NASA, White House

Brief notes

A few miscellaneous items:

NASA administrator Charles Bolden went to China and it was okay: In a statement this week, Bolden said his visit met its objectives, which including getting to know the Chinese space program and key officials as well as “reaching a common understanding of the importance of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit as the underlying principles of any future interaction between our two nations in the area of human spaceflight.” The statement emphasized that the meetings “did not include consideration of any specific proposals for future cooperation”, a sore point for some in Congress, but that it laid the groundwork for potential future cooperation.

Back in the US, another NASA official said elements of Constellation would continue on even though the overall program will not. Doug Cooke, associate administrator for exploration systems, cited the J-2X engine, which was under development as the upper-stage engine for the Ares 1, as an example of an element of Constellation where work would continue even though the overall Ares 1 would not. Cooke also said that NASA was examining the development of an HLV with a capacity of 100 tons, somewhat higher than the 70-ton minimum prescribed in the NASA authorization bill.

Earlier this month the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report to Congress on the hazards of near Earth objects (NEOs). The report, requested by Congress in the 2008 NASA authorization bill, discusses both the search for such objects as well as emergency response measures (FEMA, for example, “would implement its standard emergency notification and response procedures for a space object re-entry incident.”) The report notes that the administration’s goal of mounting a human asteroid mission by 2025 “relates to NEO detection and possible mitigation activities in several ways”, from ongoing search efforts that will turn up more candidates for such missions to “the opportunity to comprehensively survey an entire object” through such missions.

90 comments to Brief notes

  • Dennis Berube

    Well gents, it looks like Orion will survive, the J-2X engine will survive, and of course the HLV will survive. All of these are needed for an asteroid mission, along with back to the Moon and on to Mars. By the way the picture released by Boeing of their CX-100 atop a Delta looked cool. Perhaps everyone is moving ahead.

  • Anne Spudis

    I noticed this morning that China’s Chang’e 2 is slated to work in tandem with NASA’s ARTEMIS mission.

    [Excerpt] Launched in 2007, NASA’s five THEMIS spacecraft have now successfully completed their 2 year mission to determine the cause of geomagnetic substorms. Because they are continuing to work perfectly, NASA is re-directing the outermost two spacecraft to special orbits at and around the Moon. This new mission, which is called ARTEMIS, uses some very complex maneuvers over two years (2009-2010) to get both spacecraft into position….

    ….ARTEMIS will work in tandem with current missions, such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) and Grail (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory), and Chang’e 2, a Chinese unmanned probe, to prepare the ground for increased robotic exploration of the moon by future U.S. missions, including the international lunar network. [End Excerpt]

    http://spaceports.blogspot.com/2010/10/launched-in-2007-nasas-five-themis.html

  • Dennis Berube

    Sorry gents, so no one yells about my error. I did mean CST-100 and not CX. Miss typed. Now proceed.

  • Dennis Berube

    Now Mr. Oler might like to know Boeing does have a program for a CX-100 type of aircraft. That is what I had in mind when I made the error. Jumping to the HLV, now they are looking at 100MTs to Earth orbit. Just maybe those hot 5 segment SRBs will still come into play.

  • GeeSpace

    Regarding the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s report to Congress on the hazards of near Earth objects (NEOs), a good way to detect and deflect NEO’s heading toward Earth is having valid human Martian settlements.

  • amightywind

    Bolden and the rest of the leftist NASA leadership will soon learn what congressional oversight really means.

  • Major Tom

    “Orion… J-2X… HLV… All of these are needed for an asteroid mission, along with back to the Moon and on to Mars.”

    That’s simply not true. There are multiple alternatives to all of these architecture elements.

    FWIW…

  • CharlesHouston

    The will of the Senate is pretty clear, Constellation just changed it’s name and continues. Likely Ares 1 will be the part that is actually cancelled, as appears to have been the original plan.

    This might be interesting – to see who makes it into orbit first! SpaceX, Multi-mission Something Or The Other, or CST-100. Falcon has a head start… Boeing has a great idea – start simple and work from there. NASA has the facilities, the procedures, experience, etc.

    Meanwhile, back on Earth. How long will Charlie Bolden stick around for the bumpy ride? He has the gravitas to keep the team together thru this chaos but he doesn’t need this rotten job. The White House works behind his back, his team is depressed, plans change every month. He has had the poor luck to be a Shuttle commander in charge while the premier spacecraft of the world is ignominiously retired. He is an astronaut that is presiding over the likely dissolution of the monolithic astronaut corps. He is an American that presides at the high point of the Russian program. He is a fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General, etc etc etc who defers to Lori Garver????? What has she done to get where she is??????

  • Bennett

    who makes it into orbit first

    Well, SpaceX already HAS made it into orbit. With COTS-1 Dragon launch sometime next month, I’d place a bet on your speculation, Dragon by many lengths.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “He is a fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General, etc etc etc who defers to Lori Garver????? What has she done to get where she is??????”

    Could well ask the same thing about Bolden. Fighter pilots, shuttle commanders, and Marine generals have almost zero experience overlap with what makes an effective NASA administrator. The latter has to be a technologically experienced political animal with a keen eye for cost management in a federal accounting structure, and some smarts about national policy. I guess Bolden brings a certain amount of leadership skill to the table, but that skill has frankly never been evident during his tenure. Where were those skills during the FY10 budget rollout? He may have some gravitas, but I sure haven’t seen any as NASA Administrator. In his defense, his reluctance to take the job is, in retrospect, entirely understandable.

    Bolden is a smart, accomplished man in a very challenging job, but let’s not reflexively put him up on a marble pedestal.

    What has Lori Garver has done to get where she is? Well, she at least seems to have a vision for space exploration, and she’s outspoken and engaging about it. She sells her product instead of just wearing it.

  • amightywind

    CharlesHouston wrote:

    …He is a fighter pilot, Shuttle commander, Marine General, etc etc etc who defers to Lori Garver?????

    Well said. Not to mention John Holdren! But one must assume Bolden was complicit in Obama’s Hope and Change assault on NASA, and he should pay for it. As for ‘gravitas’, you must be joking.

    What has she done to get where she is?

    After 20 years of observing certain people defy gravity in the private, I’ve given up wondering. I expect the phenomenon to be far worse in the government.

  • amightywind

    Bennett wrote:

    Well, SpaceX already HAS made it into orbit.

    I guess, if you call spinning uncontrollably ‘making it to orbit’.

  • Dennis Berube

    Major Tom, just perhaps NASA wants their own brand of rocket and not someone elses, to accomplish what is desired.

  • “Bolden and the rest of the leftist NASA leadership will soon learn what congressional oversight really means.”

    *Sigh*

    Mighty, does entirely substanceless rhetoric ever get old for you? I mean do you ever just get bored with it? I’m certainly getting bored with responding.

    I mean, what did this comment actually say? What sources or even ideas did it use to back its general premise.

    Constantly repeating the same assertions without supporting them until people stop arguing because they’re sick of it, by the way, is called an ad nauseum argument. You are wonderfully good at it.

    And, by the way, I do realize you do comment about half the time or less with at least some logic and sometimes it isn’t as laden with logical fallacy as others, but these random ‘Viva la revelucion!’ comments contribute exactly nothing and in fact detract from the conversation.

    “As for ‘gravitas’, you must be joking.”

    I actually wholeheartedly agree. Bolden has not been the most eloquent speaker on the subject and has left much to be desired when it comes to explaining the new NASA program. Sure, he has answered many of the questions posed to him, but the questions people really want answers to are answered in small, select venues and months after they’ve been raised. As to his ability to hold NASA together and keep spirits up during a major and often painful direction change is actually pretty commendable. While there are certainly angry former workers and contractors, the situation could be a whole lot worse than it is. He has maintained a level of civility and order in the ranks I didn’t entirely expect from the process. Congress and the general public is a totally different story.

  • Coastal Ron

    Cooke also said that NASA was examining the development of an HLV with a capacity of 100 tons, somewhat higher than the 70-ton minimum prescribed in the NASA authorization bill.

    If they do that, it will likely be the nail in the coffin for any government-run HLV of any kind, since the current budget does not give them enough money for even for a simple 70-ton HLV.

    Studies are one thing, and Congress even mandates them – we’ll see if this is part of their strategy to use those “to the extent practicable” clauses (i.e. “we looked at all possibilities before deciding not to do SD-LV). Time will tell…

  • “He is an astronaut that is presiding over the likely dissolution of the monolithic astronaut corps.”

    Never once in any proposal thus far has there been a suggestion of disbanding the astronaut corps and indeed they recruited more not long ago. We will still be sending people to ISS no matter how they get there. And many in the Corps are getting tours and training in some of the up-and-coming commercial craft as well as Orion which certainly shows no sign of disappearing. There is a strong ongoing and future role for the astronaut corps under even the most pessimistic predictions.

    The sky is not falling. That NASA is not headed in your preferred direction is not that same as NASA being in a downward spiral.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom, just perhaps NASA wants their own brand of rocket and not someone elses, to accomplish what is desired.”

    I’m not trying to make a personal attack, but in all honesty, that’s an idiotic justification for spending taxpayer funds on space systems that duplicate or are more expensive (sometime grossly so) than what can be purchased elsewhere. Following this logic, instead of going to a dealership, I should build my next car from the ground up so I can have my own “brand” of automobile.

    FWIW…

  • CharlesHouston

    aremisasling stated:

    “Never once in any proposal thus far has there been a suggestion of disbanding the astronaut corps…” which shows that he did not understand me when I said “He is an astronaut that is presiding over the likely dissolution of the monolithic astronaut corps.”

    Where are the Japanese astronauts? They are relocating back to Japan. The new European astronauts will not be in Houston, as ESA astronauts have been before.

    Almost certainly, a Boeing CST-100 will fly first with a Boeing crew. When Boeing delivers commercial aircraft, F-15s, etc – they are first flown by Boeing crews. SpaceX will almost certainly fly a SpaceX crew on their first Dragon that has people. So the monolithic US astronaut corps will soon be a much smaller NASA corps and a Boeing and a SpaceX. The center of gravity of the world astronaut corps is now GCTC in Russia – the people that can get people into space are the ones that set the rules. Virgin Galactic really does not count yet since they are sub-orbital right now.

    I do not state this as “good” or “bad” just fact. And to have a former Shuttle commander in charge when this happens is coincidence.

    Charlies Bolden is not the most eloquent speaker but the same words coming from a sharp financial whiz would fall on deaf ears. You gotta show that you can walk the walk before people will take you seriously.

    Lori Garver has a vision for space exploration but sure can’t sell it to Hutchison, Nelson, Shelby, etc – folks that authorize the money.

  • MrEarl

    MT said:
    ““Orion… J-2X… HLV… All of these are needed for an asteroid mission, along with back to the Moon and on to Mars.”

    That’s simply not true. There are multiple alternatives to all of these architecture elements.”

    While your statement is mostly true, there are no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X. Each has their pros and cons and any claim that one is superior to another is strictly based on the priorities and prejudices of the writer. As for Orion there is no alternative. There is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit.

    Ron:
    70mt or 100 mt will not make an appreciable difference in costs for design, construction, infrastructure or operations. If tasked with building an HLV NASA would wise to get the best bang for the buck.

    Bennett:
    While SpaceX has launched what amounts to a boilerplate capsule into an uncontrolled orbit, I would be interested in seeing how quickly more experienced companies like Boeing and Scaled Composites can get a manned craft into orbit. I would also venture to say that those crafts would be more capable than the Dragon that SpaceX has planned.

  • Vladislaw

    aremisasling wrote:

    “in fact detract from the conversation.”

    That is the whole point of making the comment, to take you away from the topic at hand and bring you around to taking about the nonsense he spouts. He would have to be a special needs child to actually believe some of the crap he spews, but it generally seems to get the attention he wants detouring you away from the logical discussion.

    like this one:

    “I guess, if you call spinning uncontrollably ‘making it to orbit’.

    the dragon mock up made it to orbit and no amount of spewing of idiotic statements can change the fact it made it to orbit, so he tries to spin the conversation away from the success of the orbital insertion into a assinine debate about what constitutes an “orbit”.

    SpaceX made it to orbit… period .. end of story.

  • Robert G. Oler

    aremisasling wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    someone else wrote:
    “He is an astronaut that is presiding over the likely dissolution of the monolithic astronaut corps.”

    you replied:

    “Never once in any proposal thus far has there been a suggestion of disbanding the astronaut corps and indeed they recruited more not long ago”

    The astronaut corps as we know it today wont exist in the structure that it exist in, if the present trends continue.

    Robert G. Oler

  • byeman

    “Boeing and Scaled Composites can get a manned craft into orbit. I would also venture to say that those crafts would be more capable than the Dragon that SpaceX has planned.”

    There is no truth in this statement. Scaled has less space experience than SpaceX. Boeing’s CST-100 is less capable than Dragon as is.

  • Coastal Ron

    CharlesHouston wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 9:37 am

    He is an astronaut that is presiding over the likely dissolution of the monolithic astronaut corps.

    Oh how ignorance of history can be so blissful.

    Bush 43 is the one that announced that the Shuttle and ISS would be ended, with the U.S. abandoning space as of 2016. How many astronauts would have been needed after that, and when would they have flown?

    Ares I was not going to fly with crew until at least 2018, and then only for short trips to test out Orion. Constellation would not reach the Moon until 2030 or later. How good a plan was that? How do you keep space proficiency without flying and working in space?

    The new plan rescues the NASA astronaut corp, and gives them jobs to do and even adds a civilian astronaut corp to the mix. The combination of the two will result in 100X more astronaut time in space than the Bush/Griffin plan.

  • Martijn Meijering

    While your statement is mostly true, there are no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X.

    Better for what? Better isn’t a one dimension thing. If the goal is to establish a mature cislunar transportation infrastructure and/or to generate maximal synergy (both ways) between government funded exploration and commercial spaceflight (both manned and unmanned) then it is a disastrously bad choice.

    70mt or 100 mt will not make an appreciable difference in costs for design, construction, infrastructure or operations.

    Not for an SDLV, but it makes all the difference in the world for an EELV-based HLV. Even a vehicle as large as Atlas Phase 2 could serve commercial clients in a single stick configuration. It would be much cheaper than Phase 3 which in turn would be much cheaper than SDLV, given the cost sharing.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As for Orion there is no alternative. There is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit.

    The former doesn’t logically follow from the latter.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    While your statement is mostly true, there are no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X.

    There are no missions, only concepts.

    Until there is a requirement, there can be no basis for comparison, so no one knows what the alternatives are, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

    For instance, in the preliminary HEFT study, they dismissed existing commercial launchers right up front, even though the largest payloads were only slightly larger than the Delta IV Heavy capability. However Atlas V Heavy can be made operation within 3 years (Falcon 9 Heavy too), and it can easily handle all the HEFT elements, so the HEFT mission could be handled by existing launchers.

    But no one has even bothered to do a in-depth trade-off study. Oh, and the HEFT HLV plan was way outside the budget profile, so unfortunately that showed that HLV’s are not even a good budget alternative.

    HLV proponents like to think that spending gobs of money on an unneeded rocket is the default plan, and that saving money (use what we have) has to be proved as the better alternative. I disagree with that line of reasoning, and I think the new Congress will too.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I would also venture to say that those crafts would be more capable than the Dragon that SpaceX has planned.

    I hope so. But then they have to find paying customers, and you have to remember this simple financial equation:

    more capable = more expensive

    Boeing cannot close their business case for the simple CST-100 without government money, so it will be interesting to see what money would be needed to close a business case for something more capable.

    SpaceX has the COTS/CRS contract for their Dragon capsule, and they have followed the popular internet development path of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Dragon, being a capsule, is not exciting, but it moves 7 people or up to 13,228 lbs of cargo to LEO at a cost that is lower than anyone else.

    I think competition in this space is an absolute necessity, but new entrants need to be focusing on the needs of the market, and not trying to build their equivalent of an “iPhone Killer”. You can see how well those people are doing… ;-)

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Coastal Ron,

    I think that you are overestimating the average politician’s interest in technical issues. Look how long Ares-I free-wheeled. Unless the thing goes violently over-budget or over schedule, like Ares-I, SLS and MPCV will be left to their own devices.

    Look for this conversation:

    “Mr. Administrator, is there any alternative to continuing with the Orion MPCV atop the SLS?”

    “Mr. Chairman, NASA considers there to be no realistic alternative at this time.”

    “Fine. Next item on the agenda?”

  • common sense

    On the one hand “Constellation” pieces might live on on the other hand how long will Doug Cooke, associate administrator for exploration systems, stay at his post? Just asking. Because if I were his lead and he kept calling the name of a dead program that I just killed, maybe just maybe it could be seen as insubordination… Someone is walking a tightrope here.

    What do you think? J2-X and/or Cooke bye-bye?

    Oh well…

  • Egad

    > As for Orion there is no alternative. There is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit.

    True as stated, but note that, as applied to the basic Orion, “extended” and “beyond” have pretty small values. Circumlunar trips, EML, maybe the occasional NEO visit when the orbits align favorably are suitable for Orion. Beyond that, more will be needed, like a habitation module, lander or whatever.

  • MrEarl

    Ron said……
    “There are no missions, only concepts.”
    And yet you go on to devote 3 paragraphs on why your preferred launch architecture is better suited to the missions than the NASA Heft study which I never mentioned.
    Like I said, it’s strictly based on the priorities and the prejudices of the writer.

    Byeman:
    Scaled Composts have flown two men into space on three different occasions. How may times has SpaceX flown anyone in space?
    How is the propsed Dragon more capable than the Boeing.

    Matrjin:
    Neither the Delta or Atlas can get close to 70mt in their present configurations. A truly heavy lift version of either vehicle would require a complete redesign. As for your rant about the HLV and J-2x….
    Like I said, it’s strictly based on the priorities and the prejudices of the writer.

    As for you statement about Orion…..
    There has to at least be something on the drawing board for it to be an alternative.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Neither the Delta or Atlas can get close to 70mt in their present configurations. A truly heavy lift version of either vehicle would require a complete redesign.

    With ‘truly’ being the operative word here, seemingly specifically designed to rule out EELVs. EELV Phase 1 would require a new upper stage and Atlas Phase 2 would require adapting the Delta tankage to an Atlas role. For comparison and SDLV would need a brand new upper stage and a modified core stage. Quite comparable. If 70mT is the yardstick, then EELVs do the job more cheaply.

    And of course 70mT is already ridiculously high. Under a sane and non-corrupt space policy any alternative to existing, commercially available launchers would have to prove massive superiority before one could reasonably consider their use.

    Like I said, it’s strictly based on the priorities and the prejudices of the writer.

    No prejudice is needed for a commercial solution. Priorities on the other hand do matter. Seeking to maximise commercial synergy is a valid goal, not to mention being mandated by the Space Act. Channeling money to certain Congressional districts or campaign contributors isn’t. An SDLV can only be preferred because of prejudice or pork.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    And yet you go on to devote 3 paragraphs on why your preferred launch architecture is better suited to the missions than the NASA Heft study which I never mentioned.

    Actually I only devoted 1 paragraph – the other two were pointing out that no one has done a serious study to determine what any choices are, HEFT or otherwise. And so far the preliminary HEFT study is the closest thing NASA has done for a real mission requirement, which is what you need before you can justify the need for something you don’t have (i.e. HLV or MPCV).

    Like I said, it’s strictly based on the priorities and the prejudices of the writer.

    I assume you’re talking about the writers of the Senate bill, since I advocate for lowering the cost to access space – whether that’s an HLV or not has not been determined. Many people make assumptions that HLV’s are cheaper or better, but I have seen no facts that support that claim, and in fact have seen facts that debunk that claim.

    I want a side-by-side comparison of lift/mission requirements to be made with all competing possibilities, and let the “best” (however that is defined up front) win out. I don’t mind a fair fight – I don’t like a fixed one.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The new plan rescues the NASA astronaut corp,

    I dont agree.

    What is going to make the NASA astronaut corps irrelevant (and a diminishing breed) is the same thing that is making the rest of the NASA HSF apparatus irrelevant… 1) no mission and 2) other NON NASA astronauts.

    SpaceX, Virgin and a few others (including eventually Boeing) are slowly but surely proving that human spaceflight is not as “hard” or “special” as NASA is fond of making it in their PR. What people do on orbit is not the stuff of 5000 competing for the spots and XX being selected and saying ‘wow we are special”…it is the stuff of the folks who are now undergoing training to be the first “astronauts” of the suborbital flights that are going to occur…and eventually that will work “on orbit”.

    The first guy to fly Spaceship 1 for Pete’s sake didnt even finish I think high school but certainly college.

    The folks on orbit do essentially what older teenagers and very young 20 somethings do on a nuclear sub or an aircraft carrier or….

    This is a good thing. As the term “astronaut” comes to mean “People who fly in space” not “NASA person that flies in space”…then the trend toward becoming more and more involved in our economy will grow.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    What do you think? J2-X and/or Cooke bye-bye?..

    the J2-X should continue…we need a good replacement/supplement for the -10.

    The people who are banging on exploration as a cause for HSF are just going to be not very happy for the next decade or so.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Or:

    “Mr. Administrator, is there any alternative to continuing with the Orion MPCV atop the SLS?”

    “Yes there is. The MPCV could be launched on the existing Delta IV Heavy, and all the the other mission elements can be launched using Delta IV Heavy or the larger commercial lifters like Atlas V Heavy and Falcon 9 Heavy, which can be available within 3 years. We don’t need the SLS, and in fact we can do more in space with the same budget if we don’t build the SLS.”

    Be careful what you wish for… ;-)

  • Anne Spudis

    NASA administrator Charles Bolden went to China and it was okay: In a statement this week, Bolden said his visit met its objectives, which including getting to know the Chinese space program and key officials as well as “reaching a common understanding of the importance of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit as the underlying principles of any future interaction between our two nations in the area of human spaceflight.” The statement emphasized that the meetings “did not include consideration of any specific proposals for future cooperation”, a sore point for some in Congress, but that it laid the groundwork for potential future cooperation.

    The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power is mentioned in the CS Monitor article below.

    China is on path to ‘militarization of space’

    Jonathan Adams, Correspondent CS Monitor – October 28, 2010

    [Excerpt] Meanwhile, some have pointed out that China’s moonshot, like all space programs, has valuable potential military offshoots. China’s space program is controlled by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is steadily gaining experience in remote communication and measurement, missile technology, and antisatellite warfare through missions like Chang’e 2.

    The security implications of China’s space program are not lost on India, Japan, or the United States.

    The Pentagon notes that China, through its space program, is exploring ways to exploit the US military’s dependence on space in a conflict scenario – for example, knocking out US satellites in the opening hours of a crisis over Taiwan.

    “China is developing the ability to attack an adversary’s space assets, accelerating the militarization of space,” the Pentagon said in its latest annual report to Congress on China’s military power. “PLA writings emphasize the necessity of ‘destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance … and communications satellites.’ ”

    More broadly, some in the US see China’s moon program as evidence that it has a long-range strategic view that’s lacking in Washington. The US has a reconnaissance satellite in lunar orbit now, but President Obama appears to have put off the notion of a manned return to the moon.

    With China slowly but surely laying the groundwork for a long-term lunar presence, some fear the US may one day find itself lapped –”like the tale of the tortoise and the hare,” says Dean Cheng, an expert on China’s space program at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “I have to wonder whether the United States, concerned with far more terrestrial issues, and with its budget constraints, is going to decide to make similarly persistent investments to sustain its lead in space.” [End Excerpt]

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2010/1028/China-is-on-path-to-militarization-of-space

  • Bennett

    MrEarl,

    You seem to be buying into windy’s cool aid. Please tell how the Dragon mock-up capsule achieved what you call“an uncontrolled orbit”.

    It not only hit the exact orbit intended, but then they restarted the engine to adjust the orbit (circularize).

    You lose credibility when you type nonsense.

  • byeman

    “Scaled Composts have flown two men into space on three different occasions. How may times has SpaceX flown anyone in space?

    Orbital flights are what matters. Scaled flights are flea hops compared to orbital flight and closer to a plane flight than spaceflight. Spacex’s Falcon 9 launch is a greater achievement than SS1. SS1 was only Mach 3 and orbital flight is mach 25. SS1 has a rudimentary life support system that would not work for very long in space.

    “How is the propsed Dragon more capable than the Boeing.”

    Boeing CST-100 is designed only for short ISS missions. Dragon can do large cargo, unpressurized cargo, long duration unmannned sortie missions, lunar missions, etc

  • byeman

    “Neither the Delta or Atlas can get close to 70mt in their present configurations. A truly heavy lift version of either vehicle would require a complete redesign.”

    Not true, it is not a “complete” redesign. They use much of the existing hardware and facilities. Even if a “complete” redesign is required, it would be cheaper than any SDLV.

  • There is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit.

    Tell it to Bob Bigelow.

    There has to at least be something on the drawing board for it to be an alternative.

    There is. He was displaying models of it in Las Cruces last week.

    Scaled Composts have flown two men into space on three different occasions. How may times has SpaceX flown anyone in space?

    Scaled has only put people into low suborbits. They are years from putting someone into orbit, if ever, and don’t even have a design with which to do so. SpaceX has orbited a Dragon boilerplate, and plans to orbit and enter a Dragon next month. All it needs is life support (which is essentially developed) and a launch abort system.

    How is the propsed Dragon more capable than the Boeing.

    Longer life on orbit, and ability to use it as a mini-space station (Dragonlab).

  • Martijn Meijering

    the J2-X should continue…we need a good replacement/supplement for the -10.

    Do we? But J2-X isn’t a good replacement, it’s so big it’s almost a first stage engine. RL-60 would make more sense. But I was getting the impression DoD wanted a cheaper version of RL-10, not a larger one.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I am very perplexed as to why Charles Bolden has kept some people in charge who are responsible (and I mean responsible) of the Constellation debacle. Could it be the “keep my friends close and my enemies closer” thing? I don’t know and even though it seems the wind of insubordination has subsided a bit I still feel this is not right. Dissent is just fine and it’s needed. But going public about it is not. There are rules so to speak especially at this level of leadership.

    As to the engine itself, it’s like any vehicle. Requirements dictate what we need. That is: The mission defines the technology not the other way around. However, if you do have some technology and want to articulate a mission around it that is perfectly fine. Just be aware of the limitation of the technology. This is what in part doomed Ares. An Ares program that was managed by the very people still in charge.

    So what does it mean for the future of say HEFT? NASA? Does it sound like a glorious future to you?

  • common sense

    @ Anne Spudis wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    It’s funny because if I were China maybe I’d try to get the US in a stupid race to the Moon see if the US take the bait. And then I would lend the US the cash to do it and harvest the interests with a great pleasure.

    Oh well…

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Robert Oler,

    The thing is that he wouldn’t say that. The simple fact is he knows that any talk of using anything other than shuttle heritage technology would be dismissed out of hand and destroy what little political influence he has.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Dissent is just fine and it’s needed. But going public about it is not.

    What makes you say this is dissent?

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I may be wrong of course but why would you mention Constellation ad nauseam in an environment that is in flux as it is right now. In environment where people make use of Constellation to deride commercial. Why would you keep coming back to Constellation? What for? What is the point? Can’t you say we are developing such and such engines with such and such capabilities? Why refer to Constellation? Why?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    With China slowly but surely laying the groundwork for a long-term lunar presence,

    you might believe that, but there is no data to support that analysis. There is nothing The PRC is doing that is indicative of wanting a long term lunar presence (I assume) by people. There is nothing but basic science being done.

    I agree with the five sided buildings assesement of PRC military space intentions but to leap from that to some sort of “they are trying to dominate the Moon” is the sort of thinking that got us bogged down in Iraq. goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    byeman wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:12 pm


    Orbital flights are what matters. Scaled flights are flea hops compared to orbital flight and closer to a plane flight than spaceflight. Spacex’s Falcon 9 launch is a greater achievement than SS1.

    I agree that the development of a launch vehicle puts SpaceX far ahead of Virgin in terms of orbital capability, but as SpaceX is about to prove there is not that much mystery in terms of orbital operation. Virgin is well on its way to having that in hand.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:28 pm


    So what does it mean for the future of say HEFT? NASA? Does it sound like a glorious future to you?

    you make two really good points.

    to the first one.

    I assume that if Charlie follows his standard method of operation that he did at USNA and his former Air Wing, he will start sacking people at the point that he has defined a clear message for the agency, and that should come, given his background in about two to three months. Charlie has a habit (and in my view it is a sound leadership technique) of changing the organizations course that he is heading and then starting to sack people who cant give the new heading 100% of their effort. He did this most notably at his MAW (Marine Air Wing) and the “goodbye” rate was pretty high.

    At somepoint next year Charlie needs to go out to some group and make a speech on something as basic as “The Future of NASA” ie where he sees the vector the agency is moving to under his watch….doing it NOW would be far to early… he needs to clear out the deadwood of programs that are sapping the life blood of the agency and then ponder where he thinks it is going…

    Because by this time next year he will need that in terms of appropriations…and he will more or less have a clear field to do that in (ie Shuttle, SDV, and Cx will be dead ). And then fire people who cannot get with the program(s). Do some head chops and deep select some people who can get with the program…and the rest of the agency will sing along.

    As for the future. I dont find any effort involving human exploration of space exciting. All of it that can be done with today’s money and technology is so “sparse” that it is almost valuless. What I see as exciting is some R&D projects, some exploitation of GEO and inward space…etc

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    What did Bigelow show last week?

    My point is, I put my trust in Scaled Composts and Boeing because for years both companies have shown innovation and expertise in aeronautical design and in the case of case of Boeing and it’s acquired subsidiaries, spacecraft development and design.

    While I support SpaceX I still feel it has a lot to prove. You and most people on this site are SpaceX fanboys and I think have lost objectivity.

  • Major Tom

    “… there are no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X… ”

    Which mission architectures? Which HLV? Which alternatives? What criteria? Which studies or data?

    I’m not trying to be mean, but you’re making a blanket statement in the absence of any specifics or evidence.

    “Each has their pros and cons and any claim that one is superior to another is strictly based on the priorities and prejudices of the writer.”

    So which is it? Are there “no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X”? Or does each alternative have “pros and cons and any claim that one is superior to another is strictly based on the priorities and prejudices of the writer”?

    Again, I’m not trying to be mean, but your statements are contradictory.

    And if your argument is the latter, then what “priorities” and “prejudices” are you applying that lead you to state that there are “no better alternatives for these missions than HLV and the J-2X”?

    “As for Orion there is no alternative. There is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit”

    That’s not true. One can point to multiple other spacecraft that are being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit.

    For example, in the HEFT study, NASA has designed a Multi-Mission
    Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) and a Deep Space Habitat (DSH) to conduct “extended missions beyond Earth orbit”. HEFT relegates Orion to a Crew Transfer Vehicle (CTV), a function that can likely be accomplished more affordably by commercial capsules or their derivatives.

    I’m not saying that HEFT is the right solution. (I’d argue that there’s a lot wrong with the study.) But your statement that “there is no alternative” to Orion because “there is no other spacecraft today being designed for extended missions beyond Earth orbit” is not true, even within NASA (forget industry alternatives).

    “70mt or 100 mt will not make an appreciable difference in costs for design, construction, infrastructure or operations.”

    Yes, it will. For example, just to grow from 72 tons to 92 tons, a sidemount SDHLV will have to:

    – replace its 4-segment SRBs with 5-segment SRBs,
    – create an SSME-based upper stage,
    – requalify its SSMEs at ~110% in that vehicle configuration, and
    – potentially replace the MLPs to take on the mass of the 5-segment SRBs.

    We’re talking at least low billions of dollars to go from ~70 to ~90 tons, with arguably the simplest SDHLV, and we havn’t even reached 100 tons of lift capability yet.

    “I would be interested in seeing how quickly more experienced companies like Boeing and Scaled Composites can get a manned craft into orbit. I would also venture to say that those crafts would be more capable than the Dragon that SpaceX has planned.”

    The Boeing CST-100 has the same crew capability as Dragon. Scaled isn’t pursuing anything, although they may be tasked with such if Virgin decides to respond to CCDev with their own design (instead of partnering).

    FWIW…

  • Virgin is well on its way to having that in hand.

    What are you talking about?

  • What did Bigelow show last week?

    Large modules designed for deep space.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/news/bigelow-aerospace-ba2100-hotel

    I put my trust in Scaled Composts

    An amusing typo.

    You and most people on this site are SpaceX fanboys and I think have lost objectivity.

    Scaled has developed, but not yet tested, a suborbital passenger vehicle (and had propulsion issues along the way, and whether they have yet been resolved remains unclear). They have revealed no specific plans for orbital activity, and have no experience in such. SpaceX has put a mass simulator into orbit, and will be launching an operational capsule in the next few weeks. Those are not the statements of a “fanboy” — they are objective facts. If there are any “fanboys” around here, it’s you for Scaled.

  • MichaelC

    “2-X isn’t a good replacement, it’s so big it’s almost a first stage engine.”

    J-2X is a second stage and earth departure engine. A pair of 5 segment SRB’s and a cluster of RS-68′s are the first stage.

    You are not talking about an HLV, you are talking about a far less capable vehicle.

    Bigelow inflatables are not long duration BEO; you boys have lost objectivity when you do not recognize the radiation shielding required. You might get away with inflatables in LEO or on a 2 week moon mission, but not for any length of time outside the protection of the magnetosphere.

    No if you have a big inflatable and a smaller one inside it and fill up between with a couple hundred tons of moon water for shielding…….

    But you will need a nuclear propulsion system to send it anywhere- and that means a HLV.

    Oh what rancor and rage those three capital letters inspire on this site.
    So much fun.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Why refer to Constellation? Why?

    I think it is part of the compromise that was worked out with the “space senators”.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I also have a suspicion and that is that Charles Bolden was called in to do the grand cleaning of the house. That because of his credentials he would face a lot less opposition than a civilian say. Then when all is said and done he would retire to his family and friends and be replaced with some one more like O’Keefe, a political and financial talented manager. The timeline seems slow on this side of the fence but then again it is a big agency.

    Now as they say, a lot are already calling for his resignation, thus he must be doing something right…

    Oh well…

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “I think it is part of the compromise that was worked out with the “space senators”.”

    No I don’t think you see my point. I agree with you that there is a compromise and that said senators tried to keep somehow Constellation going. BUT the compromise does not call for Constellation now does it? Is there any where Constellation mentioned in the compromise? There is a new direction and it is not called Constellation. There is a reason. That direction was “instated” by Charles Bolden, no matter what some say on blogs. Again if I were him and someone keep referring to the old program I just axed because it was too expensive and that someone be in an executive position I do not see why I would keep that person around. Especially a person who was an executive for the said failed program, i.e. Constellation.

    See what I mean?

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “I think it is part of the compromise that was worked out with the “space senators”.”

    Oh and btw, Cooke works for Bolden, not for the Senators. I think it is a rather important detail.

    Oh well…

  • Martijn Meijering

    But you will need a nuclear propulsion system to send it anywhere- and that means a HLV.

    Why would that require an HLV?

  • Alex

    Isn’t NASA due to hand in a 60-day report on a HLV architecture in early Jan.? This should be the end of the beginning, finally (as it pertains to SDHLV vs. EELV-derived).

  • Martijn Meijering

    But you will need a nuclear propulsion system to send it anywhere

    Actually, you don’t.

  • MaryR

    “I also have a suspicion and that is that Charles Bolden was called in to do the grand cleaning of the house.”

    Aside from a couple of the top people in education and public affairs, one thing Bolden has not done is clean house. He has hardly moved anyone. The JSC center manager was just commenting the other day about how happy all the senior people were that almost no one was removed when Bolden came in.
    There is no house cleaning going on. Just the opposite. Almost nothing has changed.

  • DCSCA

    CharlesHouston wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 9:37 am

    He’s useless. A place holder. Garver will be gone within a year for a gig with a contactor and Bolden will retire as well.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “I also have a suspicion and that is that Charles Bolden was called in to do the grand cleaning of the house.”

    As Bolden was Senator Nelson’s pick would this mean Nelson picked him to do a housecleaning he knew was coming? This would seem to be totally against everything Nelson was pushing for Florida space.

  • Fred Willett

    On Mr Bolden and house cleaning.
    Wait a week and see what happens.
    The new congress may be more interested in down sizing than exploration.
    Any house cleaning may be more like house resizing… downwards.
    And if you think a HLV is set in stone, well…
    We’ll see.

  • Bennett

    “Again if I were him and someone keep referring to the old program I just axed because it was too expensive and that someone be in an executive position I do not see why I would keep that person around. Especially a person who was an executive for the said failed program, i.e. Constellation.

    See what I mean?”

    Is “Quoted For Truth” still applicable? If so, then yes!

  • reader

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 4:12 pm
    “Anne Spudis wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    >>With China slowly but surely laying the groundwork for a long-term lunar presence,

    you might believe that, but there is no data to support that analysis. There is nothing The PRC is doing that is indicative of wanting a long term lunar presence (I assume) by people. There is nothing but basic science being done.”

    Oler, you are wrong with that. Chinese have explicitly stated several times now that Chang’e program is about technology development, with science taking back seat.

    Plus, you may want to read this:
    http://luna-ci.com/2010/chinas-lead-lunar-scientist-speaks-on-chinas-and-the-moons-status/
    “Although we are not able to exploit these resources due to the extremely high cost and technological limitations, as scientists, we have the responsibility to prove the existence of these resources and inform the people.”

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    NASA won’t have the money to do all that’s being asked of it – again! HLV, Orion, J2-X. The show goes on. Only commercial can move forward in any meaningful way and save NASA’s bacon.

    With respect to SpaceX, Boeing, Virgin and Scaled; the former 2 are in orbital while the latter 2 are involved in sub-orbital. No comparison in terms of degree of difficulty. Anyone who states differently isn’t worth reading since they haven’t done their homework.
    Of SpaceX and Boeing, SpaceX is a long way in front with launching of a fully operational Dragon Cargo Vehicle (dare I say a DCaV – LOL) only a month or so away. Boeing still have to close their business case on the CST-100 which is designed for short crew leo hops unlike DCaV. SpaceX have also stated on the record that they will continue to pursue Dragon Crew Vehicle (DCrV) irrespective of gov’t funding. They’re clearly interested in non-NASA crew services (Bigelow) as well.
    So far as CCDev Rd2 goes, I’d expect to see SpaceX, Boeing with the majority.

  • common sense

    @ MaryR wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I did not said it had already happened. I was saying, following Robert’s comments on Bolden’s strategy (re-read his post) that the ultimate goal is to clean up the house. I think that without the change in direction allowed by Congress he could not have done much of anything anyway. And it might not even make sense. If there is an ongoing program you might want to keep the same leadership. Now there is a new program coming down the line. The test would be to see how quickly they could change as Robert suggested.

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    It seems to me that Nelson has pushed about anything for Florida. One day an SD-HLV advocate another day a commercial space supporter another day a Shuttle monger of sort. Anyway I am not sure how Nelson is being a factor in this, not anymore. Since Constellation is dead and Shuttle almost dead too what is it there is left for him? Commercial, so we’ll see. He may have to go with the flow too…

    Oh and finally, if nothing changes at NASA as he once said (not verbatim here) how do you expect results to be any different? That was his philosophy coming in so…

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I also have a suspicion and that is that Charles Bolden was called in to do the grand cleaning of the house.

    The hardest part of Charlie’s task remains…he has been very adept at killing the problem programs at NASA…now he needs to drive the agency in a manner that makes it useful to The Republic.

    NASA is very lucky that Obama killed the programs like Cx and has let shuttle die. What one could not imagine a year ago, and I think will only get worse is that The Republic’s economy is going to continue to melt down. In the end after the election; particularly if the House goes like I am starting to think it will, we are in for two years of simple grid lock…and the economy will continue to slide.

    The GOP is going to be under some pressure to really cut spending, and NASA will NOW be low hanging fruit…but with programs like Cx and shuttle it would be even easier.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/news/bigelow-aerospace-ba2100-hotel

    congrats to Rand Simberg on a nice piece…

    its a good read.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    ‘I agree that the development of a launch vehicle puts SpaceX far ahead of Virgin in terms of orbital capability, but as SpaceX is about to prove there is not that much mystery in terms of orbital operation. Virgin is well on its way to having that in hand.

    Robert G. Oler’

    Agreed the first part about SpaceX but where do you figure Virgin has orbital experience. I know Branson is going to make some sort of statement in a couple of months about potentially partnering with someone or going it alone but there’s been nothing that I know about regarding Virgin expertise in the orbital business.
    Come on Robert – spill the intel’ if you’ve got it?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Oh and btw, Cooke works for Bolden, not for the Senators. I think it is a rather important detail.

    I think Bolden is on board with this. The idea would be to let the money flow into J2X, the 5 seg boosters, SSME for a while, while pretending to build an HLV. At least I hope that’s what it is.

  • Aggelos

    “Yes, it will. For example, just to grow from 72 tons to 92 tons, a sidemount SDHLV will have to:

    – replace its 4-segment SRBs with 5-segment SRBs,
    – create an SSME-based upper stage,
    – requalify its SSMEs at ~110% in that vehicle configuration, and
    – potentially replace the MLPs to take on the mass of the 5-segment SRBs.”

    sidemount?thats is out of the case..I think
    for Inline Direct launcher,,for 70 to 90 t,,just the 5 seg srbs are required..3 ssmes are enough and not changed..

    according the direct plans..

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Purely FWIW, I think that J-2X must go. Even if it was still affordable (which it isn’t), it’s an artifact of the various problems that emerged with the Ares-I program and it isn’t really needed on an SSME-powered, SSET-derived SDLV. An RL-10 cluster would perform just as well, perhaps even better, given how high the core would throw the upper stage.

    It is also worth noting that the upper stage engine actually becomes a second phase project with a true D-SDLV. The initial LEO test and ISS support capability is achievable with only the core and AJ-10s from the same production line as those on the Orion.

    I think I’ve said this before but, so long as NASA continues to pursue a fantasy of developing a 100t+ IMLEO LV as the initial form of SLS, they are basically inviting cancellation of the project. The time has come for MSFC to adapt to the fact that, at most, it is going to get J-130/-24x with a RL-10 powered upper stage (~100t IMLEO, ~45t TLI, single launch). Ares-V (in any form) is off the table. In realistic terms, it was never really on the table.

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ October 29th, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I think I’ve said this before but, so long as NASA continues to pursue a fantasy of developing a 100t+ IMLEO LV as the initial form of SLS, they are basically inviting cancellation of the project.

    I agree with this point, and since I’m on record for saying that HLV’s are not needed right now, I see efforts to build anything more than the basic SLS as a perfect way to kill the SLS.

    It’s not the jobs I object to in building the SLS, but the budgetary overhead the SLS needs after it becomes operational – that will stunt NASA exploration efforts for at least a decade.

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 29th, 2010 at 5:02 am

    “I think Bolden is on board with this. The idea would be to let the money flow into J2X, the 5 seg boosters, SSME for a while, while pretending to build an HLV. At least I hope that’s what it is.”

    I am not sure why Bolden would kill Constellation and then let the money flow to hmm Son-of-Constellation. The problem with Constellation has not disappeared! All that money still is a huge waste. One might argue better to waste for another 2 years than 20 years and let this thing die away, because no matter what SD HLV will die! SRBs are a waste used like this anyway. Not even speaking expending the SSMEs: We would recover the most useless part of the LV, i.e. the SRBs, and dump the most expensive and useful the SSMEs… Anyway.

    I tend to be with Robert on that one. Bolden is here to straight the house right and if he does not do it then “gravity” will take care of it. And I also agree with about the economy, it ain’t over yet. Foreclosures are supposed to resume if they haven’t yet, then credit cards, then health care, then…

    Just watch.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I think Bolden is under directions from the White House to do this. And just to be clear, I agree it is an enormous waste of money. However, as Ron said, it could turn out to be the best way to get rid of the HLV altogether. In that case wasting a lot of money now would still be better than wasting a larger amount of money (and time, and opportunity cost) later.

  • Vladislaw

    Burt Rutan and T.space had proposed an air launched system for the CEV program. It required a large launch plane. Virgin has the large launch plane now. The two companies Branson refers to is probably these two companies.

  • eh

    100mt first stage is listed in the HEFT chart as a stretched tank with 5 segment. That will get them to 130mt in the chart with a J2x second stage. Sounds like Congress was anticipating the stretched tank given the language.

  • Coastal Ron

    eh wrote @ October 30th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Sounds like Congress was anticipating the stretched tank given the language.

    I think all Congress was anticipating was how to keep certain constituents (people and companies) in the loop after the end of Constellation. We’ll see soon if that worked…

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ October 30th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I believe t/Space is out of business after losing the CEV but I am not sure. I also doubt they will go this route. But just a hunch. Don’t know.

  • Martijn Meijering

    t/Space is on the list of companies expressing interest in CCDev 2.

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 30th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    “t/Space is on the list of companies expressing interest in CCDev 2.”

    Okay then. Good for them! I thought they went out of business but maybe I just misunderstood.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Maybe they went into hibernation as a paper business for a while, with the owners employed elsewhere?

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 30th, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    “Maybe they went into hibernation as a paper business for a while, with the owners employed elsewhere?”

    Yep could be.

  • t/Space was never a “business.” It was an alliance of companies flying in loose formation. It could be reassembled quite easily.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    A bit OT but:
    you know, just a thought. I wonder if there are any organisations who would be willing to fly as crew on a SpaceX Falcon/Dragon to a Bigelow space station (Sundancer due for launch 2014 but with slip, say 2015/16) without a LAS of any sort.
    With Dragon Cargo just about ready to go, and say it’s successful (no reason why not), there will be a dozen or more launch and returns before it’s called on to do crew. Suppose it’s 100% succcessful. All you need is an upgraded life support and seats to handle crew. Nothing else since Dragon Cargo does everything autonomously. The LES; actually for Dragon it’s more than just launch since it’s all the way to orbit; is the long timeframe and expensive item holding Dragon Crew up.

    Shuttle flys without one!!
    Well!!? Any takers??

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