Congress

After the short-term CR, a longer one

The passage by Congress Friday of a very short continuing resolution (CR), lasting only three days, raised hopes that the Senate might yet be able to find a way to pass either its own omnibus spending bill or the House’s year-long CR, giving NASA and other federal agencies some budgetary certainty. No such luck, it appears. Late Sunday the Senate Appropriations Committee announced its plans for another CR, this one extended through March 4, 2011. The new CR contains some additional “anomalies”, or changes, to FY2010 spending levels, but none of the anomalies listed in the Senate’s summary affect NASA or other civil or military space efforts beyond instituting a two-year pay freeze for federal civilian employees, a decision the Obama Administration announced earlier this month. Assuming this goes forward, it will be up to the next Congress to decide FY11 spending levels.

116 comments to After the short-term CR, a longer one

  • Lame ducks are lame.

    I really can’t see a downside to NASA being preventing from doing any “new starts” until March though.

  • DCSCA

    In other words, the space agency remains in its ‘free drift mode’ through the first quarter of 2011. NASA is going no place fast.

  • DCSCA, we’re perched on the edge of a precipice, it’s probably for the best that we can’t get the car going forward again.

  • There is a downside to it not being allowed to cancel Ares, because the language preventing that survives until there is either a new budget or an anomaly to that effect in a CR.

  • Justin Kugler

    We can’t move forward on new work for Station, either, Trent.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Sadly this is a complete failure of the process…I blame this on Obama and the Dems who control congress…but the GOP has not been very helpful and in fact has been non patriotic.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Better to put NASA into drift mode than to be further compromised by this disastrous congress. As this weekend’s events have shown, the lame duck congress should be abolished. Defeated politicians should not be given the gratuitous opportunity to spite the electorate.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That downside has an upside too, since it blocks progress on SDLV, which will make it easier to cancel.

  • Martijn Meijering

    We can’t move forward on new work for Station, either, Trent.

    You mean things like Node 4 and inflatables? Or are more things at risk?

  • Justin Kugler

    There are also a lot of process improvement upgrades that are slated to help us run things more smoothly and efficiently.

  • Sean Beckman

    Because there is nothing new to start on as projects ramp down or end the people on them have no other work and contractors start getting laid off. This is already happening and will only get worse under this CR.

  • DCSCA

    @Trent Waddington wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Trent, we’re through the looking glass in the U.S. States and local municipalities are facing default and running out of cash. Gotta hand it to the Brits for facing reality and showing their traditional resolve at facing and making tough descisions. They’re attacking the problem the right way. When the Royal Navy reaches a point of not having carriers in their fleet and cancelled one named Ark Royal, it shows how real the financial mess is there… and is in reality here.

  • DCSCA

    @Justin Kugler wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Forget the station. Concentrate on getting Orion up and flying. That’s the only chance NASA has of saving its piece of the HSF game. Remember, it’s a ‘luxury’ agency in an age where necessity rules. Get a general purpose spacecraft operational and start flying it on existing LVs through the Age of Austerity. Anything else is doomed. The administration is already floating proposals on freezing discretionary spending as a ‘starting point’ for negotiations and we know from recent history how they negotiate through retreat. NASA’s best move is to save a few core projects and ride out the storm. Otherwise, its safest alternative move it to be absorbed into the DoD under the ‘umbrella’ of nat’l security where longer range projects have at least some chance of surviving.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That’s the only chance NASA has of saving its piece of the HSF game.

    Why is that even a valid goal?

  • silence dogood

    I find this part of the CR interesting:

    “Provided further, That of funds provided under the headings ‘‘Space Operations’’ and ‘‘Exploration’’ in this Act, up to $60,000,000 may be transferred to ‘‘Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Economic Development Assistance Programs’’ to spur regional economic growth in areas impacted by Shuttle retirement and Exploration programmatic changes”

  • Justin Kugler

    Station is one of the core programs, DCSCA. I work in the ISS National Lab Office, which has significant Congressional support. Besides, putting the ISS in the Pacific without anything else operational is a sure way to kill the NASA HSF endeavor.

  • Why save Orion?

    It’d be nice to have but it’ll be redundant once commercial providers show NASA how cheaply launch success can be had to come by. With Republicans taking over it’ll be back to NASA building big things on the ground as a jobs/corporate profits shell game.

    HSF’s future is commercial.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I find this part of the CR interesting:

    You bet. A brief moment of honesty. Perhaps because they think there’s a real possibility there won’t be an SLS?

  • A brief moment of honesty. Perhaps because they think there’s a real possibility there won’t be an SLS?

    Nah. Even with SLS, they know there will be a lot of pain.

  • DCSCA

    @Justin Kugler wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 5:09 pm
    Understood– but in terms of longer planning and thinking, it’s already on the downward side of its life, having been targeted for splashing twice, reprived but without much of a lifetime beyond the end of the decade. And as of now, the space agency has not been very adept at explaining or demonstrating what the taxpayer has been getting for the thing. At least Hubble returns some imagery that the taxpayer can absorb. Nonoby knows what they’re doing up there on the ISS; nobody even knows who’s up there on any given day and even interested citizens have to work at finding out what the heck’s going on up there. It’s a program that’s out of sync with the realities of our times. It’s little more than make-work now (which it always was from the beginning when Reagan first proposed nearly two decades ago) and is not the kind of space project that’s going to be carrying NASA forward into the century. Build Orion. Get a GP spacecraft up and running and the agency will broaden the potential and variety of HSF missions it can propose once the Age of Austerity passes. As it stands now, we’re in for a long decade of fiscal shortfalls with politicials hunting for any ‘luxury’ item to cut, and NASA is all teed up for some slicin’ and dicin’. Wish it wasn’t that way but when you’re spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, and 41 cents of every dollar you spend is borrowed, some things have to be cut in the discretionary budget and space projects are on the list.

  • Martijn Meijering

    To answer my own question, Russia’s Perminov certainly seems to think so:

    http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/12/15/36888743.html
    Russia backs US Dragon spaceship program – Perminov

    Link courtesy of nooneofconsequence over at NSF.com.

    The Russians seem to see what Shelby, Hutchison, Nelson et al refuse to see or at least acknowledge. You might think that the Russians would stand to gain from this, but they are farsighted enough to realise that they too need Dragon.

  • Greyroger

    “putting the ISS in the Pacific without anything else operational is a sure way to kill the NASA HSF endeavor.”

    Flying around in circles in LEO endlessly is like a toddler riding his little bicycle with training wheels around the living room. You can only call it HSF for so long before it becomes an aberration. It is telling that an HLV, which is required for any practical BEO HSF plan, is constantly demonized here, while the jobs program that is the ISS is OK.

    It is OK because it is the only destination commercial space is capable of reaching with their little rockets. The best thing that could happen to the “HSF endeavor” would be to de-orbit that money hole.

    Grow up.

  • Rhyolite

    A question for the forum:

    Is there anything that would prevent NASA from taking a portion of the MPCV funds and opening up a competition for a second source MPCV provider for a NASA operated BEO missions?

    MPCV is prevented from serving station if a commercial crew provider arises so this would be distinct from CCDev. A continuation of the Lockheed contract for Orion as the first MPCV would satisfy the authorization preference for continuing existing contracts. This however, would not preclude an additional contractor and it seems likely that Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, Blue Origin or Orbital could come up with an alternative MPCV at a fraction of the cost. Lockheed could use some direct competition if it is quoting $4B to $5B and five years to a first manned test of Orion.

  • DCSCA

    sftommy wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    “HSF’s future is commercial.”

    Then it has no future. Private capital markets have yet to see any plan that delivers a viable return on the necessary investment in it comparable to the HSF efforts of governments. That’s why governments do it. The only place you’ll see commerical HSF on a scale comparable to what government space agencies have actually done is in the movies– start w/Destination Moon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nice view of the lunar eclipse in South Texas…remember the only flags in the lunar “dirt” is the Flag of The United States. Long Live The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    One can’t imagine why the Russian government would support any venture and/or effort to degrade the National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Wake up and smell da coffee, comrade.

  • Dennis Berube

    Where is all the money going, into that stinking war, that no one will win. We need to get out of that. What is better, spending a lot to create destruction and death, or spend a little and push the science envelope further into space. Cost overruns in military contracts out distance NASA many times over. We need the best jets, ships etc, yet we do not win wars anymore.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Greyroger wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    “Flying around in circles in LEO endlessly”

    this sentence takes you OUT of the category of serious space politics “fan” much less practitioner.

    The phrase is goofy on any level.

    First the Earth goes around in solar orbit “endlessly” retracing more or less the same orbit around the sun on a “yearly” basis (as does most of the solar system)…Satellites in earth orbit do the same thing “endlessly” and are quite valuable.

    There is as much difference in terms of what a spacecraft feels in terms of going “around” in orbit vrs not doing it, except reentering…

    goofy

    Second if the phrase is meant to imply “LEO is boring” or ” is doing the same thing over and over” then another award for goofiness comes out.

    Airplanes today will fly repeatedly from Dallas to Houston and retrace their steps and a lot of other city pairs. And the operation is very valuable.

    The phrase is goofy on all levels but I’ll try one more…the implication being that somehow “going somewhere” will generate a lot of public support….goofy…the people tired of the lunar landings after 11.

    The phrase is designed by people like you to indicate opposition to ISS when you really cannot define “why” you dont like it. I dont like it…I have quite a few op eds in decades past arguing against it, how it was implemented and that it should return far more value to The Republic then it does now.

    but I never used that goofy phrase and you should either until you can take a stab at explaining it.

    Its like “guns kill people”…so do hammers.

    Robert G. Oler

  • In this morning’s Florida Today:

    “Spending bill holds no extra money for NASA”

    President Barack Obama had proposed $19 billion for the space agency, as it shifted to boost commercial rockets to ferry people to the International Space Station. Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate separately approved $18.9 billion for NASA.

    But Senate Republicans scuttled the full-year spending bills because of complaints about other spending provisions.

    Instead, lawmakers plan to continue debating spending in the 112th Congress, when Republicans will take control of the House and boost their minority in the Senate by six seats.

  • amightywind

    The Russians seem to see what Shelby, Hutchison, Nelson et al refuse to see or at least acknowledge. You might think that the Russians would stand to gain from this, but they are farsighted enough to realise that they too need Dragon.

    It is not likely that the Russians have the best interests of America’s space program at heart. They are probably more comfortable competing with the pedestrian technology and mission of SpaceX than the glories of exploration envisioned by President Bush.

  • Bennett

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Exactly. Perminov (and anyone with half a brain) knows that all it will take is one serious problem with a Soyuz launch to create a crisis situation. An on-line HR F9/Dragon eliminates that possibility.

    As far as Pork rocket projects, the Russians knew very well how Constellation was doing, but they weren’t laughing because its failure was too close to home. They fly the Soyuz not because it’s the best they can do, but because they, with their remnants of Communism – the ultimate jobs program for everyone, haven’t been able to develop the next generation of LV/MPCV either!

    Shelby and his shallow crew (with their big campaign coffers) are emulating this no-win approach to HSF, and the results are predictable, comrade.

  • Justin Kugler

    Greyroger, I would argue that it is your attitude – which insists on insulting and belittling the accomplishments of others – that is juvenile.

    An HLV is not required for BEO exploration. That is simply and demonstrably false, as the ULA exploration architecture (among others) shows.

    The ISS is the only microgravity and space environment research platform available and it is the only destination for human crews until something else comes along. If you think the gap between Shuttle and the next human launch vehicle is going to hurt, just imagine what would happen if we had a program with nowhere to go.

    Lest you forget, Ares I and Orion were solely being designed for the ISS mission. Lunar capability had been pushed off indefinitely.

    There are no payloads for an HLV in development. Until then, it is premature, at best, to argue that we need one, when existing launch systems can meet our needs.

  • Major Tom

    “Is there anything that would prevent NASA from taking a portion of the MPCV funds and opening up a competition for a second source MPCV provider for a NASA operated BEO missions?”

    No. In fact, there’s nothing preventing NASA from competing all of the MPCV funds, whether NASA wants to procure one, two, or more MPCVs.

    “A continuation of the Lockheed contract for Orion as the first MPCV would satisfy the authorization preference for continuing existing contracts.”

    It’s just a preference, not a requirement, in NASA’s 2010 Authorization Act. The budget reality is that the FY11 budget in the Act for MPCV is a 40% reduction from the Orion budget for the same year. Even with all the streamlining in the world, there’s no realistic schedule under which Orion can continue with that kind of a budget cut. (And the budget can only get worse when the new congress passes appropriations.) The Act may express a preference for those Orion contracts, but the funding levels in the Act practically guarantee that NASA can’t continue Orion.

    “This however, would not preclude an additional contractor and it seems likely that Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, Blue Origin or Orbital could come up with an alternative MPCV at a fraction of the cost. Lockheed could use some direct competition if it is quoting $4B to $5B and five years to a first manned test of Orion.”

    Agreed. But given the MPCV budget situation relative to what Orion needs, I’d argue that NASA has no choice but to compete all of MPCV. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that we’ll see a wide open MPCV competition out of NASA. If that happens and LockMart can rethink Orion so that it fits the budget box and can outcompete other proposals, great. But if not, LockMart should propose a different vehicle so they have a shot at winning (and they probably already have a small team working on just such an alternative).

    FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    an HLV, which is required for any practical BEO HSF plan

    You can keep repeating this as often as you like and it will be false every time. Many practical plans that don’t require an HLV have been published and discussed here (OASIS, DPT, ULA, IAA etc etc). The HLV plans tend to come from people within the STS political industrial complex who have a vested interest in keeping this jobs program going. I would further remind you that ISS was started as a make work project for the Shuttle, as a reward for failing in its primary mission (reducing launch costs by an order of magnitude) and after killing seven astronauts. When they lost their monopoly on commercial launches a new monopoly was invented especially for them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It is not likely that the Russians have the best interests of America’s space program at heart.

    It seems likely that they have the best interests of the Russian space program at heart. And that means continued US funding for ISS. If NASA keeps screwing up with SLS + Orion, its manned spaceflight program will be reduced to buying rides on Soyuz and that may not be enough to keep Congress paying for ISS. My guess is that that is what Perminov is worried about, not that he doesn’t have faith in Soyuz.

  • Coastal Ron

    Major Tom wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 10:18 am

    (and they [Lockheed Martin] probably already have a small team working on just such an alternative)

    Which also might also explain why they have been so forward in the press about getting Orion ready for launch – they are laying the groundwork for the argument that their product is much closer than any re-competed choice.

    The best defense is a good offense, and they want Congress to think that, regardless of their bloated price, they are too close to launch to cancel.

    Interesting times…

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 20th, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    It is OK because it is the only destination commercial space is capable of reaching with their little rockets.

    And after next year, that will be further than what NASA can do. ;-)

    Flying around in circles in LEO endlessly is like a toddler riding his little bicycle with training wheels around the living room.

    I guess we don’t understand what YOU think people will be doing in space.

    I think that just like here on Earth, people will be doing work in and around spaceships, space stations or wherever they are. The only difference is what they see out the porthole during their time off.

    I’ll also echo what Oler thought of what you said (“Goofy”), and say that you apparently think everyone that goes to space will be doing heroic deeds every moment of their waking lives, and not the pedestrian stuff most of us call “work”. Weird.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Or maybe he is worried the US might abandon ISS to pay for SLS + Orion as some here have advocated.

  • Greyroger

    Flying around in circles in LEO endlessly

    “this sentence takes you OUT of the category of serious space politics “fan” much less practitioner.”

    Well, according to you….and I quit taking your posts seriously a long time ago.

    “Greyroger, I would argue that it is your attitude – which insists on insulting and belittling the accomplishments of others – that is juvenile.”

    I would argue that you should not be identifying yourself as a NASA employee on this site. Not if you are going to belittle and insult taxpayers with an opposing opinion. It is just hilarious you are finger pointing and waving on this site considering the traffic in troll labeling and rampant cognitive classification.

    Your job security working on the ISS is your concern, not mine.

    “An HLV is not required for BEO exploration. That is simply and demonstrably false, as the ULA exploration architecture (among others) shows.”

    Those powerpoints do not demonstrate anything but good digital artwork. Lest you forget, what is advertised and what is, are two different things. Stir friction welding, 5 segment SRB’s, and RS-68′s do exist- orbital depots and refueling hardware demonstrably do not.

    “There are no payloads for an HLV in development. Until then, it is premature, at best, to argue that we need one, when existing launch systems can meet our needs.”

    Existing launch systems meet your needs. The payloads “in development” depend on a vehicle capable of lofting them. Like most of the commercial space fans, you are putting the cart before the horse.

    If I offended you with the “grow up comment”, I apologize. It was meant as a general admonishment and not directed personally at you.

  • Greyroger

    I forget to capitalize YOUR needs.

    Existing launch systems meet YOUR needs Justin. Not “ours.”

    What exactly “our” needs are is up for discussion isnt it?

    My argument is simple and revolves around three salient points;

    1. DOD is the bloodsucker killing our space program. The headlines tell us about billions missing in Afland to corrupt officials. BILLIONs in swiss boy lover bank accounts while that money is being screamed about in connection with HLV. THE DOD HAS OUR MONEY!

    2. Radiation in deep space means a water shield. It is the only practical solution but no one will accept this inconvenient truth. While it is the only practical way to fly in deep space, it is impractical to bring it up from the earth. WATER ON DA MOON!

    3. A water sheild massing several hundred metric tons is not going to be propelled chemically. Again, it is just not practical. Nuclear energy is the only practical solution. The only depots in space we need are water depots in lunar orbit for filling up our radiation shields. NUCLEAR ENERGY IS REQUIRED!

  • Fred Cink

    “Multi-Purpose” (as in MPCV) usually means it does several things adequately and none of them exceptionally. Dreamchaser, Boeing’s CST, Dragon are all fine for xport of people and limited cargo to/from LEO. Wasn’t Orion was being designed ( at least partially) for extended deep space ops with solar panels and a service module/engine capable of significant delta V? Thats a lot of wasted money and capability on a LEO delivery vehicle. Better to keep/use it for that purpose and let the LEO delivery vehicles keep costs down.?

  • Bennett

    Greyroger wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Your points are nothing new. A fella named Gary Church used almost the exact same words, and was unable to convince anyone that his proposals were affordable or politically feasible. You can rail against the DOD, but in the end it won’t change a thing.

    Grownups learn to identify what is real and then work from there to get things done.

  • Justin Kugler

    I didn’t say I was a NASA employee, Greyroger. I said I worked on the program. In any event, I don’t think my management would have any issue with me calling out someone who engages in abusive and disrespectful behavior online.

    I have respectful disagreements on this site all the time. It is not the fact that you have an opposing opinion that I criticized you for, it is the deliberately inflammatory and passive-aggressive manner in which you have expressed that opinion. Being a taxpayer does not grant you immunity from reproach.

    Now, to address your argument.

    1. If DoD spending is cut, it is more likely to go towards paying down the deficit than anything else. There is absolutely no reason to assume that defense spending – which is controlled in entirely different Senate and House committees – would be redirected to NASA.

    2. The data available and the analysis I have studied suggests that the amount of water required to shield against GCR is utterly impractical and that existing composite materials and the water required for mission consumables is probably sufficient for solar radiation protection. Sourcing water from the Moon reduces the Initial Mass in Low Earth Orbit, thus reducing the justification for an HLV.

    3. Even assuming a nuclear-powered in-space transportation architecture with cislunar water depots, there is still not necessarily an HLV requirement. Payload fairing volumetric constraints alone are likely to require on-orbit assembly, to some degree. The cost-overruns in the Constellation Program suggest that a government owned-and-operated HLV will be so expensive in total system and lifecycle costs as to not leave any money in the budget for payloads.

    Dr. Paul Spudis posted an alternative lunar exploration architecture today that is launch system independent and focused on incremental technological and exploration milestones. I recommend everyone give it a look.

    http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Papers/Affordable_Lunar_Base.pdf

  • Coastal Ron

    Greyroger wrote @ December 21st, 2010

    Lest you forget, what is advertised and what is, are two different things. Stir friction welding, 5 segment SRB’s, and RS-68′s do exist

    But apparently you forgot that they exist individually, but not on a mythical HLV. Pieces and parts don’t make an effective launcher – the right parts, with the right design, for the right application do. And so far you only have SOME of the parts, but no design, and no application (i.e. mission).

    And except for the 5-segment SRB’s, you’re describing Delta IV, which uses single-segment SRM’s. Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy are here today, whereas it’s your mythical HLV that is purely fictional.

    The payloads “in development” depend on a vehicle capable of lofting them.

    There are no HLV payloads in development, and no program/budget for them. If there were, then maybe we’d need an HLV, but since they’re not, they are just your fantasy.

    My argument is simple and revolves around three salient points;

    In response your three points:

    1. Talk to your Congressional representatives about where your tax money goes. Maybe you don’t realize it, but DoD is just a small part of overall government spending (and war spending even smaller), and decreases in DoD spending do not equate to increases in NASA spending. Learn how the real world works.

    2. Water is ONE of the possible shields, and no one denies that, inconvenient or not. But there is no need for deep space shielding because there is no deep space human exploration program. Ipso facto. Oh, and if you wanted to try out different shielding techniques, the ISS is a good place to start before you head to BEO.

    3. You’re arguing for things that are so far down the road that it doesn’t matter. It’s like arguing about who is going to win Super Bowl LXXV. It’s one thing to plan ahead, but we’re not close to deciding on systems & logistics yet, because we don’t know what we’ll be doing then.

    Like Bennett said, “Grownups learn to identify what is real and then work from there to get things done.” – find reality.

  • Vladislaw

    Thanks for the link, just finished reading it. For costs to build the HLV I feel those numbers are a bit light if the history of NASA on cost overruns is taken into account.

    Another thing I couldn’t find was the reserve funds for break downs. Every mission seems to be pulled off with a 100% success rate there does not seem to be any accounting for a LOM and what that would do to the operations, as a breakdown would cause also.

    Overall though I thought it was a good read, I would have liked to see some of that done by commercial rather than NASA and NASA just buy the output/data.

  • CNN reports the extension through March has passed both houses and goes to Obama for signature.

    So the even more dysfunctional 2011-2012 Congress gets to fail to do anything once March arrives …

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    actually for MY “Politics and policy” this strikes me as a good thing.

    I really dont care about much in human spaceflight other then the commercial access to space now…and in my view it is just churning along well…inertia is setting in nicely.

    We can also have some excitment as the House gets to deal with the turbulence of the tea party cut spending groups and the porkers.

    Of course it is an complete failure in terms of the Administration. They are to blame for not getting a budget…the GOP did not help but they held the reigns (the administration).

    By summer we will be deep in POTUS 2012 politics

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Without the planned budget increase, with the possibility of actual cuts and with the certainty of JWST cost overruns it looks as if the senate “compromise” has been overtaken by events. That could lead to interesting complications if there is no new authorisation. Would there be time for a new bill given that the old one was supposed to be for three years? With conflicting instructions NASA could muddle through and follow a course that is as helpful as possible to the original Obama plan while claiming to follow the law as closely as possible in such an impossible situation.

  • Bennett

    Vladislaw wrote “Overall though I thought it was a good read, I would have liked to see some of that done by commercial rather than NASA and NASA just buy the output/data.”

    Agreed. Paul seemed to be working under the assumption that ULA was the only source for LVs, except for possibly delivering water to his depots. That he kept returning to a SDHLV was a fly in the ointment for me. If Elon says he can do a HLV for 2.5B, I’d take that over ANYTHING planned by NASA at this point.

    I love NASA, but I don’t believe that they can build a new LV for anything close to what LM, Boeing, or SpaceX could do if given a fixed price contract.

    Like you said, it was a good read and I guess we should count our blessings that more and more folks are embracing the concept of getting started with medium lift vehicles as soon as possible.

  • Rhyolite

    “WATER ON DA MOON!”

    So what. There is a lot more water her on Earth and it is cheaper to get it to Earth orbit than it is to extract and ship it from the Moon.

    For the yearly cost of maintaining a modest Moon base ($6B/yr) you could ship 1000 mt of water to orbit per year (F9H 25 mt / $150M) with existing technology.

    Moreover, if you are really serious about getting g-insensitive payloads like water (or propellant, or polyethylene shielding) to orbit, then there are a number of ways reducing launch costs by a factor of 2 to 10 for a tiny fraction of the start-up costs for a Moon base.

  • Rhyolite

    Always a typo…There is a lot more water here on Earth…

  • Shaggy

    The way this is going, they might as well finish Ares I. Test of J2X in Spring, 1st Stage is flight ready and Orion due by 2013. Looks like this whole 2017 thing was a sham.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Paul seemed to be working under the assumption that ULA was the only source for LVs, except for possibly delivering water to his depots.

    Paul and I have disagreed on a number of things over at his Air & Space blog (http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/), but I applaud him and the rest of the team for putting together a plan that lays out what they would do, how it would get done, and how much they think it will cost.

    However I think his justifications are “Moon First” biased, and months ago on his A&S blog I showed him the following statement was wrong:

    However, despite numerous and continued attempts to lower launch costs over the last 30 years, a cost plateau has been reached at around $5000/kg (based on the price of the two cheapest existing launch services, India’s PSLV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9.)

    He uses this theory as part of his justification for ISRU, and besides using the wrong term for the direction (“plateau” would be rising), launch costs based on $/kg have been falling over the past decades, and the prices have not yet “bottomed out” (the term he should have used).

    But overall it’s a stake in the ground that can be compared and quantified, and that’s good.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    “I really dont care about much in human spaceflight other then the commercial access to space now…”

    Which must benefit your personal agenda and not the greater good of the United States. You’re either on the payroll for commercial space or just a lobbyist for them as well. Either way, not caring about much in human spaceflight other than commercial access means you do care about it much at all, as commerical HSF has a very limited future in this era. It also pretty much voids most of your positions on the HSF, past, present and future as well.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “… remember the only flags in the lunar ‘dirt’ is the Flag of The United States.”

    A footnote:

    Starting with Luna-16, five unmanned landers reportedly carried the flag of the USSR with them to the Moon’s surface. Soviet illustrations at the time showed the flag attached to the spacecraft, as did at least one replica spacecraft on display in a Moscow museum (and another one in Kaluga). I recall seeing an image in a Soviet book (transmitted by a Luna spacecraft) showing the flag on the Moon, but I can’t put my finger on that photo at the moment. However, this contemporary illustration clearly shows the flag mounted to the spacecraft on the lower left side:

    http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_Luna16.jpg

    Soviet state seals and pennants were also carried aboard earlier Luna spacecraft, including Luna-9 (the first soft landing) and Luna-13.

    However …

    The flags were fixed to the spacecraft — not planted in the regolith.

    As for the proposal for an affordable lunar base put forward today by Paul Spudis and Tony Lavoie …

    It is an OUTSTANDING plan that puts the horse before the cart. That is, it defines the mission before designing the hardware. To paraphrase Gene Cernan … it’s a blueprint for a mission to somewhere. And that somewhere isn’t only the Moon. Spudis and Lavoie have given us a blueprint for the transcontinental railroad of space — complete with water and fuel depots replenished from the Moon rather than from Earth. Their proposed infrastructure would not only reduce the cost of exploring the Moon; it would also bring down the cost of exploring space beyond the Moon. Moreover, their step-by-step approach is flexible enough that time and money aren’t critical. As they suggest, when budgets are low, progress can be slow. But the program would keep moving forward. And Spudis and Lavoie have obviously thought about a lot of the details — including spare parts.

    SpudisSpace is certainly more appealing to me than ObamaSpace. Yet, SpudisSpace would make use of some of the good parts about ObamaSpace (e.g., lowering the cost of access to LEO). By lowering the cost of replenishing fuel and consumable depots (using the Moon’s resources), SpudisSpace opens up the entire inner Solar System to human spaceflight.

    Bravo to Spudis and Lavoie on their plan and their vision!

  • DCSCA

    Commercial HSF is a fantasy. This constiunency has orbited nobody.

  • Commercial entities must be the ones to open up the Moon by utilizing data collected by hopefully future commercial probes.

    This is an entirely different kettle of fish since current international law is vague on whether commercial concerns can legally “own” portions of the Moon. And the fact that marketable resources can be found and a profitable business can be closed.

    Then a suitable cis-lunar infrastructure could be planned and built to exploit this.

  • Dennis Berube

    Here too people, as history progresses, maybe a continuation isnt bad. We dont know what will happen just around the corner. With that said, history may yet reveal some cause that NASA will be needed for. Keep our fingers crossed and watch it unfold.

  • @Coastal Ron wrote @ December 21st, 2010 at 6:40 pm
    “And except for the 5-segment SRB’s, you’re describing Delta IV, which uses single-segment SRM’s. Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy are here today, whereas it’s your mythical HLV that is purely fictional.”

    I agree with the overall premise of your post, but the above comment is inaccurate. Delta IV medium uses SRMs. Delta IV heavy uses strap on CBCs, which are liquid fueled. This makes the heavy more suitable safety-wise for crewed launch and also more economical.
    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_IV

    Also, you mention:
    “Oh, and if you wanted to try out different shielding techniques, the ISS is a good place to start before you head to BEO.”
    ISS orbits below most of the van Allen belts which shield the station from a lot of particle radiation. Thus a valid test of shielding would have to be done well beyond LEO.

    Otherwise, a good concise post with excellent points.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    We can also have some excitment as the House gets to deal with the turbulence of the tea party cut spending groups and the porkers.

    Not to stray too far off the space politics theme, but … The “Tea Party” is non-existent in Congress. Some Republicans called themselves Tea Partiers to help get themselves elected. But as we saw with the recent tax cut for the rich, they don’t care one bit about the deficit and they still vote how they’re told to vote by the people running the GOP. It won’t change next year, other than the stray loon wanting to impeach Obama or revoke civil rights.

    Of course it is an complete failure in terms of the Administration. They are to blame for not getting a budget…the GOP did not help but they held the reigns (the administration).

    I disagree entirely. The big problem was the GOP in the Senate abusing the filibuster process.

    Given all the terrible problems inherited by this administration, I think they’ve done a remarkable job. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the tax cut “deal” was much more than swapping extended unemployment benefits for tax cuts for the rich. I think we’ll find out eventually that Obama also got a deal for the GOP to allow DADT, the START treaty, the DREAM act, the food safety bill and other priorities to move forward.

    And frankly, I think it was brilliant in that it exposed GOP hypocrisy. They talked about reducing the deficit but then they increased it by giving tax cuts to the rich. Keep in mind, the “deal” expires at the end of 2012, when Obama is running for re-election. I’ve no doubt he will use that hypocrisy to bludgeon the Republicans in the 2012 election.

    Presidents historically have very little influence when it comes to the budget process. The Constitution gives control over the budget to Congress. All the President can do is sign it or veto it. Presidents submit a budget proposal to Congress each year, but everyone knows it’s meaningless.

    And as for space, Obama is the first President to try a fundamental reform of how NASA works. He knows that NASA is so sclerotic and ineffectual because Congress views NASA as pork for their districts, nothing more. Commercial LEO access neatly takes Congress out of the loop. I’m sure Congresscritters will be lobbying for whatever commercial vendor happens to be in their district or donates to their campaigns, but at least the era of Congresscritters designing rockets for the benefit of their home districts is coming to a close.

  • Justin Kugler

    The Spudis/Lavoie plan isn’t perfect, I agree. What I like about it is it’s operational flexibility while remaining true to its mission focus. If the trades show that commercial launch and resupply are better value than SD-HLV, their plan is adaptable to that reality.

    I also like the incorporation of telepresence expeditionary operations. I, personally, think that is the key to taking what NASA is calling “participatory exploration” to the next level. Just imagine having the immersion of today’s 3D movies with the ability to control a lunar robot in real-time and the ability to share that experience with a wide audience.

  • P.S. Add the 9/11 health care bill to the list of legislation now moving forward due to the “deal.”

  • Joe

    Justin,

    “The cost-overruns in the Constellation Program suggest that a government owned-and-operated HLV will be so expensive in total system and lifecycle costs as to not leave any money in the budget for payloads.
    Dr. Paul Spudis posted an alternative lunar exploration architecture today that is launch system independent and focused on incremental technological and exploration milestones. I recommend everyone give it a look.”

    You do know that the Spudis “white paper” specifically uses the Side Mount SDHLV (approximately 70 metric tons to orbit) as part of its baseline architecture? :)

    Joe

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 2:27 am

    “Which must benefit your personal agenda and not the greater good of the United States”

    how do make that judgment?

    I post under my name…so its not hard to find a string of op eds in Space news, AWST, Houston Post/Chronicle, Washington Post and quite a few others where I talk about the policy implications of a vibrant commercial human spaceflight industry and how it is good for The United States in almost all regards.

    In July 1999 I wrote and Rich Kolker edited and Mark Whittington (who now has completely changed his mind) and we had published a piece in The Weekly Standard which more or less details some hard policy choices and why commercial space was a good fit for a lot of them…and why it changed the lives, leisure, and industry of the sovierign of The Republic.

    If you want to debate those points fine. I enjoy spirited debate even with folks whose eyes are completely closed because at the very least it sharpens the wit and stimulates my thoughts…but to just make a charge like you did is pretty “palinish”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 8:46 am

    we actually are in almost complete agreement over your entire post.

    I dont really think that there is a “tea party” in terms of the GOP, there is a movement that a lot of politicians tied into to get elected…and when its all over most of the people who thought that they had “taken over the GOP” will find that they have been had.

    In the end the next year is going to be a back and forth between the two parties trying to manage not the cutting but where the remaining spending goes…and then they are in my view going to spend the year after that trying to blame the other party for how screwed up things are. We are I think headed for a major election cycle in 12…and it might be one of the most important in the countries history in along time.

    I long ago figured out what the tax “rate” thing was…and in my view if this is what Obama got for it, he got some pretty thin gruel. All the things he got for the “deal” are important to the country, but all are meaningless unless we get the economics of the country squared away…that is the smelling fish in the room…and what both parties are hoping for is that somehow the economy rebounds and then instead of trying to blame each other they can all try and take credit for it.

    I dont think that is going to happen…and the failure in my mind is that Obama doesnt recognize that this is not a business as usual time, but a time not unlike the 1933 era…and substanitive change needed to occur…not margin change.

    Change (Jeff breathes a sigh of relief) much like has happened in space politics and policy. The one (or so ) bright spot in Obama’s first half is his new space policy. I am more impressed with that every day, particularly considering that the forces which are opposing it.

    it is a new innovative policy much as we need in almost all segments of four economy

    Robert

  • They talked about reducing the deficit but then they increased it by giving tax cuts to the rich.

    This is drifting OT, but no matter how many times you repeat the phrase, there were no “tax cuts for the rich.” They simply kept existing tax rates in place. When the rates were cut several years ago, the share of taxes paid by the wealthy actually went up. And no one knows what the effect will be on the deficit, but the only way to increase revenue is to grow the economy. Increasing tax rates on the most productive would have the opposite effect.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You do know that the Spudis “white paper” specifically uses the Side Mount SDHLV (approximately 70 metric tons to orbit) as part of its baseline architecture?

    Look where the LPI is located and consider which NASA center has been pushing for sidemount. Coincidence?

  • William Mellberg

    Rhyolite wrote:

    “There is a lot more water her on Earth and it is cheaper to get it to Earth orbit than it is to extract and ship it from the Moon.”

    Not in the long-run. Not if people are serious about human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit. Not if a genuine interplanetary “space railroad” is going to open deep space to humankind.

    Once upon a time, there were those who said it was cheaper to send goods from New York to San Francisco by sailing around Cape Horn. They were right. At the time, it WAS cheaper than building the transcontinental railroad. But in the long-run, it was not. And in terms of opening the American West to development and settlement, sailing around Cape Horn did nothing. Building the transcontinental railroad did everything.

    That is what Dr. Spudis is proposing for we do in space. And his plan is feasible in that it is so flexible.

    But, of course, not everyone believed Theodore Judah when he laid out his plan for the transcontinental railroad — although Time proved him right! Spudis is the Judah of the Space Age!

  • Justin Kugler

    Joe,
    You must have also noticed that they specifically made their architecture launch vehicle-independent, then. I think their baseline reliance on SDHLV is one of the areas where the proposal needs improvement, actually.

    Sorry, but there’s no “gotcha” there.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Inaccurate. And trickle down economics doesnt work.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    ” When the rates were cut several years ago, the share of taxes paid by the wealthy actually went up. ”

    badly off topic but thats babble…”share” is the operative word…the “amount” of taxes collected went down.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Joe

    “Look where the LPI is located and consider which NASA center has been pushing for sidemount. Coincidence?”

    Conspiracy Theories can be fun, sometimes even accurate. They can also be entirely wrong and when used to impugn someone’s integrity (in this case Dr. Spudis) with no more supporting evidence than where he works (as happens all too often) they are as pointless as they are classless.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What do you mean impugn his integrity? Are you saying that if he slanted his proposal towards a politically favoured solution then he was acting without integrity?

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Not in the long-run. Not if people are serious about human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit. Not if a genuine interplanetary “space railroad” is going to open deep space to humankind.

    But a “genuine interplanetary space railroad” is not the goal right now. That may be your goal, but not the goal of Congress and NASA, nor many other people.

    And your analogy for the “space railroad” is not quite right either, since what you’re advertising the Moon to be is more like a truck stop (fuel, supplies, etc.). We don’t need to land on the Moon to go to L1/L2 or destinations beyond. And if we need to refuel, it’s better to bring the fuel to orbit than to land and refuel on the Moon.

    As I’ve always said, the resources on the Moon will become needed when they are needed, but the economic imperative for the Moon does not yet exist, and likely won’t until we get lots more hardware doing stuff in space. You have to have “demand” in order to justify “supply”. Econ 101

    If companies want to spend money doing something beyond the NASA robotic exploration, then great. But I can’t see Congress lining up behind the Spudis plan, no matter how “exciting” it may be, until the initial exploration pans out. After that, who knows, but at least we’ll have a much better idea about what our needs are in space.

    In any case, the initial parts of the Spudis plan are very much like what NASA’s new plan is, so at least there is that overlap. Let’s get the lunar robotic exploration going!

  • Joe

    Justin,

    “You must have also noticed that they specifically made their architecture launch vehicle-independent, then. I think their baseline reliance on SDHLV is one of the areas where the proposal needs improvement, actually.
    Sorry, but there’s no “gotcha” there.”

    They are attempting to make the architecture “launch vehicle independent” in order to account for the “eccentricities” of the political system (obviously a wise move).

    However, reading their hypothetical launch manifest, they intend the use of an HLV for both Human Missions and emplacement of larger hardware components during the buildup phase of lunar operations. That they are trying to find ways to work around this (if politics prevents it from happening) does not change the fact that this is their baseline.

    You can consider that fact a “gotcha” or not as you choose, but it remains a fact.

    Joe

  • Rhyolite

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    “Not in the long-run. Not if people are serious about human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit. Not if a genuine interplanetary “space railroad” is going to open deep space to humankind.”

    The evidence does not support this assertion. Let’s take Dr. Spudis’s plan as linked to above by Justin Kugler above. It requires $88 B and 15 years of initial investment followed by $6.6 B/yr in recurring cost to produce 150 mt a year of water on the lunar surface. Note that this water still needs to be lifted off of the lunar surface to be useful for a BEO mission. The same amount of water could be put into low Earth orbit, where it is arguably more useful for BEO missions, for $0.9 B – less than 1/7th of the recurring cost – with no initial investment, using launch vehicles we already have, starting tomorrow. Simply put, this plan consumes more resources than it produces.

    It is arguable that Dr. Spudis plan could be scaled up, eventually, until it reaches the break even point with existing earth-to-orbit transportation. However, that would require even larger initial investment, even more time, and even higher recurring costs. How much more is completely unclear. Even if the marginal production costs were minimal, which is unlikely, it would still require producing more than 1100 mt of water per year to justify the $6.6B recurring cost relative to existing launch vehicles – a phenomenal sum for which the demand is unproven.

    This analysis also does not take into account potential improvements in launch vehicle costs over the next 15 years. Even the modest investments in commercial launch vehicles over the past decade – at most a few billion each for EELV, and less for Ariane 5 and Proton – have produced a 30% reduction in price per kg over the past 10 years. SpaceX is pushing this trend even further. The conventional launch vehicle has not been played out for performance and RLVs have yet to be really tried. It should be obvious that investing the same $88 B in launch vehicle improvements would produce substantial, if not order of magnitude, improvements in launch cost making it even harder to justify lunar water extraction.

    The reality is that there are lower hanging fruit to pick before than lunar water and the ultimate “space railroad” may well be better launch vehicle technology rather than an elaborate detour to the moon.

  • Rhyolite

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    “And in terms of opening the American West to development and settlement, sailing around Cape Horn did nothing. Building the transcontinental railroad did everything.”

    On a purely historical note, this statement is simply wrong. There had been permanent settlements in California for 100 years before the arrival the railroad, there had been permanent American settlements in Oregon for over 50 years, California had been a state for nearly 20 years and Oregon had been a state for 10 years . The development and settlement of the West – whether around Cape Horn, over the Isthmus of Panama, up from Mexico, or overland – had been underway long before the transcontinental railroad arrived. The railroad connected existing areas of settlement and capitalized on already established flows of trade and immigration – it followed rather than led.

  • Anne Spudis

    @Rhyolite

    Recurring costs — once established, sales of water from the Moon will support the outpost. We’ll still spend money on it, but to explore the Moon, not to support the water production.

    About the railroad — It’s purpose was not to open the west coast to settlement — it was to open up “flyover country”, for agriculture, industry, mining and settlement.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rhyolite wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Simply put, this plan consumes more resources than it produces.

    Great analysis.

    I think the exploration aspects of the Spudis plan are fine, but once they start making economic justifications they lose credibility.

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Recurring costs — once established, sales of water from the Moon will support the outpost. We’ll still spend money on it, but to explore the Moon, not to support the water production.

    The Spudis plan does not provide enough detail to make assumptions on recurring costs (or even NRE), plus you have no idea what the market price for water will be in lunar orbit (the export market). There are too many Cernan “you don’t know what you don’t know” intangibles to make this type of statement.

    My suggestion to you and other plan advocates is that you should push the incremental aspects of the exploration plan, because you’ll get laughed out of Congress if you think you can predict the price of anything 15 years out for a currently non-exisistent market.

    Oh, and to make the plan less costly, dump the need for an HLV – that cuts your projected budget needs tremendously.

    About the railroad — It’s purpose was not to open the west coast to settlement — it was to open up “flyover country”, for agriculture, industry, mining and settlement.

    There were elements of that, but the primary driver was to shorten the distance between the two coasts. The combination of a shorter trip, and one that was completely on land, proved to be a huge factor. The economic benefits of connecting Utah or Iowa to the coasts were secondary.

    Still, the railroad analogy doesn’t work for the Moon, since there is no economic activity on the Moon to connect a transportation route to. The Moon will be more like an outpost, whose road becomes more and more traveled over time.

  • Rhyolite

    Anne Spudis wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 9:47 am

    “Recurring costs — once established, sales of water from the Moon will support the outpost. We’ll still spend money on it, but to explore the Moon, not to support the water production.”

    Sales of water will only covera a small portion of the cost of the outpost based on the numbers above. Spending money to explore is fine – this is a much better plan than Cx in that regard – but not justifiable in terms of radically lower the cost of BEO space flight.

    “About the railroad — It’s purpose was not to open the west coast to settlement — it was to open up “flyover country”, for agriculture, industry, mining and settlement.”

    No, at the time the Pacific Railroad, as it was originally called, was started, the “flyover country” was considered to be part of the great american desert and not generally suitable for settlement. The justification for the Pacific Railroad was primarily trade with the West Coast and Pacific Rim. Settlement of the interior might have been a salutary effect but wasn’t the justification or the primary souce of revenue.

  • William Mellberg

    Rhyolite wrote:

    “On a purely historical note, this statement is simply wrong … The railroad connected existing areas of settlement and capitalized on already established flows of trade and immigration – it followed rather than led.”

    On a purely historical note, that statement is completely wrong. As Anne Spudis mentions (and as my comments implied), the transcontinental railroads (plural) opened up the Great Plains and the vast areas between the West Coast and the Missouri River to development and settlement. That was true in Canada, too, where the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was an integral part of that nation’s history and growth. (British Columbia wouldn’t have joined the Confederation without it.) Just look at the major cities in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states. Virtually ALL of them sprang up alongside railroad tracks (not the other way around as you erringly suggest). Sure, there were small trading posts and mining towns scattered throughout the West. But until the railways arrived, few of them amounted to very much.

    My old high school American History book had a fascinating series of maps showing the development of the railway lines at the beginning of each decade from 1850 to 1950. The point was to link the socioeconomic growth of the United States to the development of America’s railroads. Where the railroads led, people and industrialization followed. No place was that more true than in the American West.

    I’m afraid you’ve got the story backwards. It was the railroads which opened the American West to immigration, settlement and trade. It was the railroads which really sparked the development of communities on the West Coast, as well — making it possible to haul people and goods across the country on a scale that simply wasn’t possible using the sailing ships and early steamers of the time (not to mention canoes and covered wagons across overland routes).

    As Wikipedia notes, “Los Angeles changed rapidly after 1848, when California was transferred to the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War. Much greater changes were to come from the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1876.”

    In the early 1870s, Los Angeles was still little more than a village of 5,000 people. That all changed when the Southern Pacific linked Los Angeles to the rest of the country. Ditto for Seattle and the Great Northern R.R.. Vancouver didn’t even exist before the CPR. And Calgary was just a Mountie fort before the railroad. (The original North West Mounted Police were sent West to establish law and order prior to — and in anticipation of — the railway’s arrival.)

    That is what makes the proposal from Paul Spudis and Tony Lavoie so exciting. They’re giving us the Space Age version of the transcontinental railroad — using the Moon’s natural resources (including its reduced gravity) just as the early railways used the West’s natural resources to create the infrastructure.

    But, as I mentioned previously, not everyone recognized the value of the transcontinental railroad in its day. Fortunately, we had a president at the time who did … Abraham Lincoln. He signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, which paved the way for the building of the transcontinental railroad and the opening of the vast empty spaces of the Old West.

    Granted, the inner Solar System doesn’t seem to have the immediate economic potential of the American West. But for those who advocate exploring that Solar System (as many here have advocated, and as President Obama has advocated, as well) … the Moon is a natural supply depot.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That is what makes the proposal from Paul Spudis and Tony Lavoie so exciting.

    How is this more exciting than what Steidle was doing? I think he had much better plans. The “exciting” news here is that Spudis has moved maybe an inch.

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 12:07 pm
    Rhyolite wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Gosh fellas, I can’t imagine what exploration and settlement of North America (let alone the rest of the world) would look like today if it had been modeled after the current “new space” program “plan.”

    On second thought…..

  • William Mellberg

    Rhyolite wrote:

    “No, at the time the Pacific Railroad, as it was originally called, was started, the ‘flyover country’ was considered to be part of the great american desert and not generally suitable for settlement. The justification for the Pacific Railroad was primarily trade with the West Coast and Pacific Rim. Settlement of the interior might have been a salutary effect but wasn’t the justification or the primary souce of revenue.”

    Wrong again. The land had already been proven useful for grazing and mining and by the time the tracks were being laid it was considered potential farmland, too. Farming had already reached Iowa and was heading into Nebraska. And the land grants on either side of the tracks were designed to attract settlers, develop commerce and pay for the cost of building the line.

    I suggest you read David Haward Bain’s “Empire Express” or Pierre Berton’s “The Impossible Railway.”

  • Greyroger

    The analogy game is my most unfavorite thing about this site.
    There are no analogies for space really. It is alien to our experience and evolution. Trying to apply terrestrial concepts to space has caused nothing but trouble. For example, the space plane concept (wings in a vacuum?)

  • William Mellberg

    Greyroger wrote:

    “There are no analogies for space really. It is alien to our experience and evolution. Trying to apply terrestrial concepts to space has caused nothing but trouble. For example, the space plane concept (wings in a vacuum?)”

    Actually, I tend to agree with you for the most part. But the idea of a space “plane” is to give a spacecraft greater capability and flexibility when it returns to Earth (i.e., greater return payload and the ability to land on runways).

    As for the rest …

    As I’ve repeatedly stated, there are no cattle ranches or wheat fields in space. There could be mining in the Moon. But, unless Helium-3 proves to be valuable for terrestrial use some day, the Moon’s resources (water ice, in particular) are valuable only if humankind is determined to travel beyond low Earth orbit … and beyond the Moon, as well. In which case, the plan put forward by Spudis and Lavoie would certainly be a god one.

    Needless to say, the ‘will’ (i.e., tax dollars) hasn’t been demonstrated for sending humans beyond low Earth orbit. It had been under Constellation, although there wasn’t enough will (funding) to get the job done — even if the program had been reconfigured around a different set of hardware.

    Space is, indeed, an alien environment, which is what makes it so expensive for human travel. And unlike the railroad analogies, there won’t be a flood of settlers heading into space anytime soon. So on that score, I agree with you.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    First you said this about the Spudis/Lavoie plan:

    They’re giving us the Space Age version of the transcontinental railroad

    Then you said it was:

    the Moon is a natural supply depot

    I agree with the latter description (supply depot), but not the former (transcontinental railroad).

    The Moon, and what Spudis/Lavoie suggest, is not a transportation method like a train, but a supply depot (i.e. the water) to refuel the train, not unlike the periodic water stops steam engines needed during their travel on the transcontinental railroad.

    And since Spudis/Lavoie are advocating a supply station, I would be interested in seeing their business plan for such a venture. Business plan you say? Why not?

    What they are advocating is that water on the Moon will be far less expensive in the long run than fuel brought up from Earth, or even harvested from NEO’s. if that’s true, then the financial numbers in the business plan should show what the costs will be, and when it becomes profitable.

    It’s not unusual for speculative ventures to “run the numbers” so to speak, and I’m sure Paul Spudis would be familiar with this from any dealings with the mining industry. Certainly Musk had to put one together for his investors, as do all companies when they decide to field new products or services.

    Because essentially what you’re promoting the Spudis/Lavoie plan for is economic reasons (i.e. water supplies), and not for pure research. If that’s the case, then, like every business owner knows, you have to have a sound business plan in order to get funding. You have to articulate & defend your demand/supply assumptions. And just like many businesses, you may even get government subsidies to help out.

    I’d say their plan is doable (like most other Moon plans), but does it make economic sense? If so, let’s see the numbers.

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Don’t blame us for using the wrong analogy, or using it in the wrong way… ;-)

    Besides, it was the advent of affordable transportation that allowed so many people to travel the transcontinental railroad, not that there was open land along the way.

    In fact, commercial crew is trying to do just what the railroad did, which is supply one end-point (the ISS), and use that capability to let people “stop along the way” at other LEO destinations.

  • Rhyolite

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    The railroad analogy applied to the moon is simply absurd:

    By the time the railroad reached California it was already a State, as were Nevada and Nebraska, which it passed through. And there was already a large and long established Mormon presence in Utah. When did Luna achieve statehood?

    By the time the railroad reached California it was already an essential part of the US economy. California gold help keep the Union afloat through the Civil War. Nevada silver had already been flowing east for more than a decade. What lunar commodity is key to our economy today?

    By the time the railroad reached California it already had a population of over 550 thousand – about 1.5% of the total US population. To be equivalent in modern terms the population the moon would have to be 4.5 million people. What is the population of the moon today?

    The infrastructure investment of the railroad was possible because it had a populous and prosperous destination to terminate at – one with well established resources and binding political ties. The railroad would never have been build if there wasn’t a proven profitable destination. The infrastructure followed what was already large scale settlement and development.

    If you are going to search for a forced analogy, the we are someplace between the initial reconnaissances of Juan Cabrillo (Apollo) and the initial settlements under Junipero Serra – the mission system wasn’t a self sustaining system but it was a toe hold. That gap between the two ended up being more than 200 years and the railroad was still another 100 years into the future.

  • William Mellberg

    Rhyolite wrote:

    “What is the population of the moon today?”

    Zero (zed).

    And what about Low Earth Orbit?

    Six.

    Not exactly a stampede to either, is there? But at least
    there’s a potential to “live off the land” on the Moon.
    Which, in terms of the settlement of space, is very
    important.

    “The infrastructure investment of the railroad was possible because it had a populous and prosperous destination to terminate at – one with well established resources and binding political ties. The railroad would never have been build if there wasn’t a proven profitable destination.”

    Which is what I’ve been saying about “commercial” space all along. There is no population or “prosperous destination to terminate at” in Low Earth Orbit. There are no “well-established resources” in LEO, either. In that respect, at least the Moon does have its own consumables. Which, in the long-run, is why it must and will be settled if humanity is to reach beyond LEO.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    “But the idea of a space “plane” is to give a spacecraft greater capability and flexibility when it returns to Earth (i.e., greater return payload and the ability to land on runways).”

    Please elaborate. Greater “capability” and “flexibility”. What is it that is actually “greater” with wings rather than without? What is it about runways that you think is so important? Why do you think you need wings to land on runways? Why do you think people who actually get vehicle to fly “early” actually go with capsule? What is it with a capsule that a “winged” space plane cannot do? Any idea? Your opinion about wings vs. no wings capability is actually based on what requirements?

  • Martijn Meijering

    There are no “well-established resources” in LEO, either.

    Space itself is a resource. Let me post another link to one of my favourite pictures:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tracy_Caldwell_Dyson_in_Cupola_ISS.jpg

    People are prepared to pay money for such a view. Precisely how much and how many people is uncertain, but the ISS tourists (who didn’t even have this view) and the VG clients who’ve already paid deposits give us some indication. I can’t prove this, but I think making money from providing services in space is more likely to be profitable than mining physical resources.

  • William Mellberg

    Common Sense wrote:

    “What is it that is actually ‘greater’ with wings rather than without?”

    It’s called ‘lift’ … which enables you to bring back heavier payloads. Which is why Sergei Korolev wanted to do away with parachutes long ago.

    “What is it about runways that you think is so important?”

    It’s called ‘precision landings’ … the kind airliners make every day. And that’s one way of reducing costs.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    There is no population or “prosperous destination to terminate at” in Low Earth Orbit.

    There is a populated (and funded) outpost that will be in LEO till at least 2020. It has contracts in place for supplies and crew rotation services through 2015, and they will be awarding contracts for the same services for the 2016-20 period. Haven’t you seen it pass overhead? It was in the news… ;-)

    In that respect, at least the Moon does have its own consumables. Which, in the long-run, is why it must and will be settled if humanity is to reach beyond LEO.

    The Moon does have potential resources, but we don’t have a demonstrated ability to utilize them. And in order to utilize them, the last plan we had was going to cost $200B and take 25 years. Even the Spudis plan is $88B and 16 years under optimistic conditions, which never happens with large projects.

    We’ll get there someday, but we have to do it in a sustainable fashion.

  • Vertical-landing vehicles can make precision landings as well. SpaceX plans for Dragon to do this, using its launch abort system, with parachute backup. No wings required.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “There is a populated (and funded) outpost …”

    Yes, a government-owned, government-run, taxpayer paid for little outpost for six people — not exactly a significant population or anything like what we were discussing with regard to the development of the transcontinental railroads in terms of existing markets or market potential.

    BTW, I’ve seen it passing overhead many times over the years. So what is that supposed to prove? I’ve seen the Moon, too. Haven’t you ever noticed it?

  • William Mellberg

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “Vertical-landing vehicles can make precision landings as well. SpaceX plans for Dragon to do this, using its launch abort system, with parachute backup. No wings required.”

    But the more important point is the heavier payloads that can be returned (experiment packages, broken down hardware, etc.) with winged vehicles because they have lift … like airplanes. Which is why Dragon is two steps forward and at least one step backward (as is Orion). It’s “Soyuz on Steroids.”

  • But the more important point is the heavier payloads that can be returned (experiment packages, broken down hardware, etc.) with winged vehicles because they have lift … like airplanes.

    Dragon is capable of returning such things — several thousand pounds worth. Wings and runways remain unnecessary. But if we let it, the market will figure it out, one way or the other. There may be a role for both, but not while NASA continues to waste its money developing its own vehicles for its own use.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 24th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I’ve seen it passing overhead many times over the years. So what is that supposed to prove?

    I was responding to your statement, where you said “There is no population or “prosperous destination to terminate at” in Low Earth Orbit.” That made it seem like you were ignorant of the fact.

    I’ve seen the Moon, too. Haven’t you ever noticed it?

    I do all the time, but I’m not smitten by it. I see it as a potential resource, and likely vacation spot, but not for a long time.

    Regarding your description of the ISS as “not exactly a significant population”, I would agree as far as permanent numbers go, but that outpost attracts a lot of traffic. And really, you have to start somewhere, which in this case is a funded and staffed space outpost that will be available through at least 2020. There is going to be a big need for transportation to and from it, and there are plans that might even expand it. That’s the great thing about modular construction.

    not exactly a significant population or anything like what we were discussing with regard to the development of the transcontinental railroads

    We’ve been telling you that your use of that analogy is flawed. The ISS is more of an outpost, just like what the Moon plan calls out for. A more apt analogy would be mule-trains to distant outposts. You have to start somewhere… ;-)

    Happy Holidays!

  • pathfinder_01

    William, you have to start small. As the saying goes Rome was not built overnight and even your famous transcontinental rail road did not attempt to link coast to coast in one swoop.

    Instead it was build after many east coast routes were in place and was built from Iowa to California. If they had tried to link New York City and Sacramento California 60 year earlier bypassing all other eastern cities it likely would have cost more, not benefited from about 60 years of improvement in rail road technology and been unsuccessful. It certainly would not have had a strong customer base in place in the form of all the well developed industry and people in the cities from Iowa to the east coast.

    The ISS may be a government run, tax payer paid little outpost for six but dollar for dollar you can get more out an LEO station than a moon base with less upfront investment. In short at the moment a moon base would be a government run, tax payer paid little outpost for 4 that might not even be staffed through the whole year! The ISS has hosted up to 13 people.

    The reason why mankind has built 5-8 space stations and 0 moon bases is because it is much cheaper to get to LEO than it is to land on the moon.

    This low bar has allowed the space program both US and Russian to exist post Apollo. Basically NASA was able to get 4-6 flights a year out of the shuttle on half the budget of Apollo. The fact that 132 space shuttle flights and 108 Soyuz flights is testament to the ease of access of LEO.

    Likewise this ease of access makes LEO the first place where commercial operations can be successful. For instance the Falcon 9 has non ISS customers. Atlas and delta likewise. The smaller and cheaper the rocket the easier it is for investors to raise the capital and the less it takes in tax dollars to fund. A university can fund a payload that goes on a Pegasus. NASA can’t fund a lunar landing in a reasonable timeframe (10 years or less).

    This is why people who favor commercial do not favor an immediate return to the moon. It is simply too costly for anyone other than the government and will be so for far longer than LEO. Heck lunar spaceflight is too costly for government as the US cancelled Apollo and the USSR gave up on its lunar ambitions.

    I don’t think NASA could get COTS funding for a HLV to land cargo on the moon, that would be billions. However the millions that NASA could spend on COTS was able to attract private capital and enable space X to build the Falcon 9. Likewise for the transcontinental railroad (where the government paid companies per mile laid and gave away bonds as well as land (which were used to attract additional private funding). That kind of private investment is what is missing in just about every destination oriented plan I have seen.I agree you have to start somewhere and LEO seems the place to start. Anyway before I forget in this long winded debate.

    Happy Holidays

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ December 24th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I posted this below at nasawatch.com for the most part so I hope it’ll help some here.

    Say you want to land on Mars what kind of technology is more appropriate if you only have those two? 1) Wings or 2) Engines a la DC-X?

    Now lifting body means that the lift is mainly provided by the vehicle’s body. that includes the wings (Shuttle) but essentially refers to the fuselage (X-38). So Dream Chaser is a lifting body with wings. So what? The problem with “wings’ is aerothermal. See the convective heat is proportional to 1/sqrt(R) where R is the radius of the leading edge at the stagnation point. So the smaller the radius the larger the heat rates hence the temperature.

    “Wings” are really only necessary for landing on a runway (Shuttle flare before landing) not really anywhere else. You could land a lifting body with a parachute (parafoil) like X-38 without a runway. You pretty much gain a lot of lift for down and cross range and not have to worry about excessive heating on leading edges. The stability at hypersonic velocity and high altitude really is more based on the location of the center of gravity. I believe you could look at early design of the X-33 without much in terms of “wings” while the latter designs had more of them.

    So and I’ll try again. The problem is NOT wings or no wings. The real problem is requirements. For one type of mission wings may be necessary for another it may not. Then if you include cost in your requirements then you will see that wings make your design usually go off the trade box and is a lot less appropriate than “capsule”.

    Finally not all capsules are created equal. Some Apollo had canted heat shield that allows for better CG location and some more lift, not much mind you. A capsule with a non symmetric heat shield (AFE) would give you even more lift and better CG but less stability. A capsule with non symmetric sidewalls even better and so on and so forth until your capsule really becomes a lifting body. See Apollo and Orion were (to be) flown at an angle of attack which means they had lift which means they were lifting bodies.

    So I hope you can see that the wing vs. no wing dispute really is not a dispute but rather a lack of understanding of the requirements.

    I hope this helps. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that wings don’t mean anything. You may “believe” you understand their benefits but your beliefs are simply wrong, sorry.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Vladislaw

    The railroad started from both ends and worked towards the middle. It opened the vast ocean of the midwest and it’s fields of grain.

    I don’t believe you can build a lunar population, 230,000 miles away from earth, and supply it with the start up resources and people, faster and cheaper than you can build a LEO population 180 miles away from earth.

    Once bigelow has his first station up in 2015 the LEO population with be 18 and Luna zero. Once bigelow has his second station up in 2018 you will have a LEO population of 42 and Luna zero, closer to 50 if the Russians build their station also. You can argue the numbers boys but LEO is going to see one hell of a lot more population and a magnitude faster than you are going to see Luna’s population rise.

    You will not see high human flight rates to Luna for decades before you see it to LEO.

    LEO is the gateway not Luna. We need HUNDREDS working and playing in LEO creating the trafffic we need for sustainable infrastructure before we worry about Luna being a resource center. You will need one hell of a population in LEO before you can make lunar resources even remotely close in costs.

    We will see which plays out to build America’s space infrastructure, and my money is on LEO and I am sure time will prove me more correct than any Lunar return plan.

  • Joe

    Martijon wrote:

    “What do you mean impugn his integrity? Are you saying that if he slanted his proposal towards a politically favoured solution then he was acting without integrity?”

    Joe replys:

    That is clearly what you meant to say and imply. Additionally you make the implication without a scintilla of evidence.

    Nice try on the leading question, it would be very impressive provided you were about eight years old.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So yes, you are saying he was acting unethically if he slanted the proposal towards SDLV. And denying he did slant it I presume?

  • Joe

    “So yes, you are saying he was acting unethically if he slanted the proposal towards SDLV. And denying he did slant it I presume?”

    You have (repeatedly now) made the implicit accusation that he “slanted” his proposal (whatever that would mean to you is unknown), without even bothering to try to present any supporting evidence. That is demagoguery and reflects badly on the perpetrator not the intended target.

    Instead of wasting your time in clumsy attempts to put words in other people’s mouths, why don’t you present your evidence if you have any?

    Put up, or shut up.

  • Rhyolite

    William Mellberg wrote @ December 23rd, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    “There is no population or “prosperous destination to terminate at” in Low Earth Orbit.”

    The Satellite Industry Association calculates that the commercial satellite industry had a revenue of $161B in 2009 and has maintained double digit growth rates right through the recession. Yes, Earth orbit between LEO and GEO is relatively prosperous – it just doesn’t involve people. If you want to get people into the picture it makes sense to build off of the infrastructure that exists to serve these markets – medium class launch vehicles – rather than building a whole separate infrastructure.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Instead of wasting your time in clumsy attempts to put words in other people’s mouths, why don’t you present your evidence if you have any?

    I never said it was unethical, that was your opinion, but if true I do believe it strongly undermines his credibility in this article. I asked people if they thought it was a coincidence without saying it would be unethical if true. You jumped in an said I was falsely accusing Spudis. I replied by pointing out that if Spudis was doing what I think he was doing (the same thing that Boeing & LM are doing by the way), then apparently in your mind he was doing something unethical. So if Spudis did slant his article towards SDLV (and it seems pretty darn obvious to me, but only Spudis will know for sure), he will now have the pleasure of knowing that you would consider such behaviour unethical. Of course you can say you don’t believe he slanted his article towards SDLV, but you too cannot know that for sure.

  • Joe

    So, you have no evidence whatsoever, but it seems “pretty darn obvious to” you. That is the tactic of the sleaziest of demagogues (Oh, I never accused anybody of anything I just said it seemed “pretty darn obvious” and asked an “innocent” question).

    In civilized societies the burden of proof lies with the accuser (which in this case is you no matter how you try to weasel your way out of it).

    Also the repeated attempts to suggest I am somehow critical of Spudis would be laughable if it were not so crudely manipulative. The only one casting aspersions on him is you, even though you do not have the courage to take “credit” for your own actions.

    You also say that Boeing and Lockheed are doing the same thing. I would ask what evidence you have to support that accusation (or are you just asking another “innocent” question?), but I’m sure I would get the same disingenuous answer.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So, you have no evidence whatsoever, but it seems “pretty darn obvious to” you.

    See the remarks made by others above, they’ve seen it too, even if you can’t or won’t.

    That is the tactic of the sleaziest of demagogues (Oh, I never accused anybody of anything I just said it seemed “pretty darn obvious” and asked an “innocent” question).

    Kindly watch your language. Accusing implies finding fault and while I did indeed suggest the article was deliberately unduly favourable to SDLV, I did not say or imply it would be unethical if true. You were the one who suggested that and the first one to bring it up.

    Also the repeated attempts to suggest I am somehow critical of Spudis would be laughable if it were not so crudely manipulative.

    You were the person putting words into people’s mouths, not I. And I’m not saying you are critical of what Spudis did, since we disagree on what he did. I just said that you would be critical of what I think he did if you believed it too. I was surprised you even responded, since I thought the bias would be obvious to you too and you wouldn’t want to criticise Spudis. But you say (or imply) you don’t think he showed any bias. I’ll take your word for that.

    You also say that Boeing and Lockheed are doing the same thing.

    Yes they are, they are playing along and saying HLV is necessary even when they know it isn’t. But it serves their purpose not to rub influential members of Congress the wrong way.

  • Joe

    “See the remarks made by others above, they’ve seen it too, even if you can’t or won’t.”

    With due respect to these “others above” (and I mean that) IF they are accusing someone of “slanting” their research without providing evidence (beyond disagreeing with the results) that is happening then their statements are in the same category as yours. An infinite number of accusations times zero content is still zero content.

    I will try to give you an example. A team within Lockheed has written a paper presenting a Lunar Architecture using only EELVs and Orbital Fuel Depots. I disagree with this as much as you disagree with anything using HLVs and have debated the plans technical merits in other forums. What I have not done (and absent evidence would not do) is accuse them of slanting their research in order to reach a predetermined conclusion.

    “Accusing implies finding fault and while I did indeed suggest the article was deliberately unduly favourable to SDLV, I did not say or imply it would be unethical if true.”

    By that logic I could accuse you of murdering your wife and it would be OK as long as I ended the accusation with the phrase “not that there is anything wrong with that”.

    “I was surprised you even responded, since I thought the bias would be obvious to you too and you wouldn’t want to criticise Spudis.”

    If you really believe bias is obvious because you disagree with the conclusions, it might be a good idea to get out of the echo chamber more often. I do not mean that to be snarky. I come to this board (as an example) because I know a majority of those who post here are “anti HLV” and it is a chance to be exposed to differing points of view. It is therefore not my echo chamber, but it may well be yours.

    “You also say that Boeing and Lockheed are doing the same thing.

    Yes they are, they are playing along and saying HLV is necessary even when they know it isn’t. But it serves their purpose not to rub influential members of Congress the wrong way.”

    So both Boeing and Lockheed (actually real people who happen to work for those companies) are “saying HLV is necessary even when they know it isn’t”. This may come as a surprise to you, but saying someone is intentionally saying something they know is not true is calling them a liar (whether you say you are being judgmental about it or not) and is considered a very serious insult. Apparently this kind of Drive by Character Assassination has become such second nature to you that you do not even notice when you do it and that is sad.

    Anyway I think we have just about “beat this issue to death”. I only responded to your first “assessment” of Dr. Spudis because you used a “cut and paste” from one of my other postings as a starting place. It has already gone on longer (and become more contentious) than I had intended. I wanted to find out if you had any facts to back up your “assessment” and I got my answer.

    I suggest we both move on to other (hopefully more productive) activities.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Slowly moving on to other areas…

    What I have not done (and absent evidence would not do) is accuse them of slanting their research in order to reach a predetermined conclusion.

    Many advocates of propellant depots (myself included), are very open about their reasons for wanting to use them, namely achieving the holy grail of cheap lift and commercial development of space. Not everybody may believe in the possibility of cheap lift or the desirability of commercial development of space or in the ability of depots to further either cause, but some of us honestly do and openly say so. That’s not hard to do of course, since they seem to be perfectly honourable goals.

    Unfortunately, in the two years that I’ve been following and participating in the space policy debates I’ve come to believe that there is much less honesty on the pro-SDLV side of the debate. You’re free to feel differently of course, but that’s how I feel.

    By that logic I could accuse you of murdering your wife

    I don’t have a wife you insensitive clod! ;-)

    saying someone is intentionally saying something they know is not true is calling them a liar

    Sort of, but there can be extenuating circumstances, justifications and exculpations, such as compromising and not wanting to upset the apple-cart or risk being fired. In politics it is generally believed that the way to tell if a politician is lying is to check whether his or her lips are moving and yet there are very few open accusations of lying in public debate. In some jurisdictions members of parliament are even sent from the chamber for that. And thus pious fictions about honest people with differing ideologies are created and people pretend to believe in them. In my opinion that too is lying and I find that distasteful, but I believe I’ve been criticised as an extremist for that. There is also a continuum from misleading to outright lying.

    There is another side to it too though. I don’t know about you but I’m offended if people repeatedly tell outright lies in a public forum and that seems to happen a lot. Note that I’m not talking about Spudis here.

  • Joe

    “Slowly moving on to other areas…”

    OK, I will move on slowly too.

    “Unfortunately, in the two years that I’ve been following and participating in the space policy debates I’ve come to believe that there is much less honesty on the pro-SDLV side of the debate. You’re free to feel differently of course, but that’s how I feel.”

    Given the signal to noise ratio in most of these “debates” that is not hard to believe. I could just as easily take the position that everybody opposed to HLV are arrogant character assassins, but that would be wrong. :)

    Seriously I obviously cannot take responsibility for everyone who posts on one of these websites, but I can assure you that the engineers actually working on the SDHLV proposals are honorable people (because I know some of them). They have worked to keep the shuttle operating for years (some of them decades) they have been though the good times and bad with the hardware and understand its strengths and weaknesses. Based on that experience they believe that overall an SDHLV is the best path forward in the interim (in terms of cost, schedule, risk). It might surprise you to learn that many of them (myself included) are not adverse to Orbital Fuel Depots, etc. it is more a matter of when the phasing of them in should occur (and that does not imply wanting to put such phasing off twenty years).

    “There is another side to it too though. I don’t know about you but I’m offended if people repeatedly tell outright lies in a public forum and that seems to happen a lot. Note that I’m not talking about Spudis here.”

    I am not sure we are talking about the same people ( :) ), but yes I am put off by some of the over the top rhetoric. Additionally it really irritates me that people who actually share the same long range goals are turned into bitter enemies engaging in destructive bouts of name calling that can only make achieving that long term goal more difficult.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I can assure you that the engineers actually working on the SDHLV proposals are honorable people (because I know some of them).

    Well, I’ll take your word for it that that is your opinion of these unnamed individuals. But personally I don’t believe ESAS or HEFT is/was run by honest people, although there may have been honest people who were involved with it. And I consider several of the (unnamed) individuals making SDHLV proposals I’ve had the misfortune of interacting with as dishonourable. I’m thinking of things like making repeated misleading statements after they’ve been shown to be misleading, presenting arguments they know to be false, making false promises, misrepresenting opposing viewpoints etc.

    Additionally it really irritates me that people who actually share the same long range goals are turned into bitter enemies engaging in destructive bouts of name calling that can only make achieving that long term goal more difficult.

    I’m not so sure everybody shares the same long term goals, but even if they did fundamental disagreement on short term goals remains a fundamental obstacle. You have to go through the short term to reach the long term after all.

  • Joe

    “Well, I’ll take your word for it that that is your opinion of these unnamed individuals. But personally I don’t believe ESAS or HEFT is/was run by honest people, although there may have been honest people who were involved with it.”

    Leaving HEFT out of it (as it is an ongoing effort and I will form opinions on it when I see the final product), the ESAS effort (after an equally frustrating one headed by Admiral Steidle) had many “unhappy campers” among the line engineers when its results were put forward including the SDHLV people I know who were very much skeptical of the Ares I/Ares V Archetecture.

    “ And I consider several of the (unnamed) individuals making SDHLV proposals I’ve had the misfortune of interacting with as dishonourable. I’m thinking of things like making repeated misleading statements after they’ve been shown to be misleading, presenting arguments they know to be false, making false promises, misrepresenting opposing viewpoints etc.’”

    Since I cannot possibly be familiar with all these previous conversations, I cannot have an opinion (worth anything) on them. I can tell you that none (as in NONE) of the people I know have ever posted on any of these boards (I am about as close as you will get and I am only an onlooker who happens to have had employment that allowed me to get to know them). Since you choose not to believe me (it is only, as you say, my opinion – apparently in your world there can be no fact or truth that does not coincide with what you want to believe) there is not much else to say about this.

    “I’m not so sure everybody shares the same long term goals, but even if they did fundamental disagreement on short term goals remains a fundamental obstacle. You have to go through the short term to reach the long term after all.”

    I never said that everybody shares the same long term goal only that many do. You are correct that that the short term implementation must be worked out, that is why people need to stick to facts and also be willing to compromise. That is one of the reasons I came to a board like this to see if I could (in my own humble way) bridge some of these gaps. It is obviously a very tough job.

    If you choose to take the “my way or the highway” attitude that is your choice, you will be playing right into the hands of the people who would like there to be no American Human Spaceflight (Government or Commercial) at all and if you are “successful” you will achieve only the long term grounding of any chance of creating the spacefaring civilization you say you desire. That is of course your privilege.

    I now an going to move on from this discussion, hopefully more productive ones will happen in the future.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Since you choose not to believe me

    I said nothing of the sort. I don’t know the individuals involved (you didn’t name them) so I can’t have an opinion.

    If you choose to take the “my way or the highway” attitude

    I didn’t.

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