Congress, NASA

Congress as rocket designers

While the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill, S. 3729, made it clear that the heavy-lift launch vehicle it calls for, the Space Launch System, should be developed by “extend[ing] or modify[ing] existing vehicle development and associated contracts”, it wasn’t specific beyond that in terms of vehicle design. However, as Space News reported Friday, the report accompanying the bill goes into additional detail about their desired vehicle design. From section 302 of the report:

The Committee anticipates that in order to meet the specified vehicle capabilities and requirements, the most cost-effective and `evolvable’ design concept is likely to follow what is known as an `in-line’ vehicle design, with a large center tank structure with attached multiple liquid propulsion engines and, at a minimum, two solid rocket motors composed of at least four segments being attached to the tank structure to form the core, initial stage of the propulsion vehicle. The Committee will closely monitor NASA’s early planning and design efforts to ensure compliance with the intent of this section.

While Space News concludes that this means the new heavy-lifter would look a lot like Ares 5, it’s possible that variants of the Jupiter vehicle proposed by the DIRECT team may also qualify. The use of “in-line” in the report language would seem to indicate they are not interested in any sidemount vehicle concepts under study recently, however.

There’s a bigger question, though, addressed in the article: should Congress be in the business of mandating a specific vehicle design? Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems, told Space News that he would like to “broaden the trade space” for any HLV mandated by Congress “to make sure we don’t preclude possible answers that might be the optimum overall”. Even beyond the vehicle design question, though, are other issues, such as whether the vehicle can be developed by the end of 2016 (as mandated in the legislation) with the authorized funding, and also what exactly the vehicle would be launching in 2017 and following years, given the lack of existing or planned payloads that require a vehicle capable of placing at least 70 tons in LEO. It could be used to launch Orion, of course, but it would be overkill (and potentially costly), and the 70-100 tons could be too small for some proposed exploration architectures, as former NASA administrator Mike Griffin noted earlier this month.

146 comments to Congress as rocket designers

  • GaryChurch

    Sidemount is……..not on the way.

  • Coastal Ron

    It’s certainly within the purview of Congress to decide on exactly what they want to spend money on, but the problem is that they don’t always get what they think they are asking for, and it’s never at a reasonable cost or schedule.

    History is littered with programs that refused to die, and their merits are still debated long after they have been fielded. In the military, the V-22 is one, and it’s even been deployed for use. In development is the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) for the Marine Corp, a vehicle that is supposed to combine the best characteristics of a speedboat and an armored personnel carrier – it’s easy to see the diametrically opposed forces that continue to drive the price and schedule beyond it’s initial targets.

    For Congress and an HLV, they too have many forces coming together to drive the “requirements”. Representatives from states that supply Shuttle parts want Shuttle-derived components on the next vehicle. Representatives who feel the patriotic need to always have the U.S. of A be the best want something bigger than anyone else. Others may just not like the back-to-basics plan that Obama put forth, and want to be able to mount a mission to the Moon with one or two launches. You’ll notice in all of this, that no funding is included for an actual payload for an HLV – oops!

    The crying shame is that they are forcing NASA to commit to spending non-recurring and recurring funds on the wrong goal. Instead of telling NASA that it needs to be able to lift X amount of tons to LEO, they should be defining the end goals and letting NASA and industry figure out how to best achieve those goals.

    There is certainly blame on the Administration for not putting forth a compelling or convincing enough vision of their goals, but Congress is willingly wanting to commit NASA to a future where they can’t afford to do any real technology development or exploration, because too much of their budget will be committed to jobs and servicing an HLV that they can’t afford to use.

    Any HLV is the cart before the horse until there is a funded mission, or a real market demand. Neither exists today, so in this particular case, Congress is planning to spend money on the wrong priorities, and this will push out indefinitely our ability to do any BEO exploration. Unintended consequences…

  • GaryChurch

    “Congress is planning to spend money on the wrong priorities, and this will push out indefinitely our ability to do any BEO exploration”

    Any BEO-HSF will require
    1. Heavy radiation shielding.
    2. Nuclear Propulsion.
    3. Closed loop life support.

    Orbital refueling schemes are just that; made up solutions to not having an HLV.

    You think 40 launches of 25 tons each is going to click to together like legos in orbit? And you can pour gas from one load to another as easy as filling up at a gas station? It is all a scam to try and keep a HLV from being built and dominating the market.

    The end goals are self-defined; protection from radiation, propulsion to move that radiation around, and air and water that will last a couple years.

    Inferior Lift Vehicles will keep us trapped in LEO indefinitely.
    HLV is the only problem solver- and that is why congress has to design it- because as long as ILV’s are used the problem will have to be solved and that means huge profits.

    A tangled web….

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    FWIW, I don’t think that this choice was made on a whim. Congress has technical advisors of its own. I’m sure that Nelson and Hutchinson received briefings from them of which options currently available would achieve their objectives.

    So, this isn’t Congress acting as rocket designers. This is Congress listening to experts (who hopefully don’t have vested interests in the outcome) and then enshrining their advice into the bill to ensure that NASA doesn’t go wandering off into Ares-I fantasy-land again.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’d say it is Congress listening to experts who are helping them to lock in pork, fully aware that as a result we will not see meaningful results.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Delta IV super heavy is what is coming…

    the shuttle system is dying Robert G. Oler

  • GaryChurch

    “the shuttle system is dying”

    The 5 segment SRB is going to be used.

    The friction stir welding equipment at Michoud for the ET will be used.

    The launch facilities and hydrogen infrastructure will be retained.

    If you think that is dead I am fine with it.

  • Article hits the nail on the head.

    America’s first need is a human rated launch vehicle. The options are commercial, Atlas, or Delta evolutions. Many planners are already assuming these vehicles will be available shortly.

    The oligarchy in Congress pushing this heavy lift plan haven’t addressed this more fundamental issue.

  • GaryChurch

    “we will not see meaningful results.”

    Not meaningul to you and others who have an obstructionist agenda that precludes Heavy Lift Vehicles.

    Buy entirely correct for those of us who understand that HSF-BEO requires the heaviest payload lift available. The heavier the better.

    With a heavy lifter on the way the other question is what will lift the crew?
    I thought it might have been Sidemount but an inline design probably means either Delta or Atlas for Orion.

    I see SpaceX getting out of HSF and staying with Sats or cargo.

  • Coastal Ron

    GaryChurch wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Orbital refueling schemes are just that; made up solutions to not having an HLV.

    No matter the size of the lift vehicle, in-orbit assembly and refueling will necessary for anything past “missions”. If we want to live in space, then there is no way we can lift everything we need on one massive HLV.

    The real answer surrounds us today. We don’t buy cars that are big enough to hold a lifetime of fuel, we buy cars knowing that we can refuel them when needed. The same will be true once we get past the mentality of space as a “program” or “mission”, and see it as yet another place we will be inhabiting and moving around in.

    What you’re suggesting is that if we ever need more supplies in space, then we have to get Congressional approval for another HLV launch. Weird.

    You think 40 launches of 25 tons each is going to click to together like legos in orbit?

    Yes. If the ISS has shown us anything, it’s that we can assemble large structures in space, and maintain them. Now that we’ve proved the concept, all we need to do is use the same techniques to build even more capable space stations, as well as space-only vehicles.

    And you can pour gas from one load to another as easy as filling up at a gas station?

    Small demonstrations have worked, and certainly more needs to be done to make it something that can be done routinely and on a large scale. This is why NASA needs to fund research into this. No one has pointed out any barriers as to why in-space refueling cannot work, and without it, we’ll never be able to leave the Earth-Moon system with a large number of people, nor will we ever be able to live in space.

    Inferior Lift Vehicles will keep us trapped in LEO indefinitely.

    I could argue that 70 tons, or even 300 tons, is an inferior lift vehicle given your line of reasoning. If we ever want to have a significant number of people living in space, then we are going to need a wide variety of lift capabilities.

    Besides, I can put more mass in space using commercial launchers than NASA can for the same amount. What’s your preference – more mass, or more money flowing through NASA?

  • MrEarl

    Your right Oler:
    The Delta IV super heavy will have an 8.5 tank built at the Michoud plant using 3 to 5 RS-68′s it will be able to launch as a single core, triple core and with two, 4 or 5 segment SRB’s provided by ATK, will be assembled in the VAB, and launched from complex 39. It will be a joint venture of NASA and Boeing and used for commercial as well as government payloads.
    As I’ve said before Oler, you’ll fight to the death Tweedle Dee but If it’s called Tweedle Dum you’ll accept it with rapture.

  • see this

    .

    SpaceX hasn’t given yet any detailed info and data about the Dragon

    the specs available in the .pdf published on the SpaceX site aren’t so clear

    so, it’s hard to evaluate this vehicle to know what it really can or can’t do

    these are the exact data we need to know from SpaceX about the Dragon:

    - interstage mass ________

    - service module mass ________

    - propellants mass ________

    - empty capsule mass ________

    - ejected nose cone mass ________

    - max LEO/ISS cargo mass ________

    - max returned cargo mass ________

    - cargo Dragon GLOW ________

    - crewed Dragon GLOW ________

    - Dragon’s LAS mass ________

    - max crew life support mass ________

    - max crew+seats+spacesuits mass ________

    - max mission autonomy (days) ________

    all data should be in mT (1000 kg.) or kg.

    the data of the crewed Dragon should be for a full, seven astronauts, mission

    could SpaceX give clear answers to the US and world’s space community?

    .

  • see this

    Why the $200 billion ISS could DIE soon (and HOW to avoid it)
    .
    bi
    t.ly/9Pw
    R6h

  • David C

    @ Robert G. Oler
    70 years ago the German Luftwaffe thought the same thing about the RAF on this date, and they were just as wrong as you are now;

    the congress critters are tired of seeing the intent of their decisions subverted, and money misspent, and they have every reason to keep NASA on a short rope; we will have a single stage to orbit HLV proof of concept in 24-36 months utilizing existing shuttle stack parts; the Orion crew vehicle will be brought back to it’s pre-Ares 1 flight capabilities, not the CRV concept of this past spring, but a robust BEO crew vehicle, and a Block 1 version will be tested by 2015/16;

    what happens after that depends on the next President; I won’t say it can’t be scrapped, again; but technology will be there for demonstration flights and a Flexible Path Space Exploration Architecture;

    @ Martajn
    just like the poor, Political Pork is always going to be with us, even in EU and the Nederlands, but where men and women of goodwill exist, there will be a sunrise for us to greet together tomorrow; don’t be so pessimistic;

    CMG ;)

  • Byeman

    “Sidemount is……..not on the way.’

    And how many times were you told that?

    “Any BEO-HSF will require
    1. Heavy radiation shielding.
    2. Nuclear Propulsion.
    3. Closed loop life support. ”

    Church is going to go 0-4 here.

    1. Not as the levels you specify
    2. Not nuclear pulse
    3. Not for Mars missions.

  • Byeman

    “SpaceX hasn’t given yet any detailed info and data about the Dragon”
    Gaetano Marano, quit spamming here.

    You don’t need to know the detailed info and data about the Dragon. If you had the data, you would say you invented it first. The relevant people in NASA, DOD, Congress and other users have access to the data and therefore it does not need to be posted on the internet.

  • Peter Lykke

    Guys, I’ve had enough. This is getting frustrating!

    I think Jeff is spot on: Why aren’t the Senate committee being forced to explain what their plan is really about? And why do they get away with designing rockets and other micro- mananaging things. Isn’t that what we have NASA for? And why is it possible to avoid any real discussion if a senator just mentions “socialism”, “private enterprise” or “SpaceX”?

    And another thing: Why is so many brilliant people like the ones commenting here still wasting their time arguing the same things again and again? The almightywinds of this world are not going to be convinced no matter what you say. It pains me immensely to read the 50th rebuttal of the Ares 1 success… You should be out there in the real world, putting the hard questions to the Senate and the House. Can’t be done, you say? You’re smart, find a way!

    (and my $0.02 goes for implementing the WH proposal, but I’ll settle for anything with a _reasonably_ technical based rationale)

  • Kelly Starks

    > GaryChurch wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    > == You think 40 launches of 25 tons each is going to click to
    > together like legos in orbit?==

    ISS showed you can build things like that – course it took things like shuttle, and crews trained to do on orbit assembly – and those are both being phased out …..

    >== And you can pour gas from one load to another as easy as filling up at a gas station?==

    Its not like we haven’t pumped fluids around in zero G for a few decades…

  • Peter Lykke

    It seems I’m not alone:
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/8/15/892747/-Grudge-Match

    And answer this: Why do we assume that NASA somehow will skillfully misinterpret the Senate bill so that the rational choice – the Delta – is chosen as HLV? The quote by Jeff doesn’t bode well.
    Is there anything in the bill that doesn’t set NASA up for yet another trainwreck?

    Sigh! I’ll stop now, promise…

  • Kelly Starks

    > Peter Lykke wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    >== Why aren’t the Senate committee being forced to explain what
    > their plan is really about? And why do they get away with designing
    > rockets and other micro- mananaging things. Isn’t that what we have
    > NASA for? ==

    Lets face it – MOST of what congress does isn’t something they should be involved in.

    Sadly, they are doing a better (though still extreamly crappy) job at it with their politically driven design, then NASA did with their politicaly driven design.

    ;/

  • Coastal Ron

    David C wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    we will have a single stage to orbit HLV proof of concept in 24-36 months utilizing existing shuttle stack parts; the Orion crew vehicle will be brought back to it’s pre-Ares 1 flight capabilities, not the CRV concept of this past spring, but a robust BEO crew vehicle, and a Block 1 version will be tested by 2015/16

    Perhaps you would like to describe how all of this will happen, and how this will avoid the problems the plagued Constellation? Because I think you’re nuts if you truly believe the dates you give (much less the money it will take to get there), but I’m leaving open the possibility that you know something that isn’t public knowledge.

  • seethis

    Byeman said… “The relevant people in NASA, DOD, Congress and other users have access to the data and therefore it does not need to be posted on the internet.”
    .
    so… you’re saying that the Dragon and Falcon data, in the .pdf documents available on the SpaceX website, are just… a fake???????? …since they’re NOT the REAL data (that SpaceX gives only to NASA and DoD) so, the (possible) investors, that read the SpaceX site, can’t the TRUE data… :(
    .
    and… WHY SpaceX should “HIDE” these basic data (that ALL other commercial companies give) if the Dragon and Falcon REAL specs are so good??? …or… maybe… they aren’t so good?
    .

  • Robert G. Oler

    David C wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    @ Robert G. Oler
    70 years ago the German Luftwaffe thought the same thing about the RAF on this date, and they were just as wrong as you are now; …

    HMM the Luftwaffe thought that the shuttle was dying and Delta IV super heavy was on the way? Wow I missed that one.

    and they have every reason to keep NASA on a short rope; we will have a single stage to orbit HLV proof of concept in 24-36 months utilizing existing shuttle stack parts; the Orion crew vehicle will be brought back to it’s pre-Ares 1 flight capabilities, not the CRV concept of this past spring, but a robust BEO crew vehicle, and a Block 1 version will be tested by 2015/16;

    and Sarah Palin is Theodore Roosevelt (as Mark Whittington is musing) and we will all live on Planet Happy soon as the right wing nerds take over and move us back to the Constitution that the founders really wanted….

    I dont take people like you seriously and I move into mocking when you start predicting the outcome of a Presidential election before the midterms. People like you are the twits who bought “end of term calenders” about Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

    In 24-36 months we will be lucky to have Dragon and OSC thing flying people.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Peter Lykke,

    And why do they get away with designing rockets and other micro- mananaging things. Isn’t that what we have NASA for?

    The problem is that I don’t think that they trust NASA to do the job anymore, at least without detailed instructions.

    Look at it this way: Every crewed vehicle project since the shuttle has been either steered onto a sandbank or been cancelled after going massively over-budget and over-schedule whilst suffering a death spiral of performance estimates. I don’t think that Congress entirely trusts the judgement of that part of NASA anymore, so they’ve told them exactly what they want and what it is to do.

    Humiliating? Yes, but politicians don’t like people who promise but cannot perform. It makes them think that they are being treated like fools.

  • Martijn Meijering

    just like the poor, Political Pork is always going to be with us,

    Ain’t that the truth! We can keep pointing it out though…

    even in EU and the Nederlands,

    Ha! If anything, things are worse over here…

    but where men and women of goodwill exist, there will be a sunrise for us to greet together tomorrow; don’t be so pessimistic;

    Is the glass half full or half empty? I’m sure that commercial space will succeed eventually and that Big Government space is doomed in the long run. I just get depressed when I think how much could have been done with all that money that will now be wasted.

  • GaryChurch

    “Sidemount is……..not on the way.’

    And how many times were you told that?

    Well, I was told a warehouse full of Atlas ICBM’s was not scrapped.
    And I was told Atlas did not use air start solids.
    And that filament cases (fiberglass) were not for polar missions.
    And that the space shuttle was not designed for intelligence missions.
    And that SRB’s were not a mature STS component.
    And that 27 engine kerosene clusters were a good idea.
    And that kerosene performed better than hydrogen in upper stages.
    And that using a man-rated capsule to carry cargo was a good idea.
    And that escape towers actually made a capsule more dangerous.
    And that orbital refueling was a proven technology and would solve all our problems.

    I have been told so much B.S. on this site that your trying to rub my nose in my Sidemount advocacy is funny.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You think 40 launches of 25 tons each is going to click to together like legos in orbit?

    Please enlighten us how you are going to do this with an HLV, given that you believe you cannot store cryogenic propellant for very long. What exactly are the building blocks of a 1000mT mission (to Mars I presume)? Let’s have a list of ten launches and their payloads. And let’s have that list not include long term storage of cryogenic propellant or any form of propellant transfer.

  • GaryChurch

    “Its not like we haven’t pumped fluids around in zero G for a few decades”

    In a half century of space flight no cryogenic propellents have ever been transferred from one vehicle to another or been stored for more than a few hours in zero G. There is a reason for this; it’s extremely difficult and ends up being so much trouble and so failure prone it is not worth the trouble and hypergolic storable mass penalties are accepted.

    For HSF the mass penalties for storables are massive and the numbers of launches with medium lift vehicles is truly and completely ridiculous.

    All of you are following a plan that has no numbers attached to it because if people see them they will start laughing.

  • MrEarl

    I don’t understand all the HLV hate when most studies show that HLV will be needed for BEO.
    The reason for the specificity for the HLV from Senate is that they don’t trust the present NASA leadership. Bolden, Garver and the rest won the battle of the Constellation contracts but lost the appropriations war with that stunt. O’Keefe and even Griffin here given a lot of control over the NASA budget, this amount of detail in the budget is a sign of no confidence in the current leadership.

  • seethis

    “40 launches of 25 tons each”
    .
    or 100 Falcon-9
    .

  • Egad

    I’ll have to say that Section 302 of the report is a head-scratcher. What does this paragraph that appears southward of the in-line, two SRB one mean? That NASA has to build what the Senate mandates for the money the Senate gives, I guess. Good luck with that, given “NASA’s recent history with the Constellation program and a number of previous NASA launch initiatives.”

    The paragraph:

    “In order to meet the mission and cost goals of the vehicle authorized by this section, NASA should focus on designing and building `to cost’ versus overall performance. The Committee notes that this requirement represents a fundamental change from NASA’s recent history with the Constellation program and a number of previous NASA launch initiatives, and believes it is critical that NASA follow this guidance. In the near-term, NASA should maximize the use of existing assets and capabilities from Shuttle and Ares programs to the extent practicable, while constraining requirements and performance to only those necessary to meet the schedule authorized for early operational capability. Modifications of ground infrastructure and other elements to support the vehicle should be minimized.”

  • Mr. Mark

    Once more crazy arguing about Spacex. While you guys were arguing, Spacex just had a successful parachute test for cargo Dragon’s first flight off the coast of California, witnessed by whale watching tourists no less. Basically, I want this board and Congress to keep arguing while Spacex keeps moving forward along with Orbital Sciences. A full up test of a complete Dragon Cargo vehicle is about a little over a month away. All hardware for the second Falcon 9 flight is already at the cape and going through preflight checkout. So please keep arguing, please. You’ll all keep arguing into next year when Spacex and Orbital start cargo service to the ISS.

  • By larding the space program with pork, Congress is only hastening the demise of government-funded human space exploration and the ascent of commercial space.

    I was poking around the SpaceX web site today (www.spacex.com) and on the Company page found this passage:

    Our company is based on the philosophy that simplicity, low-cost, and reliability can go hand in hand. By eliminating the traditional layers of management, internally, and sub-contractors, externally, we reduce our costs while speeding decision making and delivery. Likewise, by keeping the vast majority of manufacturing in house, we reduce our costs, keep tighter control of quality, and ensure a tight feedback loop between the design and manufacturing teams. And by focusing on simple, proven designs with a primary focus on reliability, we reduce the costs associated with complex systems operating at the margin.

    This is why commercial space is going to put government space out of business. SpaceX, Boeing/Bigelow, Virgin Galactic and others don’t have elected officials trying to direct pork to their districts rather than allowing a business model to drive the program towards efficiency.

    As commercial space overtakes government space, hopefully NASA evolves into more of an oversight agency, fulfulling its mandate as specified in the National Aeronautics and Space Act.

    Aviation Week reported last week that SpaceX has a Merlin 2 engine on the drawing boards that could be used to power a heavy-lift vehcile beyond Earth orbit. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a SpaceX heavy-lift vehicle launch from CCAFS by the end of this decade.

    It should be amusing to see how much longer these porkers can justify larding the NASA budget when commercial space has blown past government space.

  • Bennett

    seethis is actually Getanno Moraeno

    ’nuff said.

  • Coastal Ron

    seethis wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    40 launches of 25 tons each”
    .
    or 100 Falcon-9

    Or 15 launches of Falcon 9 Heavy, 16 launches of Atlas V Heavy, or 20 launches of Delta IV Heavy ($6B total).

    Let’s take a look at how much that would cost.

    Falcon 9 Heavy – assuming 3X Falcon 9 price ($56M), would be $2.5B total

    Atlas V Heavy – assuming 3X Atlas V man-rated price ($130M), would be $6.2B total

    Delta IV Heavy – the man-rated price is $300M, so that would be $6B total

    For less than it would cost to build and field an HLV, you could get 1,000,000 lbs of payload into LEO. You can talk, or you can do. I would prefer to start doing something, even if it’s incremental.

  • amightywind

    Congress designs rockets. Before you get too critical, consider how we got here – a total failure of leadership from Obama and the Bolsheviks he installed to lead NASA. First, Obama lets business as usual continue for a year, all the while creating the uncertainty of the Augustine committee. Fostering chaos in economics and the military is a recurring theme of the Obama regime. We see the results in the economic numbers and Afghanistan. Augustine, predictably, undercuts Constellation. Why shouldn’t he. The committee was packed with has-beens and malcontents with axes to grind. Then Obama unveils the nutty ‘Musk Plan’ to a flatfooted congress. It take 6 months for overwhelming opposition to organize. And here we are, congress filling a leadership vacuum, desperately trying to keep the shuttle workforce from being scattered to the four winds, with immense and unnecessary damage being done to the spacecoast, Huntville, and Houston. So here you have it America. Rockets designed by congressional committee. I am amazed the current NASA leadership, and Obama’s science leadership still have jobs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Frack the committee…what are they going to do scream and shout…

    The reality of it is that with the end of the shuttle program and the disbanding of Ares it is going to be economically impossible to build a SDV…plus and here it the good point, events will overtake the effort.

    At the end of it there is no more money, there probably isnt the money promised; the rumors are that the deficit commission has NASA pretty heavily on the chopping block

    It is the end for NASA space as we know it, and the end of mindless government exploration of space by humans

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    “Look at it this way: Every crewed vehicle project since the shuttle has been either steered onto a sandbank or been cancelled after going massively over-budget and over-schedule whilst suffering a death spiral of performance estimates. I don’t think that Congress entirely trusts the judgement of that part of NASA anymore, so they’ve told them exactly what they want and what it is to do.”

    The part of Congress that is pushing the SD-HLV doesn’t mind the long list of NASA crewed vehicle projects that were steered onto a sandbank or that went massively over-budget and over-schedule while suffering a death spiral of performance estimates. If they did mind that, they would stick with the FY2011 plan, and avoid having NASA run a new crewed vehicle development project in the first place, or at least limit it to the CRV. If they did mind it, they wouldn’t give NASA a much shorter schedule than Constellation’s doomed-from-the-start Ares I/Orion is predicted to need, a much more ambitious government rocket than Ares I, a much more ambitious BEO/EVA/servicing version of Orion than the Block I ISS-bound Constellation Orion, less funding than Constellation’s Ares I/Orion, and a start-over-from-scratch requirement that Ares I/Orion didn’t have to deal with when it was found to be completely unworkable by Augustine, GAO, and CBO.

    NASA’s (lack of) performance in crewed vehicle development projects over the last few decades indicates that we should put more emphasis on external partnerships (i.e. commercial participation, international participation, academic participation, etc), limited and thus achievable technology demonstrations to buy down risk and other smaller-scale assignments so some of the attempts have a chance to succeed, and projects and approaches that are already working (e.g.: ISS, robotic precursor missions).

  • GaryChurch

    “40 launches of 25 tons each”
    .or 100 Falcon-9”
    Or 15 launches of Falcon 9 Heavy, 16 launches of Atlas V Heavy, or 20 launches of Delta IV Heavy ($6B total).”

    Hi Ron. I have been calling everyone a moron because I figure if Rand can get away with it, why can’t I? Besides, I am on a troll list anyway, why not act like it? Buy I won’t call you a moron. I think we have insulted each other enough to get past that. But…..you may surprise me, who knows?

    Wiki says Delta IV heavy puts 25 tons up. That would be 40 launches for 1000 tons. And that is the heaviest vehicle we have right now. Are you using a figure for some mythical super heavy Delta?

    There is no Atlas heavy or Falcon heavy. Atlas heavy would work but Falcon with 27 engines is a joke.

    So a heavy lift vehicle putting up 1000 tons will take 10 launches. With 150 tons that would be about 6 considering that the fewer launches there is a savings in associated expendable structure. 6 launches vs 40.

    Considering that without an orbiter to process the launch infrastructure can do 14 launches a year, That would be 2100 tons at 150 tons per launch. Which might be enough to put up an interplanetary nuclear propelled spaceship with the shielding and life support necessary for a multi-year mission to the asteroid belt (or mars).

    84 missions to equal that with Delta IV heavy. With 3 CBC’s per launch that would be 252 and their expendable RS-86 engines.

    The heavy lift vehicle would use 5 RS-86? Since the SRB’s are reusable that would be 252 engines expended for Delta vs. 70 for a HLV. That is not counting the upper stages of course.

    The real numbers make it clear that smaller is not better. There is a far higher probability of 14 heavy lift launches going as planned in one year without loss than there is of 84 missions with an Inferior Lift Vehicle.

    Apologies if my math is wrong. I wrote this pretty quick.

  • PHILLIP GEORGE

    Why would Direct J246 not be enough for the moon???? Did not NASA and griffen say how much weight that they wanted to push though TLI? Please present the figures that show 2 launches of J246 could not fulfil NASA’s requirements? You also forgot the mention the cost of Constellation. Why is 70 tonnes overkill for for LEO? Because griffin said it was so? But please remind me how much weight was Ares I was going to be able to lift to orbit? Was not NASA leaving stuff out of Orion since it could not get the job done? I would rather have something overpowered like a Direct J130 than underpowered like Ares. There is nothing there that says a J130 could not also bring supplies and oversized equipment up to LEO/ISS. J130–could bring up Orion and over 30 tons of equipment–more than the shuttle–but that is BAD????? Please!

  • Phillip, if you can’t spell Griffin then you probably should just shut up.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Not meaningul to you and others who have an obstructionist agenda that precludes Heavy Lift Vehicles.

    I am opposed to spending money on heavy lift now because it gets in the way of spending money on cheap lift, which is the one thing standing between us and commercial development of space. We need cheap lift more than we need heavy lift.

    Buy entirely correct for those of us who understand that HSF-BEO requires the heaviest payload lift available. The heavier the better.

    No it doesn’t. Last time round you were unable to show why it is required, and you will be unable to show it is required this time round. The laws of physics do not care about your opinion. You can do exploration with HLV and you can do it without it. If you do it without HLV you will be furthering the cause of commercial development of space, if you do it with HLV you will be hindering that cause and for no good reason. It is that simple. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

  • GaryChurch

    Little touchy Trent,
    what did he really say that hit a nerve?

    Was it mentioning one of those big payload figures like 70 tons?

    griffin said 150 is what we need. I agree. At 14 launches a year we could actually accomplish some HSF-BEO with that 2100 tons.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Of course some people who don’t say differently are also selling something.

  • GaryChurch

    “It is that simple. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

    You are the one trying to make a buck you moron. You cannot prove you can do anything worthwhile with those Inferior Lift Vehicles while it is obvious that anything worthwhile that can be done can be done with heavy lift. That makes you the loser.

    15 launches of Falcon 9 Heavy, 16 launches of Atlas V Heavy, or 20 launches of Delta IV Heavy ($6B total).”

    Wiki says Delta IV heavy puts 25 tons up. That would be 40 launches for 1000 tons. And that is the heaviest vehicle we have right now. Are you using a figure for some mythical super heavy Delta?

    There is no Atlas heavy or Falcon heavy. Atlas heavy would work but Falcon with 27 engines is a joke.

    So a heavy lift vehicle putting up 1000 tons will take 10 launches. With 150 tons that would be about 6 considering that the fewer launches there is a savings in associated expendable structure. 6 launches vs 40.

    Considering that without an orbiter to process the launch infrastructure can do 14 launches a year, That would be 2100 tons at 150 tons per launch. Which might be enough to put up an interplanetary nuclear propelled spaceship with the shielding and life support necessary for a multi-year mission to the asteroid belt (or mars).

    84 missions to equal that with Delta IV heavy. With 3 CBC’s per launch that would be 252 and their expendable RS-86 engines.

    The heavy lift vehicle would use 5 RS-86? Since the SRB’s are reusable that would be 252 engines expended for Delta vs. 70 for a HLV. That is not counting the upper stages of course.

    The real numbers make it clear that smaller is not better. There is a far higher probability of 14 heavy lift launches going as planned in one year without loss than there is of 84 missions with an Inferior Lift Vehicle.

  • Martijn Meijering

    For HSF the mass penalties for storables are massive

    No they are not, especially not if you have RLVs, in which case they would be spectacularly less expensive than cryogenic propellants launched on traditional expendable launchers such as the Shuttle or even EELVs.

    But even if you only use the noncryogenic propellant from L1/L2 onwards while using LOX/LH2 for LEO to L1/L2 they would be competitive as you could now get rid of the very expensive SDLV infrastructure, workforce and supply chain.

    You offered no counterarguments against the above last time and I predict you will not be able to offer them this time round. The facts are not on your side and the laws of physics don’t care about your opinions.

    and the numbers of launches with medium lift vehicles is truly and completely ridiculous.

    Not at all, though the complexity may be beyond your comprehension. Even terrestrial logistics is a complicated business, with lots of automation and high-tech systems. The private sector is perfectly capable of dealing with that, much more capable than governments in fact. If we want to make progress in space we’re going to have to bite that bullet.

    And high flight rates are actually something that should be encouraged because RLVs actually require high flight rates in order to be economical.

    The opposition against HLV is perfectly rational and reasoned, while HLV proponents are unable to show any significant upside for HLV to offset the enormous opportunity cost. It seems to be entirely fed by economic self interest and emotion coupled with willful ignorance.

  • Byeman

    Church, the issue is you can’t read and have a comprehension problem.

    – I was told a warehouse full of Atlas ICBM’s was not scrapped.
    I conceded that point, but the rest of them you are wrong

    –And that filament cases (fiberglass) were not for polar missions.
    Carbon filament is not fiberglass. I never said the filament cases were not for polar missions.

    –And that the space shuttle was not designed for intelligence missions.
    Never said that, I said the shuttle is not a spy plane

    And that SRB’s were not a mature STS component.
    – Never said that, I said that Ares I uses no mature STS component, because the 5 segment SRB is not an STS component. It uses some STS parts and systems.

    And that 27 engine kerosene clusters were a good idea.
    –If they are cheap, they are

    And that kerosene performed better than hydrogen in upper stages.
    – As far as cost it is
    And that using a man-rated capsule to carry cargo was a good idea.
    – It is a very good way to prove flight history to your system

    —And that escape towers actually made a capsule more dangerous.
    It can in some cases

    —And that orbital refueling was a proven technology and would solve all our problems.
    See ISS, Mir, Saylut, Orbital Express, etc

    Go post elsewhere were you might know some and stop sounding like a broke record, Sidemount Parrot

  • Byeman

    “Wiki says Delta IV heavy puts 25 tons up. ”

    Anyone who uses wiki for spaceflight information automatically discredits themself.

  • Byeman

    “It will be a joint venture of NASA and Boeing and used for commercial as well as government payloads.”

    Wrong on many counts.
    1. the vehicle specified will not be developed
    2. Any vehicle developed by NASA can not be used commercially

  • amightywind

    There is no Atlas heavy or Falcon heavy. Atlas heavy would work but Falcon with 27 engines is a joke.

    Hear, hear! AW just published a puff piece about SpaceX plans to evolve the F9. Surprisingly conventional. You can see they plan to scrap the Merlin ASAP and replace it with a Merlin 2. No wonder Musk is angling for so much cash. Interesting too that they plan to make use of the J2-X for the upper stage. Doesn’t everyone? One wonders why a J2-X effort isn’t under way now. It is the only thing everyone can agree on. SpaceX plans are so close to those you see coming out of Lockmart and Boeing that they ought to be sued for plagiarism.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You are the one trying to make a buck you moron.

    Not at all, I have no horse in this race. What I want is commercial development of space.

    You cannot prove you can do anything worthwhile with those Inferior Lift Vehicles while it is obvious that anything worthwhile that can be done can be done with heavy lift.

    You can land bigger payloads than Constellation on the moon and do so sooner with EELV + storable landers. The sums are almost trivial. You can use EELVs to go to the moon, Phobos, Deimos, Mars, the asteroid belt. Propellant transfer is powerful enough to eliminate any need for HLV, and obviously so to anyone with knowledge of basic physics and a tiny bit of knowledge about launch vehicles. Most of the IMLEO is propellant and even very large spacecraft weigh less (typically much less) than can fit on an existing EELV when dry. Existing EELVs can lift a fully fueled Centaur to LEO for EOR with a payload (which can be transported dry if it is a spacecraft and which will not suffer from boil off if it is storable propellant). This way you can get sizeable payloads to L1/L2, from where you can reach any destination of interest at reasonable cost with storable propellant.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There is a far higher probability of 14 heavy lift launches going as planned in one year without loss than there is of 84 missions with an Inferior Lift Vehicle.

    Ah, the old 1-(1-p)^n myth again. The number n is the number of launches of expensive hardware or astronauts, not the total number of launches. Losing a propellant flight doesn’t mean losing a mission. Doing a mission Apollo style (or with reusable landers) gives you n=1, doing it either with EELVs or SDLV gives you n=2. It is not a discriminating factor. Reliability of a single launch is the important factor. For EELVs that reliability is good enough for launching billion dollar national security payloads and combined with a LAS it will be good enough for launching crew.

    Again, the facts are not on your side and the laws of physics don’t care about your opinions.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So a heavy lift vehicle putting up 1000 tons will take 10 launches. With 150 tons that would be about 6 considering that the fewer launches there is a savings in associated expendable structure. 6 launches vs 40.

    You still haven’t explained how you could pull off such a feat without suffering from the boil-off you fear so much. Does your Battlestar Galatica sized vehicle use a warp drive or something? If it doesn’t it is going to require more propellant than dry mass and much more propellant than will fit on a single HLV.

  • Coastal Ron

    GaryChurch wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Hey Gary – yes, long time no talk. Though we still disagree with many things, I have felt you have been far more conversational recently, so I have been OK with debating with you. And don’t worry, I won’t take it personal if you do call me a moron… ;-)

    With regards to my figures for Delta, Atlas & Falcon heavies, you were using tons, and I changed over to talking pounds – my bad. Luckily no Mars probes were lost during this mishap!

    Ah, but back to the matter at hand. I think what gets lost in all of this is the reasons for having, and not having, an HLV.

    Today we don’t need an HLV of any kind. In fact, we barely need the Delta IV Heavy. The current commercial satellite forecast does not see a need for larger launchers, but it does see a need for more of the current medium ones.

    The DOD seems to be more interested in fly-back boosters, and has not made any noise in support of an HLV. As of today, if they needed something bigger than Delta IV Heavy, Atlas V Heavy is at the point in it’s development that it’s ready for a CDR, and using it gives customers not only 20% more payload capacity, but the possibility for 7.2m fairings that are over 30m in length. So far no one needs it.

    That leaves NASA as the only customer for an HLV, and NASA does not have a planned mission or funded program that needs an HLV. Maybe a commercial company could develop a large payload for the NASA HLV after it turns into reality, but with the leadtimes for designing, building and testing such a monster payload, it could be 5-10 years before the launcher would be needed. What is it going to launch in the meantime, and what does the permanent staff for this monster do while there is nothing to launch? This is an albatross around the neck of NASA, especially since their budget is flat, and they don’t get extra funds from Congress to run this Congressionally mandated launcher. Bad, very bad, for any NASA program other than HLV.

    The need for an HLV is very much tied into the commercial need for large payloads in space. Why? Because NASA will never have enough money outside of the HLV program to mount any meaningful manned exploration program – it’s that simple.

    Now, those of us who advocate for commercial launchers generally believe that small incremental exploration using existing launchers is better than having an HLV and not being able to afford any exploration. The technology developed for the ISS can be used for building exploration vehicles that are lifted by current launchers. Even if you don’t believe in fuel depots, you could still launch 25 ton tugs that could move large structures between the Earth and Moon, and possibly to an NEO. These are things we could start working on today, instead of working on an HLV. We could be exploring an NEO far earlier than when an HLV could be built, and we could do it with less funds than an HLV.

    So I see the philosophical difference between the two camps as A) Doing something with current tech, and do it sooner, vs B) Let’s build a really big launcher so whatever we do in the future, we can do it in fewer launches.

    I vote for “A”.

  • Bennett

    I too vote for “A”. Anyone who despises waste and pork, and truly wants to see the advancement of space exploration and colonization by human beings will do what they can to fight against the allocation of taxpayer money to develop a HLV at this time.

  • GaryChurch

    “Today we don’t need an HLV of any kind.”

    But I have just explained why we do. That is all I can do.
    You can lead a horse to water…..

  • A) Doing something with current tech, and do it sooner; or

    B) Let’s build a really big launcher so whatever we do in the future, we can do it in fewer launches

    Exactly! A) it is!

    And that is why I support DIRECT in its most basic configuration:

    4 segment RSRM
    SSME
    No tank stretch
    RL-10s for the upper stage

  • Martijn Meijering

    Playing semantics again? Your vote is one for B.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Exactly! A) it is!

    And that is why I support DIRECT in its most basic configuration:

    Well, since DIRECT would also involve NASA running their own transportation company, like the HLV proposal in Congress, it’s in the same category as “B”.

    DIRECT may be less expensive than other HLV designs, but there is still the problem of NASA having to keep a large standing army available, regardless if they launch.

    I’m glad you want to do exploration sooner, but DIRECT would not be the fastest way.

  • Frediiiie

    I vote for “A”.
    Let’s do stuff now.
    Sure we’ll need a HLV one day, but not yet.
    After all the demand for larger vehicles is so great at the moment that Ariane 6 is actually going to be smaller than Ariane 5…
    Surely that tells us something.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Yep I vote for “A” (if I could vote that is!!)
    The means is available. It’s the political will that’s sadly lacking.

    COTS-C will complete and the CRS will proceed. Irrefutable evidence will exist that commercial can do what NASA can’t even though commercial Delta and Atlas are being ignored for the sake of the political argument.

  • Those of you talking about building an HLV in 2 years clearly have no idea of the extent of NASA’s bureaucracy.

    Of course any competent engineers could stack existing components into a “heavy” configuration in that sort of time frame, but competent engineering hasn’t been allowed at NASA for quite a long time.

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    And that is why I support DIRECT in its most basic configuration:

    4 segment RSRM
    SSME
    No tank stretch
    RL-10s for the upper stage

    I don’t think it is the best plan, but I agree it is the most likely at this point. It will be a side mount vehicle as well – Shuttle C in all respects.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Almightywind wrote:

    Shuttle C in all respects

    Actually, the D-SDLV side-mount is not the same as Shuttle-C. Shuttle-C uses a reusable wingless uncrewed shuttle fuselage with articulated payload bay doors and everything else as its cargo carrier. Sidemount just uses a payload fairing bolted onto a 3 x SSME engine pod.

    For what it is worth, I genuinely think that NASA will end up selecting the in-line version of D-SDLV because it can be developed to a far higher IMLEO payload capacity. The guys at SSP only want side-mount because it looks sort of like the shuttle and they want to keep flying the shuttle. Right now, they’re doing the Ares Launch System dance trying to find numbers to justify this prejudice. Time will tell what comes of that.

  • Sidemount? What about this?

    “The Committee anticipates that in order to meet the specified vehicle capabilities and requirements, the most cost-effective and `evolvable’ design concept is likely to follow what is known as an `in-line’ vehicle design,”

  • MrEarl

    Byeman:
    What part of “joint venture” don’t you comprehend?

  • amightywind

    Actually, the D-SDLV side-mount is not the same as Shuttle-C. Shuttle-C uses a reusable wingless uncrewed shuttle fuselage with articulated payload bay doors and everything else as its cargo carrier. Sidemount just uses a payload fairing bolted onto a 3 x SSME engine pod.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

    And it doesn’t not use a shuttle fuselage. How ridiculous! It used a modified engine compartment and reused the ET attach points. That’s it. Does this look like an orbiter fuselage?

    http://pdf.aiaa.org/preview/1990/PV1990_3685.pdf

    Slam!

  • byeman

    Windy is wrong again.

    “And it doesn’t not use a shuttle fuselage.”
    Yes, it does, it uses a shuttle aft fuselage.
    SDLV side-mount is not the same as Shuttle-C, period

  • byeman

    “But I have just explained why we do.”

    Your explanation and points are not valid. There is no need for an HLV near term. There are no missions that NASA can afford that require an HLV.

  • Aggelos

    “There is no need for an HLV near term’

    what do you mean near term?

  • @ byeman — “There is no need for an HLV near term”

    Obviously, the US Senate disagrees with you. ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Aggelos wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    “There is no need for an HLV near term’

    what do you mean near term?

    For those of us that don’t see a demand for HLV’s today, we certainly hope that a demand for larger payloads to space develops at some point in the near future.

    At this point certainly, demand for commercial satellite payloads beyond 25 tons are not on the horizon, so the demand for large payloads will most likely come from building structures & vehicles in space, or on other surfaces in space like the Moon or beyond. As of today there are no plans for such large construction projects, so a true market for HLV type lift does not exist.

  • Robert Koenn

    This is a perfect example of the absurdity of congress and their quest for pork. They are now designing rockets by lawyers from states that have hog farms. As long as you keep my hog farmers subsidized I don’t really care whether anything actually flies or not nor whether that is a flawed and inefficient design or not. Just keep feeding my hogs and supporting more pork. If you look at the design criteria they came up with that fairly well explains it. Use solids (Utah), use big tanks (Louisiana), SSMEs (Alabama), Orion spacecraft (Texas and Colorado), and launch sites (Florida). This is a recipe for another budget disaster and space program disaster. I don’t see how even the most die hard space buffs (I am one but a realist also) can go for this type of thing. Even space buffs should hate to see their tax money spent this way.

  • Martijn Meijering

    This is a recipe for another budget disaster and space program disaster.

    Sadly, that would be the best outcome. Imagine what would happen if this outrage ever flew.

  • Coastal Ron

    GaryChurch wrote @ August 15th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    “Today we don’t need an HLV of any kind.”

    But I have just explained why we do. That is all I can do.
    You can lead a horse to water…

    You certainly have you list of large payloads that you think are required for leaving the Earth-Moon system, but there is no program to do that, so Congress is taking money out of NASA budget to build a government-run transportation system that will 1) not have a payload for years to come, and 2) such up a significant portion of their yearly budget with HLV operations fixed costs that don’t contribute to R&D or exploration.

    I want enough demand for HLV-type cargo to be here some day, but an HLV today is the cart before the horse – and the horse is not thirsty, because it has nothing to pull… ;-)

  • Martijn Meijering

    You certainly have you list of large payloads that you think are required for leaving the Earth-Moon system

    Some of them require new technology and even those payloads do not require HLV.

  • amightywind

    Robert Koenn wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 10:55 am:

    This is a perfect example of the absurdity of congress and their quest for pork.

    I disagree. It is what happens when power is handed to radical incompetents in the executive branch. Continuity of the program of record was broken with no clear consensus on how to proceed. Obama, Bolden, Garver never even consulted their own party in congress before proposing to wipe out NASA. Now we all pay the price for that incompetence. Senator Nelson, Senator Shelby, and Senator Mikulski will now design your rocket because they don’t trust the people Obama appointed to manage the process. Indeed, the only thing they can manage is a handoff of HSF to Elon Musk!

  • I think Congress should do the right thing to put NASA in the path to a more self-sustaining space exploration, for that, I believe they should support nuclear propulsion.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ScAHXN_kAY

  • I disagree. It is what happens when power is handed to radical incompetents in the executive branch.

    You do realize that Obama is carrying on policies implemented by the Bush II Administration, right?

    Obama is best described as a “neo-liberal”, to the right of Clinton, who was to the right of Eisenhower for crying out loud! That’s why his liberal base is crying and whining.

    The only thing radical is you Windy. And your pork barrel “conservatism.”

  • MrEarl

    Robert Koenn:
    “This is a perfect example of the absurdity of congress and their quest for pork. ”

    Not at all. This is a direct response to NASA leadership, Bolden, Garver, and the rest shutting down Constellation, against the stated intent of Congress and without any consultation with congress. The fact that previous administrators like O’Keefe and Griffin received a rather wide latitude of discretion and the current management are kept on such a tight leash speaks volumes.

  • amightywind

    dad2059 wrote:

    Obama is best described as a “neo-liberal”, to the right of Clinton, who was to the right of Eisenhower for crying out loud!

    Clinton was a pragmatist, Obama is an ideologue. Clinton knew that to implement his program he needed to promote economic growth. Obama’s first instinct is social justice, bloated government, and Keynesian redistribution. Clinton was an astute politician. He allowed the GOP congress to do its fiscal work balancing the budget, and then smartly stepped in front and took credit. Obama is not astute. It looks like he will be content to run the economy into the ground with high taxes and spending, blaming Bush the whole way. He is in for big changes in November. No, Obama is a traditional big government liberal, nothing more.

    p.s. I have come to actually admire Clinton, the randy pig!

  • Congressional response to FY2011 (as proposed February 1st) reinforces my belief that NewSpace would be well advised to seek to go around NASA/Congress rather than continuing to attempt to go through NASA/Congress.

    If NewSpace finds revenue streams not derived from tax dollars, they don’t need NASA/Congress. If NewSpace fails to find revenue streams not derived from tax dollars, it won’t really matter if NASA/Congress appears to adopt a NewSpace approach.

    In other words, NASA needs a genuine competitor.

  • …Obama is an ideologue.

    And you’re not Windy? LOL! :D

    I will agree that Obama isn’t very astute however when it comes to space matters. He clearly didn’t care whether his plan got through Congress or not.

  • If NewSpace finds revenue streams not derived from tax dollars, they don’t need NASA/Congress.

    I think they can do just that if they can get their idea guys in gear. How hard are you pushing your ideas Bill (besides the book)? They don’t look too shabby.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    In other words, NASA needs a genuine competitor.

    No, NASA needs to actually do what it was chartered to do, and stop being forced to do things outside it’s sphere of competency.

    Running a transportation company is not a core competence of NASA, and they at least acknowledged it with Shuttle by outsourcing the majority of work. However, they were still stuck with the costs of running the whole thing, and that sucked the funds out of any meaningful R&D and exploration.

    Congress is not letting NASA be NASA. How much is Congress funding NASA for direct exploration? How much is Congress funding NASA for next generation technology research? Why is Congress forcing NASA to build a launcher, and then not fund any programs or payloads for that launcher?

    NASA has always used contractors to lower the cost of doing routine stuff, and also to do the things that they did not have the skills to do in-house. Creating a commercial crew transportation system with more than two suppliers is an overall cost savings for NASA, and it is an enabling capability for future space activities – government & civilian. I don’t really care who the two suppliers are, as long as they lower the cost to access space. So far SpaceX has been making the best progress, but I cheer for Boeing and their CST-100 too. Hold an open competition, and let the market sort it out.

    NASA doesn’t need competitors as much as it needs enablers. When allowed, NASA is the best organization to lead cutting edge R&D and exploration, and commercial companies don’t have the monetary incentives to compete in this area.

    Congress has different priorities today than NASA, and that’s where the problem lies. Until the goals of Congress and the goals of NASA match up, we’re not going to be getting much useful stuff done… :-(

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    NewSpace would be well advised to seek to go around NASA/Congress rather than continuing to attempt to go through NASA/Congress.

    You’re right! Your best chance to resurrect Obamaspace is to get in front of a liberal federal judge! That way you can defy the will of the people and the congress. Heck, it worked for the homosexuals in California!

  • @ Coastal Ron — Congress is not letting NASA be NASA.

    NASA was created by Congress and exists at the pleasure of Congress. By definition (literally) NASA’s job is to execute whatever policies are chosen by Congress.

    . . . Congress has different priorities today than NASA . . .

    Indeed.

    Congress also has different priorities than NewSpace. Thus, I assert NewSpace needs to make Congress irrelevant to their plans and that means finding revenue streams that do not first pass through Uncle Sugar.

  • Egad

    This is a slightly different question I find myself wondering about.

    Let’s suppose that the will of the Senate be done and the US successfully flies an HLV by 31 Dec 2016. The question then is, how frequently should it be launched thereafter to maintain skills and infrastructure needed for launch (not production)? Twice a year? Once a year? Once every two years? Could you test it, put it on the shelf (leaving aside production considerations) and hope to launch it fairly promptly after five years?

  • Martijn Meijering

    It looks as if what Bill White really wants is for commercial space to stop trying to compete for NASA’s budget with the existing contractors. And not because such government money for commercial space would be bad for commercial space, but because it would be bad for the existing contractors. If so, a bit more honesty would be refreshing.

  • libs0n

    “Newspace needs to find revenue streams not derived from tax dollars”

    Bill White, this has been the default state of affairs for the past several decades. It is not something novel that they “must now do instead, or should do instead”, it is what has been trying to occur for decades now. The result of which is that a thriving space economy of the type you and I want to see does not spontaneously come into fruition. Billions of dollars are not laying around for the taking. Business is hard. Space business much harder. Serving prospective markets requires a capital outlay so large, that the resulting cost of the product or service would likely be too expensive to attract a sizeable enough demand, and any such demand is speculative at that. There are few people with such capital, or who would be willing to to invest their capital in such ventures, and the more rational of them can realize this for themselves and stay away.

    SpaceX would perhaps be bankrupt by now if it were not for COTS, like Beal. Bigelow’s alloccated funds would not necessarily cover a new access system, and Boeing isn’t going to invest hundreds of billions to service someone’s space pipe dream. Even then there might not be enough purely private demand of their services at the price points that exist servicing that level of demand in that context to sustain their ventures after they’ve been established.

    The discussion about the course of NASA is the recognition that NASA’s purchasing power, and its mandate as a space agency, can have the potential to be a transformative change to the default conditions that new space ventures arise in. Again, we have lived with what you propose, for that transformative potential to be unrealized, since the dawn of the space age. We will continue to live with prospective space companies maximizing all avenues they can within their ability to survive and thrive regardless. If that potential were to be realized, then the reality new space ventures must establish themselves in would not be as harsh, and perhaps that will be enough of a difference. We have access to the benefits of the monies invested in a commercial space venture, SpaceX, for instance. We have not had the benefit of monies invested in the commercial arena for the past few decades, because those monies were directed to the Shuttle sandbox. To lose that potential will be to lose out on a step out into the cosmos, and perhaps that was the step we needed.

    If man is going to advance into space, the most monumental challenge man has ever undertook, then it is going to have to seize as many of the opportunities available to it as it can. Coupling the large government demand potential in NASA, and it’s responsible stewardship as a space agency, to the unmatched dynamic American entrepreneurial commercial space industry, in concert with the other demand and potential demand available to be serviced by that industry, is one the great opportunities available to us. One of the few, or the only.

  • Egad wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    This is a slightly different question I find myself wondering about. Let’s suppose that the will of the Senate be done and the US successfully flies an HLV by 31 Dec 2016.

    If that happens, I would like to see NASA use that HLV to deploy a propellant depot to EML-1 and thereafter allow every spacefaring nation to use that propellant depot for a variety of missions to a variety of definition;

    Lunar surface;
    NEOs
    Phobos/Deimos
    Mars

    Keeping an EML-1 propellant depot stocked with fuel and supplies would also provide commercial space considerably more business than a handful of flights to ISS, per year, and would justify the establishment of LEO depots, thereby creating a genuine logistics pipeline.

    I also support adding a fully funded propellant depot / propellant transfer demonstration as part of the final 2011 NASA legislation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    NewSpace needs to make Congress irrelevant to their plans and that means finding revenue streams that do not first pass through Uncle Sugar.

    Two thoughts:

    1. Any NewSpace company (or any company) that relies on government funding has to be willing to suffer the vagaries of Congressional funding. I have worked for such companies (i.e. primarily live on gov’mt contracts), and I’m well aware of the boom-bust cycles that they produce. Adding commercial demand for a product/service can be a good idea, but don’t hesitate to think that the commercial market is easy – it can be just as cut-throat as the bidding that goes on with government contracts.

    2. The government does not do everything for itself, and relies on contractors for a huge amount of the product & services they need. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATK, and many other large companies thrive on doing for the government what the government can’t do itself. NewSpace is no different, and they have the same right to compete for contracts as everyone else.

    It boils down to NewSpace having a multitude of products and services spread out across multiple customers and marketspaces, and this is no different than any other industry. Also, Ignoring a large government market is not smart, because your competitors will gladly take the business you ignore.

    In the end, NewSpace needs to do what every successful business must do to survive – create better value for their customers. Whether those customers are commercial or government doesn’t matter, as long as they pay well.

  • Fred Cink

    Mr Koenn…as for “the absurdity of congress and their quest for pork” in designing launch vehicles…In addition to solids from Utah, big tanks from Louisiana, SSME’s from Alabama, Orion from Texas and Colorado, and launch sites in Florida, stand by for proposals to power the upper stage with coal from North Dakota and Wyoming, and mandate the crew eats Maine Lobster, Alaskan Crab, and Californian Veggies. Its starting to look just like the subcontractor list for the shuttle.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Keeping an EML-1 propellant depot stocked with fuel and supplies would also provide commercial space considerably more business than a handful of flights to ISS, per year, and would justify the establishment of LEO depots, thereby creating a genuine logistics pipeline.

    Not that I disagree with the idea, but who are the customers, and what are they using it for?

    That’s really the crux of the problem, is that I don’t think there is a business outside of LEO until there is a robust business IN LEO. Ignoring the ISS support market is silly, because that is kind of milk run service that supplies the capital for the next generation of products & services.

    You can’t live on competitive contracts with razor-thin margins for too long, otherwise your business is too susceptible to economic downturns. And commercial companies are typically the suppliers of expeditions, and not the ones to fund them.

    Until some sort of manufacturing is set up in space, I think government funding (from all countries) is going to be the primary source of money for anything space related with humans. And with NASA’s small budget, that means we’re going to have a slow expansion into space – I think that’s the economic reality of it all.

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Yup. Except I would add that such companies also need to work with the Congress we have, not the Congress we might wish we had.

    IMHO, that means if a fully funded fuel depot demonstration can be added to the FY2011 final compromise, take the money and do the project, even if other things are funded you might not like, such as SDLV.

    The Senate we have also unanimously passed a bill with committee notes as reported in the main article, above. Perhaps that is lamentable and perhaps not however I would assert that NewSpace lacks the political firepower needed to change the Senate’s mind on these points

    Therefore, I advocate accepting reality, fight for a fully funded prop depot line item, and keep on looking for non-taxpayer sourced revenue streams.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Well said, libs0n.

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    That’s really the crux of the problem, is that I don’t think there is a business outside of LEO until there is a robust business IN LEO.

    And I believe the reverse. I don’t believe LEO only tourism will be all that lucrative, and I dont think space solar power will ever close its business case nor do I think Big Pharma will pay all that much for LEO drug research.

    What would I do with an EML-1 depot? Encourage US NewSpace to sell “flags and footprints” on the Moon to foreign nations. Recover some of that foreign exchange being sent overseas by Wal-Mart shoppers.

    Deliver Japanese astros or Spanish astros or Brazilian astros to the Moon and let them plant their national flags. Persuade India it needs a base in an ice filled lunar crater and sell them logistics and transportation to get there.

    Nearly all of the 1849 gold miners went bankrupt. Those who sold transportation and supplies became fabulously wealthy.

    Build an EML-1 depot and become the middleman.

  • libs0n

    “Keeping an EML-1 propellant depot stocked with fuel and supplies would also provide commercial space considerably more business than a handful of flights to ISS, per year, and would justify the establishment of LEO depots, thereby creating a genuine logistics pipeline”

    Bill White, the depot is just a tool to transfer NASA’s exploration demand to a competitive commercial process. It’s about the demand, and not the depot. The use of a EML1/2 depot by a spontaenous private demand is unfounded speculation. Your easy space fantasies do not face the harshness of reality. A substantial capital outlay would be require to make use of such a depot, and another to invent the means to commercially service it. You also champion a new NASA monopoly be developed to service its own exploration demand. Remove the demand, and you remove the beneifts of servicing that demand, and in establishing a commercial system to service that demand. COTS/CRS came about in the wake of the discontinuation of one NASA monopoly and in the space before the next could be operational. Prior to Columbia, the Shuttle interests muscled any domestic commercial competition out of servicing the infrastructure; the ISS was to be solely resupplied through the Shuttle. You seek an eternal renewal of that corrupt system. That system will also have the benefit of many billions of dollars spent in establishing it, and sustaining it, making a commercial system without such investment a less obvious beneficial choice. The existence of infrastructure is not a guarantee that it will be serviced by a competitive process, or that one will just spontaenously come about to service it.

  • Nearly all of the 1849 gold miners went bankrupt. Those who sold transportation and supplies became fabulously wealthy.

    Build an EML-1 depot and become the middleman.

    Now that ladies and gentlemen, is good capitalism!

  • Martijn Meijering

    Therefore, I advocate [1]accepting reality, [2]fight for a fully funded prop depot line item, and [3]keep on looking for non-taxpayer sourced revenue streams.

    [2] and [3] are already happening and have been for a very long time. The only thing that needs to happen to satisfy your wishes is [1]. And that translates to “stopping fighting my pet launcher”. Not because you have any good arguments to offer, but because it is “reality”. The GWB administration was a reality and that didn’t stop Democrats from fighting it. The Obama administration is a reality and that doesn’t stop Republicans from fighting it. There is absolutely no reason for supporters of commercial space to stop opposing SDLV in any way, shape or form and every reason to continue doing so. That my friend, is a reality.

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Nearly all of the 1849 gold miners went bankrupt. Those who sold transportation and supplies became fabulously wealthy.

    Wow! By that moronic logic perhaps Bigelow should open a bordello. Next thread please.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Well, if commercial development of space and moon mining ever become a reality, then space bordellos are only a matter of time…

  • amightywind wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Do you truly believe the US can establish and maintain monopoly control over lunar resources such as lunar water and/or PGMs and/or He3?

    (FWIW I don’t think the He3 mining will be viable. Water and PGM mining? Maybe)

    If not, then why not make money selling flags and footprints to others?

    And by controlling the EML-1 crossroads we would have de facto control over the Moon, in any event.

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote:

    Do you truly believe the US can establish and maintain monopoly control over lunar resources such as lunar water and/or PGMs and/or He3?

    I never wrote any such thing. But the answer is yes. Why leave it all to the losing Russians and Chinese?

    Well, if commercial development of space and moon mining ever become a reality, then space bordellos are only a matter of time…

    Leave it to a Dutchman to say that.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Leave it to a Dutchman to say that.

    Bordellos are legal where I live, provided they pay taxes and don’t break zoning laws…

  • John Malkin

    I wouldn’t mind having a space bordello with a nice space casino next pod. Would that be under international law?

    Hmmmm ‘The Kitty Station’.

    It makes as much sense as Congress mandating the design of a spacecraft.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Hmmmm ‘The Kitty Station’.

    The cohabitat ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    And by controlling the EML-1 crossroads we would have de facto control over the Moon, in any event….

    I dont aim my comment at you because I think you are smarter then this and in many respects are playing “wind”…but

    in my view anyone who talks about controlling any “point” or “body” in space for the foreseeable future (say 50 years) is a nut right out of the right wing of the GOP…people who see simple solutions to complex problems and try and attach outmoded solutions of the past in their simplest form to problems of today and tomorrow.

    EML points are “places” not points and it would be impossible for “us” or the Reds or the Russians or (Whittington has the Iranians contemplating human flight…maybe they are going to take over the Moon) to “control” them anymore then it would be possible to control any spot in the Pacific absent open warfare and I doubt our technology and capabilities are anywhere close to that.

    While in the US we have become (since the right wing came of fear age on 9/11) obsessed with “enemies” the rest of the world has moved on toward establishing alternate economic systems to ours…and those are slowing gaining some traction.

    If the Red Chinese are going to have a space program that is more then just some modest effort at it, it will be in some fashion designed to put their economy on an even faster pace of growth. That is not “conquering the Moon” (a paraphrase of the right wing).

    Right now the economic value of human spaceflight is absent pork almost nothing and unless that changes; ie there becomes some reason for it…all this talk of what to do with a non existant HLV is well talk.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Gary Anderson

    I’ve reached the end of my line reading your comments.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    “is a nut right out of the right wing of the GOP…”

    You just lost all respect from me.

    I may support WH newspace, but I do not support you. You are an embarrassment to our future endeavors.

    Gary Anderson
    right wing GOP

  • Lib Rule

    “Gary Anderson right wing GOP”

    Did somebody hurt your widdle feeewwings? You know what hurts my feelings, Ares I. I blame the GOP, and thus by default, you. I’m not going to lose sleeps over thinking about anyone’s feeewings, though, so tough luck.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Anderson wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I will learn to live with the disappointment.

    and I am not asking for your support (not running for anything now!)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Lib Rule wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    You know what hurts my feelings, Ares I. I blame the GOP

    I tend to blame Mike Griffin for Ares I, and not see it as a political issue. Both parties can be blamed for underfunding it, but in the long run I guess I’m glad of that, since I viewed it as a money-sucking dead-end monstrosity.

    Even in the current budget battle, members of both parties have acted irrationally, which though not unusual for Congress, is still disappointing for NASA and the prospects of getting some real work done in space.

  • Bennett

    Yeah, isn’t Bart Gordon, the Chair of the House Science Committee, a Democrat? Granted, he’s from Tennessee and I think Shelby has the goods on him, but still!

    By the way, nowhere on his official website does he mention that he’s a Democrat…

  • Byeman

    “What part of “joint venture” don’t you comprehend?”

    There is no such thing as a “joint venture” with NASA. NASA can’t be involved with commercial venture. Boeing would have to do it alone which is not feasible since a lot of GFE is required.

  • amightywind

    With Obomber’s latest Ground Zero gaffe there won’t be a lot of candidates owning up to the fact that they’re demos. Even Reid threw Obama under the bus. Again, another gift from above to a disbelievingly fortunate GOP! Better get used to the idea of Chairman Shelby calling the shots. Ares shall rise gain!

  • Mr. Mark

    Even as I write this a completed cargo Dragon spacecraft is sitting on the floor of Spacex headquarters and is awaiting shipment to Florida for lift off in a little over a month. So please, amightywind, what is Sentator Shelby going to say after the successful flight. Probably the same old tired argument he has always said, that Spacex is not up to the task. I hope Dragon lands on his head to knock him into reality.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Let’s not count our Dragons before they hatch. I hope all goes well and I’m optimistic, but it’s not a done deal. I think we can all predict what Shelby will say if the first test flight of Dragon is a failure.

  • Bennett

    If Shelby ends up calling the shots, it will be the end of NASA HSF for a very long time. Commercial Space will do just fine, but folks like windy will have to wait decades to see anything come of their pork-dreams.

    So sad, for them.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 16th, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Ares shall rise gain!

    My question is why? What does Ares I do that Delta IV Heavy can’t do for less money?

    Ares I will still take somewhere between $20-40B to finish, and then it will cost at least $1B/year to operate. I did the math, and with a base support cost of $1B, and a marginal cost of supposedly $138M/launcher, Ares I would need to fly 6 times per year, every year, in order to EQUAL the cost of a man-rated Delta IV Heavy ($300M/flight).

    Wouldn’t it be better to save $20B, and use that for actual R&D and exploration?

    I mean, you certainly pretend to be some sort of hardcore Republican, but in financial matters, you are certainly a RINO. I say that because you think government-run transportation is so much better than what the private sector can do. Better not tell your Tea Party friends what you have been advocating for… ;-)

  • Peter Lykke

    Costal Ron said:”Even in the current budget battle, members of both parties have acted irrationally, which though not unusual for Congress, is still disappointing for NASA and the prospects of getting some real work done in space.”

    You might even argue whether the congress is “worthy of a great nation”.

    As non -US, this is the first time I really have followed american policy in the making, and some of the hearings made me think “Whaat?”.

    And off topic for the thread: Giving how much else the congress really decides around the globe, it makes me worry. BTW, I’m not worried by the WH any more.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    Ares I will still take somewhere between $20-40B to finish, and then it will cost at least $1B/year to operate.

    Good God! A single simple, recoverable SRB core stage compared to a triple body LH2 rocket with throwaway engines. The Delta IV will require cross feed (why haven’t they done that alreadyu?), a regeneratively cooled engine nozzle, and a new upper stage just like Ares. The Ares I configuration is infinitely simpler and safer, which is why it was selected.

    but in financial matters, you are certainly a RINO.

    Good Republicans squeeze social programs not NASA.

  • Justin Kugler

    If Shelby burns Hutchison on this after she worked so hard to pull together the Senate and unanimously pass their space bill, there will be hell to pay.

  • Justin Kugler wrote @ August 17th, 2010 at 8:45 am

    If Shelby burns Hutchison on this after she worked so hard to pull together the Senate and unanimously pass their space bill, there will be hell to pay.

    Indeed.

    I would also suggest this applies both ways – both to CxP supporters who seek to continue Ares 1 & Ares V and to supporters of the original FY2011 proposal who seek to scrap everything STS related.

    What incentive would any US Senator have to go against a compromise they supported unanimously?

  • Bennett

    Good Republicans squeeze social programs not NASA.

    But the NASA you want IS a social program.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    The Ares I configuration is infinitely simpler and safer, which is why it was selected.

    And Delta IV Heavy already exists, and costs far less. If we assume that $20B of development costs is left on Ares I (that’s a low estimate), you could pay for 67 man-rated Delta IV Heavy launches with that money – thats 3.3M lbs of payload!!!!

    The Delta IV will require cross feed (why haven’t they done that alreadyu?), a regeneratively cooled engine nozzle, and a new upper stage just like Ares.

    What are you talking about? Delta IV Heavy already exists, and is already launching DOD payloads into GEO. Their advertised payload to LEO is 49,470 lbs, which is a little below what Ares I could supposedly do, but if you need more payload lifted, then Atlas V Heavy is ready for it’s CDR, and could be online quickly, for far less money, and lift far more payload (64,820 lbs to LEO). Both of these launchers are using flight proven hardware and systems, and have a great reliability record.

    So the question still remains. Other than your “simple and safer” platitudes, why is Ares I such a good deal for the U.S. Taxpayer? I can see why ATK loves it, and maybe you work for them, but why not use existing launchers and give NASA $20B more for actual payloads they can send to space?

    Convince us.

  • Aggelos

    “The Ares I configuration is infinitely simpler and safer, which is why it was selected.”

    simple to put only solids as first stage?thats never been done before!

    simpler,thats why they planned to put heavy springs or like that under second stage to cushion the srb vibration?

  • byeman

    ” simple, recoverable SRB core stage ”

    Simple is a fallacy and not applicable to a solid motor used for manned flight. The shuttle SRB’s are labor intensive and very process sensitive. They are far from simple, the TVC required a rebuild after every flight. The mating of the segments is almost done in a clean room.

  • Robotnik

    Neither an SD-HLV nor a fleet of Delta-4H/Atlas-VH/Falcon-9H with unproven propellant transfer nor hundreds of billions is needed for exploration if we just did the sensible thing for once: Get rid of the (by far) heaviest, most expensive, most dangerous and most useless part of exploration: Humans. For the cost of a single manned flight to Mars we could send a fleet of hundreds of robots onto the Red Planet and explore far more surface than 2 or 3 astronauts on the surface (who will spend most of their time recovering from zero-G and trying to survive) will ever get done.

    Lets face it: manned spaceflight is totally obsolete. Robonauts are the future. Cancel human spaceflight and use the funds for unmanned exploration.

  • Martijn Meijering

    unproven propellant transfer

    Exploration can be done with proven propellant transfer too. Just saying, I’m not arguing in favour of government funded manned spaceflight.

  • John Malkin

    @Robotnik

    Have you read the Helliconia trilogy or did you read/watch surrogate? Is that a good future for humanity?

    Helliconia is about humans watching another planet over the centuries similar to big brother on a planetary scale.

  • Truth Is Weirder Than Fiction

    Ares I will still take somewhere between $20-40B to finish, and then it will cost at least $1B/year to operate.

    Actually not. That’s only if you just fly it once a year. If you fly the Ares I several times a year the cost goes down DRAMATICALLY to $138 million/year to operate. Around the the cost of flying Soyuz missions:

    http://spacepolicyonline.com/pages/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=817:how-much-would-ares-i-cost&catid=67:news&Itemid=27

    It might not be as cheap as Falcon/Dragon flights but it’s much cheaper than the Shuttle ever was. No offense to the Shuttle.

  • Justin Kugler

    No, the absolute cost does not go down if you increase the Ares I flight rate. The marginal cost goes down.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The marginal cost goes down.

    Don’t you mean the average cost?

  • Justin Kugler

    Yeah, that’s what I get for typing in a hurry as I try to get out the door. :)

  • Dennis Berube

    Talking of NASA as a social program, or a military program, or a jobs program, or a science program, all shows the point, that many benefit from it. I think in all of this though, the main idea of human exploration is forgotten. That is the sad part. I am the first to realize, that NASA needs to budget better. The cost over runs must stop, and the best possible means for exploration achieved, whether that means expendable rockets, and or reusable. Also other avenues of study need to progress, such as cheaper access to space, and again whether that means systems like the space elevator, and or reusable systems, needs to be addressed. Theere is presently no easy answers to satisfy everyone. Plenty of bending of ideas will have to be gained, if we are to get anywhere. In all of this however, Human Spaceflight, MUST continue. If China launches its planned for military space station, what are we going to be doing?

  • Bennett

    “I am the first to realize, that NASA needs to budget better. “

    Well golly gee, don’t hold back! Contact NASA right away and let them know this stunning revelation! Who would have thought that an idea of such magnitude has been hiding from all of the lawmakers and engineers for all these decades.

    We owe you a huge round of applause for coming up with this thesis.

    /sarc

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I’m sure he meant that he was the first one in his house to realize that… ;-)

    Dennis, all kidding aside, I knew you would eventually discover you were a commercial space advocate – it was just going to take a little time. Welcome to the group!

  • Martijn Meijering

    Yeah, that’s what I get for typing in a hurry as I try to get out the door. :)

    Too bad, because a reduction in marginal costs by an order of magnitude is what I think we need. ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Truth Is Weirder Than Fiction wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Actually not. That’s only if you just fly it once a year. If you fly the Ares I several times a year the cost goes down DRAMATICALLY to $138 million/year to operate. Around the the cost of flying Soyuz missions:

    See, this shows we’re falling behind in our national math skills…

    The Ares I program requires a standing army of people and contractors that it needs to operate, regardless how many flights (if any) – that cost is estimated to be $1B/year. As a reference, the Shuttle program cost $200M/month, or $2.4B/year.

    The marginal cost of $176M/shipset that your article mentions is added on top of that $1B, so if you fly twice, then the total cost is $1.176B, three times would be $1.352B, and so on. Depending on when you start adding the marginal cost in (the 1st or 2nd shipsets), the number of flights that it would take to equal the cost of a Delta IV Heavy ($300M/flight) comes around 6 or 7/year. And you have to do that every year, from year 1, in order to be cost competitive.

    Now keep in mind, that in order to get to that parity with Delta IV Heavy prices, you had to spend $20-40B, and the only way to “recoup” those costs, or to make your investment worthwhile to the U.S. Taxpayers, is to make up the 67+ flights that $20-40B would buy on Delta IV Heavy. So if you added six additional flights per year, it would only take you 11 years of 12 flights per year to achieve spending parity with the Delta IV Heavy (this ignores little things like interest, so it’s just a simple comparison).

    In some ways, this could be described as the “opportunity cost”, in that instead of spending the time and money to build Ares I (that $20-40B), you could have saved that money and spent it on doing real exploration programs much soon.

    So, does Ares I still look like a great bargain for the U.S. Taxpayer?

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Yeah, I should have put a smiley face at the bottom so it didn’t seem so harsh.

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, I have always been an advocate for any spaceflight. Im a go commercial kind of guy. Also though I am a go NASA kind of guy too. Im for deep space exploration, which eveer destination is chosen. Asteroids, Moon Mars, the same ship can take us all these places. Is Dragon such a ship?

  • Justin Kugler

    No, but that’s not what Dragon is designed for.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Is Dragon such a ship?

    I agree with Justin’s response, and I’ll expand on it a little.

    I like to look at things from a number of different perspectives.

    If I were to imagine a future where all U.S. spaceflight is through NASA (like it is now), then I continue to see ups and downs in the number of people flying because of the ups and downs of Congressional funding. This is regardless of the overall demand for spaceflight, since NASA would be constricted in the number of flights by it’s funding levels.

    If I were to imagine a future where there are more than two commercial crew transportation companies, I see that the government portion would still have it’s ups and downs (as programs get funded or go away), but that the non-NASA market has a chance to continue flights as the market allows. No one knows how much demand there is, but we know there is some tied directly to supporting the ISS, and we know that at least one company (Bigelow) is trying to create a business that caters to countries or large companies.

    Between these two examples, the later one is the one I see as giving us the best chance to expand into space. NASA will always be a place of “programs” and never commerce, so if we want commerce in space, we have to get commercial companies involved.

    I also see the later example as a way for NASA to save money on getting to LEO, and use that money to get out past LEO. Commercial firms, doing the routine work of transporting to/from LEO, can offer significant cost savings over anything NASA can do.

    With SpaceX and their Dragon, they are targeting the market of getting to/from LEO. Dragon is just a minivan for space, and is not optimized for extended duration operations. It does not compete with Orion, or any other exploration vehicle, but they would be glad to deliver astronauts to/from those types of vehicles when they are in LEO. SpaceX wants to the Southwest Airlines of Earth-to-LEO for crew – no frills transportation at a great price.

  • Coastal Ron

    Hmmm, is ‘Truth Is Weirder Than Fiction’ really ‘amightywind’ in disguise?

    I ask, because ‘amightywind’ has not answered the Ares I question yet, but ‘Truth Is Weirder Than Fiction’ seemed to be arguing the same points as ‘amightywind’.

    Any monetary defense of Ares I Windy?

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Look Dennis please make an effort to understand what is going on.

    “Talking of NASA as a social program, or a military program, or a jobs program, or a science program, all shows the point, that many benefit from it.”

    No it does not show any of that. It is not in the NASA Space Act to do any of that. Please read this: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html

    “I think in all of this though, the main idea of human exploration is forgotten. That is the sad part.”

    There is no “human” exploration at NASA to be done by law.

    “I am the first to realize, that NASA needs to budget better. The cost over runs must stop, and the best possible means for exploration achieved, whether that means expendable rockets, and or reusable.”

    It is not NASA fault alone. When Congress provides a budget that is much lower than needed to do anything significant you get this kind of results, i.e. nothing.

    “Also other avenues of study need to progress, such as cheaper access to space, and again whether that means systems like the space elevator, and or reusable systems, needs to be addressed.”

    Congress did its best to kill any of that to support an HLV of some sort that we actually do not need! There is no requirement for an HLV, there is no mission, no customer! The HLV is there to protect the workforce, right or wrong.

    “Theere is presently no easy answers to satisfy everyone. Plenty of bending of ideas will have to be gained, if we are to get anywhere. In all of this however, Human Spaceflight, MUST continue. If China launches its planned for military space station, what are we going to be doing?”

    There are very easy answers. Read the Augustine committee report at the very least. Then there are other options that people have offered here and elsewhere. http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf

    Af for China. No one gives a hoot what China does or does not do. And if it is of military nature we have the DoD to take care of it with a much larger budget than NASA, a civilian agency.

    Please!

  • MaDeR

    Pork, pork, pork. Jobs program (pushed heavily as described in cited text) = Constellation all over again. And it will end same. Congress as rocket designers are sure way to waste bilions of $ and years. Good job, USA. For fellow space hobbyists: better start to learn chinese now. I heard this is goddamn hard language.

    Oink!

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