Congress, NASA

Senate releases draft omnibus appropriations bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee has issued its proposed FY2011 omnibus appropriations bill, after the House passed its version of a 2011 spending bill last week. The NASA sections begin on page 184 and appear to be very similar, of not identical, to the House version, including several key items:

  • $1.8 billion for HLV development, with the requirement that its initial capacity be not less than 130 tons;
  • $1.2 billion for the multipurpose crew vehicle (aka Orion);
  • $250 million for commercial crew and $300 million for commercial cargo

One minor addition to the Senate bill: it includes $15 million for a reimbursable agreement with the Department of Energy to restart plutonium production for use in RTGs, something the science community has been pushing for in recent years in order to support outer solar system and other missions where solar panels are impractical.

85 comments to Senate releases draft omnibus appropriations bill

  • GeeSpace

    The restarting pf plitnium production for RTG use is very important for missions beyind Earth orbit. And the $15 million would be well spent. Hopefully an another $15 million will be in the Energy Deoartment’s budget for RTG plutonium production

  • Martijn Meijering

    “the initial lift capability for the heavy lift launch vehicle system shall be not less than 130 tons and that the upper stage and other core elements shall be developed simultaneously”

    Translation: we want to continue to work on as many subsystems as possible so every fiefdom gets some money and yes we know this means the thing will never fly.

  • amightywind

    Regardless of the favorable funding for Constella…HLV/Orion this bill should be rejected. America did not shellac the democrats only to have them rob the treasury once more on the way out the capital. The omnibus bill was devised in secret and larded with pork. A continuing resolution will be fine until a new congress can redirect NASA.

  • So we’re spending $1.8 billion on a heavy-lifter, but the bill doesn’t specify what it’s going to be used for — if anything.

    Another jobs bill.

    As for the $1.2 billion for Orion, Boeing just announced they’re going forward with the CST-100 which will serve the same purpose. And if that’s not enough redundancy, there are also the SpaceX Dragon and the Orbital space plane.

    So that’s $3 billion to keep those stagecoach jobs going in the era of the horseless carriage.

  • GeeSpace wrote:

    The restarting pf plitnium production …

    Is “plitnium” anything like unobtainium? :-)

  • Elch

    “$250 million for commercial crew and $300 million for commercial cargo”

    - Based on past programs, NASA takes a large share of this and little goes to the commercial provider itself
    - Interesting that cargo gets more funding than crew. Safety requirements for crew are more challenging and, if a mishap occured, would seriously affect the commercial crew market.

  • byeman

    “Regardless of the favorable funding for Constella…HLV/Orion” and “larded with pork.” are one and the same thing.

    A continuing resolution would be good, it would basically kill any SDLV.

  • byeman

    “- Based on past programs, NASA takes a large share of this and little goes to the commercial provider itself”

    What is this wrong assertion on what data? Most of NASA’s money goes to contractors and not “NASA” as an institution.

  • Translation: we want to continue to work on as many subsystems as possible so every fiefdom gets some money and yes we know this means the thing will never fly.

    It might…in 2020.

    America did not shellac the democrats only to have them rob the treasury once more on the way out the capital. The omnibus bill was devised in secret and larded with pork. A continuing resolution will be fine until a new congress can redirect NASA.

    In your dreams Windy..the Establishment GOPers are already “educating” the so-called “Tea-Party”, i.e., “Tax Compromise.” LOL. ;D

    Meet the new Congress, same as the old.

  • Major Tom

    “- Based on past programs, NASA takes a large share of this and little goes to the commercial provider itself”

    No, the COTS program office at JSC and supporting functions were only a few percent of the total COTS program. The rest of the funding went to SpaceX and OSC (and Rocketplane-Kistler).

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Interesting that cargo gets more funding than crew. Safety requirements for crew are more challenging and, if a mishap occured, would seriously affect the commercial crew market.”

    The crew development program (CCDev) is ramping up, while the cargo program (COTS) is ramping down.

  • Coastal Ron

    Elch wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Based on past programs, NASA takes a large share of this and little goes to the commercial provider itself

    In what way? The NASA program offices have a program office staff, but where do you think they are spending the money? They are certainly not keeping it, and the U.S. Government doesn’t give out Wall Street type bonuses, so where do you think the money is going?

    Interesting that cargo gets more funding than crew.

    The real reason is that cargo is an already established program, and it is getting ready to move into the actual delivery phase – possibly next year with SpaceX, but definitely 2012 for both SpaceX and Orbital.

    For commercial crew, Congress has not fully backed it yet, so this is just the initial funding to get things going – certainly not enough to fund the complete implementation of two or more U.S. crew providers. When Congress finally gets behind it the funding levels will increase. It’s either that or cutting more checks to Lord Putin for rides to the ISS… ;-)

  • Das Boese

    New Pu-238 would be good news. Certainly better than waiting if the Russians find some more, forgotten in a basement corner.

    Cassini’s exploration of Saturn and its moons is a tremendous success story of unmanned exploration, it’s about time that we send a similar mission to Jupiter (actually, all the gas planets should get one, but that’s just my personal opinion), perhaps with a landing on Europa. One of my university’s projects is a thermal ice drill with exactly that idea in mind :D

  • John Malkin

    A continuing resolution will be fine until a new congress can redirect NASA.

    Actually our new GOP senator is already serving. We had a vote on the person that would finish Obama’s term in the lame duck session and another one for the full term. Illinois politics at its best… (sarcastic)

  • ben Joshua

    The minimal investment in commercial cargo and crew may have more impact on America’s future spaceflight capabilities than twenty years of HLV funding.

    Changing NASA is hard and slow, but this small pivot to thr private sector is starting a “below the radar” move toward lower costs, greater reliability, leaner bureaucracy and new markets.

    America, do you want the pride back?

  • E.P. Grondine

    In short – ATK wants its 5 segment so it can enter the medium lift commercial/defense market, where we already have 3 providers

  • Robert G. Oler

    ben Joshua wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 11:32 am

    “America, do you want the pride back?”

    if we could get the jobs and the economy that the Bush administration cost us, the pride would come back itself!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    In short – ATK wants its 5 segment so it can enter the medium lift commercial/defense market, where we already have 3 providers

    If that’s what comes out of it in the end then that’s not the worst thing that could happen. All these launchers still need to launch something and propellant is about the only thing that is affordable and can usefully be launched in great quantities. The sad thing is that we could have started doing that years, maybe decades ago.

  • Ferris Valyn

    EP Grondine – I’ll be damn surprised if anybody is seriously looking at a 5 segment 1st stage for that market.

  • amightywind

    f we could get the jobs and the economy that the Bush administration cost us, the pride would come back itself!

    Such statements were more politically compelling before Obama had a track record. The correlation between taxation levels and minimum wage and employment are particularly compelling.

  • Martijn Meijering

    EP Grondine – I’ll be damn surprised if anybody is seriously looking at a 5 segment 1st stage for that market.

    It’s about the money and the stage design experience I think, not so much the design itself. If they can’t get direct funding for Athena (and they shouldn’t), they can try to get it the indirect way through the 5 seg boosters, which of course they also shouldn’t get.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    In short – ATK wants its 5 segment so it can enter the medium lift commercial/defense market, where we already have 3 providers

    You’re saying they want to resurrect Ares I? It doesn’t matter that they have the 5-segment booster “ready to go” or not, the launcher would still be missing the upper stage. Unless they plan to fund it internally, there is no NASA budget or need for that, especially since (as you point out) there are existing alternatives available.

  • Rhyolite

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    “EP Grondine – I’ll be damn surprised if anybody is seriously looking at a 5 segment 1st stage for that market.”

    ATK proposed an SRB based medium launch vehicle for EELV. They were cut early in the competition but they revive the idea periodically.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    if we could get the jobs and the economy that the Bush administration cost us, the pride would come back itself!

    Here in Brevard County today, I was having a conversation with someone about the future of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and commercial flight when a colleague of hers overheard the conversation and decided to inject her opinion.

    She informed me that she hated Obama because he cancelled Constellation, and Constellation was a weapon that was going to defend us from the Russians attacking us from space because the Russians are our enemy.

    Really.

    I spent the next 15 minutes patiently explaining the history of the last seven years to her. She then switched the subject to tell me why she hates Senator Bill Nelson.

    Sigh.

  • Another Heavy Lift albatross being slung across NASA’s neck for a decade or so.

    Sounds like a Griffinism to sacrifice all that NASA could be doing now for a hope that NASA can launch one big rocket ten or twenty years down the road.

    2030 or so it might actually productively fly…

  • Anyone know when this monster will be voted on?

  • red

    “Not to exceed 5 percent of any appropriation made available for the current fiscal year for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in this Act may be transferred between such appropriations, but no such appropriation, except as otherwise specifically provided, shall be increased by more than 10 percent by any such transfers.”

    So does this mean that if some program like JWST goes on a budget rampage, and NASA isn’t willing to shut it down, NASA can use funding from other areas, such as SLS or Orion, to protect the innocent? 5% of $1.8B + $1.2B is $150M, a good chunk of what JWST is supposedly hungering for.

  • Fred Cink

    Das Boese is on to something. A tech-upgraded Cassini class orbiter for each of the gas giants, all on a common bus with some destination specific science instruments/probes/landers. Using commonality and lessons learned from both Cassini and Galileo, launched every few years during Jupiter gravity assist windows.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Ferris wrote:
    “I’ll be damn surprised if anybody is seriously looking at a 5 segment 1st stage for that market.”

    Hi Ferris –

    I’m sure that Utah will come up with some need.

    It is surprising that the AF turned down ATK’s SRB proposal in the EELV competition. I would be most interested in learning the contents of the rapid response understanding that Bolden signed earlier this year.

    sftommy wrote –
    “Another Heavy Lift albatross being slung across NASA’s neck for a decade or so.

    Sounds like a Griffinism to sacrifice all that NASA could be doing now for a hope that NASA can launch one big rocket ten or twenty years down the road.

    2030 or so it might actually productively fly…”

    Hi sftommy –

    Its more like another ATK albatross being slung across NASA’s nec for the next 40 years, just as the Shuttle SRB’s were. Most of the analysts I hang with have been depressed about this architecure since Griffin first announced it. It has been like watching a Mack truck hit a loaded schoolbus in slow motion – and it simply just keeps on getting worse.

    Team Direct seems to think that NASA will actually be able to use Direct as the first stage with an upper stage to reach 130 tons. Fat chance.

    RGO wrote:
    “Really.”

    Hi RGO –
    Language and facts are the first things to go, and they started disappearing in the mid 1990′s. People hear what they want to believe.

    BTW – did you know that Carl Sagan was macked by a porpoise?
    (At least that isn’t depressing.)

  • E.P. Grondine

    Correction – Sagan was macked by a dolphin, Peter Dolphin, if you want to google it.

  • Rhyolite

    Rhyolite wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    To correct my own post, the ATK EELV proposal was based on the Titan IV SRMU rather than the Shuttle SRB. Nonetheless, the Air Force was not interested in a large solid rocket medium lift launch vehicle.

  • Ferris Valyn wrote:

    I’ll be damn surprised if anybody is seriously looking at a 5 segment 1st stage for that market.

    I was at a dinner tonight here in the Space Coast with some folks who work at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They told me that the remains of the Ares I-X are lying out in the open behind a particular hangar. They said that, because the rocket was so crumpled after hitting the water too fast because the chutes partially failed, NASA was never able to separate the stages. So NASA finally just took a saw to it and cut it up into pieces which are supposedly lying out in the open behind the aforementioned hangar.

    The next time I’m on base, I’m going to drive by and see if it’s true.

  • Shaggy

    @ Rhyolite

    The AF was not interested in SRBs just as most of you folks aren’t interested in SRBs. Politics (Boeing’s and LMCO’s lobbyists) and people’s prejudice won over technical and sound engineering.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    if one enjoys history (and I do) one of the things that concerns me a great deal about this time in our history is that it is starting to mimic eras in our past where serious “game changing” occurred in our political system….what has happened is that both parties have become captive of base that is in no small measure out of touch with reality; which the true mechanisms of the party are more or less controlled by corporate interest…and this is driving our politics to a point where reason no longer prevails in the shouting areana of idears…but fantasy does.

    This is one reason I hit Homer Hickem so hard. He should no better then to make up things about Charlie Bolden. We are in a time where we need serious debate on issues, human spaceflight is one of them…and charges devoid of reality are not helpful.

    It is going to be interesting and entertaining to me to watch the House leadership try and hold the GOP together. Today I watched the Junior Texas Senator try and defend his “pork” after having signed a pledge to not have any…and to the person’s credit the Fox News interviewer called him out on it.

    At some point, in my view before thigns get better our political system (ie the two parties) are going to have to crack and dissolve before reforming into more coherent groups.

    As someone else said about the new Congress…you will love it if you liked the current one.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Fred Cink wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Das Boese is on to something. A tech-upgraded Cassini class orbiter for each of the gas giants, all on a common bus with some destination specific science instruments/probes/landers. Using commonality and lessons learned from both Cassini and Galileo, launched every few years during Jupiter gravity assist windows…

    thats a good move

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Don’t kid yourselves. The Obama administration is being set up for some massive cuts in discretionary spending by Republicans in the new Congress if/when these latest deficit-busting bill make it through the lame duck session. And the rationale is sound. The coming years will be austere and bleak for NASA and other agencies. It is literally being staked out in the sun for a ritual sacrifice. It’s gonna be sliced and diced to the bone because much of what it ‘does’ is considered a luxury, not a necessity, in the Age of Austerity. The only real future for longer term space project planning and proposals, manned and unmanned, is for the space agency to be absorbed as a ‘division,’ of the DoD. shedding duplications of facilitiesa and personnel, and ‘protected’ with the umbrella of ‘national security’ as a shield. In this political and economic environment America’s space program is a Cold War relic the United States can no longer afford in its present configuration when the government has to borrow 41 cents of every dollar it spends.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    This is one reason I hit Homer Hickem so hard. He should no better then to make up things about Charlie Bolden.

    I dismissed it as a very minor celebrity uses his small platform to blow off steam. Clearly Hickam doesn’t know squat about the politics of government-funded space exploration.

    At some point, in my view before thigns get better our political system (ie the two parties) are going to have to crack and dissolve before reforming into more coherent groups.

    This is the brilliance of Obama embracing commercial access to LEO. It takes Congress out of the loop. No more Congresscritters dictacting designs or lobbying behind the scenes for selection of their home-district contractors. We just buy a flight from the best offer. SpaceX showed last week how simple LEO access should be, and in 2011 they’ll show how simply ISS access should be. But then the Russians have been showing us that for years.

    In the end, I think that’s what has people like Shelby and Hall and the others so mad. Obama is cutting off the pork gravy train, and they know it. They couldn’t care less about the nation’s space program or any vision. They just want to keep the pork flowing.

  • amightywind

    This is the brilliance of Obama embracing commercial access to LEO. It takes Congress out of the loop. No more Congresscritters dictacting designs or lobbying behind the scenes for selection of their home-district contractors.

    There is not much of the Obama presidency that can be labelled brilliant. America has retreated on all fronts under his leadership – the economy, international relations, militarily – everything except in the issuance of debt. Obama’s inept space policy has left NASA in chaos for 2 years with no end in sight. After a year of review and a disastrous roll out of his nihilist space policy, he quickly acquiesced to Constellation-lite. Except now the Senate has designed the rockets, not Mike Griffin. No, the past 2 years of will go down in history as a low point for NASA. With the end of the shuttle program the failure of leadership couldn’t have come at a worse time. Lets hope the damage is recoverable and NASA can be put on more solid footing by the 112th congress.

  • MM_NASA

    This is great news for the NASA Centers. We have a lot of previous designs such as Ares 1, Saturn V etc that we can build on for the new HLV. This will provide HSF beyond LEO – quite exciting times ahead! Any ideas who will be the Project Manager and Chief Engineer for HLV?

    Fortunate to be a part of it :)

  • Vladislaw

    “This is great news for the NASA Centers. We have a lot of previous designs such as Ares 1, Saturn V etc that we can build on for the new HLV.”

    It may be great news for the centers but is it great news for the Nation and goals of opening up space? NASA has 13 proposals for a hllv, should we wait and look at those before we saddle the Nation with what we know are unsustainable launch vehicles? America already blew through 10 billion for the Ares 1 and congress said we can not afford it and we know the Sat V was also to expensive, why do you want to hang another launch vehicle on America that we can not afford and will only get canceled after NASA wastes billions of dollars and years to time on it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ December 16th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    no matter brilliance or blind luck (and I lean toward the later perhaps with a does of “wow there is no where else to go here”) the notion of commercial space is a game changer for human space activities.

    Look I suspect that Musk (and some others) would have gotten there all by themselves…the notion that “space is hard” is a NASA fiction that has grown up as the organization has floundered from one task to the other. Years ago when I watched the dolts who killed the crew on Columbia try and explain their “actions” it dawned on me that all they were doing is taking the excuse that NASA HSF uses every day and trying to shield their personal goofs with it.

    But the joy of Cx is that it finally was just a “asteroid” that the dinasours at JSC and other places simply ran out of (as we say in flying) “altitude, airspeed, and ideas” all at the same time. And really in the end there was no where else to go but to try something completely different.

    And while there are doubtless some setbacks ahead the notion of commercial human spaceflight will continue to grow. And I reveal in everything Musk and Virgin and others do because each time they do it, it is a stab at hte heart of “we are docking at 17,500 mph” thunderheads.

    As for our politics. The politicians (for the most part there are a few exceptions) we have today are mostly frauds. They are people who have latched onto a “base” and no matter the reality of the situation milk it for all its worth in terms of their rhetoric and actions trying to eek out majorities at each election.

    This was no more apparant then the 06 election when Bush had his creaming. Right up until Bush made his course change in Iraq bush and all this thunderheads were chanting “stay the course” and then when Bush changed course…the same thunderheads starting saying “support the surge”.

    Our politics now is in a fairly dynamic and non stable condition, I predict that unless a miracle occurs and the economy gets better…we are going to see in the next two years both parties continue their implosion to detonation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • The only real future for longer term space project planning and proposals, manned and unmanned, is for the space agency to be absorbed as a ‘division,’ of the DoD. shedding duplications of facilitiesa and personnel, and ‘protected’ with the umbrella of ‘national security’ as a shield.

    Continued repetition of stupid predictions doesn’t somehow render them intelligent.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW wrote:
    “Obama’s inept space policy has left NASA in chaos for 2 years with no end in sight. After a year of review and a disastrous roll out of his nihilist space policy, he quickly acquiesced to Constellation-lite. Except now the Senate has designed the rockets, not Mike Griffin. No, the past 2 years of will go down in history as a low point for NASA.”

    This mess started with ATK, Griffin, and Ares 1. Obama had his NASA Adminstrator selection Gration blocked. It is true that his proposal to develop Dr. Aldrin’s StarChaser launch system (affordable, re-usable heavy lift) and his proposal to use the L2 architecture for asteroid and Mars flight were ineptly handled. (To this day almost no one knows that the L2 architecture has an 11 year history.)

    So Obama goes with Direct, and what happens? ATK blocks it.
    More billion$ blown. (BTW, my guess is Musk developed Falcon 9 for roughly ATK’s lobbying budget.

    In the meantime, China gets ready for mass production of the Long March 5, and to enter the launch and sat markets with really low prices. China’s decision now is whether to make LM5 reusable, say with folding wings, and multiple launches for manned missions, or go to a larger engine. I think China will go reusable, like the Zenith was supposed to.

    Also in the meantime, the Earth will be in the midst of Comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3′s debris stream in 2022, and we have a NASA Associate Administrator who claims 1) nothing is going to happen, and 2) its not his job.

    As far as the economy goes,Christmas just got snowed out. Personally, these few lines take me an ungodly amount of time to think out and peck out and its freezing here.

    Anyone else up for a visit to Sea World?

  • byeman

    “The AF was not interested in SRBs just as most of you folks aren’t interested in SRBs. Politics (Boeing’s and LMCO’s lobbyists) and people’s prejudice won over technical and sound engineering.”

    huh? What are you smoking. “technical and sound engineering.” are what eliminated the SRB’s. SRB’s would not have been able to fly most of the current missions on EELV’s

  • Greyroger

    ATK 5 segment SRB’s, used in pairs, are going to be on the HLV and they are going to make the HLV a far better option than 9 engine toy rockets, all hydrogen or russian engined expendables.

    They have been constantly inspected and developed for over 30 years- and they have failed exactly once out of over a hundred missions carrying humans. The five segment test motor they fired used segments from the columbia’s first flight.

    They are the basis for any kind of a beyond earth space program but you musk fanatics and anti-nasa/anti-government libertines do not like they fact that it costs money to generate 6 million pounds at lift-off.

    How many merlins does it take to get 6 million pounds of thrust? Or how many Falcon’s have to fly to put 130 tons into orbit?

    One HLV with a pair of 5 segment SRB’s will make the 4, 5, and more launches needed to match it a second best proposition.

    You guys are the ones smoking dope and fantasizing about taking a space vacation.

  • They are the basis for any kind of a beyond earth space program

    Not an affordable one.

  • amightywind

    ATK 5 segment SRB’s, used in pairs, are going to be on the HLV and they are going to make the HLV a far better option than 9 engine toy rockets, all hydrogen or russian engined expendables.

    It doesn’t take a genius to see that the 1 1/2 stage design or a hydrogen core and an SRB is a great solution. The SRB is compact, high thrust, short duration burn is ideal for flight in the lower atmosphere where there are air losses. It is available. It works.

    Not an affordable one

    Facepalm.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ December 16th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Not an affordable one

    Facepalm.

    That of course would be your facepalm when you realized that SRM’s are too expensive.

    It’s pretty obvious that you don’t know how much they cost. Just for the SRM itself, ATK was charging $34.3M per motor, and that was during the Shuttle programs highest launch pace. That also doesn’t include the added cost of keeping them safe and turning them into SRB’s. With a 5-segment version, and much lower flight rates, you can probably double or triple that figure.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 16th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    How many merlins does it take to get 6 million pounds of thrust? Or how many Falcon’s have to fly to put 130 tons into orbit?

    SRB’s only get you partway to space, so don’t be so focused on them. At some point you have to ignite an LH2/LOX or RP-1/LOX engine to truly get you to space.

    Regarding Falcon’s to put 130 tons into orbit, I’ll gladly talk about cost if you will. Are you ready to defend the cost effectiveness of launchers that rely on SRB’s?

    As of today, Falcon 9 puts 23,050 lbs into LEO for $56M, or $2,430/lb. Falcon 9 Heavy, which is advertised on their website, is priced at $95M to put 70,548 lbs into LEO, or $1,347/lb.

    Let’s talk ULA too. The only public numbers I have for Delta IV Heavy are that after being upgraded for crew ($1.3B), that it would cost $300M/flight. Delta IV Heavy carries 49,470 to LEO, so that equates to $6,064/lb.

    So to put 130 tons in LEO, Falcon 9 Heavy would cost $350M, Falcon 9 would cost $632M, and Delta IV Heavy would cost $1.577B.

    How much would your mythical SRB-powered HLV cost to build, how much to launch ($/lb), and based on your assumption for amortization, what is the total overall cost per launch?

    Compare that to existing launchers, and tell the American Taxpayer what a deal SRB-powered launchers are.

  • Major Tom

    “ATK 5 segment SRB’s, used in pairs, are going to be on the HLV and they are going to make the HLV a far better option than 9 engine toy rockets”

    That nine-engine “toy rocket” is 2-0. The five-segent SRB, whether in a single-stick configuration or part of a larger stack, is 0-0.

    Neither is a toy. But one has flight history while the other does not.

    “They are the basis for any kind of a beyond earth space program”

    This statement is just factually wrong. The only beyond-Earth human space flight program in history, Apollo, didn’t use solid rocket boosters of any kind.

    “Or how many Falcon’s have to fly to put 130 tons into orbit?”

    One Falcon X Heavy will put 125 tons in LEO.

    Or one Falcon XX will put 140 tons in LEO.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/asd/2010/08/05/07.xml&headline=SpaceX%20Unveils%20Heavy-Lift%20Vehicle%20Plan

    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2010/SpaceX_Overview_TEM.pdf

    Your choice.

    “You guys are the ones smoking dope…”

    It takes a “dope” to argue that vehicles with multiple successful launches under their belt are “toys” while vehicles that have never flown somehow aren’t.

    It takes a “dope” to argue that BEO human space flight requires solid rocket boosters when the only BEO human space flight program in history never used them.

    It take a “dope” to argue that a rocket can’t put a payload of a certain size in orbit when multiple configurations of that rocket can do so.

    Put down the pipe and step away.

    Cripes…

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ December 16th, 2010 at 11:51 am
    If you’re going to pass yourself off as an ‘educator’ you best start with educating yourself on the histories of rocket research and space programs in general ( in military circles) and America’ in particular. In its early phases, before NASA was formed, rocket and space research was conducted chiefly by the military and they fully expected to be managing those research programs well into the 60′s until NASA was created. Of course if NASA was tucked under the wing of the DoD, that would make it more difficult for firms (and those who shill for them) like SpaceX to obtain government subsidies and contracts, pushing them far down the list.

  • Lars

    DCSCA,
    You keep using the word “subsidies”.

    But I don’t think you know what it means. This may be a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidy

  • Breaking news … The omnibus spending bill has fallen through:

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/16/breaking-reid-pulls-spending-bill/?hpt=T2

    It says Senate majority leader Harry Reid will “work with Republicans on a short-term alternative.”

  • In its early phases, before NASA was formed, rocket and space research was conducted chiefly by the military and they fully expected to be managing those research programs well into the 60′s until NASA was created.

    What mental deficiency would cause you to think that I’m unaware of that? It has nothing to do with your repeated lunacy about the DoD taking over NASA.

  • The bill is dead. Long live the bill.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Greyroger wrote –

    “You guys are the ones smoking dope and fantasizing about taking a space vacation.”

    Well. Actually, GR, for me it’s Seneca or Native (Mohawk) cigarettes, and its Sea World or San Antonio, Flagstaff, and Tucson.

    I would agree with your comment about space tourism, but it appears some millionaires actually want to spend their money on a vacation to LEO, for “fun” little less. However, its Musk and Bigelow’s money, and they can invest it as they see fit.

    As far as I am concerned, there’s a real hazard to deal with that’s going to require a manned presence BEO, specifically CAPS on the Moon. It will be dangerous, and I would not ask anyone to do it unless it was worth it. It will be costly as well, and require a major government purchase.

    Do dolphins still live around the Greek Islands?

  • Greyroger

    Major Tom and his falcon heavy will never happen. Why build a new one point whatever million pound thrust engine when we already have a 3.2 million pound thrust booster that is reusable and ready to put into production right now? Goofy.

    You want to launch a rocket with 60 engines in the first stage? That is how many merlins it would take to equal two 5 segment SRB’s.

  • Aberwys

    $15M is a nice start.
    Is it enough money (=time) for the 2020 est launch date for europa?

  • Rhyolite

    “Of course if NASA was tucked under the wing of the DoD, that would make it more difficult for firms (and those who shill for them) like SpaceX to obtain government subsidies and contracts, pushing them far down the list.”

    If NASA were tucked under the wing of the DoD, the first thing they would do is zero out HSF, which has no military utility. SpaceX, on the other hand, would do just fine as a competitor to ULA for future EELV buys. Be careful what you wish for.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Oh heck, I must have missed it. When did you say the 5 segment SRB flew? More bs from those trying to maintain the rage and the porkfest that was Cx.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 1:07 am

    You want to launch a rocket with 60 engines in the first stage? That is how many merlins it would take to equal two 5 segment SRB’s.

    I guess you don’t keep up with the news, do you? If SpaceX were to build a heavy or super-heavy launcher, they would build a bigger thrust engine called the Merlin 2, which would have more thrust than the Saturn 5 F-1 engine did.

    But the big question here is cost, and why you keep advocating for motors that are so expensive to use. Do you realize that SRB’s are part of the reason why the Shuttle costs so much? Doesn’t money mean anything to you?

    No one has explained how a commercial company could make money using launchers with Shuttle-type SRB’s, but you seem to think that forcing the American Taxpayer to foot the bill magically makes it affordable? NASA doesn’t exist to fulfill your boy-toy fantasies.

    Go off and sharpen your pencil, and tell us why SRB’s are so cost effective.

  • Greyroger

    ‘Do you realize that SRB’s are part of the reason why the Shuttle costs so much? ”

    For every launch of a vehicle carrying 25 tons, an HLV carrying 100 is three launches ahead. Two 25 ton launches equals 50 tons vs. two 100 ton launches equals 200 tons puts the HLV ahead of the smaller vehicle by six launches.

  • Vladislaw

    What are the two 100 ton payloads you are going to be flying every year and how much does each of those payloads cost?

    How much does the ground crew cost when they not launching those two payloads per year? What do all those people do for the 11 months of the year they are not processing those two launches and how much do they cost?

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom and his falcon heavy will never happen.”

    Falcon X and XX aren’t my ideas, concepts, or design preferences. Given its historically unsustainable costs, if I were king, I would avoid investing in any heavy lift capability, Falcon or otherwise, for as long as technically possible.

    You asked how many Falcons it took to put 130 tons in orbit. The answer is one. I’m just delivering the answer. Don’t blame me if you don’t like it.

    “Why build a new one point whatever million pound thrust engine when we already have a 3.2 million pound thrust booster”

    We don’t “already have a 3.2 million pound thrust booster”? Each SRB only produces 2.6-2.7M lbs. of thrust, or 5.3M lbs. together. See:

    http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/system/system_SRB.html

    Don’t make things up.

    “that is reusable”

    What reusability? The SRBs have to be hauled out of the Atlantic, cleaned, disassembled into their individual casings and other components, cleaned again, shipped across country in pieces, cleaned a third time, the casings and other components tested, the casings recast with new propellant, tested again, shipped back across country again, reassembled for the next launch, and then tested a third time.

    That’s like taking my truck’s engine out after every evening commute, shipping it to Detroit, having it disassembled down to the engine block, having it reconstructed with new parts, tested, shipped back to my home, and reinstalled in my truck before the next morning’s commute.

    That’s not reusable. It’s just insanely and needlessly expensive.

    “and ready to put into production right now?”

    If the SRBs are so reusable, then why does anything need to be put into production?

    “That is how many merlins it would take to equal two 5 segment SRB’s.”

    The metric is getting a payload into space affordably, not matching the thrust of some stupendously expensive rocket that’s never flown.

    Oy vey…

  • Greyroger

    “if I were king, I would avoid investing in any heavy lift capability,”

    You are not citing the thrust for 5 segment, which is what I specified.
    Stop making things up and trying to make other people look like they are lying when they are not thank you.

    The “metric” is getting as money tons into space in the fewest number of launches. You will find this out very quickly if you try launching once a week for a couple years to match an HLV.

    The car metaphors are distracting; stick to facts.

  • common sense

    @ Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    “stick to facts.”

    We’re still waiting for your facts about the 100 and more ton payloads (not plural) the HLV will be launching every year to make it economically feasible and sustainable.

  • common sense

    Edit: It was “note: plural” as in payloads…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Greyroger

    The “metric” is getting as money tons into space in the fewest number of launches. You will find this out very quickly if you try launching once a week for a couple years to match an HLV.

    Why the hell is that the metric? That seems like a rather stupid metric, IMHO.

    If we want a metric, I suggest we use the metric offered by Jeff Greason (and Mr. Greason, if you are reading this, apologize for getting some of the details wrong, but I think the thrust is correct)…

    The metric is dollars per exploration done. And if you want to expand on that, dollars, per development enabled. And the closest valuation is dollars per kilogram lofted, period.

    Those are your metrics of importance.

  • The “metric” is getting as money tons into space in the fewest number of launches.

    No, the metric is getting as much done for the money as possible. I know that you big rocket people don’t care about cost, but that matters here in the real world.

  • Greyroger

    “I know that you big rocket people don’t care about cost,”

    I know you little rocket people don’t care about what matters; accomplishing something more than flying to the space station.

    Even eight HLV launches a year at 130 tons per launch is over a thousand tons and that is about 100 falcon 9′s and 1000 merlin engines expended. It makes no sense at all to struggle launching twice a week and piecing together a hundred payloads when you can send up 8 big modules.

    Even if SpaceX did somehow come up with a 1.5 F-1 class engine they would still be better off putting a couple of the ATK srbs on it to boost the payload- as in studies done on the Saturn V. And this is the point- the Falcon super heavy versions are just a Saturn V by another name. And those massive liquid first stage engines were and are extremely expensive. You are going to pay the same and end up with just a different standing army.

  • Martijn Meijering

    getting as money tons into space

    Heh, interesting Freudian slip…

  • Martijn Meijering

    No, the metric is getting as much done for the money as possible.

    Here’s another metric I like:

    the risk-adjusted net present value of money spent on freely competing commercial propellant launches divided by the risk adjusted net present value of the NASA HSF budget.

    It is a measure of the degree to which NASA is sticking to its mandate to “seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space”.

  • Greyroger

    “the risk-adjusted net present value of money spent on freely competing commercial propellant launches divided by the risk adjusted net present value of the NASA HSF budget”

    Interesting Freudian complex. Budget envy.

  • Major Tom

    “You are not citing the thrust for 5 segment, which is what I specified.”

    An HLV first-stage with solid boosters has to be powered by two different kinds of rocket engines. That’s a much worse choice than Saturn V or Falcon X/XX in terms of costs. Now you have to pay for the design, development, testing, production, assembly, and integration of two different sets of engines when one can do the job. That’s two different rocket engine production/assembly lines and supporting engineering teams for the same first stage when one has worked well in the past (Saturn V) and can work well in the future (Atlas V Phase II, Falcon X/XX, etc.).

    It’s like designing a car to run on two different kinds of engines when one engine does the job just fine. Unless an external factor was constraining the design space (like jobs in Utah), why would anyone with half a brain make such a stupidly expensive design choice?

    “Stop making things up”

    I didn’t. An underpowered HLV first-stage that requires SRBs is a needlessly expensive, more complex, and worse design choice than an HLV that requires only one type of engine to fully power its first stage. Even a simple HLV like Saturn V has historically proven to be unaffordable, but pursuing a more complex HLV requiring SRBs and double the types of engines in the first stage isn’t going to improve affordability. It’s going to make it worse.

    “and trying to make other people look like they are lying when they are not”

    Where did I say that you were “lying”?

    I can’t read your mind so I don’t know if you’re knowingly making false statements or are just ignorant of the facts.

    Either way, you’re making stuff up. That’s all I wrote.

    “The ‘metric’ is getting as money tons”

    “Money ton”? You’re making stuff up again.

    “into space in the fewest number of launches.”

    This assumes that all launch vehicles and launches cost the same. They don’t. Smaller launch vehicles are easier and cheaper to develop than larger ones. Smaller launches are easier to operate and cheaper to buy than larger ones.

    If the right metric for transportation was number of tons per vehicle, then we’d stop shipping commercial goods in 18-wheelers and railcars that move move tens or hundreds of tons per trip. Instead, we’d construct gigantic blimps and landtanks that move thousands or millions of tons per trip. But we don’t, because it doesn’t make economic sense to move cargo in those quantities with those kinds of machines. Small, fast, and often scales better economically than big, slow, and infrequent.

    “You will find this out very quickly if you try launching once a week for a couple years to match an HLV.”

    Who’s proposing to launch once a week?

    Even the HEFT exploration architecture, which is needlessly heavy and inefficient, could be fielded on existing Delta IVs in a handful or two of launches. Spread out over a year, you’re talking about a launch every month or two.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “The car metaphors are distracting”

    Unfortunately, some posters need the analogies to grasp the engineering choices involved.

    Look, these are really simple choices.

    Even in the best case scenario, an HLV is going to cost low billions of dollars to develop. SpaceX claims $2.5 billion for a 150-ton HLV in this article:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awst/2010/11/29/AW_11_29_2010_p28-271784.xml&headline=NASA%20Studies%20Scaled-Up%20Falcon,%20Merlin

    For $2.5 billion, we could buy at least 10 (probably more since we’re buying in bulk) launches on existing Delta IV Heavy vehicles. Each of those 10 Delta IV Heavy launches would put 22.5 tons into LEO, or 225 tons altogether. That’s 75 tons more than the 150-ton SpaceX HLV, which doesn’t even exist yet.

    Moreover, we’re spending our money getting human BEO expeditions launched now rather than spending billions of dollars and years building yet another rocket in the hope that we are allowed to launch a human BEO expedition sometime a decade or so from now.

    The choice is simple. Do you want to explore space now? Or do you want to design, build, and test a really big rocket for the next ten years?

    And if for some technical reason we absolutely have to have the HLV, the choice there is also simple.

    We can buy a simple HLV that leverages a launch infrastructure/workforce that other commercial and military customers also pay for, like the Falcon variant described in the above article, for $2.5 billion or so.

    Or we can buy a complex, expensive reshuffling of Shuttle hardware, which itself was a comprise of forced design choices that no customer besides NASA is willing to pay for, for at least $6.6 billion (sidemount) or $8.3 billion (inline like DIRECT Jupiter 130) or more (lord knows how much Ares V would have cost).

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/361842main_15%20-%20Augustine%20Sidemount%20Final.pdf

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/361841main_14%20-%20DIRECT_HSF_Commission.pdf

    Unless you’re worried about jobs in certain states, these aren’t hard choices.

    Sigh…

  • Major Tom

    “I know you little rocket people don’t care about what matters; accomplishing something more than flying to the space station.”

    Yes, that why we want to use existing launch vehicles to get human space exploration restarted ASAP. There’s no need to wait years and years for HLV to be developed while the ISS continues to circle.

    “Even eight HLV launches a year at 130 tons per launch”

    Where is the need for 8 HLV launches per year? Constellation — Apollo on steroids — only envisioned two per year.

    Where is the money to pay for 1,040 tons of human space flight hardware? That’s as much mass as three International Space Stations.

    You’re imagining a giant rocket with a combination of throw weight and flight rate that no one could afford and effectively utilize.

    Such a vehicle would be an egregiously expensive but practically useless white elephant. It’d be the Spruce Goose of space.

    “It makes no sense at all to struggle launching twice a week and piecing together a hundred payloads when you can send up 8 big modules.”

    Assuming the HEFT architecture, you can do that (put up a mission in ~8 modules) with existing Delta IV Heavy launch vehicles.

    “Even if SpaceX did somehow come up with a 1.5 F-1 class engine they would still be better off putting a couple of the ATK srbs on it to boost the payload- as in studies done on the Saturn V.”

    What are you talking about? The Shuttle SRBs didn’t exist during the Saturn V program.

    Even if they did, the Saturn V never launched with any solid rocket boosters (Shuttle, ATK, or otherwise). There’s a reason certain study options are never implemented.

    C’mon, think before you post.

    “And this is the point- the Falcon super heavy versions are just a Saturn V by another name. And those massive liquid first stage engines were and are extremely expensive.”

    Agreed. So why do you want to make that vehicle even more complex and expensive by adding a second first-stage engine with all the doubling of costs associated with that second engine’s production lines, assembly, and sustaining engineering?

    Your argument is ridiculously lacking in logic and common sense.

  • I know you little rocket people don’t care about what matters; accomplishing something more than flying to the space station.

    Apparently we have yet another moronic troll, who is both economically ignorant and can’t read for comprehension.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Budget envy.

    You’re proposing to spend money on one single type of launch vehicle. I’m saying it’s better (and fairer) to let the market figure it out. What makes you think you know better than the market? And if you do, why don’t you go and make a killing on the stock market?

  • Vladislaw

    “I know you little rocket people don’t care about what matters; accomplishing something more than flying to the space station.”

    Why is advocating for a more cost effective, reusable, EDS rather than a disposable one, and throwing away expensive hardware, not wanting to explore BEO?

    Why is advocating for launching your EDS, for BEO, unfueled on a smaller cheaper rocket rather than fully fueled on a big expensive rocket not wanting to do something other than the ISS?

    Why is advocating for launching your lunar lander seperately on a smaller cheaper rocket, rather than a huge expensive rocket not wanting to do something other than ISS?

    Read for comprehension please.

    “Even eight HLV launches a year at 130 tons per launch is over a thousand tons and that is about 100 falcon 9′s and 1000 merlin engines expended. It makes no sense at all to struggle launching twice a week and piecing together a hundred payloads when you can send up 8 big modules”

    Launch cost estimates for the Ares V were 1.5 to 2 billion per launch. Lets say your new 130 ton HLLV is only 1 billion per launch. Your 8 launches would cost 8 billion dollars and put up 1040 tons. It would take 94 launches of the F9 and cost 4.6 billion. If you used the Falcon 9 heavy it would take 30 launches and cost 2.8 billion.

    Your eight 130 ton launches would use 80% of the NASA human space flight budget. The ISS gets 2 billion, you have now spent your entire NASA human spaceflight budget and you have not launched a single dime’s worth of hardware yet or even had the money to develop it and build it.

    If you used the Falcon 9 heavy, you could launch 30 times for 2.8 billion, the ISS gets 2 billion and you have 5.2 billion left for actually putting up some hardware.

    The ISS is 400 tons, you are proposing that NASA is going to launching 2.5 ISS’s worth of hardware every year? What are you building, battleship galatica?

  • Greyroger

    “let the market figure it out”

    Your basic premise is flawed. You are assuming the invisible hand of the market is actually a good thing and not a destructive force causing more harm than good in society.

    I do not believe that so you are wasting your time on me. Sorry.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I do not believe that so you are wasting your time on me. Sorry.

    Ah, I see. You want the USA to lead in space, but not in the way that made it great, but using Soviet methods instead. Let us know how that works out.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Greyroger

    So, are we gonna nationalize ATK & Lockmart & Boeing?

    What else are we gonna nationalize?

  • You are assuming the invisible hand of the market is actually a good thing and not a destructive force causing more harm than good in society.

    I do not believe that so you are wasting your time on me. Sorry.

    Yes, it is a waste of time to attempt to have a rational discussion with someone utterly ignorant of economics. Time to ignore the latest troll, folks.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    You are assuming the invisible hand of the market is actually a good thing and not a destructive force causing more harm than good in society.

    I do not believe that so you are wasting your time on me. Sorry.

    What do you believe? That the government should do everything?

    You do realize that the Department of Defense goes with a model many of us would be happy with, in that they spec what they want, and have the private market compete to supply their needs. They operate their own hardware, but they don’t build any of it. And they even use commercial products and services for non-war fighting needs. What’s wrong with that?

  • Greyroger

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    Ike warned us about the military industrial complex- and it is the reason we started a space program, which was good, but then caused the early death of our space program, which was bad.

    Ignoring the latest troll?

    Fine with me. All I desire is to express my opinion; I would much rather just post and be left alone than insulted by foul mouthed children thank you.

    As for the subtle suggestion I am a communist; the free market needs regulation. Alot of regulation. If that makes me a communist then that makes you fascists by putting corporations in control of everything.

    You economic points are duly noted; you want to fly to the space station and make money doing it. Fine. The problem is you do not want NASA involved except as a funnel for tax dollars. This is just business as usual except instead of a jobs project it is corporate welfare. The smoke and mirrors only works on true believers Rand. I would slap you silly for calling me a moron if you said it to my face you coward.

  • Greyroger

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    Ike warned us about the military industrial complex- and it is the reason we started a space program, which was good, but then caused the early death of our space program, which was bad.

    Ignoring the latest troll?

    Fine with me. All I desire is to express my opinion; I would much rather just post and be left alone than insulted by foul mouthed children thank you.

    As for the subtle suggestion I am a communist; the free market needs regulation. Alot of regulation. If that makes me a communist then that makes you fascists by putting corporations in control of everything.

    You economic points are duly noted; you want to fly to the space station and make money doing it. Fine. The problem is you do not want NASA involved except as a funnel for tax dollars. This is just business as usual except instead of a jobs project it is corporate welfare. The smoke and mirrors only works on true believers Rand.

  • Jeff Foust

    This comment thread has apparently outlived its usefulness, given the tenor of the conversation, and is now closed.