2X upper stages, etc . . .

    However, NASA could also wreck an EELV program with similar sorts of bloat.

    Therefore, getting depot demonstrations funded and flown ASAP would be a critical aspect of all this, to hedge our bets so to speak.

    Long term, we also need revenue streams that are not derived from US tax dollars and we need to accept that Americans won’t be the only people up there.

    = = =

    To steal a terrific phrase from a recent NSF comment (not me) FY2011 seems to reflect a desire to transform NASA into nothing more than a “commercial space business incubator” . . . and, at least IMHO, I just don’t see Congress being willing to fund that vision.

    I also note that the BN / KBH proposal does fund more “commercial space business incubation” than the House bill while not going “all in” with that bet. Thus, a good compromise.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    “I also note that the BN / KBH proposal does fund more “commercial space business incubation” than the House bill while not going “all in” with that bet. Thus, a good compromise.”

    If push comes to shove I will support the Senate bill of course. The House bill is… I am not sure if there is a word for it. I would like to see the WH reaction(s) first though.

    FWIW, I do not think NASA as a whole is happy supporting yet another expensive HLV that is most likely going to fail for lack of funds. And NASA is not (really) wrecking anything. Congress is.

  • Dennis Derube wrote:

    Guys the word Soviets was used at a time when they had their missles aimed at us. Well guess what, they still do. Now does that sound like a partnership?

    And we still have our missiles aimed at them. Now does that sound like a partnership?

    Oh, and in case you recently awoke from a coma, Obama just signed a significant missile reduction agreement with Russia.

  • “I also note that the BN / KBH proposal does fund more “commercial space business incubation” than the House bill while not going “all in” with that bet.”

    Speicifically it funds commercial to a meaningful degree. The amount in the Senate bill should be sufficient to get multiple providers off the ground, while not blowing the whole budget on it. And really that’s exactly the sort of amount commercial space has been asking for all along, (though clearly they’d have taken the larger FY2011 sum). The House bill reduces it to yet another COTS A-C with potential for some nice progress, but low potential for actual results.

  • Guys the word Soviets was used at a time when they had their missles aimed at us. Well guess what, they still do.

    The Chinese have missiles aimed at us, too. Does that make them Soviets?

    Words mean things.

  • Common Sense: “You want me to support an SD HLV? Then show me the requirements. Until then it makes no sense.”

    Bill is right; we have all heard the saying no bucks no Buck Rodgers. Let’s back that up a bit where do all these ‘bucks ‘come from? The answer either politicians, capitalist or combination of both and I really don’t think there is capitalist go it alone business case for Buck Rodgers (outside of Hollywood Special Effects that is) so that leaves some flavor of political based bucks in the mix. SDHLV in combination with Orion has a number of political browny points going for it.

    So Requirement 1 as Bill point out is easy: Get a plan together that will be funded by those who hold the purse strings, in this case the political purse strings.

    The trick is having achieved Requirement 1 is to ‘also’ have a technically viable plan that fits the budget while actually do something great, not so easy. The PoR proved that you don’t actually have to have a technical and cost viable plan that is doing something great in order to continue to receive money year after year as long as requirement 1 is still being met.

    That is until someone with some political clout shows up, opens up the hood and actually cares if said program is doing something great or FUBAR. Whether the President cared about HSF or just wanted to put his stamp on it I couldn’t tell you. What I do know is if he hadn’t tipped over the PoR apple cart we would likely still be on the FUBAR PoR. So given that we have shot at a second to none HSF program again is thanks to the current administration whether that was their intention or not.

    Anyway, Yada yada yada, two and half years later and here we are looking at the same option that is much closer to the Aldridge recommendations (Ignored by Mike) and actually won the ESAS trade study hands down five years ago (also Ignored by Mike) but was placed into appendix 6a of the report so that the ugly step sisters (one skinny, one fat) wouldn’t look so bad.

    My concerning is that a plan that would have been close to IOC today had we not gone down the Ares-1 road to Abilene five years ago now must face a steadily increasing headwind of the serious fiscal realities that faces ‘all’ federal spending. In the end the damage that the Professor caused may ultimate destroy even the best thought out technically and politically crafted plan at this late date. Then again, given how little impact NASA has on the federal budget projections one way or the other, if its important enough money can be found.

    Common Sense: “I’d like to see the analysis about this. Bear in mind that no one has ever been able to come up with the correct figure for Shuttle, why would they for any SD LV? And it requires 6 launches/year! What and where to?”

    Actually the STS has thirty years of real cost data. The reason the $/launch number jumps around is due to the interplay of fixed vs variable cost.

    For example the $1.5 billion for 2 SDHLV launches is entirely consistent with $2.7 Billion for 6 SDHLV launches if you use $900 million for the fixed cost and $300 million for the variable cost. Good numbers for an orbiter free SDHLV BTW based on thirty years of actual cost data.

    $2,700 = $900 + 6*($300) or $1,500 = $900 +2*($300)

    Interestingly its $6K/kg to LEO at 6 launches per year and $10K/kg to LEO at 2 launches per year.

    Now let’s look at ISS CRS under the ‘commercial’ contract business model that Rand is so ecstatic about.

    We are paying over $3.5 Billion (ISS CRS Only mind you) for about 50 mT give or take or about $70K/kg to ISS. Which is in fact ‘more’ expensive than STS and doesn’t include a crew rotation to say nothing of the up and down mass limitations. Its also significantly ‘more’ expensive than SDHLV with Orion, a system combination that is more than one trick pony with strategic value in addition.

    Not that six launches of the SDHLV is necessary the right answer either because if all that mass is spacecraft mass we will quickly run out of money on the spacecraft cost side of the ledger.

    So extra-credit for anyone on this board, if spacecraft are expensive, additional SDHLV launches are inexpensive and propellant is inexpensive, where does that lead one to find the lowest cost approach to BEO exploration in a SDHLV world?

  • common sense

    @ Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I’ll say, of course I agree with your political argument. I perfectly realize how it works. But you are in the camp of “build it they will come to it” while I am not. Case in point: Same as you, Ares. It was an abominable failure because it only relied on the political aspect of things and could not care less for the technical aspects, that killed it.

    “In the end the damage that the Professor caused may ultimate destroy even the best thought out technically and politically crafted plan at this late date.”

    I knew that when I started on Constellation. And I was not proven wrong.

    “Then again, given how little impact NASA has on the federal budget projections one way or the other, if its important enough money can be found.”

    Well, “important” enough to whom? The public? Nope. Industry? Possibly.

    As for cost… We shall see. Now 6 flights may be the right answer to contain cost. Yet there has to be a destination/use for the flights. And I see none. So far.

  • Coastal Ron

    MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    There is a reference to 6 flights per year at $450 million each.

    Yes, and then they also said this two paragraphs up:

    At a flight rate of 6 launches per year, the estimated cost for each HLV launch would be $600M (fixed year $2009), once the side mount Block II HLV has become fully operational.

    I have been trying to find out the true costs of the Shuttle program, and have found the following on the big items:

    SRB’s – $34.3M each, or $68.6M/set. (ATK 2002 $2.4B contract for 35 sets of motors)

    External Tank – $173M each (LM 2000-2010 $2.94B contract for 17 units)

    Shuttle Processing (et al) – $97.2M/month (USA 1996 $7B contract for 6 years). An expendable Shuttle Side-Mount would not need all of this, but some fraction would still be needed (50%?).

    SSME – If used, the cost is supposedly around $50M each, or about $150M per set of three. If RS-68 is used, then it would be ~$14M each, or $52M per set.

    There are still plenty of other recurring costs that are not included in this, as well as the Billions of dollars of non-recurring it would take to get to flight number one.

    The other thing I keep looking at is that there is definitely an element of “if you build it, the payloads will be funded and be plentiful”. Kind of like the commercial crew argument, but at least there is a defined demand for crew services after 2015, and almost everyone agrees that we’d like to stop using Soyuz.

    You would think one market indicator would be how busy the Delta IV Heavy was, and whether there was a need for the Atlas V Heavy (28% more payload), or even Falcon 9 Heavy (44% more payload). But so far the market indications are that there is only a small demand for large payloads – three Delta IV Heavy launches so far, with two more scheduled. If someone were looking at the demand vs supply curve for this, they would not see a market for HLV’s. That’s my observation…

  • GaryChurch

    Only two RS-68’s would probably be used.

  • Coastal Ron, your STS cost numbers look good, but remember that they have embedded within them the fixed cost. They way NASA gets around this is to produce a launch rate assumption so that the contractors can run their numbers (ie bake the fixed and variable cost together for a contracted unit price).

    As we saw after Columbia and then after VSE those long range projections can change abruptly. I really wish these contracts could acknowledge the concept of a fixed cost component so it would be easier to predict the price/budget as launch rate changes. STS is not unique either as ULA has the same issues when attempting to set per launch prices for the DOD or what to charge a commercial user at some point in the future. Launch delays etc. can wreck havoc with cash flows if you only get paid by launches. The fact that SpaceX has such a large anchor contract under ISS CRS is also important for their contracted prices for commercial users.
    In the end it all depends on launch rate ultimately which is why having a price contract with fixed cost (think of it as a retainer) separated from variable cost would go a long way towards predictability on both sides.

    This would also set up what the marginal price charged to commercial users should be based on the CSIS policy. If after ten years we don’t see a significant shift in commercial utilization then we will know that launch cost is not the bottleneck.

    I agree with you with regards to what? missions for the SDHLV but consider this, first most missions we are looking at are not mass limited as much as diameter and volume limited, something clustering up more CCB won’t solve. Second, it’s indeed a rare mission requirement that can justify absorbing the entire $8 Billion dollar SDHLV development cost on its own. Could MSL or JWST have made good use of the increased margins to significantly lower cost and reduce development time, you bet they could have. Would the life cycle cost been lower had they absorbed the entire SDHLV development budget, absolutely not.

    Hence there will never be a first mover for SDHLV capability from existing programs and applications. It would be like justifying the 747 development cost based on one route. Of course that leads ultimately to the need to find multiple uses of the SDHLV in order to use it cost effectively even if its very existence initial is due to politics. Hence since the will of the Congress + President appears to be along these lines at this point it’s a good area for all of us to think literally outside the box on. The 5m 25mT box that is.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Political parties do not suspend their disagreements with the government of the day when they are in opposition. Similarly there is no reason for SDLV opponents to stop pointing out what they think is wrong with SDLV. Now would be an especially bad time since final decisions have not been made and arguably won’t be made until an SDLV flies on an operational mission. There is still plenty of time to try to get rid of it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    And we still have our missiles aimed at them. …….

    yet another uninformed statement. For over a decade now maybe almost two the US and Russia have not by Treaty had their missiles targeted in silos or launch platforms to the “other persons” soil.

    There are some strategic and political implications of this, all good, but suffice it to say that you are simply wrong.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Robert: “I know you are aware of all these secret military uses for a SDV but gee no one else is”

    Robert do you consider it at all possible that you don’t know everyone or everything?…………..

    it is more then possible that I dont know everyone or everything; that is why I enjoy meeting new people and learning new things (and why I read and listen all the time).

    however I dont have to know everyone or everything to recognize that the DoD, the various “National asset folks” (ie NRO/NSA etc) and no one outside of corporate NASA has any interest in a SDV for any purpose whatsoever.

    That is why NASA MOD and other organizations are busily putting together one goofy idea after another for what an SDV could do…1) there is no one outside of that group that has any interest in one and 2) they understand what some here refuse to “get” is that there is no interest by either political party in paying for any type of human exploration outside of GEO space.

    It is like analyzing DIRECT. one does not have to be a rocket scientist to see the flaws in it.

    Enjoy

    Robert G. Oler

  • GaryChurch

    Speaking of rocket science, it might be constructive to contemplate the type of vehicle we need for BEO missions- and why HLV’s will be needed to put the pieces up.

    I do not know where Marcel came up with the 5 meters of water to stop heavy nuclei figure, but it sounds plausible to me.

    With this figure in mind it does not take a rocket scientist to see the flaws in current BEO concepts being posted here.

    No one seems to be taking into account the required mass of radiation shielding. What we are looking at is a plastic ball holding about as much water as a large swimming pool with a plastic bubble in the middle for the crew compartment. Ten feet or more of water shielding the crew in every direction. I am thinking that will weigh in the thousands of tons.

    I doubt it is feasible to bring that much water up from earth. It will have to come from the moon or another body.

    This is square one for HSF-BEO; a radiation sanctuary. From where and how do we get the water?

    Square two is a closed loop life support system- which makes the radiation shield water very useful for growing plants and scrubbing the air in the crew compartment.

    Square three is artificial gravity. Since the next item on the list is a nuclear power plant then it makes sense to use a tether with the aqarium on one end and the reactor and all the other wieght on the other.
    Spin for one gravity. This requires structural strength and will add to the weight of the spaceship.

    Square four is the nuclear power plant for a nuclear electric drive of some kind. Perhaps a much de-rated VASIMIR. 10 to 15 Megawatts does not sound feasible and this is the full power model specified for a fast 39 day mission. So the fully shielded, long duration life support slow boat will have to do.

    You now have some understanding of what a spaceship capable of multi-year missions will look like. It will furnish sea level radiation and gravity and have a large aquatic ecosystem for life support. It will require a nuclear reactor and nuclear electric propulsion.

    And it will require a couple dozen HLV launches and a separate mission to acquire possibly thousands of tons of water from off-world.

    This the only way it is going to happen. Chemical propulsion will not do it- even nuclear electric is not a very good solution.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I really wish these contracts could acknowledge the concept of a fixed cost component so it would be easier to predict the price/budget as launch rate changes.

    Having come from a DOD manufacturing background, I can tell you that I don’t think custom, limited-volume/high-priced components like the SRB or External Tank will ever be fixed-price outside of multi-year contracts like the Shuttle program has used. Unless a contractor is willing to let inventory sit on the shelf, they won’t risk it.

    The fact that SpaceX has such a large anchor contract under ISS CRS is also important for their contracted prices for commercial users.

    This is the business secret for any launch services company wanting to offer crew services, is to have a large enough flight rate that they can take a chance on offering fixed prices. ULA has been suggesting this for crew-rated launchers ($300M for Delta IV Heavy & $130M for Atlas V), and SpaceX advertises their Falcon 9 launcher on their website ($56M) and has stated $20M/seat for crew (assuming a full capsule I’m sure). Both of these companies are leveraging a large backlog of orders to stabilize their prices, and this is one of the reasons it gives them a leg up over NASA for costs.

    Could MSL or JWST have made good use of the increased margins to significantly lower cost and reduce development time, you bet they could have.

    This is always an engineering dilemma, and one that doesn’t go away with large launchers. Instead of Ariane 5, they could have opted for Atlas V Heavy, but the development costs still left on that were probably prohibitive, and there doesn’t seem to be any other customers for that size payload.

    No, to a certain degree, there will always be the program wish for larger capacity or larger diameter options, but the question is whether there is a sustained demand for such payloads. So far the answer is no, and that is with launchers like Atlas V Heavy that would cost far less to finish than an SD-HLV would take to develop.

    It would be like justifying the 747 development cost based on one route.

    The 747 is a good example of incremental increases in payload. The airline operators were already being impacted by a lack of gate capacity, and the 747 addressed the ability to add more passengers for the same gate slot. In this case, demand was overcoming supply. The same is not happening in the launch market, and if anything, the heavy launchers are being underutilized. There is so little demand for large payloads, that ULA has never made Atlas V Heavy operational. The market is not there.

  • Coastal Ron

    GaryChurch wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    No one seems to be taking into account the required mass of radiation shielding.

    And that is because we can barely leave LEO right now, much less contemplate a manned mission to Mars. While it’s good to think ahead, we’re still a long ways from figuring out when we’re going to circle the Moon, much less land on it or go past it.

    In my mind, maybe you have valid points on radiation, but trying to solve it using 2010 thinking and technology is not going to be the best solution in 2030, or whenever we finally can afford to go there.

    I like electro-magnetic thruster for spacecraft propulsion (like VASIMR), but there are so many unknowns, that I’m not hitching my wagon to any of them for now. Nuclear pulse propulsion, like all nuclear-related issues, is not so much limited by technical issues for testing as it is political. And until you get your local Congressional Representative lobbying for sending nuclear bombs into space, I doubt the merits will convince anyone.

  • Coastal Ron has hit the nail square on the head:

    “…but the question is whether there is a sustained demand for such payloads. So far the answer is no, and that is with launchers like Atlas V Heavy that would cost far less to finish than an SD-HLV would take to develop.”

    I wrote Lockheed Martin earlier this year suggesting they make a public-offer to complete a human rated Atlas V by 2015. I got a response from mid-level management thanking me for my enthusiasm for a “robust” national space policy.

  • GaryChurch

    Hi Ron,
    Well, Obama does want to reduce the nuclear arsenal. What better way? It is actually 1945 thinking. Stan Ulam watched trinity and began thinking- which is what he was so good at.

  • Rhyolite

    An SD-HLV is going to be cancellation bait. With one user, NASA, who is going to have a hard time affording payloads for it because of its high fixed cost, an SD-HLV will always live under the threat of budget cutters. One long dry spell without payloads and it will get canceled.

    EELV based HLV is much harder to cancel. The EELVs exist for national security reasons – they will not be going away anytime in the foreseeable future. Once an EELV based HLV demonstrated, the country will have the ability to reconstitute that capability as long as the EELV program runs. If there is a dry spell while BEO payloads are developed, then the Air Force will carry the fixed for normal EELV production. You have the capability when you need it without paying for a whole separate industrial base.

  • GaryChurch

    “EELV based HLV is much harder to cancel.”

    Sidemount with RS-68’s (or RS-25 channel wall expendables) and a J-2X upper stage will be an Evolved Expendable Vehicle. Pretty much. Not counting the SRB’s. That is what the acronym means, right?

  • Rhyolite

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    “first most missions we are looking at are not mass limited as much as diameter and volume limited, something clustering up more CCB won’t solve.”

    Nothing prevents you from putting a larger fairing on a cluster of CCBs. Fairings are relatively cheep. Clusters of 5 m cores will be 15 m across. It seems quite plausible to me that a vehicle consisting of 5 or 7 cores could accept a 7 m to 10 m fairing.

  • Rhyolite

    MECO wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “A shuttle derived vehicle could also use dedicated launch facilities at complex 39 rather than waiting in line at the Delta and Atlas pads that have a backlog as I understand it.”

    It is a lot cheaper to build a copy of an existing launch pad to clear a potential backlog than it is to develop any kind of new HLV.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    yet another uninformed statement. For over a decade now maybe almost two the US and Russia have not by Treaty had their missiles targeted in silos or launch platforms to the “other persons” soil.

    I know that. I was making a point to the buffoon who was acting like it was a one-way thing.

  • Michael Kent

    Rhyolite wrote:

    It is a lot cheaper to build a copy of an existing launch pad to clear a potential backlog than it is to develop any kind of new HLV.

    To put some numbers on this, according to the trade press, Boeing spent about $250 million at each coast for their launch pad / horizontal integration facility combos at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg and about $400 million for the Atlas V pad at Vandenberg.

    Spending $20 billion on a Shuttle-derived vehicle to avoid a queue at an existing launch pad is silly.

    Mike

  • Matt Wiser

    I see Robert is thinking the same way as the current Astronomer Royal, who’s come out against any Human Exploration of Space (he prefers robots). That position has had a fellow who once called the idea of space travel “utter bilge.” in 1956. A year later on 4 Oct 57, Sputnik flew. In any case, the Senate bill is the best foot forward, and it was pleasant to see the Apollo and Shuttle vets who came out against ObamaSpace. That will die a rightous and well deserved death. Orion and a HLV will be built and flown, the commercial crowd gets some money to show they can do the job, and so on.

    If (and I do mean IF) on-orbit refueling can be shown to work, and work safely, it has tremendous potential to multiple users, such as space agencies, national security users, private space ventures, and other commercial users, and such depots could be maintained by the commercial sector. But it has to be shown to work. Propellant storage and transfer is going to be the key. One mistake during transfer, and there is the potential to be inside a very big fireball…..

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I see Robert is thinking the same way as the current Astronomer Royal, who’s come out against any Human Exploration of Space (he prefers robots). …

    I really dont prefer Robots over humans…I just see them as a pretty good tool and more and more an extension of “ourselves”.

    The trick is to find the proper balance between robotic tools and the employment of humans. No matter how good our robots get (at least in the next 100 years or so) it is very unlikely that they will replace a Marine in taking and holding ground. On the other hand experience has shown that one losses a lot less Marines taking and holding ground if one employs “robots” to do some task that once before we had the tools one use to spend bodies on.

    As it stands right now Human exploration of space has really no value and the cost is astronomical. My position is that until the cost comes down or until something that humans can do which has value for the cost pops up then we would be far better off using robots to do our bidding then just having a program like Constellation whose only redeeming feature is that it would “explore” for decades by merely planning and building and other things before a single astronaut went back to the Moon.

    For the 1 billion we spent on the Ares 1X test flight and the Ares launcher platform we could have had (or should have been able to have had) a robot which would have answered a heck of a lot of questions about the Moon.

    Instead we now have well nothing.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 6:34 pm


    I agree with you with regards to what? missions for the SDHLV but consider this, first most missions we are looking at are not mass limited as much as diameter and volume limited, something clustering up more CCB won’t solve. Second, it’s indeed a rare mission requirement that can justify absorbing the entire $8 Billion dollar SDHLV development cost on its own. Could MSL or JWST have made good use of the increased margins to significantly lower cost and reduce development time, you bet they could have

    that is a good discussion to have.

    The issue boils down to if a group of one of payloads which use the “unique” characteristics of a HLV (Shuttle derived or otherwise) to some advantage in reducing cost, reduce their cost enough to justify the unique cost of a HLV (shuttle derived or otherwise).

    I dont think that case can be made…if it could then a purpose built HLV might have some value.

    In the case of the Webb for instance…there is a reason (in my view) a lot of money was spent trying to fit the vehicle into a certain size launch vehicle. The DoD and other groups I believe want to use such capability for a GEO “Keyhole”..

    Robert G. Oler

  • Aggelos

    The moon is needed for testing the big vasimrs which will sent as to mars..

    Chang Diaz said that…

  • DCSCA

    As it stands right now Human exploration of space has really no value and the cost is astronomical. <- More babbling from the Great Waldo Oler, whose fond embrace of the antique age of aviation, circa 1903-1953 and disdain for the advances of the space age are well known. And as wrong headed as a fella from that era named Corrigan.

  • DCSCA

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 12:15 am <-Yep. That's how it's firming up. Was reviewing some old video last evening and as Apollo 17 was prepping for launch in December, 1972, winding down lunar flights, NASA was already well into mission prep for getting Skylab up and shuttle planning was in work. Nothing nearly that 'busy' today as shuttle winds down. Getting Orion flying and a HLV on down the line is the smart move for the U.S.

  • Dennis Berube

    Gentlemen with todays tech, less missiles are needed to completely wipe us out. If a treaty is signed that limits numbers, that only means there will still be a large amount of over kill. Plus if I know our treaties, we will end up with less than them!

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Simberg, do not misunderstand me. I have said that commercial can deliver people to space and return them safely. However not yet! Plus with them all you get is LEO. A few rich people flying tohotels in space. Now that is coooool so dont get me wrong, but in the end that isnt exploring deep space. That isnt setting up a colony on the Moon or Mars. That is simply giving the rich a new toy to play with, at cost of course.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 8:28 am

    there is no “colony” on the Moon with just government spending. There has to be some commercial reason for that to exist…or the cost has to be very low Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    I have said that commercial can deliver people to space and return them safely. However not yet!

    What you refuse to acknowledge is that no matter what purchasing arrangement is used for transporting astronauts to the ISS (fixed price or cost-plus) it will be a commercial company (with NASA oversight) that builds and launches the rocket.

    All you are doing is spreading the misinformation that “commercial” launch providers (ULA, Boeing, and Lockmart) are not ready to do the job that they have already been doing for 40 years.

    Why would you do this?

  • Dennis: “Gentlemen with todays tech, less missiles are needed to completely wipe us out. If a treaty is signed that limits numbers, that only means there will still be a large amount of over kill. Plus if I know our treaties, we will end up with less than them!”

    It only takes one missile to wipe us out and no treaty will ever be that good. A threat that is being completely ignored save for a few members of Congress.

    http://www.empcommission.org/

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1656/1

    Can anyone explain to me why this threat (a threat that could kill 9 out of 10 American’s in a year) is ‘not’ the primary (bordering on only) focus of our elected representatives and the Federal Agencies of Homeland Security and DoD?

    Defense of the nation is the primary responsibility of the federal government. Not to be confused with the other 99% of stuff it is focused on with very tenuous connections or even running counter to Constitution.

  • Robert: “In the case of the Webb for instance…there is a reason (in my view) a lot of money was spent trying to fit the vehicle into a certain size launch vehicle. The DoD and other groups I believe want to use such capability for a GEO “Keyhole””

    Follow that thought with regards to SDHLV with 12m fairing and the ability to send a crew up. If we want to win an asymmetrical war we need a few asymmetrical capabilities ourselves don’t you think? Clearly driving around getting IED in order to ultimately establish Sharia law based governments and put up schools for girls that also get promptly destroyed along with their courageous occupants isn’t working out so well.

    Again think outside the 5m 25mT box.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Again think outside the 5m 25mT box.

    Silly. First of all the upper limit is more like 7m and more importantly it is smaller fairings that require more ingenuity, so thinking outside the box is a term that is best applied to smaller fairings than to larger ones.

  • Dennis Berube

    Bennet I know it has been commercial that has supplied NASA with its haredware. Those that are not prepared to send people into space are SpaceX and those follow ons. Im sure they will be able to do it, but they havent proven it yet! NASA has contunually used commercial to achieve what it wants. The problem with this whole mess is the contunual cost over runs, and the high cost of spaceflight in general.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Oler, do you really believe that with all the computers operating our nuclear missiles, and that within those computer programs are not the co-ordinates preprogramed for soviet targets, just as theirs are also preprogrammed for targets within our country? These programs can be called up on a sec. notice. Dont doubt it! Do you not think that those Russian nuclear subs cruising not to far off our coast have preprogramming within their computer brains for targets here in the USA? Come on man. Do you think Russias orbital bombardment system has no coordinates for US targets with its programming?

  • Dennis Berube

    Sorry guys got off subject again. I am beginning to think none of this will get solved until after election time.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Those that are not prepared to send people into space are SpaceX and those follow ons.

    Why?

    The U.S. has been sending people into space for 50 years, and the secrets to doing that are public knowledge. What specifically is so hard about it, assuming you have enough funding?

    NASA certainly felt that SpaceX was a reasonable risk when they chose them for the COTS/CRS program, and so far they have met all their milestones leading up to demo launches. Have you looked at the COTS/CRS requirements? Other than an LAS, seats and some human controls (Dragon can operate fully automated), the capsule was built for cargo and crew – from the beginning.

    I have the same level of respect for Orbital Sciences and SpaceDev (Dream Chaser). All three of these companies have over 1,000 employees, and are laden with talent.

    The only limitations I see are in having the right ideas, and the financial ability to carry them out. And that affects large and small companies alike.

  • I have said that commercial can deliver people to space and return them safely. However not yet! Plus with them all you get is LEO. A few rich people flying tohotels in space.

    Once access to LEO is affordable, there is nothing to keep people from going beyond. Bigelow has plans for circumlunar cruises.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 12:15 am

    “I see Robert is thinking the same way as the current Astronomer Royal, who’s come out against any Human Exploration of Space (he prefers robots). ”

    Not quite that simple. Lord Rees made the point that it would be great to see humans on other worlds, but that it would be a fiscal fallacy to have it done as a federal project. As to our progress on this in the last few decades, and our overwhelming preoccupation with safety that is largely obstructing our path anywhere, he may well be right.

  • As to our progress on this in the last few decades, and our overwhelming preoccupation with safety that is largely obstructing our path anywhere, he may well be right.

    The overwhelming preoccupation with safety is an indicator that we don’t consider spaceflight to be very important, and hence not worth the risk of human life, even though we’re willing to spend billions on it (but only because of the jobs program aspects).

  • Martijn: “Silly. First of all the upper limit is more like 7m and more importantly it is smaller fairings that require more ingenuity, so thinking outside the box is a term that is best applied to smaller fairings than to larger ones.”

    No what is silly is spending half the development cost of the SDHLV system via cost overruns on MSL and JWST ‘directly’ related to trying to avoid the need for a SDHLV. Even then, these two programs can’t justify a SDHLV alone (ie the eating the cost overruns is still less expensive than lower cost spacecraft enabled by a SDHLV)

    7m?, no the only real limit is cost (and of course needing to do more than the last mission or why bother) and we know for a fact that future missions could be more than twice as capable at less than half the cost using off the shelf technology (ie bigger heat shields, more propellant, larger mirrors, etc) ‘if’ we had larger diameters, volumes and mass levels to work with.

    The problem is during the scoping period for any single future mission ‘none’ can justify an upgrade to the launch system if they have to pay for it exclusively. Four to eight breakthrough mission could and would actually do more and cost less than sixteen been their done that mission using existing launch systems.

    The fact is that the Space Age is now fifty years old and the marginal improvement of re-flying past missions using existing launch systems is getting uninspiring to say the least. We have used every trick in the book, some at great expense, to keep moving the mission capabilities up. Our bag of tricks are used up we need an upgraded launch system so the next fifty years will not look like nostalgic repeats with slight better sensors of the last fifty years.

    The fact that this upgraded launch system is also politically acceptable to Congress and the President and specifically funded in both Senate and House bills is a nice turn of events from prior dead end Ares-1 (POR) vs. Existing/Commercial Launch system debate. The supporters on both sides missed the key barrier that has prevented the advancement of Commercial Development, National Security and Civilian (manned and unmanned) exploration.

    We need an HLV, and it just so happens we have been flying one for the last thirty years. Its primary problem is that most of its inherent capability was used to heat up the bottom side of Space Shuttle as it comes back down.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    one cannot “think” outside of a box that is affordable and demonstrably works to a “box” that is unaffordable and has demonstrably not worked.

    The DoD was a reluctant soldier in the space shuttle army and its limited experience there burned it beyond belief in every manner from the cost to do something to the entire “interface” that is required of NASA.

    There is no way that the DoD or any of the other operators of the various constellations which actually protect The Republic are going to shift from vehicles (Atlas and Delta) to ones (A nasa operated SDV) where cost explode and NASA not the DoD controls the level of “safety”.

    One reason that if the heavy is a Delta knock off, the DoD is quite happy with that is that in the end they will control the launches that they do.

    As for crew. The “non NASA” operators of space vehicles in the US have been reluctant to embrace any kind of crew ops. They tried; there were military astronauts assigned to the shuttle. But not only did those astronauts get a “cold” reception by the “regular mythic heroes” but there has been nothing in space station assembly that even the DoD has found it can afford in terms of running an operational system.

    IF and when Webb works, the non NASA operators will have found an amazing capability with cost “sunk” ie once they know how to make the mirrors work in the shell available…those cost dont have to be sunk again. Then they can launch what? Two or three Delta’s for a SDV?

    The real problem with an HLV (of any sort) is that we are trying to do the shuttle thing all over. Build a vehicle with no real idea of what its payloads are just well we need a vehicle because a lot of people think we need one.

    Thats why it probably wont get built.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    The problem is during the scoping period for any single future mission ‘none’ can justify an upgrade to the launch system if they have to pay for it exclusively. Four to eight breakthrough mission could and would actually do more and cost less than sixteen been their done that mission using existing launch systems…..

    the DoD (and most non NASA operators) dont work that way.

    Take Hubble. the problem with Hubble is that everytime it was serviced, the cost to service Hubble including the launch of the shuttle were more then launching a new Hubble on an expendable. NASA always considered the shuttle as “free” since well they were going to fly them anyway. But its not.

    This is why the DoD has never pushed for the polar capability of the shuttle to service its “polar” platforms.

    A SDV would be in the same pickle. The cost to fly it would be so enormous that while it might allow a much larger “GEO Keyhole” (and go look at how the Webb is sized and figure out the resolution from GEO and you get the hint as to whats next) the thing would not be “tossable” because to fly a replacement cost a chunk of change.

    The DoD and other groups (and I know this because it is in the public realm) have looked at what assembling a “Geo platform” in LEO and then use it as a communications/evesdropping/optical/other “raft” that is crewed serviced…and I think that this is the evolution trend.

    But there is little appetite to have larger uncrewed systems if the tradeoff is 1 billion dollar a pop launches.and that is a SDV.

    If those payloads go away then the case for an SDV dies.

    There is no support for the dollars it would take NASA to do “voyages of exploration” or nutty things like 1KW solar power stations (OK 1KW on the ground) or whatever. So its over.

    What makes a Delta heavy work is that the common parts of it are shared among every variant. Robert G. Oler

  • Matt Wiser

    Oh ye, of little faith. Because when the time comes to go past LEO, we’re sure gonna need one. And that time will come. Either the Ares V lite as the high and mighty Augustine Commission suggested (which some folks zealously defend), or a Direct variant are the most likely launch vehicle. Personally, I’d prefer Ares V lite, as it preserves work done on Constellation and uses legacy hardware (side-mount SRBs), and the second stage of Ares I was supposed to be also used on Ares V. But that’s just my $.02….

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Mr. Oler, do you really believe that with all the computers operating our nuclear missiles, and that within those computer programs are not the co-ordinates preprogramed for soviet targets, just as theirs are also preprogrammed for targets within our country?…

    I believe that we and the Russian Federation are abiding by the treaties which call for the targeting aspect of nuclear carrying vehicles/vessels to be held at the NCA until such time as the NCA for either country releases them.

    That notion is an enormously stabilizing one in terms of the notion of MAD.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    The DoD was a reluctant soldier in the space shuttle army and its limited experience there burned it beyond belief in every manner from the cost to do something to the entire “interface” that is required of NASA.

    True. So in response they inflicted the American taxpayer with the EELV program. Why have one rocket when you can have two at twice the price? Ostensibly, it was redundant access to space if one vehicle was grounded due to hardware. Someone forgot to remind Boeing and Lockmart that they were both using RL-10’s on the second stage. Foobar.

    When NASA develops the Ares V the military will use it if for no other reason than bigger is better. The mission for the Ares is clear. BEO exploration. The only obstruction is political, new greedy hands in the NASA till, and that is evaporating by the day.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    LOL

    NASA is never going to develop the Ares V and the DoD and other non NASA groups are never going to use a NASA rocket.

    The EELV program has its problems, (the RL-10 is the least of them, it is quite reliable) but in all respects it is a bargin compared to the Ares program, which took far more money to develop nothing…and on far less money the DoD got two launchers which actually you know fly.

    It is kind of like your comments on the Falcon 9 going to orbit. Wrong

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Oh ye, of little faith. Because when the time comes to go past LEO, we’re sure gonna need one. And that time will come.

    …………………….

    that “time” is decades away. There is no political support for the cost. By the time it comes Shuttles and Constellation will be just bad memories.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    “Oh ye, of little faith. Because when the time comes to go past LEO, we’re sure gonna need one. And that time will come.”

    Nope it won’t. Not the way we go about it. Not the way the House wants to go about it. If the Senate bill gets passed and when the HLV gets killed then maybe we’ll try the right way to go about it. In the mean time (20 years?) we will not.

  • “and uses legacy hardware (side-mount SRBs), ”

    Solid Rocket Boosters cannot be throttled to get through Max Q, shuttle example 7/13/05:

    “Half a minute into its climb, Discovery’s main engines will throttle down to about 72%. The engines will throttle back up to 104% about a minute into flight, just before the vehicle passes through maximum aerodynamic pressure known as Max Q.”

    SRBs have to be dumped before shuttle reaches that point as they just can’t change their thrust like that. That ATK is being insistently funded for them is not a future mission requirement in any sense given the better alternatives.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    7m?, no the only real limit is cost (and of course needing to do more than the last mission or why bother) and we know for a fact that future missions could be more than twice as capable at less than half the cost using off the shelf technology (ie bigger heat shields, more propellant, larger mirrors, etc) ‘if’ we had larger diameters, volumes and mass levels to work with.

    No doubt cost is an issue, but there are alternatives to building brand new launchers. If you look at the “Atlas V Launch Services User’s Guide” on page 8-1, you’ll see the following statement:

    “Should a customer have a unique requirement to accommodate a larger payload, longer and wider payload fairings may be developed. ULA has considered payload fairings as large as 7.2 m (283 in.) in diameter and up to 32.3 m (106 ft long)…”

    There are development and infrastructure costs that come with expanded capabilities, but it would a lot cheaper than building a whole new launcher. In fact, the Atlas V Heavy could be finished within 3 years if needed, and it would provide 7.2 x 32.3m fairings with a 20% larger payload capacity than Delta IV Heavy. Three years!

    But the market already knows this, and apparently there are no payloads for something this big. Could there be? At some point, of course, but it doesn’t look like anyone has the money for it yet, and spending $8B on a HLV would take money away from these existing launchers and the payloads.

    And since Atlas V uses the same core boosters as the -Heavy, it’s flight heritage is kept current many times per year. This is the advantage that modular commercial rockets like Delta, Atlas and Falcon have, and all of their -Heavy versions are under-utilized.

    Beyond the unfunded hopes and desires of some people, there are no demonstrated needs for an HLV. Someday yes, but not for the current U.S. Government budget horizon.

  • Chris Bergin has just posted a very nice article about a cryogenic fuel depot demonstration that apprently could be flown as early as 2015.

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/

    My personal suggestion (solely IMHO & FWIW) is that Congress, NASA and the White House should agree on something close to the Nelson / Hutchison Senate Authorization Bill, include this propellant depot demonstration as part of the final compromise package, end the squabbling, and start cutting metal!

  • @ Coastal Ron

    Whether or not there is a “demonstrated need” for an HLV there is a demonstrated sentiment in Congress for SDLV and despite the hopes and desires of some that Congress see things differently, I do not foresee how EELV advocates will persuade Congress to change its mind.

    O’Keefe & Steidle tried to go all-EELV and failed and FY2011 has gotten very little traction since February 1st.

    The BN/KBH compromise could get NewSpace a fuel depot demo by 2015 and that ain’t chopped liver.

  • DCSCA

    “…there is no “colony” on the Moon with just government spending. There has to be some commercial reason for that to exist…or the cost has to be very low Robert G. Oler” <– Planet Earth is littered with government funded research stations that aren't returning quarterly profits, Waldo.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    The BN/KBH compromise could get NewSpace a fuel depot demo by 2015 and that ain’t chopped liver.

    I do agree with you. Certainly the Senate bill provides enough for a commercial crew advocate to be happy with – better than the House bill in any case.

    And I also agree with you that we need to start doing something, instead of talking about it, or building hugely expensive projects that have payoffs in decades and not years. Fuel depots are an enabling technology, and provide us with the ability to build less-than-optimized spacecraft, which should lower costs and speed up development.

    I see the effort for the SDLV as a combination of jobs and trying naively to build something useful for NASA. I say naively because Congress is not the right place to determine technical or market solutions, but I do think there are some well meaning people behind the idea. If it’s something like DIRECT or side-mount, I could live with the cost, but I would still weep over the wasted money and time for building them too soon.

    C’est la vie

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    “O’Keefe & Steidle tried to go all-EELV and failed”

    They did not “fail”. O’Keefe left NASA after Columbia and Griffin came in with ESAS. Steidle followed O’Keefe out soon after. There was no point for Steidle to stick around, as if I remember corretly he was the proponent of the spiral approach (teste on F-35, not sure anymore). O’Keefe had the HW support, Griffin not. Griffin went with ESAS/Constellation and failed. One of the major reason: SRB. Whether we like it or not it is what happened. It is likely to happen again with the Senate bill because they do not fund it at the appropriate level.

  • Kelly Starks

    > GaryChurch wrote @ August 4th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    > Speaking of rocket science, it might be constructive to contemplate
    > the type of vehicle we need for BEO missions- and why HLV’s will
    > be needed to put the pieces up.

    > I do not know where Marcel came up with the 5 meters of
    > water to stop heavy nuclei figure, but it sounds plausible to me.

    That far to deep. Thats 5 tons of water per square meter of surface. If you check

    IAC-07-A1.5./A1.7.08
    The Impact of Radiation Protection on the design of space habitats

    Were talking about at most 2 tons per square meter, but that could include non metallic hull material (plastics, especially hydrogen rich Polythene.

    Also another useful shielding material is food (before and after use).

    >==
    > I doubt it is feasible to bring that much water up from earth. It
    > will have to come from the moon or another body.

    Its cheaper to launch mass from Earth then build the infrastructure and transport ships to recover it from the moon.

    > = Square two is a closed loop life support system- which
    > makes the radiation shield water very useful for growing
    > plants and scrubbing the air in the crew compartment.

    How do you use the water to scrub the air?

    > Square three is artificial gravity. Since the next item on the
    > list is a nuclear power plant then it makes sense to use a
    > tether with the aqarium on one end and the reactor and all
    >the other wieght on the other.

    By Aquarium, do you mean the hab area?

    Also (for a chemical powered craft) weight in fuel/LOx tanks – which could be used for rad shielding too by the way.

    > Spin for one gravity. This requires structural strength and will
    > add to the weight of the spaceship.

    Not necessarily that much weight. I mean you did say tether, i.e. a cable. That’s not that heavy.

    > Square four is the nuclear power plant for a nuclear electric
    > drive of some kind. Perhaps a much de-rated VASIMIR.
    > 10 to 15 Megawatts does not sound feasible and this
    > is the full power model specified for a fast 39 day mission.
    > So the fully shielded, long duration life support slow boat will
    > have to do.

    As a nit, I’d spec a ion, rather then VASMIR thruster since they are lighter, simpler, and have a lot more service experience. Nit though given we don’t make the reactors.

    For that mater a NERVA would be a lot simpler, and we still have the old designs.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    As a nit, I’d spec a ion, rather then VASMIR thruster…

    VASIMR is an ion engine. Maybe you should read up on the design before you start critiquing it.

  • Bennett

    Bill White wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks for the link to the proposal! I agree with your assessment, and think getting to prototype development as soon as possible would be a very good thing.

    Forwarding that URL to my Senators/Congressfolks is next on my list.

  • GaryChurch

    “For that mater a NERVA would be a lot simpler, and we still have the old designs.”

    Nerva uses a nuclear reaction, which is about a million times as powerful as a chemical reaction, to generate an ISP about twice that of chemical. Not anywhere near good enough.

    As for your other comments, I am not particularly impressed with what you post, so I decline to respond.

  • GaryChurch

    “The BN/KBH compromise could get NewSpace a fuel depot demo by 2015 and that ain’t chopped liver.”

    Having read “Taming Liquid Hydrogen” in the NASA history series, I am not too optimistic about fuel depots. Cryogenic propellants in zero G are extremely difficult to handle. Like Cernan said, they don’t know, what they don’t know. If you are working with storable hypergolics then it gets easier but those have an inferior ISP and the mass compounds quickly. Even possibly storing cryogenics it takes way too many launches with the Inferior Lift Vehicles.

  • GaryChurch

    “SRBs have to be dumped before shuttle reaches that point as they just can’t change their thrust like that. That ATK is being insistently funded for them is not a future mission requirement in any sense given the better alternatives.”

    If you are saying the SRBs get dumped before Max Q I do not believe that is right. And the SRB’s propellent blocks are poured to lower thrust somewhat through the Max Q part of the flight.

  • GaryChurch

    “This is why the DoD has never pushed for the polar capability of the shuttle to service its “polar” platforms.”

    I do not believe that is completely accurate. The DOD did push- the polar spy mission capability anyway- but it never happened mostly because of the anemic SRB’s. I went round and round with Byeman about this on the Space Review. He kept trying to make a liar out of me but the documentation is clear. The shuttle was too heavy to make polar orbits with any kind of a useful payload. This is what happens when you underfund and try and do it cheap.

  • GaryChurch

    “The DoD was a reluctant soldier in the space shuttle army”

    I do not believe that is accurate either Oler. The shuttle was designed with the cross range glide as a DOD requirement. It made the orbiter much heavier and harder to control. The DOD weighed in on monolithic versus SRB’s also, arguing that the barged in monolithic aerojet SRB’s would be too difficult and vulnerable during transit to the west coast launch site. The monolithics were far more powerful, cheaper to build using submarine hull technology in shipyards, cheaper to clean, inspect, and reload, and of course, much safer than the Utah segmented variety. These two DOD contributions, the cross range glide and segmented boosters, along with the very large cargo bay requirement which also added weight, made it impossible to add any escape systems without sacrificing what little payload was left. It’s all in the record if anyone wants to check my facts. Byeman tried to call me a liar and I called him on it. People like that who make up stuff and then say other people are the ones doing it always run into someone sooner or later who will not let them get away with it.

  • GaryChurch

    The real problem with an HLV (of any sort) is that we are trying to do the shuttle thing all over. Build a vehicle with no real idea of what its payloads are just well we need a vehicle because a lot of people think we need one.
    Thats why it probably wont get built.
    Robert G. Oler

    Well, you had me mark your words that it would never be built last week and now it is “probably never.” It is not doing the “shuttle thing” all over. It is doing the STS thing the way it should have been done to start with, and after challenger, and after colombia- if the program had not been underfunded for it’s entire history.

    Because “a lot of people think we need one” is why most things get built. And that is why it probably will be.

  • Byeman

    Let’s clear up some errors

    “it might allow a much larger “GEO Keyhole” (and go look at how the Webb is sized and figure out the resolution from GEO and you get the hint as to whats next)”

    There is no connection with JWST and reconsats. The DOD has no involvement nor is a GEO platform usable for earth imaging.

    “Solid Rocket Boosters cannot be throttled to get through Max Q,”

    Incorrect, the thrust profile of SRB’s is so that there is a reduction in thrust during the time frame of MaxQ

    ” in response they inflicted the American taxpayer with the EELV program. ”
    As usual, amightywind is wrong.

    In response, the DOD developed Titan IV, Atlas II and Delta II. And in response to the high costs of those, the DOD developed the EELV, which are cheaper to operate that the previous system. The EELV program is not a bust and is not an infliction on the taxpayer, unlike the porkers of CxP. Again, amightywind isn’t stating fact, but incorrect and biased opinion.

    “When NASA develops the Ares V the military will use it if for no other reason than bigger is better. ”

    wrong, wrong, wrong
    A. Bigger is not better, Bigger is too expensive.
    b. the DOD will avoid any NASA managed vehicle
    c. The DOD said it is not looking for any new vehicles for quite some time

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    c. The DOD said it is not looking for any new vehicles for quite some time

    Certainly one public indication that backs up what you’re saying is that the Air Force Research Laboratory is rolling out a $33-million pathfinder program to develop a prototype booster that can glide or fly itself back to the launch site.

    The goal of that program would seem to be oriented towards cost reduction, not increasing payload size. FWIW

  • Rhyolite

    amightywind wrote @ August 5th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    “When NASA develops the Ares V the military will use it if for no other reason than bigger is better.”

    You seem to know even less about DoD space than about HSF. The last 10 years of DoD satellite programs refute your assertion. The DoD is actively moving away from heavy launch vehicles. Consider two of the most important payloads that flew on Titan IV: DSP and Milstar. Each of these have been replaced by more capable satellites, SIBRS and AEHF, that are based on commercial satellite buses and launched on medium EELVs.

    There is a tremendous cost advantage to aligning DoD satellites commercial satellite buses and medium launch vehicles. This pattern is being repeated across a whole swath of government satellite programs: SIBRS, AEHF, MUOS, GOES, TDRSS, GPS III, and WGS. The government simply can’t afford to spend billions on 150 mt Battlestar Galacticas especially in the era of ASATs.

    If anything, the Air Force and DARPA has been looking at smaller fractional satellites with distributed functionality. They are interested in clusters of small satellites that can scatter if attacked and reconstitute their functionality even if some members are destroyed. The future of DoD satellites are definitely smaller and more commercially aligned.

  • Back to the thread topic — there are reports that earlier this evening the full Senate passed the BN/KBH committee bill (with only minor amendments) by unanimous consent.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    HLV, well I’m in two minds over this one. It would be good to have one for exploration if that’s where the U.S. congress wants to go but the sticking point is how to get there and who does it?

    NASA has demonstrated over and over again that it can’t deliver any sort of vehicle so that leaves commercial who, I believe are more than capable, BUT, Congress might say they want one while historically could argue either or both of NASA’s incompetence in management, procurement and delivery; Congress never sufficiently funded NASA programs – take your pick.

    Either way, I’d say unless Congress or NASA goes Commercial with fixed price (requirements identified, agreed, and set in stone), milestone based contracts, then forget it, no HLV in the forseeable future and that means no exploration, no asteroid missions, no mars missions, nothing, kaput!! And the Russians will have been right on the money to scoff at those plans.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Purely IMHO:

    My HLV ‘table of preference’ goes like this:

    1) Atlas-V Phase 2 – All liquid-fuelled, scalable between ISS crew rotation CLV and BEO CaLV versions; Maxes out at about 105t IMELO in current configuration; Upgradable using new engines like RS-84 and RL-60; Has the advantage of complete payload interface commonality with EELV/ACES launchers;

    2) SD-HLV In-line – Shuttle derived, highly flexible but expensive; Probably best political compromise;

    3) Delta-IV HLV Evolution – For some reason, once you take away the obvious political advantages of shuttle-derived, I’m not sure that I really like large hydrolox cores. They are bigger, proportionally, and more difficult to handle than kerolox ones; Has the same EELV/ACES compatibility advantage as the Atlas-V P2;

    4) SD-HLV Side-mount – More limited in scalability and has more engineering grey-areas for crew usage;

    5) Falcon-X – SpaceX’s recently-announced Merlin-2/Raptor-powered entrant. The timeline is the killer for this one. Virtually everything needs to be built from scratch. Otherwise, it has many of the same advantages as the Atlas-V P2.

    6) ESAS Ares-I and -V – Expensive and inflexible. A wonderful thought experiment but not executable.

    To me, a key feature of any HLV to make it viable is this: It must be able to perform a useful function for Earth-orbital spaceflight in the event that funding does not exist for BEO missions.

    If anyone had asked me with what to replace the Shuttle for ISS support, it would have been an EELV-launched system like OSP, only with a cargo version of the spacecraft (like the Dragon cargo) vehicle and ULA’s Payload Bay Fairing (PLBF) cargo carrier for ULCs and ORUs. In such a system, the LEO crew, LEO cargo and BEO crew vehicles should have as many common features as possible (including, ideally, a common OML), to maximise economies of scale on the production line.

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ August 6th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    My HLV ‘table of preference’ goes like this:

    Good list. Mine would probably move SD-HLV Side-mount to number two, and slide the others down. But I have an ulterior motive with this, and that would be to see the NASA launcher phased out as quickly as possible for a commercial alternative (Atlas P2 or Falcon X), and SD-HLV Side-mount would take the least investment, and thus the least to write-off.

    In my assessment, any government HLV is going to be sitting around a lot, and by the time we really need to have one, only a commercial one will be affordable. That is unless the government decides to subsidize the HLV launches, which will kill any commercial HLV market before it starts. That’s really what I fear the most, and why I don’t want a government HLV – it will screw up the demand/supply market forces for U.S. companies.

  • Byeman

    Church, you keep spreading disinformation. I effectively discredited everyone of your point on Space Review with documentation.

    1. The shuttle did not have a spy mission. It was to be a launch vehicle for reconsats
    2. The SRB’s were not anemic, it was that the orbiter was over weight as you state above. There was never any dispute that west coast shuttle flights were canceled due to lack of payload capability. As for being a liar, your continue insistence in the myth the lack of SRB performance in the face of documented data to the contrary is “lying”

    3. The DOD did not ” weighed in” on monolithic solids. NASA made the choice based on existing data, and the fact that monolithic solids were logistically impossible. Nor are monolithic solids any more powerful, nor any cheaper.

    4. The “facts’ don’t support any of your assertions. Again, I provided sources that discredited everyone of your points.

    All this is documented in the shuttle decision.

  • There was never any dispute that west coast shuttle flights were canceled due to lack of payload capability.

    Vandenberg flights were cancelled because of hydrogen entrainment problems in the flame trench at SLC-6, (not to mention costs) and then Challenger, which put the final nails in the coffin. High-inclination performance was lower than spec, but not useless. IIRC, it could still have gotten close to fifteen tons to 65 degrees.

  • vulture4

    Even Boeing, one of the partners in Constellation, is now betting against Ares/Orion with their own capsule and the EELV de jour. Anyone who actually takes the time to walk the Ares, Delta, and Falcon processing flows will see why. The Ares, with its massive VAB, MLPs, and crawlers requires at least five times the manpower and cost of the others for the same payload. It simply isn’t practical. The Orion capsule was designed for the lunar mission, which is unaffordable, and carries much less than the Dragon in the ISS logistics role.

    Both Boeing and SpaceX have now proposed HLV derivatives of their current designs, all sensibly liquid propelled. If NASA wants an HLV they can just procure one.

  • Byeman

    “High-inclination performance was lower than spec, but not useless. IIRC, it could still have gotten close to fifteen tons to 65 degrees.”

    Which was done (63 degrees) from KSC, hence VAFB was useless. VAFB was not canceled because of hydrogen entrainment problems, it was fixable and it was cost and performance in the end.

  • Which was done (63 degrees) from KSC, hence VAFB was useless.

    It provided better base security, and it was theoretically capable of getting to much higher inclinations, albeit with much less payload. It wasn’t “useless.” It just wasn’t worth the money.

  • Paul D.

    Armstrong just turned 80. Celebrity opinions are always to be treated with caution, and aged celebrities, doubly so.

  • DCSCA

    Paul D. wrote @ August 7th, 2010 at 4:22 pm
    Armstrong just turned 80. Celebrity opinions are always to be treated with caution, and aged celebrities, doubly so. <- Of course, only the uninformed, or someone 40 or less– would label Neil Armstrong as a celebrity; a tag he has rejected for years while demonstratively avoiding the trappings of 'celebrity' since Apollo 11, unlike his crewmate, Buzz Aldrin. Armstrong's accomplishments and perspective merit weight in the calculus of future manned spaceflight. To belittle it only does a disservice to your own argument.

  • DCSCA

    I don’t ask an astronaut how to run my space program for the same reason I don’t ask a taxi driver to design my next car or a landlord to draft the blueprints for my next apartment.

    Hmmm. Both Bolden and Truly were astronauts; both administrators. Andf, of course, taxi design takes driver input in design; suggest you review history of the Chrcker cab. And, although your ‘landlord’ may not design your apartment complex, hotels usually take input from their patrons as well as the owner. See Hilton for details.

  • red

    Stephen Metschan: “Four to eight breakthrough mission could and would actually do more and cost less than sixteen been their done that mission using existing launch systems.

    The fact is that the Space Age is now fifty years old and the marginal improvement of re-flying past missions using existing launch systems is getting uninspiring to say the least. We have used every trick in the book, some at great expense, to keep moving the mission capabilities up. Our bag of tricks are used up we need an upgraded launch system so the next fifty years will not look like nostalgic repeats with slight better sensors of the last fifty years.”

    There are plenty of new missions we can do with existing technology, launchers, schedules, and budgets. We can take past missions to new locations. We can include improvements to technologies like instruments that are already in hand to make new missions. Doing that can result in what amounts to a new mission because of the improvement (eg: 10m resolution vs. 1m resolution). There are also plenty of innovative missions that haven’t been flown at all. See the following, for example, for ideas in the Planetary Science field (I assume you’re talking about more than Planetary Science, but it’s a good example field):

    http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/

    We do need to avoid super-expensive missions like JWST, MSL, Mars Sample Return, and probably even the ambitious version of the Jupiter Europa Orbiter, though. Just avoid them in the first place for now until our more affordable opportunities really do start drying up the way Stephen describes.

    I would also suggest that the approach taken in the FY2011 proposal allows us to increase our capabilities using the same class of launchers. It does this in part through lowering launcher costs and prices by using these launchers much more for robotic precursors, ISS, technology demos, and so on. In the long run this should help develop a better launcher market. It also spurs the commercial suborbital RLV industry which some day could feed into the orbital launch business. The exploration technology development and demonstration line includes lots of technologies that would apply to other missions (my example is Planetary Science): aerocapture, more powerful solar panels and solar electric propulsion, propellant depots, space tugs, telerobotics, and more. The general Space Technology line develops technologies that will help this sort of mission, too (eg: small satellites).

    A lot of these technology and business advances have the advantage that, once accomplished, they are self-sustaining. For example, some of the technologies can be applied usefully to work that needs to be done anyway (eg: space tugs, improved panels, improved solar electric propulsion, etc). A big HLV, in contrast, is expensive to maintain.

    Actually having a robotic precursor line with $3B of funding over 5 years instead of $44M in 1 year allows a lot of exciting missions to take place, too. The HSF robotic precursor idea, rather than robotic science missions, suggests lots of affordable missions that NASA Science wouldn’t do and hasn’t done. The early precursor plans were for 5 medium-sized missions, 3 small “scouts”, and various instruments funded with the $3B … that’s quite a lot of new results if they could pull it off, judging from their initial mission plans. It would have all used existing launcher classes.

    There is a big danger with expanded volume and mass that you will wind up making the missions and mission overruns much more expensive. It would be nice if we could take that mass and volume available in larger launchers and apply it to payload cost savings. There are inclinations in aerospace technology, management, and politics that tend to want to cram every last bit of capability into that mass and volume, and then be surprised later when costs shoot up and schedules fly away. It’s not impossible, but it will take a lot of work and leadership to reverse that tendency. I wouldn’t count on it happening.

    Set all that aside, though. Let’s suppose we really do need bigger launchers for big improvements. In that case, why not try incremental improvements to existing launchers that we need anyway (eg: EELVs)? That should be cheaper to do and to maintain. Then, if we run out of misssions again at that level, take it again to the next step.

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