Congress

Briefs: another CR coming, science committee taking shape

It looks like the final FY2011 budget for NASA and other federal agencies won’t come until well into calendar year 2011. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled from consideration an omnibus spending bill introduced earlier this week because there weren’t 60 votes to stop debate. Last week the House passed its own year-long continuing resolution (CR) with NASA funding levels and other provisions similar to the Senate bill, but POLITICO reports that the Senate is also unlikely to vote on that. Instead, both the House and Senate will have to pass another CR to fund agencies at 2010 levels, most likely into February.

[Update 7:45 pm Friday: As Space News and others have reported, the House has passed a short-term, three-day CR instead of a longer one, to try and buy time for the Senate to either pass the House's year-long CR or another measure.]

In the House, the leadership and membership of the House Science and Technology Committee is taking shape after Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) was picked last week to chair the committee. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), as expected, has been selected by House Democrats to be the ranking member of the committee next year; she declared her candidacy for the post last month. Also, former committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) will serve as vice-chairman, handling “mean things” that Hall said he wouldn’t to do as chairman. Sensenbrenner, who chaired the committee from 1997-2001, took on the vice-chairmanship under a deal whereby Hall will back Sensenbrenner to be the committee’s top Republican in two years when Hall reaches his term limits on the committee, according to POLITICO.

Among Republicans selected to serve on the committee is Rep.-elect Mo Brooks (R-AL), elected in November from the district that includes NASA Marshall. Brooks succeeds Parker Griffith, who was on the committee when first elected as a Democrat two years ago; he lost his committee post when he switched parties a year ago, but was able to participate in some hearings.

91 comments to Briefs: another CR coming, science committee taking shape

  • amightywind

    The defeat of the omnibus bill was predictable. This has no real effect on NASA, except that the budget battle of this summer will be re-fought. Hopefully sanity will be restored to the exploration program formerly known as Constellation.

  • Hopefully sanity will be restored to the exploration program formerly known as Constellation.

    i.e., red state NASA center jobs program, no working rocket(s) until 2020. If that.

  • common sense

    You can actually return sanity to a program? I’d like to see that.

  • Scott Bass

    Really too bad, an agency still drifting in the wind

  • Byeman

    “Hopefully, sanity will be restored to the exploration program formerly known as Constellation.”

    And that will be accomplished by cancellation of Constellation projects, like Ares I & V and Altair.

  • Greyroger

    They have the components to build a heavy lift vehicle.

    130 tons, eight times a year is the most practical beyond earth orbit human space flight goal.

    A 1000 ton, nuclear propelled vehicle can be used as a ferry between the moon and earth orbit; to establish a moon base.

    A second 1000 ton nuclear propelled vehicle can go serve as a rescue vehicle for the first and increase the number of missions to the moon- or wherever.

    Try sharpening your pencils and adding up how many launches it will take at 10 or 25 tons a whack. Here is a hint- hundreds and hundreds of launches.
    Oh heck, I will save you the brain work and just blurt it out;
    YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HEAVY LIFT VEHICLE TO GO BEYOND EARTH ORBIT!

  • Martijn Meijering

    YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HEAVY LIFT VEHICLE TO GO BEYOND EARTH ORBIT!

    What an ignorant statement. This is provably false, even if you restrict your statement to manned spaceflight. A simple rocket equation level analysis suffices to establish this.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    130 tons, eight times a year is the most practical beyond earth orbit human space flight goal.

    What program is going to pay for 130 tons of payload eight times per year?

    Who is paying for the 1,000 ton “nuclear propelled vehicle“?

    It must be nice living in your fantasy world… ;-)

  • amightywind-

    “This has no real effect on NASA…”

    Yes, it does. Quite a few layoffs are in the que, pending Congressional action that puts the intent of the Authorization Bill to work with an appropriation.

    This does not look very likely right now. A “clean CR” would be a disaster for NASA centers that need to be working the SLS. NASA either can’t or won’t release money under a clean CR to keep people working until there is an appropriation. Time has run out. Layoffs will happen next week unless something like the CR that the House approved is also picked up and approved by the Senate.

    A bit more detail- http://nasaengineer.com/?p=1946

  • Greyroger

    “What program is going to pay for 130 tons of payload eight times per year?”

    “Who is paying for the 1,000 ton “nuclear propelled vehicle“?”

    Well, the program is your space agency and your tax dollars will be paying for it. That is, if you ever want to go anywhere besides LEO.

    You will not be flying to the moon or anywhere else in 10 and 25 ton increments. If it could be done it would have been done by now. SpaceX understands this if you do not. They are after one million pound plus engines and hydrogen fueled upper stages- just like the Saturn V of which Musk is a big fan and said they never should have stopped building. His words.

    So maybe I am not as ignorant as you think.

  • Martijn Meijering

    If it could be done it would have been done by now.

    It hasn’t been done because nobody was willing to pay for it. Same as for an HLV by the way. We don’t need heavy lift, what we need is cheap lift.

  • So maybe I am not as ignorant as you think.

    You’re right. You’re probably more ignorant than we think.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Spase Blagher wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    the layoffs need to occur…the time for technowelfare is over

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “Well, the program is your space agency and your tax dollars will be paying for it.”

    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 have it built.

    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 be launching 2.5 ISS’s worth of hardware every year? What are you building, battleship galatica?

  • Doug Lassiter

    “You will not be flying to the moon or anywhere else in 10 and 25 ton increments. If it could be done it would have been done by now.”

    If we wanted to do it, it would have been done right now. But we didn’t want to do it. Instead, we sent large payloads elsewhere in the solar system using those increments.

    But seriously, there are credible architectures for sending people into deep space with two EELV-Hs. Plymouth Rock, for example. In fact, the 40t upgrade path for EELVs will get you there with just one.

    When Musk discussed his “BFR” Falcon X half a decade ago, he admitted that he didn’t know who would buy it. “That’s where things get a little dodgy” he said. His words.

    Tom Markusic has talked about these BFRs recently, and I don’t know that Elon has. But gee, if Congress is really going to appropriate money for a HLV, why shouldn’t SpaceX compete? That is, the “good idea!” that you see coming from SpaceX about a HLV isn’t necessarily a statement of national need for an HLV, but just a statement that they can play the game.

  • red

    That’s a lot of JSC support on the committee. It might be a good idea for the Administration to work with them to get more funding for areas that would help JSC, emphasizing with them what the JSC roles would be, such as

    - ISS use and new capabilities
    - ISS ECLSS flagship technology demonstration
    - ISS inflatable habitat flagship technology demonstration
    - AR&D vehicle that could inflatable habitat demonstration to ISS, and also other ISS hardware
    - commercial cargo
    - commercial crew
    - human research

    Whenever a new budget can be acted upon, I’d also assign jobs for as many of the new programs as possible (whether center assignments, contracts, etc), even if the initial funding is only a “foot in the door” at first. If a company wins a inflatable habitat demonstration or commercial crew contract, or a center wins some more human research work, they and their Congressional representatives will be much more willing to fight for that program than if it’s just for a contract for a program where noone knows who is going to win the contract or where the work will take place.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Well, the program is your space agency and your tax dollars will be paying for it. That is, if you ever want to go anywhere besides LEO.

    Ignorance must really be bliss for you.

    Take a look at the NASA budget, and you’ll see that Congress won’t even fully fund the proposed SLS (a 130 ton launcher), and there are ZERO programs proposed or budgeted to actually use it.

    But we really don’t need an HLV right now. We are just finishing a 400 ton space station in LEO, and there is no reason we can’t use the same technology and techniques to build more or bigger space stations, or even spaceships. A bigger launcher is not holding us back – money is.

  • William Mellberg

    Martijn Meijering wrote:

    “We don’t need heavy lift, what we need is cheap lift.”

    Martijn, I understand and appreciate your point. But consider the following numbers (all very rough math):

    The estimated price tag for a Saturn V launch today (according to a professor friend at the University of Illinois who teaches aero/astro engineering) would be approximately $1.5 billion dollars. I’ve heard lower and higher figures, but I’ll go with his number.

    The estimated price tag for a Space Shuttle launch is listed as $450,000 — but let’s make it simple and call it $500,000.

    The overall mass of the International Space Station is something like 670,000 pounds.

    The LEO payload capability of the Saturn V was roughly 250,000 pounds.

    Three Saturn Vs could have lifted the ISS hardware, but let’s say four launches would have been required to bring up extra units and supplies. That’s $1,500,000 x 4 = $6,000,000 … $6 Billion dollars.

    Roughly 35 Space Shuttle flights have been required for the assembly and servicing of the ISS. That’s $500,000 x 35 = $17,500,000 … $17.5 Billion dollars. And that doesn’t include the Proton launches.

    So we have roughly $6 Billion for the heavy-lift Saturn V versus $17.5 Billion for the Space Shuttle with its smaller payload.

    The numbers would certainly seem to favor the unmanned heavy lift vehicle, although I’ll grant you that the Space Shuttle does not provide cheap lift.

    When I presented this simple argument to my professor friend, his response was, “You have a point there.”

    However, he went on to add that a smaller, cheaper launch vehicle would have more uses and, potentially, more missions — thus lowering its overall operational costs by spreading the development costs over a bigger production run.

    In any case, your point is a good one. I tend to embrace it. But using your logic, wouldn’t FedEx ground all of its DC-10s and MD-11s and use smaller aircraft in their place? Can two 767s carry the same payload as one MD-11 at LESS COST on a typical trans-Atlantic flight?

    Also, the design of the space station might have been very different if it could have been assembled in three or four large pieces using a heavy lift vehicle rather than in smaller modules and units using the Space Shuttle.

    It would be interesting to see what ISS assembly would have cost had the Proton been used to launch the majority of the modules rather than the Space Shuttle.

  • William Mellberg

    William Mellberg wrote:

    “But using your logic, wouldn’t FedEx ground all of its DC-10s and MD-11s and use smaller aircraft in their place? Can two 767s carry the same payload as one MD-11 at LESS COST on a typical trans-Atlantic flight?”

    Martijin, I’ll answer my own question …

    It depends on what kind of traffic FedEx has. If they’re filling up their DC-10s and MD-11s every night, then it would make no sense to substitute 767s on a two-for-one basis per my suggeston.

    However …

    If FedEx can only fill up a DC-10 or MD-11 once or twice a year, then it would make no sense to keep flying them. The smaller aircraft would get the job done MOST of the time. Therefore, the smaller aircraft is what you’d build your fleet around.

    There is a niche market for heavy lift aircraft to carry heavy and outsized payloads. Which is what keeps Antonov’s small fleet of An-124s and lone An-225 busy. But FedEx doesn’t have a requirement for aircraft that big. Your fleet matches your market.

    Likewise, I take it your argument against HLVs is that the development costs drive up the operational costs if spread over small production runs. Thus, while HLVs might be more effective at lifting very large payloads, that wouldn’t make them more economical in the long-run if they’re only needed occasionally — especially if commercial considerations are the driving factor.

    That said, today’s “cheap” launch vehicle is tomorrow’s fuel guzzler, as is the case with each new generation of airliners. But I suppose you have to start somewhere.

  • DCSCA

    amightywind wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    Yes it does. As does the tax deal Obama signed Friday, which charged another trillion bucks to the deficit. None of it is paid for as nothing in the omnibus bill is either. If you listened, Obama again reiterated that hard choices are coming with respect to discretionary spending targeting deficit reduction. NASA is in the crosshairs along with other agencies dependent on discretionary spending.

  • Fred Willett

    Greyroger wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 6:03 pm
    “YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HEAVY LIFT VEHICLE TO GO BEYOND EARTH ORBIT!”

    I’m thinking of building an office tower in town. I intend to call it the Empire State Building.It is going to be 102 stories and will weigh in at 340,000 ton my initial though was it could be constructed entirely by transporting all the parts downtown on trucks capable of carrying 20 ton or less. (most of them much less.)
    But taking your advice I’m going to defer the start of construction until a heavy lift truck becomes available….
    Oh wait.

  • Paul Bryan

    From the outside looking in, it seems to me the real problem is a system that requires annual budget revisions and approval. Why could the government not just move to 3 or 4 year cycles – so introducing some predictability into the process? This short termism is all too typical of my experience of working for American companies per se. Obsessed with annual budget cycles, usually at the expense of strategic decision making and funnily enough long-term revenue generation too – although in the case of NASA – revenue doesn’t really apply.

    3-4 years still keeps the power in the hands of elected officials yet it allows the managers to plan forward with confidence. Not exactly rocket science.

  • NASA Fan

    @ Paul “3-4 years budget cycles….”

    With yearly budget cycles, politicians have something to politic about, argue over, send pork to voters, show how committed they are, blah blah blah. all on a yearly basis. It supports their political careerism. 3 to 4 years does not.

    @ HLV

    This activity will be led by MSFC. As wonderful as the people are at MSFC, and as technical brilliant as I am sure they are, HLV will join the dust bin of the long failed ‘new start’ rocket ideas that Center has been unfortunate to lead. Remember: the future looks just like the past at NASA.

    Space X will be chugging along, with Falcon 9, and someone is going to say, heck with HLV, its years behind, over budget, lets just pay Elon for lift capability, so it takes 3 or 4 flights vs one. Big deal.

    HLV will get started, but it won’t last. And I bet folks at MSFC have that same sense of deja vu.

    @ HLV Mission

    There isn’t one, never will be, too expensive (See earlier posts). This will lead to cry’s for cancellation of HLV and switch to multiple commercial launches.

    The organizational dysfunction between the WH, OSTP, OMB, Congress & NASA is just too ingrained to ever expect any large HSF hardware development efforts to ever come off on budget and on time.

    I’d love to see it all happen, but History is a better predictor of NASA’s future than authorization and appropriations bills and hallow rhetoric by politicians.

  • “the layoffs need to occur…the time for technowelfare is over
    Robert G. Oler”

    You could say that about a lot of things. Layoffs next week will not happen because Congress decided all of a sudden that it is time to put a hold on what you consider technowelfare. They will happen because Congress didn’t get it’s act together. In a couple of months, they will need the same people.

    If you just want NASA to close it’s doors as far as HSF, that is a different issue.

  • Paul Bryan wrote:

    Why could the government not just move to 3 or 4 year cycles – so introducing some predictability into the process?

    It might be unconstitutional.

    Aside from that, I can’t image Congresscritters giving up the opportunity to dispense pork as often as possible — and take it away from those who don’t make campaign contributions.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Paul Bryan
    To add to what NASA fan said,

    Going to a 3-4 year budget cycle right now would be illegal. Yes, theoretically, you could change it, but there are some very powerful reasons not to change it

  • pathfinder_01

    William, actually there is more than mass. At 400MT it would only take 16 shuttle flights to put up the ISS mass wise. There is volume and the fact that the ISS was designed with the shuttle in mind(i.e. the modules can’t dock themselves like Russian modules). 9 flights were just for cargo not assembly and some flights were more for assembly than for carrying up mass and 18 of the flights also carried crew to the station.

    However one problems of HLV is that large payloads generally cost more than small payloads due to needing larger infrastructure. Moving 100tons at a time on the ground is not cheap.

    Anyway one of the reasons why I favor propellant depots is because it allows much better use of what we have. In 2008 ULA offered to launch Orion to LEO for $300million a flight on Delta IV heavy. Delta IV heavy could carry 25 tons of propellant to LEO. Assuming you wanted to redo Apollo; you would only need 3-4 launches of an existing rocket and allow you to focus limited resources on other things. 4 launches at 300 million comes out to 1.2 billion. Note this is less than 1 Saturn V launch.

    Also the Delta V heavy is not the cheapest launcher available. Atlas and Falcon could all launch part if not all of the propellant mass for less. For instance if you had used the Faclon 9, it would have only cost you 53 million a launch for 10MT.

    I am not anti HLV but I favor an “Organically grown” HLV. One that is built with market demand in mind. The big issue of the Saturn V was that NASA had to bear its full production costs. A well designed HLV would be one that could exist in a smaller more useful form but yet be configured for Heavy lift when needed.

    The 2 -3 flights a year of Apollo were a pathetic flight rate that could only make for high cost and I do not see BEO spaceflight as being able to proceed at the same rate as LEO spaceflight. For 1.5 billion you could buy 2-3 shuttle flights each lasting over a week or 1 lunar trip with only 3 days on the moon. With commercial crew and cargo and the ISS even more. You simply get more bang for the buck in LEO for now.

    Anyway a lunar only HLV probably only makes sense when you have 4+ flights to the moon a year something the current budget of NASA will not allow. I think the best chance for enabling BEO exploration is to go for prop depots and smaller, commercially based HLV’s or small cheap rapidly deployable reusable small launchers(Say something that could carry 2tons of propellant twice a week to a prop. depot).

  • amightywind

    NASA is in the crosshairs along with other agencies dependent on discretionary spending.

    I am not concerned about cuts in the NASA budget. My only concern is that congress gets rid of non-core programs.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Greyroger wrote

    “A 1000 ton, nuclear propelled vehicle can be used as a ferry between the moon and earth orbit; to establish a moon base.

    “A second 1000 ton nuclear propelled vehicle can go serve as a rescue vehicle for the first and increase the number of missions to the moon- or wherever”

    Griffin’s fixation on Mars flight is what under lay the Constellation architecture, and nothing else, so stop pretending about using nuclear propulsion for manned Moon flight.

    Let’s see: Launch a large nuclear payload over Florida?
    After Challenger and Columbia?

    Develop a one time use manned Mars ship?

  • Martijn Meijering

    @William:

    I agree with your own answer to your question. It is true that there may be occasional payloads that would benefit from a larger launch vehicle, but not enough to justify building one now. Even EELVs have very low flight rates right now.

    In your earlier post you compared an HLV with the Shuttle, but EELVs would be a better comparison. The ISS could have been built with EELVs and Protons as byeman has explained over on NSF.com. And a failure with one of the vehicles would not have required a standdown of all the others. It would probably have been cheaper and faster. At low flight rates fixed costs dominate total launch costs, but as flight rates increase the contribution of fixed costs is much diminished. These are savings that can be had without new investment.

    But the thing I’d really want to see is a true RLV. Probably not HTHL SSTO at first, but fully reusable and much cheaper to use than existing launchers. That would lead to a breakthrough. Development of such an RLV would cost a lot of money and would probably be best left to the market, just as economical aircraft design and development is left to the market. But for that to be possible, there has to be a business case for it. Right now there isn’t. Development costs are sufficiently high and uncertain, operating costs are too uncertain and demand at much lower prices is too uncertain to justify spending commercial capital now. The same argument is true for HLVs as well, there is no commercial busienss case for them.

    A near term NASA exploration program could change all that. It would need to launch vast amounts of propellant and propellant is an excellent payload (cheap, useful, easily divisible) for small RLVs and small RLVs would likely require less capital to develop and operate than large ones. It is also a useful payload for HLVs. So the exploration program could be used to fund an HLV or it could be used to fund RLVs. I’m saying RLVs would be much more useful at this stage of man’s development of space. But we can leave the decision to the market. If NASA simply buys propellant launches from commercial suppliers it can choose the suppliers that charge the best prices. Time will tell if that leads to upgrades of existing ELVs, RLVs, HLVs, cheap expendables or something else.

  • Greyroger

    “so stop pretending about using nuclear propulsion for manned Moon flight.
    Let’s see: Launch a large nuclear payload over Florida?
    After Challenger and Columbia?
    Develop a one time use manned Mars ship?”

    I am not pretending. Challenger was a long time ago, launched when it should not have been. Columbia worked going up. Plutonium has been sent up over florida several times and will be again. And a one time use mars ship is like a one time use ISS. You use it once for a long time. Sending fissionables up would be acceptable if it was on a vehicle with an escape tower that was man-rated and was packaged properly.

    One of the best articles about space travel is, Eugene N. Parker, “Shielding Space Travelers,” Scientific American, March 2006,

    In this article, the author, who is not a moronic troll, points out the only guaranteed to work solution to radiation exposure in deep space is a water shield of several hundred metric tons. As several posters have commented, the water on the moon is waiting.

    The fear and loathing of HLV on this site is epic. Unfortunately for commercial space entrepreneurs, the mass that is needed and the power required to propel it require both HLV’s and nuclear energy. To paraphrase a pretty smart guy- we could properly ask, “What is the cause of new space’ fantastic faith in the machinery? .. It would appear that, for whatever purpose, be it for internal or external consumption, the commercial space advocates exaggerate the capability of its vehicles, to the point of fantasy.
    “For a successful technology,” Feynman concluded, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Spase Blagher wrote @ December 18th, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I agree that Congress not getting its act together is a problem, and while the GOP has been very unhelpful and in my view unpatriotic…the Dems are really to blame…they couldnt lead flies to warm human excrement.

    Having said that the technowelfare at NASA needs to end. They should just give up on the last shuttle missions; turn out the lights and cut the force…hence clearing the decks for the future.

    Robert G. Oler

  • William Mellberg

    pathfinder_01 wrote:

    “William, actually there is more than mass. At 400MT it would only take 16 shuttle flights to put up the ISS mass wise. There is volume …”

    Yes, that is where the Antonov An-124 and An-225 come into play with respect to my air cargo analogy. The An-225, in particular, can carry outsized payloads, not just heavy payloads. And, as I mentioned in another thread, the Shuttle can carry larger payloads than most of its successors (in terms of volume). That capability might be missed at some point. In any case, you make a good point with respect to the Space Shuttle and the ISS.

    “However one problems of HLV is that large payloads generally cost more than small payloads due to needing larger infrastructure. Moving 100tons at a time on the ground is not cheap.”

    Another good point as borne out by both the Saturn V and the N-1.

    “I am not anti-HLV but I favor an ‘Organically grown’ HLV. One that is built with market demand in mind. The big issue of the Saturn V was that NASA had to bear its full production costs. A well-designed HLV would be one that could exist in a smaller more useful form but yet be configured for Heavy lift when needed.”

    Actually, that would describe the Energia launch vehicle which could have flown in a variety of configurations from the smaller Energia-M to the bigger Vulkan. Of course, once the USSR abandoned its space shuttle, there was no real need for Energia in any of its forms as there were no requirements for that much heavy lift. Still, the Energia was an interesting design in that it followed a modular approach.

    “The 2 -3 flights a year of Apollo were a pathetic flight rate that could only make for high cost …”

    Von Braun and his colleagues originally expected a much higher flight rate as demonstrated by the infrastructure at the Cape with four high bays in the VAB, three mobile launchers and two crawler-transporters — all of which were designed to support ongoing lunar missions via the Apollo Applications Program. Of course, they were also designed with the thought that more unmanned tests were going to be necessary before putting men atop a Saturn V.

    I’m reminded of an old television commercial for a local bargain basement men’s clothing store. “How can we offer these ridiculous prices?” the announcer asks. “Volume!” he answers. Which, of course, is another word for economies of scale.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 18th, 2010 at 11:52 am

    The fear and loathing of HLV on this site is epic.

    No, the fear and loathing is for spending money on things we don’t need. Show us a funded program that needs an HLV, and maybe that will change.

    Unfortunately for commercial space entrepreneurs, the mass that is needed and the power required to propel it require both HLV’s and nuclear energy.

    Maybe someday, but not in the foreseeable future budget-wise. NASA cannot afford your space fantasies, and Congress doesn’t see the need to increase NASA’s budget. Get used to disappointment.

    “For a successful technology,” Feynman concluded, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    Same can be said about money. No money, no space fantasies.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And, as I mentioned in another thread, the Shuttle can carry larger payloads than most of its successors (in terms of volume).

    EELVs can carry larger payloads than the Shuttle. The Delta IV Payload Planner’s Guide mentions the possibility of 6.5m x 25.9m fairings and even bigger ones have been mentioned since. That’s considerably larger than the Shuttle.

  • pathfinder_01

    EELV are the shuttle’s successors in a way because they replaced the Titan IV which was created becuase the Shuttle proved unrealable and costly from the DOD’s perspective.

    If NASA had not needed DOD funding the shuttle would probably be smaller with a smaller cargo bay and a crew of 4. It would be more like Dreamchaser.

    However like the Titan IV the heaviest versions of the EELV have not had users outside of the DOD or NASA. The Market just does not need that much lift.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    The estimated price tag for a Saturn V launch today … would be approximately $1.5 billion dollars. I’ve heard lower and higher figures, but I’ll go with his number.

    The estimated price tag for a Space Shuttle launch is listed as $450,000 — but let’s make it simple and call it $500,000.

    Of course your example is only valid if the Saturn V were still in production today, which it’s not. The Shuttle, which has been in continuous use for 30 years, has averaged $1.3B/flight over the life of the program, and was costing $750M/flight over the five most recent years (info from the Prometheus report by R. Pielke Jr.). But the Shuttle is a multipurpose vehicle that is reusable, so comparing it to Saturn V is not really valid.

    I do agree with pathfinder_01 on their response to you, and I’ll just add some additional thoughts.

    Three Saturn Vs could have lifted the ISS hardware, but let’s say four launches would have been required to bring up extra units and supplies.

    As pathfinder_01 also pointed out, the payloads for an HLV, unless they stay around 5m in diameter, cannot be transported by air or land, so the new factories required for their production would either have to be near the launch facilities, or near water transportation – like the Shuttle does for the ET. That makes logistics cost a lot more, and with the increased costs of the larger and highly integrated payloads, means your overall costs for HLV payloads rise faster than the increased amount of mass.

    The analogy is very much like building bigger trucks every time you want to build progressively bigger buildings. But instead of bigger trucks, we use modular construction techniques (like on the ISS), which means we don’t need the larger trucks. We have not reached the limits of modular space assemblies, and until we do, we don’t know what an HLV would be needed for.

    The Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are good examples of where the market understood their limitations and future needs, and lobbied for larger capacity aircraft. Keep in mind too that both manufacturers took on a lot of risk when they started building them, and for the A380, the breakeven point for profitability is still years away.

    For an HLV, if the Ares V had been built, it was going to cost about $100B in total development cost. Just like the A380, the only way an HLV would be “profitable” in the long term would have been if it was used frequently and over a long period of time – we don’t have a need for that right now, so building an HLV is going to be too early, and too much of a drain on NASA’s limited budget.

    My $0.02

  • Greyroger

    Economy of scale and reusability are key points. Musk said if could not make his vehicle(s) reusable he will have failed. Reusing steel SRB casings may be justified by inspecting and improving the product, but liquid engines do not seem to be likely to be profitable by reusing since they have to be inspected and test-fired.

    But, a slightly lower performance liquid engine using state of the art inspection technology could possibly be used several times and the more powerful these engines the greater the profitability. The Falcon 9 would be a much better proposition for reusability if it had a single million pound plus thrust engine instead of nine.

    The vehicle proposed by Shannon also had an engine return module option that would re-enter the core engines. The once a week HLV with all the engines returned to earth to be reused and as much of the structure as practical recovered would increase volume and realize the original concept of large scale operations envisioned by the space pioneers over half a century ago.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Maybe someday, but not in the foreseeable future budget-wise. NASA cannot afford your space fantasies, and Congress doesn’t see the need to increase NASA’s budget. Get used to disappointment.”

    I agree with the maybe someday. Two projects that got Griffinized by the last administrator were the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) and Project Promethus. This combo would have tested a few things I have long advocated for.

    Advanced power and propulsion would have been alot farther along if they would have continued funding this instead of Constellation. If NASA is going to get their heavy lift no matter what, I sure wish these two would have been on a really firm footing and had already been flight tested when a HLV ever got completed.

  • William Mellberg

    Martijn Meijering wrote :

    “EELVs can carry larger payloads than the Shuttle. The Delta IV Payload Planner’s Guide mentions the possibility of 6.5m x 25.9m fairings and even bigger ones have been mentioned since. That’s considerably larger than the Shuttle.”

    Excellent point, Martijn! I stand corrected.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “The Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are good examples of where the market understood their limitations and future needs, and lobbied for larger capacity aircraft. Keep in mind too that both manufacturers took on a lot of risk when they started building them, and for the A380, the breakeven point for profitability is still years away.”

    Agreed. In fact, Airbus could wind up losing their gamble. The A380 might be a tad too big. Time will tell.

    “For an HLV, if the Ares V had been built, it was going to cost about $100B in total development cost. Just like the A380, the only way an HLV would be ‘profitable’ in the long term would have been if it was used frequently and over a long period of time – we don’t have a need for that right now, so building an HLV is going to be too early, and too much of a drain on NASA’s limited budget.”

    It goes back to my mention of the Energia launcher. Without the Soviet space shuttle, there was no need for that much lift. The costs went through the roof (and the roof came a tumbling down).

  • “Having said that the technowelfare at NASA needs to end. They should just give up on the last shuttle missions; turn out the lights and cut the force…hence clearing the decks for the future.

    Robert G. Oler”

    I think we must be talking about different layoffs. I have been referring to the ones in the que due to no Appropriation for the NASA act that was passed in Sept..work that needs to be done on SLS, not the shuttle support.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    red wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Don’t look to NASA for anything inflatable. This is just more make do jobs programs.
    Bigelow has stolen the march on them and won’t be looking back. Anything NASA produces will be non-competitive and by the time they manage to do so (if they manage anything at all which I seriously doubt) Bigelow will have his stations in orbit and leased out.

  • Two projects that got Griffinized by the last administrator were the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) and Project Promethus. This combo would have tested a few things I have long advocated for.

    While Mike Griffin has a lot to answer for, JIMO was doomed to fail regardless of who was administrator. It was the X-33 of planetary missions, except NASA didn’t recognize, and treat it as an X program.

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ December 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    “Von Braun and his colleagues originally expected a much higher flight rate as demonstrated by the infrastructure at the Cape with four high bays in the VAB, three mobile launchers and two crawler-transporters — all of which were designed to support ongoing lunar missions via the Apollo Applications Program.”

    Correct. Three Saturn launch complexes were planned as well (3 in total if memory serves) as KSC was being built but as Vietnam continued to siphon off expenditures even Pad 39B was questioned as an unnecessary expense and rationale for it made at the time shifted to need as a back-up in case a Saturn exploded on 39A, per newscasts of the period. In other words, pressing earthly priorities began strangling Apollo even as it was being planned. Shades of America today, with $1 billion/week spent on a useless war in Afghanistan– where empires go to die.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 18th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Musk said if could not make his vehicle(s) reusable he will have failed.

    Yes, but he has also said that they will keep trying, and his pricing is predicated on no reusability at this point.

    But, a slightly lower performance liquid engine using state of the art inspection technology could possibly be used several times and the more powerful these engines the greater the profitability.

    Being more powerful does not necessarily mean being more profitable – it depends on the complexity and cost of materials used. The RS-68 engine that Delta IV uses costs about $14M/engine, but 5 or 6 Merlin 1c engines could do the same job, and most likely for a lower cost (have to infer cost from Falcon 9 price). But other than the SSME, we don’t have any good examples to examine for this – it would be nice to find out one way or the other.

    The Falcon 9 would be a much better proposition for reusability if it had a single million pound plus thrust engine instead of nine.

    So far the problem has been in recovering the 1st stage, and not in the reusing any of the components. Also, depending on how the 1st stage hits the water, some quantity of the 9 engines could be more likely to survive than just one large engine – 1/3 of nine engines would be better than none of one.

    Still, Musk would like to get a bigger engine if that means he can get business for a larger launcher – he wants to move as much mass to space as he can.

    The once a week HLV…

    Maybe you’re just anticipating the day that there is a need for that much mass in space, but I see no chance of that happening in the next 20 years, and possible far longer. And by the time we reach that point, I hope that we have finally figured out a TSTO design with an airplane-like first stage, which would obsolete the rocket launcher designs of today. That’s when costs will really drop, which will allow far more business into space.

  • Greyroger

    “I see no chance of that happening in the next 20 years, and possible far longer.”

    I feel bad for you. Sad.

    The DOD space budget is bigger than NASA’s- and “They should just give up on the last shuttle missions; turn out the lights and cut the force…hence clearing the decks for the future”, is a humorous comment when considering the dozen or so defense projects that should never have been funded, let alone sucked at the public tit for decades without accomplishing a single thing.

    We have the money to send an HLV a week into space and would not even miss it. This is blind and ignorant to continue ignoring the real problem- the defense industrial complex.

  • red

    “Don’t look to NASA for anything inflatable.”

    As with the other technology demonstration missions, I’d expect NASA to look to partnerships (e.g.: purchasing commercial services) where possible with the inflatable habitat demonstration (what NASA was calling Flagship Technology Demonstration 3), and that demo is probably one where such partnerships would work out. However, JSC should still find itself with a significant amount of work in such a partnership:

    - oversight
    - integration with ISS
    - actual use of the inflatable module once installed on the ISS
    - use of the space tug that gets the inflatable module to the ISS for other JSC-friendly purposes (e.g.: delivering more modules to the ISS)
    - the FTD-3 proposal also included a possible small “early test” of inflatable technology on the ISS followed by a larger, fully capable module. Maybe JSC could do the initial one and a commercial partner (Bigelow, ILC Dover, etc) could do a full-scale one
    - in general the demo would increase the usefulness of the ISS, where JSC is strong, and thus give that part of JSC help in general

    In general, from the Administration FY2011 point of view, I’d be looking for areas where the FY2011 approach and Texas interests match (or can be made to match), and make the most of that common ground. The Texas delegation should not be happy that the budgets for ISS, Human Research, ISS-related technology demonstrations, ISS-supporting commercial transportation, and so on are not higher than they are.

  • Robert G. Oler

    What separates the ELV forever group with those of us who dont think a heavy lift is important is this…

    An ELV requires complete government financing. Not so with anything else.

    Big difference

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “JIMO was doomed to fail regardless of who was administrator. It was the X-33 of planetary missions, except NASA didn’t recognize, and treat it as an X program.”

    Could you elaborate a bit, what is the differences between a planetary mission/project ( like JWST for example) and an X program? Are the funding mechanisms different? (better or worse) Is the way the program does the tech research? Is an X project more or less likely to succeed than other NASA projects? Are they more milestone centered?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Greyroger wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    It doesnt take to many keystrokes to find that I am as critical of DoD projects that are overbudget, badly conceived, and not very useful as I am of NASA projects which share those same characteristics.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Well, actually Webb suffers from some of the same problems — a technology too far.

    Could you elaborate a bit, what is the differences between a planetary mission/project ( like JWST for example) and an X program?

    There is no formal difference. Most programs will push technology to some degree, because they have to in order to get the job done (Constellation was a notorious exception to this — an inevitable result of the combination of a fixed date and extreme risk aversion). But when you start piling several high-risk technologies into a single concept, as occurred with X-33 and JIMO, you are almost ensuring failure. A proper X program will focus on advancing a single technology, and be relatively conservative with all else, to ensure that the program works well enough to validate (or not) that technology.

    JIMO was an X program that wasn’t recognized or treated as such, with a) a space nuclear reactor that had to work reliably for years millions of miles from earth (what happens if you have a loss of coolant?) b) either a low-efficiency thermal conversion, increasing reactor and radiator size, or a high-efficiency combined Brayton cycle, with the risk of turbomachinery failure or working-fluid leaks, c) xenon thrusters on a much larger scale than had ever been built before, and would use more than the world’s supply of xenon, d) mission avionics and sensors that can survive in the highest radiation environment in the solar system, etc.

    There were no electronic components rated for such an environment, and the only way to do so would be to expose them for enough years to have confidence that they could take it, but there wasn’t enough time before mission launch to do that. It was really an unsolvable problem, and the program failed of its own tech-risk weight. The only solution is to get access to space a lot cheaper, so we can start validating these technologies in the environment.

  • Greyroger

    “And by the time we reach that point, I hope that we have finally figured out a TSTO design with an airplane-like first stage, which would obsolete the rocket launcher designs of today. That’s when costs will really drop, which will allow far more business into space.”

    That was figured out a long long time ago; the original shuttle design. But it was “too expensive” and a cheaper version- and then a cheaper version- and then a cheaper version was finally decided upon. That is, finally decided on with the understanding that it would “pay for itself” by launching satellites and also fly intelligence missions. An impossible goal that was sold as doable by a think tank report stating 50 missions a year would make it “cost effective.” The resulting final design was screwed to start with but it was the only game in town. Of course all of this is history anyone can read about in half a dozen books on the shuttle.

    A larger budget to improve the design and it might have worked or the space plane concept might have flopped no matter what- who knows? What matters now is the future and trying to accomplish anything beyond earth orbit “cheaply” is just a replay of the original shuttle mistake. The money for our space program is being spent in afland and on star wars and boomers carrying commandos and robot flying assassins and vast cubicle armies preparing power points.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ December 17th, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    “Hopefully sanity will be restored to the exploration program formerly known as Constellation.”

    Developing Orion and flying it initially a top existing LVs through the Age of Age of Austerity is NASA’s only hope for any kind of near term HSF operations through 2020-25. They’d at least have an operational general purpose spacecraft to expand and plan with beyond this dour era. Constellation is simply not in America’s stars any longer and to cling to it now borders on insanity.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    That was figured out a long long time ago; the original shuttle design.

    Woulda, shoulda, coulda’s don’t count in real life, and what ever might have been may have been as much of an evolutionary dead-end as the Shuttle is getting ready to be.

    The evolutionary line that I’m watching now starts with SpaceShipOne/White Knight, and is now being followed by SpaceShipTwo/White Knight Two. Though still in it’s infancy, I think there is a lot of growth potential in this approach.

    Just imagine what potential 2nd stages you could launch if you scale up the carrier aircraft to something the size of an A380 – it could easily carry an X-33 type vehicle. I think this approach has the best chance of creating fully reusable spaceflight.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    “I see no chance of that happening in the next 20 years, and possible far longer.”

    I feel bad for you. Sad.

    The DOD space budget is bigger than NASA’s…

    You and a few others seem to believe that somehow the DoD budget will magically be transferred to NASA. I’m not sure which fortune tellers you’re talking to, but I wouldn’t bet the house.

    Those who decide where our tax dollars are spent (Congress) don’t seem to share your desires. If this is what you base your space plans on, then I can see why you are so out of touch with reality.

    We have the money to send an HLV a week into space and would not even miss it.

    We also have the money to buy everyone a Rolls Royce, but that doesn’t mean we should. You still haven’t made the case for doing any of the things you want, other than because you think it would be fun, or required for planetary defense, or – I’m not sure why you want nuclear-powered battleships in orbit.

    This is blind and ignorant to continue ignoring the real problem- the defense industrial complex.

    This is Space Politics, so can’t help you there.

  • Vladislaw

    “What matters now is the future and trying to accomplish anything beyond earth orbit “cheaply” is just a replay of the original shuttle mistake.”

    So unless it costs at least as much as NASA always spends, that is the forever paradigm we are staddled with for eternity? It is impossible for the Nation to obtain anything space related unless NASA’s spending sets the bar?

    I guess this should be the new mantra for NASA:
    “you shall spend NO LESS than NASA spends on any space access design or you are automatically disqualified, NASA costs are the base line, there is nothing conceviabley cheaper than what NASA spends.”

    The mistakes of the shuttle were trying to be all things to every group.

    They should not have mixed cargo and crew.

    They should have not used two different engines, SSME’s and SRBS.

    They should not have used solid rockets.

    They should not have tried to do the commercial sector’s job.

  • Doug Lassiter

    BeancounterFromDownunder wrote @ December 18th, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    “Don’t look to NASA for anything inflatable. This is just more make do jobs programs.”

    I don’t think anyone is talking about NASA developing the basic technology for an inflatable hab. But any such demo hab, say, for L1, is going to be demo’d on ISS, and that would be a NASA project. Bigelow does great stuff, and it would be smart to use his inflatable technologies, but he has little deep expertise in the propulsion, nav, and comm technologies, and even the systems engineering that would come to bear for an independent hab. I’m not even so sure about his life-support systems. The inflatable part is a small part of what one needs in a fully functioning hab. So JSC certainly has a clear role to play here, with regard to inflatable habs, and Hall and Johnson will grease their skids.

  • Greyroger

    “I’m not sure why you want nuclear-powered battleships in orbit.”

    I’m not sure why you made that up. If it is your attempt to be clever, glib, smarmy, or to cloud the issue, it is only going to work on the blind and ignorant.

    This is blind and ignorant to continue ignoring the real problem- the defense industrial complex.-
    “This is Space Politics, so can’t help you there.”

    Ignorance is no excuse. Try reading “The American Way of War” by Jareki and you might not be.

  • Greyroger

    “So unless it costs at least as much as NASA always spends, that is the forever paradigm we are staddled with for eternity? It is impossible for the Nation to obtain anything space related unless NASA’s spending sets the bar?”

    Uhh….no. Why are you asking such questions? Who are you asking? What exactly are you asking- do you know?

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    You’re just so wrong in this post. Bigelow is currently human-loop testing his Sundancer Module with a partner in this area. He’s also partnered in the propulsion area. He’s used to the contracting method and there’s no difference in the way he’s doing things now to how he made his money before. He’s already in the planning mode for using his habitats on the Moon and at L1/L2 points.
    NASA is way behind and again, they have no case for spending the money other than jobs. Bigelow has commercial interests for LEO and I wouldn’t be surprised if it also included BEO. The other interesting point will lie in the patent area. Bigelow purchased the original Transhab patents from NASA so it remains to be seen how far they can go without breaching those. Keep dreaming about NASA and what they can do. Point is they don’t know how to anymore. Sad!

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    “This is Space Politics, so can’t help you there.”

    Ignorance is no excuse.

    If you’re arguing about the size of the DoD budget, then go debate on the Defense Politics blog. And since I was a willing participant in the Military Industrial Complex, you’ll get no sympathy from me… ;-)

    But the real issue is this – you can cry and complain about the situation (lack of money), or you can work with what you have. Many of us think we can do a heck of a lot of exploration in space with the current budget, but only if the money is well spent. And how that money is spent is one of the big topics of debate…

  • Das Boese

    Coastal Ron wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    “The evolutionary line that I’m watching now starts with SpaceShipOne/White Knight, and is now being followed by SpaceShipTwo/White Knight Two. Though still in it’s infancy, I think there is a lot of growth potential in this approach.

    Just imagine what potential 2nd stages you could launch if you scale up the carrier aircraft to something the size of an A380 – it could easily carry an X-33 type vehicle. I think this approach has the best chance of creating fully reusable spaceflight.”

    This got me thinking, we used to have a perfectly good, big supersonic airplane. It was never that great or cost-effective as a passenger aircraft, but I wonder how the Concorde would have fared, economically, in a carrier aircraft role.

  • Justin Kugler

    Beancounter,
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. I know the inflatables people here at JSC. They have already gone well beyond the original Transhab concept and are evaluating new, lighter configurations. They are not “way behind,” nor do they “don’t know how to anymore.” They just don’t have a limitless pocketbook.

  • Vladislaw

    Greyroger wrote:

    “Uhh….no. Why are you asking such questions? Who are you asking? What exactly are you asking- do you know?”

    Yes, I know, but it is obvious you don’t know. You wrote:

    “What matters now is the future and trying to accomplish anything beyond earth orbit “cheaply” is just a replay of the original shuttle mistake.”

    You are implying that the mistake of the shuttle, was NASA trying to accomplish it on the cheap and that there is no cheap. If NASA couldn’t do it cheaply, it wasn’t possible. You also imply that if NASA goes forward on a BEO program and tries to make it low cost, it will suffer the same fate as the shuttle, a failed program because it was done on the cheap and NASA needed a bigger budget.

    I would say to you that the choices NASA made on the shuttle, it was guaranteed to fail on cost.

    They created two production lines for engines. The SRB’s were expensive and were not needed. That drove the costs up. They made them “reusable” driving the costs up more.

    They used the SSME that was costing more to refurbish then a cheaper throw away engine would cost. Add in the development costs, add in the manpower for each shuttle to have it’s own personal refurbishment crew.

    They used a tile system where 17000 tiles had to be checked and replaced, driving up costs.

    I am sure other posters on here can add to the long list of factors that drove the STS costs through the roof.

    NASA is a monopoly, they never worry about costs. They are the only game in town and when NASA says over and over that space isn’t cheap and then proves to the taxpayer that indeed space isn’t cheap, gosh just look how expensive the space shuttle was. Look at how expensive the Space Station is, look how expensive Apollo was.

    Space access may not be cheap enough for the average taxpaper yet, but with NASA is never will be and even if it was, NASA has a monopoly and dictates who gets to ride in space, so regardless of costs, NASA would never make it accessable to all.

    Space has proved one thing, and it does not matter if they launch a crew or not. They are showing that access to space can be done for magnitudes of lower launch costs than what NASA has sold to the American taxpayer.

    It is time the taxpaper gets the biggest bang for the buck. Rather than another show like the 10 billion dollar Constellation program, where the NASA monopoly, once again proves, that space is expensive and therefore only NASA can do it.

  • Vladislaw

    Sorry that should read – SpaceX has proved one thing

  • Coastal Ron

    Das Boese wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    This got me thinking, we used to have a perfectly good, big supersonic airplane. It was never that great or cost-effective as a passenger aircraft, but I wonder how the Concorde would have fared, economically, in a carrier aircraft role.

    Good question. I’m not sure what combination of speed and altitude are going to be needed, but Concorde definitely had speed, and it had a much higher ceiling than an A380.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orbital Sciences pursue this at a later date, since they have a lot of experience with their Pegasus launcher. Combine that with SpaceShipTwo, and that could be the beginning of an expanding interest in this type of launch system – certainly the industry is going to have some good experience to draw upon.

  • Greyroger

    “And since I was a willing participant in the Military Industrial Complex, you’ll get no sympathy from me… ;-)

    But the real issue is this – you can cry and complain about the situation (lack of money), or you can work with what you have.”

    You worked for Rumsfeld? “work with what you have” is the oldest excuse there is…along with ignorance. You would like to send people into space without the protection required? Sounds just like rummy talking to the soldier complaining about no armor.

    It IS just like the soldier complaining about no armor. Think about it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You would like to send people into space without the protection required?

    Where did that come from? Has anyone suggested people should be sent into space without adequate protection? Some people wrongly conclude you need an HLV for that, but you don’t. Water and polyethylene slabs are easily divisible and you would want to reuse a large MTV anyway.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    You worked for Rumsfeld?

    I said I worked in the Military Industrial Complex, not that I worked for a military industrial WITH a complex.

    Regarding protection, armor, etc., it’s all related to having responsive management. Act, react type stuff, which is true for business as it is in war. The key is having a feedback loop that gets quicker over time, and not to depend on the past for too much guidance.

    The same is true with space related topics. How do we respond to the need for supporting the ISS with cargo and crew? Do we continue with the ideas and systems of the past, or do we try to evolve new ideas and systems that leverage our current capabilities, while creating something better overall.

    You would like to send people into space without the protection required?

    I’ll echo Martijn – where did that come from?

    And I’ll even go a little deeper by saying that most of us that support commercial crew also support continued use of the ISS, which is the only real laboratory we have for understanding how humans will be able to survive for long periods of time in space.

    Maybe you’re confused…

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    “… a few others seem to believe that somehow the DoD budget will magically be transferred to NASA. I’m not sure which fortune tellers you’re talking to, but I wouldn’t bet the house.”

    Agreed. In fact just the opposite seems a more viable option, making NASA a ‘division’ of DoD, protecting it under the faux ‘umbrella’ of nat’l security.

  • Justin Kugler

    That is never going to happen, DCSCA, short of a Heinleinesque military takeover. The Pentagon doesn’t want the job and NASA was specifically created to administer civil space functions.

  • Greyroger

    “the ISS, which is the only real laboratory we have for understanding how humans will be able to survive for long periods of time in space.
    Maybe you’re confused…”

    No, I am not confused at all. You want a space station to send your falcon 9 to and do not really care about anything else- except making sure everyone thinks an HLV is a bad idea. Crystal clear.

    It is also crystal clear that the ISS has taught us everything we need to know. Every 90 minutes it gives the crew a radiation bath as it flies through the south atlantic anomaly- increasing their lifetime risk of cancer. This is under the protection of the magnetosphere and also with half the cosmic radiation blanked out by the earth. They come back from six month tours with permanent loss of bone mass and bone marrow from zero G.

    Human space flight is about a radiation level and gravity close to what we are designed for- and that is not going to happen with blow up tents and kerosene rockets. Space is not an ocean, it is a vaccuum seething with radiation. We have to take the ocean with us in the form of a water shield, and we have to spin that bubble of air to get gravity. The ISS is now an albatross and is doing what the commercial space folks whine about the shuttle- draining resources for no good purpose. But that is not a popular opinion with you I know.

    I have to give you the benefit of a doubt and believe you are the one that is confused CR. Even with HLV’s, transporting radiation shielding into orbit is not practical. It has to come from somewhere else- WATER ON THE MOON. There was a saying back in the sixties about the the space program “Whitey on da moon”, which was meant to protest all those tax dollars not being used for social programs.

    Now I am voicing my own protest-
    WATER ON THE MOON!
    WATER ON THE MOON!

    Water filled space craft will mass several hundred tons and the chemical propulsion and depot schemes will not be practical for propelling this much mass. Stop confusing LEO with BEO. You want to fly out there you will need a nuclear reactor.

    You cannot launch several times a week and expend hundreds of vehicles to get the water up there and build the ships. You want to fly out there you are going to need an HLV.

    You want to fly out there you are going to need more money- alot more money that only governmental resources can provide. It will not be a for-profit operation because there is no market for interplanetary flight.
    Got it?

    But if you faking your ignorance and are just after some tax dollars for flying a toy rocket to a worthless station, then you are not confused at all- you are doing exactly what you should acting against any practical beyond earth orbit plan.
    But you should at least be honest and admit it.

  • Rhyolite

    Vladislaw wrote @ December 19th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I agree with your points and would suggest another:

    They should not have jumped directly to an operational vehicle.

    No one had any experience with an operational RLV and yet they tried to make a leap directly from expendables to an RLV in one step. NASA should have cut its teeth and made its mistakes with a smaller RLV – one that could have been modified faster and cheaper – before building an operational vehicle.

  • Justin Kugler

    I’ve read studies that showed an inflatable habitat using materials similar to the Transhab concept would have kept interior radiation levels to ALARA standards even during solar storms equivalent to the peaks in the 1970s. Such composite structures also do not increase the backscatter radiation from GCR like metal enclosures.

    We do not need extraneous water mass to adequately protect crews against solar radiation. An inflatable habitat with an annulus water tank carrying the crew’s consumables should be sufficient.

    Water on the Moon is good for sustaining a permanent presence on the Moon and, perhaps, providing feedstock for orbital fuel depots. It most certainly is not a factor favoring HLV development, since the use of lunar-based fuels would ostensibly reduce your IMLEO requirements.

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    You want a space station to send your falcon 9 to and do not really care about anything else- except making sure everyone thinks an HLV is a bad idea.

    I guess you’re new to reading this blog, and don’t understand that the group I agree with supports lowering the cost to access space. For now, that is SpaceX and their Falcon 9 launcher, but I also support the efforts of Orbital and even ULA. So I’m a fanboi of the approach, not the product.

    Secondly, the size of the launcher is not so much a problem for me as the total cost. Ares V was going to cost around $100B, and then cost $1-2B/flight after that. If you spent the same money on existing launchers, you could have put more mass in space in a shorter period of time – simple math.

    Go ahead, figure out how much mass Delta IV Heavy ($6,000/lb) or Falcon 9 Heavy ($1,357/lb) could put in LEO for just the cost of developing Ares V or any other HLV. This is strictly a cost/benefit analysis.

    But why does money matter? Because you said:

    You want to fly out there you are going to need more money- alot more money that only governmental resources can provide.

    If you’re going to be spending my tax money, then I want it well spent. If you can show me the financial analysis that supports an HLV, then great. But so far no one has been able to – can you?

    All hat, no cattle?

  • Vladislaw

    Magnetic shielding
    Electrostatic shielding
    Drugs
    Hydrogen rich plastics
    Several centimeters of water

    How about a combination of a bunch of them each doing just a part of the final solution.

  • Greyroger

    @ Justin Kugler

    Listen man, you are NASA employee, right? I do not think you should be writing such clever spin for public consumption- I am just warning you. I do not want you to get into trouble.

    Your post is classic issue clouding. I am not talking about solar storms, I am talking about heavy cosmic nuclei. You seem to think you can get away with mentioning GCR’s in the same context to convince people solar storms are the same thing. Deceptive. Yes, I am definitely waving my finger at you.

    Water on the moon is most certainly a factor favoring HLV development and I said nothing about lunar based fuels.

    You need to be more genuine buddy. If you are going to push your agenda, you better be prepared to get called on the carpet for mistating the issues.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Water on the moon is most certainly a factor favoring HLV development and I said nothing about lunar based fuels.

    Water on the moon does not favour HLV. It’s on the moon after all, not on Earth.

    You need to be more genuine buddy. If you are going to push your agenda, you better be prepared to get called on the carpet for mistating the issues.

    HA! If misstating the issues is going to be a topic for discussion, you’re in for a world of hurt.

  • I have to laugh at people who claim there’s “water on the Moon” as if there’s oceans of the stuff. At best it’s thin layers of ice which are probably heavily mixed with dirt, and it’s at the poles or on the dark side of the Moon, nowhere near where humans will be anytime soon.

  • Byeman

    Greyroger wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 1:58 pm
    “you better be prepared to get called on the carpet for mistating the issues.”
    Pot calling kettle black.

    Greyroger/Gary Church misconceptions

    1. HLV’s are needed
    2. NASA can get more money from the DOD. (NASA’s budget has nothing to do the DOD’s. Reducing the DOD’s is not going to increase NASA’s)
    3. Exploration is not going to happen via several hundred metric tons vehicles powered by nuclear power

  • Justin Kugler

    I am a NASA contractor, not a NASA employee, Greyroger, and I resent the implication by someone who uses a pseudonym that I have been dishonest.

    To the contrary, you have misrepresented my argument by accusing me of conflating GCR and solar radiation when it was your post that failed the make the distinction in the first place. Nothing in my post was either false or misleading and I am not responsible for you reading things into my remarks.

    I did not say they were the same thing, only that the same composite materials that adequately protect against solar radiation also do not increase the backscatter radiation from GCR impact.

    The simple fact of the matter is that we do not have the technology for electromagnetic shielding against GCR and the mass requirements for physical shielding are cost prohibitive. I think the best we can do is ensure ALARA levels of exposure with the systems we have available and accept the risks we cannot mitigate. Otherwise, no one is going anywhere for a long time to come.

  • Vladislaw

    The shielding project I had read about was this one:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6567709.stm

    It didn’t include anything on GCR but focused on solar.

  • Vladislaw

    Rhyolite wrote:

    “I agree with your points and would suggest another:

    They should not have jumped directly to an operational vehicle.

    No one had any experience with an operational RLV and yet they tried to make a leap directly from expendables to an RLV in one step. NASA should have cut its teeth and made its mistakes with a smaller RLV – one that could have been modified faster and cheaper – before building an operational vehicle.”

    Agreed, I would have prefered the HL20 and the HL42 with a manned flyback booster, if it would have been cost effective or unmanned if the technology would have been there in the 70′s. The manned flyback booster would have been more palpable to NASA as their astronauts prefer having their hand on the stick.

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Agreed, I would have prefered the HL20 and the HL42 with a manned flyback booster, if it would have been cost effective or unmanned if the technology would have been there in the 70′s.

    What was certainly missing from the Shuttle concept was a constant evolution based on lessons learned. If you look at any successful transportation vehicle, most likely it evolved from numerous previous versions. The Shuttle was a giant step up, but was never evolved past that point.

    If they had separated the crew and cargo aspects of the Shuttle, then maybe we would have evolved the crew portion to something more robust and capable. That probably would have cut back on the construction shack benefits that the Shuttle has provided, but overall we would have avoided the dead-end design we have today.

    Of course, now that the Shuttle program is ending, we’ll have a chance to reset the clock and try again. So far the proposals by SNC (Dream Chaser) and Orbital Sciences blended lifting body look like what NASA should done back in the 1970′s – I hope they end make it.

  • Rhyolite

    Coastal Ron wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    “What was certainly missing from the Shuttle concept was a constant evolution based on lessons learned.”

    I think in large measure that was because it was too big, and therefore too expensive, to tinker any of the major elements elements of the system once they were developed.

    In addition, crew safety and having shuttle on the critical path for national payloads made the program very risk adverse in a way that an unmanned X-plane would not have been.

    “Of course, now that the Shuttle program is ending, we’ll have a chance to reset the clock and try again. So far the proposals by SNC (Dream Chaser) and Orbital Sciences blended lifting body look like what NASA should done back in the 1970′s – I hope they end make it.”

    I was thinking the same thing about X-37. The next step would be to add a reusable/flyback first stage and start evolving from there.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Of course, now that the Shuttle program is ending, we’ll have a chance to reset the clock and try again. So far the proposals by SNC (Dream Chaser) and Orbital Sciences blended lifting body look like what NASA should done back in the 1970′s – I hope they end make it.”

    If you look at this article:

    http://www.universetoday.com/81819/numerous-companies-propose-possible-space-taxi/

    To me it looked like, the airforce gets the orbital space plane, NASA gets dream chaser and commercial gets the two capsules.

  • DCSCA

    @Justin Kugler wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 5:12 pm -
    Actually the Pentagon had the job and it was taken away from them– and they weren’t pleased at the time. So it has happened as that’s how it began. Suggest you revisit the histories of space efforts in the U.S. And NASA’s only future is to have it happen again, and given the Age of Austerity, it’s more likely now. Of course, as a contractor, you’ll have to get in line witrh/behind DoD space contractors as well. The DoD will salute and do as it’s told by civilian authority. More competition for the lowest bidder, too. A good thing.

  • Justin Kugler

    I know my history, DCSCA. The fact that von Braun started out working for the Army has little relevance to the social, legal, and political structures in place today.

  • Byeman

    DCSCA, you are the one who needs some schooling on the history of spaceflight. The DOD never “had” the job. DOD was looking at space as the high ground and its studies included manned spaceflight. But they were never assigned the task of manned spaceflight by the president or congress. None of the tasks that NASA currently does was or is part of the DOD’s

    Just quit your repeating of the same old tired lines that are not even close to the truth.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>