Congress, NASA, White House

Reaction to past and future space policy in the State of the Union

Reps. Sandy Adams and Bill Posey (R-FL) must be disappointed: contrary to their desires expressed earlier this week, the president did not directly address space policy in his State of the Union address last night. (Well, maybe not that disappointed: Posey didn’t mention the omission in a statement with his reaction to the speech.) Instead, the president made only a historical reference to NASA in his speech, recalling the original “Sputnik moment” over 50 years ago that catalyzed the Space Race. And even that rhetoric wasn’t that new: he used similar language in a speech a month and a half ago in North Carolina.

Some members afterward said they wanted to hear more about space policy in the address. “Absent from the President’s speech, apart from mentioning Sputnik as a metaphor, was any vision for our Nation’s space agency,” said Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee, in a statement after the speech (one that, as of this morning, is not posted on the committee web site.) “I am disappointed that the President used this moment only to reflect on NASA’s history, rather than promoting a strong vision for the future of space exploration. This Thursday is officially designated as ‘A Day of Remembrance’ for the space shuttles Columbia and Challenger tragedies; a day to reflect on those national heroes who lost their lives. We should honor them by carrying on their legacy and ensuring that America ‘keeps winning’ in space exploration and scientific discovery.”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), a staunch critic last year of the administration’s plans to cancel Constellation, kept up the rhetoric in his response to the speech. “However, while the President is calling for ‘new levels of research and development that haven’t been seen since the Space Race’ his Administration is also calling for the termination of our nation’s manned space program – a program whose science and technology research is an essential component of our nation’s missile defense program,” he claimed. “Terminating this program, including the Constellation program, would cede our leadership in space exploration over to countries like China, Russia and India… It would be counterproductive to abandon our role as leaders in space exploration.”

As was the case last week, it was NASA administrator Charles Bolden, in a blog post, who tried to tie discussion of the agency’s past with its future. “At NASA, we’re making contributions in all of these areas,” he wrote, referring to the speech’s themes of innovation, education, and infrastructure, then citing several examples, including the agency’s support for commercial crew development. “The 21st Century course that President Obama has set our agency on will foster new industries that create jobs, pioneer technology innovation, and inspire a new generation of explorers through education – all while continuing our fundamental mission of exploring our home planet and the cosmos.”

60 comments to Reaction to past and future space policy in the State of the Union

  • Robert G. Oler

    “Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), a staunch critic last year of the administration’s plans to cancel Constellation, kept up the rhetoric in his response to the speech. “However, while the President is calling for ‘new levels of research and development that haven’t been seen since the Space Race’ his Administration is also calling for the termination of our nation’s manned space program – a program whose science and technology research is an essential component of our nation’s missile defense program,”

    clearly reality is not all that important or as Donald Duck Rumsfeld use to say “fungible” to Bishop.

    the nations “missile defense program” ie the missiles in the silos in Alaska couldnt stop anything if they had to…and of course nothing at NASA has anything to do with them anyway.

    the only simularity is that both groups (the missiles in Alaska and Cx) spent a lot of money with nothing to show for it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Rand Paul says cut NASA to $13.xxB, so that makes Rep. Bishop’s rhetoric moot.

    Not even Shelby’s jobs/pork program can survive that cut.

    It looks like a return to NACA or an agency like DARPA for NASA.

    STS/SLS infrastructure is history for good.

  • NASA Fan

    NASA HSF is aimlessly adrift, with no real purpose other than to conform itself to the latest President’s agenda.

    That is the foreseeable future, never mind the soaring rhetoric from Bolden et al.

    Can’t wait to see what the early Feb release of the 2012 budget will reveal……

  • amightywind

    Sputnik is such a tired metaphor. It used to inspire Project Apollo. Now it has become the battle cry of the nanny state. Has anyone noticed that 50 years after Sputnik Obama killed America’s space program with his own hands? Charles Bolden prattles on about innovation jobs, even as the Spacecoast, Clear Lake, and Huntsville become shantytowns. Surreal.

  • Obama used the phrase “Sputnik moment” in a speech last December at Forsyth Tech in Winston-Salem NC. In retrospect, it appears that might have been a trial run; and a Forsyth Tech student sat in the gallery last night with Michelle Obama.

    I just wrote a lengthy blog about my reaction to “Sputnik moment.” Click here to read. I understand what Obama was saying, but I cringe at the phrase “Sputnik moment” because for me it means, “A moment where everyone panics, overreacts, succumbs to hysteria and totally misses the point.”

    I’ll also point everyone to the reaction this morning in this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal. Little Forsyth Tech gets to bask in the glow of the national spotlight.

  • Brian Paine

    Not even commercial space can survive a collapse in the NASA budget. Whatever the delivery vehicles, regardless of who owns them…no bucks, no Buck Rogers.
    All arguments are then null and void.
    Is it really coming down to this?

  • Vladislaw

    Posey wrote:

    ““I’m disappointed the President didn’t say much about accountability. Nobody’s been held accountable for the financial crisis. Government agencies that were supposed to enforce the law, didn’t, and were rewarded with bigger budgets, greater responsibility and more authority. Government policies actually contributed to the financial crisis and those policies still haven’t been changed.” “

    Ya I would have like to see some accountabilty for the 10 billion dollar porkfest called Constellation, a little house cleaning is a good thing. Unfortunately the cuts usually come at the bottom and the leadership that caused it just get promoted sideways to screw up another project.

  • Not even commercial space can survive a collapse in the NASA budget.

    Why not? Commercial space is not dependent on NASA, by definition.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Not even commercial space can survive a collapse in the NASA budget.

    Sure it can. Commercial manned spaceflight will happen one way or another. All NASA can do is try to accelerate it or try to delay it.

  • James T

    Obama didn’t make any direct references to Space, but I sort of read between the lines and filled in the blanks and could see plans for NASA all over the place, even if Obama wasn’t intending it.

    Obama said: “None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from.” When he said this I thought to myself, why not mention space as a possibility? It would have tied into the Sputnik analogy well. Something like “The effects of the original Sputnik moment still live on to push innovation today with an emerging commercial launch industry that is creating private sector jobs and reducing the costs of the next generation of NASA missions.” So why no direct love for NASA and commercial space?

    Think about where the country is right now politically. We have a president with questionable popularity. The opposition party had grabbed a huge majority in the house. We have two years until another presidential election and the campaigning will begin in a year. The president has to be very careful and make all the right moves, and right now his strategy is to try and work with the opposition party rather than outright reject them so that he can more easily win over the middle. At the same time Obama needs to demonstrate to the people that he’s doing his job well enough to be allowed to see out some of the plans he has begun. All of this in an environment where the common voter doesn’t care about space exploration.

    Thinking about all this, it seemed obvious why he wouldn’t overtly talk about NASA in the SOTU address. Putting a focus on NASA would actually hurt his vision for space. Putting NASA in focus might make it a big target for the right wingers, hungry to blindly destroy anything that Obama likes. If NASA gets a budget too low, there won’t be much left for science and mission development, let alone CCDev. And if it’s sufficiently low we might not even have a funded ISS to re-supply. Instead he wants NASA to get enough to fuel those efforts, but not enough to continue with an SLS, and then keep that going for 5 years. If he’s lucky enough to keep the presidency, or the replacement keeps that ball “sitting,” then by the end of 2016 commercial will be have had more than enough time to prove itself for LEO operations and will already be in the development phase for heavier lift capabilities.

    We’ll see what the budget Obama presents in February has to say, but here are my predictions:
    -As suggested, Obama’s budget proposal is a 5-year frozen budget (except for maybe defense), with the same funding in each year.
    -In trying to meet the Republicans somewhere in the middle, the overall federal budget will be close to FY2008 levels.
    -Even NASA’s budget will be lower than that of it’s approved 2011 levels.
    -Constellation/SLS will once again be terminated and once again be replaced by a proposal for a more rigorous science agenda and increased investments into commercial launch capabilities.
    -These science initiatives, in addition to those by other research agencies, will have a focus on clean energy, health, and information technologies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 8:41 am
    “? Charles Bolden prattles on about innovation jobs, even as the Spacecoast, Clear Lake, and Huntsville become shantytowns. Surreal.”

    What is surreal is the statements you make with no facts…remember “the Falcon second stage is spinning out of control”

    I cannot speak to the others, but Clear Lake wont become a shantytown. I own a 200000 plus house there and was at one point President of the largest community association in Texas and the local School board.

    I know far more about the economics of the area then you do.

    While JSC pumps money into the community it doesnt on a per person basis pump any more (or less) into the community then one of the Federal Prisons at Beaumont. That rather annoying fact was discovered during one of the Clear Lake Area Development studies of federal spending.

    Fortunately Clear Lake (thanks to I-45) has become a widely distributed “bedroom” town of Houston including many of the contractors there distributing their jobs across the economic board. IE Clear Lake is not a one horse town.

    The biggest hit to the area has been the fact that under the GOP governor and legislature the state has been running enormous deficits which they have tried to hide by raiding the school funds.

    What the thunderheads who are our Federal representatives should do is start to think out of the box about how to preserve the relevance of JSC in a post shuttle world. The thinking by the likes of Paul Hill wont cut it…and soon people will find that the facilities at JSC although impressive are to expensive for just about anyone at the current level of cost.

    But even if JSC were to revert to Rice…it wouldnt be that much of an economic hit…indeed we probably would in the near term thrive as Rice found a way to use the facilities constructively in the new space arena

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    As suggested, Obama’s budget proposal is a 5-year frozen budget (except for maybe defense), with the same funding in each year.

    I think you are correct. Obama is trying to stake out a status quo position knowing he is going to lose something, most likely a lot. His lack of leadership on the greatest threat to the Republic is appalling. It is not likely he’ll get any of his initiatives. It is a little puzzling he called for higher taxes on ‘the rich’. These are the same people he is appealing to for jobs, jobs, jobs. Good luck with that. NASA’s budget will be cut to 2008. I’m sure the NASA leadership will also preserve the status quo. (How’s that Antarctic research going?) Since they aren’t doing anything, no one will notice.

  • Joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “Why not? Commercial space is not dependent on NASA, by definition.”

    Didn’t I just read that 9 of the Falcon 9′s first 17 flights would be ISS resupply missions?

    What would happen to Space X “bussiness plan” if over 50% of their market suddenly went away?

  • amightywind

    What is surreal is the statements you make with no facts…remember “the Falcon second stage is spinning out of control”

    Fact. On the first flight the F9 second stage spun along its length axis. Fact. The rate increased from 0 to 4+ RPM until the video cut out mysteriously. (Did Musk pull the plug?) Fact. The control systems were unable to compensate. If they worked properly the rate would have damped out.. Ergo, the stage was spinning out of control. It also seemed to me that the spin was off axis from the length of the vehicle, hence my conclusion that the stage was corkscrewing. But that is speculation only. I’ve never read an in depth review of this failure, if there ever was one.

  • common sense

    @ Joe wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    “What would happen to Space X “bussiness plan” if over 50% of their market suddenly went away?”

    They would adapt with other existing customers and/or look for more customers. Maybe they don’t need CRS to survive, maybe they do. At worst they will go under. So?

  • pathfinder_01

    Joe the ISS is the safest part of the manned spaceflight esp. because unlike SLS and Orion it is mostly complete. Baring accident the ISS will be in service for as long as possible and even in the event of accident replacement could be had for less than what was spent to build it.

    NASA will be able to afford commercial spaceflight easier than it can afford building its own rocket.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Commercial space is not dependent on NASA, by definition.”

    Only in your tourist fantasy world. For human space flight beyond earth orbit- only governmental resources can create HLV’s and Nuclear energy systems required. Funding LEO endless circles is not really human space flight anymore- everyone knows it. Except the crowd dreaming about a space station vacation.

    Your commercial space satellite market and HSF are two different animals and they do not mix very well.

  • Joe

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    “Joe the ISS is the safest part of the manned spaceflight esp. because unlike SLS and Orion it is mostly complete.”

    The chain of discussion was about drastic cuts being talked about in NASA’s overall budget. If cuts that large are made then the ISS will be in jeopardy as well. Under the current situation, for instance, the American capability to perform maintenance EVA will end in approximately 2015 (the Portable Life Support System [PLSS] to be developed for Constellation Systems was also supposed to replace the one used on the Shuttle/Station Extravehicular Mobility Unit [EMU] – but that will of course not happen under the current “plan”). We will then be forced to buy EVA services from the Russians to do even routine repairs to ISS EVA hardware. Therefor do not be certain how safe ISS is if even more budget cuts are enforced on HSF than Obama already plans

    “Baring accident the ISS will be in service for as long as possible and even in the event of accident replacement could be had for less than what was spent to build it.”

    No offense, but are you actually saying if the ISS were lost Obama would buy a new one? :)

  • Martijn Meijering

    What would happen to Space X “bussiness plan” if over 50% of their market suddenly went away?

    SpaceX isn’t identical with commercial space. Commercial space is not a group of companies, it is a way of doing business. No individual company matters.

  • Joe

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    “No individual company matters.”

    I am sure they will be happy to hear you think so.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    The control systems were unable to compensate. If they worked properly the rate would have damped out.. Ergo, the stage was spinning out of control.

    The problem though is that you use the results of the test flight as a condemnation of SpaceX in total, whereas the overall goals of the flight did not involve having a controlled 2nd stage in orbit.

    The first flight of the Falcon 9 was to test out their ability to reach orbit. The 2nd stage only had battery life enough to reach orbit, and the Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit was only there to evaluate the aerodynamic conditions on the spacecraft and performance of the carrier rocket in a real-world launch scenario.

    While the spin was not planned, it was a minor issue that was dealt with on the launch that mattered (flight 2). Crisis averted – you can now go back to praising SpaceX for doing what NASA was not able to do with Ares I-X, and for far less taxpayer money.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Didn’t I just read that 9 of the Falcon 9′s first 17 flights would be ISS resupply missions?

    What would happen to Space X “bussiness plan” if over 50% of their market suddenly went away?

    This all boils down to whether Congress will keep ISS funding in place, or if they will be reducing it. If they fund the ISS, then the CRS program is part of that, and Orbital and SpaceX will be part of the international supply effort. If the ISS is reduced in funding, then the CRS program may change, or may not even be needed. I doubt that will happen, but we’ll see what the Republicans want to do.

    Regarding SpaceX, I think they can survive without the CRS business, but obviously at a lower headcount. Luckily they should have Falcon 9 qualified this summer, so they will have their prime revenue source ready to go.

    They should also have Dragon qualified this summer too, and that opens up a new line of business that doesn’t exist today (DragonLab), so it will be interesting to see who takes advantage of it.

    I think Orbital would have a harder time with their Taurus II offering if CRS goes away than SpaceX with Falcon 9. Nevertheless, they will survive as a company too.

  • sc220

    Amightywind: Sputnik is such a tired metaphor. It used to inspire Project Apollo. Now it has become the battle cry of the nanny state. Has anyone noticed that 50 years after Sputnik Obama killed America’s space program with his own hands? Charles Bolden prattles on about innovation jobs, even as the Spacecoast, Clear Lake, and Huntsville become shantytowns. Surreal.

    I don’t know the Cocoa and Clear Lake areas as well, but I do know that Huntsville is anything but a shantytown. The place is booming, and that is almost exclusively because of the BRAC. Reductions in MSFC’s civil service and contractor workforces will actually help the area by offsetting the huge demand for personnel on the army side.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    “I don’t think it’s “ending” as transmogrify … In five years, we’ll have crew launches from CCAFS, and it’ll be back to the future. Delta at LC-37, SpaceX at LC-40, Atlas at LC-41. It’s going to be very cool.”

    it is. in the end what most space advocates and a lot of people who work in the space industry cannot figure out or will not accept is that in the last decade the world, the nation changed…and how NASA has done business for the last 50 years…no longer is affordable by the nation.

    Whittington etal will argue that we should spendmore on hsf but that misses the point. The point is two fold 1) for the amount of money the nation is willing to spend it can no longer achieve results with the way things were…and 2) the nation is willing to spend no more money because the results are so poor.

    it is difficult for them to accept that because in no small measure the difficulties have been caused by the political class which they (to this day) support…and the last decade was simply lost to this country.

    In the end The Republic and HSF will be stronger when commercial space flight properly regulated replaces the monstrosity which is called NASA HSF…and we par NASA down to a lean experimental agency…and move forward.

    Robert G. Oler

  • E.P. Grondine

    “his Administration is also calling for the termination of our nation’s manned space program”

    The first thing to go is language.

    Thiokol got $10 Billion to develop the 5 seg, and they say they need another $3 to finish the job. What could any other launch company have accomplished with $10 billion, litttle less $13 billion?

    Then of course there is the small problem that the per unit cost of Ares 1 is so high as to consume tbe NASA budget entire if it ever does work and brought into production.

    Thus it would appear that the Utah delegation is working to end our Nation’s manned space program – now there’s a nice simple one liner, just repeat it over and over and over and over…

    How the other states’ representatives feel about this has yet to be seen. I don’t think they are too happy with it…

  • VirgilSamms

    “Thiokol got $10 Billion to develop the 5 seg, and they say they need another $3 to finish the job. What could any other launch company have accomplished with $10 billion, litttle less $13 billion?”

    The 5 segment is the most powerful booster on planet earth- now and for a long time to come. No other company has developed anything close.

    Now you can keep whining and complaining about these amazing creations- or you can get with the program and support a pair of them on the HLV that will get human beings into deep space.

    Your grudge against thiokol has got to go.

  • Vladislaw

    VirgilSamms wrote:

    “The 5 segment is the most powerful booster on planet earth- now and for a long time to come. No other company has developed anything close.”

    Ask yourself, WHY hasn’t any other company developed them?

    If they are such a great, cost effective, solution for putting a payload into space, they should have no problem marketing them to other customers besides NASA.

  • Bennett

    Your grudge against thiokol has got to go.

    Nah, we’ll keep our grudge firmly in place, as the company could care less if their products are use for something useful or just a money pit. I understand that “business is business” and that we should all applaud a company for delivering massive profits to its shareholders, but when a company buys a US government agency away from its mission through “dinners and chicks today with promises of future positions down the road”, I gotta say enough’s enough.

    The whole Constellation/Ares scam was more than I can stomach, though I’m sure that Mike G. and his “cronies” in the upper mngt at NASA are quite happy with the deals they cut.

    The congressional military industrial complex was WAY too much for the second tier talent that succeeded Von Braun at NASA, and that happened 40 years ago. Griffin just happened to be at the right place at the right time, for mucho payola.

  • Vladislaw

    VirgilSamms wrote:

    “Only in your tourist fantasy world.”

    No one has mentioned tourism so far but you. In any case as thee number one economic activity for the entire human species on planet Earth your contempt for tourism is rather puzzling.

    Anything that increases the flight rate of rockets lowers the overall cost for ALL users of that system. NASA will only be flying two crew missions per year to the ISS, if tourists can account for a few launches a year also NASA gets a reduced rate and the funding saved can be better spent on advanced nuclear propulsion.

    “For human space flight beyond earth orbit- only governmental resources can create HLV’s and Nuclear energy systems required.”

    Define “beyond earth orbit”?
    Define “HLV”?

    If you are talking about cis-lunar space out to the Earth-Sun lagrange points then the Nation does not need a 20-50 billion dollar super heavy lift launch vehicle (100+ tons).

    Launch the crew commercially.

    Launch the reusable, space based, refuelable, earth departure stage (EDS) unfueled. on a smaller commercial rocket.

    Launch the inflatable, reusable, habitat on a smaller launch vehicle and dock to the reusable EDS.

    Launch the lunar lander on a smaller commercial launch vehicle unfueled and dock with the EDS.

    Dock with the commercial fuel depot and tank up the EDS and Lunar lander.

    No where do you require 100 ton launches. If you are talking about flying to the moons of Jupiter then we can start talking about a competitive bid for a HLV. Instead of NASA blowing through 30 billion let’s give companies like Boeing and SpaceX a shot and limit it to 3 billion, not what NASA/Congress’s districts/campaign contibutors want to funnel through NASA.

    “Funding LEO endless circles is not really human space flight anymore- everyone knows it.”

    Also flying roundtrip in a 747 is no longer human airflight anymore, hell even driving your car to grandma’s house is no longer human automobile travel anymore. Great logic there.

    I agree if you mean no funding NASA to do the designing, developing, contracting the building out at cost plus and conducting launch operations for crew and cargo launches. NASA should not be in the launch business at all anymore. They do not design cars, bikes, trains, ships for astronauts transportation needs they do not have to be involved in the first 200 miles into space.

    “Except the crowd dreaming about a space station vacation. “

    Wow not only do you seem to hold tourists and tourism in contempt you even have it in for the dreamers? How many NASA employees who started working there fresh out of college were and are not dreamers?

    If someone works hard their whole life, founds a company and provides jobs, and manages after a lifetime of work and savings to fund


    a FREAKIN SHOT INTO SPACE!

    Why is that such a problem? Who on this blogsite wouldn’t frakin jump at that once in a lifetime shot into space? You wouldn’t be much of a technical space junkie/advocate/trekkie/ et cetera, if you didn’t have that dream.

    ” commercial space satellite market and HSF are two different animals and they do not mix very well.”

    Tell that to the Russians and Chinese.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    The 5 segment is the most powerful booster on planet earth- now and for a long time to come. No other company has developed anything close.

    That’s because no one needs one, and neither do we.

    The 5-segment SRM is only really usable when used in pairs as boosters (vibration issues), and not as the primary first stage, so such a vehicle would be massive, and also lift massive payloads.

    But we don’t have massive payloads to lift, and no congressionally-funded program to make massive payloads, so spending any money on it now is a waste. Mothball it until we really need it. ATK is ISO 9000 certified, so it’s not like they’ll forget how to make them…

    Now you can keep whining and complaining about these amazing creations…

    You’re easily impressed with massively taxpayer-funded stuff, aren’t you? I think the better measure is how much you accomplish with what you spend, not how much you spend. Radical, I know.

    …support a pair of them on the HLV that will get human beings into deep space.

    We don’t have a congressionally-funded program to send human beings into deep space, and we don’t even need an HLV to get human beings into deep space even if we did.

    Besides, we have a lot of research & development we have to do before we can create spaceships that will keep humans alive in deep space, so which do you fund – the R&D to figure out how to keep humans alive in deep space, or a massive launcher that doesn’t have a mission? Choose wisely.

  • The 5 segment is the most powerful booster on planet earth- now and for a long time to come.

    Who cares? We need affordable lift, not heavy lift.

  • pathfinder_01

    Last time I checked constellation’s space suits were still funded despite the program being shut down. As for the ISS, the old plan was to dump the ISS in 2015. Given that you a. can buy Russian spacesuits after market B. have both an old(shuttle/station) and new(Cxp) suits plans and C. Space X has plans to make its own suits there shouldn’t be that big an issue.

    I would lay a bigger bet that Obama would try to replace the station than Bush. Cxp was an underfunded program that made no sense and was going nowhere in any reasonable time. Heck NASA couldn’t even design a rocket when their whole future depend on it. I think it is high time for the commercial sector to handle human spaceflight and for NASA to focus on in space payloads.

  • pathfinder_01

    Virgil you can get into deep space without SRB’s and heavy lift. It is called Staging at EML-1 using a Delta IV or Atlas Heavy. Two launches could send Orion to EML-1.

    If you need heavy liftt you should upgrade the EELV rather than try to force STS to be heavy lift.

  • Commercial Space is one gigantic farce!! NOTHING WILL COME OUT OF IT. What a sham that the government now feels it has to stand back, and let these hobbyists build their toy space-ships. If private companies were going to jump-start manned space flight, they would’ve done it twenty years ago! Article after articles have appeared in magazines over the years proclaiming a revolution of commercial exploitation of space was finally dawning. You who are older would recall all the talk about privately and/or corporately owned mini space shuttles, that would be launched from 747 aircraft, flying over the Pacific Ocean. Never happened, did it?! These amateurs are going to require massive subsidies just to get one mile off of the ground. In the end, there is going to be a gargantuan bail-out, of these companies, when they fail to deliver. Then, come 2020 or 2025, the U.S. space program is just going to be a dead shell of itself. Trust me: the Orion CEV will have to be built and brought on line, sooner or later. Eventually, it is going to be obvious to anyone with an engineering mind, that the Ares 1 could’ve easily accomplished the task, as a Saturn 1B-type of manned LEO launcher; for parking orbit & rendezvousing orbit, for a manned capsule. Were it not for the anti-Moon prejudice of some of these policy-makers, the Ares 1 would’ve flown manned missions, well prior to 2020.

  • Robert G. Oler

    VirgilSamms wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    they are far to expensive to be useful..

    people like you act as if human spaceflight is an entitlement that there is something that forces it to be done no matter what the cost.

    that kind of thinking in your words “has got to go”

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    In Memoriam, 44 years ago this day, January 27, 1967.

    The crew of Apollo 1

    Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee.

  • Justin Kugler

    With all due respect, Chris, that is a fantasy. Ares I was going to cost too much for too little capability. One of my friends that worked Orion repeatedly grumbled about how they were going to have to circularize their own orbit because of performance issue with Ares I.

  • John Schilling

    “The 5 segment is the most powerful booster on planet earth- now and for a long time to come. No other company has developed anything close.

    “Now you can keep whining and complaining about these amazing creations- or you can get with the program and support a pair of them on the HLV that will get human beings into deep space. ”

    You know, Virgil, the RMS Titanic was an amazing creation for its day, which somehow never quite managed to get human beings across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, thousands of workhorse liners maybe one-fifth the Titanic’s size brought millions of immigrants to help build the modern United States of America.

    No matter how technically impressive, large segmented solid motors are just more of the same. Including the propensity for technically impressive failures. And I’ll wager real money that they will never carry human beings into deep space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ January 27th, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Article after articles have appeared in magazines over the years proclaiming a revolution of commercial exploitation of space was finally dawning.

    You do realize that the magazine articles you read were meant for entertainment, not business planning or investing? Lots of people have lots of plans, and some happen, and some don’t. But the ones that don’t may never have been achievable, so why would you use them as the benchmark for success? Weird.

    Yep, United Space Alliance is just a big amateur rocket club, and unlike you, they have no idea how to successfully put satellites in orbit. And Orbital Sciences is just tinkering around with satellites and winged space booster vehicles for fun, not profit. You my friend are really observant… NOT.

    Eventually, it is going to be obvious to anyone with an engineering mind, that the Ares 1 could’ve easily accomplished the task

    If that task was to spend obscene amounts of money to duplicate an existing (and less expensive) launcher, then yes, it was certainly accomplishing that. And I don’t know if you noticed, but those vaunted engineering minds were having a HUGE problem figuring out how to building a rocket that both worked, and didn’t kill the human cargo.

    I don’t know if you noticed, but Delta IV Heavy just had it’s fifth successful launch – it could have been for the Orion capsule if Griffin had chosen correctly, but he needed Ares I to cover a substantial amount of the development cost for Ares V. A failure of leadership.

    Just out of curiosity, don’t you care about how much money things cost? Don’t you care about the concept of value, getting the most for what you spend? Ares I was none of those.

  • Joe

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ January 27th, 2011 at 12:56 am
    “Last time I checked constellation’s space suits were still funded despite the program being shut down.”

    It is currently “in place” funded at less than 25% of its previous level (the people working on it jokingly refer to it being on”life support”). Additionally there are new “negotiations” going on to zero even that out. Either way all PLSS development has been “deferred” due to budget restrictions, therefore my statement is and remains correct.

    “As for the ISS, the old plan was to dump the ISS in 2015.”

    And that has what to do with this discussion (we started with you telling me that the ISS was “safe”)?

    “Given that you a. can buy Russian spacesuits after market .”

    Not sure what that means (after market?), can you elaborate.

    “have both an old(shuttle/station) and new(Cxp) suits plans”

    As explained above you will not have the CxP Suits as things stand under the Obama proposal (even absent further budget cuts). Also as explained in the previous post as of 2015 the “shelf life” on the EMUS PLSS will have expired, so you will not have the “old(shuttle/station)”.

    “ Space X has plans to make its own suits there shouldn’t be that big an issue.”

    My understanding is that Space X intends to acquire (not make)Launch and Landing Suits, no PLSS, no effect on this issue. That leaves the U.S. Segment of ISS dependent on the Russians for EVA capability.

    “I would lay a bigger bet that Obama would try to replace the station than Bush.”

    I was making no comparisons to the previous president (that kind of my team/your team stuff sure drives a lot of the discussion around here), but if you would really bet that Obama would repalce the ISS (were it for some reason lost); I would not suggest a future for you as a gambler.

  • byeman

    “Under the current situation, for instance, the American capability to perform maintenance EVA will end in approximately 2015 (the Portable Life Support System [PLSS]”

    False gloom and doom. When 2015 comes around, it won’t be the “current situation”, a way to extend the shelf life will be found either by analysis or selling up spares.

  • Joe

    byeman wrote @ January 28th, 2011 at 8:08 am
    “False gloom and doom. When 2015 comes around, it won’t be the “current situation”, a way to extend the shelf life will be found either by analysis or selling up spares.”

    Extending the shelf life “by analysis” is just asking for an accident, good luck with that one.

    I assume you mean sending up spares. The problem with that is that the 2015 date takes into account all available spares, the contracts have expired and no new ones are being manufactured. Some of the component providers no longer exist. Government procurement policies would require “competitive bidding” for new replacements to be manufactured. Sad fact, but that would take as long as developing a new PLSS. Welcome to the wonderful world of the way things really work.

  • E.P. Grondine

    As regards SpaceX, there are a lot of space markets besides tourism.

    What differentiates Falcon from Pegasus, or Atlas, or Delta?

    SpaceX is a launch company, who think they’ve managed to develop a lower cost technology.

    That lower cost may enable new products which nearly all of you here have not even thought about. Anyone have the $/kilo cost charts handy?

    Now can we leave SpaceX out of this discussion, and all simply get back to ATK’s miserable performance and political engineering?

    Let’s all remember to keep on message here:
    the Utah delegation is killing the US manned space program.

  • VirgilSamms

    “We need affordable lift, not heavy lift.”

    You want something for nothing and you are going to end up with nothing.

  • common sense

    @VirgilSamms wrote @ January 28th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    “You want something for nothing and you are going to end up with nothing.”

    Life is unfair, what can I say?

  • Joe

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ January 28th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
    “Let’s all remember to keep on message here:
    the Utah delegation is killing the US manned space program.”

    Thanks for the enlightenment. I didn’t know this website had a “message”.

  • Byeman

    “Government procurement policies would require “competitive bidding” for new replacements to be manufactured. Sad fact, but that would take as long as developing a new PLSS. Welcome to the wonderful world of the way things really work.

    Wrong, there are justifications for sole source contracts and this is one. Welcome to really knowing how things really work vs the sky is falling mentality.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Let’s all remember to keep on message here:
    the Utah delegation is killing the US manned space program.”

    I disagree.

    Obama said we have “done that” about the moon. He should have said it about LEO. LEO is a dead end unless you are a tourista. To “keep on” a real message- LEO is not spaceflight anymore. It is circles at very high altitude. It accomplishes absolutely nothing except giving the space station crew a near lifetime dose of radiation every six months and reducing their bone marrow and bone mass permanently.

    The 5 segment SRB is not perfect- but nothing is. They just happen to be all there is. What matters is they are a national, actually an international asset- along with the shuttle launch infrastructure. For planetary defense and BEO-HSF (real spaceflight) these boosters are required for any near future missions.

    Utah is not killng the space program, massive DOD spending is. Those SRB’s are the foundation of a manned space program- and a planetary defense program. HLV is the key- not building them will lock us out.

  • Vladislaw

    VirgilSamms wrote:

    “Obama said we have “done that” about the moon. He should have said it about LEO. LEO is a dead end unless you are a tourista. To “keep on” a real message- LEO is not spaceflight anymore.”

    This is about as nonsensical as saying we have already explored all of Luna.

    Try telling the 150 countries that have never had one of their citizens travel to LEO that low earth orbit is dead. Bigelow is not signing MOU’s with tourists that want to goto LEO but with other countries. There are 50-60 second and third tier countries with a big enough government checkbook to have a full up space program for the numbers Bigelow and SpaceX quoting. For 288 million a country can have an on orbit lab at a Bigelow station and 4 crew doing 3-6 month stays. As opposed to the billions you need to be an ISS partner.

    There is nothing being done in so many areas of LEO2GEO that to say we are just dipping our big toe into the deep end of the pool is an understatement.

  • VirgilSamms

    “This is about as nonsensical as saying we have already explored all of Luna”

    Endless circles have been explored. If you want to “explore” them endlessly then you must be after tourist dollars. Like I said.

  • Byeman

    HLV is the key to massive waste of money and nothing more

  • VirgilSamms

    HLV is the key to massive payloads going up and nothing else will get humans into deep space.

  • HLV is the key to massive payloads going up and nothing else will get humans into deep space.

    You can keep repeating unsubstantiated nonsense all you please, but it just makes you look ever more the fool.

  • Jpullins

    I think that commercial space flight is an awesome thing, and im sure theres lots
    left to learn by just going to LEO. Do something over and over and you get really good at it. I dont agree with killing NASA’s manned space flight program and I really hope the Gov. isnt diverting funds from NASA to subsidise these companies. If they can do it on their own and with contracts to the ISS then more power to em.
    The real goal should be something bigger, I think Mars. The US needs something to inspire its people again and give another generation a torch to carry this country to greatness. I agree NASA must have problems for there to be such trouble with the ARES projects and thus needs to be shaken up, let some younger people manage things. People who are still dreamers and dont have so much to loose from the political relationships… most importantly people who dont think in terms of why we cant but how we can.

  • I dont agree with killing NASA’s manned space flight program and I really hope the Gov. isnt diverting funds from NASA to subsidise these companies.

    No one has proposed doing either of those things.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ January 29th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    The 5 segment SRB is not perfect- but nothing is.

    Is someone advocating that something is?

    They [5 segment SRB] just happen to be all there is.

    There you go again.

    SRB’s and SRM’s are just motors – no need to have a fetish over them.

    And in case you haven’t noticed, there are lots of other motors that have been putting people and cargo into space for a long time, so again your “all there is” statement is wrong. Are you new to space tech?

  • VirgilSamms

    “Are you new to space tech?”
    No, I just know what I am talking about and have my facts right. The crowd on this site goes crazy when I start talking reality instead of private space fantasies. Too bad.

  • byeman

    “I just know what I am talking about and have my facts right.:”

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    And that is all you can say about it- proving you are the one who knows nothing. The SRB’s, the radiation shielding required, the necessary mass for beyond earth orbit flight and the ridiculous notion that so many tons can be lofted by launching every other day; all you can say about my FACTS is “nonsense.” You are quite a character.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ February 1st, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    The SRB’s, the radiation shielding required, the necessary mass for beyond earth orbit flight and the ridiculous notion that so many tons can be lofted by launching every other day; all you can say about my FACTS is “nonsense.”

    Hey, you’re as free to express opinions as everyone else, but when you state vague things as “facts”, that’s when people are going to take issue with you, especially when your signature solution (a 1,000 ton nuclear-powered spaceship) is not being discussed seriously anywhere.

    I have plenty of ideas that address various space exploration needs, but you don’t see me putting them out there as if they are holy writ. You may have the best space idea since Tang, but that doesn’t mean it’s doable, practical or even affordable, so forgive us if we’re not impressed.

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