Congress, NASA

Space policy and topsy-turvy political philosophy

Conventional wisdom has it that Democrats are pro-big government and Republicans are pro-big business; oversimplistic, perhaps, but illustrative nonetheless of one of the major differences between the country’s two major political parties. Two Congressional races in Florida are providing additional proof that, when it comes to space policy, those philosophies are reversed.

In Florida’s 15th Congressional District, immediately south of the Kennedy Space Center, Rep. Bill Posey (R) is running for reelection and making space—and jobs—a major issue in his campaign, according to Sunshine State News. The thousands of jobs that will be lost when the shuttle is retired will come “at a worse economic time” than the end of the Apollo era (when Posey himself was laid off from McDonnell Douglas). As for creating jobs from commercial space ventures, he sounds skeptical: “(The Obama administration) keeps talking about this great commercial space market, but… there are no specific plans for exploration.” By contrast, his likely Democratic challenger, Shannon Roberts, is more positive about the prospects for commercial human spaceflight. “(Private companies) are really ready to take this on. I think it’s very timely,” she said.

In the neighboring 24th Congressional District, which does include KSC, incumbent Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) supports something like the compromise NASA authorization bill the Senate passed earlier this month, providing some funding for commercial crew development while pushing NASA to start immediate development of a hevy-lift vehicle, she tells Florida Today. Most of the Republicans who are vying to run against her in the general election, though, are either quiet on the subject of commercial spaceflight or opposed to it. In the words of one candidate, Tom Garcia: “I don’t think you can just turn it into a commercial industry. It needs to stay under government control.” An exception is Deon Long, who said he supports “privatizing low-orbit missions”.

257 comments to Space policy and topsy-turvy political philosophy

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nothing in this is inconsistent with the GOP being the tool of transfer of taxpayer wealth to big business.

    NASA and human spaceflight is really all about maintaining big business, with some government infrastructure thrown in for Pork. Most of the money spent in human spaceflight goes to “big business” which has become as bureaucracy bound as NASA (and a lot of the rest of the federal government).

    For both parties in general accomplishing task has fallen victim to using the federal till to funnel money to the groups that toss them campaign contributions. Right now the bulk of that money in human spaceflight is going to the corporate donnors in the districts of people like Shelby and KayB. Hutchinson, and (to be fair) Nelson in Florida.

    The drag on the economy has become the fact that deficit spending is now accepted (by both parties) as commonplace. Use to be to shovel tax dollars somewhere something had to either be cut or more taxes paid…but no longer…they just crank up the printing press.

    The GOP is a tad more adept (well a lot more actually) at fooling its base and papering over the outright transfer of funds, but that is about the only thing that makes them different.

    There is in reality no difference to the GOP shoveling money to USA, ATK and all the other leeches then say the Dems shoveling that money to the various state government employees who are unionized.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Robert Oler

    The drag on the economy has become the fact that deficit spending is now accepted (by both parties) as commonplace. Use to be to shovel tax dollars somewhere something had to either be cut or more taxes paid…but no longer…they just crank up the printing press.

    If Bush 43 hadn’t cut taxes on the top 1% while also spending a trillion dollars seeking to Ameri-form Iraq and Afghanistan (a project Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke would have found appalling) the magnitude of our deficit spending would be substantially less and we’d have more money available for space exploration, today.

  • Kyle Bogosian

    @ Robert Oler NASA and human spaceflight is really all about maintaining big business, with some government infrastructure thrown in for Pork. Most of the money spent in human spaceflight goes to “big business” which has become as bureaucracy bound as NASA (and a lot of the rest of the federal government).

    So what are you saying? That we should stop funding NASA and abandon our space program?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Bill Posey was laid off at KSC after Apollo? I gather he was doing quality control for McDonnell Douglas there. So there’s one example of what job cuts will do to space exploration. I wonder if KSC had a hard time replacing him! One has to wonder if Posey regrets not being a quality control technician any more, instead of a congressman.

    Then again, for him, it isn’t about exploring space. It’s just about jobs in his district.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kyle Bogosian wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    “So what are you saying? That we should stop funding NASA and abandon our space program?”

    no not at all. I am saying that we should spend spaceflight dollars commensurate with the needs of the nation and in a way that has value for the cost.

    It is pretty simple logic that almost every family (and organization) faces and some meet well and some dont…how to allocate resources.

    The higher the dollar demands of “something” the more the “thing” is looked at in terms of “does it meet a real need” or “does it improve family life vrs “is it just a fun thing to do”. That balance point; the point between simply spending money for “gratification with no long term value” and “investment” depends of course on the amount of disposable income one has. If you are living on 40,000 a year and the “discretionary” money is 3000 dollars (to pull a figure out of the air) two hundred dollars spent on self gratification might seem a lot…whereas if one has 1 million dollars of discretionary money then two hundred dollars is walking around money.

    What happens with deficit spending is that the value of things relative to cost flounders…”we can afford everything” because well we are not paying for it…and while that works with a family and charge cards for a bit…with the federal government it has worked in increasing amounts for almost 3 decades…and NASA is a good example of that.

    What is done right now in human spaceflight is almost all “feel good spending”. If one measured the money spent vrs the value returned (new technology, new capabilities, new knowledge) there is almost no objective measure that would indicate that the money is “invested” well.

    Deficit spending is not in itself inherently bad…if it produces things of value. We deficit spent in the Depression and what was built with that money still returns value today …we deficit spent in WW2 and it created a superpower. (and save the nations bacon).

    Deficit spending, any spending but more so deficit spending is bad if it goes to things which create no value today or worse, for the generation that eventually is saddled with the debt payments (because we never really pay it all back..the debt service number just keeps going up).

    I would argue for a human spaceflight program which creates technology, which creates capabilities for expansion of effort by non traditional users…things which can be judged by “success failure” by what they enable. things that are done for a specific reason, not because “they make us feel great”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    The article states about Rep. Posey:

    As for creating jobs from commercial space ventures, he sounds skeptical: “(The Obama administration) keeps talking about this great commercial space market, but… there are no specific plans for exploration.”

    I don’t know if it’s ignorance of the subject, or just plain political obfuscation, but commercial space is not lobbying for exploration, they are lobbying for doing the routine work of getting to/from LEO. Which for now means servicing the ISS from 2016 on, and potentially new ventures like Bigelow, who would never make it to space without commercial transportation choices (i.e. NASA transportation is not an option).

    Commercial space is pointing out economic choices. NASA can spend ~$4B to create three man-rated launchers and two man-rated capsules (launch-able on any of the three launchers), and then pay far less per seat than what they are paying for Soyuz. Or, they can spend $20-40B on something like Ares I for crew.

    What makes the most economic sense for the U.S. taxpayer?

    And as far as the jobs issue, if NASA continues to keep a flat budget of $19B/year regardless of what type of launcher they go with (NASA vs commercial), then NASA will still be spending the same amount of money in the economy, and most likely for the same types of people. It’s just the place they work at, and the specific program that will be different. Unfortunately that is not a political plus for some districts.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I dont have a problem blaming Bush 43 for a great deal of the ills of The Republic right now, including the tax cut you mention and the “wars”. I dont think either of them was well thought out, and in total they have almost been catastrophic. They are sapping our ability to be an “Empire”.

    Having said that, I still would be opossed to “exploration” as a cause celeb for our human spaceflight program. Right now I see no benefit that the added value of humans on exploration can contribute for the cost they sustain. Sure if we sent 2, 4, or 6 astronauts to the lunar south pole they would do great things…but the tens to hundreds of billions it takes to get them there can be, in my view point used right now to do a more efficient exploration program with uncrewed devices.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Jeff:
    Are you accusing OUR congress people of pandering to their constituents during an election cycle?!
    I’m shocked!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    does this impress you? not me

    The Russians did this in 1970…and used the same systems

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Their “space station” is really the equivalent to two Soyuz joined together, and their Tiangong 1 space station module weighs 8.5 tons – compare that to the ISS, which weighs 408 tons.

    It certainly is a start for them, but they have a long way to go before they can start assembling ISS-sized modules in space.

    You know Dennis, the internet has a lot of information, and you could have found this out before you posted. Do you enjoy other people doing your research for you?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    I had always been under the impression that a commercial enterprise consisted of someone raising capital in the private markets to create a product or service that people wanted to buy. Now it seems that a commercial enterprise can also demand massive government subsidies to create a product or service that the government wants to buy.

    Meanwhile we’re not going back to the Moon because Buzz Aldrin has already been there.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I had always been under the impression that a commercial enterprise consisted of someone raising capital in the private markets to create a product or service that people wanted to buy….

    A test that the Transcontinental Railroads begun by A. Lincoln could not have met.

    Meanwhile we are not going back to the Moon not because Buzz Aldrin (and other) Americans have been there, but because there is no reason to send people back to it. I know you have some like the Chinese are going to take over the Moon, but I mean real reasons ones that are not figments on the right wing mind.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Thank you Mark R. Whittington.

    There is no contradiction. The summary is horribly biased. A hallmark of modern liberalism is the selection of winners in business by an empowered, arrogant government elite rather than defining winners and losers in the crucible of market capitalism. Like windmills, solar cells, and the Obama Motors Volt, Newspace (SpaceX) was anointed, because they aligned the liberal Utopian view. It doesn’t hurt they they are run by a major Obama campaign contributer! SpaceX never did anything to merit their suddenly prominent role, and jumped the line ahead of those who do. I think a major reason for the left’s animosity toward NASA’s similarity to the military. What liberal doesn’t hate that? Anyway, the party line split created by Obamaspace is entirely consistent with the struggle between conservative and liberal ideology. The whole discussion of the commercial aspect of Obamaspace is a canard.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:06 pm
    It doesn’t hurt they they are run by a major Obama campaign contributer!…

    that lie has been rebuked so many times on this forum that it is a measure of how big a troll you are that you keep repeating it. The GOP has gotten use to the big lie and they have flunkies like you that keep repeating it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    SpaceX never did anything to merit their suddenly prominent role, and jumped the line ahead of those who do.

    You might have had a valid point if you weren’t advocating for a government-run transportation system (i.e. Ares I).

    I do like SpaceX, and I also like ULA, Boeing, Orbital and many others. Let’s cut the crap, and create an open competition for the next crew transportation system to LEO. As long as it’s not some Congressionally designed/mandated government system, and it’s competitively awarded to at least two commercial companies, I don’t care who they are.

    Would you agree?

  • amightywind

    The hard fact is that Musk and Obama are politically allied. You know it, I know it. Congress knows it. For Musk, it was nice while it lasted, but he is increasingly exposed to political reprisals. “Thou doth protest too much, me thinks.”

  • amightywind

    Let’s cut the crap, and create an open competition for the next crew transportation system to LEO.

    Again? We had one in 2004 after President Bush announced the VSE. Lockmart, Boeing, and ATK won. Oh, I get it. It is like the left and voting. Keep counting votes until you win.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I think a major reason for the left’s animosity toward NASA’s similarity to the military.

    You seem to look at NASA as a Congressionally approved feeding tube for non-value-added contractor pork (i.e. Ares I, et al).

    Just as there is no monolithic thinking in any party, “the left” politicians suffer from the same pork afflictions as the ones on “the right”. If you were to poll “conservatives”, you might even find a general dislike for anything government run, which would include NASA.

    I’m not so cynical however, so I believe that NASA really does have broad support when it does things that capture the interest of the U.S. Taxpayer. The Shuttle certainly did (though sometimes from a morose standpoint), and the mars rovers Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity have too.

    However there are lots of things that compete for our attention, and we can’t expect constant public attention for the bulk of the exploration we’re going to be doing. This means that we need funding for things that are good basic, technology, science & learning, and we need broad Congressional support to keep it funded.

    We’re at an inflection point right now, with one major program shutting down (Shuttle), and another one being ended or restructured (Constellation). When there is opportunity for shifting money, that’s when politicians circle like sharks, looking for their slice of the lard. With that kind of money lust, it’s also hard to keep them focused on making smart decisions, instead of ones that line their districts. Pity.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The hard fact is that Musk and Obama are politically allied….

    another right wing tactic to cover a lie.

    I dont agree that Obama and Musk are politically aligned…but even if they were that does not justify the lie you told, which has been refuted many times here that Musk is a heavy contributor to Obama.

    As Palin would say “you should refutuate” (or however she spelled it) that you 1) told something that was in error and 2) not say it again.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Again? We had one in 2004 after President Bush announced the VSE.

    Yes, and mysteriously the winner was the same design that Mike Griffin had proposed before he was Administrator. Coincidence? I think not.

    Oh, and by the way, you still have not been able to justify the cost of Ares I versus using Delta IV Heavy. I think that speaks volumes about how Griffin really messed up HSF for a good decade.

    If he would have chosen Delta IV Heavy over Ares I, we would be flying Orion this year, and Orion would not have been so over budget.

  • Watch the elections folks- people like Roberts who are still clinging to the dead fish of ObamaSpace are dog meat when it comes to the vote. No matter what some Obama puppets and bootlickers posting here may say. DOG MEAT.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Oler’s use of the transcontinental railroad is idiotic. The railroad didn’t just take government employees to a single outpost in the West. It took settlers to a new land. Obama is turning away from the Moon, the nearest place where people can live and work in space.

    Jeff’s post about how Republicans are supposed to be against commercial space ignores Nelson’s plan to provide tax incentives for commercial space enterprises, an idea supported by Republicans. That is a far more sensible idea for enabling commercial space than, in effect, turning companies like SpaceX into Government Rockets.

  • Derrick

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The hard fact is that Musk and Obama are politically allied.

    Don’t forget to mention the Falcon 9 second stage is at the bottom of the ocean.

  • Rhyolite

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    “Let’s cut the crap, and create an open competition for the next crew transportation system to LEO.”

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    “We had one in 2004 after President Bush announced the VSE. Lockmart, Boeing, and ATK won.”

    No, there was never a completion the next crew transportation system to LEO in 2004 or at any time since. MSFC designed the system and subcontracted the components. No competition between designs. No completion for prime contractor. Lockmart, Boeing, and ATK are just subs as far as Ares is concerned.

  • Jimmy Johnson

    Dog Meat

    That’s a really classy response too, Max. What are you going to do to these people after your election, kick them with your jack boots when they’re down, or just load them up on a rail car and send them off to a concentration camp?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Obama is turning away from the Moon, the nearest place where people can live and work in space.

    Well then, Obama is in the company of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and from a funding standpoint, Bush 43 (he didn’t fully fund Constellation).

    The issue has never been whether we COULD go back to the Moon, it has always been whether we could AFFORD to go back. On NASA’s meager $19B/year budget, they can’t afford too much, and Congress is not too enthusiastic about going back to the Moon either.

    If you think going back to the Moon is so important, then why don’t you get all your state’s representatives and senators to push it? Until Congress funds it, it doesn’t matter what you or Obama want – there is no money to go back.

  • John Malkin

    I don’t see a lot of international cooperation forthcoming with the HLV. I think if we engage our ISS partners and other nations maybe we could find some other uses for the HLV like SPS also an optimal design. Also if we had an affordable LEO Crew capability, Canada and other countries would buy the services from an American company instead of Russian. Have any international partners expressed interest in Ares I/Orion system?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I’m not a rocket scientist, but I tend to look at things from a financial perspective.

    Tell me how spending ~$4B to man-rate three launchers (Delta IV Heavy, Atlas V and Falcon 9) and build/man-rate two capsules (Dragon and CST-100) is such a bad deal when it was going to take $20B+ to build just the Ares I launcher? I don’t get it.

    Can you explain to the U.S. taxpayers why Ares I/Orion are so much better for getting to LEO than commercial alternatives? Because in these tough economic times, I want my government making smart decisions with my money, and Ares 1/Orion don’t seem so good to me.

  • @ Coastal Ron

    Returning to the Moon was always affordable if you developed the right architecture. Griffin, unfortunately, decided to develop the most expensive architecture possible.

    Simply developing a Shuttle-C plus an EDS stage would only cost about $7 to $10 billion. The Constellation budget was about $3.4 billion a year. So a Shuttle-C could have been fully funded in just 3 years. The Space Shuttle itself could have been used to transport astronauts plus a CEV into orbit using a Centaur rocket and a small ISS derived crew transport module to dock with the EDS stage and the Altair. So just using the Shuttle and the Shuttle-C could have returned us to the Moon pretty cheaply.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    “Oler’s use of the transcontinental railroad is idiotic. The railroad didn’t just take government employees to a single outpost in the West. It took settlers to a new land. Obama is turning away from the Moon, the nearest place where people can live and work in space.”

    that is bizarre. Every sentence is just weird.

    First Constellation was never going to take ANYONE but government employees to the Moon. It wasnt going to take settlers, it wasnt going to take them to “live and work” there it was going to take a bunch of NASA employees (a small number) to the Moon, at great cost, take two decades and do not a lot more.

    The Transcontinental railroad was in all respect a commercial venture with the government as a launch customer. Without the government involvement; land, the use of the Army, etc the railroad would never have happen.

    As for the Moon being the nearest place where people can live and work, thats goofy. We are in no way ready to “move off planet”…starting with our technology and moving to our social structure.

    REally Mark, your dislike of Obama has blinded you to reality. You have become what you use to claim others were about Bush…the irrational opposition.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Byeman

    Launch services and cargo services contracts do not turn launch vehicles into “government rockets” Atlas and Delta are not gov’t rockets. Only Ares I and shuttle are.

    Commercial is not defined by the funding source, it is defined by the contracting mechanism.

    ” SpaceX never did anything to merit their suddenly prominent role,”

    Totally false. Face time with the president does not equate to prominent role. Spacex has no advantage or lead over any other contractor. In fact, Spacex has not been winning gov’t competitions since CRS. They missed out on CCDev and several launch service competitions.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    So just using the Shuttle and the Shuttle-C could have returned us to the Moon pretty cheaply.

    I think we could do it without both the Shuttle and Shuttle-C. We have plenty of lift capacity with our current med & med-heavy launchers, and we can quickly add Atlas V Heavy and Falcon 9 Heavy if demand warranted. The lift capacity has never been a limiting factor, but that brings us to your other comment…

    Returning to the Moon was always affordable if you developed the right architecture.

    I’m not so much hung up on the Moon, but I do include the Moon in a long list of things I think we should pursue outside of LEO. But besides cost, you have to look at whether going back to the Moon is one of the national priorities we have, and so far it isn’t. I agree there is merit in exploration and exploitation of the Moon, but you have to convince Congress that it is worth the expenditure.

    Congress was convinced to spend money on Constellation, but we’re in agreement that the wrong architecture was used. However that was only a program for flags and footprints, and not a meaningful stay. If Congress wanted to fund a meaningful stay (like a long-term outpost), then I would be OK with it as long as it was done in some smart way (i.e. far better that Constellation). But no plan like that exists today.

    My suggestion for you is that maybe it would be time better spent to put together a Moon proposal that does what you hope it would do. Cost it out, and publish it, and maybe you could get some interest and support behind it. An example would be the work ULA did with their “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″ proposal, which uses existing EELV-type launchers, and outlines in detail a permanent outpost with 120 day crew rotation schedules.

    Maybe the lack of a exciting blueprint is what’s holding back funding for going back to the Moon? I know the administration thinks that going to an NEO and Mars is exciting, but we all can see how well that message has been received, so maybe there is an opening for the Moon.

    Just a suggestion…

  • Coastal Ron

    According to this article in Wired…

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/astronaut-muscle-waste/

    …we still have to overcome the effects of lack of gravity before we’ll be able to do any meaningful travel and work in space.

    And who said there was no good research coming out of the ISS…

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    we still have to overcome the effects of lack of gravity before we’ll be able to do any meaningful travel and work in space.

    Did you hear? NASA solved that problem recently. It is a novel idea.

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast26may_1m/

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    All kidding aside, I’ve always felt that we’re going to have to resort to good old fashioned gravity if we want to survive in space for any length of time (separate from the radiation issues). Unless someone figures out artificial gravity, then I think we’re going to have to go with the Von Braun/Kubrick type spinning stations.

    To me, this would be a better thing to do near-term than mounting an expedition to the Moon, since without a gravity well to keep humans in shape, we’ll have to ship them all the way back to Earth. Why not just ship them up to a spinning station orbiting nearby, and save the cost of moving all that mass?

    Oh well, I don’t know if you wanted a serious discussion of the matter, but there it is. How go those Ares I cost justifications Windy? ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2010/08/16/spacexs-strategy-recruit-parking-lots-full-night/

    nice job Doug…good article.

    Well Done

    I’ve shared it on our Facebook page

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    “Obama is turning away from the Moon, the nearest place where people can live and work in space.

    Heh. And he turned us back to … the nearest place where people can live and work in space — ISS. Can’t get much nearer than that!

    But maybe there is no work being done at ISS? They keep telling us that there is. But maybe you aren’t “living” somewhere where you can’t harvest local resources and live off the land? Can’t say that many do, even on the Earth.

  • amightywind

    Unless someone figures out artificial gravity, then I think we’re going to have to go with the Von Braun/Kubrick type spinning stations.

    The principle of equivalence says that gravity and centripetal acceleration are indistinguishable. There is no difference.

    They keep telling us that there is.

    Of course there is. The astronauts are in a daily desperate scramble to keep the machinery running to keep alive. A rat on a wheel has it better.

  • Justin Kugler

    We’re getting 70 hours of science next week, amightywind. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    The principle of equivalence says that gravity and centripetal acceleration are indistinguishable. There is no difference.

    Hmm, you have enough time to opine about gravity, but no word yet on Ares I cost justifications.

    How about this. Would you be willing to trade your Ares I budget for a spinning-gravity space station demonstrator? We can already use Delta IV Heavy to get the ISS-sized payloads up there…

  • Egad

    Speaking of centrifugal “pseudo-gravity” as a way of avoiding zero-gravity concerns, does anyone know why it seems to be totally off NASA’s table? It’s almost as if someone decided it’s in the pixie dust category.

  • Coastal Ron

    Egad wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    does anyone know why it seems to be totally off NASA’s table?

    Maybe they were hoping the ISS exercise methods would turn out positive results? It does seem like the least expensive solution, whereas generating gravity (i.e. spinning mass) is a lot more complicated.

  • vulture4

    Artificial gravity has not proven to be essential. People have tolerated up to 14 months weightless, longer than a trip to Mars. Should it ever be needed it could be provided in the ship design with two components linked by about 50m of boom or cable and rotated at about 4RPM.

    As to politics, Shannon Roberts has a PhD and ten years of experience with NASA. Bill Posey has an AA from Brevard Community College (BCC) in 1969, was a realtor for awhile and has been in politics since 76. While he is a ruthless and instinctive “red meat” politician, having heard him speak I have to say I am not sure he could cut it at BCC today.

    It is ironic that the Republicans like Posey are pillorying Obama for letting industry use their own ideas to design spacecraft instead of just building to a NASA blueprint and using ATK SRBs. NASA’s original mission (from 1915 to 1957) was to support the US aviation industry and help it achieve its objectives. Today the roles have become reversed.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/China_Lunar_Twins_999.html

    the 10 billion plus spent on Ares/Orion would have provided a lot of uncrewed vehicles…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Derrick

    vulture4 wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 12:05 am

    People have tolerated up to 14 months weightless, longer than a trip to Mars.

    Yes about 9 months there, but add in a surface stay of one year in 0.38 g and another 9 months back in zero-g and you’re talking 30 months outside of normal gravity. No one knows how much permanent bone loss an astronaut will suffer in Mars gravity for a long duration, but the med guys do know about bone loss that occurs after long-term exposure to zero-g. It’s a fact.

    One thing I do hear a lot is the “artificial gravity” vs “real gravity” argument (I still have yet to hear this from an engineer). In all honesty, I’d like someone to tell me why rotating the spacecraft so there’s 1 g of acceleration at the astronaut’s feet is different from the 1 g I’m experiencing right now. As long as the connection between the s.c. and the counterbalance is long enough so the acceleration vector is pointing straight down from the astronaut’s head to his/her feet, what’s the difference?

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Artificial gravity has not proven to be essential.

    Per the Wired Magazine article I mentioned above:

    The first cellular analysis of muscles from astronauts who have spent 180 days at the International Space Station shows that their muscles lost more than 40 percent of their capacity for physical work, despite in-flight exercise.

    and

    NASA currently estimates it would take a crew 10 months to reach Mars, with a one year stay, and 10 months to get back, for a total mission time of about three years. These studies suggest they would barely be able to crawl by the time they got back to Earth with the current exercise regime.

    Looks like we’ll need your suggested solution…

  • Derrick

    @ what Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Looks like they need to pack some protein shakes on the next Progress, or just let ‘em take steroids.

  • All those physiological unknowns about how humans could handle low-level gravity for calendar-spans of time, could be investigated by emplacing astronauts on the Moon! A Return-to-the-Moon program, would be a valuable & rewarding venture! It will teach us immense things about how to keep astronauts alive on a planetary surface for many months at a time. This is the important value of doing Project Constellation, or something rather like it, BEFORE & AHEAD of any Mars or asteroid missions. The Orion-Altair astronauts would be at the forefront of NASA putting together the basic blue-print for a long multi-month interplanetary sojourn. The Constellation Program should be revived, once that flim-flam man, Barack Obama is out of office, come January 2013.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 1:34 am

    All those physiological unknowns about how humans could handle low-level gravity for calendar-spans of time, could be investigated by emplacing astronauts on the Moon!

    I’d say that’s kind of premature, seeing as we haven’t figured out how to keep the astronauts alive on extended journeys to/from far away destinations. Sure we have concepts, but has anyone designed and tested a fully functioning spaceship that rotates?

    Most likely we’re also going to need rotating space stations at these low gravity destinations (including the Moon), so we don’t have to keep sending astronauts back and forth between long distances.

    The time for the Moon will come, but we need to figure out living in space first, and that means zero-G.

    The Constellation Program should be revived, once that flim-flam man, Barack Obama is out of office, come January 2013.

    You obviously think that spending $100B+ to give 16 people a short vacation on the Moon is a good use of the American taxpayer. A lot of people don’t.

    You also seem to be a Republican (i.e. the “flim-flam man” comment), but if so, you must be a RINO, because otherwise you wouldn’t think that a government-funded, government-run transportation system was a good idea.

    I mean, why spend $20-40B to finish building Ares I, which will cost the U.S. Taxpayer at least $1B per year whether it flies or not, when there is an existing commercial alternative (Delta IV Heavy) that would only cost $1.3B to man-rate, and $300M/flight (and the taxpayer doesn’t pay anything if it doesn’t fly).

    In these tough economic times, the choice for Delta IV Heavy seems clear, and NASA could use the money saved to do real exploration stuff.

  • You also seem to be a Republican (i.e. the “flim-flam man” comment), but if so, you must be a RINO, because otherwise you wouldn’t think that a government-funded, government-run transportation system was a good idea.

    I mean, why spend $20-40B to finish building Ares I, which will cost the U.S. Taxpayer at least $1B per year whether it flies or not, when there is an existing commercial alternative (Delta IV Heavy) that would only cost $1.3B to man-rate, and $300M/flight (and the taxpayer doesn’t pay anything if it doesn’t fly).

    In these tough economic times, the choice for Delta IV Heavy seems clear, and NASA could use the money saved to do real exploration stuff.

    You will find out that there will be a lot of RINOs if there’s a complete GOPer turn-around by 2013 (including an anyone but Obama GOPer).

    The GOPers, supported by Independents will be deficit hawks and guess what? Obama’s Plan will all of a sudden be “Hey, I’m glad I thought of that!” new GOPer NASA Plan.

    Get ready for Delta IV Heavy.

    Guaranteed.

  • Coastal Ron quoted:

    These studies suggest they would barely be able to crawl by the time they got back to Earth with the current exercise regime.

    Not to mention the prolonged exposure to radiation. Not only will they be Jello, but they’ll glow in the dark too.*

    * Not literally …

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    Hmm, you have enough time to opine about gravity, but no word yet on Ares I cost justifications.

    It is not an opinion. It is a postulate, necessary to derive the theory of gravity.

    How about this. Would you be willing to trade your Ares I budget for a spinning-gravity space station demonstrator? We can already use Delta IV Heavy to get the ISS-sized payloads up there…

    No. I would be willing to get rid of NASA earth observation and the ISS for such a demonstrator. The ISS is the most fantastic waste of money in scientific history. Despite all of the rancor, no one has explained how one modest solid rocket booster is ‘more expensive’ than an LH2 triple body rocket. It doesn’t add up. Ares I is a simple, elegant solution. And it has flown!

  • Justin Kugler

    NASA is not just an engineering shop, amightywind. The Space Act mandates that NASA “contribute materially” to “The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space”.

    Furthermore, the Space Act explicitly directs NASA to “arrange for participation by the scientific community in planning scientific measurements and observations to be made through use of aeronautical and space vehicles,” “conduct or arrange for the conduct of such measurements and observations,” and “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof.”

    What you propose is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  • byeman

    “no one has explained how one modest solid rocket booster is ‘more expensive’ than an LH2 triple body rocket. It doesn’t add up. Ares I is a simple, elegant solution.”

    What a bunch of BS.

    Ares I is not simple nor elegant. It is an performance constrained vehicle. Its lack of lift performance is directly impacting its primary cargo, Orion. Orion has lost capability due to Ares I issues. . The velocity split between the SRB and upperstage is sub optimal, because the SRB as a first stage for Ares I is undersized. This makes the upperstage oversized and still still can’t make up for the shortfalls.

    As for cost:
    A. MFSC is running Ares I, they have no idea about cost control.
    b. It is NASA estimates that Ares I will cost 11 billion to develop.
    c. One can’t just look at marginal costs for a comparison. The 11 billion must be prorated against each Ares I launch, that it why it is more expensive. But even without prorating the development costs, since Ares I is not a “simple” vehicle, it has high costs
    D. One shuttle SRM costs around 30 million, but that is not the cost of an SRB. The labor to build up an SRB (aft skirt, fwd enclosures, avionics, stacking) more than doubles the cost. The costs to maintain KSC and other facilities, Booster ARF, Hangar AF, boats, VAB, Rotation Processing Surge Facility, ET barge, MAF, LCC, pad, etc all are part of Ares I. The upper stage and J-2 cost than a single core Delta IV. This is why Ares I costs more than a Delta IV.
    E. Delta IV costs cover everything needed to build, integrate and launch the vehicle.

  • byeman

    The statement that Ares I has flown is a blatant lie. Ares I-X flew and not Ares I.
    Here are the basic differences.

    Ares I-X
    5 segment SRM
    LH2 upperstage
    J-2
    Ares I RoSC
    Ares I avionics
    Ares I MLP

    Ares I-X
    4 segment SRM with dummy 5th segment
    Boilerplate upperstage
    No J-2
    MX derived RoSC
    Atlas avionics
    Shuttle MLP

    Anyone who says that Are I has flown based on Ares I-X automatically discredits themselves and makes anything they post irrelevant, even on other subjects.

    And to add to the Ares I vs Delta IV discussion, Ares I is an LH2 vehicle too and is a wider diameter.
    Additionally, Delta IV has flown 10 times, Ares I – Zero

    Plain and simple, Windy, you do not know what you are talking about. And based on the nonsense that you post on here, the work that you do on medical devices is highly suspect. I would not want to use anything that you are involved with. Based on your posts, you are the spaceflight equivalent of a grocery store rag reader/buyer.

  • amightywind

    byeman

    The velocity split between the SRB and upperstage is sub optimal, because the SRB as a first stage for Ares I is undersized.

    Good. A substantive comment. Can you compare the staging velocities of Ares I and 3 cores of a Delta IV Heavy?

    The upper stage and J-2 cost than a single core Delta IV.

    My understanding is that a Delta IV would need a new upper stage. The current RL-10 will not cut it. That leaves multiple RL-10′s or a J2-X. This is a significant detail! Everything comes back to the J2-X. I am amazed that this component at least is not under expedited development. The rest of your post is just heresay. Are you telling me the processing costs of a Delta IV heavy are significantly less than an Ares I. Don’t be a fool.

  • amightywind

    Justin Kugler wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 8:45 am

    NASA is not just an engineering shop, amightywind. The Space Act mandates that NASA “contribute materially” to “The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space”.

    The passages you cite are absurdly general. NASA’s earth sciences and atmospheric research overlaps significantly with other agencies like NOAA, NSF, and USGS. I propose removing that pointless duplication. Please notice I said nothing about space sciences research, especially those involving spacecraft missions. These are some of NASA’s proudest achievements.

  • Justin Kugler

    The Space Act also declares NASA the controlling agency for such activities in space, amightywind. Or are you willing to pay both the political capital and financial expense of transferring all of NASA’s earth and atmospheric science functions to those other agencies?

  • amightywind

    Or are you willing to pay both the political capital and financial expense of transferring all of NASA’s earth and atmospheric science functions to those other agencies?

    On the one hand you think that a rational restructuring of a few government agencies is radical, while transferring NASA’s core HSF function to Silicon Valley startups is not? (Facepalm.)

  • Justin Kugler

    That’s a complete strawman and misrepresentation of my position. I didn’t say it was radical. I asked if you were willing to pay to retain the existing NASA capabilities when you transferred the functions to other agencies. Do you have an answer; or are you just going to play games?

    NASA’s core human spaceflight function is and should be the development of in-space transportation, not boosters. I’ll remind you that the Space Act also requires that NASA use commercially-available services to the greatest extent possible. As others have said, SpaceX is not the only company that can do the job.

  • amightywind

    Justin Kugler wrote:

    NASA’s core human spaceflight function is and should be the development of in-space transportation, not boosters.

    This is a nuanced position that I do not share. The model of NASA maintaining the overall design and dividing component development among qualified contractors is a good one. It worked well for Apollo and for STS. Tomorrow’s Ares V class boosters are be so huge that favoring a single company for all development is implausible, and indeed self defeating. It is in the nation’s interest to have many viable booster hardware suppliers, not just Elon Musk.

  • Robert bleated off topic:The GOP has gotten use to the big lie and they have flunkies like you that keep repeating it.

    and

    another right wing tactic to cover a lie.

    and

    As Palin would say “you should refutuate” (or however she spelled it)

    She didn’t spell it. Perhaps if she had, you’d be able to figure out how to do so. She seems to be much smarter than you.

    And of course, Democrats and “left wingers” never lie.

    Robert, you should really seek professional help for your deranged obsession with “right wingers” and the GOP and Sarah Palin (and WMD and George Bush, and Iraq, and…), and your apparently uncontrollable compulsion to gratuitously and irrelevantly bring these subjects into a discussion with which they have nothing to do.

    Or quit posting here. Whichever’s easier. My vote’s for the latter, because I think that the prospects for success with the former are dim. Others’ mileage may vary.

  • And based on the nonsense that you post on here, the work that you do on medical devices is highly suspect.

    I’d like to know what company he works for, so I can avoid its products and short its stock.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Get ready for Delta IV Heavy.

    Delta IV Heavy is certainly ready for us.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    And of course, Democrats and “left wingers” never lie….

    I generally avoid your completely off topic post and all but I never said the above line nor implied it.

    I would argue that “left wingers” (and there are such people much as there are right wingers) do “lie” or “exaggerate” or whatever the term one wants to use…I’ve said this on several occasions both directly and by inference so for you to state it as my thought that they do not is a typical right (or left) wing tactic.

    A hallmark of both the left and right wing is that they cannot argue issues so they argue rhetoric. In space expenditures the argument has taken two (as expected) tracks…”children are starving because we are spending money on (this or that space expenditure” or “the Chinese are going to conquer the Moon and take our water or turn us all into something evil”…both statements are rhetoric masquerading as facts.

    The current left wing mantra is global warming. The left sees every change in temperature every big/small event as a major confirmation that we are going to suffer this or that horrible fate if we dont all go back to living like the “natives” did (except of course for the leadership which will need their Citation X jets to keep us all informed).

    The history of both the left and right is that they spin up this rhetoric to obscure the facts…it does a couple of things; takes the argument off of something that they cannot defend and makes it “black/white” or “good/evil” and Americans in particular respond well to that (witness most of our TV shows).

    It is beneath you and your intellect to argue positions which I did not say or infer. It is beneath me when I succumb to it…

    do better…you can I’ve seen you

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    dad2059 wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:50 am

    You will find out that there will be a lot of RINOs if there’s a complete GOPer turn-around by 2013 (including an anyone but Obama GOPer).

    The GOPers, supported by Independents will be deficit hawks and guess what? Obama’s Plan will all of a sudden be “Hey, I’m glad I thought of that!” new GOPer NASA Plan.

    Get ready for Delta IV Heavy.

    Guaranteed.

    yes that is exactly how it is going to happen, something I have argued for sometime.

    Most of the anti commercial stuff in politics is divided up into two parts 1) anti Obama and 2) simple pork.

    The pork issue is about to die as the shuttle and its infrastructure (which kills ares) dies. The anti Obama notion will fade as the money dries up and it becomes impossible to defend things like decades long return to the Moon efforts that cost 100′s of billions.

    Before long it will be like the surge in Iraq…most of the GOP nuts were arguing “stay the course” and then all of a sudden the surge became their idea.

    As time marches on the pivot point this year will be seen as a major change for the direction of Americans space dollar spending, and I predict a good one.

    Delta IV super heavy is coming…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:05 am

    That leaves multiple RL-10′s or a J2-X. This is a significant detail! Everything comes back to the J2-X. I am amazed that this component at least is not under expedited development….

    at last a coherent point.

    they dont need to expedite the J-2X until they kill Ares.

    The J2X is one level of development if it has to work with an underperforming SRB knock off as a first stage…if it gets to work with a Delta IV common core…quite different.

    Robert G. Oler

  • No post on it yet (though I’m sure it will be). Watched the Commercial Space Forum, and it appears that, indeed, COTS-D is officially dead. Full apology to Jim/Byeman for doubting him (and being a bit of an ass in the process).

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:05 am

    My understanding is that a Delta IV would need a new upper stage.

    There is nothing to change on Delta IV Heavy. In it’s current, proven configuration, it will put 49,470 into LEO, or 28,620 into GEO. To “man-rate” it, ULA has said it will cost $1.3B, and then $300M/flight after that. No hardware changes necessary.

    You keep avoiding the question:

    Despite all of the rancor, no one has explained how one modest solid rocket booster is ‘more expensive’ than an LH2 triple body rocket. It doesn’t add up.

    Get it through you head that Ares I is not just a SRB, it is the sum of all of it’s expensive parts. Ares I will still take somewhere between $20-40B to finish (someone quoted $11B in case you want to use that).

    After that, it will cost at least $1B/year to operate. With a base support cost of $1B, and a marginal cost of supposedly $138M/launcher ($178M has also been quoted), 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). And that doesn’t count recouping your original $20-40B R&D investment.

    I’ve explained it. If you don’t agree, explain your math and show us how Ares I will be a better deal for the U.S. Taxpayer.

    You keep avoiding the question…

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg:

    I’d like to know what company he works for, so I can avoid its products and short its stock.

    These personal attacks are really untoward. None of you who post regularly have divulged what industries you work in. If you fly an Embraer regional jet, and some others, chances are you are using my handiwork (among thousands of other talented people). I can assure you that my work met FAA compliance and test standards. If you have a cardiac pacemaker, you may also encounter my work (again, among 1000′s of others). Everyday these devices report inducing life saving therapies every day for people who would otherwise be die. There are others…

    But enough about me. What do you do other than shill for Elon Musk?

  • Trent Waddington tweets that the reason COTS-D is dead is to let the EELV guys “catch up”

    Opinions on this?

  • George Johnson

    Embraer

    Oh look, the mighty tea bagger is now shilling for a Brazilian company!

  • byeman

    “Are you telling me the processing costs of a Delta IV heavy are significantly less than an Ares I”

    Yes, because an SRB is very labor intensive.
    As for being a fool, look in a mirror.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    After that, it will cost at least $1B/year to operate. With a base support cost of $1B, and a marginal cost of supposedly $138M/launcher ($178M has also been quoted), 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). And that doesn’t count recouping your original $20-40B R&D investment.

    Well, you’ve cited costs, cooked the books, and made the numbers work out in your favor. But you failed to cite credible sources, because there are none. I can only assume they are PFYA!

  • mr. mark

    Around Ocober time
    there will be a Dragon in the Sky
    And all of amightywind’s arguements
    will simply to start go away
    And only Him and Senator Shelby will hang on to yesterday.

  • But you failed to cite credible sources, because there are none.

    The GAO is not a credible source?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Well, you’ve cited costs, cooked the books, and made the numbers work out in your favor. But you failed to cite credible sources, because there are none.

    ULA is not a credible sources? And I guess their CEO stating those costs is not enough? Wow, I’m going to love your “credible source” for Ares I costs.

    OK, if you don’t like my numbers, then please show us some public information that tells the U.S. Taxpayer how much it will cost to build and operate Ares I. And throw in the Delta IV Heavy costs you would like to use for comparison too. This will be interesting…

  • byeman

    “My understanding is that a Delta IV would need a new upper stage.”

    Not required, just FUD from CxP pumpers. Delta IV can launch a heavier Orion than Ares I with the RS-68A upgrade that will be available next year.

    “The rest of your post is just heresay.”

    Wrong, it is the fact. Your posts are the hearsay. You have no experience or insight to back up your claims.

    “Can you compare the staging velocities of Ares I and 3 cores of a Delta IV Heavy?”

    The comparison would be meaningless. However, Delta IV was sized properly from inception. However, the strapons are jettisoned at around 4 minutes (13K fps) and the core at 5 1/2 minutes (21k fps).

  • Mike Snyder

    I don’t get why this article is “news” and why it has set off the remarks it (which appear to be the same people going after the same people as every other article on this website).

    People are running for congress. People need votes to get to congress. These particular districts are very sensitive to this issue and of course the candidates are going to comment on what they believe will get them the votes.

    I would expect, or at least hope, that the overall “space community” would be capable of seeing the “shades of grey”. Of course private enterprise is completely capable of designin, building and operating spacecraft. No one should question that and that has been the way it has been for nearly 50 years. The question of course is where is the market? Is NASA sufficient to sustain this industry alone? What will the “private/public partnership” entail with respect to both development costs. What about ops costs when you factor in sustaining engineering, suppiers, etc and how will this affect the “bottom line” to NASA if there are no other customers? What are the requirements for these vehicles to design to, etc. I could go on but you should see the point by now.

    With respect to commercial enterprise, I have no issue with it. That said, I think these questions absolutely need better definition than they have no before we rush off and charge blindly into a situation that is not crystal clear. With respect to government space, NASA has certain capabilities that are unique and should not be looked at as the enemy or something that needs to be destroyed in order for progress to move forward.

    There is a synergy that could take place. It is sad that some don’t see that and are just too biased, on both sides of the arguement, and armed with lose “facts” used to constantly fight one another.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “Ares stage awaits
    to light the desert sky
    on ATK test stand”

    Heh, a space haiku.
    Rockets make sound and fury
    Utah meets Japan

  • Jill Hillson

    There is a synergy that could take place. It is sad that some don’t see that and are just too biased, on both sides of the arguement, and armed with lose “facts” used to constantly fight one another.

    Well Mike, if you don’t like the content here, you could always just get lost, or go back to QV-106 over at NSF, and nobody here would miss you, trust me. You’ve already got everything figured out with your Nelson rocket anyways. Good luck with funding that and herding the NASA cats into getting that done by 2016. We’re arguing here because your last go at success was a failure. Most of us are pretty darn confident your next run will be a failure as well.

  • My opinion column based on Jeff’s theme in this article:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/08/upside-down.html

    You’re still the best space blog out there, Jeff.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Dividing the market is not synergy, especially not if it is divided very unevenly with unfair favouritism for the biggest slice.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    With respect to government space, NASA has certain capabilities that are unique and should not be looked at as the enemy or something that needs to be destroyed in order for progress to move forward.

    In real life, programs end, people move on, and new products take their place (or not, depending if the last one was any good). Why is anything that NASA does different? Apollo ended, and we moved on to something else.

    Many of us don’t see NASA as an enemy, but that it is being forced as an organization to do things that are beyond it’s scope and beyond economic sense. Congress is forcing NASA to build an HLV, when it does not have the experience to build and operate launchers.

    There is also the question of whether an HLV is even needed, since there are no defined payloads, so that means that NASA will be saddled with an ongoing overhead issue that does not contribute to any R&D or exploration. Does that make sense?

    For routine tasks, like satellites and cargo for the ISS, NASA and Congress are fine with letting commercial space take on these tasks. Many also feel that commercial space is ready to take on crew to LEO, and the numbers support a significant saving for NASA if they do. Saving NASA money is a good thing, since that means they have more budget for R&D and exploration. Doesn’t that make sense too?

    Maybe you’re an insider, and you see this from a NASA perspective, but as a taxpayer, I look at the issue from the standpoint of saving money and doing more.

    NASA per se is not the problem – it’s the pork they are being saddled with that is the problem.

  • Mike Snyder

    Wow, Jill. Nice personal attack. I guess the truth hurts. While I have no idea who you are, I am comforted by the fact that you obviously know who I am, although confused on the facts appearently. I have zero idea on what you are implying by “my last go” and clearly you do not know me well enough to comment on what “my next go” will be.

  • Mike Snyder

    Ron, with respect, you seemingly didn’t read or at least understand what I was saying. As an “outsider”, as you seem to claim that you are, I am glad you take an interest and have an opinion. Obviously cutting costs and being efficient is a worthy goal. That said there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater and potentially knee-jerk. Government and commercial can coexist and work with each other and it does not have to be an “one or the other” situation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
    With respect to government space, NASA has certain capabilities that are unique and should not be looked at as the enemy or something that needs to be destroyed in order for progress to move forward.

    There is a synergy that could take place.

    Mike.

    there is a synergy that could take place, but in any sort of “synergy” there is the notion that both sides want the unity of purpose that drives a common goal, hence the goal becomes more important then the differences that frequently preclude synergy.

    That is the recipie for a successful partnership or marriage or any type of interaction between two distinct “bodies” and it is impossible with NASA Human spaceflight as it is currently configured.

    The landscape is littered over the last 30 years with the dead “groups” of people both as companies and individuals that tried to do things with NASA HSF and found it that it is there way or the highway…because in the end the only real goal of NASA HSF is to survive as the focal point for American taxpayer dollars in HSF. That goal encompasses the totality of the organization; it makes it go, without it NASA HSF has no being.

    I’ve sat in on negotiations between NASA HSF and (Since they are gone) Space Industries. And I have sat in on negotiations between airlines and the Air Traffic Control authorities (who in their regions are essentially “kings of the air”)…and the difference is day and night.

    The ATC people are charged with safety of air traffic and totally responsible for it…and they have a bunch of FAR’s and CFR’s which dictate what will and wont be…but in the end, even with the Dallas TRACON groups (the most strict in The Country) they constantly remember what their goal is…and that is to keep the airliners flying. They drive their point hard and stand up for what they need; but wheater or not it is getting “unique” approaches for certain airports or airlines or dealing with individual infractions…the TRACON authorities have always kept in mind what the main objective is here…fly the planes safetly.

    It is a totally different world with NASA HSF. They have only one goal and that is to preserve their little kingdoms. I have classmates who were up to their eyeballs with some of the military payloads…and not even the US military or national security concerns could get NASA HSF to bend to any sort of reasonable accommodation. And that rigidness is illustrated by the problem solving notions that permeated during Columbia.

    There is a synergy to be had but first NASA has to want to have that synergy.

    they dont

    Robert G. oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Martijn, there is no “market” to divide. If a true market one day does exist outside of NASA, it will not be “NASA spacecraft” that go that market. If Bigelow is successful it will not be a shuttle, and just using that as an example, that will go there. It will not be Orion, etc.

    If NASA is sucessful in helping create a market in a variety of ways then that synergy is the use of those commercial servies to further the government’s efforts at hopefully reduced costs.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martijn, there is no “market” to divide.

    A market provided by the government is still a market, even if it isn’t a perfect one. A competitive market for several hundres of tonnes of payload each year is substantial. You may not share my belief that this would lead to cheap lift and then commercial development of space, or you may not care, but it would be a market.

    As for baby vs bathwater: how much baby is there, maybe 10%? Those people can find new space jobs under a new system. The others can be more productive in other sectors of the economy.

  • amightywind

    Hi Mike,

    You remind me of bassist Derek Smalls of “Spinal Tap”.

    “We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water”.

    Your pablum adds nothing to the debate. The battle for NASA has been going on long enough. Time for someone with the guts and power to make a decision.

  • amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Time for someone with the guts and power to make a decision.

    It seems to me that Bill Nelson and Kay Bailey Hutchison have accepted the challenge of doing exactly what you call for.

    And they have persuaded people as diverse as Richard Shelby and Barbara Boxer to join in, unanimously.

  • John Jillson

    I have zero idea on what you are implying by “my last go” and clearly you do not know me well enough to comment on what “my next go” will be.</i.

    That's because you have 'zero ideas' Mike. Everybody here knows exactly who I am, I'm the guy who coined the term 'new direction'. And I'm the guy you was riding you people every step of the way for five years as you flamed out spectacularly with the Ares I and Constellation, and I'm the guy will be 'holding your feet to the fire' (Charlie Bolden) as you flame out spectacularly over the next five years with your Shelby Nelson Hutchinson Frankenstein monster zombie vampire rocket, or whatever other SRB powered abortion you decide to create. By you I mean NASA employees.

  • Mike Snyder

    Yet again another unfair personal attack by “John Jillson” or “Jill Hilson:. Why should I know who you are when clearly you don’t even know?

    As for having “zero ideas”, please tell me why *I* have zero ideas? Do you know me to even say that? Have we ever spoken?

    Furthermore, “you” are “the guy” that was “riding us people”. Clearly you also suffer from a bit of delusion. Finally, I would really like to hear what proof you have of your claims other than your obviously clear and quite angry contempt and bias over something that I’m willing to bet you know very little about. In addition, I am neither a NASA employee or did I ever work CxP. If you really knew anything about me like you claim, you would know otherwise and know somewhat better what I believe and what I have advocated for in many more forums other than here.

  • MrEarl

    John Jillson, Jill Hilson……

    Now THAT’S a troll!

  • Mike Snyder

    Martijn,

    Your cavalier attitude about people and that what you think is best about an ill-defined market can equate to hope and assumption at this time.

    If you and others are so sure about “only this government market” why not take the time to answer the questions I posed above first? After all, it should not take long and actually produce better and quicker results by having these very foundational issues addressed.

  • Mike Snyder

    Dear amightywind,

    My voice adds much to the debate and has in areas beyond this website. Thank you for the kind words but I will reject them as meaningless.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Your cavalier attitude about people and that what you think is best about an ill-defined market can equate to hope and assumption at this time.

    This is not a cavalier attitude. You are asking for special protection that people in other industries (or even other companies in the same sector) do not have. Other space professionals have as much (or as little) right to work on government funded NASA projects as those currently employed on Constellation or the Shuttle.

    On the other hand I would describe NASA’s attitude towards taxpayers’ dollars as cavalier.

  • Jillson Johnston

    As for having “zero ideas”, please tell me why *I* have zero ideas?

    Because you still vocally advocate a future SRB heavy lift solution when many credible alternatives exist right now. You have no other solutions, indeed, for five years you remained silent when a huge problem existed.

    Clearly you also suffer from a bit of delusion.

    As evidence of my ‘delusions’ I offer you F.Y. 2011. That’s persuasive enough that I have been an effective critic and communicator, as well as capable of offering numerous alternative solutions to a severe problem.

    I am neither a NASA employee or did I ever work CxP.

    Oh, excuse me, let me reiterate, NASA employees and contractors, who for five full years of clear failure never once complained about cashing your paychecks, and then when suddenly confronted with losing your paychecks, after knowing full well that time was scheduled to come, start complaining about it like it’s the end of the world. I can give you several recent examples of the imminent end of the world arriving, but the loss of CxP and STS and their employees and contractors aren’t two of them.

    Considering your performance over the last five years, I expect the next five years will be very good to me. I look forward to Vesta in 2011, Ceres and Pluto in 2015, and some awesome eroded Mars crater bluffs shortly. Meanwhile, I fully expect ever more shrill and desperate defending of the indefensible from people just like you, and in five years, failure to deliver, again with no admission of guilt and no apologies. That’s just the way you are. In fact, I fully expect you to be exclaiming the great success of Direct 3.0, while the rest of us are arguing over an entirely different set of issues.

    Please, do try not the let the dust you’ll be eating get into your eyes.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Robert Oler,

    If then NASA is so obsolete as you contend, then perhaps the “commercial” industry should establish itself totally independent and without assistance of this dinosaur and narrowly focused agency/empires?

  • g.h.o.s.t

    “John Jillson” or “Jill Hilson or Jillson Johnston is Thomas Lee Elifritz

  • Mike Snyder

    @ Jillson,

    So who are you, why don’t you use your real name? Are you *personally* responsible for FY2011 proposal? Do you work for OSTP? Are you responsible for not communicating your intent with the Congress of the United States or senior NASA leadership beyond political appointees? Please tell me more……

    As for the rest, I laugh. Seriously, I laugh. Again you have no idea about me or about who I am or what I have done over “these five years”. To say what you have said, besides being wrong, tells me you are also an incredibly unkind, bitter and confused individual Yet I thank you kindly for linking my statement to the US Senate. I am rather proud of that.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Martijn,

    I’m not asking for special treatment. In fact my job goes away when shuttle does. I am not advocating, nor ever have, for a complete and total 1:1 transition of every single job. I have suggested retaining a skilled and unique knowledge base that will not easily be recreated. Therefore your comments are completely incorrect and in fact they appear to be biased to excluding certain professionals and only working with what has become known as “New Space”.

    As for the tax dollars, that is your right to have such an opinion, which it is just that. Yet, they are not your tax dollars either so you should rest somewhat better I hope.

  • amightywind

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 3:08 pm:

    My voice adds much to the debate and has in areas beyond this website.

    That I do believe! That is, if bullsh*t bingo qualifies as debate.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    @Robert Oler,

    If then NASA is so obsolete as you contend, then perhaps the “commercial” industry should establish itself totally independent and without assistance of this dinosaur and narrowly focused agency/empires?

    first off I didnt say that NASA was obsolete. I’ll let my comments speak for themselves. I read them before I posted and read them again after they came on the board and other then “there” for “their” I stand by each of them.

    The problem right now in space expenditures mirrors the problem in the US in total. It is not that to much (or little) federal dollars are spent. It is that federal dollars are no longer spent on things which for the most part improve the economic or security posture of The People who pay for the spending…of course then there is the abstract notion that todays people dont even pay for the spending, we are pushing it off to other generations.

    Take all the spending (even the pork) that has been done on the Ike highway system and the benefits in economics has been directly repaid to the taxpayers…I dont care if it was all deficit spending (and it wasnt) the money made by the system has more then repaid its way even in taxes.

    no so for most of the spending that has been done in this century. almost none of it will ever generate tax revenues anywhere close to the dollars needed to service the debt it has created…and while small that includes spending on human spaceflight.

    The best I can see from your readings (and perhaps I am wrong here) is that you would simply continue the status quo and hope for improvement. I would not agree with that even if the dollars were going toward things which enhanced private enterprise.

    But when federal dollars have achoice of going toward an organization (NASA and its prime contractors) where there is no chance of those contractors ever using a tiny piece of that infrastructure or knowledge to make a commercial product…and going toward contractors who are at least trying to make a commercial product as a part of it…I’ll chose the latter anyday.

    Where I differ from I guess you and folks like Whittington is that I fell out of any respect for NASA’s version of human space activities a long time ago. They dont contribute anything but direct payments to the economy and they dont do anything that strengthens The Empire.

    All they do is help create debt and sloth.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    at 70 tons and using SRBs

    I like it already!

  • Martijn Meijering

    I have suggested retaining a skilled and unique knowledge base that will not easily be recreated.

    I have never argued against that and even expressed some support for it. I disagree with the ways you have proposed to accomplish that and I’ve noted that skilled and unique by itself does not mean they ought to be preserved, any more than “because they are hard” is a good reason to go to the moon and do the other things.

    Therefore your comments are completely incorrect and in fact they appear to be biased to excluding certain professionals and only working with what has become known as “New Space”.

    I am not in favour of excluding any professionals, merely opposed to guaranteeing them a role. I am also not a “New Space” partisan as you would have known if you had read my posts dispassionately. I think you are merely projecting your own biases. SDLV proponents think I have a thing for EELVs, some proponents of cryogenic depots think I have a thing for hypergolics. Neither of these is even remotely true. I care about certain goals, I believe certain principles make success more likely and I have a finite set of facts (some perhaps not facts, but mistaken assumptions). These I combine wth logic, to the best of my abilities, which lead to my conclusions. I would welcome it if people would point out faulty assumptions, faulty reasoning, missing relevant facts etc. That does not seem to happen a lot. I see lots of myths (the need for large fairings, cryogenic depots, Mars EDL with aerodynamic deceleration, high thrust EDS engines etc) instead.

  • Mike Snyder

    @amightywind

    LOL, that is funny! Please tell me what you have done to contribute. Please tell me it is something other than an assanine rant and unwarrented insults on a website. I’ll be waiting……

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    That said there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater and potentially knee-jerk. Government and commercial can coexist and work with each other and it does not have to be an “one or the other” situation.

    I guess my analogy response would be that the baby grew up, got old, and now it’s time for the “baby” to retire. In the real world, the lessons learned and the reusable tech and hardware would find it’s way into the next generations of products, if needed. SRB’s and ET’s are not critical technology, and we have other parallel technology that is just as good that can do the job.

    What’s going on today is that Congress is mandating based on political considerations, and not market needs. Does the U.S. “need” an HLV? Not today, and there are no funded programs driving that need. But their HLV does mandate using Shuttle heritage hardware and labor, which does not contribute directly to any R&D or exploration.

    Regarding government and commercial, they already do coexist, so this is a false premise. The real question is how much can be done under the different plans.

    The Obama plan was freeing NASA up from an oppressive amount of overhead ($2.4B/year for Shuttle, $1B/year for Ares I), and promoting the creation of multiple suppliers for LEO transportation. The end result would be that NASA would have more funds to use for R&D and exploration. How is this bad?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    @amightywind

    LOL, that is funny! Please tell me what you have done to contribute. Please tell me it is something other than an assanine rant and unwarrented insults on a website. I’ll be waiting……

    You’ll be waiting a long time. He can’t even defend the costs for Ares I – must be an infatuation thing, or maybe phallic in nature. Whatever it is, he can’t explain it…

  • Martijn Meijering

    As for the tax dollars, that is your right to have such an opinion, which it is just that. Yet, they are not your tax dollars either so you should rest somewhat better I hope.

    I don’t really worry about the tax dollars (even though I disagree in principle) and as you say they are not my tax dollars. What I worry about is not SDLV spending as a percentage of total US federal expenditures, but SDLV spending as a percentage of NASA’s budget and the opportunity cost of not spending it on other thing instead, things that I believe to be much more helpful to my goals.

    I wouldn’t be so passionate about it if I didn’t believe an exploration program using commercially and competitively procured propellant launches could lead to cheap lift and thus commercial development of space within 10-15 years after the start of propellant flights. I wasn’t so passionate about it and I wasn’t so opposed to SDLV before I believed that to be the case. I would also not be so passionate about it if we already had cheap lift. In that case I think NASA would be out of their minds not to use a much cheaper solution, but it would still not be my tax money and the opportunity cost wouldn’t be so high either.

    As you may know I tried for a long time to find solutions that could preserve the Shuttle or the JSC workforce and found zero interest and zero willingness to compromise. That has led me to believe a purge of the Constellation, Shuttle, KSC, JSC and MSFC leadership from NASA’s ranks would be a good if unlikely thing.

  • Mike Snyder

    @martijn,

    I am not projecting any biases, if I were I would be advocating for the status quo, by that I mean government only CxP in its original form, etc . If someone thinks that I am, point to something somewhere, anywhere, as proof.

    Truthfully and honestly, I don’t know what you have a “thing” for and it is somewhat immaterial for our purposes here. As for your logic, I have noted past posts of yours, and while I cannot recall them absolutely nor do I wish to spend the effort to find them, they do leave a certain “impression” and I will leave it with that.

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    The Obama plan was freeing NASA up from an oppressive amount of overhead ($2.4B/year for Shuttle, $1B/year for Ares I), and promoting the creation of multiple suppliers for LEO transportation. The end result would be that NASA would have more funds to use for R&D and exploration. How is this bad?

    IMHO, funds thus “freed up” would end up being taken away from NASA rather than used for R&D and exploration. Note that Robert Oler and Stephen Smith are both saying there is little point to doing BEO exploration at the present time. LEO only and robots and presumably would support a significant cut to taxpayer funding of human spaceflight.

    Now, this is a perfectly respectable position (my own brother, with a PhD in physics, believes all human spaceflight is a colossal waste of money) and yet not everyone agrees.

    For example, I would like to see SDLV used to deploy an EML-1 Gateway depot as soon as possible. Maybe that is foolish pie-in-the-sky and maybe not but that is what I want NASA to do, and I am a taxpayer and a voter.

    Congress is the system we have for resolving disagreements about how taxpayer money should be spent. We can love Congress or hate Congress but that is how the system works. And the Senate, at least, is saying they want in-line SDLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I am not projecting any biases, if I were I would be advocating for the status quo, by that I mean government only CxP in its original form, etc . If someone thinks that I am, point to something somewhere, anywhere, as proof.

    Well, I’m not convinced but maybe we should leave it at that. At any rate I am not against using Shuttle veterans nor am I eager to slant the playing field in favour of New Space. If that were the case I would not be advocating the use of hypergolics to get propellant flights in the air as soon as possible and I would not have been comfortable with a J-120 + Delta upper stage + Orion as a way of getting crews to L1/L2. So you are wrong on both counts.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As for your logic, I have noted past posts of yours, and while I cannot recall them absolutely nor do I wish to spend the effort to find them, they do leave a certain “impression” and I will leave it with that.

    Given that I have had professional training and experience in that area you’ll forgive me for not being impressed by that and suspecting economically inspired bias instead.

  • amightywind

    The Obama plan was freeing NASA up from an oppressive amount of overhead

    LOL! Overhead? Yeah, I bet those engineers, and technicians at KSC and Huntsville don’t mind handing those ‘overhead’ paychecks to the teenagers at SpaceX.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “Congress is the system we have for resolving disagreements about how taxpayer money should be spent. We can love Congress or hate Congress but that is how the system works. And the Senate, at least, is saying they want in-line SDLV.”

    That’s not a good reason for opponents of SDLV to shut up, just as SDLV proponents would not have shut up if things had gone the other way.

  • Here is my preferred compromise:

    Deploy Jupiter 130 together with immediate funding of flight demos of cryogenic depot technology.

    If the cryogenic depots work and achieve acceptably low levels of boil off, deploy a cryogenic depot to EML-1 or EML-2 very soon thereafter.

    If a cryogenic depots don;t work out as hoped for, then deploy a non-cryogenic depot to EML-1 or EML-2 using either hypergolics (or kerosene if LOX depots “work” and LH2 depots do not).

    An EML depot will facilitate choice in BEO destinations — Moon, NEOs, Phobos/Deimos, etc . . .

    If Jupiter 130 development somehow fails or faces unacceptable overruns of time or money, then EELV and SpaceX remain available as fall back options.

  • Martijn, there is absolutely no need to shut up and I am a staunch supporter of the 1st Amendment.

    However, I would suggest that continually shouting “Pork!” in a crowded Congress might feel good (and may well be true) but will likely result in members of Congress choosing not to listen to you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I think that you stated my position quite well, except that I would like to see NASA spending stay the same, but a much greater concentration on short term, high technology demonstration projects such as Vasimer, fuel depots etc.

    Look, in my view NASA needs some successes in human spaceflight to keep alive and it is needed in the short term. That is what they could do if the organization was focused on technology demonstrators that DID SOMETHING AND SOMETHING USEFUL in a reasonable lifetime.

    There are many bad things that have happened to NASA over the last 30 years, but one of them and not the least is that they are incapable of doing anything on a budget and in a dedicated period of time.

    Tightly focused technology demonstrators are a part of changing that.

    (as an aside I am quite certain the NASA budget is going to go down…I predict at 15 billion dollar budget in under two years as the economic situation gets measurably worse)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    In that case you are doing precisely that what you’ve accused me of doing in the past: creating things before they are needed. Two things in your case, an HLV and a depot when what we need most is a spacecraft.

  • Martijn Meijering

    However, I would suggest that continually shouting “Pork!” in a crowded Congress might feel good (and may well be true) but will likely result in members of Congress choosing not to listen to you.

    Well, no one ever listens to me anyway, so that’s not much of a loss. And even if they did listen to someone else, then I don’t see any upside and thus no reason to support the “compromise”.

  • Mike Snyder

    @ Ron,

    I will try to address your points 1:1. First let me say in theory this does sound good but the devil is always in the details and those details have yet to be defined relative to the FY2011 proposal for coming up on 7 months now. Ask yourself what that is.

    The shuttle is “old”. Not true. The aircraft we use to defend this Nation are just as “old” in some cases and in others much older. It is a direct function of how they are maintained, the processes in place, their performance, etc. While I could go into a *VERY long* explanation here all I will say is that shuttle performance is better than it has every been, while cost has been going down along with manpower. And just being a bit psycic here, this is not soley because of the proposed retirment!!!

    Does the US need HLV: Everyone who has studied this has officially agreed that some form of heavy lift is required. A SDLV would lift approximately 75 mT to LEO. That is less than the Saturn V and more than the current EELV’s.

    Furthermore, who develops the “evolved-EELV’s”? ULA of course, and I can’t fault them for this, they would really like the business. Who pays for it? NASA of course. How much will it cost? TBD, but it will surely be a cost-plus contract (as it should even though there are those out there that do not understand this contracting mechanism and see it as the root of all evil) and likely in the ball-park with SDLV. What about the new equipment that will be required? There will be new equipment (new infrastructure, new tanks, etc).

    What about the cost of SDLV? Too many incorrectly assume and fly off the handle that SDLV will cost what the STS costs. STS is a program, that is a major, major difference. Plus there is the orbiter, also a major difference that is too often overlooked. Plus the number you quoted above is not “overhead”, it is the cost of the Program. All companies have this, such as ULA, because they are not going to furlough their workforce after every launch and bring them back right before the next. There is much work to be done. Plus, ULA and others are not paying for an entire PROGRAM.

    As for R&D, that is just fine. Yet my experience absolutely tells me you cannot have R&D for the sake of R&D and you cannot have operations without some R&D if you expect to push further in this business. The two must coexist and R&D must be defined with absolute goals of how it fits into the overall operational architecture. Nothing about a SDLV precludes this and sadly you may have fallen victim to those wishing to perpetuate this belief for their own advantages.

    I will wrap it up with this. Government and commercial do not coexist *operationally* in the way being discussed and therefore it is not a false premise. It can however and again does not require a binary choice between government and commercial (which really is not “commercial” anyway because some of its funding for development is coming from the government). Finally, again if this is such a “good thing” where are the answers to those foundational questions 7 months later which the Senate Bill tries to tackle.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Yeah, I bet those engineers, and technicians at KSC and Huntsville don’t mind handing those ‘overhead’ paychecks to the teenagers at SpaceX.

    maybe they should.

    First off the people who work at SpaceX are not teenagers. But the workforce is pretty inspired and works hard and produces products and the later is more then one can say for the folks who work on Orion/Constellation

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    @martijn,

    Clearly you need to retake your training. My job goes away when shuttle does. A SDLV will not give me employment. Frankly what you would have been “comfortable” with is also immaterial.

  • VASIMR is cool but needs a massive power source. I’m not sure we can afford the power source anytime soon.

    Depots? Yup. There is a very nice demo Jon Goff says would cost ~$500 million and be ready to fly by 2015 is included in the final FY2011 bill.

    I suggest fighting tooth and nail to get that into the final FY2011 bill.

    Is NASA incapable of doing “anything right” ? I hope that is not true but it could be true and that is why I remain astounded that NewSpace seems eager to merge into the NASA family.

    Instead, I believe NASA needs a genuine competitor who could attempt to play Roadrunner to NASA’s Wily E. Coyote or Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals. NewSpace should seek to “go around’ NASA rather than “going through” NASA, at least IMHO.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The shuttle is “old”. Not true. The aircraft we use to defend this Nation are just as “old” in some cases and in others much older.

    that is really not accurate.

    The oldest operational planes in the USAF arsenal are the B-52 and the KC 135…the reason that they are still operational is that both Buffy and the Sow are more or less (less in the case of the Sow) still the most capable aircraft that can be built for the mission. If we were going to build a bomber like the B-52 we would build the B-52. Now if we were building a subsonic non stealth bomber we would probably build it for different missions (ie no iron bomb dropping) but it would still look a lot like the B-52.

    The Sow is another matter…it is clearly at the end of its life, we have far better planes for that mission; if the DoD can ever get its act together to acquire it.

    The shuttle is old because IT NEVER Met what it was designed for. It may have gotten cheaper to operate over time, but that “cheap” is relative…it never was anywhere near as cheap as it was suppose to be, and will never even approach a reasonable percentage of that.

    Both Buffy and the Sow met their operational requirements/cost and mission and in fact proved far more flexible then what the designers could have ever envisioned.

    The shuttle is “old” …it was “old” sometime in the mid 80′s.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Furthermore, who develops the “evolved-EELV’s”? ULA of course, and I can’t fault them for this, they would really like the business. Who pays for it? NASA of course. How much will it cost? TBD, but it will surely be a cost-plus contract (as it should even though there are those out there that do not understand this contracting mechanism and see it as the root of all evil) and likely in the ball-park with SDLV. What about the new equipment that will be required?

    They are currently developing failure onset detection, which is the key issue for launching crew on ULA vehicles, under CCDev. They are doing it fixed price. The only pad issues are crew access and abort rapid egress. It’s nutty to think that something like this would require a cost-plus contract, which are traditionally for risky developments.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Clearly you need to retake your training. My job goes away when shuttle does. A SDLV will not give me employment. Frankly what you would have been “comfortable” with is also immaterial.

    I wasn’t talking about your job or anyone’s job. I was explaining how I arrived at my current position, which was something totally different (logic) from what you claimed (New Space bias). Not only is such bias not my reason, I don’t even have one. If anything New Space fans might believe I have an Old Space bias, though that is not true either.

    I also pointed out that to the best of my knowledge you have never engaged in substantive discussion with me, instead impugning my motives or qualifications, just as you did just now. If there’s anything wrong with my logic or assumptions, as there very well might be, it should be very easy for a space professional such as yourself to isolate a single assumption or conclusion and discuss that dispassionately and constructively. But you choose not to do that, for reasons others can only guess at.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    IMHO, funds thus “freed up” would end up being taken away from NASA rather than used for R&D and exploration.

    Since 1987, the NASA budget has been fairly flat. Congress typically recognizes the need for the organization, and continues to fund it. Why it has so much interest right now is because their is so much money that is disconnected from long-term programs – Shuttle, Constellation, etc.

    You’re also forgetting that R&D and exploration funds are money just like HLV’s, it’s just they are spread out further across the U.S., and thus not concentrated in certain states or districts. I also doubt congressional chairs would willingly allow their legislative jurisdictions to lose their share of funds, so I’m not as pessimistic as you are.

    Besides, are you saying that we should institutionalize inferior spending practices? A bad dollar spent is better than a good dollar saved? How patriotic…

  • Mike Snyder

    @Robert Oler,

    I have a theory. Because I believe in an SDLV, I am immeditately tried to be shouted down and compared to others. In addition words like “status quo” are used to try to belittle and discredit me. None of that can be further from the truth and I believe, rather clearly, I have made a case many times in the past for what I believe.

    Finally, “government-owned” systems cannot usually be used for commercial applications. Lockheed makes the F-22. Seen any “commercial” F-22s flying around? It is the mechanism of the contract and if you think the “contractors” have never invested their own in things you would also be mistaken.

  • Mike Snyder

    Martijn,

    Then how should I have taken this?

    “Given that I have had professional training and experience in that area you’ll forgive me for not being impressed by that and suspecting economically inspired bias instead.”

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I’m saying I’d rather build SDLV than letting Barney Frank decide what to spend that money on. And, I usually vote Democratic.

    I also believe an all-EELV would be no less “porky” than SDLV and I note that earlier today people have suggested that COTS-D termination would be allow EELV to “catch up” with SpaceX. Wow!

    Also, I do support funding SpaceX and Orbital and other NewSpace companies however over funding those companies would be like asking nine women to make a baby in one month.

    Too much money given to NewSpace, too quickly won’t work either.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As a defence against false accusations.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m saying I’d rather build SDLV than letting Barney Frank decide what to spend that money on. And, I usually vote Democratic.

    I’d rather lety Barney Frank make that decision and I despise Barney Frank. I lean Democratic (though not as much as in the past), but would vote depending on who the candidate was.

    I also believe an all-EELV would be no less “porky” than SDLV and I note that earlier today people have suggested that COTS-D termination would be allow EELV to “catch up” with SpaceX. Wow!

    There’s no need for it to be all-EELV, and every reason for it not to be.

    Too much money given to NewSpace, too quickly won’t work either.

    Old Space could absorb plenty.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand Sandberg wrote:

    “They are currently developing failure onset detection, which is the key issue for launching crew on ULA vehicles, under CCDev. They are doing it fixed price. The only pad issues are crew access and abort rapid egress. It’s nutty to think that something like this would require a cost-plus contract, which are traditionally for risky developments.”

    Yes, ok, but that had little to do with my point and not what I was talking about at all. There are a world of differences between adapting an existing rocket and the development of a new one.

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I see three choices for US lift, as of today

    (1) SDLV

    (2) EELV (Atlas V & DIV)

    (3) Space X & Orbital

    Everything else is speculative and long term. Am I missing someone?

    I favor putting the taxpayer eggs in all three baskets, supplemented with immediate propellant depot R&D, since I believe SpaceX and Orbital are not ready to carry the entire burden themselves and I believe EELV is no less “porky” than SDLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    EELV (= Atlas + Delta, so 2 baskets) + SpaceX + Orbital seems enough to me.

    How porky the solution is, depends on the contracting mechanism. I’d be opposed to a cost-plus EELV HLV program. Just make sure the individual dry pieces of spacecraft fit on an EELV and that an EELV can launch a fully fueled upper stage capable of taking it to L1/L2, or drop the last constraint and develop cryogenic depots first. Then launch vehicles of any size, make or country of origin can deliver propellant to orbit.

  • Mike Snyder

    @robert oler,

    Obviously you are “anti-shuttle” since out of all I wrote you picked that to focus your rant.

    While I give you shuttle never was “as cheap” as it was expected to be, there were a LOT of expectations for it to fill. Operationally, I will challenge you, as it has met every mission scenerio intended.

    Lets talk about cost again, promises and expectations. It is easy to get wrapped up into that and assume everything will be different. So tell me why commercial operations will surely meet all costs and expectations. The track record thus far with COTS says otherwise. I’m not saying we can’t get there and this should not be supported, just so you cannot try to imply that. Also, if you are so sure then I presume you can answer those questions also that I initially postulated.

  • Yes, ok, but that had little to do with my point and not what I was talking about at all. There are a world of differences between adapting an existing rocket and the development of a new one.

    OK, sorry, I misunderstood — I thought you were talking about human rating EELVs. But I still don’t see why developing a heavy EELV would be a cost-plus contract. The original EELVs weren’t. Where is the technical risk that would require one?

  • And it’s “Simberg,” not “Sandberg.”

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I’d be opposed to a cost-plus EELV HLV program.

    Andrew Aldrin at ULA is on record saying that “fixed price” does not seem appropriate for developing commercial crew.

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100402-commercial-crew-plan–hinge-risk-sharing.html

    I do not believe NASA/Congress could persuade ULA to develop commercial crew using EELV, except on a cost plus basis.

    I am not saying it would be more “porky” than SDLV, but I am not persuaded it would be less “porky”

  • I believe EELV is no less “porky” than SDLV.

    On what basis?

    So tell me why commercial operations will surely meet all costs and expectations. The track record thus far with COTS says otherwise.

    Not to anyone familiar with it.

  • Andrew Aldrin from the link I gave, above:

    Aldrin said if industry is asked to develop a commercial crew system under a fixed-price contract, prudent companies will build in big reserves to guard against losing money on the deal, while others might underbid the job in hopes of securing the win. “Here you have an interesting situation — competitive environment and fixed-price development contract. Trust me on this, the management reserve in these bids is going to overwhelm the differences in cost efficiencies or design efficiencies,” he said. “So you will end up with the lowest-cost provider, or the choice based in large part on which company decided to risk more. And I’m not sure that’s the way we want to choose the next provider of human spaceflight systems.”

    Money quote:

    “Trust me on this, the management reserve in these bids is going to overwhelm the differences in cost efficiencies or design efficiencies,” he said.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The shuttle is “old”. Not true.

    You’re arguing someone else’s argument – I never said it was old. That being said, the Shuttle program is no longer needed, and that is part of the reason why Bush/Griffin agreed to pull the plug.

    shuttle performance is better than it has every been, while cost has been going down along with manpower.

    Still doesn’t change the safety considerations that the CAIB highlighted, and with a recurring cost of $200M/month (per the Shuttle PM), regardless if an orbiter flies, it is a big drag on NASA’s budget. The Shuttle is a wonderful do-everything vehicle, but by any measure, the Shuttle is not the least expensive way to do anything – per pound or per seat.

    There are no missions left for the Shuttle. It is a “nice to have”, not a “need to have”. You know how much payload we could put into LEO with the Shuttle’s $2.4B yearly overhead? 396,000 lbs on Delta IV Heavy, or 988,000 lbs on Falcon 9. By comparison, the Shuttle could put up around 1/4 to 1/10th that amount on the same money.

    The Shuttle is keeping us from doing more stuff in space. All good things must come to an end…

    Does the US need HLV: Everyone who has studied this has officially agreed that some form of heavy lift is required.

    I could use a political analogy here that Oler would recognize, but I’ll just say that yes, some people say we need an HLV, but that many people say we don’t. You still haven’t answered the question of WHAT IS THE DEMAND? Congress has not funded any programs that require an HLV – “everyone else wants to do it” is not a good reason. If you are a parent, you should recognize that.

    What about the cost of SDLV? Too many incorrectly assume and fly off the handle that SDLV will cost what the STS costs. STS is a program, that is a major, major difference.

    If NASA is going to build an SDLV like they were going to do Ares I/V, then why is it not a “program” that would have recurring costs? The difference with commercial is that if you don’t need a Delta IV Heavy, then you don’t pay any recurring costs. If you do need one, then you pay around $300M. The cost savings are HUGE!

    Government and commercial do not coexist *operationally* in the way being discussed and therefore it is not a false premise.

    I’m not sure what you’re arguing any more, so I’ll just say that commercial and government have always worked together, and always will, and with varying amounts of integration and oversight. ULA launches payloads for NASA and DOD, and Orbital Sciences and SpaceX will be making cargo deliveries for NASA on the CRS program. USA was created specifically to handle the Shuttle processing work for NASA, and NASA centers have had public/private relationships with lots of organizations. There are no barriers to what can be done.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Andrew Aldrin at ULA is on record saying that “fixed price” does not seem appropriate for developing commercial crew.

    I’m less opposed to cost-plus (or some intermediate form) for crew than for propellant and I care more about the propellant.

    I do not believe NASA/Congress could persuade ULA to develop commercial crew using EELV, except on a cost plus basis.

    Then others will surely step up. ULA doesn’t have to provide the capsule, in fact it isn’t allowed to and it would have to partner with someone else anyway. All that is required is that Atlas and Delta are “man-rated” whatever NASA chooses to mean by that term, and that process is already underway.

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I’m less opposed to cost-plus (or some intermediate form) for crew than for propellant and I care more about the propellant.

    Without a robust BEO exploration program, a LEO depot seems rather like a cul de sac. Fill it up with fuel, and then what? Vent it into space and fill it up again?

    Once a robust BEO exploration program is established then market forces will favor the lowest cost propellant delivery. But first we need that robust BEO program.

    Of course, I believe we already agree on the usefulness of EML depots and those would give purpose to the LEO depots.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Rand Simberg,

    First, sorry about the name. It is different because it the development of a new launch vehicle. ULA was hoping to get cost plus for “man-rating” the rockets. Do you seriously believe they are then going to get a firm-fixed price for creating a new rocket?

    Again, cost-plus is a contract mechanism, and a legitimate one at that, for certain things. Development being one of those. The original ones were not that and LM and Boeing put up more than they expected, which played a hand into creating ULA.

    With regards to your other comment about “not for anyone familar with it”, are you saying COTS is exactly on schedule per the original agreement? Are you saying there was not more money in FY2011 proposal to “reduce risk”? Look, I’m not bashing them, just serving a point that this business can be difficult and things can happen that change other things.

  • DCSCA

    @TheGreatWaldoOler: “Having said that, I still would be opossed to “exploration” as a cause celeb for our human spaceflight program. Right now I see no benefit that the added value of humans on exploration can contribute for the cost they sustain.”<- No surprise, there, Waldo. You see little peering through those old goggles. The benefits are incredibly magnificent- inspiring, and positive- including the famed 'Cernan intangibles' but then we know your preference for the ancient days of aviation circa 1903-1953 and disdain for the our Space Age. Take off the goggles, loosen the scarf and join the 21st Century, Waldo.

  • DCSCA

    Max Peck wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 4:48 pm <– Agreed. 'Obamaspace' as originally pitched will be unrecognizable by this time next year.

  • ULA was hoping to get cost plus for “man-rating” the rockets. Do you seriously believe they are then going to get a firm-fixed price for creating a new rocket?

    It doesn’t matter what they were hoping. It’s not happening. Ultimately, if they want to play, they’ll do it fixed price, just as they did for EELV. And this time they won’t even have to put in their own money.

    Again, cost-plus is a contract mechanism, and a legitimate one at that, for certain things. Development being one of those.

    Only for development with a high level of risk.

    The original ones were not that and LM and Boeing put up more than they expected, which played a hand into creating ULA.

    No, what created ULA was the collapse of the market, leaving an insufficient amount to support two companies. Are you saying that ULA (or Boeing or Lockheed Martin) doesn’t know how to design a larger version of an existing rocket? That they originally developed at fixed price, and even threw their own money in?

    With regards to your other comment about “not for anyone familar with it”, are you saying COTS is exactly on schedule per the original agreement?

    No, I’m saying that they’ve delivered on their milestones on budget, even if the schedule has slipped somewhat. And compared to Ares/Orion, they’re a marvel of contract performance, in both cost and schedule.

    Are you saying there was not more money in FY2011 proposal to “reduce risk”?

    No, I’m saying that they’ve been hitting their milestones. The FY2011 money is to accelerate things.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Andrew Aldrin at ULA is on record saying that “fixed price” does not seem appropriate for developing commercial crew.

    I don’t know who that is, but Michael Gass, the CEO of ULA, testified before the Augustine Commission last year, and said they could do the following:

    - With NASA paying $1.3B to man-rate Delta IV Heavy, they would charge $300M/flight. This could loft Orion quite easily, or other CEV’s.

    - With NASA paying $400M to man-rate Atlas V, they would charge $130M/flight. This is targeted at commercial capsules.

    SpaceX is on record saying that with $300M from NASA, they would man-rate the Dragon, and then they plan to charge $20M/seat for passengers to LEO.

    Since both of these launch companies already have a steady stream of customers for non-crew payloads, crew upgrades do not require a set amount of business to support them, so they will agree to fixed prices. I’m sure the normal caveats apply, like SpaceX requiring a full capsule of passengers for the lowest price and such.

    The government is being asked to be the initial customer here, and to essentially pay for the “setup costs” and guarantee a specific amount of business. This is not unusual for the government to do, and it even happens in the commercial world. So for $2B, NASA gets three launchers man-rated, and one capsule. Throw in another $2B for Boeings CST-100 (likely a high amount), and for $4B total, NASA gets triple redundant crew launchers, and redundant crew capsules. Sounds like a good investment to me.

    NASA has a known crew delivery demand after the Soyuz contract runs out in 2015, and that could be the guaranteed demand that commercial needs in order to attract non-ISS customers. If NASA shows there will be crew delivery service available for at least a 5-year period, other government and non-government markets will have a chance to emerge and expand the market. Bigelow is waiting for two or more crew systems, and if the history of opening up new frontiers/territories has shown us anything, is that others will follow too.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Ron,

    “Bush/Griffin” did not propose shuttle retirement because it was no longer needed. They did it for financial reasons and financial reasons alone.

    In addition you are incorrectly comparing apples and oranges on a lot of things about the shuttle and I could fly a one of those vehicles through the holes in your arguements but don’t have the time or energy to do that here.

    Shuttle is a Program. Ares 1 and Ares V were not programs. I suggest you educate yourself on the difference between Programs and Projects prior to commenting further. Also you do pay recurring costs with a Delta 4 heavy, it is just more hidden. I will leave it to the student to determine how that is so. With respect to the EELV evolutions to “heavy lift”, they require a lot of new equipment and you can also research that as well. Those costs will not be “as hidden”.

    With respect to the other statements about commercial/government, the examples you cited are completely correct, yet you also missed the point entirely. In addition, I never said it could not be done. Again, people jump to conclusions and want to label me as something without reading and understanding. The conops for what is being proposed is completely different than what has been done in the past with respect to human space flight. This is what you called the “false premise” earlier and incorrectly believe it is a binary choice that must be made here.

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Andrew Aldrin is the director of business development for United Launch Alliance (ULA).

    The article is dated April, 2010. It is a fascinating read:

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100402-commercial-crew-plan–hinge-risk-sharing.html

  • DCSCA

    @TheGreatWaldoOler “Where I differ from I guess you and folks like Whittington is that I fell out of any respect for NASA’s version of human space activities a long time ago. They dont contribute anything but direct payments to the economy and they dont do anything that strengthens The Empire. All they do is help create debt and sloth.” <- Nonsense. The musings of a begoggled Wrong Way Corrigan with the vision of Mister Magoo.

  • Derrick

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The shuttle is “old”. Not true. The aircraft we use to defend this Nation are just as “old” in some cases and in others much older. It is a direct function of how they are maintained, the processes in place, their performance, etc.

    Yes, and the Air Force suffers terrible maintenance costs just to keep the old airplanes flying. Go look up the number of hours a B-1 spends in the shop just to get one flight hour out of it. In addition a new tanker is desperately needed to replace the KC-135 and the fact that a contract hasn’t been worked out only demonstrates how inneficcient the process has been.

    This is a terrible argument to make if trying to justify a continuation of shuttle.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Once a robust BEO exploration program is established then market forces will favor the lowest cost propellant delivery. But first we need that robust BEO program.

    I don’t disagree with you so much as think that you are skipping a step. I look forward to a robust BEO program, and the demand for supplies that it brings, but I think the demand will migrate out from LEO first.

    For instance, Bigelow is developing LEO stations, and once they get going there will be a need in for services, supplies and fuel. I see LEO being a mixture of commercial and government demand, and then I see government demand being created BEO as they have the funds and programs to create the systems that require supplies and fuel.

    The other type of demand that we’re forgetting is expeditions that go between the Earth and Moon, either for research or leisure, and I think that will come with fuel depots too, since that lowers the need for launch mass.

    All in all, I think fuel depots are going to be an enabling technology/service, since the lack of fuel to go places is one of the limiting factors in doing anything in space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Andrew Aldrin is the director of business development for United Launch Alliance (ULA).

    Thanks for the link – I hadn’t seen that. He seems to be saying the same thing that their CEO said last year, and what everyone has been saying – if NASA foots the bill for the crew upgrades, they (and others) will offer fixed pricing for launches.

    In my world (DOD & commercial manufacturing), this not an uncommon situation, and many times customers that have custom or unique product requirements are required to pay for the initial tooling and setup. Since NASA is the only customer for crew services, this is not an unreasonable request, and NASA ends up with redundant ways to get crew to LEO, and in the long run pays far less than what they could do for themselves. Less than a 5- year ROI, which is pretty good.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    You are drinking your own kool-aid.

    Development of a new rocket for one customer, NASA, is a high-risk measure. They likely cannot sell it to anyone outside the government at this time. I mean look at how you couched that. “fixed price or else”. Seriously, you think then that the “fixed price” will not be padded to a very large degree? The thing about cost-plus that usually gets it in trouble is requirements creep. There is absolutely nothing about a fixed price contract that rules this creep out. Instead this “creep” has the ability to absolutely derail the whole process and project goal with fixed price contracts

    With respect to ULA’s creation, you are leaving out the rest of the story and you probably know that too. I know that about the market. Furthermore, I seriously can’t believe you would even try to suggest that I said ULA does not have the technical capability to do that. I never even hinted at such utter nonsense.

    With respect to cost, last time I checked a “milestone” is usually a function of schedule.

    The FY2011 line item was not to just accelerate things, again this business can be difficult and problems and issues do come up. Can you show me how this money will move the schedules to the left?

    The line item for this in the FY2011 proposal were “weasel words” and the “mysterious authors” of the FY2011 proposal would also know that.

  • @ Coastal Ron

    I believe a zero gravity sports arena deployed in LEO would generate enormous demand for lower cost lift. Fund it with ESPN TV contracts, beer commercials and Nike logo clothing.

    And naming rights, since this facility could easily be much brighter in the night sky than ISS and if deployed at 51 degrees would overfly most of the populated world.

    A World Cup for zero-gee football? (Soccer for us Yanks)

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 3:06 pm
    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm
    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1008/18tiangong/
    does this impress you? not me

    The Russians did this in 1970…and used the same systems.

    Any manned spaceflight activity by Red China should impress. But then comparing old systems to present systems can be amusing–like Stephen Colbert comparing Falcon9 to Sputnik to Musk;s face, which was unfair to to Sputnik.

  • @ Mike Snyder

    Padding those fixed price bids? ULA’s Andrew Aldrin said exactly that:

    “Trust me on this, the management reserve in these bids is going to overwhelm the differences in cost efficiencies or design efficiencies,”

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100402-commercial-crew-plan–hinge-risk-sharing.html

    Full paragraph here:

    “Aldrin said if industry is asked to develop a commercial crew system under a fixed-price contract, prudent companies will build in big reserves to guard against losing money on the deal, while others might underbid the job in hopes of securing the win. “Here you have an interesting situation — competitive environment and fixed-price development contract. Trust me on this, the management reserve in these bids is going to overwhelm the differences in cost efficiencies or design efficiencies,” he said. “So you will end up with the lowest-cost provider, or the choice based in large part on which company decided to risk more. And I’m not sure that’s the way we want to choose the next provider of human spaceflight systems.”

  • DCSCA

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:22 pm <- Sounds like a novel idea but the freshness might wear off very fast– and actual attendance at games somewhat limited- although visually it would be an interesting exercise. Then again the public didn't exactly embrace Al Shepard doing some lunar golfing, either ;-) Pitching spaceflight as a 'billboard' for corporate sponsorships can be dicey as well. Old story from relative comes to mind about a major Midwest oil company passing on sponsoring a particular racing team. Seemed a good idea at first but they ultimately passed on it, the rationale being they didn't want to see their logo on a crashed, burning car televised across the country at the Indy 500. Sure enough, the fella went into the wall. He survived but another company's logo was seen going up in flames from coast to coast.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    With respect to cost, last time I checked a “milestone” is usually a function of schedule.

    For the COTS/CRS programs, it’s task-based payments (i.e. milestones). You can even see the GAO version here for the COTS portion:

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09618.pdf

    They do reference the target date, but the contractors only get paid when they actually complete the milestone.

  • Bill White wrote:

    Note that Robert Oler and Stephen Smith are both saying there is little point to doing BEO exploration at the present time. LEO only and robots and presumably would support a significant cut to taxpayer funding of human spaceflight.

    I don’t speak for Robert Oler, but I think you overlook *why* I think there is “little point to doing BEO exploration.”

    Give my unilateral control over the federal budget, and you’ll see an instant transfer of $100 billion from the defense budget to the space program. But the reality is there is no political will in this country to spend any more than the minimum necessary to maintain the pretense of a government space program — and much of that money goes to pork.

    As Jeff wrote recently, now we have Congress taking it upon themselves to dictate the architectural design of the heavy lifter. They’ve also taken upon themselves the risk of flying another Shuttle mission with no backup. All in the name of pork to get re-elected. But if something goes wrong, you know they’ll point fingers elsewhere.

    That’s why we have to go commercial. The government space program is hopelessly misdirected.

    And if it’s that badly screwed up for LEO, how bad do you think it will be for BEO?

    I think the only way we get a legitimate BEO program is to form a global partnership. Russian president Medvedev earlier this year informally proposed a summit of the spacefaring nations. I think that’s a great idea, and the purpose should be issuing a joint statement outlining a shared goal for sending humanity to BEO as a species, with commitments to funding, who builds what, etc.

    Granted, Congress could torpedo it, but they would also embarrass us in the eyes of the world if they did, so I tend to think BEO would get more support than it does now.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Padding those fixed price bids? ULA’s Andrew Aldrin said exactly that

    How is this surprising? In the DOD world, management reserves are a requirement, especially for risky contracts. This is no different, and it’s prudent until the services become more routine, and the market becomes more predictable and larger.

    This is part of the reason there needs to be competition, because otherwise the natural trend is towards low-risk bids (i.e. on the high side). With competition, that sorts out the companies that are looking for the easy money, versus the companies that are looking for marketshare.

    Gotta have more than two companies to make it work well however, and that is going to be a problem until there is more demand. Chicken and egg type stuff, which is why the dominant source of demand (NASA) could spur the market by creating a 5-year period of known demand (ISS crew), and then re-compete it again after 5-years (or something time period like that).

    Markets need some level of predictability, and so do follow-on sources of demand. For instance, if Bigelow knew that there were going to be two crew service companies, and that they would be around for at least 5 years, then they would feel confident that they could start their habitat business. Also, if agencies or companies knew there would be crew services available in the future for a known amount, they would be more likely to make plans/budgets to use them.

    Right now there are no predictable crew services, so no one can plan to use them. Again, this is how NASA’s known demand for commercial services can spur other demand. Econ 101.

    Conversely, a market cannot develop this way with a government-run transportation system, because it’s hard/impossible to buy passage, and they would also know that it would be at the mercy of Congressional funding.

    So if one of your goals is to have some sort of commerce going on in space, promote commercial crew services.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Ron,

    Thank you for sharing that and I am aware of how this is set-up. You say it yourself, it references schedule. Those dates either had to be picked soley by the COTS contender or at the very least negotiated between that company and NASA. Therefore, the companies believed they were reasonable when entering into the Space Act Agreement.

    Basic project or program management has to be measured by three key descriminators: technical requirements, cost and schedule. If the balance of this “tripod” is disturbed then another, or the same leg, has to somehow make up the difference.

    For example, if technical issues arise you have a choice to: loosen the requirements, slip the schedule to solve those issues or perhaps increase cost until a new money comes in (quarterly budget drop, etc) or the budget increases in order to maintain that tripod balance.

    My point on this topic is that there is no doubt the original milestones and dates have moved to the right. Again not saying it is “proof” of anything or that it is necessarily a bad thing or even unexpected. But if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc then no one should be afraid to call it a duck and overlook the obvious in order to try to convince others that their way is the only way.

  • Mike Snyder

    Derrick wrote:

    “Yes, and the Air Force suffers terrible maintenance costs just to keep the old airplanes flying. Go look up the number of hours a B-1 spends in the shop just to get one flight hour out of it. In addition a new tanker is desperately needed to replace the KC-135 and the fact that a contract hasn’t been worked out only demonstrates how inneficcient the process has been.

    This is a terrible argument to make if trying to justify a continuation of shuttle”

    With respect, if you would have read my comment a bit more this was but an analogy.

    Shuttle costs have come down, while operations have been streamlined overall. We have, and have had for years, alternate procurement capabilities, againg assesment programs and certain components and the soft goods and smaller components that make them up. To date we have found nothing that cannot be managed. Mind you, this will be something all projects and programs of any significant time will face and it is a part of what is referred to as “sustaining engineering”. Furthermore, the vehicles were designed and certified to fly 100 missions. While that will likely be unlikely there is absolutely nothing from a structures or system standpoint really standing in the way either for the fleet flying longer.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Lets talk about cost again, promises and expectations. It is easy to get wrapped up into that and assume everything will be different. So tell me why commercial operations will surely meet all costs and expectations.

    a few points.

    First and most important if I have been pejorative or dismissive in my tone to you then I beg your pardon. So far at least on this thread and to my recollection the entire time I have seen you comment here, nothing you have said strikes me as other then serious debate…and I should respond in that same tone. There ARE some people who I mock but they are not in my view serious in terms of their beliefs or debate.

    Second I do believe that a SDV is the status quo and I dont think much of the status quo. The framework of how and what humans in space is suppose to accomplish worked well under Apollo. I think that the John Logsdon Space News op ed was one of the best written on why that situation worked well for Apollo and why it no longer works now…and I see almost no value in any of the structure that has morphed and such since Apollo. But I dont think that much of the structure that has evolved since the 70′s (and really exist before then) has much or any value to our current set of problems and issues.

    That is one reason I would have let the banks go under (instead of TARP) and let GM and others go bye bye…I dont think preserving the structures and policies that have started to falter because of changing conditions and in no small measure got us into the mess nationally (and in spaceflight) that we are in has much value.

    I understand the human cost to this. I live in Clear Lake Tx. But the personal issues aside; there is in my view little to save from the Apollo era that has value in this century.

    Third…I have never said that commercial space ops will not have difficulties and will not have delays etc. What I have said is that when those delays happen if they are terminal issues, ie they indicate flaws in that particular commercial operation then there should be alternatives and the folks who cannot perform as an organization should be allowed to fail.

    Part of the problem The Republic is in, and I think it is the mainfoundation of our problems is that above a certain size of organization we TOLERATE FAILURE with no consequences. Thanks to deficit spending we have grown use to just tossing money at issues and hoping the money cleans it up. Most of the time it doesnt work, what it leaves us with is structures and agencies that have simply stopped working anywhere near an efficient level.

    It was easy to invade iraq because “it was going to pay for itself” and when it didnt then it was easy to deficit spend because well it was…it was easy to “go back to the Moon” because no one gave a darn how you paid for it, and when the dollars escalated and the scheduled stretched out THAT WAS AN ACCEPTED METHOD OF DOING BUSINESS.

    its not.

    If SpaceX agrees to do X for Y and they cant do it, and X turns out to be far less then promised and or Y turns out to be far more then promised…let them go under.

    We have to reinstitute the consequences of failure.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert,

    I believe you are looking at this at a way too-high level and trying to draw parallels where none exist in such grand terms.

    If you talk about failure, Ares will not happen. Yet some good work did, and still does, come from CxP. You can choose to ignore that if you wish from personal bias but unfortunately it does not make it any less true.

    Yet all you describe above and CxP has little to do with SDLV. In fact an SDLV will also not “save” the “Clear Lake” area, which I am also greatly familar with.

    If you were familar with the conops surrounding a SDLV it not the status quo and in fact actively includes “commercial”. If you look at ISS transport and resupply it is not a competitor but only can augment if absolutely necessary.

    You speak a lot of fiscal responsibility but SDLV by itself will not cost what the STS Program does. That in itself is not the status quo. Yet, it also seems prudent, in these times, to use what you have and not have to reinvent the wheel. You personally may not see any value in the “structure”, as you call it, and that is fine, but there are lot of people who do and a lot of people who can intelligently speak as to why that is as well.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing that and I am aware of how this is set-up.

    I was a manager of an operations project management group for DOD programs, so I’m also quite aware of both milestone schedules as well as payment schedules.

    I guess my point was that with the COTS program, NASA does not pay unless there is agreed upon progress. So far the schedule has not been a limiting factor for NASA, otherwise we would have heard something, but because the participants only get paid for actually doing something, they have their own motivations for getting paid as quickly as practical.

    Cost-plus has it’s place, and includes it’s own set of motivations, as does fixed-price. In the case of COTS/CRS, I think Griffin was right in choosing the milestone payment option (fixed-price), as it definitely makes the participants “put up, or shut up”.

    I think commercial crew could be there too, at least for the recurring cost portion, but there would need to be a COTS-like contract to address the non-recurring. I’ve already addressed this earlier, so I won’t rehash it.

    Finally, about your duck comment, that is true, and I for one like to shine the harsh light of openness on virtually everything public funded or supported. Define the requirements, open up the competition, and hold the winners to the deal. I hope we do it soon for commercial crew.

  • Hilly Jilson

    99 percent of these posts are just noise, that have very little to do with the blog post, which is just a re-write of a Florida Today article that also has nothing to do with the comments posted. Talk about needing moderators.

  • What the Florida Today article reveals is that no one in Congress is fighting for FY2011 as originally proposed on February 1st and many people here find that lamentable.

    Is that a reasonable summary?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Yet, it also seems prudent, in these times, to use what you have and not have to reinvent the wheel.

    Which in my mind also means Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V, not to mention the possibility of Falcon 9. Why must we limit our view of what “reinventing the wheel” is – why not look across the U.S. to see what american assets we have that can do what we need?

    Look, I don’t have a problem with helping people during harsh economic times, and I don’t like people going without a job anymore than they do, but we have to look at this from a macro level, not a micro one.

    We already have a cargo launcher replacement for the Shuttle in Delta IV Heavy (49,470 lbs to LEO), and if we need more capacity, we can finish Atlas V Heavy for 30% more payload (64,820 lbs). Falcon 9 Heavy would take us up to 70,548 lbs to LEO. But so far there are no payloads needing Atlas V Heavy, much less Falcon 9 Heavy, so why should we build an HLV that will just sit around?

    The problem with any SDLV is that the flight rates will never be high enough to compete with smaller launchers, and it will always be too big, or not big enough, for most needs. Congress can guess what the “perfect” launch capacity should be, but they will never be right. And any SDLV will be consigned to NASA payloads only, since the commercial market has no need, as apparently the DOD does not either (they are funding reusability, not increased payloads).

    If Congress wants to fund a jobs program, let them give the money directly to the recipients – it will be cheaper, and have mostly the same effect for their districts. Let’s not saddles ourselves with a new launcher that suppresses the true market demand, and puts a huge financial burden on NASA for years to come.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    well..

    I am sure that there was some value in the ARes/Cx program…there is almost always value in “anything”…the A-12 “AVenger 2″ had some value to it…the question always of course is “the value worth the cost”.

    I dont see that for an SDV.

    First I dont see any payloads for it. The ones that NASA/MOD/someothers have come up with are all make work. The “solar power” demonstration was and is a joke but is illustrative of what is happening here. “quick we need payloads for this vehicle develop them”.

    I dont think that we as a nation are going to do any serious beyond earth orbit exploration for quite some time and for a variety of reasons…all valid and all having been discussed at length here…AND WHEN WE DO I dont think that it is going to require “heavy lift” at least on terms of what a SDV would offer.

    There are no payloads in the commercial world (or the military world) for such a booster. We will be lucky if the commercial world at some point starts to assemble vehicles at a LEO space station (maybe ISS maybe not) and then boost these “rafts” to GEO where they are serviced by humans. That is a realistic possibility because real commercial operators (as well as the military) are at least scheming along those lines.

    In short (and I have said this before) I think a SDV right now using this technology is the space equivelent to the XC99. You might think otherwise and thats fine, we can argue those merits as long as the fingers hold out…but I dont see the politics moving toward a SDV in any event.

    Finally please be careful with my words and I will do the same for yours. Clear Lake will neither perish nor be saved by any decisions related to NASA and HSF. There are individuals who will have their circumstances advanced or retarded by those decisions and they do live in Clear Lake and the surrounding area. But Clear Lake itself is more worried over how to finance the CCISD then NASA.

    trust me

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Ron,

    Part of the rationale behind COTS and fixed-price was that the companies would have to place “skin in the game”. By going this way, it also means they own their spacecraft and not the government. Therefore they are further incentivized to invest their captial money if they can close the business case.

    In order to have that “progress”, they need to have a schedule. The schedule is very much a factor in all of this given the impending possible retirement of shuttle and ISS demands and needs.

    That is absolutely why additional money was proposed to “accelerate” the COTS suppliers because those original milestone dates have slipped to the right.

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert,

    There is perhaps a certain truth to the phrase “build it and they will come”. I find it strange how everyone demands payloads when the Senate proposal calling for a true SDLV has been public in a time span measured in weeks.

    But since you brought it up, lets discuss payloads. There are proposals for payloads, Orion (or it’s reborn child) will be one. If you want to discuss the money for these, if not DOD or others who provide it, then lets look at “commercial”. Is commercial not meant to drive down the costs? Are the same folks who are completely rigid when discussing commercial saying this will reduce direct NASA costs? If commercial does do that, does that not free up money for these payloads? Is it coincidence that commercial operations are expected and hoped for prior to the arrival of SDLV and Orion? Think about that.

    I must confess I find it odd that you want to describe SDLV as old technology. What specific components and elements are you refering to here? Even if I give you this, which I don’t believe I will, what is wrong with that? New and cutting-edge tends to be more expensive and has an associated learning curve. Should we be spending that money and that learning-curve-experience in launching a rocket or doing something out there where the rocket is intended to go?

    Lastly, the Clear Lake area. They should be concerned about funding CCISD. They should be concerned about FISD and all the other districts. A significant amount of the tax base that pays for those schools is about to be discarded.

  • Mike Snyder

    Also Robert, to address another point, SDLV is not meant to compete with anything, small launchers or not. There is no market for an HLV and therefore the government can provide one, using existing hardware and techniques, that NASA as an agency has 30 years of operational experience with.

    If someone wants to privately develop an HLV because they see a demand that they could sell to both private enterprise and the government, and if and when that ever happens, then obviously retiring that SDLV would need to be evaluated.

    Also, Congress did not “guess” on the vehicle described. There is much that happens behind the scenes that clearly you are not aware of.

  • Byeman

    “Also you do pay recurring costs with a Delta 4 heavy, it is just more hidden”

    Not for NASA missions, a portion of the recurring costs are in the launch launch service cost. That is how launch services work, there is only one cost for each launch.

  • DCSCA

    Clear Lake will neither perish nor be saved by any decisions related to NASA and HSF. <– Yes, by all means move all of NASA's HSF operations out of Texas back to Florida.

  • Mike Snyder

    Byeman, your response is exactly what I was implying and in reality you further validated my statement. That “one cost” has all the recurring and fixed costs factored into the bottom line.

  • DCSCA

    “Part of the problem The Republic is in, and I think it is the mainfoundation of our problems is that above a certain size of organization we TOLERATE FAILURE with no consequences.” <- Of course, this assertion overlooks the jeopardy of systemic risk. Some things are too big to let fail– or too valuable to the nation, be it GM… or the civilian space agency.

    Most supporters of spaceflight acknowledge and understand that NASA has not been immune to the very down to earth problems which beset any aging government bureaucracy, particularly when one that finds its valued and storied history tarnished and battered by self-inflicted mistakes inflamed by underfunding and misguided push for privatization in the Reagan era. But that does not mean its legacy has no value and has contributed nothing since Apollo to the nation. That's just absurd. NASA is a goal-oriented 'can-do' agency and a priceless national asset– something Gingrich once favored disbanding in the mid-90s. To be sure the civilian space agency a house cleaning and fresh thiinking- as do all bureaucracies every five years– but there is much to be learned- and relearned by current NASA management from the Apollo period. NASA's Apollo-era management techniques are taught at top business schools and good corporations infuse many of those technoques into their daily operations just as Japanese manufacturers in the 1960s and 70s screened the film, '12 O'Clock High' to school their managers in American management methods transferred from war time to corporations.
    Logsdon's perspective has merit but it's not the last definitive word on it. Apollo was a unique enterprise with several economic, technological and political elements converging at a rare point in history within a short time frame. To expect spaceflight to continue to accelorate at that pace for decades after Apollo was unrealistic. But if the government initiative to make Apollo a reality did not occur when it did even as a reactive program to the Soviet efforts, there would most likely not be human footprints on the moon today, particularly if the world expected the private sector to do it. Unless, of course, you believe the future of human space exploration layed out for you in 'Destination Moon.'

  • DCSCA

    Derrick wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 6:08 pm <- Yeah but those maintenence costs are build in by the manufacturers on purpose and make these weapons systems so costly and high maintenence. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam finds 'divorcing' themselves from them hard to do. Ike was right about the MIC.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    There are proposals for payloads, Orion (or it’s reborn child) will be one.

    Orion fits nicely on top of Delta IV Heavy. For $1.3B, it can be man-rated, and then cost $300M/flight for Orion or whatever you want to put up there.

    If you want to discuss the money for these, if not DOD or others who provide it, then lets look at “commercial”. Is commercial not meant to drive down the costs?

    On their own, no one drops prices willingly. But with competition, the market tends to keep prices in line. The government has no such natural competition, and because they don’t have to make a profit, they can have an effect of suppressing the supply side of a market. Who would willingly compete with an organization that doesn’t care if they cover their costs or not?

    Are the same folks who are completely rigid when discussing commercial saying this will reduce direct NASA costs?

    Under the right conditions, yes. For commercial crew, from all the numbers I have looked at, yes, commercial companies could provide LEO services for far less than what NASA can do. And that includes the upfront NRE that those companies have said they would need to start crew services.

    If commercial does do that, does that not free up money for these payloads?

    It frees up money for payloads, but they don’t have to be HLV sized. We built the entire ISS using the constrictions of the Shuttle, and all of those same payloads can be accommodated by Delta IV Heavy. 25 tons to LEO is pretty big, and because of the ISS we know how to join modules together. We have not reached the limits of this building technique yet.

    Is it coincidence that commercial operations are expected and hoped for prior to the arrival of SDLV and Orion?

    I don’t know what that means, but so far all the commercial payloads planned fit on a Delta IV Heavy or smaller launcher. The satellite launch forecasts for the next 10 years are not seeing a need for anything bigger.

    Think about that.

    I do. A lot. What I want most is to do stuff in space, and building an HLV is delaying that. For every $10B we spend on building a launcher without a payload, there is $10B worth of exploration that we’re missing out on.

    In manufacturing we used to have a saying – “shoot the engineers, and ship the product”. The same is true for those that are looking for “the perfect” launch vehicle size, and it’s always the shiny new one that needs to be built. Meanwhile we have excess capacity for existing launchers, and plenty of science waiting to be done that can fit on those launchers. How frustrating!

  • Bennett

    g.h.o.s.t wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Whoever you are, thanks for putting name to the various pseudonyms of this fellow. This is the first time I’ve seen his moniker(s) on Space Politics (contradicting his claim that “everyone here knows him”) and if he is indeed the rather scary guy you note, I hope he finds other venues to frequent. We have too many trolls on this site already.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Byeman, your response is exactly what I was implying and in reality you further validated my statement. That “one cost” has all the recurring and fixed costs factored into the bottom line.

    I don’t know what you’re arguing here. Are you for or against fixed pricing for launchers?

    For the customer, they end up paying one fixed price. With competition, if they don’t like it, they can consider other options.

    For the provider, they have a combination of NRE and recurring costs (along with profit, taxes, etc.) that they have to cover in their pricing, but all of this is invisible to the customer.

    What’s your point?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    just as Japanese manufacturers in the 1960s and 70s screened the film, ’12 O’Clock High’ to school their managers in American management methods transferred from war time to corporations.

    You watch too many movies. Maybe if you spent more time out in the fresh air you wouldn’t be so morose and obtuse.

    And in Japan, Deming is who they were listening to, not Gregory Peck. Weird.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 19th, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    your two post seem in contradiction to each other.

    in one post you write:

    “There is no market for an HLV and therefore the government can provide one, using existing hardware and techniques, that NASA as an agency has 30 years of operational experience with.”

    in another you write:

    :”There are proposals for payloads, Orion (or it’s reborn child) will be one. If you want to discuss the money for these, if not DOD or others who provide it, then lets look at “commercial”.”

    first off all the payloads I have seen are “make work” payloads. The notion of a solar power demonstration that for at least 5 billion dollars produces ONE (1) KW of power on earth is nuts. There are no DOD payloads for a heavy lift/SDV and there are no commercial payloads…and then we come to the notion of the contradiction above.

    We dont build launchers on taxpayer dollars that a taxpayer run agency is going to build and run…and then say “wow we have to have payloads for it” because then we end up like the shuttle where we were flying make work missions and on one got some people killed. (Columbia)

    the issue for national infrastructure that is going to be used solely by the nation is “is there a need for it”…and only then should we build it.

    When someone or some agency can come up with a need for a SDV and it is a solid need…then we should talk about building it.

    “I must confess I find it odd that you want to describe SDLV as old technology”

    because it is. Everything about the shuttle is old in terms of both time and capabilities. It never did what it was suppose to do…until it started flying the station components (which could have been launched cheaper on expendables) most of the flights were make work.

    As for Clear Lake. the layoffs wont matter to the CCISD. really they wont.

    As for Congress…I know what the DoD was telling them. It is that there is no use in DoD for a SDV. Period. the DoD wants a Delta IV super heavy. and they dont want anything to do with NASA…Nothing. that I know for a fact.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @Robert Oler

    If this is true . . .

    The DoD wants a Delta IV super heavy and they don’t want anything to do with NASA

    . . . then why wouldn’t DoD oppose using Delta IV for Orion?

    Mucking around with the RS-68 to achieve human rating (whatever that is) will force Boeing to either open two production lines, or alter the version now used for DoD missions, right?

    Again, I see three choices:

    (1) SDLV

    (2) EELV

    (3) SpaceX & Orbital

    Option (3) deserves funding, just not the whole enchilada.

    If Option (2) is as superior as (almost) everyone here believes, why can’t the EELV lobbyists defeat the SDLV lobbyists in the halls of Congress?

    FY2011 does makes perfect sense if the objective is to retreat from all human beyond LEO objectives for the foreseeable future however that is a policy and political decision and not a technical decision and the US Senate appears to disagree with that decision.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Bill White,

    If Option (2) is as superior as (almost) everyone here believes, why can’t the EELV lobbyists defeat the SDLV lobbyists in the halls of Congress?

    This is an intriguing question and one that I think needs further analysis. It is a known fact that DoD is unhappy with using EELVs for NASA HSF missions because they are concerned that human-rating changes will both reduce performance of the vehicles and delay their own launch schedule.

    However, I suspect that the real reason is hidden away in the DIRECT v2.0 paper that they presented to the AIAA. In it, the point is made that it is a political and legal objective of the shuttle replacement program to utilise as much of the shuttle infrastructure as possible. This was an objective from the start and this is one of the criticisms laid at the feet of the Ares Launch System – that, for all it resembled the shuttle, it was not really shuttle-derived at all, just a completely new system that looked like it.

    Once you recognise that retaining shuttle-related jobs is as much of a political priority as safety, performance and cost, you suddenly realise why the EELVs never had a look-in. They do not meet that key political objective and, therefore, are unacceptable. There are a host of other reasons but, IMHO, that is the most important one.

    It is completely reasonable to complain about ‘pork’ and politicians interfering with engineering decisions. However, these politicians control the purse-strings and I don’t think any change of incumbent will alter the basic political instinct to protect government and government-supported jobs wherever possible. So, realistically, SDLV was and remains the only government-funded game in town. Ultimately, the commercial providers will likely start taking cuts out of that pie but it will be a long time before major ‘headline’ HSF projects are taken out of NASA’s hands in the manner that space probe launch has been.

  • DCSCA

    @TheGreatWaldoOler “….we end up like the shuttle where we were flying make work missions and on one got some people killed. (Columbia).”

    The manifest overview below indicates that dismissing – or simply dissing-the reseach science conducted by the crew aboard Columbia as ‘make work’ is inaccurate, of course.

    ‘STS 107 was the 113th mission in the Shuttle program. It was primarily a science-dedicated mission, with no docking to the International Space Station (ISS). STS-107 originally had two basic major goals:

    It was originally scheduled to have been Columbia’s first flight after an 18-month overhaul to install over 100 modifications and improvements, including a “glass cockpit” with nine full-color, flat-panel displays, reduced power needs, old wire removal, and a user-friendly interface. However, due to the fuel liner cracks that caused a temporary grounding of the Shuttle fleet last year (2002), STS-107 was postponed and Columbia flew STS-109 – Hubble Service Mission 3B – instead.

    The Space Shuttle Columbia carried the SPACEHAB Research Double Module with seven ESA payloads with a mass of 1300 lbs (600 kg) and representing approximately 25% of the payload in the Shuttle middeck and in SPACEHAB. SPACEHAB’s primary mission was to conduct over 100 experiments ranging from biomedical research to Earth observation.
    The experiment manifest for the mission included the following:

    Commercial Payload:
    Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System
    Closed Equilibrated Biological Aquatic System
    U.S. Air Force Technology Demonstration Experiment
    Commercial and Macromolecular Protein Crystal Growth
    Combined Two-Phase-Loop Experiment
    Quick External Science Tray
    Space Technology and Research Students (STARS) Program
    Star Navigation
    Osteoporosis Experiment in Orbit
    European Research In Space and Terrestrial Osteoporosis
    Human Life Science Experiments:
    Physiology and Biochemistry Experiments Team (PhaAB-4)
    Enhanced Orbiter Refrigeration Freezer (EOR/F)
    Thermoelectric Holding Module (TEHM)
    Orbiter Centrifuge

    NASA/ESA Barter Payload:
    Biopack Experiment
    Facility for Absorption and Surface Tension
    Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility
    Biobox Experiment

    NASA ISS RME Payload:
    Vapor Compression Distillation Flight Experiment

    NASA Code U Payload:
    Combustion Module-2
    Space Acceleration Measurement System – Free Flyer
    Mechanics of Granular Materials
    Bioreactor Development System-05
    Ergometer Hardware

    Human Life Science Experiments:
    Microbial Physiology Flight Experiments (MPFE)
    Automated Microbial System (AMS)
    SLEEP-3
    Astroculture (Plant Growth Chamber)
    Astroculture (Glovebox)
    Commercial Protein Crystal Growth-PCF
    Zeolite Crystal Growth-1
    Fundamental Rodent Experiments Supporting Health-Two
    Gravisensing and Response System
    Biological Research in Canisters
    Commercial ITA Biomedical Experiments
    “Freestar” Small Payloads:
    Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX)
    Solar Constant Experiment-3 (SOLCON-3)
    Shuttle Ozone Limb Sounding Experiment (SOLSE-2)
    Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 (CVX-2)
    Low Power Transceiver (LPT)
    Space Experiment Model

    Some of the experiments were part of the STARS program, STARS is an educational initiative that challenges students to assume the role of a Shuttle Payload Specialist and promotes interest in engineering, mathematical and scientific careers.’

  • Byeman

    Oler is right. Most Spacehab science missions consisted of make work. They ended up flying the same payloads over and over because there weren’t any new ones. Some of the PI’s couldn’t work the results of previous flights before preparing for new ones, so they just reflew the exact same experiment.

    However, Spacehad does point out on thing, it was a commercial project. NASA was not involved with the design and operations of the module hardware. There was no NASA oversight.

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr. Oler,

    By market I meant for a private enterprise to spend it’s own money on developing. Plain and simple but I guess you know that.

    Furthermore, I see where there is going. With all due respect, you make the same claims over and over again. When I ask for specifics, you convienently avoid the question when reposting it in italics. In reality your depth of knowledge seems to be quite shallow and you only want to spout the same dogma over and over again and clearly are not interested in having a true debate.

  • Mike Snyder

    @ Ron

    “I don’t know what you’re arguing here. Are you for or against fixed pricing for launchers?”

    I was not arguing anything. While that clearly seems to be the intent and norm of many on here, it was not mine. I am amused how so many try to put words in my mouth. No, I am not against fixed price launchers. Why would anyone be for goodness sake? A repetetive procurement lends itself to fixed price. My point is the providers of said vehicles imbed there recurring and fixed costs into the fixed price they charge their customers.

    With all due respect, if you would read and try to understand my posts instead of pouncing and trying to ask “what is my point”, you would have seen it was there all along.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Mr. Oler,

    By market I meant for a private enterprise to spend it’s own money on developing..

    I still dont understand what you are trying to claim.

    If it is that NASA builds a SDV and then commercial ops will beat a path to its door…I say thats nonsense. If you say that NASA builds a SDV and the DOD (or other national operators of space vehicles) will beat a path to its door…I say thats nonsense.

    Commercial operators have had their fill of NASA HSF during the shuttle era. That is why there is so little involvement now with the station…during the shuttle era group after group of commercial folks (even back when the shuttle was flying commercial payloads) tried to work with NASA and they couldnt afford it…

    Same with the DoD…and I know for a fact that the space folks in the DoD and NRO etc have zero appitite for working with NASA on anything.

    “When I ask for specifics, you convienently avoid the question when reposting it in italics”

    I gave you specifics above. Name a single commercial operator of satellites who has said “if NASA builds an SDV we are interested in using it”? Name a single DoD payload that would move off a Delta IV or Atlas onto a SDV

    You cannot.

    All you can name are NASA/MOD make work projects for a shuttle derived vehicle…and those projects are dullads. Five billion for 1 KW off a solar powered satellite! are you kidding.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I think that the DoD’s notion of what constitutes “human rating” is far different then NASA’s.

    If the Delta IV Common core flies XX number of times with zero hickups from the main engine…and it has a LAS…it is in the mind of the DoD human rated.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert, I agree with you and if I were America’s Space Tsar I would quite likely look at human rating very differently than NASA does.

    However, given the situation we have today, if I were DoD’s Space Tsar, I wouldn’t want NASA mucking around with my EELVs and therefore I would oppose an EELV-centric plan for NASA.

    Okay then, should Congress force DoD to accept an EELV-centric exploration plan, over the Pentagon’s objections?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    My point is the providers of said vehicles imbed there recurring and fixed costs into the fixed price they charge their customers.

    I was trying to figure out if you were being educational in explaining this, or you were acting surprised.

    Educational is good, and I certainly have learned a lot from others, even when I haven’t agreed with them overall. In some of my posts, I’ll try to explain as well as persuade as a way of getting past opinions and trying to look at the basic facts.

    If you were surprised by fixed costs being comprised of both fixed and non-fixed costs, then that would have been a different thing…

    With all due respect, if you would read and try to understand my posts instead of pouncing and trying to ask “what is my point”, you would have seen it was there all along.

    I appreciate your ability to write well, but in this case, because of either me or you, it was not clear. My apologies if it came across too harshly, but you seemed like you were in the mode of detailed debate, and I was attempting to clarify.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Okay then, should Congress force DoD to accept an EELV-centric exploration plan, over the Pentagon’s objections?

    You keep trotting out these myths. Why don’t you simply admit that you want an SDLV, not because of “Congress” or the DOD, but because you want it? While you’re at it you could simply admit that you want New Space to “go around” NASA, not because it would be good foor New Space, but because you are anxious to preserve funding for the Shuttle stack.

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert,

    Please comprehend what I am trying to say. Read slowly, understand and do not immediately react. My guess is that is a major issue as to why you “don’t understand what you are trying to claim”. Also your constant assumption that you know everything about anything and have the answers for all of it as well is becoming tiresome. So here we go, please allow me to lead you through this:

    1. On your August 20, 12:20 am posting, you are trying to claim I am contradicting myself. I am not. NASA, Augustine Commission, the White House, Congress, etc have all agreed an HLV of some form is required for beyond LEO flight. I simply said that private enterprise cannot provide one, which NASA can procure, because the *market* does not support the development of such a rocket at this time that NASA can take advantage of and also use. Therefore, NASA, the government, can commission one for it’s own use. At this point in time it seems clear that the direction is moving toward a SDLV based on 30+ years of design and operations experience.

    2. I simply said there is a possibility of the “build it and they will come” mentality relative to users outside of NASA. You offer and contribute nothing to that statement outside of trying to instantly discredit and ignore it with words such as “nonsense” and “I know for a fact” without any sustantial evidence behind it, so naturally I question your credibility to make such statements.

    3. About the “specifics” on why the shuttle hardware is old, see my post from August 19 at 9:52 pm. I specifically ask you to give me an idea from components and elements that currently make up the shuttle stack in order to help justify your arguement that it is “old”. Thus far you have repeatedly ignored that.

    4. You keep trying to label things as “make-work” as yet another deragatory phrase to further your personal agenda. The fact is that SDLV, or any HLV, will be used by NASA to further NASA’s exploration and beyond-LEO goals. Therefore any payload that is built, is built for that specific task and there is nothing wrong with that.

    5. DOD and commerical use of SDLV: SDLV has been public for a timespan measured in weeks and technically not even funded yet. Surely, a reasonable person should not expect there to be a large external customer base beyond NASA itself at this time. As for conops, there are design reference missions already in the planning that utilize SDLV as well as commercial launch vehicles in a unified architecture and concept of operations.

    To wrap this up, note I never said anything about solar power sats. While true this was evaluated, it was not the end-all purpose of the SDLV. While you continue to try to insult, berate and shout-down anyone who does not follow your presribed path also please note that there are many who do not want to follow it for good reason. I am ok with debate but your tone and attitude has become tiresome.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    . . . then why wouldn’t DoD oppose using Delta IV for Orion?

    Mucking around with the RS-68 to achieve human rating (whatever that is) will force Boeing to either open two production lines, or alter the version now used for DoD missions, right?

    From just looking at what ULA said they would do to man-rate Delta IV Heavy, they said they just needed to add an Emergency Detection System (EDS). For the RS-68, you would think this would be mainly sensors and electronics, and they may not even need to add anything (i.e. it’s already there). It just seems like this would not be a major change, and certainly not one that affects hardware or performance. FWIW

    If Option (2) is as superior as (almost) everyone here believes, why can’t the EELV lobbyists defeat the SDLV lobbyists in the halls of Congress?

    Who says they are different lobbyists? Lockheed Martin probably makes out better with SDLV than with their 50% ownership of ULA. In all of this, maybe Boeing is the lesser winner, but if USA is used for SDLV, they still have work. Why expend political capital when you’re going to get revenue with any plan?

    Remember, we’re talking about large corporation here, where profitability is the primary guidance. They are not the NewSpace upstarts that are getting into the business because they have visions of doing something new & exciting, as well as making a buck. The decision factors are not merit based, they are patronage based.

  • NASA, Augustine Commission, the White House, Congress, etc have all agreed an HLV of some form is required for beyond LEO flight.

    They are all wrong (and not everyone on the Augustine panel agreed).

  • Martijn Meijering

    Obviously wrong even.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I know you addressed this to Oler, but I’ll add my perspective:

    1. …have all agreed an HLV of some form is required for beyond LEO flight.

    Group think is not a justification. They all THINK there is a future need, and in a general sense I think there is too. But the demand is far out into the future, so when we’re disagreeing, we’re disagreeing about the timing, not the eventual need.

    “They” think the need is soon, but when you look at the payload utilization of the both the Shuttle and Delta IV Heavy, neither of those systems were close to being maxed out on payload mass or frequency of launch. The historical trends don’t support a bigger launcher, and the future funding outlook doesn’t either. Where is the need? This applies to your question #2 too.

    3. About the “specifics” on why the shuttle hardware is old…

    You two can still discuss this, but I don’t see the orbiters as old, but I see the STS as “old” in the sense of it’s cost structures – it’s very expensive to fly and maintain, and it was really built for a different need than what developed. It’s a Pan Am Clipper seaplane in an age of lots of paved runways – the wrong solution to the needs of today.

    5. DOD and commerical use of SDLV: SDLV has been public for a timespan measured in weeks and technically not even funded yet.

    Yes, and Ares V had been in the pipeline for over 4 years. All I can do is point back to the current satellite forecasts, and you’ll see that current launchers are all that are being required. Even Delta IV Heavy is under-utilized, and Atlas V Heavy can’t even generate enough interest to finish it’s CDR. And keep in mind that Falcon 9 Heavy could be a factor in this market because of it’s significantly lower cost, but no word about if they are going to proceed with it. That pretty much covers the commercial and DOD market demand, and leaves NASA payloads.

    If NASA was going to be given a budget that allowed them to create, launch and utilize all of these SDLV payloads, then that wouldn’t be a problem, and we’d all be celebrating how much fun we’re going to be having in space.

    Unfortunately Congress does not increase NASA’s budget in order to accommodate the spending required to build and operate an SDLV, so we’ll be stuck with a huge launcher, but not enough money to really utilize it without raiding smaller NASA programs.

    Sounds like Constellation all over again. Can you allay our fears?

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    “NASA, Augustine Commission, the White House, Congress, etc have all agreed an HLV of some form is required for beyond LEO flight.

    They are all wrong (and not everyone on the Augustine panel agreed).”

    The reason they did can be found in their report: Preserving the workforce: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf

    For example:

    Page 12: “The Shuttle-derived family consists of in-line and side-mount
    vehicles substantially derived from the Shuttle, thereby providing
    greater workforce continuity.”

    Page 48:”4.1.2 Issues.
    In considering the future of the Space Shuttle, the Committee
    paid particular attention to safety, schedule, workforce,
    and the program’s fixed costs.”

  • Mike Snyder

    @Rand,

    Thank you for the insightful illumination provided by your comments. While it seems to be common practice around here just shot-gun a comment with little to no facts to support your statement, I guess I expected more from someone who calls themself a space consultant. Oh well…..

  • The burden of proof of those demanding that the taxpayers fund the development of an expensive heavy lifter is on them. What is it that is required for exploration beyond LEO that cannot be lifted with existing vehicles? ULA has already shown how it can be done without one.

  • Mike Snyder

    @Ron,

    1. Why do you call it group think? Or is your bias coming through and not allowing you to see any other alternatives? These were all reached independently from one another and from different perspectives and approaches.

    Those approaches all agreed an HLV is needed for beyond LEO exploration. The details of that “exploration” and exactly how it will be carried out and the destinations are still in question.

    3. It is not all the expensive from a Program perspective. It costs approximately 3 billion a year. I believe you incorrectly account those Program costs to individual elements. So again, I ask that you study that further.

    The inescapable fact is shuttle is performing better than it ever has, at reduced cost and reduced manpower. Operations have been streamlined and there is nothing on the horizon that will replace the capabilities of that vehicle. You often quote Delta 4 numbers. I have not argued those but Delta 4 is a rocket. Once you through that mass into an initial orbit you have to have something so that it useful. Shuttle is the rocket, the on-orbit platform and the return vehicle. Delta 4, and any others, cannot be equated because they are rockets only.

    Also, I honestly do not get what you are trying to say with the rest of it. What are the needs of today? ISS obviously and the shuttle’s role is still very much a part of that. I also believe you will see the lack of shuttle hurt the station in the near future in a variety of ways.

    5. Again, what I said is only a possibility. Not sure how many times I must say that. If it turns out to be NASA only, then that is because the market supports nothing else that size from a commercial perspective. That said, DOD could surely take advantage of it via inter-agency contracting and not require the additional expense of funding a commercial company to “evolve” and existing rocket.

    Furthermore, Ares V was a significant distance in the future. SDLV has basic performance characteristics known and, per the legislation, due at the end of 2016.

    Payloads again and the budget. I have already covered this but to summarize, “commercial” exists to lower the operating costs of NASA. If successful and does not require heavy subsidization, which I could very easily turn your arguement against you with this point and something rigid “commercial” supporters will not acknowledge, then that frees up money.

    Lets also look at it this way with HSF budget today:

    Shuttle ~3 billion
    ISS ~2.5-3 billion
    CxP ~ 3 billion

    If I take away Shuttle and say SDLV costs, oh I don’t know, about 1.6 billion a year, keep ISS where it is and eliminate CxP, but keep Orion, what happens?

  • Mike Snyder

    @Rand,

    Reference Design Reference Missions currently in work. Also, you seem to be taking the easy way out without having to engage in any actual conversation. Sorry if that sounds harsh but that is just my interpretation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    The burden of proof of those demanding that the taxpayers fund the development of an expensive heavy lifter is on them. What is it that is required for exploration beyond LEO that cannot be lifted with existing vehicles? ULA has already shown how it can be done without one.

    In business, you have to prove a business case to get funded. Apparently SDLV supporters feel you have to prove a business case to NOT build SDLV. Weird.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “Also, you seem to be taking the easy way out without having to engage in any actual conversation.”

    That’s rich, coming from your mouth. How about you engage with the following:

    Consider the fully fueled masses of the Apollo CSM, LM and Centaur. Now tell me why we can’t do lunar exploration without HLV and without any form of propellant transfer.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    1. Why do you call it group think?

    Because it is faith-based, not reality based. There is no established or projected market for payloads beyond current EELV capacities.

    Just answer me these two questions:

    1. Provide a list of programs that are funded, or projected to be funded, that could only be accomplished with SDLV-sized payloads. Remember they have to be ready by 2016 or so, because that’s when SDLV has to be ready.

    2. Why can’t existing launchers, or near-term ones like Atlas V Heavy, be used instead?

    If SDLV was really needed, this should be easy to answer, but these questions have been asked by many, to many, and few examples have been given, and certainly not enough to fill up a launch roster starting in 2016.

    What do you think?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Without a robust BEO exploration program, a LEO depot seems rather like a cul de sac. Fill it up with fuel, and then what? Vent it into space and fill it up again?

    You say this as if it supports your argument when in fact it argues against it and supports mine. We shouldn’t waste money on an HLV until it is needed (or sufficiently valuable) and we shouldn’t spend money on a depot until it is needed. What we need is a spacecraft.

    If we start with hypergolics before we know if LOX/LH2 depots work out, not afterwards as you suggest, and if we restrict it to spacecraft, where – unlike for an EDS – any inefficiency is small and smaller still once you upgrade to a cryogenic crasher stage, then we could do exploration sooner and provide a market for RLVs sooner.

    At the same time we could fund work into LOX/LH2 depots as you suggest too. Without having to spend money on an HLV or a full LOX/LH2 depot, we would have the money for a spacecraft and the money to explore with it, providing a market for RLVs and other forms of cheap lift in the process. At the very least it could help American launch vehicles capture a significant portion of the global commercial launch market.

  • Reference Design Reference Missions currently in work.

    Why? Again, even though the burden of proof should not be on those who aren’t demanding money from the taxpayers for an unnecessary vehicle, ULA has provided it anyway.

  • Mike Snyder

    Martijn,

    I have said nothing to insult you, yet you for some reason think it is acceptable to do with me.

    I believe I will take the advice you offered about yourself yesterday and “just not listen to you”

    Enjoy your day

  • Martijn Meijering

    Insult you? I merely asked you to engage in substantive discussion, and at a very opportune time, just when you were accusing Rand of not doing so. And again, you bolt instead of answering, proving your challenge to Rand to be nothing but hollow posturing. This has been your pattern over and over again, here and elsewhere. It invites suspicion that you don’t have any good answers to my question, a hypothesis made the more believable by the fact that there probably aren’t any.

  • Mike Snyder

    Ron,

    Again, I have explained my rationale. Again, you do not listen and “select” certain words and further prove your unwillingness to listen, get defensive and react. You have zero proof or data to suggest it is “faith-based”. That is your personal bias and that alone.

    If you actually look at what I said, I agree there is no market, meaning commercial. Hence why the government would have to supply that HLV, in some fashion, to meet the needs project for NASA exploration and spaceflight. That is now the third or fourth time I have said that.

    Next, I will not proide you a list. I cannot provide you a list. Early design reference missions are in work, also as I have previously said. However, they do not need to be ready *by 2016* since Orion, which is also a payload will be ready at that time and will require shakedown flights as well prior to becoming operational.

    Also, I pointed out where the funding source could come from, again for the second or third time, and again you seemed to ignore it in order to try, and only try, to back me into a corner.

    As for Atlas V, etc. not once have I ever said that they could not be used. There are obviously plans for phase 1, phase 2, etc. It is a trade.

    Now, I will not continue this circluar debate forever if this is the way it is going to continue where I have to repeat myself constantly and you and others try to ask the same question again and again, just “tweaked”.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Hence why the government would have to supply that HLV

    Or buy that HLV. Or better yet, not buy that HLV.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    I am not “demanding” anything. I think that you try to imply that shows your unwillingness to even have a conversation.

    I happen to believe an SDLV is not “unnecessary”, you have a different *opinion*. Different opinions should be ok. I have never said ULA could not be used and the phase 1, phase 2 proposals could not be implemented.

    I don’t understand why some can be so smug, arrogant and elitist that others cannot even be tolerated

  • Mike Snyder

    @ Martijn,

    Insult me? Yes.

    “That’s rich, coming from your mouth”

    “you bolt instead of answering, proving your challenge to Rand to be nothing but hollow posturing”

    I have a life, a job and do not live for your believed-to-be-superior and “mighter than thou” responses on the internet.

    Furthermore, why should I answer a rather out-of-left-field question about Apollo CSM, LM and Centaur and tell you “why we cannot do lunar exploration” Where did I ever say we couldn’t? What does that have to do with anything? We could go to the moon in a very small vehicle but going just to go isn’t the point. It is a trade between mission requirements and objectives, cost, schedule, etc.

    Basically, I don’t like you and you can respond all you like from here on out. I find you brash, insulting and will just pretend you are not there.

  • I am not “demanding” anything.

    OK, you are requesting that the taxpayers fund an unnecessary vehicle. Either way, you have to justify it. And argument from consensus isn’t particularly persuasive to those who have actually analyzed the problem.

    I don’t understand why some can be so smug, arrogant and elitist that others cannot even be tolerated

    And I don’t understand why some can fantasize that because some are being disagreed with, that they are not being “tolerated.”

  • We could go to the moon in a very small vehicle but going just to go isn’t the point. It is a trade between mission requirements and objectives, cost, schedule, etc.

    Yes, and when that trade is actually performed in any realistic way, it shows that doing it with a heavy lifter quickly makes it unaffordable, which is one of the many reasons that Ares died.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Basically, I don’t like you and you can respond all you like from here on out. I find you brash, insulting and will just pretend you are not there.

    You are welcome to your opinion and free to do as you see fit. I will continue to point out falsehoods when they are put forward and I will continue to point out you have a history of not backing up your arguments, perhaps expecting people to take your word for it. You will actually make my job easier by not supporting your arguments, so good luck with that.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    You should probably know that is not the reason Ares died, Ares 1 was also not a heavy lift rocket.

    “Unaffordable” is also one of those words that people often through out but place no context behind in order to scare people.

    In your estimate, what will a SDLV cost to operate?

    Also, are you sure the trade has not been performed or in the process of being performed? Whatever your answer, I would like to see what data you have to back it up. Also, what is required, in your opinion of course, for it to be performed in a realistic way?

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure you can supply that answer without it being biased. Clearly based on your previous comments you would have a slant toward an all ULA launch monopoly.

  • Mike Snyder

    For the record, to everyone else, I can back up my “arguements” just fine and would pay no attention to the man who can insult for no reason, be called out on it, not acknowledge it in anyway and then try to spread further nonsense.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    I have analyzed it. This was the conclusion I came to. You came to a differnt conclusion yet probably also had a different set of initial conditions and assumptions. Fine. One is not “right” and one is not “wrong”.

    Also, I am not “fantasizing” anything. Look at your choice of words. I have not been so harsh with you until recently. Granted this is a website and it is difficult to guage true character but your wording choice did not leave a lot of room for movement.

  • George Anderson

    Mike Snyder, chip, shoulder, got it.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • red

    Mike Snyder: “Lets also look at it this way with HSF budget today:

    Shuttle ~3 billion
    ISS ~2.5-3 billion
    CxP ~ 3 billion

    If I take away Shuttle and say SDLV costs, oh I don’t know, about 1.6 billion a year, keep ISS where it is and eliminate CxP, but keep Orion, what happens?”

    That depends on how close the SDLV really is to $1.6B/year, and how much Orion costs. I suspect those costs will eat up the Shuttle and Constellation amounts. Here’s a sidemount comparison from NASASpaceflight:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/06/sd-hlv-assessment-highlights-post-shuttle-solution/

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

    Ouch. $3.6B/year with 6 launches for the sidemount. Will the Senate’s prefered inline be less per launch? Maybe, but NASA seems to think it will cost considerably more than the Senate is funding to develop.

    One thing we do know is what the Senate is funding for the early development years. That will be a good guideline to show what we can expect, politically, after development is done. The Senate wants

    ISS
    SLS – $2.6B/year
    Orion – $1.9B/year
    KSC upgrades for government vehicles – about 0.5B/year

    So, they’re using up $4B/year already.

    Now take away some for increases in ISS use, science, and aeronautics, which all of the Administration and Congressional budgets support with exactly the same amounts, and you don’t have much left.

    Both Senate and the Administration fund robotic precursors. With the Senate, those will be be tiny missions or instruments hosted on other spacecraft, so you’re probably talking about Falcon 1 sized launches or no dedicated launches at all, not payloads for the SLS. The same is probably the case for exploration technology demonstrations. The funding line there in the Senate’s bills isn’t enough to justify SLS-sized payloads. Then there’s residual funding for commercial crew, which again doesn’t use SLS.

    Something has to give if money would be freed up for SLS payloads … something big.

  • Mike Snyder

    LOL, thanks George! Please enjoy your day and have a great weekend!

  • You should probably know that is not the reason Ares died, Ares 1 was also not a heavy lift rocket.

    Ares I was a very expensive down payment on Ares V. That was its primary justification for existence.

    In your estimate, what will a SDLV cost to operate?

    A billion a year, at a minimum. It depends on flight rate, which is likely to be quite low, which means that per-flight costs will be very high.

    Also, are you sure the trade has not been performed or in the process of being performed?

    There is no way for me to know that, but I know that the Congressional opinion on the matter is backed by no trades.

    Whatever your answer, I would like to see what data you have to back it up. Also, what is required, in your opinion of course, for it to be performed in a realistic way?

    To include development costs, and use realistic flight rates.

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure you can supply that answer without it being biased. Clearly based on your previous comments you would have a slant toward an all ULA launch monopoly.

    Really? And here I have others telling me that I think that I worship Elon Musk, and that SpaceX should get all of the work.

    The mind-reading ability of some commenters in this forum needs a lot of work.

    Also, I am not “fantasizing” anything. Look at your choice of words. I have not been so harsh with you until recently. Granted this is a website and it is difficult to guage true character but your wording choice did not leave a lot of room for movement.

    If you think that there was anything in my choice of words that indicated that I don’t “tolerate” you, you don’t understand the meaning of the word.

  • I wrote:

    And here I have others telling me that I think that I worship Elon Musk, and that SpaceX should get all of the work.

    That should have been “And here I have others telling me that I worship Elon Musk, and I think that SpaceX should get all of the work.

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 6:36 am <- The Great Waldo Oler is as wrong headed as an icon from his beloved antique aviation days named Corrigan. You're in good company.

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    First I will say that “tolerate” may have not been the best choice of words. I can admit that, yet really do stand by the essence of what I was saying. I don’t think it needs to go further than that honestly.

    With respect to Ares 1, while that may have been the “official” and initial justification I think you are probably smart enough to not really believe what you wrote. You probably know that Ares 1 was a complete and totally different rocket by the end with little in common to Ares V, it wasn’t even going to have the same number of booster segs. While in the beginning when it was tagged as “safe, simple and soon” that may have been the case it was far from that when it was over.

    While the costs of SDLV are still being worked, I am glad you did not through out a very large number just for the sake of it. Another poster commented on an NSF.com article with prices yet did not post the next paragraph that states:

    “Contractor & NASA skill bases would be merged; there would be reduced reserves, facilities efficiencies, and commercial production efficiencies. NASA would provide Baseline anchor tenancy and there would be limited liability. At a flight rate of 6 launches per year, the HLV recurring cost is about $450M per flight.”

    This is based on a study completed 6-7 months ago without a lot of definition, as is also noted in the article. It also shows the the “bandwith” at that point in time. It will be further refined though now as the trade is going on now and some previous NASA-internal studies have also been performed which are and have done exactly what you proposed.

    Honestly, I am not a mindreader. Also I do not know you, spoken with you, nor have I ever frequented this site so am only basing my comments off of previous ones made on this thread. That’s all.

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

    In other words, not considering development costs.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And does it include the carrying costs of LC-39, Michoud etc during development?

  • red

    “So, they’re using up $4B/year already.”

    I should have said $5B/year …

  • red

    Mike: “Another poster commented on an NSF.com article with prices yet did not post the next paragraph that states:

    “Contractor & NASA skill bases would be merged; there would be reduced reserves, facilities efficiencies, and commercial production efficiencies. NASA would provide Baseline anchor tenancy and there would be limited liability. At a flight rate of 6 launches per year, the HLV recurring cost is about $450M per flight.””

    From the NSF article, the lower $450M/year SDHLV figure is for a commercial SDHLV:

    “The bottom (green) curve would apply to a fully privatized management approach, reflecting the significant recurring cost reductions possible by operating HLV on a commercial launch services basis.”

    I don’t think that’s what the Senate wants, and I don’t think it’s likely to happen that way. I think the Senate wants a NASA-owned SDHLV, which is why I used the $600M/launch (with 6 launches/year) figure.

    On the other hand, these figures from the NSF article are for a sidemount configuration, and it’s possible that a basic inline configuration will cost less than the sidemount during operations (possibly at the expense of higher development costs and time).

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    We can do a lot right now without developing an HLV of any kind. We could build another ISS, or use ISS type modules to build exploration vehicles, and fuel them with depots put up by a myriad of launchers. We can do that today. All of our space hardware is designed to fit within a 5m fairing, and a vast amount of it is already space qualified. Restart the production lines, and you’re ready to build and launch.

    Congress is not going to be increasing NASA’s budget just because they are forcing them to build an expensive launcher. They also won’t be giving them more money for the larger payloads that will be required. Are you OK with the myriad of smaller programs and science that will get crowded out?

    Also, larger payloads require longer planning and building schedules, so now you’re talking about going away from quick-return results, to building your career on one project – and hoping it survives both the budget process and the launch. If you think JWST and MSL are bad with cost overruns, just wait until you scale up to HLV sized projects.

    In the end, it’s the complete opposite of our supply/demand economy, where demand forces new avenues of supply, and that also keeps prices in check. An HLV is supply without demand, and no forces keeping prices in check.

    Bottom line is money. HLV’s do not save us money, and in fact consume large amounts without defined ROI’s. Not a good deal for the U.S. Taxpayer.

  • Mike Snyder

    “We can do that today”

    We have no defined mission requirements yet to detail those missions. Yet again, those are in the formative stages.

    There are not a “myriad” of launchers. There is Atlas V and Delta IV. In the slightly smaller class there is Falcon 9, which has exactly one flight worth of history. Now you have smaller launchers than that, but even if the mission requirements were totally defined and set in stone, there is a tipping point when you are spending more on smaller launch vehicles, integrating something in orbit, etc. Have we crossed that tip point? That’s right because you do not know because there are no totally defined requirements yet.

    Also, there are no depots yet. Cryogenic transfer has been done who often in orbit? That’s right….

    Also, who supplies the propellant? What type? At what frequency? What is the contracting method to do that? What is the risk that if these companies do not perform that the exploration mission grinds to a halt? What happens then? What vehicle delivers it? Heck, what are the basic vehicle requirements and interface control specs to define the interface, power, etc. Also, do we forever use conventional prop to go everywhere or at what point beyond LEO does that convential prop become a roadblock due to transit time and what purpose do they serve then?

    “Restart the production lines”. Earlier you said you were a DOD “manager of an operations project management group”. Given that I would expect you to know that you are making it sound much easier than it is in reality. Is all the tooling there? What about the vendors? Do they need to be recertified? What about the sub-tier vendors, will the still make the LRUs and SRUs? If so, at what delta cost and what about their certification? I could go on.

    I don’t say this to belittle your opinion but to hopefully show you that there is a lot more to it then you make it sound and that there are a lot of still unanswered questions today. I like depots, I like using “commercial” as part of the architecture, but lets not pretend that a SDLV is somehow keeping all of this back either.

    Finally, I have enjoyed this conversation but it is now the weekend. I don’t expect to be on here much again, if at all. Everyone please enjoy their weekend.

  • Bennett

    but lets not pretend that a SDLV is somehow keeping all of this back either.

    It’s not keeping all of it back until it sucks all of NASA’s budget away from developing the technology. As it seems to be doing already. How much technology development was crossed out in the FY2011 proposal in order to underfund a SDHLV?

    You try to present yourself as having no stake in this, that it is simply a matter of making the right decisions, but after reading all of your comments I have to say that it rings hollow.

    I think you care more about the spending for a SDHLV than you do about actually progressing towards permanent development and exploration of space. Like Congress, it’s about a job, and to hell with the future.

    Have a great weekend.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That went well.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I don’t say this to belittle your opinion but to hopefully show you that there is a lot more to it then you make it sound and that there are a lot of still unanswered questions today. I like depots, I like using “commercial” as part of the architecture, but lets not pretend that a SDLV is somehow keeping all of this back either.

    But that’s the point, it is.

    You gave a great list, and yes, I did make it sound fairly simple, but it is far more simple that building an SDLV and then a whole series of new payloads for it. It’s also quicker and less expensive to do all of that using existing designs and launchers.

    I see it as a choice between:

    A. Do what you described, which is continue on with the systems and payload families we have, and pursue the technologies we need for living, working and exploring space, or

    B. Don’t do any of that, because first we have to build an HLV and a new family of payloads.

    I choose “A”. Have a good weekend.

  • In the slightly smaller class there is Falcon 9, which has exactly one flight worth of history.

    How much history does any vehicle that NASA proposes to build have? How much will it have, say, four years from now?

  • Byeman

    DCSCA wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Did you work STS-107? Did train the crew? Did you have to identify pieces of the payloads? Do you have some guilt because you feel the crew died for less than honorable reasons and while you profited from the mission?

  • Mike Snyder

    Rand,

    It was a simple statement of fact. Nothing to get defensive over. I wish SpaceX all the best but everyone has to begin somewhere and the fact is, Falcon 9 has one flight of history.

    With a SDLV, granted that configuration will have zero flights, but it will consist of elments, processes and operations that have been in place and refined for the past 30 years.

    Ron,

    You obviously have read nothing I have said or at least comprehended it. You choose A and that is exactly what I have talked about. The thing is you just do not want a SDLV out of some pre-concieved bias where you admit to being an “outsider” and unwilling to even listen to other views and openly admit on another article you are “rooting for failure”

    Bennet,

    Thank you for your comment but it equates to internet “arm-waving”. I have said I have nothing to personally gain, several times above, from a SDLV. My job does not translate with a SDLV. I say what I say because I believe in it and stand for something. Do not question my integrity again.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    The thing is you just do not want a SDLV out of some pre-concieved bias where you admit to being an “outsider” and unwilling to even listen to other views and openly admit on another article you are “rooting for failure”

    I rooted for Constellation to end for the same reason I would not want an SDLV – too much cost for too little return.

    My preconceived bias is to do as much as possible, while spending the least amount. Oh, and doing it within the allotted budget. SDLV is being built too soon – far before there is a sustained demand for it. Because of that, it is a waste of time and money, and diverts the small resources NASA has away from actually doing anything in space.

    One way to look at it would be a competition. Let’s say you and I get $10B each, what could we do with it?

    You – All your money goes towards building an SDLV, but that probably is not enough to finish it, or to build any payloads even if you did.

    Me – Using existing launchers, I could assembly ISS-type components in space, add engines, add a fuel depot, and go orbit around the Moon in a nice comfy lab to test out an NEO mission. Oh, and I could probably do a couple of crew rotations too.

    As an outsider, I am biased towards wanting things to be done – and I don’t care who really does them. NASA or commercial, or even ESA and JAXA, I want progress on expanding our permanent presence in space.

    SDLV is not needed to start this progress, so SDLV is holding things up. As a taxpayer, I say kill it, and kill it soon, and if you have to go look for a job in the private sector, then I wish you good luck, but I don’t think you should be treated any different than me.

    I hope that clears up any confusion in my previous statements…

  • Mike Snyder

    “and if you have to go look for a job in the private sector, then I wish you good luck, but I don’t think you should be treated any different than me.”

    LOL, what does that even mean? I work in the private sector by the way, I am not a government employee.

    I want progress too. I can say I have actually worked toward making that happen. In the end, you have a different opinion about how it should be done. The difference between you and me is what you advocate I do not “openly root against” because either HLV will work.

    The justifications of why I believe what I do I have made clear I hope. Unfortunately, based on the responses, those views are not welcome hear based on some of the rather “personal” comments throughout which make it difficult to have any meaningful debate or even make coming to this site worth my time.

  • Mike Snyder

    By the way Ron, again you are making things sound simpler than they are. Statements like “10 billion and you can’t even get SDLV off the ground but I could be zipping all around the inner solar system” are a bit meaningless.

    For example:

    What launch vehicles would you use? How many will you need and how does that fit into your budget? How will you assemble them in orbit? What kind of integration testing is required prior to leaving orbit? What engines will you use and why? What depots (see previous questions further up)? Will the engines you select and the theoretical depot be compatible? When returning from orbiting the moon how do you intend to get the crew back? What will you do with “crew rotations”? What vehicle will be used for crew rotation, etc….

  • Bennett

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Sir, I did not question your integrity (I respect the years you have spent working on and pushing for HSF), I questioned your underlying motivation. It strikes me as being obtuse to claim that ANY new LV built by and for NASA will not effect funding for tech development and commercial space companies. History show exactly the opposite.

  • Anonymous

    Is there any evidence that Marshall can actually build an HLV (shuttle derived or otherwise) in any reasonable budget or timeframe? There is a lot of evidence, including Shuttle, that it can’t.

    There is some evidence that Congress and NASA outside of Marshall know that and that this HLV-now plan really is a bribe with absolutely no expectation of getting a vehicle out of it.

    The industry and NASA should plan accordingly…

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’ve heard that too, from a knowledgeable source. But what if they unexpectedly succeed? Surely, given enough time and money and with enough contractor support, they could develop an RS-68A powered 4 seg J-120.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Fair enough question. I’ve thought about this, but never put pen to paper, so this is a quick budget version. For $10B, this is what I would do:

    Mission:
    - Test out in-orbit vehicle assembly techniques without a Shuttle
    - Create a prototype expedition vehicle for local exploration
    - Explore Lagrange, and techniques for using Lagrange points

    Philosophy:
    - Success is measured by what is done in space, not on the ground
    - This is a temporary program with a fixed budget
    - Safety is paramount, but action is required
    - Use existing hardware and systems (Off-The-Shelf) where possible
    - Small team sizes, operating “off-campus” from NASA

    Systems:
    - Leverage ISS components like Node 3, Quest Airlock, and other sub-systems to avoid R&D and NRE
    - Use one crew provider (SpaceX)
    - Use Delta IV Heavy for large payloads, Falcon 9 for crew and smaller payloads
    - Assume ACES 41 can be developed and produced (and works)

    Total Hardware & Launch = $6B

    Crew = $720M
    $300M for SpaceX to man-rate Falcon 9/Dragon
    $140M/crew flight – Construction/checkout + two crew flights

    Payload Transport = $1.752B
    5ea Delta IV Heavy (4 for ACES 41, 1 for Node 3)
    2ea Falcon 9 (Quest Airlock and European Robotic Arm)
    1ea Dragon Supply Mission (2nd crew mission)

    Exploration Vehicle = $3.534B
    $1.15B for Node 3 + cupola and tug motor
    $214M for Quest Airlock and tug motor
    $120M for European Robotic Arm and tug motor
    $1.05B for Service/Intergration Module (SIM – new design) and tug motor
    $1B for 4ea ACES 41 launched partially filled

    That leaves $4B for R&D, program management, salaries and overhead, and all those other costs that add up. Where possible, I used known costs for hardware, and for some, like Node 3 and my SIM, I had to guess. Hence the need for the $4B.

    If I’m the one running this, I would also run this through NASA, but I would locate them in Montana, or someplace far away from any other NASA facility or oversight, because that is what is needed to keep the team small and focused. I’ve been part of a team that did this within a large company, and it can work.

    Notes:

    A crew of no more than three is planned, and their Dragon stays docked to the Node 3 during the trip. With the crew rotation, supplies can be brought up with the available space/capacity.

    I assume that there are a number of issues that can be solved by inelegant solutions – safety first, but the bias is to build a prototype, not a pretty 1st gen vehicle. For instance, assembling the initial vehicle may require spacewalks, and the crew may have to do the first ones out of the Dragon. For the SIM, I foresee the need for a gimbaled ACES mount, because the vehicle stack will not be symmetrical. Also, the ACES provide the function of an EDS, and the RL-10′s will be added as needed (design allows 1-4).

    All done without an HLV, and we could start today on getting it going.

    Comments or questions?

  • Bennett

    It may go without saying that you have my vote for this type of approach, but just to be sure, I’m saying it. ;-)

    We need to spend what money we have getting things done, not studying ways to get things done. The “off the shelf” focus provides proven sub-systems. Once they’re integrated and tested in use, the elements can be replicated/launched for a reasonable price.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks, Bennett.

    I didn’t mention it, but obviously after the end of this $10B mission, the hardware is still useable, and continuing missions could be funded for probably around $3B or less, or the hardware could be reconfigured for something else (a Moon ISS, etc.).

    The advantage of modular is that you can add to it pretty easily, or remove & replace sections that are out of date or don’t do what you want. All done with the same construction techniques, as well as the existing launchers.

    Modular = Reusability = Saving Money

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron,

    This is what is the most frustrating to those who follow this debate.

    If our representatives were really interested in a “sustained superior presence in space”, they would mandate RFPs for fixed price contracts from Lockheed or Boeing (or whomever) for whatever specific goal they had in mind.

    Fuel Depot?

    In Orbit Construction Of Transit Vehicle with an ISS Based Tug Mission?

    Manned Lunar Orbit Mission with Robot Sample Return Landers?

    Rendezvous Mission (Flags and Footprints and Sample Return) from the 2025 NEO?

    A Manned Lunar Base by 2025?

    NASA/Commercial Space could do all of that. They could start now, this year. The 19 Billion Dollars a year will cover all of that, and more… …or, we can waste more time and more money doing something else.

    How do we pound this message through to them?

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