NASA

Garver on commercial space and policy at Space Camp

When speaking with the Huntsville Times last week, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver mentioned NASA’s interest in heavy-lift development. That was the main focus of that report, but in her speech that weekend at the US Space and Rocket Center Hall of Fame dinner, she also brought up another aspect of the administration’s plans for NASA, its support for commercial crew development. She made the case in her prepared remarks that it is “not as radical as it seems” and even potentially beneficial to Alabama:

We are (we hope) on the cusp of achieving big things. A few companies (established and emerging) already have systems for transportation, many whose heritage is right here in Alabama. We will oversee these rockets to ensure that the highest possible safety standards are met. The U.S. has lost a large share of the commercial market. There is a growing market for launch services internationally, and by other U.S. government agencies and the private sector, both traditional markets and new ones. There is huge untapped potential for expanded markets, businesses, and jobs connected to launching cargo and eventually crew to orbit.

We believe it is time for the government to help to create a whole new sector of the economy that will produce jobs and innovation for years to come. This is precisely what has driven economic growth in this country for our entire history— government playing its critical role by investing in technology and industry doing what it does best—allowing us to spend less on operations and explore further into the universe. We’re continuing this quest that began here in Huntsville 50 years ago.

A bit later in the speech, she noted that the debate was not about whether the US should be doing space exploration, but how:

As I said the good news is that we’re debating how to do this, not whether or not we should, and that is progress. The shift is that the government may not need to be the operator of rocket systems whose sole purpose is to reach low Earth orbit anymore. We can facilitate other people who will do that for us. Meanwhile, we’ll be focused on sending missions farther into the solar system and achieving other astounding new things that will, in turn, inspire future generations. Things like humans visiting an asteroid, or robots sending pictures back from a destination we’ve never been such as the moons of Mars, and ultimately, the dusty soil of Mars itself.

And a final reminder to those not satisfied with the current situation: “If you don’t like how the politics are playing out, you have the opportunity to get involved to make them better. That’s my view.”

270 comments to Garver on commercial space and policy at Space Camp

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Interesting comments from Ms. Garver, especially when you consider, IMHO, she more closely represents the Administration’s views on NASA than Administrator Bolden.

    Even though I’m a DIRECT fan and generally approve of he SLS concept in the Senate’s bill, I agree that there isn’t any real justification for Earth-to-LEO to be considered a government preserve anymore. The SLS is potentially a fine multi-role launcher but a lot of its potential would be lost if it is needed to maintain the ISS and launch space probes rather human space exploration vehicles.

  • amightywind

    She is still shilling for newspace, after all of the carnage of the last year. Unbelievable! She was fully rebuked by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in congress and she still has the mic. One thing for which you must fault the Obama administration is their refusal to adjust any policy, no matter how disastrously it has failed. Space, healthcare, the economy, energy, the oil spill, terrorist trials, and the ground zero mosque – they are tone deaf to all. They are in open opposition to the will of the American people on nearly every issue. Fortunately, judgement day approaches.

    I agree that there isn’t any real justification for Earth-to-LEO to be considered a government preserve anymore.

    Foolishly premature! Let newspace demonstrate some (any) capability before you say that. So far we have seen an empty F9 second stage pinwheeling into space, nothing more.

  • The SLS is potentially a fine multi-role launcher but a lot of its potential would be lost if it is needed to maintain the ISS and launch space probes rather human space exploration vehicles.

    True. If private industry is allowed to compete for LEO work, there just might be money for BEO payloads using the DIRECTish SLS.

  • There goes Lori telling the truth again.

  • Major Tom

    “She was fully rebuked by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in congress…”

    No, she wasn’t. Commercial crew is in both sets of authorization/appropriations bills, in more (House) or less (Senate) modified forms. No bill funds an alternative to commercial crew for crewed ETO transport except for an HLV/Orion backup. There are still arguments about the timing of that HLV backup and funding emphasis versus commercial crew, but the fundamentals of NASA’s FY11 budget plan for U.S. civil human space flight access post-Shuttle have been adopted by the Congress.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

    “Foolishly premature! Let newspace demonstrate some (any) capability before you say that. So far we have seen an empty F9 second stage pinwheeling into space, nothing more.”

    That’s much more than Constellation demonstrated with Ares I/Orion after six years and 30x more taxpayer dollars, which is why the U.S. civil human space flight program is in the dire straits it’s in today.

    And the statement also ignores established commercial and military capabilities in the EELV fleet, which launched a returnable and reusable space plane earlier this year that’s still conducting operations as I write.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    Ok folks – you that routinely repost the same thoughts. Could you keep it short and say “my earlier comments, repeated” or something? I see one of our repeaters has already gotten here, sigh.

    For those of you that reply to the intention of the author – thank you.

    first point

    Anyway, the government still needs to take a role in “new” development, to absorb most of the risk. Who would have thought that a simple capsule than can go into orbit would be “new” development in this day?? But it is. Mostly due to the government having the facilities, the certification processes, the corporate knowledge needed.

    Commercial firms have been flying boosters for years so they are ready to take over the role of supplying rockets. One day they will be able to take over the production and operation of the capsules as well. When they can have access to facilities or have spent the enormous money to duplicate them.

    second point

    We may soon see Dragon, Cygnus, Soyuz and maybe one day manned ATV (??) flying to ISS. Hopefully even Orion! How could we schedule so that people could visit THE destination – the ISS??? There is a market for tourist flights to space but people will expect the opportunity that others have gotten – a stay for a week on the ISS. You know they will demand that. But the ISS is a busy place and can’t have tourists arriving and departing all of the time.

    Now we know that people hope to have another destination – Bigelow, or whatever. Some people will accept just flying around in a can for a few days. All of that depends on future developments – let’s not count on them yet. Right now the ISS is up and running, and has a history of hosting visitors.

    You can forsee (in about 5 years maybe???) companies saying that they cannot sell seats since they cannot get access to ISS. The IPs will refuse to allow very many visitors since they are trying to get some research done!!

  • Anyway, the government still needs to take a role in “new” development, to absorb most of the risk. Who would have thought that a simple capsule than can go into orbit would be “new” development in this day?? But it is. Mostly due to the government having the facilities, the certification processes, the corporate knowledge needed.

    This is simply untrue, and without basis. Most of that knowledge resides in private industry, not government.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Major Tom – Actually, I disagree – At least with regard to the House bill, there is an attempt to get a government owned earth to LEO transport that isn’t an HLV/Orion backup, but rather an Ares I/Orion backup, as well as an HLV. They talk about a

    a governmentally owned crew transportation system and heavy lift transportation system

    and then later they say

    The crewed spacecraft element of the crew transportation system

    Thus, there are at least 3 elements being implicitly talked about
    1. An HLV system
    2. A Crew Transportation system
    3. Crewed spacecraft element of Crew transportation system

    That to me means they are looking at trying to retain another rocket besides the HLV that would provide transport to LEO.

  • Robert G. Oler

    CharlesTheSpaceGuy wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    there is some “new” things to development today.

    and they are very important.

    What has been lacking in human spaceflight AT ALL is any cost accountability. If NASA said it was going to cost X.X billion dollars they never did it in that it was always Y.Y and Y was always bigger then X. Same for operational cost.

    To paraphrase “any fool can throw money” at a problem and expect it to at some point be solved (or sort of solved).

    Most of the new space development has the twin “goals” of both being safe and being affordable. That is enormously important to any future goals in human spaceflight.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Rand,

    I was gonna say that – you beat me to it. :D

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    Rand and I exchanged thoughts:

    [me] Anyway, the government still needs to take a role in “new” development, to absorb most of the risk. Who would have thought that a simple capsule than can go into orbit would be “new” development in this day?? But it is. Mostly due to the government having the facilities, the certification processes, the corporate knowledge needed.

    [Rand] This is simply untrue, and without basis. Most of that knowledge resides in private industry, not government.

    Hopefully I will not soon feel the sting of Rand’s often pointed replies and we can keep this civil.

    Anyway, my point is in three parts. Corporate knowledge – much of the generic knowledge is available even in college text books but the application is very exacting. But as we have seen (even in the Columbia Accident Investigation report) you are well advised to have people with a lot of experience involved. Sure there are even retired astronauts in many companies (Brewster Shaw, Mike Bloomfield, Mike Lounge, etc) but they often spend time networking and doing administrivia and not technical work. I would argue that there are a few dozen people in the US that SpaceX or Orbital Sciences would want to have review their work – and easily half of them are government employees.

    Facilities – if commercial space providers are going to be viable they need them. As one example – the O&C Building high bay would be useful for final assembly/checkout of capsules. Will commercial entities be forced to duplicate facilites or will this mostly empty space be made available? SpaceX had to build a new hangar but re-used an Air Force pad for another example. Could even Elon Musk have had the money to find a pad location and build it?

    Right now the government owns ISS and so owns processes (for certification to dock to ISS) and correctly guards that carefully.

    Rand argued with one of my assertions and we both agree that the current situation is NOT the best one. I remain certain that the government has a central role in capsule design/construction/certification and I want to make sure that we produce something to get Americans back into space. I am certain that the government has the knowledge that is needed. Hopefully in 5 years we will have the second concern – too many capsules jockeying for docking ports at ISS.

  • John Malkin

    Correct me if I’m wrong but really it’s process and manufacturing that we have lost since Apollo not general technological knowledge. However in the time since Apollo new materials and other technological advances have occurred. These advances can reduce the cost to launch. Unfortunately it seems agendas have gotten in the way of a good design (safety, cost) for an HSF vehicle. My hope is despite all the politics in and out of government, we will get affordable access to LEO.

  • Major Tom

    “Commercial firms have been flying boosters for years so they are ready to take over the role of supplying rockets. One day they will be able to take over the production and operation of the capsules as well.”

    One day?

    SpaceX put a boilerplate Dragon into orbit back in June. They built that boilerplate Dragon in their Hawthorne, CA facility using their employees — not NASA facilities or employees.

    And two more operational Dragons are in the queue at Hawthorne. Here’s a pix:

    flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4928532022/

    Contrast the success of the Dragon test program:

    SpaceX Conducts Dragon Parachute Test (Photos and Video)
    spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=31477

    With failures on the Orion program:

    Parachute Test Fails for NASA’s New Spaceship
    space.com/news/080821-orion-parachute-test.html

    And it’s pretty clear where the domain expertise resides today when it comes to developing ETO capsules. There’s little reason for NASA to be in the business of building routine capsules, when such designs are clearly within the capabilities of industry and can be executed much more competently and efficiently there.

    Heck, even the old Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules were built by McDac and NAA (both absorbed by Boeing, which is pursuing the CST-100 capsule with Bigelow), not in NASA facilities or by NASA personnel.

    None of this means that NASA doesn’t have role to play in the future human space flight. The material in the heat shield that Dragon uses was invented at NASA’s Ames Research Center. And no one in industry is going to be building deep space vehicles anytime soon.

    So instead of competing very inefficiently against industry on routine space trucking jobs at great cost to the taxpayer, NASA needs to be focused on developing technologies and systems that industry can’t or won’t build. ETO capsules aren’t that.

    FWIW…

  • IMHO, this is the best succinct historical summary of how we have gotten to where we are today:

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22381.msg631786#msg631786

    Also, IMHO, if Sean O’Keefe had been replaced by Admiral Steidle rather than Mike Griffin, we’d be flying EELV architectures, today.

  • Major Tom

    “That to me means they are looking at trying to retain another rocket besides the HLV that would provide transport to LEO.”

    You may be right. It would be interesting to see if the report language was clear, one way or the other, on this.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    Tommy:
    You’re wrong about Garver/the Administration not being rebuked.
    While both the Senate and House has some sort of funding mechanism for commercial crew, it is at much lower levels and in different forms from the administration’s request. In addition the House bill attempts to continue funding Constellation while the Senate bill and addendum are very specific on the timing and type of HLV to be developed over the next 5 years. Considering the spending latitude given to other agency’s and to previous NASA administrations this is generally seen as a big rebuke to the present NASA management team. If this was Japan, Bolden and Garver would be expected to resign.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    ” while the Senate bill and addendum are very specific on the timing and type of HLV to be developed over the next 5 years. ”

    no not really

    First off this is not Japan…so that analogy is goofy

    Second the Senate bill (which is likely where this ends up) is NOT at all specific about what has to be…there are some statements but none of them have the force of law, and all of them are simply to confuse people like you who dont know any better.

    A SDV will be economically impossible in less then 6 months. The people and the infrastructure to support it wont exist and wont be economical to reestablish in that same period. As soon as the last person goes out the door at Alliance, the Shuttle system and things derived from it are gone. The vendors will shut down, it will be as impossible to restart as the F-22.

    You might not understand this, but that is your problem not anyone elses.

    If the Congress had wanted an SDV they would have “B-1′ed” it…ie preserved both the government hardware, the contractor hardware and the vendors for it…I am not even for sure the LON will turn into an additional flight.

    Garver and Bolden (or Bolden and Garver) have won. They have killed the exploration beast, sent both Shuttle and Cx to the scrap pile and sent the prime focus of space efforts in the US on a very different tangent.

    There will never again be a control room filled with government/contractor people launching a NASA owned contractor operated booster with people from the Cape…and Controlled in Houston.

    You might not be able to recognize that…but thats how it is.

    watch

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ dad2059

    How is continuing a $3 billion dollar a year ISS program beyond 2015 saving NASA any money for beyond LEO missions? Griffin wanted the ISS terminated after 2015 so that those funds could be used for beyond LEO missions. Continuing the ISS beyond 2015 is going to be a $3 billion a year welfare program for private commercial launch companies and a huge waste of tax payer dollars!

  • Martijn Meijering

    Continuing the ISS beyond 2015 is going to be a $3 billion a year welfare program for private commercial launch companies and a huge waste of tax payer dollars!

    Even if that is true, then SLS will be an even bigger welfare program for a single prime contractor (USA) and several government design bureaus.

  • Major Tom

    “Tommy:”

    Ugh, enough with your childish namecalling over multiple threads in this forum. Why are you compelled to engage in such juvenile behavior, in the very first line of your very first post in this thread? No one has called you names in this thread.

    Grow up or go away.

    “While both the Senate and House has some sort of funding mechanism for commercial crew, it is at much lower levels and in different forms from the administration’s request.”

    The funding mechanism doesn’t take a different form in the Senate bill.

    Don’t make things up.

    And per NASA’s commercial crew RFI conference, even at the lower funding level, they still plan to carry several providers through to completion in 2016.

    And if any of these bills becomes law, it’s the Senate bill that’s going forward. There’s opposition to even getting the House bill to the floor, nevertheless conference with the Senate.

    “Considering the spending latitude given to other agency’s and to previous NASA administrations this is generally seen as a big rebuke to the present NASA management team.”

    By who? You?

    A rebuke would be zeroed out funding for commercial crew or a restoration of Ares I. Instead, the fundamentals of NASA’s FY11 budget plan with respect to ETO transport have been adopted.

    “If this was Japan, Bolden and Garver would be expected to resign.”

    Says who? You?

    Please, elucidate for us the multiple parallels where Japanese government ministers have been forced to resign over changes to their budget proposals by Japan’s diet. Instances, names, links? You must know of several to make that statement, right?

    Oy vey..

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    I think Major Tom can speak for himself.
    Secondly, you’ve been wrong about everything else in this debate and all you did in your post re-state your unfounded opinions.

  • Bob Mahoney

    @Oler There will never again be a control room filled with government/contractor people launching a NASA owned contractor operated booster with people from the Cape…and Controlled in Houston. [My emphasis]

    Aside from the remaining shuttle launches, I presume you mean. As for what you really meant…perhaps. But I don’t really think the chips are down yet on this matter. Congress is an inherently fluid entity and could very well turn things inside out and back around even in the next five years, certainly in the next 10-20. A self-supporting commercial launch industry is not yet a guaranteed reality.

    As I noted in my TSR essay a few months ago, NASA ‘flying its own’ is a firmly embedded component of the American consciousness/culture even if it doesn’t grab the headlines like it did in the past. As such, it may not go as quietly into that good night as you are suggesting it will.

  • MrEarl

    Oh Tom:
    “The funding mechanism doesn’t take a different form in the Senate bill.
    Don’t make things up.”

    But it dose in the House bill and it is greatly reduced in the Senate bill. Just as I said.

    You still need to get a sense of humor.

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Also, IMHO, if Sean O’Keefe had been replaced by Admiral Steidle rather than Mike Griffin, we’d be flying EELV architectures, today.

    If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets. Back the program of record.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    To paraphrase “any fool can throw money” at a problem and expect it to at some point be solved (or sort of solved).

    The current administration and congress seem to be the exception to the rule with their economic ‘stimulus’. The dire economic situation will far outweigh other factors in the future of NASA.

    MFW is right. There can be no talk of pissing money away without putting that abomination of the ISS at the center of the discussion. As long as this nation remains in that straight jacket, real exploration will only be a dream.

  • MrEarl

    Tom:
    Anyone impartial can see that the Senate and the House has rejected the administration’s direction for NASA. While they may not have the force of law, the accompanying documents to the Senate bill are quite specific in what the senate expects the design of the SLS should be. It’s unprecedented for the Senate. That’s generally know as a rebuke.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Doesn’t anyone, even the pretend libertarians here, find this paragraph just a little off putting?

    “We believe it is time for the government to help to create a whole new sector of the economy that will produce jobs and innovation for years to come. This is precisely what has driven economic growth in this country for our entire history— government playing its critical role by investing in technology and industry doing what it does best—allowing us to spend less on operations and explore further into the universe. We’re continuing this quest that began here in Huntsville 50 years ago. “

  • amightywind

    MRW

    We believe it is time for the government to help to create a whole new sector of the economy that will produce jobs and innovation for years to come.

    The statists have been picking winners and losers uncontested for 2 years and has the US in an economic death spiral. It is surprising they have that much confidence left. It is shockingly late in the game for her to make such a statement when even democrats in congress are running away from the idea. Again, tone deafness and contempt for the will of the people like we have never seen before.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Doesn’t anyone, even the pretend libertarians here, find this paragraph just a little off putting?

    OK, I’ll pretend to be a Libertarian just so you’ll tell me what’s wrong. And please use examples.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Also, IMHO, if Sean O’Keefe had been replaced by Admiral Steidle rather than Mike Griffin, we’d be flying EELV architectures, today.”

    more accurate words cannot be spoken.

    In the end Steidle recognized what Griffin (and most VSE opponents) are to stupid or pig headed to recognize…programs which span a time period more then an administrations term(s) will not necessarily survive contact in terms of direction or even survival with a new administration.

    Steidle had as a plan the notion that the goal of VSE was to replace the shuttle and then let whoever came next work on the issue of trying to push that architecture “to the Moon”. And at least it would be doable in some fashion because well the system would be flying.

    Where Griffin collapsed is he assumed what people like Whittington state all the time, that there is some actual support for a Moon effort…that was stronger then the inertia at the agency and stronger then the need to save money as times get hard.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Garver’s statement is pretty un-libertarian, until you realise she is talking about moving away from government shielded private monopolies towards a partially government funded sector with full supply side competition. That’s a major step in the right direction from a libertarian point of view. A bigger and better step would be to disband NASA completely.

    Note that state shielded private monopolies are actually more fascist than socialist, though the difference isn’t as big as people like to pretend and both are very statist and thus very unlibertarian.

  • amightywind

    In the end Steidle recognized what Griffin (and most VSE opponents) are to stupid or pig headed to recognize…programs which span a time period more then an administrations term(s) will not necessarily survive contact in terms of direction or even survival with a new administration.

    For once I agree with you. It was imperative for an 8 year administration to place facts on the ground in order to have a chance of continuity with a change in power. Before Columbia NASA obviously wasn’t a Bush priority. After 2004 there was a window of 4 years to make Constellation immovable. They didn’t make it. That window is closed. But the window on newspace is also closing on this administration. We may have to muddle through and start over again in 2012 unless a lame duck congress actually produces a workable plan.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    “As I noted in my TSR essay a few months ago, NASA ‘flying its own’ is a firmly embedded component of the American consciousness/culture”

    yes I should have been more precise. After the last shuttle goes wheels stop…thats it for the system I described.

    I would disagree somewhat with the quoted sentiment.

    It is embedded component of the American consciousness/culture that is over say 60…or mentally there…

    but there is a split emerging in almost all issues that divide America along a generational line that is about now as a matter of divide on issues about 45 or so…what keeps the “dream alive” in the minds of older Americans is that they remember Apollo and think of NASA as that…great times, great things etc.

    For the folks who grew up in a post cold war (and in space policy) shuttle era…NASA is really just another agency that does things that dont impress all that much…and really is ineffective as an agency in doing things that “excite”…its not great times great things.

    The divide is not precise and not absolute…but its there…and that is one reason that the upset over the cancellation of the lunar effort by Bush is almost completely an “old” thing (or a right wing “we wish the cold war was back” group).

    Worse, there is no real basis of accomplishment for NASA HSF to hang its hat on in terms of what it has done “lately”. There is a reason that the old Apollo folks are the ones the “save our space program” dredge up and not the old shuttle people.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Why was Mike Griffin chosen?

    Why did he receive essentially unanimous Senate confirmation and why did the Senate recently pass an inline SDLV Authorization bill, again unanimously?

    The fact that Admiral Steidle (or someone else of like mind) reveals much about Congress and (IMHO) the futility of seeking an EELV-centric beyond LEO program.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
    “But the window on newspace is also closing on this administration.”

    I normally just ignore you but this comment has validity in terms of debate and to encourage you to move along those line.

    not really no, in fact the window is just opening.

    Obama has at least until 2012 and if he gets a second term 2016 to pursue space policy and budgets which 1) will exist in a time of increasing austerity where Congress of any stripe will be reluctant to spend money on things which do not enjoy enormous political support and seem to make the economy better and 2) in the absence of any real government HSF exploration program.

    The later is the genius of killing both the shuttle and Cx. If Cx had somehow survived…kind of like the B-1 there might have been some hope of reviving it. But before long it will be economically impossible to do so…and there will be no competing issues with “new space”.

    Now “newspace” has to 1) turn out cheaper and 2) work…but it is going to get well into the 2012-14 time period to do that.

    Once OSC and SpaceX start commercial resupply to the station and it becomes routine. Its over for government space…for quite sometime.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Had Griffin accepted the original ESAS recommendations, there would have been facts on the ground when President Obama came to office. From the comment I linked above:

    Griffin started, not with a set of VSE requirements to be met, but with a preferred solution already fleshed out, not for the VSE, but for the fulfillment of his personal ambition to replace the Saturn-V. The ESAS, which he commissioned, initially came up with the same solution that DIRECT did, but Griffin didn’t like it (it wasn’t big enough) and gave the committee 1 week to come up with a different solution. In the interests of time he referenced his paper from his Planetary Society days to show them what kind of solution would be acceptable to him.

  • Major Tom

    “But it dose in the House bill and it is greatly reduced in the Senate bill. Just as I said.”

    No, it’s not “just as [you] said.” That’s not what you wrote in your earlier post.

    Don’t make things up.

    “You still need to get a sense of humor.”

    I have no sense of humor for a poster who starts namecalling, and now ad hominem attacks, in their first three posts.

    What’s your major malfunction that you can’t start a discussion without insulting the other poster right from the get-go?

    “While they may not have the force of law, the accompanying documents to the Senate bill are quite specific in what the senate expects the design of the SLS should be. It’s unprecedented for the Senate. That’s generally know as a rebuke.”

    No, it’s not. Non-binding congressional report language with all kinds of crazy specifics, usually pushed by just one staffer, gets ignored by the executive branch all the time.

    If it was a “rebuke” (or outright rejection or whatever noun you want to use), it would have been in the bill language, which is what the Senators actually vote on. But it’s not. It’s in the report language so certain Senators can look like they’re fighting for the Shuttle workforce without actually having to do so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    two different questions.

    The “SDV” language is no real language…it is a facade to let the pork politicians get off easy with the people who wanted more. Or at least try.

    Why was Griffin chosen (the unanimous confirmation is meaningless all those positions are)?

    Griffin is a typical appointee from the last administration. A cheerleader for the stated goal of the administration’s policies in that area, someone who can “push the can” down the field and make it look good.

    Bush was no more interested in going back to the Moon, then he was in capturing Ossama son of Ladin. He just wanted to look like he was doing something.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Doesn’t anyone, even the pretend libertarians here, find this paragraph just a little off putting?…

    you once agreed with exactly the same sentiments…See The Weekly STandard Article you had your name put on.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    BW

    Griffin started, not with a set of VSE requirements to be met, but with a preferred solution already fleshed out, not for the VSE, but for the fulfillment of his personal ambition to replace the Saturn-V.

    That ‘personal ambition’ might also be more favorably called a vision. But I agree Griffin should have moderated his position to -get something done-. I think he really believed has had a chance of directing NASA after 2008. Another fatal error.

    Oler

    I normally just ignore you but this comment has validity in terms of debate and to encourage you to move along those line.

    Oh really? I wonder if there is widespread agreement on that? Your list of trolls and flames is as long as anyone’s on this forum. I don’t see that as necessarily bad.

  • Re: Senate SDLV language

    September should be a fun month for space policy Beltway watchers and thereafter, we will see if NASA starts bending metal for a DIRECT-like SDLV, or not. And whether it ever actually flies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    If I might, I would add one more thing.

    I dont know what Ed Wright is doing these days, but this is one instance where I am quite glad Ed’s theories of how things should go worked out better then mine.

    If Griffin had never been administrator and instead we were flying EELV’s while I suspect at some point we might have gotten to a more commercial based space policy…as things turn out Ed was more correct then I was about their use.

    If the EELV’s had been made the lift of choice to the space station then I agree that we would be flying them now…both crewed and uncrewed…and that would have probably meant the survival of the NASA bureaucracy that has grown up around human spaceflight, because at some point the NASA bureaucracy would have realized that its survival depended on getting on the EELV train…and they would have done it…and the operation would have turned out to look a whole lot like the shuttle Part 2.

    My hope was that some sort of “Liberty vehicle” would have emerged where different competitors would have worked on a vehicle to fly on the EELV’s…and have done so as a private concern.

    Ed’s criticism of the notion at the time I didnt think much of, but in retrospect he was more correct then wrong and I was more wrong then correct. If the EELV’s had flown and even had there been some sort of competition for a “NASA” financed Liberty type vehicle…it would have ended up giving us another 10-15 years of NASA operated vehicles.

    My thinking at the time was heavily influenced by the failure of Beal Aerospace and I doubted that anyone could pull off what Musk has done.

    As it stands right now we are doing more of an Ed approach to the future and its working out pretty good.

    If you lurk Ed…congrats

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    An exchange:
    Ferris
    “That to me means they are looking at trying to retain another rocket besides the HLV that would provide transport to LEO.”
    Tom
    “You may be right. It would be interesting to see if the report language was clear, one way or the other, on this.”

    From my reading of your statement you agree that the report is an indicator of the intent of congress.

    Is that right?

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Ferris was clearly refering to the House bill, not the SEnate.

    Robert G. Oler

  • JSC MUST DIE

    “There will never again be a control room filled with government/contractor people launching a NASA owned contractor operated booster with people from the Cape…and Controlled in Houston.”

    I take it your betting on SLS\Orion on being canceled. Its your wet dream, ins’t it? You wake up in a puddle don’t you. Would you just love for JSC to be shut down? Oh man that would be so awesome!

    Why do you wish such things against your own community and neighbors? Its like you have absolutely no respect for your neighbors, or even basic manners for that matter.

    Gloating at job losses. Wow what a loser. Even if were 100% right, 100% of the time. You still make yourself sound like a little brat child.

    Why do you have this hate against MOD, constantly calling them “geniuses”? JSC is a lot more than MOD too, btw.

    There is tons of history made at JSC MC. Exploration & Flagship missions will be executed from there. ISS control room is not going anywhere, and may expand when Shuttle is gone.

    And you still can’t answer basic questions like if you done any real development. Have you? Have you worked development on ANY kind of *craft?

    Your a disgrace. GTFO.

  • Witherton Spoonfed

    Your a disgrace. GTFO.

    You really hate the constitution, dontcha!

    Your grammar alone is a huge disgrace on the nation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    JSC MUST DIE wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 2:54 pm
    :” Would you just love for JSC to be shut down? ”

    are you friends with that Iranian group “Salman Rushdie must die” (sorry Saturday night live ringing in ears).

    I am quite certain that JSC will not be shut down, it will and should evolve however and the new space policy will help it.

    The notion that space flight by humans must be some effort which has a very small number of people “in space” and “lots of thousands” of people back on earth making it happen must change if human spaceflight is to ever be affordable and even go past Lunar space. NASA HSF has been adept at prolonging both realities. The folks on the space station and shuttle dont even transfer things from a hard drive to a USB stick without the folks on the ground reading up some procedure which is exactly what the 10 year olds in the family would do, without the plethora of people on the ground. Checklist are a joke. lots of people in “the back rooms” telling some communicator who tells the crew…”well we want this page done but skip items X through Y” is nuts and not done in any other technical endeavor in the US…and it wont work out at Mars…or anywhere else that has an appreciable radio delay.

    Instead of working toward that goal, while in the safe confines of LEO NASA has perpetuated a system that is simply impossible to use on Mars journeys (or anywhere else) all in the name of jobs

    “Why do you wish such things against your own community and neighbors? ”

    and because you and others like you cannot offer any value for the cost of the jobs, this is what it all comes down to “we need our technowelfare”.

    Houston Center creates jobs…and while there is some overlap and back crewing and probably a redundant person or so, at the end of each shift almost everyone there can justify their GS level pay grade in that they helped the economy (such as it is) work.

    End those jobs and something (air travel) important to The Republic stops or becomes more dangerous or less efficient.

    Cannot say that about the jobs at JSC…all one cdan say is “we must preserve our federal hand out”

    finally

    “ISS control room is not going anywhere, and may expand when Shuttle is gone. ”

    no doubt on the expansion. I am sure that jobs now done by 3 or 4 people will find that it takes 6 or 9 or more to do the same thing…and thats how the entire show works at JSC…as Linda H so well put it in her testimony to the CAIB “no one was at fault” (and that is a quote).

    The difference between a CVN and a shuttle flight, is that when the CVN runs aground, the skipper is fired. Linda just moved on to something else.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Forkfed

    Oh man, you got me. I must hate the constitution because I also said what I wanted to.

    Your right though, I didn’t use a bit of proper English. I didn’t bother to proofread. At least you addresses the content of my post and not the format.

    You grammar\spelling nazi’s are like software engineers who only know how to point out syntax errors – your useless.

  • You grammar\spelling nazi’s are like software engineers who only know how to point out syntax errors – your useless.

    There should be no apostrophe in “nazis,” “Nazis” should be capitalized, and it’s “you’re useless.”

    That’s all right, no need to thank me. ;-)

  • Major Tom

    “From my reading of your statement you agree that the report is an indicator of the intent of congress.”

    No, report language reflects the intent of at least one congressional staffer or congressman. But we don’t know beyond that how many congressmen support specific report language. And report language never reflects the “intent of the congress” as a whole as it’s never voted on.

    I was just stating that it would be interesting to know if the report language accompanying the House bill was clearer than the bill language itself with regards to a dedicated government crew launch vehicle separate from the HLV. Assuming it exists, that doesn’t mean that I have any idea who or how many in congress supported that report language.

  • MrEarl

    Tom said:
    “that doesn’t mean that I have any idea who or how many in congress supported that report language.”

    Exactly my point! You have no idea how many in the Senate support the report language. It’s all speculation on your part, backed up only by your biased opinion.

  • Donneth Forketh

    I must hate the constitution because I also said what I wanted to.

    No, you hate the constitution because you told someone else – who said what THEY wanted, to ‘GTFO’, thus knocking yourself right off your high holy horse.

  • No, you hate the constitution because you told someone else – who said what THEY wanted, to ‘GTFO’, thus knocking yourself right off your high holy horse.

    What does saying GTFO have to do with the Constitution?

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    “Exactly my point! You have no idea how many in the Senate support the report language.”

    the larger point of course is that it doesnt matter how many in the Senate support the report language…it is not law.

    What is law is wording that gives any competent manager the room to do exactly what they want to do, as long as they design an HLV.

    Because once the Senate Bill becomes law, then there is nothing the Congress or the Senate or any Senator can do until the next appropriations cycle…and by that time the course will be set. The language in the bill (other then the space terms) comes almost exactly out of the language that was used when the Senate was having the great debate over reactivating either a set of gun cruisers or the battleships.

    Reagan (and the SecNav) really wanted the Iowa class BB’s but some of the Senators who didnt want them, wanted as an alternative a few of the CA’s left over from WW2 in essentially dual ended gun configuration. The Senate settled on language in the money authorizing the reintroduction of either the BB’s or the CA’s which favored the CA’s…and the SecNav with the concurrence of the POTUS just ignored it…and spent all the money on the New Jersey. By the time the next appropriation cycle came around the CA’s were set for scrapping and the first BB was already in SLEP.

    Unless I am completely off the mark, you are going to find that in whatever design emerges for a heavy lift…there is little or no shuttle hardware there…

    It is just amazing to me how much lack of knowledge people have about how things actually work. I expect Stephen M to chime in soon and announce the resurrection of DIRECT.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Joshua

    The language that will land on President Obama’s desk is not yet known. Even its tea leaves are not yet public.

    Even though I wish Ms. Garver had made statements like these early on, as part of what should have been a careful rollout of a major policy shift, I doubt it would have made a difference. Entrenched powers, however failing, don’t care for well crafted language. They just care to preserve their power.

    Space is a tiny part of this political season (I wish it were otherwise). While republicans successfully gin up emotions and fear of phantasmas, and democrats respond haplessly, American families are facing prolonged recession and diminishing prospects for their children, with neither party stepping up.

    A robust commercial space sector could be one of the new economic arenas to offer good jobs and economic growth. The old arenas offer the opposite, including the powers behind NASA HSF and its contractors.

    I suspect that comsats, GPS and sat radio/TV have produced more economic expansion than the government space monolith, with the exception of weather sats, which have saved who knows how many dollars and lives.

    If you want a dynamic and expanding space future, it’s logical to support more commercial activities in space, and contract reform at NASA.

  • William Mellberg

    Let’s get one thing straight. It’s not “commercial” if the ONLY real customer is a taxpayer-funded federal agency (i.e., NASA). It is NOT “commercial” if the tax dollars are switched from one set of goverment contractors (for example, Lockheed-Martin and Boing) to another set of government contractors (Space X and Bigelow). There is virtually NO “commercial” market for human spaceflight. (Ms. Garver, after all, was unable to raise the necessary $20 million for a trip aboard Soyuz). Sending government employees (NASA astronauts) to the ISS is NOT a “commercial” enterprise. And the market (i.e., the available pool of billionaires) for space tourism is so small as to be practically non-existent.

    I say all of this as someone with a background in commercial aviation and jet airliner sales. Which is why I’ll introduce Concorde to this debate. Concorde was viable in that it routinely carried passengers across the Atlantic for a quarter of a century. But Concorde wan’t practical. Only an elite, wealthy few could afford the $4000 one-way ticket across the Atlantic. The only operators were Air France and British Airways who acquired their aircraft at practically no cost from their respective governments. Moreover, the manufacturers produced Concorde ONLY with the benefit of massive government subsidies.

    When the U.S. Congress stopped funding the Boeing SST, the Seattle manufacturer dropped the project because it was not commercially viable. Indeed, the 2707 would have likely wiped Boeing out had they proceeded with the project as a private venture. At a time when the 747 was making air travel affordable to the masses, the 2707 was a losing proposition economically (never mind the environmental problems). Global airlines would have never filled 250-300 seats per flight given the cost of operating the big, fuel-guzzling Boeing SST. There was simply no market for the aircraft, which is why only two airlines (both state-owned) acquired smaller Concordes.

    In short, as was the case with supersonic air travel, the market for human spaceflight simply isn’t big enough (putting it mildly) to support a true “commercial” enterprise — especially given today’s economy.

    Here’s another example. Cunard Line (Carnival) built the giant Queen Mary 2 while riding the wave of nautical nostalgia which followed the success of James Cameron’s “Titanic” film. The QM2 was a titanic gamble. It caters to the high end of the cruise ship market (which is hurting), and there were (are) many people who wonder if such a giant liner can be commercially viable for long. But even the highest-priced suites and most luxurious penthouses aboard the QM2 are just a tiny fraction of the price that a ticket into space would cost.

    Concorde was frequently criticized by people in France and Britain on the basis that tax dollars were being used to subsidize the travel whims of millionaires. How is the Obama Administration’s support of a small group of start-up space firms (such as Elon Musk’s company) any different? As with Concorde, taxpayer dollars will be subsidizing the travel whims of millionaires. That is NOT “commercial” (as in “free markets” and “free enterprise”).

    What our tax dollars ought to be spent on is the exploration of the Moon’s resources — paving the way if those resources prove to be economically attractive (think helium-3) for the private sector to get involved with private, investor money. This would be somewhat equivalent to what President Jefferson did when he sent Lewis and Clark into the Pacific Northwest … or what President Lincoln did when he supported the construction of the trans-continental railroad. Lincoln backed the Railway Act of 1862 on the basis of the massive economic development that would follow the construction of a trans-continental roadbed. (For the record, the Union Pacific is the world’s largest railway 140 years after it was built. And towns and cities sprung up all along the line.) Which is why we should be going back to the Moon. THAT is where “commercial” space might finally gain an economic foothold. If we are to turn “Star Trek” into reality, it will have to be on the basis of TRUE “commercial” enterprise … not the daydreams of a government bureaucrat who has never worked in the private sector and who has no concept of seat/mile costs or transportation economics.

  • byeman

    “Let’s get one thing straight. It’s not “commercial” if the ONLY real customer is a taxpayer-funded federal agency (i.e., NASA)”

    Wrong, commercial is not defined by the source of money but by the contracting mechanism.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    there are three gaping holes in your analysis…

    I will point out three

    First

    “It’s not “commercial” if the ONLY real customer is a taxpayer-funded federal agency (i.e., NASA).”

    who says? you and other people who want an exploration oriented program have with the transferance of NASA from being a owner/operator/contractor to that of a customer have now come up with a special circumstance that defines free enterprise.

    Commercial is defined in a lot of measures, the contracting mechanism, but most importantly the ability to sell the “product” to other buyers without the permission of the intial customer.

    Second…you assume what is done in LEO is all that can be done. There is little evidence to support that analysis. If the price to orbit comes down and the access widens (past those who are selected and vetted by NASA) there is a very good chance that what is done on LEO (or NEO near earth orbit) will have a great deal of diversity.

    third you seem to assume that something can be done on the Moon which meets your rather goofy definition of commercial. He3…give me a break…why should anyone mine that?

    The Railroads of the 1800′s particularly the first ones were a commercial product in all respects and yet they would not have existed had the federal government put in an enormous subsidy (land, the US Cav and other things) to make them happen.

    There might not be anything that can be done in NEO which can turn a profit and create an ever broadening customer base…but if that is the case, then it is also true for the Moon.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr Mellberg

    To add to what byeman said….

    By assuming the only market to be either government or billionaire tourist, you are limiting the potential market. How do you know that there isn’t a private market for satellite repair? For zero-g research? Or Zero-G production?

    As for historical analogizes, I suggest we look at the Kelly Air Mail act, and we’ll find the parallels rather startling.

    And the moon has not been eliminated using Obama’s budget proposal. In fact, its much more likely to be commercially viable, if you have commercial companies, as opposed to government contractors, doing the operations.

    BTW – Star Trek really isn’t the best example to use when talking about commercial, since the Federation is a communistic nation.

  • red

    William Mellberg: “Let’s get one thing straight. It’s not “commercial” if the ONLY real customer is a taxpayer-funded federal agency (i.e., NASA).”

    So if I sell post-it notes to the Department of Agriculture, I’m not commercial?

    It doesn’t matter. Noone here is really interested in a semantics debate over the term “commercial”. We’re interested in solving NASA’s LEO and ISS access problem. We already depend on the Soyuz for crew return services. That’s “unseemly”, to use Dr. Griffin’s phrase. Soon NASA will have no U.S. way for crew to access LEO and ISS. How do we solve that problem affordably, quickly, and safely with a reasonable chance of success, given what we know about NASA in-house rocket and human spacecraft development? Commercial space, COTS-like, fixed-price milestone-based contracts … whatever you want to call it.

    “It is NOT “commercial” if the tax dollars are switched from one set of goverment contractors (for example, Lockheed-Martin and Boing) to another set of government contractors (Space X and Bigelow).”

    How about if they’re switched from a program that has completely failed, Constellation, to a fixed-price, milestone-based competition where anyone (LM, Boeing, ULA, etc) can win based on their proposal? I don’t care if you call it commercial, it’s a good idea. It’s working for ISS cargo in the COTS program. Don’t make the false argument that commercial crew = SpaceX.

    “There is virtually NO “commercial” market for human spaceflight.”

    Even if there’s no private market for human spaceflight, fixed-price milestone-based contracts are a good idea in this well-understood business of commercial crew. There is no private market for deliveries to commercial space stations at the moment, and yet COTS ISS cargo is working fine (at about 1% the cost to NASA of the development of the doomed Ares I/Orion system, but for 2(!) independent systems).

    However, we already know there is a private market for human spaceflight, since we already know the Soyuz seat get snapped up seemingly no matter how expensive they get.

    “(Ms. Garver, after all, was unable to raise the necessary $20 million for a trip aboard Soyuz).”

    See, there is plenty of interest in private access to space. Lots of people are trying to get trips.

    Now, what if the ticket price was $15M, or $10M? We don’t know how many tickets would be sold, since the only existing service doesn’t seem to need to set the price that low.

    Also, you seem to be assuming that the rockets and spacecraft can’t be used for anything but human spaceflight. That’s not true. There are lots of other markets that hardware can be used for: satellite launches, ISS cargo, space labs, etc.

    Also, you seem to be looking past the possibility of non-NASA government business (eg: foreign business – i.e. countries wanting to get their astronauts into space).

    “Sending government employees (NASA astronauts) to the ISS is NOT a “commercial” enterprise.”

    See above.

    “And the market (i.e., the available pool of billionaires) for space tourism is so small as to be practically non-existent.”

    Why do you assume the available pool is just billionaires? What about repeat billionaire customers? What about multi-millionaires? What about contest winners? What about corporate lab workers? Satellite repair specialists? Government astronauts from non-space powers?

    Depending on your costs of course, you don’t need millions of customers per year if you charge millions of dollars per ticket.

    Let’s say that there are only a handful of customers a year – enough for 1 trip each for 2 commercial crew services. That should still allow a lot of shared costs for these companies as they solve NASA’s LEO access problem. It should be a lot cheaper for NASA than paying for rides on an HLV and Orion, and a lot more useful to NASA than waiting another decade for Ares I/Orion to come online. It’s not as if these companies will have to charge dirt-cheap ticket prices to be more cost-effective than the government options.

    “or what President Lincoln did when he supported the construction of the trans-continental railroad”

    How is that 19th century railroad more analogous to big government rockets than commercial crew?

  • William Mellberg

    When I use the word “commercial” I am referring to what the average person thinks when he/she hears it. They aren’t thinking “contracting mechanism” or any other version of “GovernmentSpeak.” (Where else but in Washington would the agency in charge of everything outdoors be called the Department of the Interior?) When average taxpayers — who are paying the bills — hear the word “commercial,” they’re thinking about the typical small businessperson who invests and borrows capital to get started. They’re thinking about businesses that PAY tax dollars … not enterprises that USE tax dollars. But let’s not get caught in semantics (as politicians and lawyers love to do). Let’s have a little straight talk here. And for the record, I’m an old public relations rep, so I know the difference between hype and straight talk.

    As I mentioned previously, I have a background in the commercial aviation industry — on both sides of the fence (aircraft manufacturing and the airline biz). So I know a thing or two about what it costs to carry a payload, whether that payload is a passenger or a package. I know that the costs include everything from initial purchase price of an airliner to crew salaries, fuel, maintenance, ticket counters, baggage handling and a zillion other factors which have to be spread out across the number of seats in a plane (or the size of the cargo hold). Incidentally, I’m well aware of the Kelly Act and its role in giving birth to the airline industry, as well as what happened when FDR tried to have the Army fly the mail a few years later. (As an aside, that disaster was the original source of the animosity between Franklin Roosevelt and Charles Lindbergh. FDR didn’t like having an American hero proving that he had been terribly ill-advised in his effort to remake the fledgling airline business).

    I’m also keenly aware of what the Central Pacific and Union Pacific received from Uncle Sam in return for laying the trans-continental railroad. They never could have raised the funds to build the railroad themselves. Not only the subsidies per mile, but also the land grants on either side of the track is what made it possible for the CPR and UPRR to do the job. But there was another reason that Lincoln (an old railroad lawyer) and his supporters in Congress backed the Railway Act. A market already existed for the transport of goods across the country. And the construction of railways west of the Mississippi would bring settlers and commerce to what was known as the Great American Desert (now known as America’s Heartland). By building the railroad, they were creating America’s breadbasket and genuinely stimulating the economy. It was totally in keeping with the Commerce clause of the Constitution.

    Going back to the history of air travel, the Kelly Act provided for the carriage of mail, not passengers. In fact, the United States was behind Europe where airlines had been carrying people since KLM was founded in 1919 (and actually prior to that if you include DELAG’s airships in Germany before the war).

    The entire history of transportation is linked to the movement of goods and services and people based on market demand. Each new form of transportation was developed to carry goods and people more effectively. It’s worth noting that most people traveled across country by train 60 years ago. Likewise, most people crossed the oceans by ship 60 years ago. The advent of the Jet Age in 1958 changed things dramatically, and the arrival of jumbo jets a decade later changed them even more.

    Recognizing that history, I share the dream of “commercial” space … the sort of “commercial” space that Sir Richard Branson is pioneering with Virgin Galactic (with the money coming from his pockets, not the taxpayers). I certainly think space tourism will provide a market some day — including holidays on the Moon. But we’re talking the distant future here (not in my lifetime … or Barack Obama’s).

    If it were economically viable to repair satellites in LEO, why hasn’t Arianespace (or some other enterprise) developed a small spaceplane to do the job? Well, if you’ve ever worked with commercial aircraft economic analyses, you’d know why. It simply doesn’t pay. The fact of the matter is that it is cheaper to send up a replacement satellite than it is to launch a piloted vehicle to do a repair job. How much did NASA spend to return those two communications satellites aboard the Space Shuttle? A bundle! Hughes Aircraft made money on the deal. But that’s only because Hughes didn’t have to pay for the Shuttle mission. (Howard would have enjoyed the irony.)

    As for my “Star Trek” example … let’s chill out a bit. I was simply trying to illustrate the point that to reach that sort of future, where interplanetary space travel is commonplace, interplanetary space travel must be based on some economic foundation … whether it’s “dilithium crystals” or helium-3. Otherwise, there is absolutely no economic incentive for private investors to put their hard-earned capital into deep space missions. What we need in space are the wheat fields and cattle ranches that supported the railroads here on Earth.

    As for the Moon being a “been there, done that” destination … how can anyone seriously say that the Moon’s resources have been fully explored, much less utilized? We’re learning more about our neighbor every day. And IF it can be established that there are resources on the Moon (helium-3 or others) which have some commercial value, private industry will follow. That is why I made the comparison to Lewis & Clark and the trans-continental railroad.

    Now, some will argue that this is why Ms. Garver and others want to give ‘seed money’ to Space X. But I would counter, what can Musk do that Boeing couldn’t do? Granted, he’s a pretty sharp person with some pretty good ideas. And his record thus far is impressive. So I have nothing against Musk. On the contrary, I greatly admire the man. But I also greatly admire the achievements of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin who’ve produced some pretty sharp people themselves (Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich, for example). In any case, it makes no difference who gets the funds if there is no long-term market (or need) for humans in space. Commercial space has been thriving for years in the satellite business. But you don’t need humans to place them into orbit. Moreover, as proven time and again, we can do a lot with robots in deep space. But what economic incentive (or justification) would a private firm have in sending robots (much less people) to the Moon, near Earth asteroids or Mars? Not much. Most executives would have a hard time selling such proposals to their directors and stockholders. They’d never approve missions to Jupiter and Saturn and beyond. Which is why even an old capitalist like me recognizes the fact that there ARE some things which only governments can do — including mass transit districts.

    I should add that the President has talked about sending humans to near Earth asteroids. But how long would people be inspired by visiting a rock in space? And how would we ever get any resources from asteroids back to Earth? It takes a lot of energy. Which is why I DO support the idea of putting research dollars into new propulsion systems.

    However, the bottomline still comes down to this …

    There is even LESS of a market for human spaceflight than there was for sueprsonic flight here on Earth. And at least the Concorde was carrying businesspeople from one destination to another; providing some small justification (and a tax write-off) for the enormous ticket price. But no such market exists for either goods or people in space … not yet, at least.

    As for zero-G production … if it were such a good idea, why hasn’t anyone gone after the market already? We could produce some great ball bearings in zero-G. But we can produce some pretty good ones down here on Earth at a fraction of the cost. Again, that’s why I cited the Boeing SST. As a young man in the early 1970s, I was all for it. As an older, wiser man today … I recognize that the market for the Boeing SST never existed. Which is why Concorde retired without a successor.

    Supply and demand. That’s what “commercial” is all about in my dictionary, no matter what the definition is in Washington. (Remember the Department of the Interior!)

    Well, that’s my two cents. However, I would recommend Harrison Schmitt’s 2006 book, RETURN TO THE MOON: EXPLORATION, ENTERPRISE, AND ENERGY IN THE HUMAN SETTLEMENT OF SPACE. He goes into great detail about many of the technical. political and economic factors relating to the future of commercial space (in the private sector sense of the word).

  • William Mellberg

    I should mention that there IS a good reason for studying asteroids up close and personal, and that’s the one Rusty Schweickart is keen on … figuring out how we can destroy or deflect an Earthbound asteroid. But I’m not so sure we need humans to do that particular job. If we’re going to bypass the Moon, then let’s set our sights on Mars. However, I think the President was ill-advised when he said (basically) “been there, done that” with regard to the Moon. Neil Armstrong HAS been there and done that … but he thinks there are plenty of good reasons to go back to Luna. I agree with Professor Armstrong.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    First the short response, then another post for a longer one.

    I think the President was ill-advised when he said (basically) “been there, done that” with regard to the Moon. Neil Armstrong HAS been there and done that … but he thinks there are plenty of good reasons to go back to Luna. I agree with Professor Armstrong.

    You and many others are guilty of hearing what you want to hear in the “been there, done that” statement. You refuse to look at the question from the point of scarcity, which means that NASA only has limited funds to do things, and so it cannot do everything at once.

    We have been to the Moon, and we did learn how to do it. Except for the half-hearted attempt that Bush 43 made to go back (didn’t support full funding), no other president since Johnson has made the Moon a direct goal. If we do want to go back, we have a known methodology for landing humans on the Moon, doing light exploration, and returning them safely. The Moon will never be “new” again (i.e. like your virginity).

    So what would be something new that has never been done before? How about going past the Moon and learning how to live and survive in higher radiation areas, at distances that are truly far, and intercept and explore small asteroids. Now that is something “new” – never been done.

    If the Moon is so valuable, then your “commercial” companies will figure out a way to exploit it. Maybe you think the taxpayers should help with that, but if so, then you’d be hypocritical regarding your “commercial” statements.

    Kennedy sent us to the Moon for national and strategic reasons, and we accomplished those. No one else is even close to going back, so there is no urgency, except that we make ourselves. I for one don’t feel that it needs to be done now, but I, like President Obama, know that we will go back someday, and then to stay.

  • Ron Wells

    What’s the score?:

    Bill Mellberg = 1000
    All others = 0

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron, I’ll try to be more brief this time …

    “You and many others are guilty of hearing what you want to hear in the ‘been there, done that’ statement. You refuse to look at the question from the point of scarcity, which means that NASA only has limited funds to do things, and so it cannot do everything at once.”

    That’s true (the limited funds part). Which is why I’d like to see us get the most bang for our bucks. The Moon is three days away. It’s the perfect place not only to explore (as Neil Armstrong pointed out, we’ve literally only scratched the surface at six sites), but also to test the hardware and habitat modules that would be needed for going to Mars and beyond. The really stupid decision was Richard Nixon’s when he halted the Apollo Program just as the hardware was being proven and the science was getting underway. But I suspect Mr. Nixon resented the fact that the Apollo Program was associated with John Kennedy. Petty politics ended the exploration of the Moon just as it was getting started.
    But at least Nixon replaced Apollo with an actual project — the Space Shuttle. Obama killed Constellation with nothing behind it. As Gene Cernan said of the Obama plan, “It’s a blueprint for a mission to nowhere.”

    “We have been to the Moon, and we did learn how to do it.”

    Learning how to do it isn’t my point. Again, we barely scratched the surface. It’s the Moon itself we need to learn more about. Lunar science has a lot to offer Earth science. The Moon provides a magnificent record of the history of our Solar System. Moreover, what a great place for telescopes (optical and radio). Observatories on the Far Side would be completely shielded from Earth.

    “The Moon will never be ‘new’ again (i.e. like your virginity).”

    In other words, after Columbus bumped into the “New World” four times, there was no reason for anyone else to explore North America again. There is plenty of virgin territory on Luna just waiting for a new generation of explorers. And imagine what kids might imagine as they look up at the Moon’s South Pole and think, “Gosh! There are a dozen scientists working up there right now. I’d like to be one of them when I grow up.” The nice thing about the Moon is that a modest telescope would give those kids fantastic views of the lunar terrain. I’ve spent 50 years exploring its surface with my own telescopes. But have you ever looked at an asteroid or Mars through a modest telescope? Not much to see. In fact, most people wouldn’t even know where to find them in the night sky. But you can’t miss the Moon. And even a good pair of binoculars can offer some stunning views at First Quarter. In any case, it’s not the goal of science to be “first” … it’s the goal of science to learn. As the Apollo 13 motto said, “Ex Luna, Scientia” (From the Moon, Knowledge).

    “So what would be something new that has never been done before? How about going past the Moon and learning how to live and survive in higher radiation areas, at distances that are truly far, and intercept and explore small asteroids. Now that is something “new” – never been done.”

    At what cost? And with what benefit? We shouldn’t be exploring space to pull off stunts. I agree that asteroids are worth exploring. But we don’t need humans to do it. Moreover, the cost of a human mission to an asteroid would be such that given the scarcity of funds which you mentioned, it would make far more sense to go to Mars. But asteroids seem to be the “destination du jour.” That said, I hardly think President Obama aware of the scientific value of the Moon vs. Mars vs. asteroids. However, like Richard Nixon, I think he tends to associate the Moon with his predecessor.

    “If the Moon is so valuable, then your “commercial” companies will figure out a way to exploit it.”

    But we don’t know that it is because we haven’t really explored the Moon …

    “Maybe you think the taxpayers should help with that …”

    I do. In the same way that the taxpayers funded the Lewis & Clark expedition and the first trans-continental railroad. If NASA can prove that resources exist on the Moon, the private sector will follow. Get Schmitt’s book.

    “… but if so, then you’d be hypocritical regarding your ‘commercial’ statements.”

    Absolutely not. As I mentioned previously, there ARE some things that only government can do. Take the Interstate Highway System, for example. That offers a perfect example of how tax dollars can generate huge economic returns (the Commerce Clause at work). There are other things which government does, such as mass transit systems. They’re money losers because of the nature of rush hour traffic. But they stimulate the economy overall by providing transportation for millions of workers each day. Thus, they provide an economic benefit. Yet, their actual operation loses money … which is why the private sector got out of mass transit in most of our cities.

    “Kennedy sent us to the Moon for national and strategic reasons, and we accomplished those. No one else is even close to going back, so there is no urgency, except that we make ourselves. I for one don’t feel that it needs to be done now, but I, like President Obama, know that we will go back someday, and then to stay.”

    Kennedy sent us to the Moon for political reasons. Period. Fortunately, along the way a scientific component was introduced into the Apollo Program. But the results were limited because Nixon killed our Moon missions for political reasons. Period. We see history repeating itself. Period. Nixon killed Kennedy’s Moon program. Obama killed Bush’s Moon program. What poor excuses for ending great voyages of discovery. But that’s politics.

    I guess I wasn’t so brief, after all.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 12:21 am

    When I use the word “commercial” I am referring to what the average person thinks when he/she hears it.

    I’m average, and I understand it’s meaning just fine. And anyways, do we require all of our citizens to understand contracting language? It’s a silly argument.

    When average taxpayers…hear the word “commercial,” they’re thinking about the typical small businessperson who invests and borrows capital to get started.

    Really? They don’t think of all the commercial businesses that are medium to large too? You don’t think the average taxpayer is very savvy, do you?

    Let’s have a little straight talk here. And for the record, I’m an old public relations rep, so I know the difference between hype and straight talk.

    And not beyond mixing them too, I see… ;-)

    I have a background in the commercial aviation industry

    I have a background in manufacturing, both commercial and DOD.

    But there was another reason that Lincoln (an old railroad lawyer) and his supporters in Congress backed the Railway Act. A market already existed for the transport of goods across the country.

    And there is a market for cargo and crew to the ISS. How is that any different? NASA has a demand, and potential suppliers could include two or more commercial companies. I say two, because with only one domestic service supplier, competition does not truly exist.

    We don’t have any guarantees of additional demand for cargo and crew, but we do know that there are at least two potential sources of demand; 1) Bigelow, which is spending his own money to create a potential habitat service, and 2) Space Adventures, who brokered the Soyuz tourist flights. These meet the standards of “commercial”, and they have history and money behind their plans.

    Another possible demand for crew is for expanding the ISS. If SpaceX is able to meet the $20M/seat price, then it’s possible that ISS partners would see that as an inexpensive way to do more science. For $140M they could rent a Dragon, and spend potentially months at the ISS. This is not a possibility as of now, because only the Soyuz is available, and it is both limited and expensive.

    the sort of “commercial” space that Sir Richard Branson is pioneering with Virgin Galactic

    If your definition were true, then the biplane joyrides I see flying over my house qualify as “commercial” space too. VG is tourism, and tourism is entertainment – not commerce. Stay focused.

    interplanetary space travel must be based on some economic foundation … Otherwise, there is absolutely no economic incentive for private investors to put their hard-earned capital into deep space missions.

    OK, you seem to be familiar with economic concepts, but you’re missing the point still. For now, NewSpace does not lead the way into space, interplanetary or otherwise – it follows NASA, the DOD, and other national space efforts.

    ULA is a good example of following the accomplishments of earlier efforts, and now it is the prime way the DOD and NASA get satellites or exploration missions to space. SpaceX has already won the confidence of a number of customers, and is getting ready to add to the number of commercial space launches.

    But they don’t lead the way, they follow behind after the way has been defined, and they make it cheaper and more routine. That is what they do best. And the corollary is that NASA does not do that well, because it’s not set up to do anything inexpensively or routinely. Hence the need for “commercial” suppliers of products and services.

    what can Musk do that Boeing couldn’t do?

    In the case of building a launcher, Musk is building a family of launchers less expensively, and offering it for a far less expensive price. In terms of their Dragon capsule, he is being an entrepreneur, in that he is going after a market that has not developed yet. Remember, he was working on Dragon BEFORE the COTS/CRS competition, and it turns out that he made a good marketing decision.

    Boeing has been working with Bigelow (LM too), but they won’t proceed with building their CST-100 unless they get government funding and a guarantee of non-compete from Orion. Now, Boeing has the funds to jump into this market on their own, but the economics of the market, from the business owners perspective, do not make make economic sense.

    But here is the bottom line for all of this. From the perspective of NASA, it would make economic sense to pay a “set-up fee” for SpaceX, ULA and Boeing to man-rate their launchers and facilities, and build & test their crew capsules. Why? Because for about $4B ($2B of that for CST-100), NASA could get three man-rated launchers and two tested crew capsules to go on any of the launchers.

    What can NASA do for $4B? Maybe, barely, finish Orion, but not have anything to launch it with. That is the economic benefit for NASA to pay the commercial space industry to create a commercial crew capability, one that anyone could contract with, and not just NASA. NASA gets lower overall prices and more capability, and the industry gets their set up costs paid for so they can make money on the services.

    There are many analogies in the manufacturing world for this type of arrangement, so from my perspective it’s nothing new, and it’s a great deal for the U.S. Taxpayer, even if you think they won’t understand it.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 2:21 am

    This pretty much boils down to what you and I want NASA to do with it’s limited funding.

    Yes the Moon is ripe for exploitation, and yes I do see a role for NASA is continuing to explore it. I also agree that taxpayer money should be used to help determine what can be exploited, which also happens here on Earth.

    So really it’s a matter of what to do next. You think the Moon is a big priority, and I don’t. I think learning how to survive in space beyond the Moon is a priority, and you don’t.

    You saw Apollo and Constellation as “great voyages of discovery”. I thought Apollo was great, but then I grew up and realized that it’s architecture was built for a limited mission, and not reusable. Constellation was a boondoggle from the start, in that it too had no reusable hardware, and it was going to cost $100B+ to repeat Apollo.

    To be frank, I don’t think you realize what is needed to create and sustain a permanent presence on the Moon, and how much that would cost. I think that cost would consume all of NASA’s budget, which means that no other exploration or new technology R&D could be afforded. That’s called eating your seed corn, and that would truly end NASA as we know it.

    I look at NASA’s budget from the perspective of what it can afford to do, and where are there opportunities to do more with less. I am a big advocate of lowering the cost to access space, both for cargo and crew, and I see this as the ultimate enabler of doing ANY HSF in space, including the Moon.

    When you repeat Cernan’s comment of the Obama plan “It’s a blueprint for a mission to nowhere”, you’re completely overlooking the fact that it is true, but not for the reasons you think it is. Obama is not budgeting any specific missions, he is budgeting for the technology that will make ALL future missions less costly. That would include Moon missions too, so you should be happy.

    Constellation was still 15 years away, and in the meantime we would have to exit space for at least 10 years – no human physiological science, no experiments on new technology, no active astronaut corps – we would have given up space to other countries. How stupid is that?

    I’m for the Moon at some point, but not at any cost. And from what you have said, you are enamored with the Moon, which is OK, but I think it puts you in the camp of the “Moon First” groups, or maybe the “Moon Only”.

    Just so we’re clear, besides those things that make travel to space less expensive, I’m also of the opinion that NASA should focus on the hard stuff, like going beyond the Moon to an asteroid, but I don’t have a date, and I don’t want to usurp the budget to make it happen. NASA has to live within it’s means.

  • William Mellberg

    Hello, Coastal Ron …

    “So really it’s a matter of what to do next.”

    That pretty much sums up the situation, doesn’t it?

    “You think the Moon is a big priority, and I don’t. I think learning how
    to survive in space beyond the Moon is a priority, and you don’t.”

    Ron, I think the Moon is a big priority because THAT is where we will learn to live beyond the Moon. All of the equipment (or most of it, at any rate) that would be required for expeditions to — and outposts on — Mars could be tested and proven in a similar environment just three days from Earth (and less than two seconds away via radio). The radiation hazard beyond the Moon is the same on the Moon. About the only thing we can’t test at the Moon is entry into the martian atmosphere. Otherwise, spacesuits, rovers, habitat modules and so on can be tested and proven on the Moon, as can “living off the land” (i.e., extracting oxygen, hydrogen and possibly water ice from the lunar regolith). Thus, when we go to Mars, we’ll be going to stay … not to repeat an Apollo-type “eat and run” exercise.

    This isn’t MY priority. It’s the plan first put forth by Wernher von Braun many years ago, as well as by former NASA Administrator Thomas Paine and his commission, and by former astronaut Sally Ride and her commission (the so-called “Ride Report”). Up until recently, a return to the Moon and a lunar outpost were always seen as the next logical steps on the road to Mars. Politics seem to have more to do with the change in plans (and destinations) than logic. Unfortunately, over the decades (and in many other countries, too) many a promising aerospace program was killed by politicians of all stripes. In Canada, for instance, the Liberals killed the pioneering Avro Canada Jetliner, and the Conservatives killed the world-beating Avro Canada Arrow. The cost to Canada in terms of jobs, technology and export sales was horrendous. But when the Arrow fell, NASA ‘acquired’ two dozen of Avro’s best engineers — including some of the key managers in the Apollo Program. Canada’s loss was America’s gain. But I digress!

    “You saw Apollo and Constellation as ‘great voyages of discovery’. I thought Apollo was great, but then I grew up and realized that it’s architecture was built for a limited mission, and not reusable.”

    Ron, you’re correct in saying that the Apollo architecture was built around a limited mission (i.e., to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade and safely return him to the Earth). But one should also take into account where the Space Age was at that point. We sent Apollo 8 around the Moon a decade after we launched Explorer I. We sent Apollo 11 to the lunar surface just eight years after Kennedy committed us to the goal. Those were the “string and fabric” days of the Space Age — the equivalent of about where aviation was in the 1920s. All in all, the Apollo-Saturn hardware was pretty spectacular for its time. And had Nixon been willing to spend the money, we could have built a central hub, linked two or three or four S-IVB stages (Skylabs) together and had one heck of a space station — serviced by Apollo CSMs. The volume would have been greater than the ISS, and the cost would have been less. Indeed, the ISS could have been built for far less if Nixon hadn’t ended Saturn V production. We could have done with a handful of Saturn V launches what it has taken dozens of Space Shuttle launches to do (and for less cost). So don’t belittle the Apollo-Saturn hardware too much. It still had lots of development potential at the time Nixon axed the program.

    “Constellation was a boondoggle from the start, in that it too had no reusable hardware, and it was going to cost $100B+ to repeat Apollo.”

    No reusable hardware? Not totally true. And it was NOT a “repeat” of Apollo. Unfortunately, NASA has never been all that good at public relations. In recent years (pre-Garver), the space agency failed to explain what Constellation was all about. Are you aware of the proposed science station/lunar outpost that was being planned for the rim of Shackleton Crater at the Moon’s south pole? The details were presented in a NASA report a few years ago, but most people never saw (much less read) that plan. I must admit, I was not all that excited about Constellation myself … until I read that report and learned about the tremendous science that could be done from that very unique location on the lunar surface. Indeed, I was disappointed that Constellation’s supporters didn’t say more about Shackleton Base during the recent debate over NASA’s future. That one report really captured my imagination and convinced me that the Constellation Program (overall) was a good thing. Moreover, Constellation’s architecture was flexible enough to support later missions to asteroids and to Mars. It was a building block approach for a long-term commitment to deep space exploration. Unfortunately, it was also branded as “Bush’s plan” (as if George W. Bush designed it himself), which is why (I believe) there was so much opposition to it in some quarters. But Constellation was approved twice on Capitol Hill (by a Republican and a Democrat Congress). It’s biggest problem was that after committing to it, the Bush Administration didn’t provide the necessary funding. President Obama could have “fixed” Constellation simply by throwing a little more “stimulus” money in NASA’s direction. As Wernher von Braun replied when asked what was the single most important factor in sending humans to the Moon … “The will to do it.” (i.e., the money).

    “To be frank, I don’t think you realize what is needed to create and sustain a permanent presence on the Moon, and how much that would cost.”

    Ron, on the contrary, I have a very good idea what it would cost. Again, i would suggest that you acquire and read Harrison Schmitt’s remarkable book, RETURN TO THE MOON. He lays out in great detail the many factors that would be involved in establishing a permanent presence on the Moon. He also spells out the enormous (unlimited) potential of Helium-3 as an alternative source of energy for fusion powerplants here on Earth. If the estimates are correct (which is why we need to return to the Moon to determine), Helium-3 extracted from the lunar regolith (soil) could provide environmental-friendly energy for our entire planet. THAT, in my mind, is a potential well worth exploring! It explains China’s interest in the Moon. And it’s why going back to the Moon could provide the economic foundation upon which all future human space exploration beyond the Moon is built.

    “I think that cost would consume all of NASA’s budget, which means that no other exploration or new technology R&D could be afforded. That’s called eating your seed corn, and that would truly end NASA as we know it.”

    Well, I agree that the NASA budget should included plenty of funds for basic R&D. But I also know that without a specific plan, that R&D could take us “on a mission to nowhere.” Remember NERVA? If the President wants us to build a high-power electric propulsion for interplanetary space travel, then let’s do it. Let’s be specific. Sadly, there is nothing specific about his (Garver’s) plan. Nothing.

    One other thing about Constellation …

    Do you REALLY believe that Ares and Orion wouldn’t get off the ground for another 10-15 years? Good grief! We went from Mercury-Redstone to Apollo-Saturn in 8 years. Surely Constellation wasn’t as hopelessly messed up as its critics claim. What was that big stick that took off from LC-39B last Fall? An illusion?

    “I look at NASA’s budget from the perspective of what it can afford to do, and where are there opportunities to do more with less. I am a big advocate of lowering the cost to access space, both for cargo and crew, and I see this as the ultimate enabler of doing ANY HSF in space, including the Moon.”

    Ron, in principle, I agree. But I also know a famous aircraft designer who once pointed out that, “Anyone who imagines that high technology runs cheap doesn’t understand the subject.”

    I would say the same thing about safety (as would he). And the New Space people haven’t proven the safety of their vehicles. They have little track record on that score.

    “Obama is not budgeting any specific missions, he is budgeting for the technology that will make ALL future missions less costly. That would include Moon missions too, so you should be happy.”

    Ron, I don’t see where ObamaSpace will get the United States out of Low Earth Orbit anytime soon (i.e., not during my lifetime … or his). Moreover, he specifically said that he’s not interested in the Moon. (Neither was Nixon.) ObamaSpace doesn’t even get us to the ISS with our own vehicles anytime soon. At the very least, he should have heeded Senator John Glenn’s advice to keep the Space Shuttle flying (two flights per year) until something more certain is in the works. The Shuttle was being retired to make way for Constellation (including modifications to the pads and the VAB). But without Constellation, why not maintain the Shuttle’s remarkable capability to service the ISS? Moreover, we could schedule one more servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. When you add up the cost of sending our astronauts (and Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts) to the ISS one seat at a time aboard Soyuz, the cost of keeping the Shuttles flying (we’d only need two Orbiters) isn’t that much greater. Senator Glenn claims it would be less. But he had a hard time even getting a meeting with the President who doesn’t seem to be interested in opposing points of view — or in heeding the wisdom of more experienced persons (Armstrong,Lovell, Cernan, et al).

    “Constellation was still 15 years away …”

    C’mon, Ron. Be serious. That’s a talking point — not a realistic statement.

    “… we would have given up space to other countries. How stupid is that?”:

    Pretty stupid. And that’s EXACTLY why Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan came out so strongly against the Obama-Garver plan, because that’s EXACTLY what the Obama-Garver plan would have done. NASA’s HSF program is basically on “hold” for the moment. But that’s better than what would have happened if Congress had supported ObamaSpace as proposed by the President. Fortunately, wiser folks in Congress DID heed the advice of some highly experienced space veterans.

    “And from what you have said, you are enamored with the Moon, which is OK, but I think it puts you in the camp of the “Moon First” groups …”

    No. I’m not enamored with the Moon, although it is a fascinating world to look at through the eyepiece of a telescope. But I am convinced — as many people a lot smarter than me have been convinced for more than half a century — that a permanent human presence on the Moon is the next logical step. Did I say half a century? Heck, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was writing the same thing a century ago. Unfortunately, like so many other things these days, the Moon has become politicized.

    “NASA has to live within it’s means.”

    Ron, I wish President Obama would embrace that point of view as a whole. The NASA budget is a drop in the bucket compared to the “stimulus” package — which hasn’t exactly stimulated the economy or created many jobs. But I digress again … except to add that unlike so much of the money government spends, NASA does seem to give the taxpayers a healthy return on their “investment.” The technology NASA spawns has contributed mightily to our economy over the decades. Perhaps we can agree on that much.

  • DCSCA

    Oh Tommy… “SpaceX put a boilerplate Dragon into orbit back in June. They built that boilerplate Dragon in their Hawthorne, CA facility using their employees — not NASA facilities or employees.”=yawn= For goodness sake, Tommy, JPL hobbled together Explorer in a lab and moved it about in the trunk of a car back in ’58– and when it was orbited by Von Braun’s Jupiter-C it wasn’t a boilerplate satellite but one that actually did something– discovered the Van Allen belts. Whoopee, kudos to SpaceX for doing 1958 work in 2010 and lofting what literally became a piece of vaporized space junk. The hard work has been done by government funded and managed space programs for half a century in the U.S and Russia. Even Red China is doing it. Going operational should be a lot easier today for the musketeers now that the ground-breaking has been done for decades. So get somebody up around and down safely. Stop talking, start flying.

  • DCSCA

    @Mellberg: Well said, Mellberg, on all points. Surprised you didn’t throw the collapse of the commercial airship industry as well. There’s another commercial transport mode that came to a crashing halt as it literally went up in flames. You’ve pretty much presented a position this writer has agreed with for months and Kraft took in his editorial last week… and what most of the Apollo era managers have stated. Armstrong, Cernan, Kraft, Lunney, Kranz, et al are all correct in their assessments of what to do and how to do it. The moon’s the place to go to perfect flight procedures, develop spacecraft, architecture surface operations necessary for extended surface stay in extreme environments before pressing on out toward Mars. That’s the way its going to be done. And that’s a manned space program for the next 30 years. Whether this is American led is less certain. Although bear in mind, with respect to Concorde, it was created with a plan to sell a hundred or so to major carriers, not just Air France and (then) BOAC. Recall the period– Socialist Europe, both UK and France. Two Germanys. Warsaw Pact countries. All pretty much seeming entrenched forever then. There were a lot of ‘local’ factors in play with that engineering project regarding emerging post-war European businesses and Concorde was one of the crown jewels in the debate. So was chatter about building a ‘chunnel’ if memory serves. Recall the context of the times- American business interests pretty much dominated the world then. Britons and the French were for the most part as proud of Concorde as America was of Apollo at the time. This writer was in Britain in that period when the aircraft was under development and first took to the air. The front page of the London Times w/Concorde’s first successful test flight is framed hanging in my den. The Brits were as proud of that as the American community was of Apollo’s 8 & 11. And bear in mind, in the early 60′s, commitment was made to Concorde based on planned sales to American carriers later cancelled. And, aside from the economics of the alternative jumbo versus supersonic, recall Concorde was restricted from transcontinental supersonic flight across the U.S. and restricted to a few coastal cities as well.

    Still, always amusing seeing the Great Waldo Oler caught in your prop wash and Coastal Socialist Ron sputtering to a stall.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr Mellberg

    A couple of things
    One, you’ve said that we need to do the moon, to explore it & figure out what commercial activities we can do. I agree with you, and as I said, Obama’s proposal doesn’t presuppose we wont’ do the moon – just that there will be other destinations as well. However, let me set that aside for the moment.

    As I said, I agree with you that the moon is worth exploring, to determine commercial potential. However, 2 issues with that. First, I submit that the same point actually can be true about LEO as well, and potentially GEO. While we know of SOME economic activities that can be done profitable, we don’t know all of them. And just because Arianespace hasn’t raced out to develop something like orbital refueling, or satellite repair, or so on, doesn’t demonstrate that there isn’t a viable market for it. It merely demonstrates that THEY haven’t been able to figure out a business case (and, I would submit, that they haven’t really tried). Further, I submit that with ISS effectively empty, for usage (about 50% of our racks aren’t being used), this is a damn good time to find out. And this isn’t just about governmental customers – there are at least 3 different companies currently using ISS National Lab to do research.

    And if we really wanna talk about LEO commerce, we can always look to the situation with IntelSat & PanAmSat, and the situation regarding LEO comm sat Commercialization. After all, the only “buyer” of that was the government & a few rich people

    Second

    Do you REALLY believe that Ares and Orion wouldn’t get off the ground for another 10-15 years? Good grief! We went from Mercury-Redstone to Apollo-Saturn in 8 years. Surely Constellation wasn’t as hopelessly messed up as its critics claim. What was that big stick that took off from LC-39B last Fall? An illusion?

    No, that was called a delusion. Could NASA make Constellation work in the original timeframe? Absolutely. The problem is, it would also need to double its budget. And, not surprising, that level of budget was roughly what NASA had during Apollo. So, if you don’t have an Apollo level budget, which we don’t, then you have to accept a long run-out of the schedule.

    You can bemoan the fact that we haven’t invested more money into it, but guess what – the odds are NOT good that that will change. We have at least as much data in terms of how much money Congress & Presidents are willing to spend on space as compared to what commercially viable activities we can do in LEO (and, I would submit, a lot more so). And the answer is roughly $9 Billion per year on HSF. And if you can’t figure out a way to deliver value for that, sooner than is needed vis-a-vie von Braun’s grand plan, or get more investment for it from sources outside the government, then you won’t have a space program.

    One final point, as long as we are on the subject – we all know that the long tent pole is transportation costs (we get that down, we can start doing many more interesting things, and commercial companies will invest and do a lot more). Why do you think this will suddenly go away if we try and go further out, without major investment into technology to bring the transportation costs down?

  • red

    “I’m also keenly aware of what the Central Pacific and Union Pacific received from Uncle Sam in return for laying the trans-continental railroad. They never could have raised the funds to build the railroad themselves. Not only the subsidies per mile, but also the land grants on either side of the track is what made it possible for the CPR and UPRR to do the job. But there was another reason that Lincoln (an old railroad lawyer) and his supporters in Congress backed the Railway Act. A market already existed for the transport of goods across the country. And the construction of railways west of the Mississippi would bring settlers and commerce to what was known as the Great American Desert (now known as America’s Heartland). By building the railroad, they were creating America’s breadbasket and genuinely stimulating the economy.”

    That sounds just like the commercial crew effort that’s planned to follow the model of the so far successful COTS cargo effort. It doesn’t sound anything like Constellation. We already know there’s a private market for rocket services (satellite launch, etc). We already know there’s a private market for crew transport (personal spaceflight). We don’t have a guarantee that the private HSF market is a huge at whatever the ticket prices will be, but we’ve already seen a significant market compared to the size of the government market.

    “I share the dream of “commercial” space … the sort of “commercial” space that Sir Richard Branson is pioneering with Virgin Galactic (with the money coming from his pockets, not the taxpayers).”

    NASA has a need for crew services. Fixed-price milestone-based contracts where the contractors own the services is the way to go given that contractors are eager to take on the challenge (i.e. we are not forced to rely on cost-plus contracts because contractors aren’t willing to take on the risk). The alternatlive is a NASA that is devestated by the high cost of building and running a government “transportation business” for LEO/ISS access. NASA also wants access to suborbital space, so it will essentially buy tickets from suborbital RLV vendors like Virgin Galactic for research space. What is wrong with NASA “buying tickets”? What is wrong with NASA holding a competition for transportation services instead of paying 10 or 100 times as much to build and operate a government rocket and spacecraft?

    NASA shouldn’t build its own cars, airplanes, boats, or rockets for routine (if anything in space is routine) transportation tasks.

    If NASA needs an orbital mechanics software feature, and they have 2 choices, spend $50,000 to have a private vendor add the feature to a commercial software package, spend $5M to add the feature to its reel-tape orbital mechanics program running on vacuum tubes, or spend $10M building a new government software package with this feature, what should it do? The situation is analogous.

    “If it were economically viable to repair satellites in LEO, why hasn’t Arianespace (or some other enterprise) developed a small spaceplane to do the job? Well, if you’ve ever worked with commercial aircraft economic analyses, you’d know why. It simply doesn’t pay.”

    It’s expensive to develop spaceplanes. That development cost ruins the business case. But if NASA needs crew services anyway, allowing private vendors a chance to develop crew services while solving the government’s problem, the business case might close. It might not close, too (I suspect some other hurdles need to be overcome to make it economically viable), but servicing becomes a more realistic prospect, at least, with private space access.

    “The fact of the matter is that it is cheaper to send up a replacement satellite than it is to launch a piloted vehicle to do a repair job. How much did NASA spend to return those two communications satellites aboard the Space Shuttle?”

    It’s entirely possible for a job to not be cost-effective with the Space Shuttle, but to be cost-effective with a much more, uh, cost-effective vehicle. Of course it would help if satellites were made to be serviced, and that is a thorny chicken-and-egg problem to work out, but again government needs might help start the process (eg: science mission servicing by astronauts). Also, returning satellites to Earth might be too expensive, but servicing in space might work if that’s the case.

    “As for the Moon being a “been there, done that” destination … how can anyone seriously say that the Moon’s resources have been fully explored, much less utilized? We’re learning more about our neighbor every day.”

    Who said that the Moon’s resources have been fully explored? Obama said we aren’t going back to the Moon first. He didn’t say NASA isn’t going back to the Moon. First comes lunar orbit/Earth-Moon Lagrange points, then Earth-Sun Lagrange points, then NEOs, then Mars Moons, then Mars. Then Moon gets stuck in there somewhere. That’s the Augustine Committee Flexible Path, and various NASA documents show that’s the roadmap they’re following. Obama didn’t mention the Lagrange points (probably sensible since the media wouldn’t know what he’s talking about), but that’s essentially what he said, too.

    Note that the first destinations on NASA’s new path, lunar orbit and Earth-Moon Lagrange points, put us in pretty good shape for getting to the Moon. At that point Obama will be out of office anyway, so it will be up to a future President/Congress/NASA Administrator/etc to decide exactly when to return to the Moon.

    Bolden and Garver have consistently and repeatedly said NASA plans to return to the Moon. The are doing all sorts of things to get to the Moon’s surface faster: cancelling the completely out of control Constellation program, developing and demonstrating lunar lander technology, funding lunar science robotic missions, funding a lunar HSF robotic precursor mission to look for resources, doing lunar ISRU technology development that would ultimately be demonstrated on the Moon by a robot, purchasing technology data from private lunar robotics efforts, demonstrating inflatable habitats, a space tug, efficient propulsion, demonstrating the Robonaut on the ISS … and using private crew services so there’s money left for NASA to do exploration.

    “And IF it can be established that there are resources on the Moon (helium-3 or others) which have some commercial value, private industry will follow.”

    I don’t think there’s much of a controversy over helium-3 on the Moon. The thing you need is an economical way to get it back here (Constellation isn’t it) and fusion reactors to use it in. I think you’re better off looking to other lunar resources, like oxygen in the regolith and water ice to start with. Fortunately, the current plans focus on ISRU, while Constellation wiped out ideas about ISRU.

    “Now, some will argue that this is why Ms. Garver and others want to give ‘seed money’ to Space X. But I would counter, what can Musk do that Boeing couldn’t do? ”

    Huh? Who said anything about SpaceX? That sounds like an ATK talking point. SpaceX got its NASA funding from Bush and Griffin with COTS and CRS. SpaceX didn’t get anything from Garver, or Bolden, or Obama. With the CCDEV early commercial crew competition that was held recently, the winners were United Launch Alliance (Boeing/LM partnership), Sierra Nevada, Paragon, Blue Origin … and Boeing! You should be happy.

    “what economic incentive (or justification) would a private firm have in sending robots (much less people) to the Moon, near Earth asteroids or Mars? Not much. ”

    Huh? Who is talking about private firms sending people to the Moon, NEOs, or Mars? We’re talking about LEO/ISS access from private crew services to allow NASA to concentrate on the Moon, NEOs, and Mars … with private space hopefully following … probably to lunar orbit/GEO/Earth-Moon Lagrange points first.

    As for private robotics to exploration destinations, there is private interest in getting robots to the Moon, for example via the Google Lunar X PRIZE. We will have to see how that works out. Certainly government could be a customer, and possibly an anchor customer in the early years … just like for commercial crew.

    “I should add that the President has talked about sending humans to near Earth asteroids. But how long would people be inspired by visiting a rock in space? And how would we ever get any resources from asteroids back to Earth? It takes a lot of energy. ”

    It might get easier if we get good at ISRU at asteroids. As for inspiration, the plan isn’t just to go to a NEO. It’s to go to multiple NEOs. That’s on the way to Mars moons and then Mars. It comes after lunar orbit, Earth-Moon Lagrange points, and Earth-Sun Lagrange points. There are lots of interesting and inspirational things that can be done at all of those destinations (just like the Moon’s surface).

    Which is why I DO support the idea of putting research dollars into new propulsion systems.”

    If you support research for new propulsion systems, you should like the new NASA plan. It funds this, and the old one didn’t.

    “As for zero-G production … if it were such a good idea, why hasn’t anyone gone after the market already?”

    It’s probably too expensive to get there … but maybe commercial crew will solve this. Maybe not. There has also been very little work of this sort – ISS has been in contruction mode. It may (or may not) be able to break down barriers in this area. Also, the future availability of platforms like DragonLab and Bigelow modules may help.

    Also consider how these might interact, using Richard Garriott’s model. His ticket to the ISS was expensive, so he made some money on his trip doing private research there. There may be ways like this to solve 2 problems at the same time (i.e. LEO access ticket price affordability and research/industry access).

    “I would recommend Harrison Schmitt’s 2006 book”

    His book describes a NASA that is totally different from the one we actually have. It sounds more like SpaceX (e.g.: ranks filled by young motivated workers like in Apollo). His plan is nothing like Constellation.

  • red

    “I should mention that there IS a good reason for studying asteroids up close and personal, and that’s the one Rusty Schweickart is keen on … figuring out how we can destroy or deflect an Earthbound asteroid. But I’m not so sure we need humans to do that particular job. If we’re going to bypass the Moon, then let’s set our sights on Mars.”

    NASA’s plan includes robotic precursor missions to NEOs. It includes planetary defense. It includes a much-better funded NEO search program. It also includes NEOs as, among other things, one of several stepping stone to Mars.

  • red

    “Obama killed Constellation with nothing behind it.”

    No, the fantastically expensive and out of control Ares rockets were replaced with:

    - keeping the ISS
    - actually using the ISS
    - more capabilities on the ISS
    - additional commercial cargo funding to match the new ISS role
    - commercial crew
    - Orion crew rescue vehicle
    - additional aeronautics funding
    - Pu-238 production (with a match from the DOE)
    - better NEO search
    - stronger Earth observation funding for traditional missions
    - Earth observation funding for “Venture-class” missions
    - small satellite technology development and in-space demonstrations
    - general space technology development and in-space demonstrations
    - new research grants for space technology
    - restored NIAC (advanced concepts)
    - more Centennial Challenges funding
    - use of commercial suborbital RLVs
    - much improved general Space Technology funding overall
    - U.S. version of RD-180 rocket engine
    - other propulsion research
    - heavy lift research and development
    - 4 large robotic precursor missions to NEOs (2), Moon (1), and Mars (1)
    - 4 small robotic precursor missions to NEOs (1), and 3 TBD
    - robotic precursor instruments, data systems, and research
    - inflatable habitat in-space demonstration
    - space tug in-space demonstration
    - propellant depot in-space demonstration
    - improved solar electric propulsion/solar arrays in-space demonstration (to Mars)
    - improved closed-loop life support demonstrations on the ISS
    - aerocapture demonstration mission to Mars
    - funding for several other large-scale in-space technology demonstration missions like these, details TBD
    - exploration technology development for fission power systems, landing systems, telerobotics, ISRU, efficient propulsion, and funding room for may others with details TBD
    - much improved exploration human research funding

  • Bennett

    @Red

    Thanks for addressing William Mellberg’s points/questions. Also for clearly pointing (once again) that “Commercial Space” is actually Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences, Blue Origin, etc…

    I wonder how many times we need to explain reality to the folks who drop by knowing everything, but actually knowing nothing?

  • red

    … continuing after a small break in the real world …

    - KSC and Cape infrastructure modernization
    - additional funding for the Shuttle to finish the ISS
    - Constellation transition funding
    - 500 graduate fellowships in Space Technology per year

    “Lunar science has a lot to offer Earth science.”

    So does, uh, Earth science, and the new NASA would do much more of that. It also does lunar science better than the Constellation approach, which had devolved to sortie missions (ISRU, a lunar base, and so on were long gone). Other planetary bodies Mars can also contribute to Earth sciences, as do space technology improvements and so on.

    “The Moon provides a magnificent record of the history of our Solar System.”

    Do do NEOs. Let’s do them both better.

    “Moreover, what a great place for telescopes (optical and radio). Observatories on the Far Side would be completely shielded from Earth.”

    That would not happen with Constellation.

    “Moreover, the cost of a human mission to an asteroid would be such that given the scarcity of funds which you mentioned, it would make far more sense to go to Mars.”

    The new plan has NEOs as part of the progression to Mars. It sounds like you would like the new plan if you looked into it more.

    “However, like Richard Nixon, I think he tends to associate the Moon with his predecessor.”

    No, Obama didn’t get rid of the Moon (see above). He just followed the Augustine Committee plan that said we can get to cislunar space, Lagrange points, and NEOs while getting to the Moon faster and more sustainably that Constellation would have gotten to the Moon.

    “If NASA can prove that resources exist on the Moon, the private sector will follow.”

    The new NASA plan has NASA robots going to the lunar surface soon to look for and practice using resources. Constellation didn’t have that. Bush’s Vision for Exploration had that, and the Aldridge Commission had that, but Constellation dumped it. It sounds like you like the Bush and Obama plans, but not Constellation.

    “Take the Interstate Highway System, for example. That offers a perfect example of how tax dollars can generate huge economic returns (the Commerce Clause at work). There are other things which government does, such as mass transit systems.”

    Constellation is nothing like the Interstate Highway System or mass transit systems. It is a government rocket/spacecraft system to transport government employees. That’s it. Those other systems allow government and private use. They are more analogous to the Cape and KSC infrastructure … which the new plan proposes modernizing and making more efficient and accessible for government and private use alike.

    It sounds like you like the new plan, and don’t like the Constellation plan.

    “Obama killed Bush’s Moon program.”

    No, Griffin killed Bush’s Moon program by taking out the key goals of the Vision for Space Exploration (see the document): acquiring crew transportation rather than building it, robotic precursors, general commercial and international participation, strong technology innovation, economic, security, and science benefits, etc.

    Obama is just killing Griffin’s rocket program, not Bush’s Moon program.

    “And it was NOT a “repeat” of Apollo.”

    It was close enough to “Apollo on steroids” or really “Apollo in slow motion”.

    “In recent years (pre-Garver), the space agency failed to explain what Constellation was all about.”

    Actually the agency (or Griffin) failed to understand what the Vision for Space Exploration was all about. That’s why Constellation failed.

    “Are you aware of the proposed science station/lunar outpost that was being planned for the rim of Shackleton Crater at the Moon’s south pole?”

    That outpost idea was scrapped long ago, as reality set in and NASA realized that its approach that dumped the VSE ideas of robotic precursors, commercial and international participation, acquiring commercial services for LEO access, technology innovation, sustainability, affordability, and so on in favor of a giant big government rocket program would not allow such ambitious goals. NASA was at best heading for lunar sorties in year 2035.

    “It’s biggest problem was that after committing to it, the Bush Administration didn’t provide the necessary funding.”

    It wasn’t reasonably possible. Constellation already killed most NASA technology work, some science missions, lots of aeronatics funding, its own robotic precursor line, and so on, and it was still slipping schedule faster than time went by. It also required Shuttle and ISS to both be abandoned, and could be expected to have new devestating budget/management/techology/schedule problems in the future. For example, how would Constellation have fared with the recent Shuttle extension to Feb 2011? It would have been devestated. That’s not a reasonable plan.

    “President Obama could have “fixed” Constellation simply by throwing a little more “stimulus” money in NASA’s direction.”

    As the Augustine Committee said, even if we got Constellation for free, we couldn’t afford to operate it.

    “what was the single most important factor in sending humans to the Moon … “The will to do it.” (i.e., the money).”

    You don’t need nearly as much money if you develop more affordable technology, encourage a robust commercial space industry to support you, bring in international partners, run robotic precursor missions to inform you about what to do on the Moon, and actually get to lunar orbit and Earth-Moon Lagrange points on the way to NEO’s and Mars. With all that accomplished, getting to the lunar surface productively and affordably won’t be too hard.

    “Helium-3 extracted from the lunar regolith (soil) could provide environmental-friendly energy for our entire planet.”

    What do we have now, or on the horizon, that would use it? I’d suggest a more achievable lunar resource to start with, like ice, oxygen, or bulk regolith. Then if He-3 is needed, you’ll be in a good position to get it.

    “Do you REALLY believe that Ares and Orion wouldn’t get off the ground for another 10-15 years? Good grief!”

    The Augustine Committee with Aerospace Corporation analysis estimated 2019.

    “Surely Constellation wasn’t as hopelessly messed up as its critics claim.”

    Those aren’t critics. They’re independent. The same goes for CBO and Bush’s GAO. Read their reports on Constellation. Read the Augustine Committee report and watch the debates.

    “What was that big stick that took off from LC-39B last Fall? An illusion?”

    Yes, in a manner of speaking. It looked like Ares I on the outside, but inside, it was nothing like Ares I. It was existing components from other rockets, plus scaffolding.

    “And the New Space people haven’t proven the safety of their vehicles. They have little track record on that score.”

    NASA’s stated intend for commercial crew in its FY2011 budget is to have a competition with a mixture of small and large competitors. That means that traditional aerospace companies will likely be at the forefront. They all will need to demonstrate safety before NASA will put astronauts on them. Companies like Orbital Sciences and SpaceX might do part of such demonstrations in the process of delivering cargo to the ISS. ULA has a certain record already. There will be much more to demonstrate, though. That’s why we need to start now, and with adequate funding from NASA and private skin in the game.

    “I don’t see where ObamaSpace will get the United States out of Low Earth Orbit anytime soon”

    Look at the technology developments and demonstrations, new private capabilities, ISS work, and robotic precursors in the FY2011 NASA budget proposal and later NASA workshops. It’s not instant gratification … but remember that Constellation had spun so far out of control that it was expected to get to the lunar surface … after wiping out most of the rest of NASA for decades … by 2035. That was never going to happen.

    “ObamaSpace doesn’t even get us to the ISS with our own vehicles anytime soon.”

    The new NASA plan is expected to get U.S. astronauts to the ISS around 2015 or so. Constellation was expect to take until 2019. The new NASA plan softens the problem on the other side by funding the Shuttle until it finishes the ISS. Constellation needed that Shuttle money. It’s not ideal, but Constellation left NASA is a situation that was far from ideal. Blame Griffin.

    “But without Constellation, why not maintain the Shuttle’s remarkable capability to service the ISS?”

    The new budget keeps the Shuttle until ISS is done, unlike the Constellation plan, which wipes out the Shuttle early and dumps the ISS in 2015 to fund Constellation. The new plan is closer to your suggestion. However, ultimately, the Shuttle is too expensive and dangerous. We have to move on.

    “When you add up the cost of sending our astronauts (and Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts) to the ISS one seat at a time aboard Soyuz, the cost of keeping the Shuttles flying (we’d only need two Orbiters) isn’t that much greater.”

    Yes it is. You still would need full support from Soyuz, because Shuttle doesn’t give crew rescue services exept for brief times when it’s at the ISS.

  • amightywind

    Wow red! Those are the longest posts I’ve seen since the Unibomber manifesto. Many words, few to the point.

  • Bennett

    @ Red,

    A mighty fine conclusion. I’d really enjoy seeing William Mellberg provide a point by point explanation as to why your fact based essay doesn’t refute his non-fact based diatribe.

    I’m glad you stepped up to the plate for this. I read his posts last night and thought “where to start?”

    Cheers!

  • And then there’s this myth that will never die: The really stupid decision was Richard Nixon’s when he halted the Apollo Program just as the hardware was being proven and the science was getting underway.

    No, Johnson and Congress ended Apollo hardware production. All Nixon did was cancel three missions (one of which became Skylab).

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 5:03 am

    I think Ferris and Red have already done a good job in covering this, so I’ll just hit a couple more points.

    This isn’t MY priority. It’s the plan first put forth by Wernher von Braun many years ago, as well as by former NASA Administrator Thomas Paine and his commission, and…

    You’re cherry picking for people that support your view, but all those people don’t get a vote. I could cherry pick people that support my view, but they don’t get to vote either. It’s up to the President and Congress to decide, and right now they are fine with canceling Constellation.

    Do you REALLY believe that Ares and Orion wouldn’t get off the ground for another 10-15 years?

    To fund Constellation, the ISS had to be ended after 2015. That would have given us no destinations in space for Ares I/Orion until the Constellation Moon landings. Ares I could have flown crew to space, but they were not going anywhere until Ares V was finished, and that was not projected until the late 2020′s or so. What would we be doing in space during this time? NOTHING!

    The current plan extends the ISS, and funds the use of it. You can debate the science output, but you can’t debate the experience we are getting in learning how to live and work in space. This is needed for anything we’re going to do, and it keeps our knowledge and momentum moving forward.

    Constellation was a pause, a long pause, in our space program, and with the budget & schedule overruns that were endemic, who knows when we would have gotten back to space. Our grandchildren would be wishing the U.S. had a space program like the Russians or Chinese, just so they could go to space. Stupid.

    …on the contrary, I have a very good idea what it [returning humans to the Moon] would cost.

    OK, what is it? Specifically, with year by year totals, and how would it affect NASA’s overall budget?

    - Do you require the development of an HLV? If so, what is the budgeted amount for that, and when do you project it’s availability?

    - How much will it cost for the landers and habitats?

    - How are you getting crew to the Moon’s surface, and how often are you rotating them? How are you rotating them?

    - What other technologies do you need to develop to support transportation and logistics?

    - How many tons of cargo are you planning to land, and who is paying for that? If NASA, how much will it cost?

    - Does all of this require an increase in NASA’s budget, and if so, for how long? And what percentage of NASA’s budget would the Moon program be?

    Or, if you really don’t have the details, spitball it. This will be a good test of whether you’re a dreamer of a realist.

    As a reference, Constellation was only going to allow brief stays, with no hardware left in space to reuse on future missions. It was also going to cost $200B+, and require NASA’s budget to be increased above the current $19B/year, plus the elimination of many current NASA programs.

    Just for the fun of it, have you asked around your circle of friends to see if they share your spending enthusiasm for going to the Moon? Ask them what they would rather do – spend $200B to go back to the Moon, or use that money to pay down the deficit?

  • Vladislaw

    William Mellberg wrote:

    “This would be somewhat equivalent to what President Jefferson did when he sent Lewis and Clark into the Pacific Northwest”

    That expedition spent roughly 2% of the federal budget and Apollo spent 4%… that is about the only comparison you can draw between the two, they were both expensive. Lewis and Clark did not do a yearly repeat of that mission and although apollo did a few landings they both did the same thing “here is what we found when we got there”

    The United States of America OWNED the land they explored and people were ready to instantly exploit what they found by getting land grants for free resources. With the 1967 outer space treaty in place before we landed that ended any hope of commercially exploiting resources on the moon in the same manner. So it is a bad comparison, the only way to compare the two is if Kennedy would have included that any private enterprise concern that lands on the moon after apollo gets a 500,000 acre land grant.

    The moon is a 9 BILLION acre ASSET just waiting to happen. Until ownership gets resolved no one is going to try and make a commercial venture past tourism. Hell there is no reason we can not already have mineral rights and water/ice rights being bought and sold already.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 12:21 am

    “When I use the word “commercial” I am referring to what the average person thinks when he/she hears it.”

    sure and the average person thinks that NASA docks the shuttle to the space station at 17,500 mph because well NASA tells them that all the time.

    Look, you have some interesting points but we have tried it your way for 50 years.

    OK we have not tried the Moon, but we have tried a massive big government program designed to develop infrastructure that really no group other then NASA had access to…and at a cost structure that the government could (and now cannot) afford.

    The trick is to try in human spaceflight what has worked in every organization in The Republic…and that is government if necessary doing anchor tenant work to allow private industry to have the position to try different things until they find something that either causes a complete retreat from the effort or broadens the appeal out to where government is no longer the main customer, but now is a recipient of the technology cycle.

    You bring up the Kelly mail act…and this is exactly what it did. The Act was designed to stabilize the airlines with a subsidized service that the government did for reasons of national sovereignty…and let them and the airplane manufactors work out the notions of what made money and kept the appeal widening out to ever greater groups.

    OK it might not work. Like folks living under the sea or all there might be no real advantage in human spaceflight but if it is true in NEO it is true on the Moon. To say that it is not is to assume that the Moon is some mini earth where all of a sudden the dynamics (grin) of spaceflight change enormously…its not.

    If you do work in aviation then you should know that without government intervention at timely points doing things for the pleasure and benefit of the government that spurred private enterprise…there would not be aviation as we know it today.

    We are going to give that way a try in spaceflight. Your viewpoints have had their run.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 11:34 am <- Inaccurate, as usual. You've been corrected on this misleading inaccuracy repeatedly with historical citations posted. The Nixon Administration terminated Apollo hardware production much to the chagrin of Thomas O. Paine. LBJ was out of office a year when the kill switch was pulled, although during the end of his administration they did put production on hold, restarting production was still possible. It was the Nixon Administration that killed Apollo off earlier than planned. Stubborn and stupid, even when presented with historical facts… a conservative mind set, indeed.

  • DCSCA

    “Look, you have some interesting points but we have tried it your way for 50 years.” <– And it has worked, Waldo. Stop talking, start flying.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I ignore you as valuless most of the time…

    but this statement

    ““Look, you have some interesting points but we have tried it your way for 50 years.” <– And it has worked"

    if your notion of worked is a big government technowelfare program that produces nothing of value to meet the cost..

    yeah you are right.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    Robert,

    Keep ignoring him/her. I scroll right past when I see that “name”, and my life is better for it. Never thing you need you refute anything written by the trolls, because the rest of us aren’t reading their garbage.

    Bennett

  • brobof

    Apologies for the delay but this took some time putting together…

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 2:21 am
    The Moon is three days away.”
    Actually its about 3 seconds away round trip with comms lag and this little fact is the reason why we (humans) don’t need to go back there for a lo-o-ong time:Telerobotics.
    NASA_Robonaut is a vision of the future of Lunar ops.

    “the perfect place [...] to test the hardware and habitat modules that would be needed for going to Mars and beyond.”

    The ISS is testing those hardware and habitat modules as we speak and from what I have seen, we are a lo-o-ong way off. All the Moon provides is 1/6th of a G and electrostatically driven Moon duststorms. Neither of these are found on Mars (Or Phobos for that matter.)

    “Nixon’s when he halted the Apollo Program just as the hardware was being proven”

    Now not wishing to open that historical can of worms the only thing that the Apollo program proved was that the Saturn V was not a sustainable transportation technology for opening up space. The Titan/Gemini however…

    “Gene Cernan said of the Obama plan, “It’s a blueprint for a mission to nowhere.”

    Alas Gene like your Congress and your good self(?) fail to grasp the awesome potential of the Obama ‘Flexiplan.’ Stopping the Cx behemoth and leveraging the savings into a cost effective transportation infrastructure that would spiral out from LEO to EM Lagrange points, ES points, NEOs, Phobos and then -if we really must- Mars.

    “Moreover, what a great place for telescopes (optical and radio). Observatories on the Far Side would be completely shielded from Earth.”

    The lunar surface not so much. That dust storm we were talking about? Observatories will probably be better off in L2; if we can keep it quiet!

    “Columbus”

    OFGS If there was one place that Chris landed it was not North America.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Viajes_de_colon_en.svg
    The analogy works better for the Vikings who settled and failed. So it will be for the Moon as there is too little water there for anything more than an Antarctica style base and there are a lot more usable resources in Antarctica!

    “Kids” rather than the ’60′s style hero worship how about those self same kids designing their own Moon ‘bots and operating them from their classroom. With a cheap transportation system we could put vast numbers of ‘bots on the Moon and on NEOs and on Mars. Rather than, say, three human sorties over six years followed by program collapse.
    Simiarly kids today now find sink holes on Mars and can see Asteroids close up thanks to our probes. Then there is the crowd sourced lunar exploration of Moon Zoo. You could find a new crater coutresy of LRO.

    As to the NEO mission, as Hayabusa proved operatin’ a ‘bot with a considerable time lag can be problematic. Plus surface ops on an asteroid are very tricky but Fobos Grunt may give us some clues. Apart from the fact that no Human has set foot on an Asteroid “we haven’t been there. Buzz hasn’t been there!” …having humans in a mobile space station in orbit or attached to said Asteroid will allow prox ops and realtime exploration without the astro/cosmo/Spacers having to leave their zero gee armchairs.

    “But we don’t know that it is because we haven’t really explored the Moon”

    Er LRO, Chandrayan, Chang’e 1, Kaguya, SMART,… Luna1. In case you hadn’t noticed we tend to use Earth Observation Satellites these days with a brief mission to the wilderness for ground truth. And we use robots to do that too!

    ‘Harrison’s He3′

    Commercial Fusion is decades away. Commercial Fusion using He3 a century or more. RANT SPS will come sooner! /RANT
    There are no commercially viable resources on the Moon. Get over it. There will be once we have the infrastructure in place but with Obama’s Flexiplan we could be harvesting the resources of the equally valueless NEOs: MBOs; … KBO’s more cheaply! One factoid about a planetoid: Ceres ‘may’ contain more fresh water than the whole Earth and in a very shallow well. There are other oases too.

    “Kennedy sent us to the Moon for political reasons. Period.”
    Agreed :)

    “Obama killed Bush’s Moon program.”
    Er actually he reinstated the Marburgerian VSE by killing Griffin’s hallucination!

    Phew!
    @Coastal Ron I replied to your question on t’other tread re Microwaves and VASIMR

  • William Mellberg

    First of all, it was Richard Nixon, not Lyndon Johnson, who irrevocably shut down the Saturn V production line. Nixon appointed a Space Task Group (not to be confused with the original NASA organization which was responsible for Project Mercury) in February 1969, just a few weeks after taking office. Before Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, the Nixon Administration was already beginning the process of ending the Apollo Program. It wasn’t just a matter of cancelling three lunar missions. Nixon dismantled the world’s first interplanetary transportation system. Compounding his misguided decision was the fact that very little money was “saved” (the supposed reason behind the decision) by cancelling Apollo 18, 19 and 20 since the hardware was already built. At least some of it was put to good use with Skylab, which was a superb program that was also nipped in the bud. What a shame that the backup Skylab space station was sent to the Smithsonian rather than into Earth orbit.

    As for the premature demise of the commercial airship industry …

    It was one man in the Roosevelt Administration who contributed the most to that demise. He was FDR’s Commerce Secretary, Harold Ickes (father of Harold Ickes, Jr., who served in the Clinton Administration). Ickes Senior refused to sell helium to the Zeppelin company. The Hindenburg had been designed to use a combination of helium and hydrogen (the hydrogen gas bags would have been enclosed in helium gas bags, providing a safety cocoon). The Hindenburg’s sistership, Graf Zeppelin 2 (not to be confused with the original Graf Zeppelin), was designed for helium alone. But it never entered service since Ickes refused to sell the helium to Nazi Germany. Thus ended the reign of the giant airships which offered an unprecedented era of luxury in air travel. Up until the Hindenburg explosion, no passenger had ever been lost on a commercial Zeppelin. However, as you might know, the original Zeppelin company is now building passenger airships (semi-rigid) once again for flightseeing trips. One of them, the Eureka, is based in California.

    As for Concorde …

    Its fate was sealed by several circumstances, not the least of them being the impact of the environmental movement in banning SSTs from flying overland routes in many parts of the world. In addition, Pan Am and TWA cancelled their orders for the aircraft citing its limited range and excessive fuel burn. When Pan Am and TWA dropped out, they were followed by Air Canada, Air India, American, Braniff, Continental, Eastern, JAL, Lufthansa, MEA, Qantas, Sabena and United. That left only Air France and BOAC (British Airways). If they hadn’t been state-owned, they would have cancelled, too, as the cost of flying Concorde would have been prohibitive without subsidies. I knew several people in the UK who played key roles in Concorde design and marketing, including my former boss. So I’m familiar with all of the productivity projections and market analyses that accompanied the project. It was all very persuasive — until Jumbo Jets entered the picture. But politics also played a huge role (the dominant role) in killing Concorde. It is true, however, that Concorde was a source of pride (and rightly so) in Britain and France. It was a tremendous technical achievement, and Concorde’s first flight came shortly after Apollo 8. Which made it seem all the more impressive. The BAC-Aerospatiale partnership also paved the way for the Airbus consortium.

    As for the Constellation Program being a “delusion” as Mr. Valyn suggests …

    It was no delusion. And it was not “Apollo on steroids” any more than the 747 was a 707 on steroids, or the 787 is a 767 on steroids. But like the Boeing family of jetliners, CxP was being built on a solid foundation of predecessor programs — borrowing proven technology while adding new technology. The architecture was also flexible enough so that it could be used for a number of different missions, from servicing ISS to going to the Moon and beyond. All that was missing was the necessary funding. And THAT required POLITICAL will. Unfortunately, the political leadership no longer exists to support an agressive program of human space exploration. As Gus Grissom put it, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” So it seems we will be stuck in Low Earth Orbit for the next couple of decades. The fact of the matter is that America’s space program hasn’t had strong political support since Lyndon Johnson, who played a key role in getting the Apollo Program off the ground. He was responsible for putting James Webb at the helm at NASA.

    BTW, whatever happened to General Bolden? He hasn’t been heard from in quite a while. As much as I respect General Bolden, he’s no Jim Webb. And Lori Garver is no Hugh Dryden. Mr. Webb and Dr. Dryden didn’t plan NASA’s future in secret.

    In any case, if we’re not going to spend the bucks on HSF, perhaps we should put a lot more money into robotic exploration. The Mars Rovers have certainly proven the value of robotics. And the Hubble Space Telescope has certainly returned a lot of useful science (more than I’ve seen from the ISS) over the years. I’d like to see more robots going to Io and Europa and Titan.

    As for the ISS … what goes up, must come down. Mir didn’t last forever, and ISS won’t, either. Much (if not most) of the astronauts’ and cosmonauts’ time during the next decade will be spent on ever-increasing maintenance tasks, not science. Without the Space Shuttle, bringing up major pieces of replacement hardware could be a challenge (to put it mildly). As I read all of the comments about “commercial” space flying to ISS in the decade ahead, I wonder if there will be an ISS when their rockets and spacecraft become operational?

    As for Harrison Schmitt …

    Jack’s oustanding book, RETURN TO THE MOON, was written before CxP was underway. He became Chair of the NASA Advisory Council, reporting to Mike Griffin, in 2005. He served in that capacity through November 2008. During that time, Dr. Schmitt was very much involved with CxP and fully supported it. He still supports CxP as he made clear repeatedly in speeches, interviews and Op-Ed pieces during the past six months. His book made the case for private sector participation in mining Helium-3 on the Moon, as well as in building fusion powerplants here on Earth. But he also recognizes the pathfinding role that government could (and should) play in those activities. I would remind you that Dr. Schmitt was also Senator Schmitt — the only person to have walked on the Moon and served in the United States Senate. So he understands the politics of space, as well as the technology. Read his book.

    You should also read (if you can find a copy) NASA publication NP-2008-08-542-HQ.

    The title is: NASA ADVISORY COUNCIL WORKSHOP ON SCIENCE ASSOCIATED WITH THE LUNAR EXPLORATION ARCHITECTURE

    You will see that the lunar outpost on the rim of Shackleton Crater was NOT “scrapped long ago.” Rather, the details were just starting to emerge in 2008. But all mention of those plans was scrapped following Barack Obama’s election that Fall and Lori Garver’s arrival at NASA HQ a few months later. Long before the Augustine Commission held its first meeting, the demise of CxP was obvious. It was not on the Obama Administration’s “to do” list.

    And with that, it’s back to some car repairs. I don’t know what’s wrong with my car quite yet, but based on some of your comments, it’s probably Mike Griffin’s fault.

  • I know that everyone likes to hate on Richard Nixon (me, too — he was a socialist), but the ugly fact remains that the Apollo shutdown began in the Johnson administration. It was why Webb left in 1968.

    It was no delusion. And it was not “Apollo on steroids” any more than the 747 was a 707 on steroids, or the 787 is a 767 on steroids.

    So Mike Griffin was wrong?

    But like the Boeing family of jetliners, CxP was being built on a solid foundation of predecessor programs — borrowing proven technology while adding new technology.

    Yes, technology proven to be unaffordable. If successful by its own criteria, it would have allowed a couple small expeditions to the moon per year, at a cost of billions per flight. That is no way to open a frontier.

  • Bennett

    I wonder if there will be an ISS when their rockets and spacecraft become operational?

    For someone who claims to know so much, I’m baffled that you don’t know that the Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9 rockets are all “operational”. Of the three, only Falcon 9 lacks enough flights to be considered “proven” for any task that NASA assigns to it.

    You seem to be suffering from selective blindness when it comes to LVs other than Ares. If this particular affliction stays with you when you step away from your keyboard, it could make fixing your car difficult.

    i.e. Have you checked to see if your car is out of gas?

  • William Mellberg

    “Apollo on steroids”

    Mike Griffin’s choice of words might have been wrong … but CxP was right.

    Actually, his choice of words wasn’t all that bad. It’s just that the media didn’t understand what he meant, and neither did many other people. Which is the unfortunate result of the dumbing down of America. A student from the University of Miami told me not too long ago that “at least half” of his classmates believe the Apollo Program was a hoax.

    As for going to the Moon (or anywhere else beyond LEO) … it is NEVER going to be cheap. So it comes down to a choice of whether or not Americans want to be “the world’s leading spacefaring nation” — which is what John Kennedy wanted us to be. Barack Obama is no John Kennedy.

  • William Mellberg

    “Have you checked to see if your car is out of gas?”

    Bennett, why do some people always resort to personal attacks? I have attempted to present my reasons for supporting a Return to the Moon. Mature people ought to be able to debate opposing points of view without insulting each other.

  • brobof

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Ron, I think the Moon is a big priority… similar environment…”

    William, learning how to ‘live’ on the Moon teaches us how to …live on the Moon. The Moon is a unique environment with unique problems. Solving these will be THE priority and few of the solutions will be applicable to Mars; which has its own unique problems…

    Learning how to GET to Mars means building a L1/ L2/ LLO/ GEO Station with three years worth of consumables or less with a Really Good Closed Loop Life Support System. RGCLLSS! A working space potty is a must and some sort of spin hab for surgery, exercise, showers,… a needed luxury. None of these can be perfected on the Moon where there is GRAVITY.
    Living on the Moon or rather under lots of Moon Dust proves nothing as we are also failing to develop the radiation proofing technology that we require to GET to Mars or, more likely, Phobos. Because THAT is where we will operate our robotic ground crew on Mars manufacturing the fuel for a Mars Ascender. Not for Humans but for ground truthing sample returns. Also we need a fast Interplanetary Drive that works in zero gravity not 1/6th.

    “two seconds” And Telerobotics works even better from Phobos!

    “The radiation hazard beyond the Moon is the same on the Moon.”
    No the Moon has electric craters as well as GCRs and SPEs! Phobos and Mars subtend a deal of sky if your base is in Stickney and there is nothiing like solid rock to stop those pesky GCRs.

    “spacesuits, rovers, habitat modules” …used on the Moon will have no similarity to those used on Mars:: 1/3rd G vs 1/6th. Atmospheric Dust vs Static Dust. Different chemical composition of the soils;… I could go on but the truth is we just don’t know enough about the Martian surface to say with any degree of confidence that a technology deployed on the Moon in the 2020′s if we are lucky, will be comparable to the technology deployed on Mars, if we are very lucky, twenty years later. Why we might have pocket sized He3 Fusion reactors by then :)

    “living off the land”
    Lunar ISRU is not Mars ISRU you could use Solar furnaces on the Moon for Oxygen cracking for starters and the fuels are different Nano-particulate Aluminium vs Methane.
    RANT Hydrogen will be too precious to burn it as fuel /RANT

    Shackleton Crater
    That bit the Moondust as Altair had to be downsized cos of Ares under performance. “All location access Anytime return” devolved back to equatorial Apollo style sites. Note that the current studies show a mobile encampment moving from place to place. And operated, I might add, remotely between the proposed sorties.
    Also the IPs weren’t buying into the American stranglehold on the transportation system. Share the wealth. I think the final straw for the IPs came when Congress mandated that it be called “Armstrong Base…” Finally the North Pole may actually have better (minimal) water reserves.

    “Harrison’s Helium 3 Hype” with all due respect to the man. Who was and is a hero in my eyes: the first real scientist on the Moon! I think he is over-reaching with this. I would suggest this as sobering reading:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3#Power_generation

    “Thus, when we go to Mars, we’ll be going to stay”
    Not if we plan on Terraforming it using a quick and dirty asteroidal bombardment we won’t!
    Anyway William, nutshellwise, as you so quaintly put it over there: Mars and the Moon are just another Well.
    As I have said before: why is it, after perhaps a million years of “Carrying the Fire” do some space fans want to immediately crawl back into the “Cradle.”
    And with that horrendous mixed space metaphor: enough!

  • Bennett

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Ah, you’re probably right, but I obviously couldn’t resist bringing using the comparison to your auto repair. Sorry, no personal insult intended

    Still, my claim regarding your selective blindness remains. Your thoughts?

  • William Mellberg

    Some highlights of Neil Armstrong’s testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology (May 26, 2010):

    I am, admittedly, an aerospace enthusiast, having spent 17 years at NASA and its predecessor agency, NACA, prior to joining a university faculty to teach aerospace engineering. I was a member of the National Commission on Space and Vice Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. I finished my active career in a company manufacturing a wide variety of highly engineered aerospace products and, more recently, served on the NASA Advisory Council. I still get excited about great new ideas.

    The motivating quality of NASA programs and people is, I believe, due to its success in achieving leadership status in space travel and exploration, and to its enduring tenacity in exploring the frontiers of the cosmos. That is one reason why maintaining that leadership position is so important to our country. But it is certainly not the only reason. Success in expanding our understanding of the universe that surrounds us, and sharing that information with others around
    the globe, engenders respect and admiration from people and governments around the world. Discoveries and developments at technology’s edge produce new theories, new products, new systems, and ultimately, new ways of living.

    Project selection and budgeting in the new NASA plan appears to have been heavily dependent on the observations and options presented in Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation (HSP), familiarly known as the Augustine Committee report. It is interesting to review the constraints under which the Augustine Committee operated, and the effects that those constraints imposed on their findings.

    The committee was “asked to provide two options that fit within the 2010 budget profile” (HSP p.15). The two options selected were the “Constellation Program of record” and the “ISS and Lunar Exploration”. The funding available for Constellation under the 2010 Presidential Budget Submittal was more than $1.5 billion per year below the 2009 Budget and about $3 billion per year below the original funding plan based on the Exploration Systems Architecture Study The Committee quite properly concluded that the program would be delayed and cost more and Ares and Orion would be too late to serve the International Space Station, scheduled for termination in 2015. They found that “human exploration beyond low Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 budget guideline” (HSP p.96)

    It is improper to conclude that Constellation was beyond help. Constellation managers believe they would have been in reasonable shape had NASA been provided the funding of the 2009 President’s Budget Submittal or even the 2011 Budget. Indeed, Mr. Augustine in his testimony to this committee last September said: “……we believe that the existing program, given adequate funds, is executable and would carry out its objectives.”

    In determining the reasonableness of competing concepts to be compared, the Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) was engaged by the Augustine Committee to provide estimates on cost and schedule. Your Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, thoughtfully, saw fit to ask Aerospace to provide details of that process. Aerospace projected the development costs for a 4 person commercial spacecraft with launch abort system at 12 billion 2009 dollars plus $8 billion for the launch rocket. Similarly, costs for a 6 person spacecraft would be $17 billion (spacecraft + LAS) plus $10 billion (launcher) respectively. The Committee assumed NASA would contribute 3 billion dollars to this project, which Aerospace, using historical growth and other factors, raised to 5 billion dollars (HSF, p. 70). The contribution remaining for the commercial provider is a very substantial investment and, if accurate, raises questions about the ability and willingness of a public or private company to accept that financial risk. Aerospace stated their assumption was that three competitors would bid and two would be selected. They further assumed that NASA would need two flights per year to the ISS. A reasonable business case supporting this proposal is elusive.

    Some question why America should return to the moon. “After all”, they say, “we have already been there.” I find that mystifying. It would be as if 16th century monarchs proclaimed that “we need not go to the New World, we have already been there.” Or as if President Thomas Jefferson announced in 1808 that Americans “need not go west of the Mississippi, the Lewis and Clark expedition has already been there.”

    Americans have visited and examined 6 locations on Luna, varying in size from a suburban lot to a small township. That leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to explore. There is much to be learned on Luna, learning to survive in the lunar environment, investigating many science opportunities, determining the practicality of extracting Helium 3 from the lunar regolith, prospecting for palladium group metals, and meeting challenges not yet identified.

    The lunar vicinity is an exceptional location to learn about traveling to more distant places. Largely removed from Earth gravity, and Earth’s magnetosphere, it provides many of the challenges of flying far from Earth. But communication delays with Earth are less than 2 seconds permitting Mission Control on Earth to play an important and timely role in flight operations. In the case of a severe emergency, such as Jim Lovell’s Apollo 13, Earth is only 3 days travel time away.

    Learning how to fly to, and remain at, Earth-Moon Lagrangian points would be a superb precursor to flying to and remaining at, the much farther distant Earth-Sun Lagrangian points. And flying to further away destinations from lunar orbit or Lunar Lagrangian points could have substantial advantages in flight time and/or propellant requirements as compared with departures from Earth orbit. And flying in the lunar vicinity would typically provide lower radiation exposures than those expected in interplanetary flight.

    The long communication delays to destinations beyond the moon mandate new techniques and procedures for spacecraft operations. Mission Control cannot provide a Mars crew their normal helpful advice if the landing trajectory is 9 minutes long but the time delay of the radar, communication and telemetry back to Earth is 19 minutes. Flight experience at lunar distance can provide valuable insights into practical solutions for handling such challenges. I am persuaded that a return to the moon would be the most productive path to
    expanding the human presence in the Solar System.

    Mr. Chairman, you asked that I present my priorities for the human space program. I suggest that:

    1) We maintain American leadership
    2) We guarantee American access
    3) We continue to explore the Solar System.

    Leadership, access, and exploration are my priorities.

    This issue facing this meeting has produced substantial turmoil among space advocates. So many normally knowledgeable people were completely astounded by the President’s proposal.

    Had the announcement been preceded by the typical review, analysis and discussion among the Executive branch, the agency, the congress, and all the other interested and knowledgeable parties, no member of this committee would have been surprised by the announcement of a new plan.

    In this case, a normally collegial sector of society was split in many fragments, some focused on contracts and money, some on work force and jobs, some on technical choices.

    All because a few planners, with little or no space operations experience, attempted an end run on the normal process. It has been painful to watch.

    Mr. Chairman, I sincerely hope the members of this Committee, and all the others involved in this process, will work openly together to provide a plan which will be the best choice for our country.

  • Wodun

    November is coming, sweet sweet November.

    Sadly neither party is “good” for fixing our space program and you can’t trust corporations to act in the best interest of the country.

    It is fun to argue. If it wasn’t, the comments section wouldn’t be so active. But if the future of human space exploration is in the hands of the people who post here, we are screwed.

    It is like a bunch of people arguing which wall would be best to hang a picture and what is the best wall mount to use when maybe the picture should not go on any of the walls but would be best on the floor or the ceiling.

    Everyone is too focused on their favorite wall to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Please spare us the long history lessons that have marginal relationships to Space Politics, or the topics at hand. If you want to discuss history, you and DCSCA should hook up and watch “Destination Moon” together in his bunker.

    Nixon dismantled the world’s first interplanetary transportation system.

    The Moon is not a planet, it is a natural satellite. Don’t get overly dramatic.

    Let’s see, Nixon, airships, Concorde… OK, here we go, Constellation:

    All that was missing was the necessary funding.

    I don’t think you understand the money part yet. Congress doesn’t want to pay for it. Why? Could it be that “we’ve been there, done that”, and it doesn’t merit $200B worth of funding to go back? Considering that it took over 30 years before a President and a Congress finally decided to give it a go again, they are sure dropping it rather quickly.

    Until YOU address this issue and understand it, you’re not going to understand why Constellation was not going to achieve it’s desired goals. And I’ll give you a hint – supplying unlimited amounts of money is not a good way to solve a problem, especially when it’s the U.S. Taxpayers money. Constellation was a money pit, and most of the progress was how fast the schedule could slip into the future. What a waste of taxpayer money.

    The Moon is going to be there for a very long time, and it can wait until we can afford to go back. That is why Obama was focused on developing systems and technology that would lower the cost to access space, which is one of the main cost drivers for going anywhere LEO or BEO.

    …perhaps we should put a lot more money into robotic exploration.

    I do agree with this, because I think robotic precursor missions to the Moon could do a lot of prep work for our eventual return. It’s close, we can land large rovers, there are lots of robotic systems that we can test out, including mining and construction. While we do this, we save tons of money, and it helps us to design systems that are 2nd generation systems, not prototype ones Constellation was going to try landing.

    His book [Schmitt] made the case for private sector participation in mining Helium-3 on the Moon

    If he is so confident about the uses of Helium-3, let him go get a consortium together to mine the Moon. But considering that the U.S. Government does not have a direct need for Helium-3 right now, I would suggest that it would be premature for our tax dollars to be spent on such a risky mining venture. There are no demand or supply market forces for Helium-3, so let Harrison take the risk – put his money where his mouth is. Otherwise get in line with the H2O Moon miners for future taxpayer help.

  • As for going to the Moon (or anywhere else beyond LEO) … it is NEVER going to be cheap.

    Ah, the ongoing anthem of the defenders of the status quo.

    How about this? If we can’t do it for less money than Constellation, it’s not worth doing. Because we are not going to open up space at those costs.

    So it comes down to a choice of whether or not Americans want to be “the world’s leading spacefaring nation” — which is what John Kennedy wanted us to be. Barack Obama is no John Kennedy.

    Even John Kennedy isn’t the John Kennedy of popular myth. He wasn’t that interested in space.

    Sorry to spoil your decades-old delusions.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    The condensed version of what Armstrong said, says a lot:

    Mr. Chairman, you asked that I present my priorities for the human space program. I suggest that:

    1) We maintain American leadership
    2) We guarantee American access
    3) We continue to explore the Solar System.

    I don’t see the word “Moon” or “Luna” mentioned, and these goals happen to coincide with the current Administration’s plans.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron, you conveniently left out the sentence immediately above Neil Armstrong’s three priorities:

    “I am persuaded that a return to the Moon would be the most productive path to
    expanding the human presence in the Solar System.”

    Which, of course, is his Number Three priority (and which doesn’t coincide with the Obama Administration’s plans at all).

    Rand, I am well aware that John Kennedy couldn’t have cared less about the Moon at the time he made the decision to go there. It was simply the best way (in his mind) to beat the Soviets and to restore America’s tarnished prestige. That’s why I credit Lyndon Johnson for being the driving force behind Apollo since he pushed for the Moon. But by the time John Kennedy was killed, he had become quite a space enthusiast. He was especially thrilled by his meetings with Wernher von Braun and his seeing (and hearing) a test firing of an S-I first stage at Huntsville. President Kennedy became a genuine space cadet. A year before his tragic death, he said the following at Rice University:

    “The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.

    Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power; and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it — we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.

    Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first; and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

    We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won; and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.

    But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?!

    We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

    It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

    To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. However, I think that we must pay what needs to be paid.

    Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

    Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the Moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

    John F. Kennedy (Rice University — September 12, 1962)

    President Kennedy understood that it was a specific goal and a specific deadline that made his challenge so exciting and so inspiring, That, as Gene Cernan pointed out, is what’s missing from President Obama’s space plan.

    I might mention that my Father played an important role in the exploration of the Moon. So I grew up with “Luna.” And I’ll never forget standing alongside the VAB with my Dad for the launch of Apollo 17 in December 1972. What an amazing experience — seeing, hearing and feeling that mighty Saturn V slowly ascending off the pad, lighting up the night sky as it climbed higher and higher on its way to the Moon. But the thrill was bittersweet, as my Dad accurately predicted. “That’s the last time I’ll see humans traveling to another world in my lifetime,” he said sadly. I never would have believed that night that Americans would still be arguing about going back to the Moon nearly 40 years later.

    Lamenting the demise of the TSR.2, another sad chapter in the history of aerospace debacles, the legendary British aircraft designer, Sir Sydney Camm, opined:

    “All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR2 simply got the first three right.”

    That would be a good epitaph for the Constellation Program, as well.

    As for Harrison Schmitt …

    He has, in fact, been working to develop private sector initiatives designed to foster the development of fusion technology using He-3 as a fuel. Read his book! He is a firm believer in commercial space … but not in the faux “commercial” space being promoted by the Obama Administration. Which is why Jack Schmitt was another one of the veteran Apollo astronauts and managers who was actively trying to defeat ObamaSpace in the Congress.

    Fortunately (from my perspective), they’ve enjoyed some measure of success, although NASA will remain in limbo until we get a new Congress and/or a new President with a little more of the “vision thing” … and a plan that’s a little more detailed and comprehensive. What the Obama Administration rolled out in February was anything but specific. Is it any wonder the President’s “plan” generated such a ruckus?

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    “First of all, it was Richard Nixon, not Lyndon Johnson, who irrevocably shut down the Saturn V production line”

    I am sure you can find some here who will engage in a Fiddler on The Roof type banter about “Nixon/Johnson” in terms of who shut Apollo down, but the reality is that it was the American people that shut Apollo down.

    Back in that era there was at least some semblance of sanity in terms of the federal budget and the American people were unwilling to pay for more Apollo which would have been more expensive then Apollo…as opposed to something else (almost anything else)

    But this is the main point here


    “. But like the Boeing family of jetliners, CxP was being built on a solid foundation of predecessor programs — borrowing proven technology while adding new technology.”

    that is an absurd ridiculous nutty statement.

    Boeing (and Airbus now and Douglas then) build airliners with three things in mind 1) affordability, 2) safety and 3) capabilities.

    Cx is built on none of those, because the hardware it derives from has none of those attributes in it. The Cx hardware is the worse of both worlds, evolution and innovation….all driven by the need to have certain contractors do certain task…not the hardware to fit the task.

    Before Boeing went into the “jet age” in terms of passenger transport, it looked at a lot of paths for evolution of its premier (then) passenger carrier the 367…these included B-47 and 52 knockoffs none of which they concluded would be capable in terms of affordability.

    So they used the technology from those programs to evolve the 367…the reality is that the 367 and the Dash 80 have more incommon then the Dash 80 and Buffy…

    Cx has no relationship to cost, performance or affordability. It was “no contractor left behind” and that is why it has floundered.

    If you know aviation you know these things and are misrepresenting stuff…if you dont you should learn something about them.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    As for Harrison Schmitt …

    He has, in fact, been working to develop private sector initiatives designed to foster the development of fusion technology using He-3 as a fuel

    and he Schmitt is going no where…because there are no earthly uses for He3 that justify the cost of getting it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Lamenting the demise of the TSR.2, another sad chapter in the history of aerospace debacles, the legendary British aircraft designer, Sir Sydney Camm, opined:

    “All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR2 simply got the first three right.”

    nonsense It wasnt the politics that killed the TSR2, it was that the mission went away.

    Detterence works better with missiles not a tactical bomber force.

    The F-111 floundered in that role as well.

    dont be goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

    That is a monumentally stupid reason to do something.

    And the inconvenient fact remains that it was Johnson who initiated the shut-down of Apollo, no Nixon.

  • William Mellberg

    Mr. Oler, apparently you’re not familiar with He-3′s potential. I talked about He-3 years ago with the late Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger (Chief Scientist at Marshall Space Flight Center and the “father” of Electric Propulsion) who described it as “the perfect fuel for fusion reactors.” The only problem, he noted, was that it is practically non-existent on Earth. But he was excited by the prospects of mining it on the Moon. Helium-3 fusion reactors would produce no radioactive waste. It would be a truly ‘clean’ alternative fuel. Of course, I’ll grant you that we still have to develop the fusion technology at this end. If you’d read Schmitt’s book, you’d see that Jack describes the cost of extracting and transporting He-3 from the Moon and compares those costs to other forms of energy (coal, oil and nuclear fission). It’s funny how so many people talk about “new ideas” and fresh visions … yet so few people are willing to listen to Jack Schmitt or Paul Spudis or Jerry Kulcinski. Their “new ideas” connect deep space (the Moon) with Earth’s energy needs. How more bold, imaginative and relevant can you get?

    As for your comments about Boeing and the Dash 80, etc. …

    The B-29 was the great source of technology that carried over into the C-97, the Model 367 Stratocruiser, the B-47, the B-52, the Dash 80 and ultimately the 707 (as well as the Tupolev Tu-16, Tu-104, Tu-114 and Tu-124). It was the structural and manufacturing techniques in the B-29 which found application in those other Boeing types. Do you seriously think that people like Maynard Pennell didn’t design the Dash 80 and 707 on the foundation of those previous aircraft and his past experience?

    As Gene Cernan pointed out in his testimony before the House Committee:

    “Constellation follows the Von Braun model in the evolution of the Saturn V, wherein the development of the Ares I is the embryo for the development of the heavy-lift Ares V. This shared DNA, with commonality of critical components throughout, leads to greater cost effectiveness, a higher degree of confidence and safety, and provides the first elements of a heavy lift booster. It is not unlike the Boeing family of jetliners wherein the technology built into the 787 evolved from that of the original 707. Embedded in the Constellation architecture is the culture of a long-range building block that cannot only service the ISS, extend the life of the Hubble, meet other national priorities in LEO, but additionally can carry us back to the moon and on to Mars. In doing so, it makes use of existing hardware and facilities while developing new technologies with a purpose.”

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “dont be goofy”

    Don’t be rude.

  • Aerospace Engineer

    Regarding what William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 10:44 pm:

    Excellent post. The moon is the obvious place to go, as Neil Armstrong, Chris Kraft and others have so eloquently stated. Nothing wrong with Constellation adequate funding wouldn’t fix. Even the Augustine committee said so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Mr. Oler, apparently you’re not familiar with He-3′s potential.

    I am familiar with its potential enough to know that it has none until we invent some reactors that we presently dont have.


    Do you seriously think that people like Maynard Pennell didn’t design the Dash 80 and 707 on the foundation of those previous aircraft and his past experience?

    in fact I said just the opposite. and they have no relationship to Cx.

    As you (and Cernan put it) Cx particularly Ares is in the “model” of what Von Braun would have done, which is a useless model in today’s world

    It assumes almost unlimited funding and assumes that cost of the vehicle have no relationship to its mission.

    that model is what I am telling you is toast.

    As for Cernan’s comparison of the Dreamliner/Dash 80 to the Constellation series of boosters. Cernan has no real clue about the development of commercial aviation nor expertise in it. Nothing he has done in his life has any real connection to those efforts.

    Boeing’s series of commercial airliners do not follow the VB model. If they did Boeing would be out of business.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Aerospace Engineer – what if the country doesn’t WANT to actually provide adequete funding?

    Mr. Mellberg, how much is He3 worth right now? If the resource is so valuable, as you claim, what is the market price of it, right now?

  • Ferris Valyn

    BTW, I wasn’t necessarily implying that Constellation itself was a delusion. Constellation, as a whole, was a false promise.

    You mentioned the Ares I-X – that was a delusion

  • Ferris Valyn

    “I am persuaded that a return to the Moon would be the most productive path to
    expanding the human presence in the Solar System.”

    Which, of course, is his Number Three priority (and which doesn’t coincide with the Obama Administration’s plans at all).

    Sorry, but bullshit – thats fundamentally wrong.

  • William Mellberg

    Mr. Valyn, you ask an excellent question with regard to the value of He-3 at the moment. I can’t give you a dollar figure, other than to say that its value is extremely high at the moment because He-3 is so extremely rare on Earth. My whole point about going back to the Moon is to explore the practicality of extracting it from the regolith and to determine whether or not we should be thinking in terms of He-3 as an alternative fuel for fusion reactors. Given its non-radioactive nature, it would certainly have benefits other fusion fuels would not have. However, Mr. Oler also makes a good point (which I mentioned previously) is saying that no fusion reactors exist at present. Schmitt’s book (and his colleague’s at the University of Wisconsin) makes it clear that this is a two-track challenge. We need to develop the fusion technology, as well as exploring the availability of He-3 on the Moon (i.e., which regions have the highest concentrations, what problems would be encountered in the mining process, the cost of transporting it in a liquid state back to Earth, etc.). Ultimately, the value of He-3 has to be measured against the supply and demand for coal and oil, as well as the number of nuclear fission plants (if any) that are built here in the future. Again, this is all covered in detail in Schmitt’s book.

    Mr. Valyn, your other point about whether or not the country (i.e., taxpayers) wants to have a space program … well, that’s the ultimate question. And I’m not too sure that they do. Today’s society wants to be entertained, not inspired. Or so it would seem. I do know that Buzz Aldrin got far more attention on Dancing with the Stars than Neil Armstrong got on C-Span during his testimony on Capitol Hill! With regard to your point, the space program is just one area where many people have parked their imagination at the door. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

    Mr. Oler, the aircraft industry has always followed the von Braun model of design and development because von Braun followed the aircraft industry in his approach to rocketry. “New” does not always = “Better” and “Change” does not always = “Good.”

    In any case, I think we’re having this exchange because the space program, like our country, is adrift. They’ve been adrift for a long time. And the way ahead isn’t obvious. Which is why there has been so much argument about which fork in the road (I’m mixing metaphors here) we should take.

    I’ve simply weighed in with my suggestions. Which is why I’ve encouraged people to keep the discussion polite. Name-calling and snide remarks never solved any problem.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    “Mr. Oler, the aircraft industry has always followed the von Braun model of design and development because von Braun followed the aircraft industry in his approach to rocketry”

    no that certainly is not accurate..and it is what comes from careless comparisons like Gene Cernan did.

    von Braun never had to meet a cost number in his life…not while working for the short guy with the mustache and not while working in the US…what VB had to meet were “deadlines” and cost became the open ended part of the equation.

    That certainly is not true with Boeing and its airliners.

    First off the comparison of the evolution of the B-707 and the Dreamliner to Cx is well goofy comes to mind. Gene C has made that before and he does it from a standpoint of technical incompetence…he might have some knowledge of the 707, its his era but he is not rated in it and while he might have flown the old Vomet Comet (the one before the Ellington Gate Guard) I doubt he could tell you a thing about the systems…and I am quite sure that is accurate on the Dreamliner.

    If one was going to compare the evolution of the 707/Dash 80/Dreamliner to Cx from shuttle then one would find the Cx has completely new engines, not a single sub system in common other then the name, and materials in manufacturing completely different. For instance both the 707 and the Dreamliner use environmental systems which condition the air presented to the cabin…after that there is nothing in common with the two airplanes in how it is done.

    What Cernan was grasping for would have been a 707/737/727 analogy…the cabins are the same, the systems virtually the same right up until the 737-300 then things started to change… Cx absent its cost issues (or lack of them) would have a sort of comparison to shuttle legacy systems as the above comparison.

    Problem is of course that what Cx tires to do is take hardware etc that never really worked well in its intended goal (it never made cost, schedule etc) and then stretch it to the ultimate in performance…with marrying a bit of new technology onto it.

    Had the 707 series not worked well, there never would have been a 727 or 737 knock off of it…and there should not be a knock off of the shuttle because its hardware never worked well…and never was really affordable.

    “I think we’re having this exchange because the space program, like our country, is adrift. ”

    it is adrift because for to long really bad assumptions like you are pushing have been the basis for it. There is no use for He3 right now and likely in the near future, the shuttle system really has no value for the cost of it…and cost is important.

    We really should try and let the user base expand in terms of who goes into space, who has access to it…and that will never happen with legacy programs.

    It is time for people like Cernan to go rest on their history and let us come up with a space effort and policy that fits todays world.

    Boeing builds the Dreamliner like they do because it must fly intodays environment…They dont build 707′s.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    I think we’re having this exchange because the space program, like our country, is adrift. They’ve been adrift for a long time. And the way ahead isn’t obvious.

    There are people that pine for “the old days”, and feel that we somehow have to return to “a better time”. But I’ve never subscribed to such views, because it ignores that “today” is constantly being created everyday, and the past is the past. My daughter certainly doesn’t want to return to my past – she wants to create her own future.

    As far as the space program, I think we’ve been very busy for quite a few years, and I see it as only getting busier now that we’re keeping the ISS.

    Certainly on the home front, the biggest accomplishment this year has been the cancellation of Constellation, which many people on this blog will tell you was their #1 goal this budget cycle. #2 goal has been getting commercial crew going, and Congress looks to be including some budget for it, which is more than was in the last budget, so that’s a win. I’d say Obama is hitting the highlights, and though he’s not getting everything he wants, there is still time for more change next year.

    What I wouldn’t want to be in the upcoming budget years is a big fat government run transportation project that duplicates commercial alternatives – especially if Republicans come to power. Big NASA programs can’t help running over budget and missing their schedule dates, so SLS is going to have a big target on their back – maybe they will surprise us all and succeed, but I don’t give them good odds.

    From your perspective (and Spudis too), your goal of returning back to the Moon has taken a much bigger hit that those that advocate for lowering the cost to access space. And you should appreciate it, because for every $100M that is knocked off the cost of getting crew to space, that’s $100m that can go toward exploration – and maybe even Moon exploration.

    You see, I’m pro-exploration, but I see sending humans to the Moon as too big of a step for right now, especially when we have to ask the Russians to send our crew to the ISS. Obama/Bolden have their priorities straight, and you’ll be thanking them in about 5 years.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron, with regard to this statement:

    “Big NASA programs can’t help running over budget and missing their schedule dates …”

    What’s to say that SpaceX or any other “commercial” firm won’t do the same? I mean, look at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The penalty costs for late deliveries (very late deliveries) alone is costing the company a fortune. Talk about over budget and missing their schedule dates. The 787 set a record that will probably never be beat for the longest time between roll-out and 1st flight. Of course, the Fairchild Dornier 728 suffered the misfortune of having the company go bankrupt on the very day it was rolled out. The beautiful regional jet wound up in a museum having never flown! (I was very much involved with the marketing of an earlier German regional jet, the VFW 614. It was best known for having its engines mounted above the wings. At least we managed to put a few into service.)

    “I’d say Obama is hitting the highlights, and though he’s not getting everything he wants, there is still time for more change next year.”

    Ron, with the economy sinking deeper into the abyss month after month, and Obama taking more vacations in his first year and a half than most two-term presidents take in eight years, I would say the biggest “change” next year is going to be in Congress. The Republican House will start repealing the Obama agenda program-by-program in the year ahead. They might even have a Republican Senate to work with as the unemployment rate continues to soar in states where Democrats now hold those seats. We could see Republican senators getting elected in California, Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Washington and Wisconsin. In any case, Obama’s only “hope” for 2012 is to “change” his agenda as Bill Clinton did following the 1994 blowout. But Bill Clinton was a pragmatist. Barack Obama is an ideologue. I don’t see him changing his ideology or his policies. At the same time, I don’t see a lot of leadership coming from the Republicans — which is why they lost control of Congress. Sorry to drift into partisan politics here, but the results of the coming election will be felt at NASA and throughout the space community. Given the mood of the country with regard to government spending, the space program might be taking some more hits. To paraphrase one of von Braun’s old lines, “The next time American astronauts arrive on the Moon, they’ll be passing through Chinese Customs.” The Chinese tortoise might be passing the American hare in the not-too-distant future. After the last Shuttle flight next year, they’ll be able to do something we won’t … send people into space aboard their own rockets. What a way to mark the 50th Anniversary of Alan Shepard’s flight aboard Freedom 7. The Russians will certainly have the last laugh as they mark the 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic mission. We’ll be right back where we were 50 years ago … unable to put our own people into Earth orbit. I agree with John Glenn. That unhappy fact troubles me. And I don’t see the Obama plan closing the gap. He’s just making it wider.

  • William Mellberg

    “What Cernan was grasping for would have been a 707/727/737 analogy … the cabins are the same, the systems virtually the same right up until the 737-300 then things started to change … ”

    Mr. Oler, I don’t think that was what Gene was trying to say. He was talking about building on experience. As I mentioned before, one could say the 747 was a 707 “on steroids.” (The 787 looks a bit like the 767 “on steroids.”) But the 747 was far different than a scaled-up 707. Yet, Joe Sutter was certainly drawing on his past experience when he designed the 747 — starting with the Model 377 Stratocruiser. (I think I made a typo earlier identifying the ‘Strat’ as the 367.) Likewise, while the 707/727/737/757 shared the same cabin cross-section, there were an awful lot of differences between those aircraft apart from the obvious ones (tri-jet, twin-jet, etc.). The air-conditioning packs were different, the APUs were different (the 707 didn’t have any), the flight decks were different (remember the two-crew controversy with the 737?), the undercarriages were different, the wings and control surfaces were all different, the hydraulics were different. About the only thing the 707/727/737 had in common (i.e., interchangeable) were their windows. Also, the 727 and 737 (-100, -200) were both powered by JT8Ds, but there were some differences there, too. BTW, I bought and sold airliner parts around the world for a few years. I was also on the inaugural flight of the 737-200. It’s hard to believe the 737 is still in production after more than 40 years. But some old birds (the C-130 is another) just keep flying … and selling.

    And that, I am confident, was Cernan’s point — and mine. Ares and Orion were based on the experience garnered from Apollo and the Space Shuttle. CxP would also make use of existing launch and production facilities. All of which would reduce costs and increase reliability. Yet, there was plenty of new technology in CxP. And like Apollo at a similar stage in its development, there would have been changes and improvements down the road. (Look at all the iterations the LM went through.)

    Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan aren’t the dinosaurs you might think they are. I’m reminded that Jimmy Doolittle was doing consulting work into his 90s. And Boris Chertok (well into his 90s) was still doing some consulting at Energia as late as a few months ago. My Dad was consulting into his late 80s. Neil Armstrong just turned 80 a few weeks ago. His background in aerospace is especially diverse, and people ought to pay attention when he speaks … because Neil doesn’t speak that often (not in front of Congresmen and Senators, at least)!

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 3:48 pm <- Put down the mirror. 'Goofy' babble from a fella who has demonstrated zero capacity to assess and assign value.

  • DCSCA

    Bennett wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 3:56 pm <- Stop talking. Start flying. tick-tock, tick-tock…

  • DCSCA

    @Mellberg: You keep hitting these home runs and we’re gonna have to get you in touch w/the Yankees front office.

  • William Mellberg

    Thank you. DCSCA.

    You’ve reminded me that I forgot to reply to Mr. Oler’s comments about the BAC TSR.2 since I was thrown off by his use of the word “goofy” (as directed toward yours truly). BTW, I wish I could earn a ball player’s salary. The Yankees pay well.

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “nonsense It wasnt the politics that killed the TSR2, it was that the mission went away. Detterence works better with missiles not a tactical bomber force.”

    Mr. Oler, it was politics that killed the TSR.2, which was designed as a replacement for the RAF’s Canberra medium bombers. (“TSR” stood for Tactical, Strike, Reconnaissance — reflecting the TSR.2′s multi-role capabilities.). The Labour Party promised to kill it (citing costs) if they won in 1964, and Harold Wilson kept that promise a few months later in 1965. At the same time, Labour killed the P.1154 and several other promising aircraft. It marked the beginning of the end of the independent British aircraft industry. Only one more all-British warplane would be built after the TSR.2′s demise … the Hawker Harrier. But the TSR.2 was a painful loss. Apparently Labour didn’t think the mission went away because they ordered 50 F-111Ks to replace the TSR.2s — none of which was ever delivered. The RAF finally wound up with the Buccaneer (barely changed from the original naval version). The Buccaneer served with the RAF for many years — including in the Gulf War. I should add that the TSR.2′s projected armament loads included missiles, not just iron bombs.

    One other factor hurt the TSR.2 project … Lord Louis Mountbatten discouraged the Australians from buying the type as a replacement for their own Canberras. He plugged the Buccaneer, which had been in competition with the TSR.2 early on. (As a Royal Navy man, it’s not surprising that Mountbatten promoted the RN’s Buccaneer, which was a good aircraft in its own right.) In the end, the Australians bought F-111s. But had the RAAF bought TSR.2s, it is unlikely that Labour would have (or could have) cancelled the program. The TSR.2 was an outstanding aircraft and a fine tribute to the mighty British aircraft industry of that time.

    Sydney Camm was right. The TSR.2, like Avro Canada’s remarkable CF-105 Arrow, was shot down by short-sighted politicians who had little understanding of aerospace technology.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 6:44 pm
    “I know that everyone likes to hate on Richard Nixon (me, too — he was a socialist), but the ugly fact remains that the Apollo shutdown began in the Johnson administration.”

    Now a modification to ‘shutdown began’… Again, the lesson:

    “On January 4, 1970, [nearly a full year into the Nixon Administration]… [NASA] deputy administrator George Low announced that Apollo 20 had been canceled and the schedule for the seven remaining [Apollo] flights would be stretched out into 1974. Four would be flown in 1970-1971 at intervals depending on the choice of sites. Lunar exploration would then be interrupted [<--not terminated as of this date in time] while the three-mission Apollo Applications Program (a rudimentary space station in earth orbit, soon to be renamed "Skylab") was conducted. The last three missions to the moon would be flown in 1973 and 1974. Low denied reports that NASA planned to cancel four Apollo flights, saying that such action would "do away with most of our scientific return and waste the investment we have made." Lunar scientists were reported to have been pleased by Low's announcement; they had evidently feared that even more missions would be deleted."

    "[On January 14, 1970], after preliminary discussions on the fiscal 1971 budget, administrator Thomas O. Paine revealed more changes in space exploration. Saturn V launch vehicle production was to be suspended indefinitely after the fifteenth booster was completed, leaving NASA with no means of putting really large payloads into earth orbit or continuing lunar exploration. The last Saturn V was reassigned from Apollo 20 to Skylab. Unmanned explorations of Mercury and Mars were reduced or deferred. Some 50,000 of the estimated 190,000 employees of NASA and its contractors would have to be laid off, and many university scientists would find their projects without funds. Though the new plans imposed real austerity, Paine noted that they did provide for a start on the next project, development of a reusable spacecraft to shuttle crews and payloads between earth and a space station in earth orbit."- source, NASA

    The Nixon Administration killed Apollo and set the United States on the path to the current state of our civilian space program. Not the Johnson Administration.

    "[Nixon} was a socialist." Another historical inaccuracy. HUAC member Quaker Nixon a socialist?? ROFLMAO! Alger Hiss and Helen Gahegan would disagree. But if you want to believe Eisenhower put a socialist on the GOP ticket in '52m a ticket twice elected by the American people–go ahead. Your habit of spinning historical inaccuracies remains amusing.

  • brobof

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 3:13 am
    CxP would also make use of existing launch and production facilities.”
    Sorry wrong.

    First the 5 seg is an entirely new beast: new nozzle; new grain; new core shape; new segment!
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=7361.msg126326#msg126326

    2/ Ares-V was too heavy for the Crawlerway
    http://www.universetoday.com/17194/ares-v-rocket-could-crush-kennedys-crawlerway-will-cost-billions-to-upgrade/

    3/Too tall for the VAB! Hence the MLAS
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=11053.msg432413#msg432413

    4/ From the one test Ares-I now needs a tougher Launch platform (Which has already been built? Cart before the horse or what!)
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/10/pad-39b-suffers-substantial-damage-ares-i-x-parachute-update/

    Then there was the TO, the TO mitigation (parasitic weight), the need for a massive LAS to escape the unstoppable solid (more parasitic weight); the increasing under performance with safety factors stripped out, a negative perigee and the need for a ‘third stage’ SM, crew down sizing and finally the Space Wing report.
    Mind you we knew all this in 2008.
    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/space/2008/07/if-you-want-to-repeat-apollo-do-it.html

    And there was no way you were going to get Apollo like funding. IMHO Apollo was a unique confluence of: geopolitics, economic prosperity, a nation still mourning an assassinated President and a desperate need to feel good about themselves as the truth of Vietnam began to hit home…

    “The Americans will always do the right thing . . . ” Churchill
    And, it would seem, you still have a way to go.

  • DCSCA

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 5:37 am <- You're more than welcome. We're on the same page as to how the next step should be done and logically will be done – and in good company- Armstrong, Kraft, Cernan, Lunney, Lovell etc., Bear in mind The Great Waldo Oler has stated in the recent past his preference for the first 50 years of aviation as more 'valued' than the first half century of manned spaceflight. A goggles-and-scarf-man, it seems, as stubbornly wrong headed as a curiosity from those antique days he embraces named Corrigan. But he does have an 'I love me wall.' Quaint. Your Doolittle reference was brilliant. Armstrong knows his rocket science. And as Cernan said of the musketeers-types, 'they don't know what they don't know.' The return path to the moon Kraft reitereated last week is the way to go if the ultimate goal is Mars.

  • DCSCA

    @theGreatWaldoOler- “…von Braun never had to meet a cost number in his life…not while working for the short guy with the mustache and not while working in the US…what VB had to meet were “deadlines” and cost became the open ended part of the equation.” Inaccurate. Neufeld’s book, ‘Von Braun’ shows otherwise. But you go on believing otherwise– it’s amusing.

  • William Mellberg

    Brobof, there is no question that Apollo was the result of a unique confluence of factors — mostly the string of space ‘firsts’ which Nikita Khrushchev waved in front of the Americans one after another. Capitalist engineering was certainly lagging behind Socialist engineering at the time — or so it seemed. (Sergei Khrushchev’s book about his father’s influence over the Soviet aerospace industry is outstanding.) Had it not been for those factors, humans might have never gone to the Moon, although we certainly would have sent robots. As I recall, von Braun predicted in 1950 that we might have humans on the Moon within 50 years. I’ve always maintained that it’s a shame the Soviets did not press on with their lunar program. Valentin Glushko was promoting a lunar outpost when he took over Korolev’s design bureau. No doubt Ronald Reagan would have responded in kind to a Soviet base on the Moon. But without that sort of Cold War competition, the political reasons for going back to the Moon disappeared. And getting the politicians to spend the money to go there simply for the sake of science has never won a lot of votes. So, yes. Apollo was unique — and probably out of sequence in the grand scheme of things.

    As for Mr. Oler’s comments about von Braun never having to meet costs and deadlines, Wernher had plenty of them — especially during WWII when funds became short and the demands to produce wonder weapons were high. Von Braun faced the same problems in the U.S. with the Redstone, and later with Saturn. Funds weren’t unlimited for the Redstone, and schedules were short for the Saturn. When I said that he followed the practices and traditions of the aircraft industry (to a large extent), I wasn’t referring to commercial aircraft. I was referring to military aviation where the mission is more important than the cost. But military programs also build upon experience. Kelly Johnson would have told you that.

    I should add that the von Braun team did a heck of a job with Skylab — creating a marvelous space station for minimum cost and in minimum time. The scientific results were noteworthy, too, especially from the solar telescope.

  • William Mellberg

    Brobof, I forgot to mention that CxP WOULD be making use of existing launch and production facilities. I didn’t say without modifications. But they WOULD be used. I could have said the same thing about the Space Shuttle in 1972. This was another point Gene Cernan stressed in his Congressional testimony.

    DCSCA, I had forgotten Gene’s comment about the people who “don’t know what they don’t know.” Captain Cernan has always been good with the one-liners! But his PR skills don’t mean that he isn’t a competent engineer.

    Thank you for mentioning my comment about Jimmy Doolittle. While most people remember Doolittle for one thing (as is the case with Neil Armstrong), they forget that Jimmy was an engineer first and foremost — one of the first persons to get a doctorate in aeronautical engineering. His contributions to aeronautics and astronautics over a very long career were remarkable. And after the Tokyo raid (his was the first aircraft to leave the deck of the Hornet), Doolittle went on to command our bombers in Europe. He was also closely involved with NACA during the 1950s. All in all, one of the giants … like Armstrong. But I wonder how many young people have even heard of Jimmy Doolittle these days? Or Neil Armstrong?!

  • Not that there’s any point posting anything on this pointless comments section, but I saw someone mention closing the gap up there..

    NASA has officially given up on closing the gap. If there were interested they’d be funding COTS-D.. they would have been funding it a year ago.

  • Ben Joshua

    Lori Garver and those who agree with her may be listening to a wider swath of expert analysis and opinion than those who favor continuing the over-budget, behind schedule approach that has gotten NASA HSF where it is now, as the shuttle faces retirement.

    Neil Armstrong has great achievements in his life, as a test pilot, astronaut and academic. But in a community that is supposed to rely on empirical data and analysis, celebrity cache and the opinion of an admired person with name recognition should not trump the conclusions of a broader group of experts.

    John Grunsfeld, Mae Jemison, Scott Hubbard, Sheila Widnall, Douglas Osheroff, Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride, among others, are accomplished people in their own rights, and favor major change in NASA’s (and Congress’s) approach to HSF.

    Excepting their views threaten the status quo, and those benefiting from the blank check approach, their views should be as much in the public and private discussions over NASA’s future as those of Mr. Armstrong.

    If the gap is to shorten, acess to LEO must happen sooner, more frequently, more safely and less expensively than Ares, Jupiter or Sidemount can offer.

  • amightywind

    John Grunsfeld, Mae Jemison, Scott Hubbard, Sheila Widnall, Douglas Osheroff, Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride, among others, are accomplished people in their own rights, and favor major change in NASA’s (and Congress’s) approach to HSF.

    Second stringers all! At some point you must weight the testimony according to the prominence and credibility of those making it. Armstrong, John Glenn, Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmidt, Gene Kranz, Chris Kraft… A who’s who of demigods on the Olympus of manned spaceflight. The judgement has been rendered – the winner is Ares!

  • Ferris Valyn

    Brobof, I forgot to mention that CxP WOULD be making use of existing launch and production facilities. I didn’t say without modifications. But they WOULD be used. I could have said the same thing about the Space Shuttle in 1972. This was another point Gene Cernan stressed in his Congressional testimony.

    Yea, but Commercial Crew would require much less modification, and thus be cheaper.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “What I wouldn’t want to be in the upcoming budget years is a big fat government run transportation project that duplicates commercial alternatives – especially if Republicans come to power.”

    I would not be to sure of this, look at Senator Shelby he was all about a big government run transportation system even though he was pro commercial space as long as it did not interfer with the pork train. A lot of republicans see NASA as more than just a space program, they tie it in with the military and see it as a national security issue and also a national prestige issue. I believe republicans would be more suseptable to a national flag waving space program than democrats.

  • Vladislaw

    The only price I could find on helium-3 was from this:

    helium-3 costs

    $40,000.00 per ounce, 220 pounds would be worth 141 million.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Wouldn’t the demand for He3 be very inelastic?

  • amightywind

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Wouldn’t the demand for He3 be very inelastic?

    Demand for the material is non-existent except in a few labs. Commercial fusion is like commercial space – a boondoggle.

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    A lot of republicans see NASA as more than just a space program, they tie it in with the military and see it as a national security issue and also a national prestige issue. I believe republicans would be more suseptable to a national flag waving space program than democrats.

    I think this is an accurate assessment. The Tea Party Republicans who are about to come to power are more loyal to the country and its founding principles. Like Glenn Beck says, “Find your honor!”

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    You’re right, that could happen too.

    I think that down the road, where a couple of events could converge, events could overtake intentions, and a reassessment could happen.

    One scenario:

    In two years we’ll have Orbital and SpaceX both launching cargo missions, and that will give Congress coverage to re-look at commercial crew, and “commercial” alternatives in general. Remember the Senate bill stated about their HLV:

    The capability to serve as a backup system for supplying and supporting ISS cargo requirements or crew delivery requirements not otherwise met by available commercial or partner-supplied vehicles.

    At least in the Senate, they are not looking at NASA as being the primary crew provider for the ISS, only as a backup, and that is likely from a programmatic standpoint, not a “launch on need”.

    Also in two years, the SLS design, budget and schedule should be known, and it likely will not support taking over for Soyuz in 2016, which means unless they have officially awarded the commercial crew contracts, that there will be flag waving and angst in Congress, and last minute efforts to get an “American” competitive commercial crew program going.

    To the horror of many on this blog, SpaceX will be chosen as one of the crew providers, and they will propose to be ready in two years from funding, while the other winner (or winners) will be at least 3-5 years away. This will be the beginning of the end for any NASA capsules, since it will eventually be recognized that they should be concentrating on leaving LEO, not getting to/from it.

    Two years down the road too, ULA will have continued to launch their Delta IV Heavy, and hopefully it will be included in a commercial crew contract so that we have launch capabilties for heavy Orion-type capsules. What this also means is that crew will not be considered for any NASA HLV launches, since they will finally adhere to the CAIB recommendations to separate crew from cargo.

    The final nail in the coffin for the NASA HLV could be when budget restrictions force a review of NASA’s HSF plans. If there is downward pressure on their budget, a decision point will be reached as to whether the U.S. commits to a large human expedition using the HLV (likely behind budget & schedule), or if we shelve the HLV for now and try a scaled back approach. I think a repeat of Constellation could happen here (cancellation), and alternatives using existing launchers could step forward and be recognized as a better way.

    Plenty of ways this could go, and what’s missing is the potential for something that catches the publics imagination or interest, or that of influential politicians, whoever they may be at that time. In any case, without Constellation, the way ahead is much easier, and more focused on transportation than the Moon (sorry William).

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Wouldn’t the demand for He3 be very inelastic?

    I guess it depends on how much demand there is for it, and the cost of expanding the supply.

    Fungibility also comes into play here, especially since fusion reactors of any kind have not be created that are self-sustaining, so no one really knows what the ultimate fuel sources really need to be, or if they can be interchangeable.

  • DCSCA

    @Joshua: Garver is no ‘expert.’ She’s an aerospace lobbyist by trade.

    Neil Armstrong’s expertise is in good company:
    James Lovell
    Chris Kraft
    Jack Lousma
    Vance Brand
    Bob Crippen
    Michael D. Griffin
    Ed Gibson
    Jim Kennedy
    Alan Bean
    Alfred M. Worden
    Scott Carpenter
    Glynn Lunney
    Jim McDivitt
    Gene Kranz
    Joe Kerwin
    Fred Haise
    Gerald Carr
    Jake Garn
    Charlie Duke
    Bruce McCandless
    Frank Borman
    Paul Weitz
    George Mueller
    Harrison Schmitt
    Dick Gordon

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 2:31 am

    with the economy sinking deeper into the abyss month after month, and Obama taking more vacations in his first year and a half than most two-term presidents take in eight years…

    I don’t come here to debate presidential politics, and I have yet to find a President that meets my full expectations. However, I think it’s enlightening to find out how much kool-aid some people drink without question.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/president-obamas-vacation-days/

    Obama spent 26 days on vacation his first year, compared to:

    77 days – Bush 43
    21 days – Clinton
    40 days – Bush 41
    42 days – Reagan

    Maybe if Bush 43 had spent more time working, we wouldn’t be in such bad economic shape? Too bad he cared more about chopping wood than chopping his deficit.

  • Bush 43′s vacations were generally working vacations in the western White House in Crawford, which had full comm capability. He didn’t go much of anywhere else, IIRC. Anyway, I wish that Obama would take more vacations. Every minute he’s on the golf course is a minute that it’s a lot harder for him to wreck the country. ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 3:13 am

    “Mr. Oler, I don’t think that was what Gene was trying to say. He was talking about building on experience. ”

    it is hard to know what Gene was trying to say because as I have noted his metaphor is ridiculous. Cx is Not a B787 to B707 spinoff of the shuttle, it has almost no new technology and the notion that it is a spinoff in the B-707 to 727/737 is simply absurd

    BTW you dont know a lot about airplanes.

    you wrote: About the only thing the 707/727/737 had in common (i.e., interchangeable) were their windows.

    that is nonsense. YOu might have been on the first flight of the 737-200 but I am rated in all three airplanes (and a few others) and the statement above is quite wrong. From fuselage to environmental control systems to well most of the systems the difference is “half brother” …but the similarties are far greater then less. Here is a hint…chop the cockpit off of either of the three airplanes and it can be turned into the simulator of either three.

    It is not surprising that the B-737 is still in production because 1) unlike the shuttle it was a success in everything it did and 2) it has evolved far beyond the technology of the -100. I’ve flown (and in some cases tested) every model of the 737 and a 800 or 900 or the Navy’s new Posideon is quite a different animal then the -100.

    But lets be clear…there is far more less evolution and far more radical change in the =200 to -300 version of the 737 then there is in the Shuttle to Cx program. And until you pull out type ratings in the airplanes or some notion of being a designated design engineer on the plane…you are just repeating babble.

    What the best I can see is that Cernan was trying to argue for retention of the current infrastructure and mission and to try and evolve it into yet another project that would sustain it.

    That is typical of a person whose space background is wrapped up in that infrastructure, and people like Cernan get a pass in front of Congress because the Congress people are to stupid (or unwilling) to challenge them…but if one is arguing for something to continue then the notion needs to be that it is working well. It isnt….and the fact that the “knock off” hardware from it spun so badly out of control during its development in terms of cost and schedule indicate quite wonderfully that the project would have been a loser had it come to completion.

    A few other points. With kindness to our host, I wont get onto another debate on the V-2…but VB did have almost unlimited resources in the production of the system, at least as many as the Reich could bring to bear in an increasingly difficult circumstance. I can post quotes from folks like Adolph Galland who complained during and especially post WW2 about the priority on V-2 efforts and their waste.

    The TSR had no viable mission. The comparison from one US Nav Air admiral and it was a good one is “it is the battle cruiser of its day”. The Tomcat is named after this person.

    One final point you are wrong about Obama’s vacation time. And that troubles me. Not because I think he (Obama) is doing that great a job but because before you made that statement you could have easily checked it. I not only checked the posted source but in about .X seconds of goggle time found quite a few others including the White House web site.

    When you make a statement like that, you should at least try some fact checking on your own before buying the Fox News right wing goofy line. It is the same as with Cernan. you are entitled to ones own opinions, I certainly have mine, but they should at least be based on more then hero worship…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    “Bush 43′s vacations were generally working vacations in the western White House in Crawford, which had full comm capability”

    No matter where any President goes they have full comm capability including video links thanks to Milstar and the hard working people of White House Signals office.

    what cannot be easily duplicated, even at “Western White Houses” are the secure conference areas that most meetings of the sort of nature where Mr. Bush was briefed while on vacation in the summer of 2001 about OBL. This limits enormously the type of material that can be presented by the folks who must leave DC and travel with limited staffs (and carrying secure data) and try and brief the POTUS on difficult issues.

    In addition the “working vacations” that Mr. Bush liked to take were enormously expensive in terms of the logistics of the issue.

    Bush was also quite good at theatrics. When he wanted to impress those “on the right” with the Terry Schiavo keep alive bill…he flew at reasonable expense back from the ranch only to return again. Needlessly.

    Robert G. Oler

  • brobof

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 6:53 am
    I didn’t say without modifications.”
    O.K. At what point does a ‘modification’ become a financial liability that kills your desire for the Cx Griffen Rocket stone dead in its tracks: 1 billion? 2 billion? 3 billion,…? For a bit of Road! Is there any point that you would say “Hey this ‘modification’ costs way too much.” How much would you pay in order to see such a rocket make a once or twice a year journey in the 2030′s for sorties to the Moon. Give me a figure and then tell me how you are going to find it.
    And you do know that by removing the SRBs from the equation you can start to use the VAB for other purposes: like office space. Or a Museum. A Saturn V mockup standing upright would be a start! IMHO. With a Shuttle beside it. Might bring in some cash.

    However I note -courtesy of Coastal Ron writing @ August 29th, 2010 at 1:30 pm that you make assertions without fact checking! That you fail to address counter-factual argument and that you don’t even seem to be aware of what you write:
    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 3:13 am
    CxP would also make use of existing launch and production facilities.”
    William Mellberg wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 6:53 am
    Brobof, I forgot to mention that CxP WOULD be making use of existing launch and production facilities.”
    *facepalm*

  • There seems to be a preponderance of posters that fill text in posts likened to mindless chatter like cats chasing their tales. Is this a by-product of some North American schizoid boom-bust economy lifestyle fad?
    I don’t think many people realize that a new Russian spaceport is being built to accommodate gov’t and commercial space in the Far East Amur river region of Russian side Northern Manchuria easy access by seaport-rail-highway. Russia plans to open up spaceport for a variety of launches sub-orbital, heavy cargo, light cargo, nuclear rocket system launching, human & robotic missions. This seems like a growing trend in Russia for indo-sino space markets. Is the New Mexico State University Commercial Space Center able to organize competition in this space market?
    Reality is the space faring country that builds variable launch facility capability and capacity at a reasonable price gets more space business.

  • DCSCA

    @theGreatWaldoOler. Re- Von Braun. 1. Remove your goggles. 2. Loosen the scarf. 3. Read Neufeld’s book sans said goggles. You’re simply wrong. But you go on believing otherwise. It is amusing.

  • DCSCA

    @theGreatWaldoOler- ” What the best I can see is that Cernan was trying to argue for retention of the current infrastructure and mission and to try and evolve it into yet another project that would sustain it.”

    And of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially seen with your goggles off. Cernan is an aeronautical engineer, an electrical engineer and Naval aviator along with his experience in manned spaceflight aboard Gemini 9 and Apollo’s 10 and 17 plus support roles on other manned spaceflight. His experience and expertise in manned spaceflight operations has earned merit and consideration.

  • DCSCA

    @Mellberg- “As for Mr. Oler’s comments about von Braun never having to meet costs and deadlines, Wernher had plenty of them — especially during WWII when funds became short and the demands to produce wonder weapons were high. Von Braun faced the same problems in the U.S. with the Redstone, and later with Saturn. Funds weren’t unlimited for the Redstone, and schedules were short for the Saturn.” Yep. But then, consider the source. He’s an airplane guy. Just re-read Neufeld’s book on von Braun this past spring. The challenges, resource-wise, are spelled out quite well.

  • Ben Joshua

    I am struck by the irony of this outlook:

    That human space flight policy (and by budgetary extension, robotic space and technology development) should be determined by insiders (who have not left the reservation) at the top of the insider hierarchy – certainly not by those who investigated, analyzed and recommended, in the wake of deadly mistakes made by a number of those very trusted insiders.

    That insiders who have left the reservation are apostate, shunned.

    It gives me pause, as I remember the Apollo fire, Challenger and Columbia – the hubris and rationalizing that tried to move the goal posts on the field of hard science and engineering.

    Stunning.

  • umm.. there’s no guarantee that SpaceX will be “chosen” to do commercial crew. In fact, if NASA starts picking winners, as it seems they will be doing again soon, then SpaceX almost certainly will not be picked.

    So then we get to wait and see if SpaceX self-funds human crew to LEO and how long that takes.

  • Coastal Ron

    Trent Waddington wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    So then we get to wait and see if SpaceX self-funds human crew to LEO and how long that takes.

    Just like Boeing will not go forward with CST-100 without NASA funds, I doubt SpaceX would proceed with crew capabilities for Dragon without a good idea that they can get customers (and lots of them). Whether that is NASA or private, or even other governments, I think they would bide their time until it makes sense economically.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Trent Waddington wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 8:55 pm
    ‘SpaceX almost certainly will not be picked’

    No data to support that statement. It’s true that there’s no guarantee that SpaceX will be chosen however by the time that decision is in the works, SpaceX will likely have a cargo track record to point to. And, as has been previously noted, they’ve been building their systems to meet whatever human rating standards are available.
    SpaceX are on the public record as stating that they’ll build a crew capsule. A number of times. No other company has made that statement in fact Boeing has specifically stated that they wouldn’t without gov’t funding. So far, SpaceX has delivered on whatever they’ve promised. It might be a tad late but they get there. So their record is unblemished in that sense.
    There’s also another market for a crew capsule – Bigelow. SpaceX have a slot to launch Sundancer in 2014. Not all that long after that, Bigelow wants to do crew missions to the vehicle. If SpaceX has a crew vehicle or is close to having one, (and Boeing haven’t delivered) then there’s a market. Bigelow are looking for customers from all around the world, uni’s, other gov’ts, corporations, and so on. And tourists don’t rate for them at this point. So that’s a non-NASA, non- U.S. gov’t market.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert Oler wrote:

    “BTW you dont know a lot about airplanes.”

    Mr. Oler, to borrow a line from Gene Cernan, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

    If you only knew.

    brobof wrote:

    “… you can start to use the VAB for other purposes: like office space. Or a Museum. A Saturn V mockup standing upright would be a start! IMHO. With a Shuttle beside it. Might bring in some cash.”

    As Harrison (“Jack”) Schmitt wrote a few months ago while commenting on ObamaSpace, “How the mighty have fallen.” While I must confess that it would be neat to see a Saturn V replica standing upright in the VAB atop a Mobile Launcher (I still remember seeing a real one in there), as well as a Space Shuttle in the next bay, what a sad fate that would be for the historic Launch Complex 39. And what a sad commentary your suggestion is on today’s NASA. It reflects the growing demise of American exceptionalism under the current Administration. America’s greatness is being packed away to museums. America’s leadership is becoming a thing of the past. America’s best days are behind her … or so some would have us believe.

    That isn’t my dream. My dream is to see the Kennedy Spaceport as the place where a new generation of explorers will be departing for the Moon and Mars and beyond. My dream is to see new rockets rolling out of the VAB … new rockets destined for new worlds.

    “Shoot for the Moon,” a wise man once said. “Because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

    On the evening of December 6, 1972, I stood in awe as I watched the Apollo 17 crew heading out to Pad A. Looking to the east, their giant Saturn V was bathed in floodlights as darkness fell over the Cape. Looking over my shoulder in the opposite direction, a crescent Moon — their target — hung in the western sky. It was a scene right out of a science fiction film. Yet, there in front of me, I saw three men in spacesuits getting ready to fly to another world. They waved at us. We waved at them. Unreal! Shortly after midnight, the ground shook and the VAB rattled as the Saturn V sent Cernan, Evans and Schmitt on their way to the Moon. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

    I dream of the day (or night) when other people will stand where I did … and watch other men and women leaving our planet for other worlds. “Spaceport.” That word really stuck in my mind that evening. “Space Museum” isn’t quite as inspiring. There is nothing bold about replacing the future with the past. I can’t see taking kids through the VAB Museum and telling them, “This is what our country used to do — and used to be.”

    “Make no small plans,” wrote Daniel Burnham. “For they have no magic to stir men’s souls.”

    As I read about the small ideas coming out of NASA HQ, and the petty politics spilling out of this White House, I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s words:

    “This is a Government of the duds, by the duds, for the duds.”

    “They are decided to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, all-powerful for impotence.”

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it, but there it is.”

    -30-

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 1:19 am

    to borrow a phrase, “I know what I know from what you post”.

    the solution is binary either you are purposely misrepresenting things and you know a lot, or you dont know what you are posting. because the aircraft comparisons you are making show a complete lack of knowledge of them.

    I am a Designated Examiner Part 121, 142 and 91 and Line check airman all seats simulator and flight; in Boeing aircraft as designated by letter of Administrator. among other things.

    Not a PPE a DE meaning I carry a FSDO number. I am not an FAA employee…those are pretty rare.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 29th, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I generally agree with that…but there is a little out.

    What I dont know is how much different a crew dragon is from a resupply dragon. I bet not much…and if that is the case other then the LAS which I bet Musk can do pretty cheap…

    well see how the future winds out.

    there are great changes coming. Think Lindy going across the Atlantic.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Yes, SpaceX is on the record saying they will build a crew capsule with or without NASA funding.. what they’ve specifically said is that it may take twice as long without NASA funding.

    When I first heard that I was happy, but now I think NASA has realized that they don’t have to buy the cow to get the milk.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “either you are purposely misrepresenting things and you know a lot, or you dont know what you are posting. because the aircraft comparisons you are making show a complete lack of knowledge of them.”

    The best way to convince a fool that he is wrong is to let him have his own way.
    – Josh Billings

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 1:19 am

    My dream is to see the Kennedy Spaceport as the place where a new generation of explorers will be departing for the Moon and Mars and beyond. My dream is to see new rockets rolling out of the VAB … new rockets destined for new worlds.

    Unfortunately we won’t be able to afford your dream anytime soon, because someone let us slip into a really big recession after they racked up record deficits – and that was before the current administration took office.

    The only way we’re going to afford space exploration is by NASA focusing on the hard stuff, and letting the routine stuff be handled by competitive contracts. Otherwise NASA cannot afford to do very much at one time.

    This is not some new economic model – this is how the rest of the U.S. economy works, including the DOD. In fact the DOD hands over even more of their product development to the commercial sector than NASA does, and I would argue that DOD has more “national security interests” than NASA does.

    Really though, the bottom line is that regardless of who you idolize, no American president is likely to ever be that gung-ho about space, and none really has been for the last 40 years. You may take personal umbrage to that, but realistically NASA is a very small slice of the normal life, and once you’ve done something 6-times in a row of anything (Moon, space walks, etc.), it becomes an everyday event, just like normal life.

    So don’t be ADHD about this. Focus on accomplishing near-term goals that build capabilities and commerce, and that will lead to a sustainable industry that can spread out into space right behind NASA. That is how we’re going to conquer space – one step at a time, and within a sustainable budget.

  • Coastal Ron

    Trent Waddington wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 2:29 am

    When I first heard that I was happy, but now I think NASA has realized that they don’t have to buy the cow to get the milk.

    Maybe not so much NASA, as they wanted to fund commercial crew, but Congress. Although that might be giving Congress too much credit for being clever and money-wise, when they usually are not associated with either of those traits… ;-)

    I do agree with both you Trent and Oler, in that I think SpaceX will eventually do crew on their own. But like you pointed out, it may take longer without NASA funding, and especially longer if they don’t have an ISS contract.

    But NASA may not be the only customer SpaceX could court…

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 2:54 am

    The quotes you throw out are starting to make you sound like Major Gen. Bartford Hamilton Steele from the Mash episode “The General Flipped at Dawn”. He responded to direct questions with quotes too – I won’t say whose make the most sense… ;-)

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron,

    I am not accustomed in the professional world to the sort of rude remarks that Mr. Oler seems to be so fond of posting. Forgive me for using quotes in place of my own words. But it is more in keeping with my professional background to avoid using the words which enter my mind as I read some of Mr. Oler’s personal attacks and boorish statements (as much as I might like to).

    As for your most recent remarks:

    “Really though, the bottom line is that regardless of who you idolize, no American president is likely to ever be that gung-ho about space, and none really has been for the last 40 years. You may take personal umbrage to that, but realistically NASA is a very small slice of the normal life, and once you’ve done something 6-times in a row of anything (Moon, space walks, etc.), it becomes an everyday event, just like normal life.”

    No argument there. None at all. I suppose the only way we’re going to have a president who is gung-ho about space is for one of us to get elected, or to change the Constitution so that Vladimir Putin can run over here (since he seems to be fairly gung-ho about Russia’s space program these days). Seriously, I have been frustrated for decades by the lack of commitment to space exploration from presidents of either party. As you say, it is simply not a priority in most peoples’ lives. Which is frustrating, too. Occasionally, I’ll set up my telescope on my front lawn and give passers by a close-up look at the Moon or Jupiter or Saturn. They’re all astounded — especially by the Moon with its mountains and craters. But I doubt if very many of them are thinking about it the next day.

    “Focus on accomplishing near-term goals that build capabilities and commerce, and that will lead to a sustainable industry that can spread out into space right behind NASA. That is how we’re going to conquer space – one step at a time, and within a sustainable budget.”

    Ron, I respect your point of view. I simply question whether or not a large enough market in space exists to sustain a genuinely commercial HSF industry. It is only “commecial” in my mind when an entrepreneur designs, builds, man-rates and successfully demonstrates a launch system and spacecraft — and finds a market for his product. I would be the first to applaud Elon Musk if he does that with his own money, not mine. That would make him a giant in space history. But if he’s just another government contractor, then what makes SpaceX any different than other government contractor? He’ll just be repeating what others did decades ago. That’s where my comments here began, and that, I think, is where I’ll end them. I can ill afford to waste my time responding to barbs and insults. However, I did want to lay out my reasons for going back to the Moon. And I appreciate your making your case for a different approach to space (mostly without barbs or insults). Thank you for taking the time to spell out your own ideas in a reasonable manner (for the most part). Persuasive arguments carry far more weight than rants and raves. At least they do with me.

  • Coastal Ron, as I said, the people on the panel at the Commercial Crew Initiative Forum were not from “Congress”, they were from NASA, and their position was abundantly clear: BoeLockMart is getting the CCDev contracts. SpaceX didn’t even get a mention. On the “poster” style slides they didn’t even get their vehicles pictured. The COTS representative made it clear that he was not getting involved in the CCDev process.

  • How is continuing a $3 billion dollar a year ISS program beyond 2015 saving NASA any money for beyond LEO missions? Griffin wanted the ISS terminated after 2015 so that those funds could be used for beyond LEO missions. Continuing the ISS beyond 2015 is going to be a $3 billion a year welfare program for private commercial launch companies and a huge waste of tax payer dollars!

    How about keeping our word with our international partners Marcel?

    I know you retro-nationalists don’t give a good godd@mn about whether we keep our word with a bunch of “furinners”, but in today’s world, believe it or not, we have to realize we share the planet with others, and it’s important we keep our promises with ‘others.’

  • Byeman

    “My dream is to see new rockets rolling out of the VAB”

    That is specifically why it won’t happen. LC-39 is too expensive for any architecture that has to live within a NASA budget of 15 billion. That is one of the reasons CxP failed.

  • amightywind

    I know you retro-nationalists don’t give a good godd@mn about whether we keep our word with a bunch of “furinners”, but in today’s world, believe it or not, we have to realize we share the planet with others, and it’s important we keep our promises with ‘others.’

    Boy, you got that right. Why on earth should we offer technical standing to these lesser nations way beyond what they merit? Deorbit the ISS!

    Tomorrow is another Ares first stage test as the program leaps from strength to strength. First the Ares I-X, then the escape tower test, now a full up first stage test. If the left would resist the urge sabotage the program to reward its political constituents we’d be back in space before you know it. The SpaceX launch pad is awfully quiet…

  • Martijn Meijering

    LC-39 is too expensive for any architecture that has to live within a NASA budget of 15 billion.

    Hmm, that’s the third time that a $15B budget has been mentioned in a week. Once by me, so that doesn’t count. Are you hearing any rumours you are willing to share with us?

  • Coastal Ron

    Trent Waddington wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 4:48 am

    as I said, the people on the panel at the Commercial Crew Initiative Forum were not from “Congress”, they were from NASA

    I guess I missed that reference.

    Still, CCDev has different goals than COTS, and I wonder how much that really bodes for any future competitive situations. Especially contract awards that are worth mounting GAO protests.

  • mr. mark

    Unforunately, amightywind is about to eat his words considering that Spacex is the one that has oribited something not Ares I-X, spinning or not as he would say. That FACT has been confirmed by several outside tracking agencies not connected with Spacex in any way shape or form. As for the pad being empty that is not true as well as they are getting ready for the upcoming launch in about a month of the first fully functional cargo Dragon capsule. So you are wrong again on both counts :p.

  • Martijn Meijering

    they are getting ready for the upcoming launch in about a month of the first fully functional cargo Dragon capsule.

    Almost two months actually, if not longer:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/08/30/07.xml&headline=SpaceX%20Asks%20For%20Oct.%2023%20Dragon%20Launch%20Slot&channel=space

    If all goes well I’ll be even more thrilled than I was after Falcon 9′s maiden flight, but let’s not count our Dragons before they hatch. Still well ahead of Constellation and everybody else of course.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 3:18 am

    that brought a very very good chuckle…I love the episode…the ones Col. Flagg isin are great.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Tomorrow is another Ares first stage test as the program leaps from strength to strength. First the Ares I-X”

    Yawn… a suborbital test with a dummy upper stage and multiple anomalies that cost the taxpayer $9 billion to get to, while Atlas V is launching reusable spaceplanes and Falcon 9 is launching boilerplate capsules all the way to orbit for a 30th of the cost.

    What a waste of taxpayer resources.

    “then the escape tower test”

    The escape tower is part of Orion project, not the Ares “program [sic]“.

    Think before you post.

    “now a full up first stage test.”

    It’s not a “full up [sic] first stage [sic] test”. DM-2 is a chilled firing to test the integrity of 5-segment SRB joints under cold weather conditions.

    “The DM-2 test is designed to expand the envelope of operating conditions for the five-segment motor by cooling the motor to about 40°F (4°C) to test its redesigned joints. The joints were modified after the Challenger accident in 1986, including the addition of joint heaters to keep the O-rings flexible at cold temperatures.”

    While Ares V and Falcon 9 are launching to orbit, Ares I is still fighting 1986-era technical flaws that were the root cause of the Challenger accident.

    And fighting these decades-old problems requires ridiculous and ridiculously expensive test measures, especially when much less expensive alternatives are launching to orbit.

    “But how do you get a large rocket motor chilled to within a few degrees of freezing in the middle of the summer? The answer, revealed on a recent visit to the ATK test site: air conditioning, and lots of it. Several large air conditioning units sit outside the building that surrounds the motor, pumping in air at temperatures below 20°F (–7°C). Even in the relatively dry Utah conditions some of the pipes carrying the chilled air into the building have built up a thin layer of ice.

    Inside the building the temperature is cold enough that some workers don winter coats and hats to keep themselves warm while continuing preparations for the test despite the summer heat outside the building. The chilling process started in early July and, within a few weeks, the motor’s temperature got down into the desired temperature.”

    thespacereview.com/article/1688/1

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “If the left would resist the urge sabotage the program to reward its political constituents we’d be back in space before you know it.”

    What “political constituents” has the “left” rewarded at NASA since the end of the Bush II Administration? Where are the Constellation-style, multi-billion dollar, sole-source contracts like ATK received under Griffin? Heck, where are the competed, multi-hundred million dollar, cost-sharing agreements like SpaceX received under Griffin?

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “The SpaceX launch pad is awfully quiet…”

    No, it’s not.

    “CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has requested Oct. 23 on the 45th Space Wing’s calendar for launch of its second Falcon 9 rocket…”

    aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/08/30/07.xml&headline=SpaceX%20Asks%20For%20Oct.%2023%20Dragon%20Launch%20Slot&channel=space

    Stop making stupid statements out of ignorance.

  • I think NASA has realized that they don’t have to buy the cow to get the milk.

    That depends on how long they’re willing to wait for the milk.

    But if he’s just another government contractor, then what makes SpaceX any different than other government contractor?

    The fact that he does it fixed price, for a tiny fraction of the cost of the other contractors, and puts in his own money as well? Just a thought…

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 3:57 am

    I simply question whether or not a large enough market in space exists to sustain a genuinely commercial HSF industry.

    The starting of any market has to come from at least one demand source, and for HSF originating from the U.S., that would be NASA.

    I guess I look at history as a guide on this. Many have pointed out the Kelly Mail Act and the railroads, but there are analogies for space related stuff too.

    A. If you want to put a satellite up, you don’t start with NASA anymore. There are plenty of companies around the world you can contract with for the design and manufacturing of what you want, as well as getting it to space. Pay for your relevant licenses, and away you go.

    B. With the ending of the Shuttle program, NASA needed a logistics supply system so the ISS could continue to operate. JAXA, ESA and Russia have already been doing this, although they are funded through governmental agreements, not commercial contracts.

    In the manufacturing world I come from the NASA COTS program is the equivalent to helping a supplier build a semi-custom part for a customer. The customer wants it built in a certain way, so it pays for developing the suppliers processes. The NASA CRS program is the actual delivery of cargo to the ISS, and since they are certified by NASA for the ISS, any of the ISS partners could end up paying for cargo deliveries, not just NASA. And those prices could vary from contract to contract, especially with two or more suppliers.

    C. The ISS needs crew delivered and returned from the ISS, as well as lifeboats, and so far the Soyuz is the only vehicle capable of doing this. This is a known demand through at least 2020, and we have been reliant on the Soyuz for ten years. Now that Orion is designated only as a backup to commercial crew (per the Senate bill), it makes no sense not to proceed with an open competition for this service.

    All three of these commerce categories rely on launchers, so the winners in this category are definitely the launch providers like ULA, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences. This market is large, and all three of these companies have large customer backlogs.

    Right now the key reason we don’t see commercial space stations in orbit with customers inside, is that there are no commercial crew services. It’s a chicken & egg proposition, and the ISS is the only current source of demand for crew. NASA (i.e. the U.S. Government) could solve this if they wanted commercial HSF, and the current administration had such plans in it’s budget. This benefits NASA as much as the commercial sector, and if anything saves them Billions of dollars, so it’s a win-win.

    There is market William, and once commercial crew is available, any company or government could rely on that service to create their own demand for crew to LEO. It’s no different than how any frontier is opened – one step at a time.

  • amightywind

    space.com has an interesting article about increasing support for a NEO mission, and Lockheed Martin’s proposed stretch Orion spacecraft.. As a proponent of Constellation I have no problem redirecting to a new target. But the stretch Orion configuration leaves out the detail of how to accomplish earth departure. The Ares I/Ares V combination accomplishes this nicely. No other launch architecture has the juice.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No other launch architecture has the juice.

    Utter nonsense. Launching straight from LEO is stupid, and limiting yourself to that is something only HLV proponents would do. Lagrange points are far superior staging points. EELV upper stages are good enough for transporting anything you might need from LEO to L1/L2. EELVs are good enough for transporting anything you might need from the surface to LEO. All without requiring cryogenic propellant transfer and all without resorting to noncryogenic propellant for the EDS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    space.com has an interesting article about increasing support for a NEO mission, and Lockheed Martin’s proposed stretch Orion spacecraft..,,,,,,

    I chuckled reading the article. The main problem with this project (other then the cost) is that it is far to far in the future to sustain any viable political support.

    Lets say it is suppose to happen in 2020 (that is being very optimistic) and Obama is a one term President (and there is no data for that)…and “insert name here” whoever is next is a two termer…

    It wont even start until the end of that cycle.

    Sorry basic rule of space efforts, have them make some important flying milestone in “your” administration…or you dont get them funded.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Sorry basic rule of space efforts, have them make some important flying milestone in “your” administration…or you dont get them funded.

    Certainly this is an important concern. But Obama did propose abandonment of the moon for the NEO target and a congress anticipating a GOP majority is going along. Prospects for up to 6 years of consistent policy are there. Funding of the ISS until 2020 is a big problem.

  • Major Tom

    “space.com has an interesting article about increasing support for a NEO mission, and Lockheed Martin’s proposed stretch Orion spacecraft. “As a proponent of Constellation I have no problem redirecting to a new target.””

    Using Orions for NEO or other deep space transport is an inefficient and costly approach. It makes no sense to go to the expense of building two Orions and flying them nose-to-nose, when you could just build one clean-sheet deep space vehicle. It also makes no sense to kludge a stretch NEO vehicle out of a single Orion lunar vehicle. This is even more true in the era of inflatable habitat technology, like at Bigelow Aerospace. It would be one thing if Orions were available off-the-shelf. But they’re not, and if we’re going to do deep space human missions, then we need to efficiently develop an actual deep space capability, not expensively constrain ourselves to an Apollo-era design that’s had to make dozens of safety compromises for its non-existent LV and was only designed for moderate-duration lunar missions, anyway.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb…

    “But the stretch Orion configuration leaves out the detail of how to accomplish earth departure. The Ares I/Ares V combination accomplishes this nicely. No other launch architecture has the juice.”

    LockMart’s architecture employs EELVs for the heavy lift, not Ares V.

    aero.org/conferences/planetarydefense/2007papers/P1-8–LeCompte-Paper.pdf

    Stop making dumb statements out of ignorance.

  • amightywind

    MT wrote:

    It makes no sense to go to the expense of building two Orions and flying them nose-to-nose, when you could just build one clean-sheet deep space vehicle.

    Give the smart people at Lockmart some credit.

    Lockmart specifically mentions Ares I and Delta in the proposal. One cannot blame them for hedging their bets. Delta will get some consideration but the battle is still to come. It is smart for them to hijack the discussion in the ‘space doldrums’ of this summer. Hopefully a go forward plan can pick up some steam.

  • Major Tom

    “Certainly this is an important concern. But Obama did propose abandonment of the moon”

    The President did no such thing. He stated that the Moon wouldn’t be the first target, not that it would be “abandoned” or never visited. In fact, the President’s FY11 budget request for NASA includes ISRU technology demonstrations and robotic precursor missions that could enable a useful human lunar return, instead of a remaking the Apollo stunt.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

    “and a congress anticipating a GOP majority is going along. Prospects for up to 6 years of consistent policy are there.”

    The reason a NEO is the first target in the White House plan and why the Congress is being silent on targets is the issue of affordability and timeliness, as laid out in the Augustine report. Landers cost money and time to develop, and NEOs don’t require landers. Thus, NEOs are a target that can be reached in the 2020s, even with expensive Orion-derivatives on EELVs, vice 2030s-plus (if ever) for a lunar lander going the Ares I/V/Constellation route.

    “Funding of the ISS until 2020 is a big problem.”

    No, it’s not. The flexible path scenarios in the Augustine report, with NEO missions before lunar, included funding for ISS through 2020.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

  • Major Tom

    “Give the smart people at Lockmart some credit.

    Lockmart specifically mentions Ares I and Delta in the proposal.”

    This image you linked to is an image of the stretch Orion that I already referenced in my earlier post. It’s not a LockMart proposal, and Ares I and Delta don’t appear in word or image in your link.

    If you don’t know how to navigate the internet, then don’t waste other posters’ time here.

    “One cannot blame them for hedging their bets. Delta will get some consideration but the battle is still to come.”

    There’s no hedging. The paper I referenced was written in 2007, well before the White House and Senate FY11 budgets killed Ares I. Delta is the only route left, for both the crew and heavy lift segments.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

  • amightywind

    No, it’s not. The flexible path scenarios in the Augustine report, with NEO missions before lunar, included funding for ISS through 2020.

    There is no indication that congress is following a flexible path plan. If anything they are executing a Constellation-like program, ‘Apollo on a Diet’.

  • amightywind

    MT

    More info here. Educating the ignorant is tiring! Better that then letting you babble on incoherently though.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    “There is no indication that congress is following a flexible path plan. If anything they are executing a Constellation-like program, ‘Apollo on a Diet’.”

    I dont think so.

    Congress is executing no real program. At least in the Senate version of the NASA bill, which is likely to become law…unless they diddle and then the deficit commission comes in and all bets are off…there is really no discernible program or program goal, other then to maintain current systems.

    The HLV program is about as close as they came to a steering current and that is so vague that Bolden et al could design anything that they wanted call it a HLV and then next time the appropriation cycle occurs Congress either goes along or kills it…and then there is nothing because by the time the next appropriation cycle happens there wont be any real shuttle or Cx infrastructure left.

    But goal wise there is nothing out of the Congress and thats appropriate because in this day and age Congress really doesnt do that (they use to but that was in the 1800′s).

    I find such words from the Space.com article amusing “gaining steam” or something like that. The entire “go to an asteroid” effort is at least now out of synch with the budget cycle.

    The budget cycle for now is basically done and there is no real money for any human exploration programs. If the Senate bill does not become law, even in ideal times it would be another year before that bucket (the money bucket) would go around again…and these are not ideal times. If the Senate Bill does not become law and the elections occur with a rejection of large spending efforts and the deficit commission comes in with “cuts cuts everywhere (or most places anyway)” it is pretty clear from the rumor mill that NASA is one of the places that they are chopping.

    If going to an asteroid could be done for say 1 billion a year for 8 years (or 6) then it could probably survive…and while I think it could, its clear that NASA cant so it wont.

    It is a good thing for me, because I think the entire notion of NASA as the National space exploration agency should and will die, but I really dont see any rush for human exploration of anything on the horizon in the US.

    any attempt to see other wise is grandstanding like that which you did when you had the Falcon9 falling into the ocean (well the second stage).

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I should add one thing here…I personally find the notion of a mission to an asteroid an entertaining one…if these were normal times and the last administration (have to take a shot) had not left the Republic in such a sorry state of affairs…I would be all for doing it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    RGO

    Funding exploration will be a matter of priorities in an era of austerity, no doubt. Congress will have to grapple with what is worth funding. But with the end of the shuttle program and the dearth of awesome imagery the construction of the ISS offered, Americans will increasingly come to question why we waste our precious space funding on a blackhole with no long term future. Indeed, in the coming years our adversarial relationships with the Russians and Chinese will fester to the point where it no longer politically viable to collaborate with them. A more traditional program will win out.

  • Major Tom

    “There is no indication that congress is following a flexible path plan. If anything they are executing a Constellation-like program”

    You just admitted that Constellation costs more than the Flexible Path options, so much so that ISS can’t be afforded.

    Think before you post, genius.

    ‘Apollo on a Diet’.”

    It’s not “Apollo” anything. The Moon doesn’t appear as a key or first target in any of the bills.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “More info here. Educating the ignorant is tiring!”

    Your point? That presentation is dated November 2009, months before the release of the President’s FY11 budget or the FY11 authorization and appropriations bills. Of course it still references Ares.

    Read, comprehend, and think before you post, genius.

    “Better that then letting you babble on incoherently though.”

    This from the poster who can’t read dates, who thinks the President “proposed abandoning” the Moon when the last human mission left its surface December 1972, who thinks the who thinks an Ares I chilled firing test is the equivalent of operational launches to orbit, and who is ignorant of preparations for the next Falcon 9/Dragon launch in October.

    Please…

  • amightywind

    and who is ignorant of preparations for the next Falcon 9/Dragon launch in October.

    Jeez. October’s launch used to be August’s. How about New Years Day? As our wise friend DCSCA is fond of saying, “tick-toc-tick-toc…” And eventually we must ask, “why doesn’t NASA just do this?”

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    The dual Orion configuration would be a no-go from the start with the NASA physiology team, since it doesn’t provide enough room for proper exercise. The crew of the ISS is already coming back with severe muscle atrophy, so you imagine the state of an expedition crew after a long journey with little exercise. Also, if you look at the 11/2009 paper, it states “Waste and trash management are a challenge” – that can’t be good, especially if it’s so prominent in their presentation.

    I agree with Major Tom in that an NEO expedition should rely on a clean-sheet deep space vehicle. We know that’s the type of vehicles we really want to build anyways (space only), so the sooner we start working on them, the sooner we can start exploring. LM wants NASA to buy lots of Orion, so I’m sure ulterior motives play into this too…

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ almightywind,

    Jeez. October’s launch used to be August’s. How about New Years Day? As our wise friend DCSCA is fond of saying, “tick-toc-tick-toc…” And eventually we must ask, “why doesn’t NASA just do this?”

    At the risk of provoking a flame-war, perhaps because they have repeatedly demonstrated that they cannot. Cheap LEO crew taxi/cargo lifter? They have several decades of failure to fall back on.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    why doesn’t NASA just do this?

    What, and end up like Ares I? The difference here of course is that for COTS/CRS, NASA only pays for performance, not for failures or redesigns.

    On Ares I, contractors got paid for designing, then redesigning, then re-redesigning the same systems over and over. How many SRB designs have there been? How many LAS designs, upper stage engines, and vibration mitigation systems have been considered? Ares I has a family genealogy picture that I think is hilarious – you know, the one that shows how the Ares I has changed over time… and that was WHEN THEY WERE BUILDING IT!!

    COTS/CRS was the most sane thing Griffin ever did…

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    we can all see how this works out.

    I dont see a “traditional program” ‘ever gaining traction again (absent some major singularity like the discovery of intelligent life artifacts on another solar system body that is the bar I think would have to be crossed).

    IN politics absence does not make the heart grow fonder, particularly if one never really much cared for something anyway…and as the status quo of commercial lift and ISS doing whatever it does …and private space companies trying their own space stations evolves…the need to have a bunch of NASA folks blowing soap bubbles in space is going to disssolve.

    I dont see the future that grim between the US and Russia or China unless the US falters as an economic power. The tragedy of the tough guy act of the Bush era is that it impressed almost no one and the Russians and Chinese saw it for what it was…a giant waste of money.

    There is not a chance that any politican outside the pork space ones is going to carry water for an XX or XXX billion dollar effort to go to an Asteroid no matter the catch name.

    The next few years, thanks to Bush and a goofy attempt to fix things by Obama are going to test the economic survivability of The Republic…yeah I think things are going to get that bad.

    and world wide

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    since it doesn’t provide enough room for proper exercise.

    I think that is the reason for the stretch. Should be enough room for a Bowflex.

    “Waste and trash management are a challenge” – that can’t be good, especially if it’s so prominent in their presentation.

    Manned exploration presents many challenges. It would surprise me if the mission were stymied by this one. Like any camper, just throw the bags out the hatch.

    I agree with Major Tom in that an NEO expedition should rely on a clean-sheet deep space vehicle.

    Orion is a clean sheet vehicle, filled with 40 years if wisdom since Apollo.

  • amightywind

    and private space companies trying their own space stations evolves…

    Who wouldn’t like to see a Boeing/Bigelow station succeed? Seems to me Boeing Delta IV mini/CST-100 is viable. The real test of newspace will be to get rid of that giant teet of the ISS.

    There is not a chance that any politican outside the pork space ones is going to carry water for an XX or XXX billion dollar effort to go to an Asteroid no matter the catch name.

    Well that’s the trick ain’t it? Space in Florida, Alabama, and Texas are like farming in Iowa. You won’t pull them off NASA. Money will be tight. We agree on that. The the question is what gets cannibalized. I maintain the logical candidate is ISS.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Like any camper, just throw the bags out the hatch.

    Oh, to be young and ignorant again…

    The Orion, unlike Soyuz, does not have a separate airlock, so you have to depressurize the entire Orion vehicle to move anything outside (trash, astronauts, etc.). Don’t forget to pack up your iPod, or oops!

    Orion is a clean sheet vehicle, filled with 40 years if wisdom since Apollo.

    Orion is a CLV/CRV. NASA wanted to make it into a short-term exploration vehicle for Moon missions, and that would work as well as Apollo did (i.e. is OK). For anything longer, why not build a space-only vehicle? Do you want to travel the cosmos in a minivan or an RV? Oh, and there is not enough room for a Bowflex, which doesn’t even exercise the legs properly anyways.

  • Major Tom

    “Jeez. October’s launch used to be August’s. How about New Years Day?”

    Ares I-X experienced multiple delays totaling nine months, from April to October 2009.

    nasaspaceflight.com/2009/03/ares-i-x-delayed-atlantis-rollover-dual-pad-option/

    And that was for a lousy suborbital test with a dummy upper-stage and capsule.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

    “As our wise friend DCSCA is fond of saying, ‘tick-toc-tick-toc…’”

    There’s nothing wise about that statement. It’s stupid to criticize Falcon 9/Dragon schedule when NASA has no other domestic alternative for ISS crew transport or astronaut flights after Shuttle retirement. Ares I is dead in the White House and Senate FY11 budgets (and in the House FY11 budget except maybe for some non-binding report language). Orion has no other LV and no flights scheduled. Unless you count the military’s past and coming unmanned Atlas V/X-37 and OSC’s coming Taurus II/Cygnus launches, there is no other launch, test or otherwise, of any domestic crew-capable LV/capsule or spaceplane scheduled besides Falcon 9/Orion. At all.

    “And eventually we must ask, ‘why doesn’t NASA just do this?’”

    NASA tried in-house and failed, spending ~$10 billion getting to get to one lousy suborbital test with a dummy upper-stage and capsule.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

  • amightywind

    and that would work as well as Apollo did (i.e. is OK). For anything longer, why not build a space-only vehicle? Do you want to travel the cosmos in a minivan or an RV? Oh, and there is not enough room for a Bowflex,

    The high speed NEO retry requires an Orion-like solution. ‘Plymouth Rock’ proposes a plausible mission profile for NEO. Are there equivalent proposals out there? As for the accommodations, I’ll volunteer the astronauts to live in a pup tent. If Lovell and Borman can live for 2 weeks in a Gemini, 2 astronauts can live for 200 days in an Orion. It should be too hard to find some military guys to do it. It is no more of a hardship than living on the ISS.

  • Major Tom

    “Orion is a clean sheet vehicle”

    No, it’s not. Orion has been through multiple design iterations, largely due to Ares I performance shortfalls, and had multiple, some now ruined, test articles built. There’s nothing “clean-sheet” about it.

    Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance.

    “… filled with 40 years if wisdom since Apollo.”

    If Griffin wanted to “fill” Orion “with 40 years of wisdom”, he would have selected with the company that bought the designers and builders of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules.

    He didn’t.

    If Orion was “filled with 40 years of wisdom”, the project would at least be capable of one lousy successful parachute drop test.

    It’s not.

    gizmodo.com/5039573/nasa-tests-orion-parachute-result-spectacular-failure

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    The real test of newspace will be to get rid of that giant teet of the ISS.

    I don’t disagree that this will be a test of the market, just like ULA’s ability to survive without government contracts. But the government as a whole uses contractors for products and services, so I don’t see crew to LEO any differently than transporting a State Department employee to flooded regions of Pakistan to coordinate relief efforts – transportation is transportation.

    The the question is what gets cannibalized. I maintain the logical candidate is ISS.

    I don’t, but it’s a debatable subject nonetheless. But the ISS is a multi-country outpost that functions, which is a big difference between programs that are not built yet (like Constellation, or even commercial crew). It also has inertia, in that it’s already been a budget line item, and nothing new (besides CRS) needs to be created to keep it going.

    I’m also curious. With nothing else in space as a destination, why would you want to remove the only destination for our astronauts?

    If the ISS would have been killed after 2015, where do we get our hours in space? Where do we get experience living and working in space? That’s the part of the argument that I think is backwards with Constellation supporters that want the ISS to end – we get far less hours in space with Constellation, then by keeping ISS.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    As for the accommodations, I’ll volunteer the astronauts to live in a pup tent. If Lovell and Borman can live for 2 weeks in a Gemini, 2 astronauts can live for 200 days in an Orion. It should be too hard to find some military guys to do it. It is no more of a hardship than living on the ISS.

    Pretty cavalier with other people’s lives I see. You are aware of the latest research on muscle atrophy on 180 day missions? And this was with the exercise facilities on the ISS, which won’t fit into an Orion:

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

    I guess no sacrifice is too much for you and Orion…

  • amightywind

    CR

    I’m also curious. With nothing else in space as a destination, why would you want to remove the only destination for our astronauts?

    Fair question. The ISS, IMHO, is no more than a buoy in the water, and one that won’t last more than a few years. It functions! Talk about damning with faint praise! The opportunity cost of keeping it is to be denied visiting somewhere, the moon, an asteroid. I have always maintained that we could build a small, robust, permanent space station as useful make work for the shuttle in as few as 6 shuttle flights. It might have been useful as part of a larger space architecture. NASA got, umm, carried away… Alas, the ISS is a MacMansion we cannot afford, hopelessly marooned in a bad orbit. (thanks comrades!). Time to foreclose.

    which is a big difference between programs that are not built yet

    With the shuttle retiring America needs a spacecraft and carrier rocket, like it needs aircraft carriers, period.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Orion to any given NEO without some kind of habitat module (even something thrown together from ATV and MPLM/ISS Node surplus parts) = NO WAY.

    I’m sorry but there is no way to do it without compromising crew health to the point where getting any decent science results is iffy at best. There is no point sending a crew to an NEO if they can’t do anything useful when they get there. Although simply doing it as an altitude (distance from Earth) and absolute speed (delta-v relative to Earth surface) might be attractive to some, it would be a lot of money to spend on such a gesture.

    Re.: Crew. The minimum crew has to be four: Two flight engineer/pilots and two mission specialist/scientists. That way you can have rotating 2-man EVAs whilst at the target object.

    I’m figuring a 2 x SLS-H profile. Launch 1 sends up an EDS and fully-fuelled Earth Return Stage (ERS). Launch 2 sends up the Orion and hab/service module. You transfer excess propellent from launch 2′s upper stage to the EDS for TOI. If this is pre-propellent transfer, you have to make it a three-launch mission, with the fully-fuelled EDS and ERS launched seperately and remotely assembled in LEO.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Pretty cavalier with other people’s lives I see. You are aware of the latest research on muscle atrophy on 180 day missions? And this was with the exercise facilities on the ISS, which won’t fit into an Orion:

    Please see my earlier post. It looks like the stretched Orion is built that way to accommodate ISS style exercise. Shouldn’t be much difference in mission duration from an ISS stay. If we really cared about astronaut bone/muscular atrophy we would have built a space station with a spinning section. A spinning Orion-sized vehicle is seemingly out of the question. Besides, if humans are going to be spacefaring we might as well start now evolving away our bones ;^)

  • Mr. Mark

    Please keep arguing! We are down to less than two months to a fully functional cargo Dragon is in orbit. October 23rd. Mark that in on your calendar, amightywind. After this is finished there may be just one more test launch before cargo starts to flow this time next year. (that’s if NASA agrees to the condensed test schedule.) You will probably be arguing right up to the start of Dragon cargo delivery next year . I know eventually the light bulb will turn on and even you will recognize that the new space age is here and here to stay.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    well you can believe what you want…it is very unlikely that ISS Is going to end or be descoped in the next oh 20 years…at least the next 10.

    Three points.

    First off most Americans dont care if people are in orbit on ISS and they really dont care if there is a choice between them being in orbit on ISS and going to some asteroid, the Moon, Mars wherever. To most Americans in space is in space…the only people who seem upset about “going around in circles” are well the very small group of people who think human exploration of space has some value far beyond reality.

    Meaning that if it cost X. X to keep people on ISS and Y.Y to have a program that one day might send a few people to an asteroid 10 or 15 years from now…they will pick ISS (inertia) Particularly if Y.Y is a lot more then X.X…

    Second. ISS might actually accomplish something of value as time moves on, particularly if access to it is increased and the cost to do things there decreases.

    Third…The government bureaucracy likes ISS as cost go down and access goes up, that is going to happen more and more.

    The notion that the American people facing the very hard choices they are now and will be for the next decade are going to spend money to go anywhere in space on human exploration is nuts….its just a lot of people doing things and hoping who have far to much time on their hands.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Aerospace Engineer

    MT said:

    “If Orion was “filled with 40 years of wisdom”, the project would at least be capable of one lousy successful parachute drop test.”

    Here ya go, Major:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/multimedia/parachute_drop_test.html

    Perfect pad abort test, too. How’s that SpaceX pad abort system coming along?

    How did that first stage Falcon 9 recovery turn out? Just wondering.

  • brobof

    William Mellberg wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 1:19 am
    “And what a sad commentary your suggestion is on today’s NASA.”

    Actually it’s a hard headed and hard hearted solution to saving a white elephant/historical building that has no real purpose. The launchers of the future will be assembled horizontally like the Russian Soyuz.

    “It reflects the growing demise of American exceptionalism under the current Administration.”

    Actually the Exceptionalism is a Myth put about in order to maintain an obscene military spend.

    “America’s greatness is being packed away to museums. America’s leadership is becoming a thing of the past. America’s best days are behind her … or so some would have us believe.”

    Actually the greatness & etc. ended on April 30th 1975
    What really brought it to the attention to the other powers was the outstanding ineptitude of the last Adninistration: Kyoto; an illegal war;..trashing the ISS and IP agreements. Your ratings plummeted on the International stage.

    Synthesis:: I note that KSC is barely above the waterline now! Storm Surges and Hurricane Winds? What were you thinking! It’s like building Nuclear Power plants on known fault lines. Oh wait…

    ““Shoot for the Moon,” a wise man once said. “Because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
    Actually: -30 nautical miles. Sums it up really. Hardly a stellar end.
    For Goodness Sakes: WAKE UP and smell the 21st Century already.

  • amightywind

    I know eventually the light bulb will turn on and even you will recognize that the new space age is here and here to stay.

    SpaceX isn’t alone in delivering cargo to the McMansion in space. Orbital has a highly credible competitor in the Taurus 2. Indeed the Zenit based first stage should be considered a more sensible technical solution than the SpaceX ‘Merlin Gang of 9′. It is certainly less political. I look forward to a healthy competition. But again, the new age in space will last as long as ISS flies, and I see America tiring of sacrificing a real exploration program for it.

  • amightywind

    The launchers of the future will be assembled horizontally like the Russian Soyuz.

    The Russian Soyuz is an obscenely inefficient vehicle from a mass fraction point of view. It is an engineering dead end. ‘Improved Soyuz’ is an oxymoron. The only reason it is still launched is that the value of the ruble makes it cheap to the rest of the world.

    Actually the Exceptionalism is a Myth put about in order to maintain an obscene military spend.

    There are a lot of bad guys in the world. Someone has to police the place.

    Actually the greatness & etc. ended on April 30th 1975

    In the NFL a one loss season is pretty good. We ran up the score the last few times.

    Kyoto

    What did happen to that?

    an illegal war

    It depends who makes the laws.

    trashing the ISS and IP agreements. Your ratings plummeted on the International stage.

    I sincerely hope so.

    I note that KSC is barely above the waterline now!

    The shuttle pads and VAB are far enough above sea level for this interglacial period. As for next time…

  • red

    amightwind: “I see America tiring of sacrificing a real exploration program for [the ISS]”

    America isn’t sacrificing a real exploration program for the ISS. It’s sacrificing a non-exploration Ares/Orion program that isn’t going anywhere or accomplishing anything useful [especially if ISS is lost] for a program with real exploration, keeping and actually using the ISS, and many other valuable things: a better-positioned U.S. space industry, better U.S. national security options, better science, more practical space applications, more space technology development, etc.

    Constellation is expected to get astronauts to the lunar surface by about 2035, and before then it wouldn’t be able to accomplish much of anything … where would Ares I/Orion go without Ares V or ISS? In just the FY2011-FY2015 budget timeframe, the new NASA plan gives us the following in exchange for Constellation … imaging what that trade would give us by FY2035!!! It’s the gift that keeps on giving:

    (cut-and-paste from my posts way above):

    - keeping the ISS
    - actually using the ISS
    - more capabilities on the ISS
    - additional commercial cargo funding to match the new ISS role
    - commercial crew
    - Orion crew rescue vehicle
    - additional aeronautics funding
    - Pu-238 production (with a match from the DOE)
    - better NEO search
    - stronger Earth observation funding for traditional missions
    - Earth observation funding for “Venture-class” missions
    - small satellite technology development and in-space demonstrations
    - general space technology development and in-space demonstrations
    - new research grants for space technology
    - restored NIAC (advanced concepts)
    - more Centennial Challenges funding
    - use of commercial suborbital RLVs
    - much improved general Space Technology funding overall
    - U.S. version of RD-180 rocket engine
    - other propulsion research
    - heavy lift research and development
    - 4 large robotic precursor missions to NEOs (2), Moon (1), and Mars (1)
    - 4 small robotic precursor missions to NEOs (1), and 3 TBD
    - robotic precursor instruments, data systems, and research
    - inflatable habitat in-space demonstration
    - space tug in-space demonstration
    - propellant depot in-space demonstration
    - improved solar electric propulsion/solar arrays in-space demonstration (to Mars)
    - improved closed-loop life support demonstrations on the ISS
    - aerocapture demonstration mission to Mars
    - funding for several other large-scale in-space technology demonstration missions like these, details TBD
    - exploration technology development for fission power systems, landing systems, telerobotics, ISRU, efficient propulsion, and funding room for may others with details TBD
    - much improved exploration human research funding
    - KSC and Cape infrastructure modernization
    - additional funding for the Shuttle to finish the ISS
    - Constellation transition funding
    - 500 graduate fellowships in Space Technology per year

  • Byeman

    The launchers of the future will be assembled horizontally like the Russian Soyuz.
    The Russian Soyuz…….

    Only a fool would rant on the Soyuz, when the point is about all Russian launch vehicles, including the highly advance Zenit.

  • Matt Wiser

    In case you haven’t noticed, that proposal has been disposed of by Congress, or is in the process of being disposed of. The funding for Commercial Crew has been slashed, with the funds going to a full-up Orion with HLV. You will probably see a lunar orbit mission soon after both are certified as human-ready (probably with an Apollo 7 mission series to ISS and in LEO and high Earth Orbit to check the systems out). Then you’ll see a Lunar orbit mission-more likely several. It’s surprising how tone-deaf Ms. Garver is: if this were Japan, she’d be offering her resignation at the very least now that the original NASA budget-and the amended one-has been rejected. She’s clinging to it like “grim death to a dead cat.” One good thing the Senate bill does have: it lists the Moon as a human exploration destination, instead of deferring it to a successor administration (hopefully in 2013, we’ll get one that will set things right on this) Said it before and I’ll repeat: I’m not opposed to commercial crew per se, but I am opposed to just throwing money at them and hoping they’ll live up to their promises. The Commercial Sector needs to deliver, then they can get in line for loan guarantees, subsidies, matching funds, or whatever. The Administration lost a lot of support when they ruled out a Moon first strategy, and they still won’t admit it. Did they really think that because it was “new, innovative, and transformational” that everyone, including those working on Constellation, would fall into line?

  • Byeman

    “Indeed the Zenit based first stage should be considered a more sensible technical solution than the SpaceX ‘Merlin Gang of 9′. It is certainly less political.”

    Again, more informed posts from the clueless.

    1. Stages individual stages do not make a good launch vehicle, it is the composite vehicle. Taurus II is handicapped by its solid second stage, much like Ares I.

    2. Taurus II is more political because it uses less American hardware. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be against Atlas V because of its Russian engines and be for Taurus II.

    These posts of yours show that you are just biased against Spacex and based your beliefs on political rhetoric vs making intelligent decisions based on technical data.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Aerospace Engineer wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 7:18 pm
    Perfect pad abort test, too. How’s that SpaceX pad abort system coming along?
    How did that first stage Falcon 9 recovery turn out? Just wondering.’

    Er duh. When was SpaceX doing a crew Dragon? There’re working on a cargon Dragon which doesn’t need a las genius. COTS-C and CRS is about cargo.
    And the 1st stage recovery has never been an initial lv program primary objective. They’re doing preliminary work on it and testing out concepts and designs along the way, that’s about all. Plenty’s been written and spoken about so far as this is concerned. Try to stay abrest of things.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I’m not opposed to commercial crew per se, but I am opposed to just throwing money at them and hoping they’ll live up to their promises.

    If we were to compare Ares I/Orion against the COTS program, which would you say is “throwing money at them and hoping they’ll live up to their promises”? Certainly not COTS, since they only get paid if they actually complete the required milestone (which they have been). It’s the NASA Ares I/Orion program.

    Matt, have you actually looked at what the COTS program requires of it’s participants? If you did, you would see that it is as much a risk for the competition winners as it would be for NASA, but it is a far better value for NASA.

    For instance, let’s say that NASA gave SpaceX and ULA the money they requested for “man-rating” their systems. All of this would be done under a COTS like program, so the milestones for payments would be predetermined and public.

    SpaceX says it will man-rate Dragon for $300M (including Falcon 9). ULA says they can man-rate Atlas V for $400M (vehicle & crew pad infrastructure), and man-rate Delta IV Heavy for $1.3B.

    So for $2B, and no risk to NASA if a company fails to complete their milestones, NASA can get one man-rated 7-person capsule, and three man-rated launchers, including one that can lift Orion (no need for Ares I).

    Now add in the cost of either finishing Orion ($4.5B+) or building the Boeing CST-100 (my guess is less than $2B). With Delta IV Heavy you don’t need Ares I, saving $20B+, and if you didn’t build Orion ($4.5B+), you could still have a fully redundant & competitive commercial crew system with Boeing, ULA and SpaceX. All supervised by NASA, and with cost overruns absorbed by the companies, not NASA.

    Tell me what is so bad with this scenario?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 30th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    fantasy. I see that the next year is going to be very painful for you as you come to the realization that the notions you have expressed here in this post are completely at odds with reality.

    drink heavily

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Tommy: “It’s stupid to criticize Falcon 9/Dragon schedule when NASA has no other domestic alternative for ISS crew transport or astronaut flights after Shuttle retirement.”

    Our Major needs a history lesson;
    So class for him is now in session.
    NASA has been orbiting crew,
    Since Glenn’s three revs in ’62.

    Musk has not yet flown a soul;
    And Falcon showed a rated roll;
    The seasons change, the calendar flies,
    But no manned Dragons cross our skies.

    Tick-tock… tick-tock… get some crews up, around and down safely. NASA and the Russians have been doing it for half a century. The hard-work has already been successfully accomplished, repeatedly, by government funded and managed space programs for 50 years, Tommy. Should be a piece of cake for commerical to ‘follow along’ – as they have always done. Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance, Tommy. Stop talking. Start flying.

  • DCSCA

    @Windy- “The Russian Soyuz is an obscenely inefficient vehicle from a mass fraction point of view.” <– 'It's ugly– but it gets you there.' -source, Volkswagen beetle ad w/image of LM, July, 1969– (take note, Don Draper, it's in your future.)

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 2:16 am

    More prose and goddam you still can’t get your facts right. Oh well, guess you can always claim artistic licence. LOL

    Later this year SpaceX launches their second F9/Dragon vehicles. I’m sure you won’t be able to resist more prose one way or the other.
    By the way, just to get at least one fact to you, that’s a Dragon CARGO. You know, no human lifeforms present.

    Cheers.

  • DCSCA

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 3:56 am <–Oh Beano, FACT: Elon Musk's SpaceX has flown absolutely nobody in space. FACT: NASA has been lofting crews for darn near 50 years and returning them safely. FACT: So has Russia. FACT: And China has done it, too. FACT: And Russia lofted it's first Progress supply craft in 1978. Now if you want to applaud SpaceX if/when it succeeds in lofting it's first 'Cargon' 32 years after the Russians demonstrated how to do it and make it routine, clap away. In the meantime, why not put your hands to better use by cracking a Foster's and tossing another shrimp on that barbie…

  • DCSCA

    @Markie– “We are down to less than two months to a fully functional cargo Dragon is in orbit. October 23rd. Mark that in on your calendar…” <– LOL. Another 'you just wait 'n see' press release from a musketeer. Tick-tock, tick-tock… get somebody up, around and down safely. That's your round-trip ticket to credibility. Two government managed and funded space agencies have already done it for half a century, done the hard work of inventing the science and technology and have shown you how it's done. Even the Chinese can do it. Get some skin in the game and earn some credibility. Otherwise… stop talking, start flying.

  • byeman

    “Two government managed and funded space agencies have already done it for half a century, done the hard work of inventing the science and technology and have shown you how it’s done ”

    Correct, therefore the gov’t no longer needs to be doing it anymore, time to let industry do it.

  • amightywind

    Big Ares I test today. The empire strikes back.

  • byeman

    no, it is not an Ares I test and ATK knows it. It is a test for HLV hardware

  • byeman

    The initial HLV’s will have human rating deferred so commercial crew will still be required.

  • amightywind

    Looks like a nominal test. Wow, what a monster!

  • Major Tom

    “Our Major needs a history lesson;
    So class for him is now in session.
    NASA has been orbiting crew,
    Since Glenn’s three revs in ’62.”

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Your historical argument is stupid
    After Shuttle NASA will have no other options to fly crew

    “Tick-tock… tick-tock… Stop talking. Start flying.”

    Yawn… can’t you come up with anything new?

    “Don’t make idiotic statements out of ignorance, Tommy.”

    Yawn… can’t you come up with anything original?

    Sigh…

  • Major Tom

    “Looks like a nominal test. Wow, what a monster!”

    Yes, a monstrously expensive way to test joint heaters.

  • Major Tom

    “It is a test for HLV hardware”

    No, 5-segment SRBs make HLVs too heavy. Requires an egregiously expensive rebuild of the crawlers and crawlerway.

    “The initial HLV’s will have human rating deferred so commercial crew will still be required.”

    That’s what NASA’s internal HEFT report recommends, but no decision.

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    NASA is replaying the test every few minutes.

    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html?param=public

    Musk’s F9 has flown
    Accounts vary greatly
    Summer is wanning
    What have you done lately?

  • Major Tom

    “Perfect pad abort test, too.”

    So what? Forget pad aborts. We still don’t know if Orion’s terminal descent will result in a safe landing on nominal missions.

    “How’s that SpaceX pad abort system coming along?”

    Given that they want to pursue a pusher system, like the kind already funded through CCDev at Blue Origin, pretty good.

    “How did that first stage Falcon 9 recovery turn out?”

    About as well as the multiple parachute failures on the Ares I-X test that damaged the SRBs and made them unusable. But unlike Ares I, Falcon 9 doesn’t need to recover its first stage to meet its safety and cost targets.

  • Major Tom

    “If we really cared about astronaut bone/muscular atrophy we would have built a space station with a spinning section.”

    This is an idiotic statement. We know how to maintain human health in a 1G environment. The problem is understanding the effects of the microgravity environment and associated countermeasures on the human body.

    Think before you post.

    “A spinning Orion-sized vehicle is seemingly out of the question.”

    It’s not “seemingly out of the question” — it’s a certainty. We know that the human inner ear can’t keep up with a spin rate high enough to induce g-forces in such a small vehicle. Astronauts would throw up until they died of dehydration (or hit the thrusters to stop the rotation).

    Don’t you know anything about the topics you’re posting on?

    “Besides, if humans are going to be spacefaring we might as well start now evolving away our bones

    Then we’re not going to be humans.

    Think before you post.

    “The Russian Soyuz is an obscenely inefficient vehicle from a mass fraction point of view.”

    So what? It’s an obscenely cheap vehicle from a cost per crew point of view.

    Think before you post.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Looks like a nominal test. Wow, what a monster!

    Yes, a monster on the cost side too. In a New York Times article about this test:

    ATK has said that the yearly costs for maintaining its factories and producing two motors a year could drop to as little as $300 million a year if it is given enough leeway to run its operations efficiently.

    So just the SRB would cost NASA $150M/each if they launched Ares I twice per year. I’m sure the costs go down for more launches, but Ares I was never going to launch much more than that anyways. And that’s just for the SRB, and does not include the upper stage or operations costs.

    As a comparison:

    Delta IV Heavy would cost $300M/flight after just $1.3B to be “man-rated”, and it has 20% flight margins which eliminate any blackout zones during flight. Delta IV Heavy is also already flying – successfully.

    Falcon 9 Heavy has a published price of $95M (on their website), and it will be able to lift 25% more mass than Ares I. If NASA wanted to use the -Heavy version for Orion or something of that size, then I would imagine the $300M that Musk quoted for “man-rating” Dragon would be a big part of the cost of “man-rating” the -Heavy too.

    Using ULA’s Delta IV Heavy or the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy eliminates the need for NASA to spend something like $20B+ on Ares I R&D, and eliminates the need for NASA to spend part of their yearly budget on operating Ares I.

    In these tough economic times, cost savings like this make a lot of sense.

  • amightywind

    We know how to maintain human health in a 1G environment. The problem is understanding the effects of the microgravity environment and associated countermeasures on the human body.

    Why spend endless treasure on microgravity when we have studied its effects for 50 years and done little to mitigate it’s negative effects? That and radiation exposure are the major impediments to long duration flight. Wouldn’t it be more logical to design a vehicle avoid the effects? You aren’t an engineer, are you?

    Garver sabotaged Ares
    Inciting congress’ anger
    Her friends at SpaceX dally
    While Dragon sits in the hangar.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    one wonders what “more efficiently” means…

    300 million a year for two motors is a lot of money as you do a nice job pointing out

    Robert G. Oler

  • byeman

    “And that’s just for the SRB, and does not include the upper stage or operations costs.”

    No, that is the cost for the SRM and not the SRB.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I am curious why they thought the test of the new joints was useful. The solids on Challenger “puffed” as the vehicle twanged…and it is unclear to me how they duplicated that. The cold weather…yeah AC will buy you anything but …the twang wasnt there

    Robert G. Oler

  • Jason

    Nasa’s experience you decry.
    Though Administrative Scholars,
    And Ten Billion Dollars
    Couldn’t get Orion to fly.

    While Dragons ride fire,
    And Falcons fly higher.
    Brothers Genesis orbit and inspire.
    But NASA continues to dither and tire.

  • Coastal Ron

    byeman wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    No, that is the cost for the SRM and not the SRB.

    Could you explain this for me – is it an SRM because it’s the primary/only motor for the 1st stage?

    This has always been a little confusing, and I thought it might be like the “engine vs motor” definition (i.e. no difference). But if there is valid distinction, that would be good to know.

  • Major Tom

    “Why spend endless treasure on microgravity when we have studied its effects for 50 years”

    We haven’t studied microgravity’s effects, especially long-term, for anything close to 50 years. We’d be lucky if we have a full year of data on a useful sample size prior to ISS.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “That and radiation exposure are the major impediments to long duration flight.”

    Oh really? I had no idea! Gosh, you’re just a font of information, data, and wisdom!

    Of course, radiation shielding was removed from Orion in a vain attempt to meet Ares I underperformance, so once again your argument doesn’t match the vehicles you’re advocating.

    “Wouldn’t it be more logical to design a vehicle avoid the effects?”

    It depends on the cost and safety trades. And the point is moot if the partial gravity and duration at your target destination is sufficiently deleterious to require countermeasures. But, contrary to the stupidity spouted in your prior post, just spinning a Orion-sized capsule won’t solve the problem — it will only introduce new ones.

    “You aren’t an engineer, are you?”

    It doesn’t matter if I’m the village idiot. If my arguments are logical and backed by verifiable facts, that’s all that should matter. Yours aren’t, which is why you’re routinely invited to stop posting on this forum.

    From a prior thread, we know you’re a medical nurse or technician (probably former and unemployed), and you’ve never shown any consideration for engineering analyses, trades, and studies, so why are you even trying to compare credentials?

    “Garver sabotaged Ares
    Inciting congress’ anger
    Her friends at SpaceX dally
    While Dragon sits in the hangar.”

    Your posts are so bereft of content that you have to copy other posters? You can’t come up with anything original, either?

    Garver didn’t sabotage Ares. The Augustine Committee laid out options that terminated the program, and the Administration pursued one of those options.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Dragon isn’t sitting in a hanger. It’s in production at SpaceX’s Hawthorne assembly facility, a former 747 production line.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    And SpaceX is dallying? Take your meds — you’re a danger to yourself and others if you’re that out of touch with reality.

    In just the past 90 days, the company has:

    Successfully tested operational models of Falcon 9′s first- and second-stages and placed a boilerplate Dragon in orbit.
    news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20006863-239.html

    Completed a high-altitude Dragon drop test.
    spacedaily.com/pageone/spacedaily-2010-08-23.html

    Scheduled the launch of its operational Dragon test model for October.
    aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/asd/2010/08/30/07.xml

    That comes on top of two rounds of VC funding over the past year and winning the largest commercial launch contract in history.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    And even if SpaceX ceased to exist tomorrow, Atlas V successfully launched the X-37 spaceplane earlier this year.
    latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/04/united-launch-alliance-x37-rocket.html

    And is getting human-rated (again).
    prnewswire.com/news-releases/nastar-center-and-special-aerospace-services-commence-research-study-on-emergency-detection-and-human-response-of-atlas-v-profile-101671893.html

    And CCDev contractors are putting in place other components, like launch abort and life support systems, for commercial crew transport.

    recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=90717&qtr=2010Q2

    aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/08/25/08.xml&headline=Commercial%20Crew%20Life-Support%20Unit%20Passes&channel=space

    And other commercial capsules and spaceplanes are in the CCDev pipeline:

    recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=90258

    recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIdSur=99382&AwardType=Grants

    Try to get at least one fact, any fact, right in your next post.

    By contrast:

    Where are the VC (or any private) investments in Ares or Orion?
    [Answer: There are none, but if the White House and Congress would just boost NASA's budget by $5 billion per year or another $35-45 billion on top of the existing Constellation budget, then maybe Ares I/Orion will launch in the 2017-19 timeframe. Of course, SpaceX is on a path to make the same achievement this October for $278 million in taxpayer investment.]

    Where are the non-NASA customers for Ares or Orion?
    [Answer: There are none.]

    Where are the successful Ares I five-segment first-stage launches?
    [Answer: There are none, but a four-segment first stage with multiple parachute failures on recovery did fly suborbitally.]

    spacefellowship.com/news/art15095/ares-i-x-manager-addresses-booster-damage-stage-tumbling-and-thrust-oscillation.html

    Where are the successful Ares I J-2X second-stage launches?
    [Answer: There are none, but a dummy second-stage mass flew suborbitally. Heck, a J-2X engine hasn't even been ground-fired.]

    Where are the Orion production models?
    [Answer: Nonexistant. The design was never finalized due to projected Ares I underperformance.]

    Where are the Orion boilerplate flights to orbit?
    [Answer: Nonexistant. A dummy Orion mass flew suborbitally.]

    When is Orion scheduled to conduct an operational orbital test?
    [Answer: Never. It's not scheduled. No one knows.]

    Heck, what is Orion’s launch vehicle, anyway?
    [Answer: No one knows.]

    Lawdy…

  • byeman

    The Shuttle SRM is nothing more than the casings, a nozzle and propellant. It does not become an SRB until the aft skirt with TVC system, forward enclosures, ET attach points (not needed for Ares I*), avionics, recovery system, separation motors, cable raceways, etc are added/installed.

    *roll control system would be needed instead

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Why spend endless treasure on microgravity when we have studied its effects for 50 years and done little to mitigate it’s negative effects?

    Because, as someone is famous for saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Only until recently have scientists been able to actually characterize the long-term effect zero-G has on muscle tone. Specifically (from the Wired article):

    “The lack of load” — pressure on muscles — “is the main problem,” said biologist Robert Fitts of Marquette University. “There is no gravity and so any fibers within those muscles are unloaded. The load normally maintains protein synthesis and the size.” Even with plenty of activity, the lack of load leads to atrophy.

    The idea of doing exploration in Orion, as you have advocated, is a recipe for disaster. With less expensive commercial alternatives available to take over the job Ares I and Orion were going to do, why not spend that money to build the first rotating space station or exploration vehicle?

    The lack of gravity is going to affect anyone going to the Moon too, so the sooner we develop 1-G way stations, space stations, and spacecrafts, the sooner we can proceed with long term occupation of space (and spend less bringing people back to Earth to recuperate).

  • amightywind

    Because, as someone is famous for saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

    (Facepalm) 5th order science is not a funding priority.

    The idea of doing exploration in Orion, as you have advocated

    I haven’t advocated the NEO mission. Obama and Lockmart have. BTW to accomplish this relatively simple ‘smash and grab’ mission will require an Ares V earth departure stage, or a SpaceX unicorn if they are available. There are no other actionable plans. Newspace seems to prefer it that way.

  • Major Tom

    “BTW to accomplish this relatively simple ‘smash and grab’ mission will require an Ares V earth departure stage”

    No, it doesn’t. Per conference papers (you know, the kind engineers read instead of relying on viewgraphs) going back several years, EELVs are baselined for the heavy lift segment of the architecture and the EDS required is substantially smaller than Constellation’s EDS.

    aero.org/conferences/planetarydefense/2007papers/P1-8–LeCompte-Paper.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Try to get something, anything, right in your next post.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    an Ares V earth departure stage, or a SpaceX unicorn

    I guess you see these as equal, which is a big improvement for you, especially considering your fantasy about Ares I being so inexpensive.

    Luckily SpaceX has real hardware, such as Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon, whereas Ares V was more like your mythical creature…

  • Bennett

    It’s kinda funny, the NASA page for ARES V has a “first launch” date of sometime in 2018…

  • amightywind

    Minor Tom,

    aero.org/conferences/planetarydefense/2007papers/P1-8–LeCompte-Paper.pdf

    Thanks for the link to that non-existent item. Didn’t I suggest that you learn what you are doing before you post links? The poor quality of your citations matches that of your arguments.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    That is the link, but you can’t link to directly, so it’s not obvious to someone copying & pasting. On that page, search for “P1-8–LeCompte-Paper”.

    Really Windy, anyone with simple internet skills could have easily worked around that if you were at all interested…

  • Matt Wiser

    Sorry, Oler, but the FY 11 budget has been disposed of, in case you haven’t come out of hiding. While Commercial crew will still get funding, it won’t be on the scale as the original proposal-read the first article with Garver talking to the Huntsville press-the Administration is on board with what Congress has done to the budget request, including heavy-lift and a full-up Orion. At least at that meeting, she admitted not bringing the pro-Constellation people into the picture, to let them know what was being planned, that there would be other opportunities for Ares contractors to work in new exploration programs, and the big mistake was not consulting any members of Congress, especially those from “space states” where Constellation work was being done. They just rolled it out and expected everyone would be shouting their praises to the sky, and that folks would fall into line. Doesn’t work that way. Do I want commercial crew and cargo to succeed? Of course. But they have to prove that not only can the various providers-well established firms as well as startups-do the job and do it safely and reliably. Then they can get their matching funds, or subsidies, tax breaks, or whatever. And you can bet that Congress will insist that all mission assurance, safety, mssion control, and recovery be handled by NASA if the mission has NASA and other space agency astronauts on board. Don’t be surprised if that happens.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    “Sorry, Oler, but the FY 11 budget has been disposed of, in case you haven’t come out of hiding. While Commercial crew will still get fundi”

    ah the political analysis of the faithful.

    There are several key features of the SEnate bill which doom NASA as we know it and the main one is that Commercial got enough funding to “fly” and thats the end of it.

    To know where politics and political action is going one has to look at the trends, not just the snapshot of the moment.

    Cx is dead, Shuttle is dead, the SDV will die in the HLV study and commercial is going to fly. When it does and assuming it meets its cost schedule…well the trick with reality is accptance and that is where this is going. As the shuttle dies commercial resupply (assuming it works) will become the norm and as exploration by humans fades and budget problems get worse…

    well thats the trend.

    Garver can be magnanimous…she has won…and she knows it

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Thanks for the link to that non-existent item.”

    The paper exists at the address I pointed to, genius. Here’s the step-by-step instructions for the computer and internet learning-impaired. I know it’s hard for you, but concentrate and try really, really hard to follow along.

    1) Use your mouse to highlight the web address. That’s the letters starting with “aero” and ending in “pdf”.

    2) Copy the web address. That’s the command where you press the “CTRL” button and the “C” button on your keyboard simultaneously. “Simultaneously” means together, at the same time.

    3) Paste the web address into your browser window. The window browser is at the top of your screen and starts with the letters “http://www.” Pasting is the command where you press the “CTRL” button and the “V” button on you keyboard simultaneously. Remember, “simultaneously” means together, at the same time.

    4) If you’ve done steps 1 through 4 correctly, then the web address should appear in your browser window. Remember, the web address is the letters starting with “aero” and ending in “pdf”.

    5) Type the letters “http://www.” at the beginning of the web address if they’re not already there. The beginning of the web address is before the letters “aero”.

    6) Hit the “enter” button on your keyboard. You web browser will now take you to the paper.

    And if you don’t understand technical terms like “button”, “keyboard”, and “mouse”, well, then you’re even more beyond help than your posts would indicate.

    “Didn’t I suggest that you learn what you are doing before you post links?

    Yes you did, my little genius, and I gave you the instructions in that thread, too. Be patient, little one. You have to remember how learning-impaired you are. Just keep your chin up, try things several times, and eventually you’ll start remembering them and getting them right.

    “The poor quality of your citations matches that of your arguments.”

    The citations are poor quality only for individuals with the web surfing skills of a 2nd grader.

    And the citations to back up your false statements are where?

    Oy vey…

  • Matt Wiser

    Since when did Garver’s side win? Read the piece from the Huntsville Times….they’re reconciled to the Senate Bill (or one close to it) passing. ObamaSpace as it was initally rolled out to a PR disaster on 1 Feb and amemded on 15 Apr is dead. They blew it, as both Bolden and Garver have admitted, both in the rollout, and in notifying people ahead of time. They (Bolden, Garver, and Holdren-the Presidential Science Advisor) foolishly thought that since their new plan was “new, innovative, and right” (or words to that effect) everyone would be happy and fall into line. Wrong. Bolden admitted to not listening to his PR people, and Garver in the Huntsville Times piece admits to not communicating not only the problems with Constellation, but in not getting key congressional (House and Senate) members to come on board. Throw in the 15 Apr speech ruling out a moon first plan, and ObamaSpace was DOA in either house of Congress. Did you see the Congresscritters raking Bolden, Garver, and Holdren over the coals? The questions were a lot more pointed than the answers in many instances. Garver and co. have admitted defeat-it’s the Space X crowd and Bill Nye along with the Planetary Society who haven’t yet. If ObamaSpace was to pass, POTUS would’ve had to say in his speech: “Just because we are not pursuing a moon first strategy for exploration doesn’t mean we are not going back to the moon at all. We are just going somewhere else first. And to prepare for Mars, we have to learn surface operations, rovers both human and automated, in situ resource utilization, habitat design and operation, and so on. The obvious place to learn these things is the moon. It’s just that doing something new first would be the best way forward.” Or words to this effect. He didn’t. And Bill Nelson, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Richard Shelby had to put things right. And they will, even though none of them are from my state.

  • Aerospace Engineer

    @MT:

    Hate to be picky there Major, but not all web addresses contain the www prefix. So technically you did not give him the full address and not all browsers assume the www.

    Also I like to hold down the control key first, then press the “c” button. Just a personal preference. It works for me. So I press the keys sequentially (that would be “not at the same time”) but I do have them in a depressed state at the same time, if only briefly. More like a “do while” type a thing.

    And he could have a Mac, in which case he would have to use the “command” or “apple” key rather than the control key.

    Hope this helps!

    Have a nice day!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Since when did Garver’s side win?..

    When Constellation died, when Shuttle is allowed to die, when the HLV language was written to allow a Delta IV knockoff or really any darn thing that Charlie’s committee wants to come up with…

    what did her side lose? Some modest money to fund commercial, not enough to matter.

    A year from now NASA will be completely out of the launch business never to return, the shuttle contractors will be gone, shuttle infrastructure “mothballed” and commercial space will be standing by to fly people to ISS from American shores, with the FAA running it.

    If you think your side won, I would hate to see defeat.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Hope this helps!”

    The other poster needs all the help he/she can get.

    FWIW…

  • Aerospace Engineer

    @RGO

    “A year from now NASA will be completely out of the launch business never to return, the shuttle contractors will be gone, shuttle infrastructure “mothballed” and commercial space will be standing by to fly people to ISS from American shores, with the FAA running it.”

    I could almost live with that, if said commercial space could launch a BEO crew exploration vehicle as well. I’m thinking Orion of course at least for now. Do you see any value in a BEO CEV? HSF BEO space ops? Should NASA develop the hardware and direct these space ops from Mission Control in Houston? What is the future of HSF beyond LEO?

  • DCSCA

    byeman wrote @ August 31st, 2010 at 7:52 am <– Stop talking. Start flying.

  • byeman

    “And you can bet that Congress will insist that all mission assurance, safety, mssion control, and recovery be handled by NASA if the mission has NASA and other space agency astronauts on board. ”

    You would lose that bet and would be wrong in many other things you say.

  • byeman

    DCSCA wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 5:12 am

    They are flying. EELV have flown more that 20 times. X-37 has flown.

    NASA isn’t flying. Orion is at a stand still and won’t be able to do anything for more than 5 years.

  • byeman

    DCSCA wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 5:12 am <– Stop talking, period.
    Your comments have added nothing

  • Major Tom

    “Stop talking. Start flying.”

    Stop failing. Start launching. To orbit.

    Ugh…

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Our Tommy’s still in need of lesson;
    So once again: class in session:
    NASA has been orbiting crew;
    Since Glenn’s three revs in ’62.

    Musketeers have flown no one;
    And wont be for some time to come;
    The smart move on the spin; stop tryin’
    The wise words are: stop talk, start flyin’.

  • Major Tom

    “Our Tommy’s still in need of lesson;
    So once again: class in session:
    NASA has been orbiting crew;
    Since Glenn’s three revs in ’62.”

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Your historical point it idiotic
    After Shuttle, NASA has no options besides Dragon to fly crew

    “Musketeers have flown no one;
    And wont be for some time to come;
    The smart move on the spin; stop tryin’
    The wise words are: stop talk, start flyin’.”

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Learn to tell time
    Orion isn’t scheduled but Dragon is in months two

    Ugh…

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Our Tommy just doesn’t get it;
    NASA’s earned respect and credit;
    For lofting crews five decades on,
    Earth orbit and to our moon beyond.

    Musketeers have flown no one;
    And wont be for some time to come;
    Fix the roll; halt the spinning;
    Stop the talk, and just start flying.

  • DCSCA

    byeman wrote @ September 1st, 2010 at 7:59 am <- tick- tock, tick-tock… the world awaits, the first successful launch of a commercial man in space.

  • Major Tom

    “Our Tommy just doesn’t get it;
    NASA’s earned respect and credit;
    For lofting crews five decades on,
    Earth orbit and to our moon beyond.”

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    No duh poet
    Your lines add nothing new

    “Musketeers have flown no one;
    And wont be for some time to come;
    Fix the roll; halt the spinning;
    Stop the talk, and just start flying.”

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Dragon goes up in October
    But Orion never flew

    “<- tick- tock, tick-tock… the world awaits, the first successful launch of a commercial man in space."

    Tick-tock, tick-tock, the world awaits the first successful launch of Orion.

    Or a schedule for the first launch of Orion.

    Or just knowing what Orion's launch vehicle is.

    Ugh…

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ September 2nd, 2010 at 1:26 pm<– Oh Tommy…
    Stop talking. Start flying. The world, the space industry and deep pocketed investors await the first successful commercial manned spaceflight. Tick-tock.. tick-tock…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA: Deep pocketed investors!

    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    - – – – – – – –

    Some small part of the world may be following SpaceX, but you seem to be one of the few obsessed with it. As my daughter would say – Chil-lax!

    Regarding “deep pocketed investors”, with $150M from their current investors, the company has created a $2.4B order backlog. With a track record like that, if SpaceX wants more investors, I don’t think they will have a problem finding them – and that’s just for their non-crew capabilities.

    Musk is no hurry to add commercial crew, since they already have a huge lead over any other potential competitor. And that’s also the reason why he can wait for a NASA commercial crew program to pay for the final pieces they need to add (crew gantry, LAS, etc.). Why spend your own money when your customer will be glad to pay for it? I bet that’s galling to you, isn’t it… :-)

  • DCSCA

    “Musk is no hurry to add commercial crew, since they already have a huge lead over any other potential competitor.” <- Bogus, as usual. Musk has flown nobody. No operational Dragon, cargoed or manned, has been successfully launched, orbited/docked/undocked/reentered and splashed down safely to Earth.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ September 5th, 2010 at 1:39 am

    I noticed that you were not able to offer up any other competitor that is either close or further ahead of SpaceX towards fielding a capsule, which proves my point. SpaceX has a huge lead over anyone else that could offer capsule services in the U.S.

    And none of your inane comments will change that…

  • Matt Wiser

    Oler, you just can’t admit that the path you want doesn’t have the political support in Congress, can’t you? ObamaSpace as originally proposed and later amended was DOA on the Hill. The Senate bill is the best possible compromise between the New Space proponents and the pro-Constellation crowd. Read the Huntsville Times piece above-if you haven’t already-Garver admitted they didn’t handle the rollout well, didn’t take Congressional opiinon into account-and hadn’t explained the problems with the Constellation program.

    Take a look again at the most recent Senate Hearing-with Bolden and Dr. Holdren in the 1st Panel and Armstrong, Cernan, and Norm Augustine in the 2nd. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX-the ranking member of the Committee and the chair if the GOP takes control of the Senate) to Dr. Holdren at 58:25: “I’m not against the Private Sector, but against the private sector being the only source for this mission (LEO).” Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) follows, saying that Sen. Hutchinson has a point. Read: Delta IV Heavy with Orion will likely follow.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 6th, 2010 at 12:29 a

    I’m not against the Private Sector, but against the private sector being the only source for this mission (LEO).” Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL)

    Let’s see what that statement sounds like in the DOD world:

    I’m not against the Private Sector, but against the private sector being the only source for fighter aircraft.” Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL)

    He would be laughed at in the DOD world for making such a statement, and it’s pretty clear he’s making a political statement, not one that is looking out for the U.S. Taxpayer (i.e. costs & capability).

  • Matt Wiser

    Sorry, not a perfect analogy: There was a Naval Aircraft factory for a number of years, but they usually produced licensed versions of aircraft built by private industry (The PBN version of the Catalina, the SBN dive bomber-a variant of Brewster’s shabby SBA, and a number of primary trainers). Private industry ultimately became the military’s supplier, given time and effort, and in due time, private industry will have its place in human spaceflight. The difference of opinion is whether or not now is the time to do that. Sen. Nelson told Dr. Holdren that “Some people question the wisdom of that.” Expect the Senate bill to include a full-up Orion and HLV.

    One thing that Garver and her boss, General Bolden, probably regret is that they didn’t sit down before the rollout with the key members of Congress (committee chiefs and ranking members), and those congresscritters whose districts would be affected by Constellation getting the ax, and explain why they were doing what they did, express regret at short-term job losses, and point out that the contractors doing Constellation work would have ample opportunites to bid on new aspects of the exploration program. They did nothing of the sort. Everyone involved-members of Congress, contractors, Center directors found out the way we did-via the news media. I imagine Bolden and Garver are wondering where they went wrong. Were they expecting that everyone would sing praises of the new program to the sky, applaud, and that Congress would rubber-stamp it?

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