Congress, NASA, States

Florida election, Kansas call for commercial space

In a hotly-contested Republican primary for the 24th Congressional District in Florida, state representative Sandy Adams declared victory late last night, just 560 votes ahead of the second-place finisher. Adams will face Suzanne Kosmas, who easily won the Democratic primary in her bid for reelection to the district that includes NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In a statement provided to Florida Today earlier this month, Adams expressed general support for the agency, calling the space program “both an economic and homeland security issue” but offering few specifics other than an apparent rejection of the administration’s human space exploration plans (“It is not reasonable to believe we will maintain our leadership, brain trust, equipment and expertise until 2025, when this administration decides to return to manned space flight.” Evidently sending crews to and from the ISS doesn’t count as “manned space flight”.) In a statement on her web site, though, she said she would work to keep the shuttle program “solvent” until a replacement is ready and “be a strong, vocal advocate for the increased Research & Development funding” needed for the “next generation of ‘miracle’ products” spun off from NASA technology development.

While Adams is quiet on the issue of commercial spaceflight, Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican now running for governor of Kansas, is not. Speaking in Wichita yesterday, Brownback in effect put out the welcome mat for space companies that might be thinking of establishing operations there. “We will pursue partnering opportunities with our existing companies and private space companies on the design and manufacture of commercial space vehicles, as well as encourage them to locate some of their facilities here,” he said, the AP reported. Brownback also introduced Alan Weston of NASA’s Ames Research Center, who spoke at the Wichita Aero Club and had a similar message of support for commercial space. “We at Ames, and many people at NASA, believe that commercial space can cut these [spaceflight] costs dramatically,” he said, as reported by the Wichita Business Journal. “I believe, and Pete Worden (director of NASA Ames) believes, that the industry here — the aviation industry — can lead this revolution.”

67 comments to Florida election, Kansas call for commercial space

  • amightywind

    Brownback wants to build on Kansas’ surprising aerospace heritage. It is amazing how many brilliant engineers came off the farm in the first half of the last century, and how many aircraft companies have set up shop there. However, it is not a great growth industry. Although newspace in in vogue now and Brownback is enamored by it, like green technology it is illusory. Brownback should instead take the lead of South Dakota. They cut corporate taxes, provide incentives, and aggressively recruit new business from other high tax states. Encourage the rich to make money, and let them keep it. It works.

  • byeman

    “Although newspace in in vogue now and Brownback is enamored by it, like green technology it is illusory. ”

    Illusory? So SS1, Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Pegasus are figments of imagination?

    The only thing illusory on this thread is the intellect of the above poster.

  • amightywind

    Illusory? So SS1, Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Pegasus are figments of imagination?

    No. But like green tech they attract undo attention. Politicians like to talk about them. In terms of real return they are not the basis for a struggling small state economy. Brownback would be wise not to be distracted. In Kansas better to cut taxes on Spirit, Lear, Raytheon, Honeywell so they will be willing to grow in Kansas in the next cycle.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “she said she would work to keep the shuttle program “solvent” until a replacement is ready”

    what is so depressing is that apparantly the GOP nominee for the seat does not even comprehend how goofy that statement is. And doubtless the masses that support her dont recognize how goofy she is for saying it.

    It is boilerplate language designed to try and express support without really saying anything concrete…kind of like the entire GOP (and some DEM) opposition to the Obama space plans.

    Watch in about two years when the course change is creating real jobs (not government technowelfare) and income for the economy…all the GOP turds will think that it was there idea

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr. Oler,

    I am not surprised that you have already made a comment nor am I surprised that yet again it is essentially the same thing.

    For the last several days, I have attempted to ask you the following questions in order to for me and others to more appropriately guage the accuracy and validity of your comments.

    Below is a copy of what I posted on another article. I’m sure you just didn’t see it……

    Mr. Oler.

    You still have not answered my basic questions. I did see your diatribe about employment and multiple aircraft carries. It seems very non sequitur and has a lot of words without saying too much at all.

    Again, with all due respect, I ask if you have any direct technical experience with design, development, test and engineering of systems and or projects related to NASA. I ask if you have any direct operations experience with any of these projects. I ask if you have any experience with the processes and programattic aspects of large and complex NASA programs. I ask if you have or had any practical experience within the “beltway” with any kind of “oversight” role of NASA as an agency.

    You said you “hung around” during CAIB. I ask again what did you do specifically and how did your knowledge, experience and wisdom further the investigative efforts.

    You speak a lot of about safety and, it appears, to imply incompetence. Yet, at the same time, you say space operations are “not hard”. Surely, with as much knowledge and experience as you have, you understand that aerospace is challenging and unforgiving. Surely, you did not mean to be so cavalier in your statements.

    I understand, and respect, you would like everything to be more efficient. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet instead of building on a conversation, you say the same thing over and over again and taking the conversation on seemingly wild tangents. For someone who clearly wants others to know how much they believe they can offer, why the rather technically, politically and financially shallow comments time and time again? Where is the depth?

    Tell me where I am wrong because, at this point in time, this is my impression of your comments.

  • mr. mark

    Senator Brownback, is on the right track. Here’s hoping commercial space can build a facility in Kansas and spur some job growth.

  • mr. mark

    Also, what’s with Adams saying keep the shuttle going. That’s long over and is not in either House or Senate version and won’t be broached in commitee. She sure does not know anything about space. That’s the problem, get politicians out of the space program. For sustainable space we need a commercial platform not at the whim of politicians every 2 or 4 years. Oops, I forgot this is a political website :p

  • Brian Paine

    “The best you can hope for is to live in interesting times…” Chinese Phylosophy.
    These are of course interesting times, and the bets are on the table. But how much venture capital is “commercial manned space” attracting? This is the important question that needs a very large $ answer and to date the answer is not large enough.
    So begs a second question; how does the industry attract more capital? (Asside from tax dollars.)
    Tourism is much touted but the projected cost per seat of $20 million makes a nonsense argument, it is between one hundred and one thousand percent TO MUCH. To achieve any meaningful growth the transport system cannot be anything like the Space X model or any similar model. (Bigalow’s customers would be a mixture of super rich and drug cartel bosses!)
    Therefore the industry needs to create a solution
    that is both practical and elegant, which after all is what is expected from the commercial industrial machine.
    The only other potential growth depends on expanding space exploration at government levels. Without this expansion the market is once again limited and consequently so is the venture capital base.
    There are alternatives that could provide capital which would generate profits to in turn underwrite development and increase interest in space exploration.
    One suggestion for the industry: place a craft in polar orbit around the Moon to I Max film the place… Return the results and market it…
    I am sure there are many more possibilities.
    In short what is needed is a combination of imagination and buisness skills, not bleating politics from the private sector. Being duped by the latter will result in second rate solutions and cries of “cheaper than NASA” while having more than a grain of truth do not qualify or quantify the new gateway to space.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    sorry Mike, I have a day job and when that is done I have a night job (I have a major presentation coming in DC) and when that is done I have a little baby.

    I dont go into CV’s on this forum because it is a pretty old net game of demanding that of a person then shooting at the person who actually responds to it, notice I havent cared a darn about what you do..

    But a few points.

    I “hung out” (I “Hang out” at my assignments and have done so since about 15…its a phrase from a friend) at the CAIB because the person in charge of it is a friend of a former CO (they both wore stars) and he asked and got me assigned to him as a “consultant”. I didnt really care to do it, I have had a sort of bad opinion of “safety” at NASA since Challenger…and I had a day job…but a request like that you dont turn down.

    I got involved with NASA a long time ago on two events…MEDS and microgravity flight using precise GPS guidance, at which some people think I have some “knowledge” (You did miss a great presentation I gave locally on GPS the other day!) Before and after that…I have participated in the development of very complex aerospace projects including the FBW on the biggest twin flying until the current one. I was suppose to be on that, but I gave that up for what I hope is my last overseas assignment.

    As for safety and Cavalier…you wrote:

    “Surely, with as much knowledge and experience as you have, you understand that aerospace is challenging and unforgiving.”

    if 14 astronauts had died (and a lot of others very lucky to not have been toasted) due to some unknown or “pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge” and being bitten by it (think the DH Comet and pressurization/metal fatigue) then there might be some notion in your statement.

    Continuing to fly with known malfunction that was getting worse and that was bordering on loss of the vehicle several times before it actually did that…is not exactly Edwards dying by the instability in the flying wing…or Sewell (who almost bought it) trying to figure out the stability problems in the Tomcat or even Overmyer dying in the crash of a light plane he was testing…

    that is what test pilots do and sometimes it reaches out and bites you…that is how knowledge is gained.

    No, NASA killed 14 astronauts because its management was careless, incompetent and stupid as if they were some homebuilder who decided to try Home Depot bolts instead of AN hardware.

    And yes I repeat that a lot, but it is because the genius at NASA repeat over and over “we dock at 17,500 mph” or “space is so hard only we can do it” or its “challenging and unforgiving” so we have 14000 people doing mostly mindless stuff (like causing the amateur radio project on the space station to run upwards of 1 million dollars).

    A lot of technology items are “challenging and unforgiving”…the trick is not to baffle them with endless bureaucracy or paperwork that really in the end flounders by a throwaway line like “well there is nothing we can do anyway” (or whatever Linda H said). It is to actually solve them and never make those mistakes again…but until an agency figures that out then they should sit silently after something goofy like Challenger and Columbia and not pretend to be some expert in the effort.

    When you can find something technically I have said “wrong” or when you can find an error in my safety analysis (please do try and explain to me how the folks managing Columbias last flight used ‘reasonable care” in their assumptions) then challenge me on it.

    Until then just saying “you keep repeating things” doesnt make the things I am repeating wrong, particularly when most of the crap coming from MOD and NASA in oppossing a change in space policy is demonstratably wrong or just goofy (the solar power demonstration sat that does 1 KW).

    The week or so after Bush the last made his grand vision speech I predicted on this forum how it would collapse, why and when. I missed the “when” by one year. But the why I was pretty specific about and got correct. When you can master that track record…then we can compare notes.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr. Mark,

    It’s not over. It’s still an active program. There are provisions in the Senate bill for ET-94. There are still questions surrounding ISS supportability until these other capabilities come online, etc

    So, I guess, I will say there are….always possibilities.

    Now I’m sure I will be flamed by others who believe they know better and how dare I even suggest such things, etc…..

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr Oler,

    I’m willing to bet my track record exceeds yours but then again I am clearly not the meglomaniac you want to be nor do I profess to have every answer in order to be the “king of spacepolitics.com”

    What did you do as a “consultant” to the CAIB? What specific safety recommendations did you suggest as that consultant that we have now implemented. There are a lot of them so feel free to elaborate. I did look through Appendix C, the Board Staff, of the report to try to find your name and didn’t see it. A search on the pdf document also didn’t find your name. I guess it is possible I just missed it?

    For the record, I never said there was not bad management in play with respect to Columbia. Obviously there was. Heck, even the senior leadership involved at the time and acknowledged that so you are not “breaking news”. There’s excess bureaucracy that needs to be trimmed. Really? Wow, again not “breaking news” there. So really, your diatribe is just a bunch of “filler” it would seem. The key, which you ignore, is what has been put in place since with respect to the management culture and what can specifically be done to trim that excess bureaucracy.

    Also, it is hardly mindless stuff and the number is wrong. I now see your arrogance as really just some twisted form of jealousy and resentment and you have become small in my eyes.

    Also, you keep banging on MOD. Why? If you really understood things, then you would understand MOD is not a program, does not direct a program nor does is it make or even really implement policy, whatever that turns out to be. It is one componenet and your uninformed bashing of MOD trying to make them look like the enemy is on par with someone trying to blame Ground Operations or Logistics for all the ills of the world.

  • Glad to her more progressive candidates up and coming in whatever state!

    I have plagiarized the WH, Senate and House spending proposals and fully funded NASA for all proposals would, by my calcs, cost as follows:

    FY-2011 $21,378,800,000
    FY-2012 $21,138,985,000
    FY-2013 $22,329,700,000

    Any compromise by Congress should at the very least start with a consideration of fully funding NASA for the missions America has asked it’s representatives in the WH, Senate, and House to ensure it undertakes successfully.

  • This is really embarassing.

    We used to be able to debate space policy without demanding CVs, falling into partisan warfare, or calling each other names. I know because I used to run a Space Policy online magazine and discussion board (there’s a little piece of my CV).

    Some folks like creating heat instead of light. Ignore them Talk about space policy and politics. Acknowlege none of us know everything and any of us have the capability of analysis from known facts.

    Politics is hardball but it doesn’t need to be beanball. People will fight to protect their jobs. Politicians will vote their districts, unless they’re voting their contributors. We know that. No need to repeat it every time.

    Government space isn’t perfect. Commercial space isn’t perfect. NASA isn’t perfect. Change happens. Standing in the way in the short run may stop the tank, but in the long run the tanks get you (even if they are External :), those are big suckers). Debate the direction of the change, not its existance.

    And at the end of the day, you should be able to have a [insert favorite beverage here] with the others on this site, at least figuratively, because we’re talking policy and politics, not personal attack.

  • amightywind

    mr. mark wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Here’s hoping commercial space can build a facility in Kansas and spur some job growth.

    ‘Hope’ has nothing to do with economic recovery. I am sure millions of federal and state employees ‘hope’ for recovery at current taxation and spending levels to support their fat salaries and pensions. They throw our money at ‘hope’ while the can selling false hope to placate the employed, avoiding the real change that will create recovery. Except for Virgin Galactic, Newspace business models stink. What Kansas and other states require is, capitulation. Capitulation that spending, taxes, and government intrusion are too high and must drastically cut. When greed and ambition replace hope, recovery will come.

    Robert Oler wrote:

    I missed the “when” by one year. But the why I was pretty specific about and got correct. When you can master that track record…then we can compare notes.

    You also predicted the smooth implementation of Obamaspace last spring and that congress would acquiesce. Your track record as prognosticator is spotty at best.

  • MrEarl

    I got nostalgic for the “old days” of 2004 and 2005 and was looking over the articles and comments from that time. I came across an article called “OKeefe’s Goodbye” and it included the first comment from Oler I could find. The exchange went like this….
    Oler:
    Okeefe.

    dont let the door hit you on the way out…what a loser.

    Robert

    Dogsbd:
    Ahhh, constructive commentary….

    Oler, you’re a troll.

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2005/02/09/okeefes-goodbye/#comments

    Hahahahahaha:
    Some things never change! :-)

  • amightywind

    MrEarl

    Excellent research on Mr. ‘Kick ‘em While They’re Down’. Mr. Oler sure loves to dance in the end zone.

  • MrEarl

    Too bad he’s never the one making the touchdown.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    this is a rather smooth implementation of a political course change that is as massive as Obama’s was.

    The forces of darkness and despair dont easily go into the dark night from which they came

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    you should have found the SpaceNews op ed(s) that called for Okeefe to go before Columbia, predicting that a loss of engineering competence at NASA could cause a problem…and then the one later about Griffins’ killing of the VSE.

    gee its not that hard to find…I post them on my Facebook page.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Oler; No doubt a megalomaniac like yourself who has an “I love me wall” would save EVERYTHING they ever did.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Except for Virgin Galactic, Newspace business models stink.

    That’s an interesting comment. So you think an entertainment company has a better business model than a services or transportation company?

    And when you talk about NewSpace, do you include Orbital Sciences and SpaceX, or what would your definition be? Since both of those companies have billion dollar backlogs, which Virgin Galactic doesn’t, I’m curious what you define as “successful” in business.

  • http://web.archive.org/web/20000411070608/http://spacepolicy.org/index.html

    Space Policy Digest for March 2000. Articles by Dale Gray, Frank Sietzen, Mark Whittington, Michael Heney and me.

    Thanks to the wayback machine.

  • You can even find the old Space Policy Digest Bulletin Board linked from the site, and it reveals in 2000, I worked for John McCain.

  • MrEarl

    Oh no!!!!! I can see windy’s point on something.

    As far as a tourist business goes, I think the Virgin Galactic notion of making sub-orbital space travel as close to the airline experience as possible would be more attractive to the majority of people than strapping themselves into a capsule. I think that model, developing into destination flights then eventually orbit, would be the business plan that ultimately succeeds.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they could even charge money for lots of things short of suborbital flight: a ride in WK2, a landing in SS2, a ride in WK2 for an air launch of SS2, a three day training course etc.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Socialist Ron wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I’m curious what you define as “successful” in business.

    One that makes an honest, obscene profit without government support. Funny me, I know. Here are some successful businesses: tobacco companies (Altria), oil companies (Conoco), big industrials (Cummins), chemicals (Dow), high tech (Intel)…

    Burt Rutan and Richard Branson will be successful selling joyrides to thrill seekers. The same business model as an amusement park. Mr. Earl might be right. Think of a small Concorde several times faster. It will be interesting to see where it goes. The Boeing/Bigelow model is a little less certain, but hey, its their buck.

    * You are welcome to use my stock tips.

  • Burt Rutan and Richard Branson will be successful selling joyrides to thrill seekers. The same business model as an amusement park.

    I see nothing wrong with that and hope they are very successful at this endeavor. I also believe sub-orbital rocket planes should race each other, with ESPN contracts and beer commercials.

    Nothing is more American than NASCAR. And NASCAR is very profitable.

    I also believe there is a place and role for NASA to explore space without NASCAR style hoopla and that taxpayers should fund such efforts.

    But these two worlds should be able to co-exist in synergy.

  • @Coastal Ron

    So you think an entertainment company has a better business model than a services or transportation company?

    In the realm of spaceflight, yes I believe that.

    I don’t believe suborbital point to point will be commercially viable. After all, no one is looking to replace Concorde for supersonic air travel and the moment one crash occurs, killing a handful of top CEOs or entertainers, the business model dies.

    At least IMHO.

    Services? To whom? Services to government LEO facilities? Sure. But otherwise, services to whom?

    Zero-gee ball bearings? Nope, again IMHO.

    Zero-gee pharma R&D? If that were viable, European drug companies would be up there today using Soyuz & Proton and Ariane. IMHO, of course.

    Space solar power? Nuclear is cheaper and more easily scaled up. Again IMHO.

  • PS — There are perfectly viable business models in LEO, however those simply do not involve flying humans.

    SpaceX can be a very successful company flying satellites and since EELV is NOT price competitive in the commercial satellite business, the success of SpaceX is very good for US foreign exchange balances.

    Don’t forget, Boeing chose to invest in SeaLaunch rather than compete Delta in the com-sat business venues.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Bill White,

    I’ve recently wondered if a Bigelow Cruiser-style vehicle based in LEO but carrying out regular flights to GEO to either repair or decommission & de-orbit comsats might be one of the first commercial jobs in space…

    “EVA-qualified technican required for three-month tour of duty on orbital repair vehicle. Must be adaptable and able to work with a variety of technologies, both current and obsolete. Great views and free orbit-to-surface comms. Hazard pay determined on case-by-case basis. Other benefits as per terms of employment. Will consider re-hire for previous employees.

    Apply by email with resumé to…”

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I don’t believe suborbital point to point will be commercially viable.

    That wasn’t the conversation.

    The original conversation with Windy was about NewSpace, and what he defined a “successful” business.

    I see Virgin Galactic as filling a niche in the entertainment world, and I hope they are successful. I don’t know how big the market is, so I’m not sure how many companies or customers it’s going to be able to support, so we’ll have to wait and see.

    There is an existing cargo market in transportation to space, whether it’s LEO or beyond, and it’s a mix of commercial and government. I think this is the basis for a good business model, which is why I was questioning Windy. He thinks only businesses that “makes an honest, obscene profit without government support” are worthy – that’s OK for his limited mind, but he’s leaving out a large part of the economy (and probably his job).

    For crew, the only market right now is for the ISS, and there is a known demand beyond 2015 for the ISS that is open for one or more suppliers. The big question is how the U.S. and others will fulfill this demand, whether it will be an open competition or a closed one. That is going to affect the commercial crew providers for years to come, so I hope it will be open.

    Until there is an established transportation systems to LEO, I don’t see a commercial demand for LEO crew services becoming established. No company is going to risk starting a business if they don’t have a way to/from their research or manufacturing facilities.

    It’s the chicken and egg problem, and the U.S. is the only large demand right now that can spur the market. Will it? Who knows, but without their know level of demand, commercial crew will take much longer to develop. Econ 101.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    One that makes an honest, obscene profit without government support. Funny me, I know. Here are some successful businesses: tobacco companies (Altria), oil companies (Conoco), big industrials (Cummins), chemicals (Dow), high tech (Intel)…

    You do realize that Big Tobacco and Big Oil are recipients of government funding, subsidies and tax breaks? That they employ a significant amount of the lobbyists in D.C.? And that tobacco products are responsible for a significant amount of the increases you see in your healthcare costs?

    You’re either joking, or you’re seriously deranged – and it’s not clear which it is… ;-)

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, that is the biggy from my stand point, as to what will be the problem with commercial space flight. Virgin Galactic, said they want 20 thou a pop for a sub orbital ride. Now how many people are going to spend that kind of money, during poor economic times, losing their jobs and homes, just for a sub orbital ride. I would not even do it now and Im pretty set. Going all the way to space to visit a Bigelow hotel, will be considerably more than that. It once again will be high cost for all. The new astronauts might only be the rich and wealthy….

  • Martijn Meijering

    Supporting an industry for wealthy tourists for its own sake and with government funds would be wrong. Competitive procurement on the other hand is a good idea in general. If a new industry springs up as a result that is to be welcomed. And in the case of space tourism it should be especially attractive to space activists of all stripes since it brings in extra money for manned spaceflight.

    Who cares if it’s only multi-millionaires initially? You’ve got to start somewhere. Every wealthy tourist that goes up brings in some money for manned spaceflight. As flight rates go up, cost can come down and vice versa. Robert Bigelow is planning to set prices for tickets to his planned private stations at levels that are profitable but otherwise designed to grow the number of passengers as fast as possible.

    Ask yourself: was the USA built on envy or was it built on entrepreneurial spirit?

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Supporting an industry for wealthy tourists for its own sake and with government funds would be wrong. Competitive procurement on the other hand is a good idea in general.

    I agree completely.

    I don’t advocate for entertainment companies like Virgin Galactic – I wish them well, but their business model depends on marketing, not need, and that’s beyond my expertise.

    For cargo & crew to the ISS, there is a true market need, and I advocate for the U.S. Government to open that market for commercial suppliers.

    Bush/Griffin has already done that for cargo to the ISS, and I hope Congress funds the similar Obama/Bolden plan for crew. All other demand past the ISS is speculative, but it is unlikely to ever develop without the ISS initial market.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Judiciously chosen support of certain suborbital efforts could contribute to cheap orbital lift, so that seems like a legitimate thing for NASA to spend money on. Whether they can be relied upon to spend the money judiciously would be another matter…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    entertaining.

    I am sure your CV is full of wonderful adventures and will be filled by those yet to come…but at least from the post you have made here, and not knowing you from the person who refills the food trays at the Oriental Gourmet…

    it strikes me that you dont really get what happened at Challenger or Columbia.

    your line

    “What specific safety recommendations did you suggest as that consultant that we have now implemented.”

    is illustrative.

    Post accident investigations such as the CAIB or the Rogers Commission can really only recommend technical or procedural fixes for technical issues. For instance after Three Mile Island one of the more enlightened recommendations to come out of the effort was that simulation training should encompass multiple problems stemming from a failure, the problems of which mask the original malfunction. After the Kenner crash in NOLA the notion was to train windshear recovery and of course learn more about wind shear.

    To paraphrase the Admiralty board on the Captain of HMS Bounty, a technical review board cannot make recommendations to cover common sense, hence we assume that people who rise to the level of technical managers have it.

    It is clear that what lead up to Challenger and Columbia and nearly manifested itself in a whole slew of “near misses” which had nothing to do with the two major malfunctions was/is a culture where common sense is suppressed and rules and regulations are substituted instead most of which are made up on the fly. Hence NASA HSF is about the only technical organization in this country that uses the term “in family” to cover flying out of spec. Or one that makes flight rules and then has meetings about how to waive them when the rules stand in the way of the needs of the mission. IT is the only organization I know that routinely ignores the ruling of a safety office.

    Put another way, in a recent incident at Kingville a student ran their T-45 into the rear of another airplane while taxing. What recommendation or additional training should that SNA have? Repeat over and over a thousand times “I will not run into the rear of another airplane particularly one that is not moving”?

    You dont fly with hot gases escapting the O rings or parts coming off the vehicle when the specs call for no parts coming off the vehicle…You dont talk about it, you dont explain it or have a meeting to try and understand it…you just dont do it. Common sense.

    As I recall it was General Deal who tried to get in the open hearings some notion from some of the folks how they kept flying the vehicle with foam hitting it…even when the specs called for none, and sort of gave up in disgust as the phrase “in family” was used over and over again BTW no other federal government agency uses that term…it is all about ignoring specifications.

    It is fairly clear this inability to use common sense in the solving of issues continues. Several missions ago I was up with baby watching the boys and girls on the space station…and one of the “mythic heroes” spent 30 minutes getting “words” from the Huntsville folks on how to transfer data from a hard drive to a memory stick.

    It is not that this is goofy, it is…but to have a procedure in place where some person who has attained some level of accomplishment to fly in space, has to have a step by step read up of a procedure which my 10 year old nieces and nephews can do is symptomatic of an organization that has no clue what checklist are for…or how to use them and when.

    Hence the notion that NASA HSF should have much at all to do with commercial space…is nuts.

    As for the CAIB…I got exactly what I wanted out of it…a learning experience, some good contacts and a nice letter.

    If you want to have a sophomoric comparison as to whose this or that is greater…I suggest lunch sometime at the Oriental Gourmet…we can argue over who can eat the most Chinese food…the manager there is a good friend…we will have a great table!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Oler; No doubt a megalomaniac like yourself who has an “I love me wall” would save EVERYTHING they ever did…

    certianly not everything, the wall is not large enough …it is more of a “we love us” wall my wife does the same thing…

    I do keep a handle on all the op eds I write; and as for the pictures…oh there are some choice ones. I even have a picture of Bush 43 and I shaking hands.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    If you want to have a sophomoric comparison as to whose this or that is greater…I suggest lunch sometime at the Oriental Gourmet…we can argue over who can eat the most Chinese food…the manager there is a good friend…we will have a great table!

    Heh. Well, let it not be said Oler has no sense of humour.

  • Brian Paine

    Now this is a debate of sorts and more positive and to the point…thanks one and all.

  • Joe Smith

    “Now how many people are going to spend that kind of money, during poor economic times, losing their jobs and homes, just for a sub orbital ride.”

    I understand from previous comments here that research is not your forte, Mr. Berube, but a quick web search will turn up a number of studies which demonstrate demand for suborbital space tourism or other other uses.

    “The new astronauts might only be the rich and wealthy”

    Or people funded by the rich and wealthy (people or corporations). Is that a bad thing, Mr. Berube?

  • Coastal Ron

    Brian Paine wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Now this is a debate of sorts and more positive and to the point

    Which one – Chinese food or HSF?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Adding to my earlier comments:

    Every piece of space hardware (capsules, habs, launchers, engines, avionics…) developed for wealthy tourists and available on the open market is also potentially available to NASA without requiring separate NASA R&D. High fixed costs (such as for launchers and capsules) that are shared with wealthy tourists are less expensive than those that are not.

  • Rhyolite

    Bill White wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    “Don’t forget, Boeing chose to invest in SeaLaunch rather than compete Delta in the com-sat business venues.”

    That’s not historically correct. The SeaLaunch consortium formed in 1995 with heritage Boeing as a participant. Boeing did not acquire the Delta line until the merger in 1997. Boeing then made a substantial commercial investment in the Delta IV after the contract award in 1998.

    (Incidentally, I wholly agree with you that Falcon 9 has a bright future as a satellite launcher because it offers a low cost, ITAR friendly alternative to the Russians and the Europeans.)

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    If the ISS continues to remain on-orbit, then I’d say the F9 has a bright future not just as a satellite launcher but also as a lv for cargo Dragon and quite possibly crew Dragon down the road. f9/Crew Dragon could end up servicing Bigelow complexes as well.

  • DCSCA

    Ahhhh, Kansas. It always comes to mind when one ponders the lucrative potentials of near-earth space– if you plant corn.

  • MrEarl

    Let’s cut to the chase Oler. You make a lot of declarative statements without the knowledge or technical background to back it up. In other words, your mouth is writing checks your brain can’t cash.

    When I was in college there was a saying, “if you can’t blind them with brilliance, befuddle them with bullsh!t.” You have be doing the latter on this blog for years.

  • If the government needs crewed, civilian access to space (the military’s need for space access, much as their role in aviation, is a separate issue) it should buy it. Again, there’s a precedent in aviation. Except for a short, disastrously unsuccessful, period when the Army was given the role, the mail has been flown by civilian carriers. The Air Mail contracts in the early part of the 20th Century were the subsidy that helped the fledgling airlines break even when there was little market for passenger flights. Eventually passengers were carried on mail flights, and finally the passenger traffic exceeded mail revenue. The need by airlines to serve the increasing passenger load led United to ask Boeing to build the 247, and TWA to ask Donald Douglas to build what became the DC-3, the airplane that made carrying passengers alone profitable and common.

    In the same way, an “air mail” contract for crewed space services, bringing people and supplies into space, would jump start the first spacelines in this country. At first, the government might be the only customer, but the idea that spare seats would be rented to tourists is the next logical step. With the government subsidy, these seats would be pricey, but not fiscally impossible for someone rich enough or motivated enough, much as was the case with early airline fares. As demand increased, the spacelines would find ways to carry more passengers, and so the pattern would repeat.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Smith, my point is, that space will still not be available to the common man, if you will. We little people will have no more chance of making it to space, than Daffy Duck. He may get there first. However, we will see if the customer rate is as high as they hope, and soon now. Isn t the point though to bring cost down to where the average joe, can take a hop to orbit? Until then we little people will be left out, plain and simple. As long as spaceflight stays in the rocket booster phase, cost will still remain high. Until someone can think outside of the box, so to speak, perhaps the space elevator, just a thought, rocket rides will be high.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Dennis Berube,

    In terms of passenger aviation, it took many decades for prices to come down to the point where ordinary people could afford it. Similarly, once passenger seats become available on spacecraft, we can expect a similar lag time as passenger numbers increase and drives ticket price deflation.

    IMHO, it could easily be the the start of the 22nd Century when we have prices low enough to alllow mass-space transit on the scale of contemporary mass air transit. Even that depends on there being a destination where everyone wants to go.

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr. Oler,

    Yawn. Again a lot of words and saying very little. I couldn’t even finish it.

    I think if someone, such as yourself, is going to make such declarative statements time and time again that it is perfectly legit and reasonable to learn more about that person in order to guage the validity of those remarks.

    This website has no moderation so it is up to the readers to hold the posters accountable. Since you do post SO often, saying the same thing over and over, why are you concerned with being held accountable for those statements?

    You are a farse. You give a cavalier explanation as to why you are “above” being held accountable. You say you were a “consultant”, your words and not mine, on the CAIB. I called you out, since you were not listed as such in any way, and you backtrack.

    Why should I, and everyone else, not question your credibility since clearly you inflate certain statmentments and ask why you are qualified to make other statements? Given that statements should be able to have some sort of factual detail behind them, again the whole accountability thing, why no depth ever?

    You brought this upon yourself. You are not some casual fly-by poster with respect to this site that can be just written off and ignored. You claim op-eds and the “I love me wall”. I mean, after all, you have a facebook page for goodness sake! Therefore, since you have placed yourself in that position, where is that accountability?

  • Dennis Berube

    Just perhaps if we find say a mineral, rare on Earth, but very useful for military purposes, then an all out effort would be made to gain access to it. If the military wants something, they usually get it.. I think that a space seat when it gets to the point of the price of an airline ticket, then maybe real colonization will begin.. Here again though, unless people begin to think outside the box, standard rocket tech. will hold prices up..

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Dennis Berube,

    I have always felt that space colonisation might have a certain “pilgrim fathers” air to it – wherever the destination is or bust with no way back if the colony doesn’t work out. As with the European colonisation of North America, there would be a lot of casualties. That is one of the reasons why I think that, after a few government-supported effots, the majority of it will be rich visionaries and large numbers of people with nothing to lose and willing to sell of everything they earn for a chance to start again.

  • “Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 11:44 am
    “Until then just saying “you keep repeating things” doesnt make the things I am repeating wrong, particularly when most of the crap coming from MOD and NASA in oppossing a change in space policy is demonstratably wrong or just goofy (the solar power demonstration sat that does 1 KW).”
    Robert you are really starting to bug me over this. You know that this is a deliberate misinterpretation of the facts. The same sort of misinterpretations, IMHO, that led to your sacred cow: Columbia?
    Re-read the article. Carefully.
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/07/sd-hlv-early-sps-demonstration-risk-assessment/
    For the others on the thread here is a heavily excised and annotated extract:
    SPS demonstration system… sized to provide one megawatt of power [my emphasis] to the transmitting antenna… 53-m diameter transmission antenna… at W-band frequency of 94 Ghz …frequency was selected [do.] to reduce the system size both in space and on the ground. …rectenna size to collect all of this energy [do.] would be approximately 7 km in diameter, which is impractical for such a prototype demonstration[do.]
    The main goal of the demonstration mission[do.],… measure power densities… power conversion efficiencies throughout the system… effectively done using a smaller, 150-m diameter rectenna[do.], with the rectenna element arranged along the axes of the beam.
    “This ground receiver segment of the demonstration should yield between 0.25 and 1.0 kWe of output power at this frequency, which would be adequate for this proof of concept demonstration.

    “…proof of concept demonstration.” Robert. And if you care to read just the next paragraph, Robert… you would find that the capability of the demonstrator is actually 20 MegaWatts.
    “doesnt make the things I am repeating wrong” (Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 25th, 2010 at 11:44 am)
    You are wrong Robert. Or spreading deliberate misinformation. Which is worse in my book.
    “Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”
    I would add that there are many other necessary technologies encapsulated in the mission plan and that the mission could be performed by multiple EELV.
    Now while I am ambivalent to the concept of the Nelson Heavy Lifter; the only way we can break the extremely long term energy gap facing our descendants is Fusion and the Oort cometary halo. In the less longer term (100-200 years) SPS is a useful In System stopgap. However it won’t get built unless we have access to CHEAP lift: Heavy or Light …whatever works. One hopes that somehow your Congress knows what it is doing with FY2011. Although my conclusion is that ATK won and HSF lost. All hail the power of the MIC lobby. Especially sad is the loss of the Robotic and (probably) HSF Asteroidal Missions because without access to materials as far up the gravitational well as we can find them: SPS is a non starter. I am convinced that the NEO’s will do nicely in that regard although if some Trillionaire wants to build a Lunar Catapult that will do as well.
    I would add that SPS is one of the big two space policy items that has a positive public support. When people ‘knock’ PHA mitigation and SPS energy our chances of technological survival fall.
    I once suggested to Coyote that a beam power sufficient to light an LED attached to a rectenna of, say, one square metre would provide proof that:
    a/ the concept was valid
    b/ power beams are not ‘death rays’
    c/ power could be delivered to anywhere (under the ground track of the ISS)
    d/ power beams are not ‘death rays’
    Sorry for banging on OT but Robert touched a nerve!

  • Robert G. Oler

    brobof wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    “This ground receiver segment of the demonstration should yield between 0.25 and 1.0 kWe of output power at this frequency, which would be adequate for this proof of concept demonstration.’

    And so my statement of about 5 billion dollars for 1 KW of energy on the ground is correct.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 8:32 am

    so you dont want to meet at the Oriental Gourmet and have a sophomoric demonstration of who can eat the most Chinese food?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    brobof wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I once suggested to Coyote that a beam power sufficient to light an LED attached to a rectenna of, say, one square metre would provide proof that:
    a/ the concept was valid..

    there are three issues here (other then you kindly proving what I have been saying all along 5 billion for 1 KW on the ground)

    1. There is no doubt that the concept if valid. There have been extensive ground test with one of the Goldstone antennas (I dont recall which one but seem to remember it was one of the smaller dishes) on power beaming, how to keep the beam centered, etc. The notion of path loss, beam steering etc were all confirmed and quite in hand technically.

    2. 5 billion dollars to get 1 KW in a demonstration project when there is no national commitment to do such a project on a larger scale is goofy. Its goofy technology demonstration, it is goofy in terms of use of resources,. Proof of concept vehicles are not full up operational systems but they at least pretend to have the same attributes as one would have…and at the rate it would cost to lift all the parts using the new HLV that the good folks at NASA want to keep their technowelfare coming…well it would bankrupt the nation.

    If you want to see how technology demonstrators work on a full up scale go check out how the USN transitioned from WW2 type and shape sub hulls to a modern design. She was called the USS Albacore.

    3. a project on this trivial scope would not allay any PR fears in fact it would be counterproductive as people would mock the cost. I would as well.

    If you are going to respond to a touch nerve at least prove something I have said is wrong.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 1:46 am
    . In other words, your mouth is writing checks your brain can’t cash.

    when you were in college did you learn anything but making up goofy statements….please the far more well done statement was least a good line when it was used in a serious movie… and the folks in Hot Shots mocked it pretty good…but the best you can do is well droll.

    When you can prove me wrong on something you will get a star…and the ever lasting knowledge that you finally have succeeded in something.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mike Snyder

    Mr. Oler,

    No I do not want to meet at the Oriental Gourmet and that is the chicken you-know-what way out of addressing being held accountable for your statements.

    To use one of your own terms, to meet would be “goofy” and the suggestion of so is “goofy” in its own right.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mike Snyder wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    OK but the invite still stands…

    we could even do a man hug!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Mr. Smith, my point is, that space will still not be available to the common man, if you will.

    ah the common man (music playing in the background)

    the “common man” wont make it into space until there is a reason for them to that somehow approaches the price point to send them there. now this is a sliding scale, as the price goes down the “common man” might find more reason to go to space then if the price ishigher.

    So right now we have the “mythic heroes” (a Rob Navias spell phrase) going into space for quite a lot of money doing not really all that much of value other then being the “tip of the sword” (sorry Mr. Earl has turned me on with his phrase) of the technowelfare machine that is NASA…

    If the cost drops to 20 million a seat (or somewhere around that with time on orbit) then a lot of organizations might find the reason(s) to send their common people…

    but as the scale goes down to get “every common person who wants to go” the oppurtunity to go, there needs to be some reason for them to spend the cash and that amount of cash for the next oh 50 years is probably going to be to high for most common persons just to spend it and not have anything but the satisfaction of going..

    it is going to be awhile before there are enough reasons for folks to spend the cash (and the cash needed is low enough) to get airliner style flight.

    Less in the mater of policy and more in speculation…I suspect that most of the people who say they want to go into space would actually find it a pretty rough experience and would find (sorry Mr. Earl has got me in the realm of TV quotes) to sort of paraphrase Mr. Spock in Amok Time where the Pon Farr gets the best of him “that desiring is better then having”

    (and wow what a put down that was to Mr. Spocks’ ex)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 6:50 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlI3zZk5UGI&feature=related

    the clip is far better then I can restate it.

    A superb episode…with great acting…

    Robert G. Oler

  • I would suggest that (as with the other trolls) all would be better off to simply pay no attention to Mr. Oler’s ongoing egotistical keyboard diarrhea.

  • Coastal Ron

    brobof wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Regarding SPS, could it be used to power an electric propulsion engine like VASIMR? Would it be any better than using a nuclear power source for VASIMR?

    I ask because between space and Earth, space is where the lack of energy limits us the most, especially for propulsive use. Anything that lowers the cost to access or operate in space gets my vote for funding consideration.

  • DCSCA

    Dennis Berube wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 8:37 am
    Just perhaps if we find say a mineral, rare on Earth, but very useful for military purposes, then an all out effort would be made to gain access to it…” They have. It’s called ‘unobtanium’ whih the DoD uses to jkustify its bloated budgets.

  • red

    “she said she would work to keep the shuttle program “solvent” until a replacement is ready and “be a strong, vocal advocate for the increased Research & Development funding” needed for the “next generation of ‘miracle’ products” spun off from NASA technology development.”

    Does this mean she supports the technology and research funding in Obama’s budget proposal, such as the Exploration Technology Demonstrations and Development, Space Technology, Human Research, and Heavy Lift and Propulsion lines? Are there particular ones she supports, and others she doesn’t support? I suppose I could see her supporting the Flagship Technology Demonstrations in particular, since KSC would co-manage that line with JSC. I guess I’d look more to some of the other technology lines for “miracle products” of the sort she’s describing, though (in spite of which I support the Flagship line for other reasons).

    If we assume something like the Senate approach eventually prevails, how much do people here think NASA will be able to achieve with the various reduced technology lines? Would you expect more or less status quo results, given that NASA did have some residual technology efforts even under Constellation, will it be able to squeeze out more progress in spite of the cuts, or will it be more or less wiped out by SLS/Orion budget overruns and associated megacontractor lobbying? Opinions?

  • brobof

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 26th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    Yep like most space resources their best use is in space thus the demo could beam a lot more than the stated goal at say a robotic lunar base. SPS constellations at L1&2 spring to mind.
    As to your point, I think that VASIMR requires too much energy for long distance use requiring a truly ENORMOUS rectenna for a Mars Mission but for a local Earth-Moon Tug the concept is worth a look. IMHO.
    Reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beam-powered_propulsion for starters.
    And there is always Robert L Forward’s Star Whisp (a fondly remembered talk at a Worldcon :) Picture here.

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