Congress, NASA

NASA’s new future is already beginning

NASA is currently in a period of transition that goes beyond the retirement of the shuttle, end of Constellation (at least in its original incarnation), and introduction of elements of the agency’s new exploration strategy. While the NASA authorization bill passed by Congress late Wednesday night (and not yet signed into law by the president) gives the agency new policy direction, NASA is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the agency at FY2010 levels, with a final appropriations bill not likely until late this calendar year.

That is not stopping NASA, though, from pressing ahead on some elements of its new strategy. “We anticipate doing a CCDev 2,” NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said in a telecon with reporters Thursday afternoon. referring to a second round of Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) awards. “We believe we’ll get a good healthy start in ’11″ assuming appropriators fund the program at similar levels to what’s authorized. And, in fact, late Friday NASA released a preliminary announcement about CCDev 2, which will support efforts “to further advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft.” NASA expects to formally solicit proposals for Space Act Agreements under CCDev 2 around October 25, with multiple awards to be made by the following March. (October 25, coincidentally, is the beginning of the 2010 Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange conference at NASA Ames.)

Other programs, though, will be slower to develop. Because NASA is operating under a CR, it is still bound by language in the final FY10 appropriations bill that prevents NASA from terminating Constellation or starting up replacement efforts. “We are stil living under the appropriations language that we will not be terminating any contracts and, of course, can’t have any entirely new starts,” she said. “Those changes will have to wait until an approved appropriations bill.” However, she said that with the authorization bill eliminating the uncertainty about NASA’s future direction, it’s possible to reshape those continuing Constellation contracts. “We definitely feel now that we can direct them with more clarity from that bill.”

One other area that may be in flux in the near term is work on a heavy-lift launch vehicle, as directed in the bill. While the legislation is rather specific about the type of HLV NASA should develop, Garver said there may be some room to maneuver to keep other options open. “I think the trade space continues to be open on what type of vehicle we will have,” she said, adding that they may get “some additional guidance” from appropriators. “There’s still a lot of ability on the part of NASA to work with our stakeholders on what exactly is included in our new heavy lift launch vehicle.”

125 comments to NASA’s new future is already beginning

  • I’m kind of curious as to what they define as a ‘stakeholder’.

    In my mind that’s equity, which in the case of NASA is the taxpaying U.S. public, though that doesn’t fit in this context. I wonder if she’s talking about NASA’s handmaidens: Boeing, LockMart, ATK, NorGrumm, et al?

    If she means that she’s working with NASA’s suppliers, then she should just say “…NASA to work with our suppliers on…blah heavy lift blah”.

    If the Boeing’s and the LockMarts are the stakeholders in NASA, then what is the U.S. citizenry? The obligated cash flow provider? There’s another word for that kind of folk – chumps.

    Possibly she’s talking about Congress as the stakeholders in NASA, a form of ‘in trust for the taxpayers’. In which case our trust is sorely betrayed, as it really isn’t the job of Congress to be designing space architectures. They’re woefully unqualified (at least until we get some ISU alums in Congress). It’s a function that’s best left to some kind of well-managed civilian Administration of Space (and what the heck, Aeronautics as well) for the Nation. Let this ASAN work out the details and execute on them.

    When the Constitution called for the nation to establish post roads, did Congress get busy on plotting schematics of the routes and planning the engineering solutions to this or that geographic challenge? No – they had a nation to run. Yet in these much simpler modern times Congress has soooo much free time that they can do specs for rockets? Please.

    This political nonsense is why I’m so anxious for the crewed space access function to be decoupled from NASA’s monopoly. If we as a nation are to really progress, and learn how to create new value in cislunar space, then NASA can only be part of the solution, so that it can’t be a roadblock.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Charlie and Lori deserve a “Bravo Zulu” on this…they have won…nicely done

    Robert G. Oler

  • In my mind that’s equity

    Not in theirs. “Stakeholder” has become an ugly all-purpose word for “anyone who cares about this or will be in any way affected by it.”

  • I don’t think this is NASA’s new beginning but the end of NASA’s HSF. Not everyone is optimistic with what has happened to our nation’s HSF.

    http://www.rv-103.com/?p=948

    Also, today thousands of Shuttle and Constellation workers worked for the last time today and now join the millions that are unemployed. A word of thanks to these folks who served our nation would be nice.

  • Dennis Berube

    Well at least she said the HLV may have some room for changes in the way it was described by congress. Also parts of Constellation will survive, though stretched out. It will be interesting to see just what HLV design they come up with……

  • Martijn Meijering

    A word of thanks tofrom these folks who servedwere payed by our nation to work on a space program would be nice.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rocketman wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Also, today thousands of Shuttle and Constellation workers worked for the last time today and now join the millions that are unemployed. A word of thanks to these folks who served our nation would be nice…

    they no more served the nation then the Americorps people did…

    The folks in Iraq or Afland or standing on the Southern border as sworn officers or ….they serve the nation.

    As for the unemployment line, they should have been looking for years…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Hmmm…nice to know how you feel about the “peons” working on the programs. You guys must be from NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rocketman wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I am not…I am just tired of contractors for NASA claiming that their job is more important then any other federal contractor job… Robert

  • I don’t think that claim was made in these posts Robert.

  • Ben Joshua

    I am happy to say thank you to the workers, and have done so on previous threads.

    The mesh of contractors, politicians and administrators who delayed progress, charging us big bucks for the privilege, are not worth a moment’s regard.

    Time to stop rationalizing a static and bottomless pit, and turn our attention ad astra, with realism, not with memories of fantastical magazine illustrations.

    Time to immerse in the new given plan, create its best use, and move forward with true numbers, achieving a national good that taxpayers can acknowledge as a real value.

  • UNT2007

    Charlie and lori deserve a big “Bravo Sierra” for the job they have done to america and our space program. They will be getting their pinkslips from the new congress and will be joining the unemployment line very soon.

  • I was at my Merritt Island dentist yesterday for a cleaning. The hygienist leaned over and as he began to work said:

    “So I heard that Obama is killing the space program at the end of the year.”

    I made him stop and I explained to him very politely but directly what a crock of nonsense that was. I told him the long story about how Bush cancelled Shuttle in 2004 and why, how Constellation was behind schedule and over budget, how we wouldn’t have a Moon mission until at least 2028, how the U.S. couldn’t afford to operate both ISS and Constellation, how going the commercial bid route will save the country money and circumvent the porkers in Congress.

    He was pretty chastened by the time I was done. I don’t think he’ll try that again.

  • DCSCA

    Only a Chinese compass in a windstorm could have more ‘new directions’ blown its way than NASA. It’s a bureaucracy merely treading water through yet another budget cycle.

    Garver and Bolden will be gone within a year, especially if the House changes hands to the GOP. Then another ‘new’ direction will appear. As long as the space agency is neglected by the WH with no strong, supportive executive leadership with commitments and follow-through, it’s destiny is to be more concerned with securing budgets instead of presenting a consistent, practical plan for expanded human space exploration. NASA is going no place… except on paper. And as long as commercial space firms continue to calculate that the cost of failure outweighs the value of success, they’re going no place as well. This writer believes the next two milestones in human spaceflight in this decades will be a successful commerical manned spaceflight by some gutsy private firm and a Chinese manned mission to orbit the moon. It will be their century to explore and exploit. For the 40 and under crowd, too bad you missed Apollo. It was a helluva show.

  • I drove by United Space Alliance today. The local TV stations had their mobile crews coming and going all day long.

    At least most of the print, electronic and cyber media finally have the story right. This day has been coming for a very long time, they knew it was coming, and they’re getting very nice severance packages.

    I appreciate what they did for the nation, but at the same time they are employees of government contractors and government contracts are not guaranteed jobs. That goes with the territory.

    I interviewed earlier this week with a NASA contractor. They told me their contract ends on a particular date in 2012. They were totally upfront that the job is only guaranteed until then. If hired, I’ll certainly have no complaint if I’m laid off in 2012.

    It’s too bad this had to happen during the Great Recession, but they were never guaranteed a lifetime job and the taxpayer should not be expected to pay them to sit around polishing the chrome. Responsible people set aside money and are frugal so if the worst happens they can survive it. That’s what my wife and I did. I have a problem with people who didn’t demanding the government pay them to keep doing a job the government no longer needs.

    So I’m sympathetic, having been laid off a couple times myself, but not persuaded by hysteria or a sense of entitlement.

  • Justin Kugler

    Well said, Steven. I took my job on Station fully expecting it would be gone in a few years. I’ve saved and planned accordingly.

  • mike

    too bad the NASA folks didn’t have a sweet deal like the UAW where they can sit around union halls or at home collecting pay and then force the government to bailout their failing auto companies. that is technowelfare Oler not NASA. I for one want to say to all the contractors who are leaving thank you for helping to service/launch/operate the shuttles for these past 30 yrs. To those who trained the steely eyed missile men in Mission Control as well as the crews your malfunctions/scripts will be missed. To all the folks on Constellation who have worked to build our future we will keep the dream alive. Lastly to the families who have put up with the long hours, missed events, and cancelled vacations your support is immeasurable.

  • Robert G. Oler

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Charlie and lori deserve a big “Bravo Sierra” for the job they have done to america and our space program. They will be getting their pinkslips from the new congress and will be joining the unemployment line very soon…………………………..

    The Congress cannot give people of the Executive Branch their “pink slips”…sorry basic civics here.

    Charlie and Lori serve at the pleasure of The President of The United States…POTUS is the only one who can fire them.

    dont be goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    mike wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    too bad the NASA folks didn’t have a sweet deal like the UAW where they can sit around union halls or at home collecting pay and then force the government to bailout their failing auto companies. that is technowelfare Oler not NASA………………..

    no most of the NASA contractors have/had a sweet deal where they are simpl “over manned” at work.

    It is a 50,000 dollar question as to the car bailout. I wold not have recommended it as I think that in a free enterprise system the counterbalance to success is failure…and in my view the bailout was not pro free enterprise.

    But at the very least the car industry contributes to the state of the American economy in a noticable way. Put it this way…if they had not bailed out the car industry the effect would have been felt nation wide…(again I was oppossed to the bailout).

    In the end there is nothing that the shuttle does that has value to The Republic anywhere near its cost.

    sorry

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    I wold not have recommended it as I think that in a free enterprise system the counterbalance to success is failure…and in my view the bailout was not pro free enterprise.

    Getting off-topic here, but the government will actually make a profit on the deal once they sell their GM stock, having rebuilt the company and raised its value.

    The “bailout” word is such a misnomer. Most of those transactions were actually loans that are being repaid with interest. The loss right now is expected to be about $60 billion out of the original budgeted $800 billion, and I won’t be surprised if the government makes a profit off this too.

    We saved one of the largest companies in America, and we saved the economic system from crashing like it did at the beginning of the Great Depression. Call it anti-capitalism, call it socialism, but it worked and that’s more important so far as I’m concerned.

    We now return you to your regular scheduled space politics.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Stephen.

    Reasonable minds can differ on this, and I am prepared to agree with everything you wrote….one never knows in anything the course of the “road not taken” with the same certainty of the “road taken”…

    I agree with you that it is significant that the money put into the TARP has mostly come back to the Treasury…and as I said…this is one of those things that we will never know the ultimate alternative.

    It is about like the “Europe first” decision in WW2…it worked fine. But had Midway gone sour or a few other “events” gone the other way…it might not have worked so well.

    This is one reason I dont beat up on Obama to badly about the decisions made in his first six months on the economy…a lot of it is the fact that when he came on the deck, almost all the “good decisions” had already been passed up by the previous administration.

    Robert

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 8:58 pm
    “It’s too bad this had to happen during the Great Recession…” When Nixon gutted the space program back in the 70s, it was a similar bloodbath and there was a recession as well, although not as severe. But the damage to aerospace was severe.

  • UNT2007

    I apologize for forgetting my civics lessons Robert G. Oler, so we will have to wait another two years for charlie and lori to be handed their pinkslips by the new POTUS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 12:08 am

    well you still need some more civics …

    we have to wait another two years to see if The People hand the current POTUS his pink slip…

    keep working at it though…things get better.

    Robert G. Oler

  • They can keep working on HLV and call it “Ares V,” then change the name later.

    Rumors keep adding to the number of CxP related layoffs coming up, but I haven’t seen real numbers yet.

    Rand is right about the definition of stakeholder. It can mean anything you want it to.

  • Ferris Valyn

    UNT2007 – That assumes there be a new president in 2012.

    Thats something I suspect is unlikely

  • Ferris Valyn

    Returning to the topic of the post, and specifically the CCDev Phase 2 – can the contracts for this only go to those companies who already have a CCDev contract, or can they go to contracts for new companies?

  • UNT2007

    Robert G Oler, keep working on cheerleading this disasterous new space plan, I am afraid it’s not going to get better.

  • Robert G. Oler

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Robert G Oler, keep working on cheerleading this disasterous new space plan, I am afraid it’s not going to get better……

    ……………………………………………….

    things cannot be worse in space policy then they were when Griffin and Bush left.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Robert Wrote:

    “It is a 50,000 dollar question as to the car bailout. I wold not have recommended it as I think that in a free enterprise system the counterbalance to success is failure”

    The reason the auto industry were given loans was not to save the actual car makers, it was the 2.4 million jobs down stream that were also at risk. When the employment numbers are falling off the cliff at a rate losing 750,000 a jobs a month when Obama took office, it was pretty much a done deal they would have to be helped. As was stated already, they were loans not grants and America will make a profit off it.

    Stephen C. Smith wrote

    “The loss right now is expected to be about $60 billion out of the original budgeted $800 billion”

    Actually that 767 billion stimulus was not all spent on bailouts, almost 300 billion was tax cuts and 270 billion was infrastructure inprovements.

    The annual engineers report card on the USA’s infrastructure was pretty bleak last year .. averaged a D and the highest grade was a C. They estimated it would cost 2 trillion and 10 years to bring back the luster to American infrastructure. I personally would not mind if President Obama did another stimulus for 200 billion if it could go just for infrastructure.

    It costs our economy untold billions in loss productivity, auto repairs and sickness plus it lowers our tax revenue.

    I would pay for it by not continuing the tax breaks on the high end income earners.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 1:30 am

    thanks I am pretty familiar with the arguments…this is the wrong forum…but I was not, in that instance for doing “nothing” and just letting things go off the cliff. I believe in an activist federal government…and I knew there was going to be some dollars spent…I would have gone at it different then Obama did, but as I told Stephen…I dont beat him for those things…

    Obama inherited a really bad situation…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Returning to the topic of the post, and specifically the CCDev Phase 2 – can the contracts for this only go to those companies who already have a CCDev contract, or can they go to contracts for new companies?”

    According to the synopsis, any company can propose and win, whether they have an existing CCDev SAA or not.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw wrote:

    <i.Actually that 767 billion stimulus was not all spent on bailouts, almost 300 billion was tax cuts and 270 billion was infrastructure inprovements.

    You’re confusing the stimulus with TARP. I was referring to TARP, which actually was proposed by the Bush administration and passed before the November 2008 election.

    If you read Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Bush’s people were back-channeling with Obama to assure he was supportive of TARP. Obama actually had some input into it. McCain was pretty much a stump.

    If people read the theories about the causes of the Great Depression, there are many, but there’s certainly consensus that allowing the banks to fail was a major cause. I’m sure that was in the back of everyone’s mind when TARP was being formulated. Call it a “bailout” or a “loan” or whatever, but if the banks collapsed again we would have had another Depression.

    Anyway, back on topic.

    Hey, isn’t space cool?!

  • Ferris Valyn

    Thanks Major Tom

  • Bennett

    Hey, isn’t space cool?!

    Ah Stephen, thanks for the chuckle!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 8:17 am

    My opposition to the TARP came from three things.

    First this is not the 1930′s…Generals fight the last war and economist worry over the last bad cycle. Today we have ways for banks to fail and be taken over by other banks with the FDIC supporting the individual bank customer.

    Second…we got nothing for the TARP. My wife was for shotting (grin) all the executives of the failed banks but I would have been kinder…just show them the fracken door.

    Three we got nothing for the TARP…the very banks who were with hat in hand for the Fed money have now just stopped pumping currency AT ALL into the economy.

    Fourth (OK I only said three) it was done by Bush and his flunkies. The very people who a few weeks earlier were telling us “all is well” all of a suddent were banging yet another drum toward armageddon and if we didnt act right now this instant then we were all toast. The same Sec Tres the same other flunkies were all now telling us “the end was near” and none of them were going out the door for letting it happen.

    Everything I have seen so far tells me that the economic management of both Mr. Bush and Obama has been like the Admirals in the US Navy between WW1 and 2. They just knew that the next war was going to be a series of “Jutland” style battles and that is what they (mostly ) practiced.

    What is so sad is that the practice was mostly useless. By the time the one BB to BB slugfest happened in the Pacific, radar fire control on our side had made most of the tactics completely obsolete.

    I dont think that this is a 1930′s economic problem…my theory is that it is a stand alone, brought on by excessive federal and private spending.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I would add this…

    The economic recovery is why Mr. Obama’s space policy is so important.

    As it stands right now every job on the shuttle or HSF in general is “a horse that eats but doesnt work” in terms of tax dollars.

    The only groups that space spending is a boom to is the local economies…its free money only because the federal government and federal tax dollars are providing the ride. As it stands now NOTHING of value in relation to the cost is produced. I dont know how much it cost to build the Hoover dam…but those tax dollars have come back in spades…not so with human spaceflight.

    Every job in the commercial world will “Work” IF it allows the commercial firm to use the hardware 1) to generate non tax dollars and 2) maintain infrastructure that can as a side generate non tax dollars…

    There was a moment when the shuttle could have done this. Had somewhere along the line NASA been able to fly the shuttle and payloads on it for the cost of an EELV (or close) and reved up the private payloads in it…then it might have actually generated revenue. As a free market person I always had some trouble with that, but it was at least something that could have evolved..

    This economic downturn was brought about in my view by three things.

    1. Corporate spending which as a goal did not increase or improve the US middle class…

    2. Federal spending which as a goal did not improve or increase the lot of the US middle class (a rising tide did not lift all boats)

    3.Government policies which encouraged wasteful spending.

    That is mostly GOP economics…and until we get a grasp on it…ie we learn why the top little percent getting a massive tax cut does not improve the economy or spending tens of billions on a lunar trip for a few just waste money…we are not going to get better.

    Robert G. Oler

  • NASA Fan

    This bill is the beginning of the FAA’ization of NASA

  • libs0n

    This bill is 80 percent same old NASA and 20 percent reformed NASA direction. However, it locks in the same old NASA framework for the next generation in the direction it sets in place for the exploration program, and that is its real tragedy/crime, a theft from us all.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That’s why I thought no agreement might have been better. But then again, 20% is a substantial foot in the door. It buys a lot of lobbying power and the new providers will likely achieve results sooner, especially if money gets tight.

  • This bill is the beginning of the FAA’ization of NASA

    What in the world is that supposed to mean? We already have an FAA.

  • libs0n

    I pride myself on being clever, so this is how you fit Atlas evolution into the Senate Bill requirements, which were tailored for SDHLV.

    Components:
    5m 2xRD-180 “first stage booster” Core component
    5m ACES stage “Earth Departure Stage” Core component
    8.4m 5xRD-180 stage “Upper Stage” Non core component.

    1. 70mt / 2016 / no Upper Stage requirement

    Atlas 5 Phase 2 featuring 3 first stage boosters and an Earth Departure Stage.

    2. 130 short ton requirement / indefinite development period

    Atlas 5 Phase 3b, featuring 4 first stage boosters, the 8.4m Upper Stage, and the upper Earth Departure Stage.

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    This bill is the beginning of the FAA’ization of NASA..

    maybe…

    The hope is that Charlie et all will fight that notion, although it is going to be hard given the goof balls in the astronaut office.

    There are two paths that NASA corporate can take. One is to become an FAA of space…and the second is to revert to a NACA and let the FAA do what it does for aviation in space… In both cases that would mean a change in how NASA “people” (now called astronauts) perform in space…

    The FAA does have test pilots (its a great job BTW) and they actually do test flying…the folks in the astronaut office havent done test flying in decades.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    NASA Fan wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    “This bill is the beginning of the FAA’ization of NASA” <- Yep. Sad.

  • DCSCA

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 12:08 am <- Garver's a lobbyist at heart and a creature of Washington who revels in the politics of the game, not a human space exploration advocate, as her tenure at NSS showed. If some plum contracts go through, she'll jump ship before 2012 and Bolden will simply retire. Both displaying decidely uninspired leadership skills at an agency desperate for strong, savvy leadership at the helm. NASA needs another Webb.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 8:50 pm <- Bear in mind, your dentist can pack up shop and apply his trade in any town across the land. And his skills are always in demand. Less so with missilemen.

  • UNT2007

    Robrt G. Oler wrote,”things cannot be worse in space policy than when Griffin and Bush left.” Yes Robert, things are much worse under Obama and Bolden, don’t be goofey.

  • Robert G. Oler

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    it is not goofy to have differences of opinion, it is goofy to not deal in facts.

    OK you think that it was fine that we had spent 10 billionhad little to show for it…and needed tens of billions more to acquire capability that we could get for far less using available launchers…

    good for you. I dont.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Barack Obama is the worst president this nation has ever had, with regard to spaceflight; and we all should NOT forget that, as we go in to vote in this Election. I for one, intend to vote for those politicians who are against Obama’s agenda. Long live the Tea Party! May the Republicans win big, in the mid-term! If John McCain had been elected in 2008, NONE of this horse manure problem of having to appease commercial space would’ve ever happened! NONE of this listening to the Trekkies & those Planetary Society geezers would’ve ever taken place! NASA would’ve simply marched onward with the next-step mission that was at hand. And if it would’ve taken till 2028 for humanity’s next out-of-LEO expedition to be finally sent; well then, that scenario is infinitely better than having NASA ferris wheeling over & over around the Earth in some newer incarnation of the renewed-further ISS, in that same year! I can tell you that right now! The Space Shuttle did not materialize in a flight-ready state, “on time”. The ISS itself had many, many delays in becoming an operational project. So if some delays in getting the Orion-Altair missions underway, would’ve happened, look people, that’s life, and that’s to be expected. You just carry on, and persevere, and the missions will get flying.

  • UNT2007

    Robert, it is goofy to ignore the facts which is exactly what you do.There wasn’t little to show for constellation, it was behind schedule do to funding issues, the fault of congress not to properly fund it. Also developing rockets is not a smooth process there are going to be problems along the way.Constellation was not killed, instead it will be morphed into a new HLV, which means starting over with a new design. We are now going to pour taxpayer money into development of what are supposed to be commercial rockets just to fly cargo and maybe people to the ISS when we already have delta and atlas rockets that can do that.

  • Wodun

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 1st, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Getting off-topic here, but the government will actually make a profit on the deal once they sell their GM stock, having rebuilt the company and raised its value.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/22/AR2010092205674.html

    Shares of a GM ipo would have to sell at $134 each. Unlikely. GM went bankrupt after $58(ish) billion in bailouts.

    You are right that TARP has worked out better than expected, $60 billion seems to be great in comparison to the alternative.

    That is a lot of Falcon 9 launches.

    Ahhh politics. The whole process is distasteful. Garver says,

    While the legislation is rather specific about the type of HLV NASA should develop, Garver said there may be some room to maneuver to keep other options open.

    From the press release,

    NASA intends to solicit proposals from all interested U.S. industry participants to further advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA plans to use its ”other transactions” authority within the National Aeronautics and Space Act

    I like the COTS like approach to CCDev2. It will clarify what some of the hoops are companies need to jump through. If it leads to some contracts with private industry, all the better. It will make it harder for the whims of politicians to change the entire program every 4-8 years.

  • Robert G. Oler

    UNT2007 wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Robert, it is goofy to ignore the facts which is exactly what you do.There wasn’t little to show for constellation, it was behind schedule do to funding issues, the fault of congress not to properly fund it…..

    I understand that claim and even if it is accurate (and I dont believe it, ) then the program should have been canceled a long time ago.

    For what the folks who defend Cx say it will cost, we could easily adapt existing launch vehicles to the task…and have lots of money left over.

    That was Cx’s major problem…add to that the reality that NASA HSF has not met a single budget or timeline in the last 30 years (the space station was once going to cost 8 billion for a lot more vehicle)…then the notion of defending Cx is goofy.

    Ares is dead…what is going to emerge is a Delta IV Heavy that has nothing to do with Ares.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    funny

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    UNT2007 wrote: …when we already have delta and atlas rockets that can do that.

    First, as far as I know ULA wasn’t interested in COTS (cargo to the ISS) and have indicated that for 1.8 billion they could get something ready to lift a capsule to the ISS. They don’t HAVE a capsule at this point that is ready for manned launches.

    The whole point of Commercial Crew (started under Bush/Griffin) was to provide a US LV to reduce the gap between Shuttle retirement and ARES coming on line (8 freaking years!).

    Chris, what would McCain have done differently to address this issue?

  • Major Tom

    “And if it would’ve taken till 2028 for humanity’s next out-of-LEO expedition…”

    2028 is only the ready date for Ares V. To do anything beyond LEO, Constellation needed to develop additional elements, which couldn’t be afforded even within an increased NASA topline until after Ares V development was complete. The best case date for the first mission beyond LEO under Constellation was circa 2035.

    “So if some delays in getting the Orion-Altair missions underway, would’ve happened, look people, that’s life, and that’s to be expected”

    It’s more than just the years and years of delays. Constellation needed another $3-5 billion per year just to stay on track even under a delayed schedule. To see Constellation through the next 25 years to its first mission beyond LEO, taxpayers would have had cough up another $75-125 billion for Constellation cost growth, on top of what they were already paying for the program. It’s just not in the realm of fiscal, programmatic, or political reality for a program survive that level of enormous schedule slippage and cost growth. Even if Constellation had survived this year, another White House or Congress would have killed it long before it ever got to 2035, especially in this fiscal environment.

    “Long live the Tea Party! May the Republicans win big, in the mid-term!”

    The Republican Party, and especially the Tea Party candidates, are running on a platform of fiscal reform and austerity. Republican leaders like Rep. Boehner, the likely next Speaker of the House, want to cut the non-defense discretionary budget — the part of the federal budget that NASA competes in — by over 20 percent.

    You should support whomever you want in the elections. But if you’re voting for a Republican Congress because you think they’re going to boost NASA’s budget by the tens of billions of dollars that were needed to sustain Constellation, then you’re voting for the wrong reason.

    “If John McCain had been elected in 2008, NONE of this horse manure problem of having to appease commercial space would’ve ever happened!”

    The COTS agreements that SpaceX and OSC are performing under were competed, won, and signed under the last Republican President. A new Republican President wouldn’t have changed that.

    Moreover, the expansion of COTS to CCDev is driven by Constellation’s programmatic failure. If Constellation had delivered on its promises, instead of creating an ever expanding U.S. human space flight gap, there would have been no need for NASA to turn to commercial firms for astronaut transport and start CCDev. But Constellation did not deliver on its promises, the gap stands at 7-9 years and increasing, and the only option NASA now has to get off Soyuz and have a domestic source of astronaut transport any earlier is on commercial vehicles. That desperate need would have existed regardless of whether McCain or Obama won the election, and either White House would have been confronted by the same problem and the same, singular solution.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “There wasn’t little to show for constellation”

    For less than $278 million in taxpayer funding, SpaceX has demonstrated an operational Falcon 9 launch vehicle and is scheduled to demonstrate an operational ISS resupply capsule early next month.

    For about a $1 billion in taxpayer funding, Boeing and LockMart developed the Altas V and Delta V families of launch vehicles.

    For more than $10 billion in taxpayer funding, Constellation never developed or demonstrated even one operational launch vehicle, nevertheless multiple families of launch vehicles, or an operational space capsule of any kind.

    According to the benchmarks set by modern military and commercial space development programs, Constellation had very, very little to show for the enormous sums of taxpayer dollars spent on it. Other programs are achieving and have achieved what Ares I/Orion was suppossed to demonstrate for 1/10th to 1/30th of what the taxpayer spent on Constellation.

    “it was behind schedule do to funding issues, the fault of congress not to properly fund it.”

    Constellation actually received a couple billion more than what was projected in the VSE budget. It was the overall NASA budget that the Bush II White House and both Democratic- and Republican-controlled Congresses failed to fund at the levels projected in the VSE.

    “We are now going to pour taxpayer money into development of what are supposed to be commercial rockets just to fly cargo and maybe people to the ISS when we already have delta and atlas rockets that can do that.”

    That was Mike Griffin’s decision, the same NASA Administrator responsible for Constellation. He picked K-1, Falcon 9/Dragon, and Taurus II/Cygnus over COTS proposals that employed existing Atlas or Delta LVs. If you have a problem with it, talk to him.

    FWIW…

  • McGlynn

    Listening to Ms. Garver on S3729 makes me want to throw up in my mouth. The WH fought this bill until it become clear that it would pass and now it is wonderful for NASA. I have to admit she is one shrewd political operative.

  • McGlynn, what are you talking about? The day the Senate bill came out the WH, including Garver, were hailing it as a breakthrough. This was reported *everywhere*, where have you been?

  • Bennett

    throw up in my mouth

    I’ll be glad when this disgusting bit of sorority-speak goes the way of the passenger pigeon.

  • Artemus

    The “bailout” word is such a misnomer. Most of those transactions were actually loans that are being repaid with interest. The loss right now is expected to be about $60 billion out of the original budgeted $800 billion, and I won’t be surprised if the government makes a profit off this too.

    The government has demonstrated its willingness to lend to any company it deems worthy, at terms no private lender could, should or would offer. Therefore, businesses can no longer succeed merely by producing better goods or services than their competitors; they must also obtain and use political influence better than their competitors.

  • Major Tom wrote:

    But if you’re voting for a Republican Congress because you think they’re going to boost NASA’s budget by the tens of billions of dollars that were needed to sustain Constellation, then you’re voting for the wrong reason.

    Yeah, it’s laughable if anyone thinks the Republican Party is going to throw billions of dollars more at a Moon mission. They didn’t do it during the last four years of the Bush administration. Why would they do it now?

    Anyone paying attention this year saw the NASA budget was an exercise in arguing over pork. No one cared about going to the Moon.

    S. 3729 needed to pass the House with a two-thirds vote. It passed 304-118 (72%). That means a lot of Republicans voted for it, voted to kill Constellation.

    Anyone who thinks a Republican-majority Congress will magically bloat NASA’s budget needs to check their air supply.

  • @ DCSCA

    I think you’re a bit too pessimistic! NASA will finally get its balls back nearly 40 years after Nixon and a Democratic Congress terminated our last HLV program. A new HLV which should enable NASA to do all kinds of remarkable things within cis-lunar space. Even the Constellation program wasn’t going to start building an HLV probably until 2016 or 2017 which was the thing that troubled me the most about the Constellation program.

    Am I happy about plans about a silly and extremely wasteful manned mission to an asteroid? No!

    Important NEO asteroid missions could be much more extensively and efficiently accomplished with unmanned robotic missions at much lower cost. If we’re really concerned about the potential dangers of asteroids then multiple robotic missions should be used to encounter, land, and retrieve materials from various types of large NEO asteroids– not just one or two hyper expensive and totally unnecessary manned asteroid missions.

    A Moon base is critical to the economic future of the United States in space, IMO. And a HLV will be critical for efficiently establishing such manned facilities on the lunar surface. That’s why there is so much interest in the Moon by China, Japan, India, and the EU. And I believe that Congress and the next US president will come to realize what these nations already know.

    The Moon could end up being the primary destination for the emerging private space tourism industry and the primary source of oxygen and hydrogen for fuel depots for placing satellites into geosynchronous orbit and cheaply transporting humans within cis-lunar space. Ceding the natural resources of the Moon to other nations would be a long term economic disaster for the US. Unfortunately, President Obama doesn’t seem to understand this. But that may not be true of future Presidents!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Cx was easy to kill…so easy in fact it is sort of strange that folks like Whittington keep insisting it can come back..

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    McGlynn wrote @ October 2nd, 2010 at 7:38 pm <- She'll be gone within a year.

  • Gary Anderson

    Off Topic: This week in Space TWIS on uTube, spaceflightnow, just announced it was going off air. Not enough space enthusiasts like me paying every month to keep producing new weekly show. Miles O’Brien & David Waters, Thank you for the last year. You brought our hope and dreams to our desktop. End off Topic.

    Now my rant to space enthusiasts, I paid, did you?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtWBiyQrjLE

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Bennett,

    Just for the record, ULA is by law forbidden to develop any “spacecraft”. It is only allowed to operate launch vehicles. So, ULA, by its very nature, couldn’t have participated in COTS. Quite a few of the COTS bidders proposed to use EELVs but none of them were selected.

    As matters sound, Boeing/Bigelow’s CST-100 is going to use the Atlas-V-502 as an LV. I personally expect it to beat Crewed Dragon to orbit. Either way, Boeing is saying their goal is a first crewed flight by 2014.

    Hmmm… Was that Dr. Griffin’s cunning plan? Guarantee a market for Ares-I by forcing NASA to rely on start-ups to provide commercial cargo and crew, knowing it would take them longer?

  • Bennett

    Thanks Ben, I keep forgetting the restrictions ULA operates under.

    Quite a few of the COTS bidders proposed to use EELVs but none of them were selected.

    Does anyone have a link to a synopsis of the COTS proposals? Does anyone know why those that proposed using EELVs were not selected? It seems to me that this would have been the logical first choice.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Politics no doubt, too much of a threat to Ares I.

  • Bennett

    You’re probably right, Martijn. But the official justification would be interesting to read…

  • Further off topic…

    @ Gary:

    “This [W]eek in Space…just announced it was going off air.

    I paid, did you?”

    A: No, but I’ve always been more of a SpaceVidCast kinda guy. The Higginbothams are fresh and funny, and they speak with the voice of my generation – sometimes edgy, sometimes cynical, sometimes fawning, but you can tell they adore the topic. And the scrolling commentary from the peanut gallery can be hilarious.

    Plus, you can support them by drinking coffee, the drug of choice for most Americans. Sounds like win-win all around.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 8:59 am

    You’re probably right, Martijn. But the official justification would be interesting to read…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it boiled down to price. SpaceX and OSC (Rocketplace Kistler too) all rely on in-house launchers. Anyone using ULA would have to add their costs on top of the ULA price, which is not cheap.

    Not that price = cost, but all indications are that the $59M price for Falcon 9 is not below their cost. For ULA’s Atlas V (model 401), I don’t have current pricing, but ULA stated that a man-rated version would be priced at $130M/flight.

    For the 8-12 flights required for the ISS cargo deliveries, that cost difference adds up.

  • Curtis Quick

    So just where does NASA go next? Do you think SpaceX will get the 300 milion they say they would need to make the Dragon crew-capable? And if so, when do you think they will get the go-ahead to formally beign this process? I am wondering if a successful launch next month might just be the ticket needed to push this forward.

    Or… am I just being deluded and we will all be surprised to discover how ATK has somehow rigged the deck to make sure that the government cash flow will somehow continue to the tune of many more billions in their direction and still produce no flight hardware, all the while strangling commercial crew funding. Will they somehow manage to get Congress to declare SpaceX enemy number 1 and that not only will no funds be made available, but that NASA will have to run the Falcon/Dragon program before astronauts can ride them to orbit?

    I hate to sound so pessimistic about this, but ATK has a lot of potential profit at stake here and deep pockets with which to convince lawmakers to side with them on this.

    Just to be on the safe side, if I were SpaceX, I would keep the security tight around their launch vehicle. You never know.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Concerning ATK: it’s not ATK itself that’s the problem, it’s ATK’s lobbying for an SDLV. There would be nothing wrong with a revived Athena resupplying the ISS, provided ATK invests its own money and wins a fair competition. Of course, CRS has already been awarded, but after 2015 it will have to be recompeted.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Just to be on the safe side, if I were SpaceX, I would keep the security tight around their launch vehicle. You never know.

    It’s on a guarded military installation…

  • Rhyolite

    Bennett wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 7:13 am

    There is a summary table here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services

  • Vladislaw

    Curtis Quick wrote:

    “Do you think SpaceX will get the 300 milion they say they would need to make the Dragon crew-capable? And if so, when do you think they will get the go-ahead to formally beign this process?”

    Congress only passed an authorizing bill those funds still have to be appropriated. Historically authorizing bills run higher than the actual appropriation bill that follows.

    Once it goes through appropriations from the house Ways and Means committee it would have to be voted on and, if passed, sent to the executive branch to be signed into law. After that the funds start flowing to NASA where, once they get the real final numbers, they start budgeting those funds. I would not expect anything probably until next spring/summer.

  • Bennett

    Rhyolite wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks. I was busy having a baby when all that was happening (well, my wife was, but still) and as noted all of the proposals based on LM or Boeing LVs didn’t make the final cut. As Coastal Ron noted, up-front cost estimates may have been a factor, but if the real goal was to reduce the gap I think that a slight cost difference weighed against a proven LV would have seemed trivial. I think Griffin et al simply didn’t want anything else flying that would undermine the rational for spending tens of billions on Ares 1.

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I would not expect anything probably until next spring/summer.

    I for one don’t want NASA to rush this one anyways, since there is a lot at stake. Also, I have always been vocal about a competitive commercial marketplace (cargo & crew), so I look forward to what NASA originally outlined for commercial crew & cargo in their budget proposal, which was:

    NASA will allocate these funds through competitive solicitations that support a range of higher- and lower-programmatic risk systems and system components, such as human-rating of existing launch vehicles and development of new spacecraft that can ride on multiple launch vehicles.

    Since Congress approved less than what NASA proposed, I don’t think the higher-risk systems will not be able to get much money, as NASA will concentrate on getting at least two crew systems going. If they do that, then the two front runners seem to be SpaceX and Boeing.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I think Griffin et al simply didn’t want anything else flying that would undermine the rational for spending tens of billions on Ares 1.

    And Griffin could claim that NASA was simply being cost conscious with their selected winners, all the while hoping that they were really TOO low cost to actually make it, and Ares I would be called on to “save the day”. Oh the irony… ;-)

  • C.R. Keith

    Gary Anderson wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 3:27 am <- Speaks volumes about the true interest in spaceflight out in the real world.

  • Just ran across this blog written last week by Wayne Hale, who was Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions:

    http://waynehale.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/6/

    Some very interesting insights.

    After the Columbia loss, there was a furious space policy debate in Washington. The “Shawcross Option” was to never fly the shuttle again, deorbit the incomplete ISS, and turn NASA into a pure R&D organization with half its existing budget. That option was nearly chosen. But the nation’s senior leadership determined that there were too many international commitments which would be undermined by unilaterally abandoning the ISS and the shuttle was required to complete the ISS construction. Going further, a national policy of space exploration beyond low earth orbit was defined. Policies without funding are ineffective, so NASA was tasked to quickly propose a multiyear budget to fund shuttle, ISS, and the nascent exploration initiative. The Chief Financial Officer of the agency, Steve Isakowitz, put together the estimates in record time using materials he had on hand. Translated into a chart, this became the famous Vision Sand Chart.

    Our first reaction on seeing the Vision Sand Chart was that we were appalled. There was no way we could do our job with that little amount of money, and to develop a new deep space system for that pittance was beyond belief. But we were good soldiers and went to work anyway.

    The “Shawcross Option” appears to be a reference to Paul Shawcross, who was Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    Perhaps some of you long-time space politicos can shed more light on Mr. Shawcross.

  • Major Tom

    “The “Shawcross Option” appears to be a reference to Paul Shawcross…”

    It obviously is, but no such option came fom the Bush II White House to NASA. (You have to take my word for that as an anonymous poster, so assign whatever size grain of salt you think appropriate.) Such a Shawcross option may have been discussed within the White House, but Hale wouldn’t have had any insight into that (nor did I). Hale would only have known what the AA for Space Ops. (Gerst at that time, IIRC) passed along to him, and that AA would have been getting his White House information from the NASA Comptroller (Isakowitz at that time) who handled the negotiations and delivered the budget news.

    “Perhaps some of you long-time space politicos can shed more light on Mr. Shawcross.”

    Shawcross is an engineer by training and worked for many years as the technical advisor to the NASA IG before coming to OMB. He also previously staffed at the National Academies. His intentions are good with respect to reforming NASA human space flight, but his performance as the relevant OMB Branch Chief was weak relative to Griffin (hence Constellation) and his predecessors (like Isakowitz).

    My 2 cents… FWIW.

  • Thanks, Major Tom … I assume Jeff Foust and Rand Simberg will have some insight too.

    I did find the aforementioned “Sand Chart” online in an article Rand published in Summer 2009:

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/a-space-program-for-the-rest-of-us

    It’s a great read and an excellent analysis of what’s been wrong with NASA all these years.

  • sc220

    Constellation was put into a terminal trajectory when the Ares I baseline was switched to a 5-segment FS and J2X-Conformal Tank US. Before then, the 4-segment/SSME configuration could have done it. However, the arrogance of Engineer Scotty H. prevailed and sent the next 4 years into disarray.

    Constellation could never recover after that point. Its costs ballooned far above anything realistic. It’s best to let it die, and try to rally future human spaceflight around Orion II and an EELV-derived launcher. The most immediate need beyond that is a restartable, crew-rated EELV upper stage, which ca perform automated rendezvous and docking maneuvers with Orion II. These are the spacecraft elements that will enable our first exploration forays beyond low earth orbit.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Major Tom wrote @ October 3rd, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    “The “Shawcross Option” appears to be a reference to Paul Shawcross…”

    It obviously is, but no such option came fom the Bush II White House to NASA…

    When I read that on the blog a while back I had a hard time buying it as well….if that was an option it was well hidden and kept very very secret. The Folks on the CAIB had no hint that this option was even being discussed.

    Such an option was impossible…given the state of the space station.

    Robert G. Oler

  • GuessWho

    “Does anyone know why those that proposed using EELVs were not selected? It seems to me that this would have been the logical first choice.”

    A number of reasons that I have heard through internal sources at both ULA and LM (I can’t vouch for the validity of these arguments, only that they were widely held beliefs based on feedback after the first and second round competitions) – NASA was looking for a Delta-II replacement vehicle (hence not ULA in any form), they wanted an all-USA built vehicle (although later violated when they selected Orbital in the second round) which knocked out any ATLAS variant, and they wanted non-traditional/emerging prime contractors (hence no Boeing and no Lockheed Martin). Obviously there are the public selection criteria and the real selection criteria. Only NASA Exec Mgmt can say how different these two were in reality. I am sure cost/price was a factor (likely SpaceX advantage) while cost risk was also a factor (Boeing/LM advantage all else being set aside). Given other ulterior motives at NASA, Boeing and LM never really had a chance to win either round 1 or round 2 even if they had been able to match cost/price as their risk postures were far lower than any other entrant.

  • Bennett

    Obviously there are the public selection criteria and the real selection criteria. Only NASA Exec Mgmt can say how different these two were in reality.

    I think we’re lucky that SpaceX came along. IMO, if there HAD been a level playing field, Dreamchaser on an AtlasV would have flown by now.

    Which is probably the LAST thing Griffin/ATK wanted to see.

  • …NASA was looking for a Delta-II replacement vehicle (hence not ULA in any form), they wanted an all-USA built vehicle (although later violated when they selected Orbital in the second round)…

    But obviously they selected SpaceX in the first round, even though technically they were “unproven.”

    It was also discussed at Nasaspaceflight.com by a commenter who works for ULA that the Falcon 9 was a designated replacement for the Delta II.

    I don’t know if that was a Freudian slip or a planned name-drop. I think the person believed it was already common knowledge.

  • GuessWho

    “But obviously they selected SpaceX in the first round, even though technically they were “unproven.””

    Yeah, the low cost (theoretically) approach but a much higher cost-risk option than an established LV provider. Also they met the non-traditional LV prime description. From my vantage point looking at the acquisition as it unfolded, SpaceX was selected before the competition was announced. The rest was for show. Just my $0.02 though.

  • Vladislaw

    SPACE NEWS

    NASA Set To Seek Bids for New Round of CCDev Work

    “Dubbed Commercial Crew Development Round 2, the new awards will comprise a set of follow-on efforts to the existing CCDev initiative to “further advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft,” the document states.

    The agency expects to issue a formal announcement calling for CCDev 2 proposals by Oct. 25, according to the document, with responses due 45 days later and a final selection of multiple award winners planned for March 2011.

    NASA plans to use its so-called “other transactions” authority under the National Aeronautics and Space Act to invest in multiple, competitively awarded agreements, though funding for the effort will depend on levels provided in pending 2011 U.S. federal spending legislation expected later this year.

    The agreements are expected to lead to “significant maturation of commercial crew systems with consideration given to NASA’s draft human certification requirements and standards or industry equivalent to those requirements and standards,” the announcement said. NASA plans to conduct a preproposal conference within two weeks of its forthcoming release to discuss the CCDev 2 activity and answer questions, the document states. “

  • Bennett

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 4th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    It would be nice to have F9-Dragon, Atlas V-CST100, Atlas V-Dreamchaser, and Taurus 2-Cygnus all win agreements under the CCDev 2 program. We could enter a new age of LEO-GTO transportation where we would NEVER be stuck waiting for RTF again.

    I’m all for that.

  • It may be possible that private initiative may bring more money to the table and government can redirect its efforts to risky and more exploratory projects that are cost-intensive and exploratory. But this would have been better done if so many employees were not losing their job.

  • Vladislaw

    I would like to see Rutan get some money too, I still like the idea he had with T/space. Also I wonder if Blue Origins will get more for the pusher type escape they are developing.

  • Coastal Ron

    Roger wrote @ October 4th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    It may be possible that private initiative may bring more money to the table and government can redirect its efforts to risky and more exploratory projects that are cost-intensive and exploratory.

    Private industry has already stated that they won’t move forward on commercial crew unless NASA contributes, and since NASA is the only funded demand for crew, it’s up to NASA to pay companies to satisfy their need.

    However, once LEO cargo & crew are in place, and non-government entities can procure their services, then that is when I think your “private initiative” will be able to afford to do things in LEO, or even beyond. Hopefully that will be a big psychological change for NASA and Congress, and they realize that they CAN focus more on the unknown, and leave the known/routine to the industry they helped put in place.

  • Bennett

    Roger wrote @ October 4th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    If you’re talking about USA Shuttle employees, that deal was done in 2005 and although it’s a shame, it comes with the territory (as has been pointed out numerous times).

    If you’re talking about Constellation jobs, jobs that would never had been created if Griffin had followed the intent of the VSE, then I’m sorry but those folks had 5 years of paychecks at the taxpayers expense, building a failed and unnecessary launch system. It also is sad, but as one of the taxpayers mentioned, I’d rather my money went towards something that made sense while not killing everything else NASA could have accomplished over the next 15-20 years.

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 4th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I always liked the T/space concept, launching from high altitude has its merits. Blue Origins is so secretive (their right of course), but if their design is valid, bring it on!

  • Bennett

    Robert Braun said: “The new law requires NASA to build a new rocket capable of eventually lifting 130 tons of men and equipment into space. But Braun said there were differences of opinions inside the agency over whether even that was necessary.

    A lot of that depends on what we need to go to an asteroid or Mars,” he said. “And a lot of that depends on our technology investments.” He said advances in in-space technology – propulsion, communications, orbiting fuel depots – may enable the use of smaller, less-advanced rockets to launch from Earth.”

    …and so, common sense prevails.

    Robert Braun, NASA’s chief technologist, is on my Hero List.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Reality Bites wrote @ October 4th, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    as I have said for sometime…Delta IV heavy is coming.

    end of the ride for DIRECT, Ares, SDV,….

    turn out the lights.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Alex

    Wait, isn’t Delta IV Heavy already available?

    No matter, I’m happy to see some at NASA are not buying into the SDHLV nonsense.

  • mr. mark

    While you are arguing Spacex is getting ready for it’s first cargo capsule launch…..KEEP ARGUING!

  • @ marcel williams, [Oct 2nd, 10:38 pm comment] YES, the next President of the U.S. WILL recognize the importance of a Lunar Return, and the Orion-Altair missions will then be restored. Maybe after, some credible international competition finally materializes. [Maybe China or India finally will do something other than copying the same old LEO station crap.] The Moon has just the right amount of complex geography & geology, that merits a closer scientific inquiry. Plus bases & buildings can be emplaced on its surface, thanks to substantial gravity. Utilization of mineral resources is a ready-made probability. I strongly favor a Return to the Moon, as our primary intermediate goal in space. NO MORE LOITERING AROUND IN LOW EARTH ORBIT!!! Let’s get back to the new Antarctic! Let’s build upon what was previously done forty years ago. This time we expand the scope of our surface activities. The Moon is where we should be going! LEAVE THE NEO’s TO ROBOTIC PROBES! Unmanned spacecraft can visit asteroids, and do all the investigations we would need there!

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Reality Bites, Bennett,

    Never forget that NASA is a state space program. It will do the work that the government orders it to do, no matter how ridiculous or counter-intuitive it may seem to you (see also: Ares-I).

    What am I saying? If the nice gentlemen inside the Beltway want a D-SDLV, they’ll get one. No matter how many other potentially useful projects need to be smothered at birth to afford it.

    That, gentlemen, is the reality here.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Robert Oler,

    The non-SDLV option is almost certainly an 8.4m or even 10m kerolox core (Atlas V Phase 3B or Falcon-XX as examples), not an RS-86-powered hydrolox super-EELV. It has long been the only HLV option being considered by NASA other than various permutations of SDLV.

    The problem with the super-Kerolox (which I admit to like, being something of an Energya fan) is that it will require the development of a US-indigenous 1Mlbf engine. That alone will push the entry date into the future (probably around the 2020 mark). The cost might push it even further to the right. I’m not sure that NASA would be able to maintain political support in a time of recession for that long with nothing flying people. We also know that, without NASA, commercial crew is going nowhere.

    So, no matter how suboptimal it is, I’m afraid that SDLV has to be the only game in town. It is the only thing that NASA can get flying soon enough and cheap enough but with work spread around enough states to keep momentum and political support. Without that, the edifice falls and, possibly, Western-bloc beyond-GEO space-flight, fails.

    @ Mods,

    Sorry about the double post.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Robert Braun, NASA’s chief technologist, is on my Hero List.

    Even so, he isn’t going far enough and he is giving it a R&D spin. There is no “may” about it and no new technology is needed. You can do perfectly fine exploration (and jump start commercial space in the process) without new technology. The new technology would be very useful of course.

    HLV is just a very bad idea at this time and it may never be a good idea. The sole reason for it is politics.

  • The below letter to the editor was in this morning’s Florida Today Does anyone know where the author might have found these quotes from Bush? I haven’t heard them before.

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20101005/OPINION/10050309/1004/Today+s+letters+to+the+editor

    After reading another letter blaming President Obama for the demise of NASA, I came away wondering where the writer was when President Bush signed a decree canceling federal funds for the shuttle program?

    Bush stated: “We cannot find any justification to continue the deficit funding of a program that has no application other than proving that, with enough money, America can do anything.”

    That was in 2005, so one must ask why Obama is being blamed for the dismantling of the shuttle program.

    Going further, Bush commented: “I don’t want to see another NASA administrator — appointed on my watch — left to justify a program to Congress based on lies, disinformation, half-truths and sexed-up reports.”

    It was in 2004 that Bush announced a plan to shut down the shuttle program — long before the name Obama was known to most Americans.
    At the time, the Republican Party controlled the House and Senate and could have easily overridden any veto by the president. But they choose to stay silent.

    Now that reality has set in, these same legislators and NASA workers are lying to themselves as to who is responsible. They never believed it would end.

    George Bush is long gone, but his deeds are still with us.

  • Dennis Berube

    The idea with a HL direct, is to lift everything needed for a mission in one flight as opposed to assembling multiple parts from several launches. This is much like the Apollo idea where the Saturn lofted everything needed for a Lunar mission. What will turn out to be actually cheaper? Direct, or several launches of smaller rockets for assembly, would be needed for an asteroid mission. Any ship with the ability to reach an asteroid could reach the Moon as well. We will then have a vehicle that can travel in deep space, where future trips will be determined at a future date. Whether commercial spacecraft can be altered for deep space missions will also be determined in the future. If Dragon could join the roll of taking people to deep space, then we would have several alternatives for getting theere. This would be very good. Orion and commercial with that ability, and it would really open up the Moon for anyone who could pay.

  • Re the Bush quotes, I answered my own question thanks to Google.

    It was an April Fools story first published by Space Daily on April 1, 2005:

    http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-05o.html

    Apparently the letter writer didn’t realize it was a gag.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What will turn out to be actually cheaper?

    At low flight rates EELVs would be cheaper. At very high flight rates RLVs would be much cheaper, probably cheap enough to jump start commercial manned spaceflight. Even low flight rates are probably good enough to do that, but you’d have EELV and EELV Phase 1 (or even 2) as a fallback if RLVs didn’t work out. Enormous upside potential, hardly any downside potential.

    We will then have a vehicle that can travel in deep space, where future trips will be determined at a future date.

    Yes, the spacecraft would be needed, not the HLV.

    Whether commercial spacecraft can be altered for deep space missions will also be determined in the future.

    Obviously they can be. It’s not as if beyond LEO can only be done with cost-plus or with a LM sticker on it or with NASA blessing or anything. Dragon is being designed to be capable of going beyond LEO eventually.

  • David Davenport

    The non-SDLV option is almost certainly an 8.4m or even 10m kerolox core (Atlas V Phase 3B or Falcon-XX as examples), not an RS-86-powered hydrolox super-EELV. It has long been the only HLV option being considered by NASA other than various permutations of SDLV.

    Why won’t more of the Delta IV’s existing L2-O2 first stage engines strapped together suffice?

    Please explain why a kerosene burning first stage is needed. It sounds like more Marshall Sinecure Funding Center make-work.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ David Davenport,

    ‘Needed’ isn’t the issue with Dr. Braun’s comments. The issue is: ‘favoured by politically-well-connected team managers at MSFC’.

    Basically, the point that I was trying to make was that the Jupiter-style D-SDLV In-line isn’t facing internal NASA opposition from a smaller and scalable Super EELV-class solution but from those engineers who remain wedded to 150t to 200t IMLEO single-stick behemoths, either hydrolox or kerolox.

    Those engineers will swear on Von Braun’s grave that only these gargantuan machines would meet NASA’s minimum requirements. That they are also their pet projects for which they have fought trench warfare through the fields of NASA’s internal politics for years is entirely besides the point; At least they would claim so.

    So, if SDLV founders, it won’t be Robert’s beloved Super-Delta (the 7m 2 x RS-68 Delta evolution) that emerges as the ‘minimum necessary’ launcher. Rather, it would be an even less-realistic than Ares-V behemoth. Meanwhile, NASA would be buying launch services from SpaceX, OSC and ULA. They would likely end up with an exploration archetecture something like ULA’s EELV Phase-1 proposals from late 2010 (which may find it difficult to find political support and funding). MSFC would simply fade away into a largely-irrelevant think-tank.

    The horrible thing is that they cannot bring themselves to believe this will happen! They would march off the cliff in perfect lock-step, sure that the government will build a bridge under them at the very last moment, no matter how much it would cost.

  • libs0n

    For reference, what Oler calls Delta 4 Super Heavy, is a Delta 4 with 5m kerolox first stages, aka Atlas 5 Phase 2ish, not the Delta hydrolox evolutions you may be familiar with.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Ah, that’s a more sensible vehicle. But why not call it Atlas Super Heavy then? Note that it is not as sensible as EELV Phase 1. It would be like a single stick Ariane, and Ariane is already too large for single payloads.

  • Ferris Valyn

    I always thought Delta 4 Super Heavy referred to this

  • Lars

    The “Delta 4 Super Heavy” name for a kerolox 5m is INCORRECT. What that describes is the ATLAS V Phase II with 2 RD-180 engines per 5m core. (using Delta IV tank tooling)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ October 5th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    that is what I am referring to as the Delta IV super heavy and in my view that is the way things are going…

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ October 5th, 2010 at 4:12 am

    there is only a very small chance that there is going to be an HLV period, and the only chance to make it work is going to be evolving Delta IV not anything connected with the shuttle.

    First off NASA HSF cant build a SDV of any sort for any amount of money, much less the pittance that they are going to get from any sort of current bill. What NASA has never figured out is that their programs are very costly because they employ way to many people, and they employ way to many people to try and keep the pork machine goign and it is very clear that no longer works.

    If there is a chance for a heavy, it is going to be to recognize that it has to evolve in some manner from a current affordable launch vehicle, hang on to most of the elements of affordability, and be done by someone other then the idiots who have managed failed NASA programs since ALS/NLS…

    The reality of course is that there is no need for a heavy. All the people here and at NASAspaceflight.com talk as if there are payloads for a heavy just waiting to be built…and there are not. Nor is there likely to be any money to build those payloads.

    The end has come, the death panels have started to turn off the machines of the NASA HSF merrygo round and before long all we will have are “abandoned in place” stenciled nicely on things that never made much sense anyway.

    A blind man could have seen this coming even when “the vision” was announce…I did and posted it here.

    Robert G. Oler

  • libs0n

    I read in one of the ULA papers, that they estimated that the transition from the Atlas 5 common core booster, to the Phase 2 version, would be less complicated(thus expensive) than the transition from the Atlas 3 to the Atlas 5 ccb. This paper was before the merger, so it should be an even better case with the Delta 4 tooling.

    Thus, that upgrade option for the Delta, would be the most bang for the buck payload increase for an LV, ignoring the Phase 1 EDS/depot/commonality role. I imagine the context is in using the Delta system, conops/pad etc., thus D4.

    It also closes the HLV window pushed by the SDLVers. It streamlines the D4 system and gets it off the exclusively used Hydrogen booster track. Makes use of this not so often used but existent booster system. It may have some modularity in the first stage. These are its qualities.

    D4 may also be the more well known of the two, the rock star.

    Since they merged, there is much more overlap in the evolutions, it’s a path to increased commonality, perhaps appropriate to say a long term merger to a single vehicle. Delta 5.

  • libs0n

    Oh, I’m mistaken then. Oler actually means some hydrolox Delta 4 evolution.

  • Robert G. Oler

    libs0n wrote @ October 5th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    the key thing for any “Heavy” is that it has to be affordable…if the only user is government, it still has to be affordable….the only way that happens if 1) someone develops it who is not trying to carry along the 15000 or so jobs the shuttle takes and 2) parts of the heavy are shared by “something else”.

    I honestly will be very surprised if the budget environment actually will sustain a heavy development, but there is zero chance if it is not some evolution of an existing vehicle…that retains 1 and 2 stated above of the existing vehicle.

    Thats the money part, then the engineering can start.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Earlier in the thread we were talking about TARP …

    The latest news is that the TARP loss is down to $30 billion. We might even see a profit off TARP when the books are closed.

  • David Davenport

    I honestly will be very surprised if the budget environment actually will sustain a heavy development, but there is zero chance if it is not some evolution of an existing vehicle…that retains 1 and 2 stated above of the existing vehicle.

    But my question is, development of ANY launch missile with a payload much heavier than that of the Delta IV Heavy in its current incarnation a high priority?

    I tend to think that developing a big big big lifter is a low priority.

  • Coastal Ron

    David Davenport wrote @ October 6th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I tend to think that developing a big big big lifter is a low priority.

    Apparently Congress thinks building an HLV is a high priority, since they moved up the Administrations plans for one.

    However, as many of us like to point out, a PAYLOAD for an HLV seems to be a low priority, or really just wishful thinking…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Apparently Congress thinks building an HLV is a high priority, since they moved up the Administrations plans for one

    No, Congress thinks trying to build an HLV is a high priority.

    Thats not the same thing as actually building an HLV

  • Coastal Ron

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ October 6th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    No, Congress thinks trying to build an HLV is a high priority.

    I guess it depends on what you think Congress really thinks.

    If they think that they need an HLV, then their actions indicate that they treat it as a high priority.

    If they think an HLV would be a great jobs program, regardless if an HLV ever makes it to orbit, then “trying to build” would be accurate.

    Of course the only way to know for sure is to look into the souls of those in Congress to understand their true motivations – kind of like emptying a septic tank to see why it keeps backing up… ;-)

  • Martijn Meijering

    If we’re lucky NASA will pretend to build an HLV and Congress will pretend to believe them.

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