Congress, NASA

NASA learns to stop worrying and love heavy lift

When the administration released its FY2011 budget proposal in February, development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle was not a high priority: the proposal deferred a decision on an HLV design to as late as 2015, a plan reiterated by President Obama in his speech at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15. Instead, the proposal called for technology development for an HLV, including a new hydrocarbon rocket engine. That hasn’t set well in Congress, and the Senate’s NASA authorization bill calls for development of a HLV starting in FY11. NASA, it seems, is now willing to support that approach.

“NASA wants to start heavy-lift work in 2011 ‘in a very robust way,’” the Huntsville Times reported today, quoting deputy administrator Lori Garver, who is in town. And what about the need to study various HLV designs? “We don’t need to study it anymore,” said Marshall director Robert Lightfoot, whose center would lead any HLV program.

Garver attempted to sound a conciliatory note in her comments, as least as reported by the Times: she said there’s no longer a “stalemate” between the White House and Congress on NASA, with both sides now talking to each other. (She added, though, that it would be up to Congress to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions of NASA authorization legislation.) She said that NASA and the administration got off to a poor start selling the new plan: “We had not well explained the issues with Constellation.” And, she complemented Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the most vociferous critics of the administration’s NASA policies: “One of the reasons we are as far as we are (in space) is because of Sen. Shelby.”

89 comments to NASA learns to stop worrying and love heavy lift

  • Ferris Valyn

    I’d love to know if they are so sure we need Heavy Lift, why can’t they actually fund the program correctly?

  • Martijn Meijering

    “One of the reasons we are as far as we are (in space) is because of Sen. Shelby.”

    Heh, ain’t that the truth.

  • Bennett

    “Can you build a heavy lift rocket for a billion dollars?”

    “Uh, sure! Whatever you say! When do you want it and in what color?”

  • Bennett

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 20th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Riiight! All the way to LEO.

  • CharlesHouston

    Lori and company have decided to make nice and see what the Congress looks like on Nov 4th. Unfortunately, that leaves the US working on an unsustainable plan, laying off experienced people that will be needed in February, and generally wasting time and money. Sigh.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Unfortunately, that leaves the US working on an unsustainable plan, laying off experienced people that will be needed in February, and generally wasting time and money.

    I see that as a feature, not a bug. It’s the opportunity cost I’m worried about and time lost, but there’s nothing we can do about the latter.

  • GuessWho

    “It has not been communicated well that the whole point of what we’re doing is because we don’t want to get behind” other nations, she said at another point.”.

    Seems this is a concern within the Administration. Wonder who the “other nations” are? Then again, Oler dismisses this argument as nothing but a right wing “fear” tactic. Does that mean that Obama and crew have changed their stripes to GOP’rs? Now that would be quite a transformation!

  • Matt Wiser

    Which proves an old Washington adage: The Adminstration proposes, but the Congress disposes. The original 2011 proposal came out, and was properly disposed of. Now the reconcilation process begins.

  • Robert G. Oler

    In victory is magnanimity and Obama has won…the Senate bill is the deal…

    it is the turning point of the nations future in space.

    Robert G. Oler

  • bongstar420

    What about the military budget? I thought that war was more important….We can’t have things like space development for the commoners get in the way of blood on the streets and corporate dominion.

  • Curtis Quick

    Robert,

    I wish I could be as certain as you are about the outcome. My deep dark suspicion is that the outflow of big money from the US govt. through the NASA budget to old aerospace is going to continue and without any strings attached in the form of continued cost-plus contracts. This is a sad indictment of our current political system, but it seems that legislators can still be bought by big business for the low cost of an election victory and a secret promise for a seat on the board when they leave office or some other delicious perk. Chance are ATK is going to continue raking in the dough producing the most expensive and dangerous rocket parts available and NASA is still going to be buying them to go nowhere. There won’t be any money for exploration, R&D or commercial crew investment. I would even venture to suggest that laws will be enacted to strangle the commercial space baby before it can get out of its crib. It would be a terrible result, but I suspect the only way new American commercial space companies will be able to provide manned space capabilities will be to move off-shore. If it was a level playing field, old space would not have a chance. So for this reason old space will never allow new space to compete – their very survival depends on keeping the new competition out of the game. Sadly, I still expect to see a Falcon explode due to sabotage. The stakes are too high for fair play.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Garver is being politically realistic. Heavy lift is coming sooner rather than later. What it looks like has yet to be determined.

    The sad part is that the space program is pretty much in stasis until the next President. Clearly the Congress hopes for progress on an HLV and the Orion that will give him (or her) options to repair the damage Obama has caused.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Curtis Quick wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I am not pessimistic…I agree with your sentiments, that big business can buy things off…and in the case of the overall US Economy I am quite pessimistic about the future. Bush the last left a lot of bombs that have yet to go off, and the Obama administration seems feckless about disarming them.

    In space policy I am quite comfortable with how things are going (in part based on how the folks like Whittington are trying to find success in defeat).

    In the end what is going to happen is that the shuttle system is going to end, Ares will die and the infrastructure will go away…and couple that with NASA MOD/etc incompetence and inability to do anything within a budget…and the DoD’s need for a Delta IV heavy heavy…

    that is where we are going.

    And I am good with that.

    Look these are tough times, after eight years of mindless incompetence and the Obama administrations inability to lead flies to warm excrement…in the end we (those of us who want a space future different from a space past) should be quite happy.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Garver is being politically realistic. Heavy lift is coming sooner rather than later…

    not really. in the end it will work out on the Bolden time frame…because Bolden and the group he choses will be the folks who put the thing together…and it will be a Delta Knock off.

    At least you have abandoned the notion that there is going to be any real change with a new congress…and soon you will realize that there wont be much change with a new President.

    The joy of space policy is inertia and the notion of human exploration of space as a government function is in the process of dying…to be replaced by commercial space flight.

    Pretty soon you will be screaming that it was all your idea!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Gary Warburton

    So instead of Scientists and Engineers deciding what kind of vehicle we need, we have senators with no expertise, no scientific Knowledge or Engineering training, no real interest in space other than pork or no idea why they need a HLV or what they`re going to carry to orbit, deciding what kind of vehicle we need. What ever happened to research into creating cheaper better ways to orbit, to studying if fuel depots might be a better way to go. Oh that`s right Neil Armstrong says there is nothing new we can do to rockets.
    Don`t expect have much going in Space any time soon.
    Such a waste.

  • The visionary at NASA has thrown in the towel.

    Sad not to hear a word about new technologies or game changing access to LEO. There’s a line in the story where she and Lightfoot basically say OK, now tell us what you want it to be designed for.

    I also have twice now heard someone in NASA leadership say “we didn’t explain our plan well” when in fact it is clear that they did but they underestimated the impetus of the status quo politically and economically. The good medicine wasn’t palatable.

    The shortcoming in NASA’s original proposal was that it didn’t ask for full funding. Now with some sort of heavy lift consensus it is even more apparent that NASA needs to be funded for success not just for jobs.

    I find it tempting to pull the proper pieces out of each proposal and prepare a third (or would it be fourth)compromise bill that would ask for full funding for the major missions being envisioned. I’m surprised one of the CA House Reps hasn’t already had one drawn up.

  • Byeman

    “I would even venture to suggest that laws will be enacted to strangle the commercial space baby before it can get out of its crib. It would be a terrible result, but I suspect the only way new American commercial space companies will be able to provide manned space capabilities will be to move off-shore. If it was a level playing field, old space would not have a chance. So for this reason old space will never allow new space to compete – their very survival depends on keeping the new competition out of the game. Sadly, I still expect to see a Falcon explode due to sabotage. ”

    How delusional can you get?

    There isn’t that big of difference between “old’ and nuspace.
    Spacex and ULA compete for the same contracts. OSC is just as much nuspace as Spacex. Spacex is finding out that costs will be similar to what other contractors have.

    American companies can’t move offshore, they are still bound by the FAA.

    There would be no such thing as sabotage on the Cape.

    The issue is not “old” space companies, it is ‘old” space contracts by NASA and a congress that forces them on NASA.

    Here are companies with fixed price contracts with NASA. This is commercial space.
    Spacehab – REALMS (Boeing was the major contractor for Spacehab)
    ULA -NLS, CCDev
    OSC – NLS, COTS, CRS RSA
    Astrotech – East & west Coast payload processing
    SSI – west Coast payload processing
    Spacex – NLS, COTS, CRS
    Ball – RSA
    Boeing – CCDev,
    General Dynamics- RSA
    Lockheed Martin – RSA
    Northrop Grumman – RSA

  • Martijn Meijering

    There isn’t that big of difference between “old’ and nuspace.

    The issue is not “old” space companies, it is ‘old” space contracts by NASA and a congress that forces them on NASA.

    Hear, hear. With new contracting mechanisms Old Space would quickly become more entrepreneurial and with funding New Space would be able to make much faster progress ang gain more experience as well as attracting experienced personnel from the outside.

  • Egad

    Lightfoot’s comment about needing to know what the HLV is for is worth noting. And a potential source of embarrassment, in the unlikely event that any of the dramatis personae are capable of embarrassment.

    “Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot accompanied Garver to the editorial board meeting and said his center is ready to get to work on a heavy-lift rocket.

    “‘We don’t need to study it anymore,’ Lightfoot said.

    “However, he said NASA can’t release its heavy-lift acquisition strategy until it knows what the new rocket must be capable of doing. That still hasn’t been decided, he said.”

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “At least you have abandoned the notion that there is going to be any real change with a new congress…and soon you will realize that there wont be much change with a new President.”

    The change, insofar as Congress is concerned, has already taken place. Obamaspace is dead. Now the next President will have to repair things.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Obamaspace is dead

    Other than an HLV being forced on them earlier than planned, and less money for commercial space, the two biggest budget items Obama wanted, he got – Constellation is dead, and ISS lives.

    Constellation frees up funds in the future, since they won’t be anchored to a massive long-term program.

    ISS creates the demand in 2016 and beyond that commercial crew will need in order to get established.

    This budget will have good and bad in it, but like all budgets, they can change next year, or the year after. Commercial crew still has plenty of time to be ready for 2016, and until they start cutting metal for the HLV, we won’t know who’s design has won, or if it will really happen.

    I think the political dance going on right now is to cement a “glass half full” budget, with the hope that they can avoid a CR.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I think the political dance going on right now is to cement a “glass half full” budget, with the hope that they can avoid a CR.

    Do you think Obama wants to avoid a CR or that he is merely willing to accommodate a solution that avoids one? I still don’t understand why Obama wouldn’t prefer a CR.

    Does anyone here know the mechanics of a CR or any way to prevent it? Is it likely that Congress as a whole will agree to a separately passed NASA budget if there is going to be a CR for the budget as a whole anyway?

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 11:35 am

    From what I have read, a CR for NASA’s budget would continue Constellation work.

    I think Bolden/Garver would like to end Constellation, even if that means moving forward on the HLV. There is also more flexibility on HLV architecture with Constellation dead than with it still hanging around.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 11:17 am
    . Obamaspace is dead….

    maybe in the Rush spin rooms but in reality no its quite alive thank you.

    In fact Obama won…and if you were not blinded by Obama hate you would recognize that…Garver here is taking a victory lap.

    With the single exception of moving forward on an HLV faster then they want to, but slow enough to kill the shuttle derivatives; Obama and his NASA groups have set the new pathway; completely (and I take some glee in saying this) killing the VSE and Constellation.

    The shuttle and Cx workforce goes away; NASA stays with ISS and commercial space cometh, a blind emphasis (and money rat hole) of Cx goes away…and NASA gets to study an HLV where they will conclude shazam that a Delta IV super heavy is the way to go…and that is Victory.

    Everything that is going to happen in the next few years will reinforce that. There will be no great Chinese push to send people to the Moon (that will prove like Saddam’s WMD a right wing fantasy fear), money will get more and more tight and more and more of NASA’s bloated programs will chop chop away…soon even the US portion of ISS will start morphing off into some sort of non NASA management (probably some consortium of colleges).

    In the end five years or so from now when commercial space is changing the face of spaceflight people like you will say “wow our plan is working”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I think the political dance going on right now is to cement a “glass half full” budget, with the hope that they can avoid a CR.

    Do you think Obama wants to avoid a CR or that he is merely willing to accommodate a solution that avoids one? I still don’t understand why Obama wouldn’t prefer a CR….

    the trick is to try and avoid a CR.

    A CR keeps the shuttle and Cx systems alive and on life support…with a new budget the “death panels” can still convene and lay people off, tear down infrastructure etc of both programs.

    Then they are impossible to restart.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t think a CR keeps the shuttle alive, since it would allow a continution of Griffin’s scorched earth policy. I think it could prevent an extra shuttle flight and maybe dismantle a good deal of the workforce and infrastructure, making it much harder to field an SDLV soon. That of course is why I’m hoping for a CR.

  • Peter Lykke

    Oler:
    >>The shuttle and Cx workforce goes away; NASA stays with ISS and commercial space cometh, a blind emphasis (and money rat hole) of Cx goes away…and NASA gets to study an HLV where they will conclude shazam that a Delta IV super heavy is the way to go…and that is Victory.
    <<

    So it is crystal ball time. How about an alternative prediction:
    …and NASA gets directed to construct a Jupiter -type SDHLV and a Orion moon capsule on cost – plus contracts. After several budget cuts and scedule overruns a future president decides to use the funds elsewhere, and NASA dies of old age.

    Pessimistic? Hell yes. But I think really that this is possible.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Peter Lykke wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    well the devil might be in the details, but I concur if you believe that “NASA as we know it is dying” (those are my words but I put them in quotes to outline the core belief).

    NASA as we know it can no longer exist…the string has run. There is no support for the great (and costly and who cares how costly) human exploration programs that NASA really wants to run. The era of big budgets with no real sense of what is being done is over…and NASA as demonstrated on Cx doesnt have a fracken clue about how to do things within a set cost parameter.

    NASA as the doer of big space programs even though they are not exploration is mostly over as well.

    What NASA is going to evolve to by circumstance and design is a small tightly run R&D agency for astronautics. We should have gotten there after Apollo…but we are going there now

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Peter Lykke wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    NASA gets directed to construct a Jupiter -type SDHLV and a Orion moon capsule on cost – plus contracts. After several budget cuts and scedule overruns a future president decides to use the funds elsewhere, and NASA dies of old age.

    I think if commercial crew finally gets off the ground, Orion will be superseded by better exploration architectures (why lug a heat shield to the Moon or NEO?), and I think it will die.

    As for any SDHLV, I think there is a good chance it could die, but it will need some sort of political confluence to make it happen – which I’m rooting for. I think an HLV at this point is too soon, and will consume funds that could be used for smaller exploration programs, both human & robotic.

    Even if both do die, that is only a small part of NASA, and Congress has historically funded NASA about where it is today. Given today’s economic environment, even with a potential 20% drop in funding I still think you’ll see lots of R&D continue, as well as less expensive robotic exploration (which most people want anyways).

    For me, the program that must continue is the ISS, because that creates a known demand for crew and cargo, not to mention keeping our astronaut corps going. With this demand for transportation, other potential users of space, like Bigelow, will be able to leverage that transportation infrastructure to test out their products and services.

    Without the ISS, commercial use of space will be much slower to develop, and without commercial transportation providers for LEO, NASA’s HSF beyond LEO will be very hard to fund and maintain.

    My $0.02

  • Space Cadet

    Sabotage is a wee bit paranoid I think, but I will admit old space did succcessfully conspire to exclude any new competition by forcing the Air Force sign a 10 year launch contract that preserved their duopoly.

  • This SD-HLV political football could in the end be the death-knell of the traditional NASA as it’s constructed now, especially if MSFC can’t get it built by the end of 2016 as ordered. Then it will be there for all to see that a NASA center can’t get it done, after this public bruhaha for 18 months.

    The GOPers ( with the backing of the “anyone but Obama Independents” ) will ensure the reduction of the NASA budget for the next 5 years, thus recreating the FY2011 NASA budget by default, claiming it as their own.

    All in the name of the deficit cutting of course. Along with the extension of the Bu$h tax cuts and cuts to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

    The soft, mushy belly of Middle America believe in the Era of Austerity/Trickle-Piss Down the backs of folks meme.

    Frackin’ great.

  • amightywind

    She said that NASA and the administration got off to a poor start selling the new plan: “We had not well explained the issues with Constellation.” And, she complemented Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the most vociferous critics of the administration’s NASA policies: “One of the reasons we are as far as we are (in space) is because of Sen. Shelby.”

    Indeed, they got off to such a poor start that the administration and the NASA leadership lost the confidence of congress, who is now running the agency. The way is paved for the resumption of Constellation. Yes, thanks to Senator Shelby. Garver and Obama begin to understand the sweeping changes that will sweep the hill in 73 short days. The Obama/Pelosi/Reid’s reign of error is coming to an end. The GOP is gonna bust some balls. It is difficult to see the current NASA leadership surviving.

    The soft, mushy belly of Middle America believe in the Era of Austerity/Trickle-Piss Down the backs of folks meme.

    Trillion dollar deficits and double digit unemployment will make believers out of anyone. I am already buying stock and positioning my portfolio for the big win!

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    The way is paved for the resumption of Constellation“, said the ATK lobbyist.

    Except there is no Altair, no EDS, no Ares I, and what was the Ares V is now a miniature of it’s former self. Yep, right as ever.

    And how go those Ares I cost justifications you were working on? The math must be harder than you thought… ;-)

  • Peter Lykke

    Oler and Costal Ron:

    I sure hope you both are right and I couldn’t have said it better.

    But while the tension is growing, how about this one:

    “…and NASA gets directed to construct a Jupiter -type SDHLV and a Orion moon capsule on cost – plus contracts. After several budget cuts and scedule overruns a committee headed by a former administrator concludes that NASA needs to focus its entire strength on finishing the LV, using proven technology. Technology projets are mothballed to secure sufficient funds and a nearly – finished five segment SB resurrected as a way to secure ample performance. The vice president, himself a former astronaut, states the commitment of USA to be leaders in space.”

    You know, if it wasn’t for a creeping feeling that this might be the grim future, it would actually be funny.

  • Peter Lykke

    - and before you ami’s crucify me , here is the positive version:

    …and NASA gets directed to construct a Jupiter -type SDHLV and a Orion moon capsule on fixed contracts. After several budget increases caused by safety and performance considerations, the vehicle is ready for launch in late 2017. A NASA spokesman states that “this is the safest and most state of the art vehicle in the world. The US has secured LEO access in case multiple accidents prevents the normal access to LEO by the three commercial firms currently in operation. The vehicle will not be improper competition, as it is to be used only in case of emergency”. Just a few thousand employees are needed to constantly secure the readiness of the vehicle”.

    Less chilling, right?

  • DCSCA

    “The joy of space policy is inertia and the notion of human exploration of space as a government function is in the process of dying…to be replaced by commercial space flight.” <- More exhaust from the aft end of Waldo's service module, exposing an inability to comprehend what the history of rocketry has shown and why the advances in manned spaceflight were spearheaded by various governments, not commerical space enterprises. A reminder- as the end of third quarter of 2010 nears, commerical space has flown nobody. In fact nobody since viable manned spaceflight began. While rocket development, including advances and milestones in successful human space exploration over the past half century, has been and will necessarily continue to be sponsored by governments.

    History is prologue. It has been governments, in various political guises over the past 80-plus years of rocketry, that has financed and pushed the engineering and technology forward, including the subset of manned spaceflight, which is really more or less just two generations old. Commercial space has never lead the way in unmanned or manned space operations except in Hollywood… (again, see Destination Moon for your business plan). Commerical space always been a follow-along, cashing in where it could– as space 'exploitation,' not space exploration. Manned and unmanned space exploration in this era will continue to flourish under some national banner, or banners. Whether that leadership will remain chiefly American is much less certain. But it's a safe bet that the next human to set foot on the moon– or Mars and beyond, will arrive in a spacecraft bearing his or her's national emblem(s), not a corporate logo.

    Commercial space exploration? Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Peter Lykke

    Any others? There must someone out there who has another vision about how NASA can waste a few billion taxpayer dollars.

    Mr Wind? I cannot wait to hear your entry.

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 21st, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Please keep reminding him about this. As a taxpaying member of this board, I am looking forward to his cost justifications for Ares I. However, I think he’ll keep ignoring our request for real numbers to back his ATK loving rhetoric.

  • MrEarl

    It’s called compromise people and, throwing out the extremes like Windy and Oler, I find it interesting all those predicting (hoping?) for failure of this SLS in the Senate bill. It serves no purpose and helps no one for NASA to fail at developing the SLS.
    Ron, Simberg and others will call this pork spending but that carries less weight when you realize that supporters of this bill include Mikulski and Rockafeller who have nothing to gain by the SLS.

    A few things that are apparent, Congress was not buying the the administration’s vision for the future of human space flight and the Administration did a very poor job with this plan from start to finish. Also, Congress dose not trust the current management at NASA as evident through the specificity of the launch vehicle design that is included in the Senate bill. The administration is not committed enough to their version of the NASA FY’11 budget to expend the political capital to fight for it.

    On the other hand; I think NASA realizes that Congress knows that the Aries LV’s are not practical and that NASA will have to enter into a cooperative arrangement with a commercial company (Boeing?) to make this SLS in the time frame and budget that has been allotted. Commercial crew will be given every proper opportunity, through investor tax breaks and limited government contracts, to develop into a viable business model.

    It’s not a perfect bill, R&D and robotic exploration takes a big hit but hopefully it will be temporary and restored one the SLS is operational.

    The Senate bill is something that all of those who want to see the US to continue to have a strong presence in space and the ability for beyond Earth exploration and settlement should support.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron, Bennett,

    If you persist in asserting that 3 Delta IV cores are simpler and less expensive than a single 5 segment SRB then I can do little but hope someone will intervene and get you to rehab. While you are there, check out this web site.

    http://www.safesimplesoon.com/faq.htm

  • Byeman

    More disinformation from windy.

    Wrong on two accounts.

    “3Delta IV cores ARE less expensive than a single 5 segment SRB”

    ATK costs for a 5 segment SRM, do not include the cost to make it into a SRB, nor does it include O&M on VAB, pad, MLP, Crawlers, LCC, ARF, Hangar AF, RSPF, etc. Delta IV costs are all inclusive of its facilities.

    Also the proper comparison is 3Delta IV cores and upperstage ARE less expensive than a single 5 segment SRB and upperstage with avionics.

    Delta IV wins hands down.

    Also, the computed reliability for Ares I is only .004 more than Delta IV. Statically insignificant for the low flight rates of these vehicles, where process influences have a larger effect than design reliability.

    Basically, Ares I is not worth the cost of an insignificant increase in reliability.

  • Byeman

    http://www.safesimplesoon.com/faq.htm

    This website is oriented to the clueless with no knowledge of launch vehicle and those who are easily swayed by marketing and not engineering

  • Martijn Meijering

    Delta IV wins hands down.

    Also, Delta IV already exists so its development costs have been paid for. Its fixed costs are currently also paid for already, from the DoD’s budget which is as safe a source as you can imagine since assured access to space for the military is vital to US national security.

  • Anonymous

    There is an assumption in the above comments that NASA is capable of building an HLV. There is no evidence of that going back almost 30 years. What there is evidence of is the _inability_ to build an HLV.

  • Mrearl

    NASA has been operating an HLV for 30 years, the shuttle.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Anonymous,

    Well, in fairness, I don’t think that NASA has attempted to build an HLV in the last 30 years. It has tried (and failed) to build an SSTO shuttle (VentureStar) and has made a complete pig’s ear of shuttle replacement (OSP and later Orion/Ares-I). However, they haven’t attempted to build and field an HLV since the Shuttle stack was created in the mid- to late-70s (Before anyone shouts at me, the shuttle stack puts 110t IMLEO – that’s heavy lift). The closest they’ve got was the NLS in the ’90s and that was a paper-only study, even though it was progressed as far as a paper-only project could be.

    On the flip side, there is no reason why building an HLV should be any less fraught with problems and delays from the internal politics of NASA than building an MLV to send crew and possibly cargo to the ISS. Really, and I have said this before, what SLS will test is if NASA is fit for purpose anymore.

    More positively, sounds are coming out of Huntsville that suggest that MSFC will be severely limited in the amount of control it has over the SLS project. If these rumours are true, complete responsibilty except high-level oversight will transfered to the contractors after CDR.

  • MrEarl

    Delta IV heavy is more cost effective and capable as a launch vehicle for a fully functional Orion than the Aries I. But the Delta IV heavy is about the limit for this vehicle with the 5m core. The 5m Delta IV will never be able to lift the 70mt+ required of the SLS. Boeing knows this and has proposed a family of launch vehicles based on shuttle derived components. Their proposed design has configurations that could lift between 18 and 118mt with each configuration being “Man rated” by way of it’s shuttle heritage and work being done on the RS-68 and RS-25e . A Boeing/ULA/NASA partnership would be the best way to bring the SLS and BEO Orion to completion.

  • Anonymous

    Mrearl said:
    “NASA has been operating an HLV for 30 years, the shuttle.”

    I said built, not operated. But as Ben correctly points out, I should correct my statement to include ANY launch system, not just HLV.

    Ben Russell-Gough said:
    “what SLS will test is if NASA is fit for purpose anymore”

    If it fails (and I’m fully expecting it to) will we finally fire NASA as our National Rocket Design Bureau?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Peter Lykke wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:10 am

    both scenarios gave me a chuckle…they are pretty good.

    here is my two paths. If NASA tries an SDV it will flounder in the first year. They just dont have the horsepower to do anything remotely competently and for a price given. Every project that they have tried in house has come unhinged by sheer ineptness and inability to meet any sort of price deadline.

    If they try a Delta Derived and do it in some sort of unique partnership…it might work. Boeing and ULA have the skill and probably the competence to do some project like the growth versions of the Delta that they have viewgraphed and to do it in some reasonable cost frame.

    Where people like Mr. Earl come apart in their logic…is that they clearly still believe that there is some underlying interest by the Congress in human exploration of space…they just dont get it that this was the death knell for such activities.

    Its fairly strange right now for all the Obama haters here.

    If his economic policies work and the economy turns around by 2012 he has an easy shot at reelection and THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE that the Congress wont have to make the real hard cuts at NASA (and everywhere else) that will doom human exploration of space.

    If his economic policies dont work (and I view this as likely) then it is very very likely that NASA is going to find its budget down to 15 or less billion a year pretty soon with the GOP deficit hawks leading the way…and will almost be down to a civil servant organization…and the CS in human spaceflight are simply incompetent.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    But the Delta IV heavy is about the limit for this vehicle with the 5m core.

    ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and ULA released a growth path last year that outlines how Atlas V can grow to 70t, and Delta IV to 100t+. The intermediate steps to these sizes utilize existing facilities and launch pads, so there is lots of cost leveraging that they can do as larger payloads are required. The launchers can grow as the payload need does.

    Regarding “man-rated”, ULA has said it would cost $1.3B to upgrade the Delta IV Heavy EDS and facilities for crew, and $400M for Atlas V. We can do it today, and we don’t need to build an HLV to start exploring with crew.

    Lastly, in regards to:

    Mrearl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 11:33 am

    NASA has been operating an HLV for 30 years, the shuttle.

    Beyond Mission Control, NASA does not really “operate” the orbiters – United Space Alliance does all the processing, and it costs NASA about $100M/month for their services.

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    You’ve been wrong about everything else concerning the FY’11 budget, congressional intent and actions and the likely outcomes of various proposals. Your track record been pretty bad this year.

    Where Oler’s logic comes apart is not his belief that human space flight is un-necessary but that most people in congress hold that view too. The Senate bill proves that there is still support for NASA in general and human space flight in particular.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 10:15 am

    If you persist in asserting that 3 Delta IV cores are simpler and less expensive than a single 5 segment SRB then I can do little but hope someone will intervene and get you to rehab.

    Or you could just provide a simple cost comparison that shows everyone why you are right. That should be pretty easy, especially since Delta IV Heavy exists, is flying, and the costs are well known.

    All you have to do is provide us with the Ares I costs that will show how it is such a better deal for all us taxpayers. That should be a SAFE task for you to do, as will as SIMPLE, and SOON. Just like your namesake… ;-)

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    I said: “But the Delta IV heavy is about the limit for this vehicle with the 5m core. That’s the key that you missed. Anything else is essentially a new vehicle requiring new development, new pads, new facilities, ect.
    Yes, ULA dose have plans that will take the Delta IV to over 100mt and this plan looks a great deal like a SDHLV! 8m core, RS-68b-c engines, in this case using 3 cores instead of one core and two SRB’s. Boeing sees the advantages of partnering with NASA to develop the SLS. Lets hope that NASA sees the advantages as well.

  • Martijn Meijering

    A Boeing/ULA/NASA partnership would be the best way to bring the SLS and BEO Orion to completion.

    Perhaps, but what if SLS + beyond LEO Orion is a very bad idea? Then it is better if it fails.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    lots of laugh…really sort of funny.

    There are people who still tell me that the critics were wrong, the WMD did exist and it went to syria or something.

    The facts are that in human spaceflight (and NASA direction in general) Obama has won.

    The shuttle will die, Ares/Cx will die and then the infrastructure goes away. If the Congress had wanted to keep it they would have “B-1′ed” it…but they dont so it wont.

    The Congress doesnt care if there is a 5 or 10 or 50 meter shroud on an HLV, they care that it can be done for the dollars offered and a SDV cannot…that is why it will be a Delta derivative that gets the nod.

    In the end I dont think that it will matter…I am starting to suspect an HLV doesnt survive in any mode actually. One reason that Garver et al are moving to get the Senate bill passed is that none of them are liking what they are hearing about the debt reduction commission group…and what its plans are for NASA.

    15 billion dollars has been a floated target number!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Mr Earl,

    The only upgrade to D-IVH that does not require modification of LC-37B or the completion of -37A is the introduction of RS-68A next year. That moves the limit up to about 25t IMLEO on an optimum trajectory (human-safe trajectory may be lower).

    Frankly, if NASA is only going to LEO/ISS I would prefer something like the CST-100 or Dragon. Orion is immensely overpowered for LEO applications. You really only need a smaller Atlas-V for the LEO taxis.

    For BEO applications, multi-launch would be needed for an EELV/Commercial-based program (say, one for the EDS, one for the mission module, one for fuelling the EDS and then crew launch). It is doable but multi-launch would increase complexity, risk and possibly cost. There is no way around this road-block except by either funding HLV or funding upgrades to LC-37 and -41 to accept much larger vehicles such as Atlas-VH and the use of ACES upper stages.

  • Their proposed design has configurations that could lift between 18 and 118mt with each configuration being “Man rated” by way of it’s shuttle heritage

    Having Shuttle heritage does not make a system “man rated.” That would be true even if Shuttle is man rated. Which it isn’t. I wish that people who have no idea what the phrase “man rated” means would stop throwing it around as though they do.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    “Man Rated” means one thing: Acceptable to NASA’s bureaucratic leadership and political support base. It means nothing else and never has.

  • Martijn Meijering

    15 billion dollars has been a floated target number!

    I hope that’s true.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Having Shuttle heritage does not make a system “man rated.”.;..

    yes that cannot be said enough Robert G. Oler

  • Set it straight

    @ byeman

    “3Delta IV cores ARE less expensive than a single 5 segment SRB”

    ATK costs for a 5 segment SRM, do not include the cost to make it into a SRB, nor does it include O&M on VAB, pad, MLP, Crawlers, LCC, ARF, Hangar AF, RSPF, etc.

    You know this how? Actually,yes, it does include all those things. Except for the MLP since it isn’t RSRMV specific. These are separate contracts under the Ares first stage contract which role into the price tag.

    Also, the computed reliability for Ares I is only .004 more than Delta IV. Statically insignificant for the low flight rates of these vehicles, where process influences have a larger effect than design reliability.

    Are you stating that processes play no role into the D-IV architecture? The processes alone for putting together liquid rocket motor are more expensive, complex and timely than the whole SRB. Until you compare the two by yourself and not by spewing out others thoughts, don’t bother posting.

  • MrEarl

    Oler, you sound like someone from a “30′s” horror film, “The shuttle will die, Ares/Cx will die” Muuuhahahaha and WMD’s have NOTHING to do with anything. My god, you get one thing right in 30 years and we never stop hearing about it!

    Ben:
    “Frankly, if NASA is only going to LEO/ISS I would prefer something like the CST-100 or Dragon. ”
    I would prefer that for those capsules to succeed they do so with private investment helped along federal tax breaks and then NASA contracts once a capability is shown.
    Absolutely, multiple launches would greatly increase complexity that”s why I support a NASA/Boeing/ULA partnership to develop a SDHLV, call it Delta IV super heavy for the Oler’s out there, construct them in the VAB and launch them Complex 39. This would be the configuration that heads us back tword the moon and cic-lunar space.

    Coastal Ron says that he supports the ISS because that provides a destination for for commercial crew and cargo.
    Then you should also support SLS and Orion and the establishment of lunar bases because they would provide BEO destinations for commercial crew and cargo.
    Finally, Rand, your right. “man-rating” a launch vehicle has more to do with the systems involved and not components.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Coastal Ron says that he supports the ISS because that provides a destination for for commercial crew and cargo.

    Then you should also support SLS and Orion and the establishment of lunar bases because they would provide BEO destinations for commercial crew and cargo.

    ISS is in orbit, and has an operating budget through 2020, and will likely be funded longer. If you want the Russians to keep shuttling our people up, that’s fine, but I’d like to get at least one (preferably two) American commercial alternatives.

    Lunar bases and BEO destinations are not funded, and probably could not be afforded under a $19B/year NASA budget (much less $15B) that is trying to build an HLV.

    Besides, I have always been very clear that I support NASA being the leader in non-routine activities. Transporting cargo to the ISS is ready for commercial, and crew could be with NASA help – those repeatable LEO functions are routine.

    BEO will likely be NASA territory until it becomes routine. But someday, yes, commercial will follow.

  • Coastal Ron

    Set it straight wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Are you stating that processes play no role into the D-IV architecture? The processes alone for putting together liquid rocket motor are more expensive, complex and timely than the whole SRB. Until you compare the two by yourself and not by spewing out others thoughts, don’t bother posting.

    Ah, an SRB does not an Ares I make. Is someone forgetting the entire liquid fueled J-2X upper stage?

    So remember what you said, that “the processes alone for putting together liquid rocket motor are more expensive, complex and timely than the whole SRB”. Ares I has a new liquid fueled motor that has to air start, put on top of an SRB-only 1st stage that has vibration issues and no flight history. Does that help you to understand the reliability issues better?

    For the cost justifications for Ares I, Windy will be providing his numbers soon – or so we thought. Hmm, maybe there is a problem with trying to justify Ares I just on the amount of money we taxpayers have to pay? Say it ain’t so Windy!

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Finally, Rand, your right. “man-rating” a launch vehicle has more to do with the systems involved and not components.

    Convenience too, wouldn’t you think? Would the Shuttle be “man-rated” today if a commercial company proposed it? I doubt it. But NASA can ignore little things like no LES.

    No government or commercial crew system can ever be 100% safe – just like you driving your car. So it’s really a matter of trying to build a reasonably safe system, and make sure they are operated as safely as possible.

    NASA didn’t stop the Shuttle after Challenger, so that appears to be the standard we should hold everyone to.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    actually it is more then one thing, its almost everything.

    To the dismay of people like Whittington and some others I predicted shortly after Bush made his “Vision” speech that it would flounder much as it has done. On this board…it is not hard to find.

    Several of the folks who then were great supporters of the notion of VSE were aghast. “you are just anti Bush”…well true I thought he was an idiot…but a predictable one.

    Politics is not that hard if you just dont let emotion get in the way…it is fairly easy to predict once one has the basics down.

    Ares/Cx is dead and so is shuttle…has been for a long time

    Robert G. Oler

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    If you persist in asserting that 3 Delta IV cores are simpler and less
    expensive than a single 5 segment SRB then I can do little but hope
    someone will intervene and get you to rehab.

    It is a matter of public record that Boeing developed the Delta IV Heavy under Air Force contract for $500 million. It is also a matter of public record that NASA has already spent $5 billion on Ares I — ten times the entire development cost of the Delta IV Heavy. Steve Cook, NASA’s former program manager for the Ares project, has publicly stated that development of the Ares I will cost $35 billion before it flies.

    So which are you taking issue with: Boeing’s Delta IV Heavy development contract, NASA’s FY05 – FY10 budget documents, or NASA’s former Ares program manager?

    Mike

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    “Ares/Cx is dead and so is shuttle…has been for a long time”
    Sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself. Their legacy will live on in the SLS/Delta IV Super Heavy and you need to get use to that.

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    “BEO will likely be NASA territory until it becomes routine. But someday, yes, commercial will follow.”
    The only way to make it routine is to support SLS and NASA expansion BEO with commercial cargo and crew taking over support of the ISS and gaining experience for when they will be called on to support the lunar bases.

    I don’t like seeing us depend on the Russians for crew transportation but I’m also not for government picking the winner of commercial crew transport and providing the capital. I think the way to develop commercial crew transport is through federal tax breaks and loan guarantees and then NASA contracts to companies that have shown crew transport capabilities. This will allow for NASA to devote the majority of it’s budget to BEO capabilities.

  • Byeman

    “You know this how? Actually,yes, it does include all those things

    Wrong on all points.

    No, the commonly thrown around number of 40 million per SRM does not. Also, the cost of an ATK 5 segment first stage booster are only for hardware and most certainly does NOT include O&M cost of the VAB, pad, MLP, Crawlers, LCC, ARF, Hangar AF, RSPF, etc.

    Most processes with Delta IV can be tested before flight, the same can’t be said for SRM assembly.

    So set it wrong, don’t bother posting your ATK PR spin

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    The only way to make it routine is to support SLS and NASA expansion BEO…

    I like the idea of NASA going beyond LEO, but I don’t agree that we need any new launchers to do it. This is the main point of contention between those that want an HLV, and those that don’t.

    Right now we have the same lift capacity without the Shuttle as we do without it. Delta IV Heavy can pretty much put in space anything the Shuttle could, and the Shuttle never maxed out it’s payload anyways.

    We could build another ISS today if we wanted, or use modular construction techniques to build BEO exploration vehicles. 5m wide cargo is pretty big – don’t you ever watch the astronauts floating around the ISS on NASA TV? I don’t know why we need anything wider, and with modular construction, we have not reached the limits of this type of assembly.

    On the earlier “Space policy and topsy-turvy political philosophy” topic on SpacePolitics, I detailed a $10B program that could take us to the Lagrange points (and probably around the Moon). This was to show what could be done with $10B – explore, or sink money into an HLV (and it probably needs more $Billions). I want do something within the constraints of today, rather than wait for something “better” down the road.

    If commercial services LEO, they will be in good shape to follow NASA as it goes on to it’s next destinations, whether it be the Moon, NEO’s or beyond. In fact, once they are established, I have no doubt we’ll start seeing privately funded trips to circle the Moon, or even attempt something beyond – all on a budget that NASA could not touch. That type of mixed environment of demand will be the point when things really start picking up steam for space activity.

  • DCSCA

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:34 pm<- nonsense.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    <- nonsense.” <- pickles.

    Look, I made as much sense as you did!

  • Bennett

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 5:32 pm <- Troll

    There, fixed it for everyone.

  • Meg

    “In the end five years or so from now when commercial space is changing the face of spaceflight people like you will say “wow our plan is working”. – Mr. Oler

    So whose going to be “the customers”?

  • DCSCA

    Bennett wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 8:34 pm <- Don't be so hard on yourself. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Stop talking. Start flying.

  • DCSCA

    Meg wrote @ August 22nd, 2010 at 11:11 pm <- Relax, Meg. The Great Waldo Oler is as a wrong-headed as a curiosity from his beloved antique aviation days named Corrigan.

    Always keep in mind that commercial space has flown nobody. Not a soul. Advocates talk, squawk, preen, promise, issue press releases as the saviors of human spaceflight…. but they've not flown anyone. Zip. They crow they'vce killed no one like NASA has– or the Russians… but they've flown nobody. They talk as if they're on equal standing with NASA, or the Russians who've been flying crews into orbit for half a century with side trips to the moon and space stations. Even the Red Chinese have flown crews. But not commercial space. Commericial space has flown nobody. Nobody. Snd they've had decades to do it. The solution to this glaring credibility gap is simple: stop talking, start flying. After all, the hard part has already been accomplished by government funded and managed space programs in various political guises carrying verious national banners. This should be an easier exercise for commercial space than it was for the Soviets to loft Gargarin… or NASA to orbit Glenn so long, long, long ago.

  • DCSCA

    In the end five years or so from now when commercial space is changing the face of spaceflight people like you will say “wow our plan is working”. <–It hasnt 'worked' yet over the 80-plus year history of rocketry. Commercial space has never led the way but always been a follower, cashing in where it could. Get somebody up, around and down safely. Governments have been doing it for half a century so the hard work is already done. Stop talking. Start flying. The world waits… and waits… and waits…

  • Mr. Mark

    DCSCA and just what are you going to say when they do start flying….. hmmmm

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    ‘Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Stop talking. Start flying’
    Sounds like NASA needs to take a leaf out of DCSCA’s book. They’ve flown nothing new for 30+ years despite how many attempts. A litany of failure after failure.
    Echo Mr Mark’s comment.

  • DCSCA

    Mr. Mark wrote @ August 23rd, 2010 at 7:02 pm Golly, Markie, you’ll just have to wait several years, if then, and see… but please, don’t hold your breath.

  • DCSCA

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 23rd, 2010 at 11:47 pm This is the time to thank blokes ‘down under’ for their support roles in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. Shuttle too, for a time. It flies fine, thank you and the orbiters, refurbished, are like new. Gee, the ISS seems pretty new, too. But if you mean a whole new generation of manned spacecraft, we like how you spend our money. Guess you missed the ISS– go outside some evening and look. You can’t miss it… especially when it passes by the moon… the one with the U.S. astronaut footprints and six American flags on it. Looking forward to Australia’s next manned spaceflight– or would that be the first. How’s that space program of yours coming along….

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2009/11/15/australia-overhauls-space-program/

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Thanks for the upate DCSCA. I was around and remember watching the moon landings on a black and white tv in my primary classes and thinking, wow, isn’t that fantastic, when can the rest of us get there and we were looking for the USofA to lead us there and like, what happened. Well nothing. We got stuck in LEO and NASA decided to go the Shuttle, ISS route.
    Nobody except some ‘special’ astronauts went anywhere and the rest of us got stuck on Earth. So much for the big dream.
    Yes I am disappointed with NASA and the USofA and the Australian leadership or lack thereof. We learn nothing from history it seems whether on Earth or in the HSF realm.
    The USofA and Australia is, last I heard, places where one is free to express an opinion.
    The Orbiters aren’t ‘new’ or even ‘refurbished’. They will need re-rating before much longer so even if the decision is made to keep flying them, lots more money will need to be spent to do so. In addition, the workforce is disappearing and the production lines are closing so how are you going to do it. And then there’s no payloads that can’t be managed with existing vehicles.

    The ISS, well I think it’s been an expensive experient built up over how may years (oh, I forgot, it’s ‘new’ – cough!) , we’ve learnt a lot about operating in space but unless there’s a ‘real’ cost / benefit argument for keeping it then it should be deorbited. The Bigelow modules utilise modern equipment and technology. A lot of the ISS is now outdated, bit like the shuttles.

    And finally, the Australian population has never had an HSF program nor wanted one – unfortunately in my opinion, so we’ve followed the USofA/Russian lead (now Chinese as well). As for our space program, well as you say, we’ve tended to play a supporting role for various countries such as your own and most recently the Japanese asteroid mission. What’s wrong with that?

    Australia has supported the US in many fronts over the years not just in space but in conflicts starting as allies during WWII and moving on through Korea, Vietnam, Iraq x 2, and now Afganistan and we will continue to do so for our common good and despite paying the price.

    Oh and a bit more history for your info’. That first landing on the moon came to you via Parks Observatory here in Australia. In addition, after NASA lost, destroyed, the tapes of those first landings, Australia was able to provide copies.

    Cheers.

  • DCSCA

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 24th, 2010 at 11:18 pm – Yes, we all know of the contribution of Parks, hence the tiop of the hat as mentioned… and, of course, it was noted by MSC during the moonwalk…. that pesky ‘white dot’ from the image converter. (‘The Dish’ was a quaint reminder as well.)

    “The Orbiters aren’t ‘new’ or even ‘refurbished’.” Actually, they are in pretty good shape- at least as new as possible via upgrades– and they are meant to be reusable, which is the whole point of it. They’re well taken care of and we’ve paid the bill for it. A lot of upgrades – glass cockpits, etc.,. Plenty of years left in them. Same with the ISS although it was an aerospace works project. Hardly out of date and underused. Given the jobs situation in the U.S. these days, there’s plenty of underused talent in the ‘workforce’ to recruit and ramp things up again. Americans are pretty good at that. The years and years of use by the Russian MIR is a good example of how to push the use of your equipment to the end of its life. This writer opposed its construction in favor of a return to the moon. The moon is a space station, albeit 240,000 away. Lori Garver suppoeted the contractor-freiendly ISS. No surprise there. The ISS should have been anchored to the floor of the Ocean of Storms, not sailing overhead 300 miles up.

    One suspects you expect too much. Consider how far things have come since Kitty Hawk. In the span of my late grandfather’s lifetime the Wrights first flew, men walked on the moon and imaging spacecraft swept past distant planets beaming photos back. Consider the frustrations of Galileo, Kepler, Newton, … or Goddard…etc… they never witnessed the triumphs and realities we have but would not be surprised that they eventually occurred. My late granfather was always amused that in the time he was born, the idea of flying– let alone flying into space to the moon– was ridiculed as technically impossible. Today space voyages are debated as financially impractical. A hundred years from now the mind set may well be why we in this era did not see these voyages were inevitable.

    Yes, it would be nice to live to see men reach Mars and there’s still a chance for that to occur, at least in my lifetime. Still, it wont be quite the same as those first lunar landings. But if we don’t live to see it, it’s still a matter of certainty that it is an inevitability. We were incredibly lucky to be alive to witness and share the experience of reaching the moon. Just stop and consider how many generations over the past 50,000 years were cheated of witnessing that experience by accident of time and birth. But those tapes.. well, there’s still some debate on whether they were lost, erased for reuse, (<- the most likely outcome) misfiled in some storeroom someplace or simply 'procured' by some private collector. Example- years ago this writer attended the premiere of the HBO series, From The Earth To The Moon and struck up a conversation with some of the research and costume people who worked on the series. Hanks was a sticker for accuracy and insisted they research ansd trackdown as much as they needed for the series, which is why it was so well done. THe costume designer couldn't understand why the early Mercury suits had pieces of cork on them… turns out the museum suits they looked at were decaying and the 'cork' was actually elastic straps, which they later discover. When they were in Florida and tracked down an access arm and 'white room' for use, they asked about and archival imagery or files they could use. NASA directed them to a semi-truck trailer parked out in a field someplace. They opened it and inside were many, many old-style file cabinets, rusted shut. The designer told me they used a crowbar and jimmied open some of the cabinets and discovered a treasure trove of old documents, photos and data from the 'early days' at NASA. She asked why the stuff was all but left to the elements in the trailer, and she was told there was simply no budget to maintain that kind of material. So they parked it in a field down there. Same thing happened with a LLTV out at Edwards they found out abandoned there for the series research. In other words, NASA wasnt very good at archiving stuff, at least the 'old' stuff from back in the day. The tapes, if not erased, are probably in someone's collection or in another file cabinet someplace. It In any event, the major television networks actually have excellent archival tapes, CBS especially, (having worked there years ago, know they're safe and sound– the old-style video playpack machines, less so.) But time marches on. As my grandfather once quipped, 'Only Americans could be smart enough to walk on the moon and dumb enough to walk away from it."

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 1:57 am

    This writer opposed its construction in favor of a return to the moon. The moon is a space station, albeit 240,000 away. Lori Garver suppoeted the contractor-freiendly ISS. No surprise there. The ISS should have been anchored to the floor of the Ocean of Storms, not sailing overhead 300 miles up.

    It’s one thing to dream, but it’s another to do, much less afford to do.

    I have always hoped that we would return to the Moon someday, but I have become educated recently about the actual costs in doing so. Because of that, I don’t know if a sustained presence on the Moon will happen in my lifetime, because of how much it costs.

    If money were no object, then we could start planning today. But Congress has historically funded NASA at or below where it currently is, and there is no expectation that it is even going to increase – in fact it may decrease with the need to trim the national budget.

    My point is that you may blame Garver for some part of choosing the ISS over many of the other choices (I don’t know if the Moon was even seriously considered), but if we had chosen the Moon, I think we would have failed.

    I mean, just look at the problems we had with budget overruns, schedule slips, and programs pauses caused by the Columbia accident – and that was just doing stuff in LEO. Going to the Moon is supposedly something like 5-10 times more expensive.

    No, I hope you’re not too bitter about the decision not be return to the Moon, because you would not have a realistic view of it if so.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Apologies for my off-topic response. I just lost a cousin in Afganistan so I’m a bit touchy at the moment.
    Back on topic.
    I don’t believe that we expect too much from NASA. When you consider the advances in other areas of technology, space is definitely severely lagging behind. 40+ years and HSF can no longer get out of leo let alone the the moon and beyond.
    What fires up people’s imagination and interest is not leo – been there and done that. It’s beo, exploration, doing new stuff albeit built on existing capabilities. That’s where NASA leadership has failed. They’ve failed to build on the dream, to push the boundaries, the do exciting stuff along with the boring stuff of course. That’s why I’m disappointed.
    Oh and by the way, NASA’s had oodles of $’s to do it with, they just haven’t and if you think they can lead HSF back to beo and exploration of other planets in your lifetime (unless the radically change track – tech, mgt, contracting, political direction, etc) well we’re both going to be very disappointed bunnies.

  • Coastal Ron

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    My condolences for your cousin. I had always seen Afghanistan as the correct war to be waged, but unfortunately it took too many years to provide the right focus. That probably doesn’t do anything to replace your cousin, but I hope it shows my gratitude for his service & sacrifice.

    I have a nephew that just deployed, so my sister has had to swear off any TV coverage of Afghanistan – luckily his spouse is handling it much better.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    ‘I have a nephew that just deployed, so my sister has had to swear off any TV coverage of Afghanistan – luckily his spouse is handling it much better.’

    Understand entirely!

    Yes, there is a price for the freedom of expression we both currently enjoy in our respective countries. Often it seems too high.

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