NASA, White House

Holdren summarizes the space policy debate

In a plenary address Friday afternoon at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, presidential science advisor John Holdren devoted a few minutes towards the end of his speech about what the administration has done in the area of NASA policy. The speech certainly contained no surprises for anyone who has been following the topic the last couple of years, yet provided a good summary of the administration’s thinking on the topic to an audience that, by and large, hasn’t followed the subject as closely.

“This is kind of a complicated story,” Holdren said by way of introduction. “NASA has been a big challenge for this administration because we inherited a space program in disarray at NASA, in some degree of demoralization, after years of mismatch of resources and the vision.” He described the Bush Administration’s “grand vision” of returning humans to the Moon, but noted the required budget resources were never provided, even while science and aeronautics programs “had been gutted in NASA to feed Constellation.” He then discussed how the Augustine Committee examined that situation and had concluded that Constellation “was unexecutable for any plausible budget scenario.” His description of how Ares 1 and Orion would not be ready until 2017, while the ISS, the initial destination of that system, would be deorbited in 2016, generated some laughter in the audience.

“So we developed a plan, a comprehensive plan, to rebalance NASA’s programs,” he said, discussing the extension of the ISS to at least 2020, commercial crew and cargo development, more science and technology development work, and “looking at more diverse destinations for crewed missions that could be visited more expeditiously than going to Mars and landing astronauts on its surface, or even returning to the surface of the Moon.” He showed a picture from President Obama’s visit to Cape Canaveral in April, walking with Elon Musk at the SpaceX pad with the Falcon 9 in the background. Holdren noted that since that photo op the Falcon 9 has flown successfully twice, including December’s Dragon test flight.

“There were a lot of arguments about the president’s proposals,” he said, in perhaps a minor understatement, eventually leading to the NASA Authorization Act last fall. That bill was a “compromise” that he said “contained quite a lot that the president wanted and that the NASA leadership wanted, but also reflected a congressional preference for using existing technologies and contracts to develop a replacement for Constellation’s heavy-lift rocket by the end of 2016, rather than spending more time developing new technologies and getting that heavy-lift rocket somewhat later.” That bill “had a lot of what we wanted and it was the best we were going to do, so we took it.”

The FY12 budget proposal, he said, funds “every element” of the authorization act, although not at the levels in the law, something he acknowledged. “Some of those arguments are rooted in challenges arising from a lack of a 2011 budget,” he said. He added that “the omens of success for commercial crew… have been improving,” citing the Falcon 9 launches as well as “the entry of one of Constellation’s prime contractors into the commercial crew competition.” He didn’t mention that company, although earlier this month ATK, which had been building the Ares 1 first stage, announced its CCDev proposal for Liberty, a rocket derived from the Ares 1. (Boeing, another major Constellation contractor, received a CCDev award last year.)

203 comments to Holdren summarizes the space policy debate

  • Oh dear, Mr. Holdren told the truth. The spinmeisters for the other side are going to have to work overtime.

  • cy

    What he didn’t say was that SpaceX is behind schedule and industry has told NASA in two separate RFIs that now is the time to build a heavy lift vehicle.

  • Joe

    As in all things political one sides “truth” is the other sides “spin”. What Mr. Smith chooses to characterize as the other sides “spin”, as opposed to his “truth” iIs already pretty well represented in an article on this website: Congressional reaction to the budget request, February 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm.

  • NASA Fan

    Funny how Holdren chastises Griffin/Bush for raiding science to pay for Cx.

    The Presidents 2012 budget raids earth science, canceling a few Earth Science missions and descoping others to pay for …to pay for…hmm,,oh, to get himself reelected. And these were missions that the Presidents 2011 budget had accelerated when he plus-upped Earth Science.

    Super Flip Flop this Obama.

  • The biggest success of President Obama’s policies is only subtly mentioned here; ATK is now competing for NASA dollars. Hopefully, NASA will get more cost effectiveness by contracting in a more competitive environment.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Nice to see that the former population growth hysteric is on message for the adminsttation’s spin. But nothing is going to explain the gutting of the exploration program or the corporate welfare approach to commercial space that has made such a wreckage of NASA.

  • Oh my, the tangled web we weave when we intend to deceive.

    Bush cancelled Shuttle in January 2004. He proposed the Vision for Space Exploration which spawned what we know as Constellation.

    Two weeks later, then-NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe appeared before the Senate Science Committee. Less than five minutes into the hearing, no less than John McCain warned that the Bush administration was seriously underestimating the cost. O’Keefe presented what is now known as the Vision Sand Chart which showed that the administration was going to fund Constellation by defunding science and robotic exploration, and that they intended to decommission ISS in 2015 to help pay for Constellation.

    You can lie and twist and deceive all you want, but the evidence is plain. It’s archived on C-SPAN’s web site at:

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/SpaceIn

    All the faults that McCain and other senators pointed out with the administration’s proposal came to pass. Audit after audit performed by the GAO during the Bush years warned it was underfunded, behind schedule, over budget and “lacked a business case.”

    That was all before Obama took office.

    Obama had the courage to kill this loser.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    ” But nothing is going to explain the gutting of the exploration program or the corporate welfare approach to commercial space that has made such a wreckage of NASA.”

    nice spin…its kind of a “curveball”

    The wreckage at NASA is a result of the same kind of thinking that allowed the last administration to leave with EVERYTHING it touched smoking…not the least space policy.

    In the end what is the saddest is that people like you no longer believe in the Free Enterprise system but more importantly believe in massive government programs that deliver things which have no value to the American people…and whose sole existence is based on things which are “known not to be true”. As Curveball has admitted “I just told them things that they wanted to hear and they believed me”.

    Sorry the american people stopped believing the rhetoric of the chinese taking over the Moon a long time ago

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    sftommy wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    The biggest success of President Obama’s policies is only subtly mentioned here; ATK is now competing for NASA dollars. …

    and the talk of heavy lift seems to be dying Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    Sorry the american people stopped believing the rhetoric of the chinese taking over the Moon a long time ago.

    You’re behind on your Glenn Beck. Now it’s the Muslim caliphate.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 6:41 am

    “Since the location of a launch range should be remote and near the ocean, NASA needs the Cape. But they don’t need Houston or Huntsville. Nothing is unique about either location.”

    I dont disagree but would enhance that a tad by saying the “US” needs the Cape…

    The trick is to recognize as I am sure that you do that very very little of the Cape is run by NASA and indeed the “range” is run more or less by the USAF…the trick is to figure out how to move NASA from an operator toward a user.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    “the trick is to figure out how to move NASA from an operator toward a user.”

    I don’t think there is a “trick”. The only way I know is to starve the responsible directorates until the only solution is to become a user. It is true for any thing. When the cheapest solution is elsewhere it is where “they” will go. It looks to me it is what the WH is trying to do, somehow, and what the Congress is resisting…

  • cy,
    While SpaceX is behind schedule, it has actually started delivering real results. Ares I/Orion were announced the same month as Falcon IX, with Dragon announced a little later (IIRC). Falcon IX had flown successfully twice. Dragon has flown successfully once. Ares-I/Orion, which over the same time received 40x as much money, are barely at PDR stage. For twice the cost of Falcon IX/Dragon, NASA was able to do a stunt launch of Ares-1X that didn’t use hardly any elements of the actual final Ares-I other than the paint scheme and steel motor segments. While SpaceX was shooting for an original flight date of 2008, Ares-I was shooting for an original flight date of 2012. Remember “Safe, Simple, Soon”? At the time of the Augustine Committee, they estimated that Ares-I/Orion were not likely to fly until 2017-2019. Calling out SpaceX’s schedule slips while ignoring the much bigger schedule and budget slips of a program that had over an order of magnitude more funding is nothing short of dishonest.

    As for Industry responding to HLV-centric RFIs, of course they did. NASA in effect asks companies “Do you want to get big juicy contracts worth $B of dollars per year to build HLVs and then operate them as a perpetual revenue stream without need for further competition?” and the companies respond enthusiastically…this is surprising how?

    Notice that most of those companies during the CE&R studies found that a non-HLV route was perfectly workable, and at least some of those companies (ULA for instance–you know the guys with more actual successful rocket development experience than anyone at NASA) have been actively pushing for a non-HLV route. During the CE&R studies, I think only one or two out of the was it 8 companies involved suggested heavy lift at all. If contractors think they can get huge amounts of money out of NASA to build and unnecessary HLV, they find a rationalization that justifies the need. Standard government contracting 101.

    ~Jon

  • Mark,
    If you think that SLS/MPCV isn’t corporate welfare, but COTS is, you must be using a different dictionary from the rest of us.

    ~Jon

  • Jeff,
    My only comment on Holdren’s statement was that I find it amusing that ATK’s PorkLauncher 2.0 project is being held up as an example of a promising omen for space commercialization.

    ~Jon

  • Holdren is right about NASA being in disarray and demoralized. However, that is a description of NASA today, rather than just before he took over. There were a lot of very happy NASA engineers who were excited to be working on real spacecraft that would accomplish real things like puting us back on the Moon and then Mars, rather than having to make lame excuses about tech spin-offs to justify NASA’s 18 billion dollar budget.

  • Matt Wiser

    One should be reminded of another Washington adage: “One person’s pork is another person’s “essential government project.”

    So Holdren’s trying to spin things to fit their notions that Congress threw out last year? No surprise at that.

  • Holdren’s claims that science and aeronautics programs “had been gutted in NASA to feed Constellation” is another lie. The inconvenient truth is that Constellation was gutted to feed the Shuttle (see Wayne Hale’s blog) and ISS, and that the science budget before Obama was just as substantial (MER, Cassini, Hubble, Kepler, New Horizons…) as it is now.

    In fact, Holdren/Obama, although they provide lip service to science, have done nothing $$$ for it. Compare the Obama 2010 proposed budget allocations for planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics with previous years, and you will not detect ANY increases. The only increased funding was for Holdren’s pet obsession with weather research, which he now wants to be NASA’s primary destination, not the planets.

  • Why I’m lukewarm to heavy lift (right now):

    1.) I’d rather see NASA launching rockets and building things in space than building things on the ground. The 75 to 100 launches we could have had for the expense of Cx irritates me. Further sacrifice of current potential to come; instead of “pigs in space” it will be jobs in certain districts.

    2.) Throttled solid rockets. Technology is improving here as successful methods are being developed, but again at what cost for a throttle-able solid rocket booster versus L-Ox? NASA leadership seems to have studied the choices and reached a consensus.

    3.) Current heavy lift vehicles are under-utilized and they are expected to remain that way through at least the end of this decade.

    4.) The primacy of heavy lift will inevitably detract from other functions and other missions, past performance is indicative I think.

    5.) What expectation of cost control should be applied when calcing the final taxpayers bill on Heavy Lift (painful to even imagine this question five years from now)?

    6.) Heavy Lift Development versus crew-rating Atlas V and/or Delta IV…

    I would love a heavy lift rocket, I would be happy if it had solid rocket boosters with neon fins! As long as it made it into space, fulfilled its mission to the American people.

    There is no reason to delay except for cost.
    In this political climate I see Heavy Lift as a vehicle of the 2020′s, unless commerce rises to meet some unseen demand.

    Only my opinion and I do reserve the right to change it.

  • amightywind

    The Administration has gagged this Bolshevik since the disastrous rollout and rejection of Obamaspace a year ago. You remember, when NASA was to focus on Holden’s vision of muslim outreach and global warming research. One wonders why the choose now to let him off of his chain. He will just infuriate a congress that rejected his ideas last time. Maybe his is talking because he knows clock is ticking on Obama’s radicals as the GOP defunds them. Carol Browner is gone. Perhaps Holden is next out the door.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “Holdren’s claims that science and aeronautics programs “had been gutted in NASA to feed Constellation” is another lie. The inconvenient truth is that Constellation was gutted to feed the Shuttle (see Wayne Hale’s blog) and ISS, and that the science budget before Obama was just as substantial (MER, Cassini, Hubble, Kepler, New Horizons…) as it is now.”

    That’s a straw man. The science and aeronautics programs had been gutted in the Bush budget out-years. That conveyed what one could call intent-to-gut. The fact that the science budget ended up being largely level was because the new administration didn’t adhere to that intent. But the intent was sure there, and loomed as a major threat to NASA science.

    “Compare the Obama 2010 proposed budget allocations for planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics with previous years, and you will not detect ANY increases.”

    Yup, but that FY10 budget was a slapdash one because of the change of administration. In the more carefully considered FY11 budget proposal, Planetary Science was also slated for a large increase. Heliophysics was slated to do better than inflation. Not hard to detect. In fact, the agency as a whole was slated for a large increase.

  • Nelson Bridwell wrote:

    There were a lot of very happy NASA engineers who were excited to be working on real spacecraft that would accomplish real things …

    Gee, I must have missed the part in the National Aeronautics and Space Act where it says NASA’s mission is to create a bunch of “very happy” engineers.

    Welcome to the real world where the rest of us are paid to do a job whether we like it or not — and if you don’t like it, find the exit before it finds you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    ” There were a lot of very happy NASA engineers who were excited to be working on real spacecraft that would accomplish real things like puting us back on the Moon and then Mars,”

    sure and if I could get the federal government to professionally subsidize my “work hobby” to the tune of billions a year that would be great.

    I am sure all the NASA folks who were managing the building of Orion and Ares (as the vehicles were built by contractors) were happy as pigs at the trough. There were really no firm dates that hte vehicles were suppose to fly and every year brought pay checks every two weeks…so they could sit back and dream up all the requirements that they wanted to and spend all the money that they could in a program that was so badly managed that Jeff Hanely had no clue as to if recovering the Ares first stage was cost effective or not.

    As result the folks you mentioned happily consumed 10 billion plus in their “task” and have almost nothing of any value to show for it.

    Sorry that is no way to run a railroad. when you and the other excuse makers for Cx can understand why SpaceX (to mention one company) has consumed in both their own and federal funds about 3/4 billion to develop 2 rockets that are more flight ready then Ares got on 8 billion…and they have flown Dragon into orbit…such that had you or I been on it we would have been “fine”..

    then you will understand the difference between NASA hobby work and real business.

    In mimicing the GOP Speaker of the House, I dont care a fig about what NASA employees want. they serve The Constitution of The Republic and the people who are sovereign (check their oath)…and they should darn well welcome actually doing something other then sitting at their desk dreaming up goofy requirements that dont mean a fig.

    Mostly it is not the employees fault, they are captive of a goofy system that makes people like Hanley leaders and preserves the scalps of people like Linda H…but for you to defend that system on the back of the workers is goofy.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    One should be reminded of another Washington adage: “One person’s pork is another person’s “essential government project.” …

    and doubtless that is tattooed on the Speaker of the Houses forehead as he left his budget cutting ways to try and save an engine near his district…but its not a valid statement.

    Pork is pork and just because someone has situation ethics in terms of what is pork is only a tribute to their own morals not reality.

    Cx was pork. It had no discernible goal in no reasonable timespan.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    You’re behind on your Glenn Beck. Now it’s the Muslim caliphate….

    sorry I have been out of The Republic and sadly Fox news was not a hit where I was…I was behind on my Beck! Robert G. Oler

  • spacermase

    @Amightywind

    Unrelated, but something that I’ve always wondered about: you do realize, that by referring to the Obama administrations as ‘Bolsheviks’, you’re implying that the Bush administration was an autocratic Czarship, right?

  • VirgilSamms

    “ATK’s PorkLauncher 2.0 project is being held up as an example of a promising omen”

    Makes more sense than anything else that has been proposed. It will work.

  • @Jon Goff

    Jon,

    You continue to indulge in a false equivalence when you compare Falcon 9/Dragon to Ares I/Orion. These two launch systems have entirely different flight dynamics/profile with different mission requirements. SpaceX has done a tremendous job in launching Falcon 9 and Dragon and they deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and the company took 9 years to develop launch a medium range ballistic missile with a pressurized cargo spacecraft, 3 years behind schedule. Lockheed Martin’s Orion is a human rated spacecraft capable of being deployed for deep space missions of up to 6 months. The Dragon comes nowhere close to those capabilities. The Falcon 9 could not have launched the Orion spacecraft in its current configuration and SpaceX has yet to develop and launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Elon Musk has already changed his budget estimates several times for what funding level is necessary to develop a human rated spacecraft/launch system and is likely to revise those estimates yet again. You seem to forget that a huge chunk of that 8 or 9 billion dollars went to developing the Orion spacecraft, not the Ares I launch system. And as SpaceX is a private company, there is no way of determining what SpaceX development costs may actually have been.

    Again, you continue your criticism of HLV, suggesting that current launch systems are capable of transporting both humans and cargo in building a space-based infrastructure. This idea is tantamount to a excavation company using VW Beetles to transport gravel to a road construction site. Simply impractical. This visual example underscores the fact that even in ground based transportation systems, there is a considerable differentiation between vehicles that transport humans and those that transport cargo. There is differentiation between cargo transport and construction vehicles. All of these vehicles are powered by many different kinds of powerplants.

    The limitations of using current launch systems for space infrastructure construction is nowhere more apparent than in the International Space Station (ISS). One of the central problems that the ISS continues to deal with is logistionc and supply shortage. This supply shortage was created in large part by the limited payload capacity of current launchers and the Space Shuttle. NASA and its partners have had to modify several logisitc containers in order to create more storage space. With the STS retirement, having enough supplies on ISS is criticial. HLV would have alleviated those capacity problems. The number of missions required to build and maintain the ISS is staggering and certainly not cost effective for commercial purposes. There is no reason to believe that today’s launch systems could build a comparable space station any cheaper or in less time.

  • Martijn Meijering

    This idea is tantamount to a excavation company using VW Beetles to transport gravel to a road construction site.

    No, EELVs can launch 25-30mT. Even skyscrapers are built from components that size or less. We don’t need bigger launch vehicles, we need cheaper ones. EELVs don’t even come close to maxing out yearly production capacity, they were designed for 20-40 flight a year each.

    Simply impractical.

    Eminently practical. It looks as if you simply want to trick others into funding your pet launcher or paying its workforce. By the way, where do you happen to work?

  • Egad

    > Lockheed Martin’s Orion is a human rated spacecraft capable of being deployed for deep space missions of up to 6 months.

    Speaking of Orion/MPCV, what’s the status of work on the service module for it?

  • VirgilSamms

    “It looks as if you simply want to trick others into funding your pet launcher or paying its workforce.”

    No, that would be you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Miles wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    “You continue to indulge in a false equivalence when you compare Falcon 9/Dragon to Ares I/Orion.”

    as do you…Falcon9/Dragon is flying the other is still a money pit.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Lockheed Martin’s Orion is a human rated spacecraft capable of being deployed for deep space missions of up to 6 months.”

    It’s not anymore. All the rad-shielding and redundancy was pulled out of Orion to meet Ares I performance (or lack thereof). Moreover, Orion’s Apollo-era Avco TPS is only good for LEO and lunar return.

    “The Dragon comes nowhere close to those capabilities.”

    Dragon does better than Orion in several categories. For example, Dragon’s PICA-X TPS is capable of Mars return trajectories, in addition to LEO and lunar return. Dragon also hasn’t had all its redundant systems stripped out like Orion.

    Moreover, from a safety perspective, designing a reliable LES for a lighter capsule on a liquid launcher (like Dragon/Falcon 9) is much easier than for a heavier capsule on a launcher with solid propellants that keep burning after an accident (like Orion/Ares I or nearly all SDHLVs).

    “The Falcon 9 could not have launched the Orion spacecraft in its current configuration”

    Neither could Ares I (or Liberty). The only existing or funded vehicle that can launch Orion is the Delta IV Heavy.

    “a huge chunk of that 8 or 9 billion dollars went to developing the Orion spacecraft, not the Ares I launch system.”

    Together, Ares I/Orion were going to cost $35-40 billion (with a “b”) total. With the exception of an LES, Falcon 9/Dragon are built and only cost the taxpayer $278 million (with an “m”).

    “And as SpaceX is a private company, there is no way of determining what SpaceX development costs may actually have been.”

    Who cares if it’s on their dime and not the taxpayer’s?

    “Again, you continue your criticism of HLV, suggesting that current launch systems are capable of transporting both humans and cargo in building a space-based infrastructure. This idea is tantamount to a excavation company using VW Beetles to transport gravel to a road construction site. Simply impractical.”

    Not really. It depends on the specifics.

    A simple, used, six-wheel dump truck can cost upwards of $100,000.
    But I can buy used VW Beetles for under $1,000 each.

    http://www.trucker.com/TruckDetail.aspx?TruckID=13613337&CompanyID=32653

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&catid=6001&item=320657530229+&viewitem=&itemid=320657530229

    So I could buy 100 used Beetles for the price of one used, six-wheel dump truck.

    A six-wheel dumptruck typically carries ten tons or 20,000 pounds. If each of my 100 Beetles carried only 400 pounds of cargo (the equivalent of two adults), they’d outclass the dumptruck in carrying capacity by a factor of 2 to 1 on every trip.

    “This visual example”

    A “visual example” means nothing. Engineering comes down to specifics and numbers, not vague illustrations.

    “HLV would have alleviated those capacity problems.”

    No, it wouldn’t have. Per the Augustine report, Ares V wasn’t going to show up until 2028 at the earliest, years after ISS would have been in the drink. In January, NASA sent a report to Congress stating that it couldn’t meet Congress’s schedule for the new HLV under the requirements and budget Congress provided in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act (for FY 2011-13). The President’s FY 2012 budget proposes even less for the HLV, stretching out its schedule even further. If an HLV ever sees the light of day, it won’t be for years and years.

    “There is no reason to believe that today’s launch systems could build a comparable space station any cheaper or in less time.”

    Who wants NASA to build another government space station? We want NASA to explore BEO.

    But even if we did want another government space station, thanks to Bigelow, we can actually build a much bigger one for less money and time using existing launchers.

    FWIW…

  • It’s endlessly fascinating how one side has the facts on its side while the other makes up all sorts of stuff to justify protecting an unsustainable status quo …

    As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

  • common sense

    “These two launch systems have entirely different flight dynamics/profile with different mission requirements.”

    What are the Ares requirements? Do you know them? Please let us all know and ATK so they can possibly design something that may work.

    “SpaceX has done a tremendous job in launching Falcon 9 and Dragon and they deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and the company took 9 years to develop launch a medium range ballistic missile with a pressurized cargo spacecraft, 3 years behind schedule.”

    VSE initiated a new program in 2004, was named Constellation sometime in 2005. Constellation has spent about $10G and flown Ares-1X the most expensive suborbital LV ever. The overall program is years behind schedule and billions above budget. So much so that no one actually knows how much. But for reference you can read the Augustine Committee report yet another time at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/home/index.html

    “Lockheed Martin’s Orion is a human rated spacecraft capable of being deployed for deep space missions of up to 6 months. ”

    Orion does not belong to LMT nor was it designed by LMT. LMT only builds the NASA designed CEV. It is certainly not “human rated”. Human rating requirements are not set in stone which is one of the reasons why Ares/Orion went to the ditch. Further the latest iteration of Orion is NOT designed for BEO. Whatever LMT provided recently may or not be a BEO vehicle since the requirements for Orion change by the month if not the hour. No one is going to stay 6 months in Orion. Check the size and let us all know how you would do this.

    “The Dragon comes nowhere close to those capabilities.”

    Yeah I am sure SpaceX provided the Dragon design to you and you are just saying what’s in their design documents.

    “The Falcon 9 could not have launched the Orion spacecraft in its current configuration and SpaceX has yet to develop and launch the Falcon 9 Heavy.”

    Orion does not exist, will never exist and SpaceX will of course never launch Orion. See they have Dragon.

    “Elon Musk has already changed his budget estimates several times for what funding level is necessary to develop a human rated spacecraft/launch system and is likely to revise those estimates yet again.”

    How much? Reference?

    “You seem to forget that a huge chunk of that 8 or 9 billion dollars went to developing the Orion spacecraft, not the Ares I launch system. ”

    So? What does that mean? And please let us know the fraction of the cost that went to either.

    “And as SpaceX is a private company, there is no way of determining what SpaceX development costs may actually have been.”

    Why does that matter if you did not pay for them?

    “HLV would have alleviated those capacity problems.”

    HLV based on what requirements???

    “There is no reason to believe that today’s launch systems could build a comparable space station any cheaper or in less time.”

    I don’t remember any one making such claim.

  • HotShotX

    “So I could buy 100 used Beetles for the price of one used, six-wheel dump truck.”

    Just wanted to point out that you’d also require 99 more drivers. Don’t forget to factor benefits on top of that.

    Carry on.

    ~HotShotX

  • common sense

    @ Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    “It’s endlessly fascinating how one side has the facts on its side while the other makes up all sorts of stuff to justify protecting an unsustainable status quo …”

    Would it be better whether they “make up” their facts or if they actually “believe” their facts?

    I hope they do make up their facts because at least they are just trying to “spin” – a verb they really enjoy – the facts to accommodate their plans. Otherwise scary, very scary…

  • Fred Willett

    Gary Miles wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    wrote;
    “The number of missions required to build and maintain the ISS is staggering and certainly not cost effective for commercial purposes. There is no reason to believe that today’s launch systems could build a comparable space station any cheaper or in less time.”

    ISS cost between $35B and $100B depending on how you count and has a volume (according to Wikipedia) of around 1000 cubic metres.
    A Bigelow BA330 module is 330 cubic metres.
    3 Bigalow modules would give a space station roughly the same size and could be launched on 3 Delta IV Heavys at a total price of something less than $500M per launch (including payload).
    That’s an ISS equivalent for just $1.5B.
    My prices are gestimates, but even if I’m out by a billion or to so, so what? It’s way cheaper than the ISS.
    This is not science fiction. This is what Bigelow is planning to do as soon as he has transport to actually get crew to his stations.
    And remember he has two prototypes on orbit.
    Nor is it to dis NASA’s efforts and costs.
    Bigelow stands on the shoulders of giants. He’s learnt from NASA. Anyway you’d expect the 2nd version of anything, including a space station to be more efficient, cheaper and more easily assembled, right?

  • Neo-con caterwauling for lost pork and wails of “Bolshevism” is amusing. Rewriting of history is a neo-con trait and not surprising.

    I’m not impressed by the neo-liberal paradigm either and Holdren’s increased funding of “earth sciences” aren’t likely to see the light of day, Budgetary battles are going to be the norm for the foreseeable future and little is going to be accomplished beyond the call for ISS logistics.

    I sure hope that at least can be done.

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Miles said:
    “There is no reason to believe that today’s launch systems could build a comparable space station any cheaper or in less time.”

    Delta IV Heavy can carry all of the ISS elements that Shuttle can, and for around 1/3 the cost. Sure the payloads might need a tug module to deliver them, but that would still cost less.

    A second ISS would cost far less for the transport costs using existing and near term launchers, which include Atlas V Heavy (64,000 lb to LEO) and Falcon 9 Heavy (70,000 lb to LEO) which is advertised for $95M/flight.

    How much would an HLV cost/lb to LEO? Fully amoritized of course.

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 5:48 pm
    “Dragon also hasn’t had all its redundant systems stripped out like Orion.”

    Interesting assertion, when you say “redundant systems” I assume you mean Environmental Life Support Systems (ECLSS). It is entirely possible that I have missed something, but as far as I know there are no details (schematics) of what a Dragon ECLSS would be publically available. If you have such information please share it, then we can all see what has not been “stripped out”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Miles wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    One of the central problems that the ISS continues to deal with is logistionc and supply shortage. This supply shortage was created in large part by the limited payload capacity of current launchers and the Space Shuttle.

    No, the central problem with the ISS supply system until recently has been the fragility of the transportation system. Whereas we used to be dependent on just two systems for supplies (Progress and Shuttle), now we have added ATV and HTV, and soon Dragon and Cygnus.

    Relying on an HLV would put us back to being one accident away from shutting down the ISS.

    Regarding payload capacity, if you asked the users of the ISS if they would rather have one yearly delivery of supplies and equipment, or frequent deliveries during the year, they would say frequent deliveries, since some food and supplies have expiration dates, and less planning is needed to address issues that come up (like repair parts). Also, what an HLV does not solve is the downmass needs, which Dragon will address, and which vehicles like Dream Chaser will hopefully expand and improve. Those vehicles can use existing launchers, so an HLV is not needed.

    What an HLV does create is the need to build new facilities near launch sites, since current logistic systems like trains, trucks and aircraft cannot be used with payloads much bigger than the current 15ft diameter that the ISS uses. That is one of the hidden costs of moving to an HLV transportation system, and one that makes it far less likely that the commercial marketplace will be able to help fund some of the infrastructure like they can today.

    An HLV causes more problems than it solves for our current needs in space.

  • common sense wrote:

    Would it be better whether they “make up” their facts or if they actually “believe” their facts?

    (Shudder) That’s a frightening thought. It’s like asking if the people walking around carrying signs of Obama as Hitler really believe he is Hitler, which suggests they’ve gone beyond amoral to loony.

    These people are wound up by others who feed their heads with disinformation, either because they’re gullible or easily manipulated, so they can be dispatched as noise machines. It’s all part of the game.

    After watching Glenn Beck trot out this week as a Middle East “expert” a man who wrote a book claiming Obama is the anti-Christ, and Beck himself claiming Obama is trying to create a global Muslim caliphate, I guess there really is no point too low for some people.

    But I’m confident we’ve reached the tipping point with commercial space, so whether they’re amoral or loony it doesn’t really matter. Charlie Bolden has made it clear we need commercial space if our HSF program is going to continue, because as we’ve seen Congress has no problem whacking away at the NASA budget. It *has* to happen, or government-funded HSF will die in this country.

    I’m currently reading John Logsdon’s latest book about JFK and his Moon proposal. All sorts of studies were done just before and after his inauguration which concluded there was no compelling scientific or military reason for a Moon program; it was strictly political. JFK rhetorically painted himself into a corner by claiming there was a “missile gap” measured by the weight we could lift into space; that turned out to be a fallacy because Soviet rockets were much more inefficient than ours. So he proposed the Moon program as a way out of that corner.

    For all the blather today about heavy-lift vehicles and the Moon and Mars, there is no compelling reason at all to go — not scientific, not military and not political other than to perpetuate the jobs attached to the space-industrial complex. That’s all the members of the space subcommittees care about, and beyond them nobody else in Congress cares.

    So the people who think Constellation will arise from the grave are simply clueless. It’s not going to happen. There are many more Congresscritters in both parties who want to chop NASA’s budget than increase it.

    Commercial is the way out. It’s commercial or American HSF as we know it will die.

    If Congress allows COTS and CCDev to proceed to their logical conclusion, I’m convinced that by 2020 we will see a new Golden Age of spaceflight launching out of Cape Canaveral and we’ll see a new public enthusiasm for space not experienced since the 1960s. Why? Because it’ll be new, it’ll be cutting-edge technology, and we will be closer to *us* as non-government employees going to space without the government saying it’s okay.

  • Neo-con caterwauling for lost pork and wails of “Bolshevism” is amusing. Rewriting of history is a neo-con trait and not surprising.

    What do “neo-cons” have to do with this discussion? Do you even know what that word means? Or is it just gibberish for “people I disagree with”?

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 8:12 pm
    “What an HLV does create is the need to build new facilities near launch sites, since current logistic systems like trains, trucks and aircraft cannot be used with payloads much bigger than the current 15ft diameter that the ISS uses. That is one of the hidden costs of moving to an HLV transportation system, and one that makes it far less likely that the commercial marketplace will be able to help fund some of the infrastructure like they can today.
    An HLV causes more problems than it solves for our current needs in space.”

    I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV. When was the United States ground transport infrastructure degraded between the 1960s and now?

  • I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV.

    No, it means that we can’t afford to do the Apollo project again, but that fortunately there are much more economical ways to get to the moon.

  • Major Tom

    HSX: “Just wanted to point out that you’d also require 99 more drivers.”

    Agreed. But that part of the analogy doesn’t port over to unmanned LVs throwing up EDS propellant in small or large amounts.

    Joe: “Interesting assertion, when you say ‘redundant systems’ I assume you mean Environmental Life Support Systems (ECLSS).”

    No, I mean redundant systems and capabilities in general.

    Like the kind that allow a vehicle to operate unmanned or with an injured crew, a capability which Dragon has demonstrated from orbit but which Orion had stripped out in the summer of 2009:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/07/constellation-top-risks-orion-loses-unmanned-capability/

    Like separate and redundant comm systems, which Orion consolidated into a single comm system back in the spring of 2009:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/03/orion-opts-for-hybrid-lite-comms-system/

    Like safety-critical systems, which Orion had to reduce to single-fault tolerance (they should be triple), and mission-critical systems, which Orion had to reduce to zero-fault tolerance (they should be double), back in the fall of 2007:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2007/10/saving-spaceship-orion-zero-base-vehicle-task-complete/

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV.”

    No, it means that Saturn V costs were unsustainable, in large part due to the fact that it was so big that its production had to took place at no less than three difference facilities, each of which had to expensively ship stages to the Cape via barge or Super Guppy for final assembly in the VAB.

    The only two HLVs that have ever flown — Saturn V and Energia — were terminated because they were too costly.

    The key lesson to take form Apollo is that it was too expensive to continue, and that future civil human BEO space flight programs have to be more affordable and sustainable. History shows that moving away from HLVs is key.

    FWIW…

  • Matt Wiser

    Oh, then what got shipped out from Lockheed-Martin’s plant for testing a few days ago? That was the first Orion, meant for ground testing. It’s being funded, for both testing and development. And it will fly. Even if the first few flights are on an EELV to LEO and ISS. (as L-M has suggested) In case you haven’t noticed, development of Orion/MPCV is mandated in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. Funding is provided in the CR and in the FY 12 budget request. And when you have Congresscritters wanting to transfer funds from other NASA programs to get HSF (not commercial, but NASA’s own) going strong, that should say a lot about the support on the Hill for NASA’s own HSF. And these are the same congresscritters who take the view that if the private sector wants in on HSF, they should do it on their own dime. Now, if Rohrbacher was the subcommittee head, he’d take the opposite view-but he’s not. Will there be a commercial/NASA partnership in space? Yes, most certainly, but in LEO. BEO, that’ll be NASA’s responsiblity. Could commercial support BEO (fuel depot, say)? Yes, if that proves practicable.

    Holdren doesn’t get one thing: the Moon is listed as a destination in the 2010 Authorization Act. Lunar return may not be on the agenda right now, but it’s still an action item for later on. Hopefully in 2013 when a successor administration takes charge. Or 2017 at the latest.

  • common sense

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    “(Shudder) That’s a frightening thought. It’s like asking if the people walking around carrying signs of Obama as Hitler really believe he is Hitler, which suggests they’ve gone beyond amoral to loony.”

    Well. Do you remember the 2008 campaign? One McCain supporter tells him she is afraid because Obama is a Muslim and/or terrorist (can’t remember but I am sure we can find the clip somewhere) and a very embarrassed McCain tells her Obama is not. You know if you say something long enough and loud enough a number of people will eventually believe what you say.

    “These people are wound up by others who feed their heads with disinformation, either because they’re gullible or easily manipulated, so they can be dispatched as noise machines. It’s all part of the game.”

    We recently saw that it may turn in a very dangerous “game”. Excite the loonies enough and something will eventually happen.

    “After watching Glenn Beck trot out this week as a Middle East “expert” a man who wrote a book claiming Obama is the anti-Christ, and Beck himself claiming Obama is trying to create a global Muslim caliphate, I guess there really is no point too low for some people.”

    I know about the freedom of expression and all you know but sometimes I mean… You know… Anyway. Beck is a shame but his employers??? What frightens me also is that this is all “show” business not news. People have gotten so little education that they end up believing this garbage. And this is not the fault of the education system, rather of our very idiotic political leaders. Remember that Obama was an elitist??? Compared with whom? Bush???

    Oh well…

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV.

    I was talking about payload sizes, not the rockets that put them in space. Both the Apollo CM and lunar lander were less than 5m in diameter.

    When was the United States ground transport infrastructure degraded between the 1960s and now?

    Right now 5m diameter payload manufacturing facilities can be located anywhere, such as in tax-friendly cities like Las Vegas (Bigelow). But with much larger sized payloads (like those needed to justify HLV’s) you’ll need to locate your factory near waterways, or the launch facilities. That could be a big financial drain on a company with existing facilities that need to be duplicated just for government work. I’m not saying it can’t be done, just that it’s an added financial burden above and beyond the cost of the HLV.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Steve –

    “I’m currently reading John Logsdon’s latest book about JFK and his Moon proposal. All sorts of studies were done just before and after his inauguration which concluded there was no compelling scientific or military reason for a Moon program; it was strictly political. JFK rhetorically painted himself into a corner by claiming there was a “missile gap” measured by the weight we could lift into space; that turned out to be a fallacy because Soviet rockets were much more inefficient than ours. So he proposed the Moon program as a way out of that corner.”

    I see the source of your confusion immediately: “I’m currently reading John Logsdon’s books”. Well, I once had the nerve to point out to Logsdon in the Q&A following one of his public talks that he had made a fundamental mistake in fact in his analysis of Eisenhower’s space program, and as regards the Moon I’ll simply tell you that JFK simply wanted to know which space goal we could beat the Soviets at, and the only one was landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

    The paint JFK used to paint that corner was provided by Trevor Gardner.

    You need to read my History of Cosmonautics instead of wasting you time with Logsdon’s writings. Maybe if you ask around someone will provide you with copies of volumes 1-4.

    “For all the blather today about heavy-lift vehicles and the Moon and Mars, there is no compelling reason at all to go — not scientific, not military and not political”

    The only compelling need is planetary defense, specifically CAPS, the Comet and Asteroid Protection System, but since few in the Congress are aware of CAPS, since it was suppressed, and few aware of the size of the impact hazard, since that was suppressed as well, the next part of your statement holds pretty well as regards current public discourse:

    “other than to perpetuate the jobs attached to the space-industrial complex. That’s all the members of the space subcommittees care about, and beyond them nobody else in Congress cares.”

    Well, not exactly, but perhaps closer than many manned Mars enthusiasts care to face up to.

    E.P. Grondine
    Man and Impact in the Americas

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Rand –

    “What do “neo-cons” have to do with this discussion? Do you even know what that word means?”

    A great question. Can you tell us what “neo-con” means?

  • common sense

    “I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV.”

    I am not even sure what that means. We are talking cost. Apollo happened on a slightly different cost scale did it not?

  • DCSCA

    “In a plenary address Friday afternoon at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, presidential science advisor John Holdren devoted a few minutes towards the end of his speech about what the administration has done in the area of NASA policy.”

    Uh-huh. Easy to see where ‘NASA policy’ sits with this crowd. Late Friday, (dump day in the news-cycle– and late in the cycle as well) before a holiday weekend, purfunctory rah-rah lines tagged at the end, a snapshot of the Boss, polite applause then off for the long weekend. Yep, lip-service pretty much sums up another year of drift.

  • Gary Miles’s Feb.19th, 4:59 pm Comment, really resonated with me! I too, DON’T believe in all this hype about commercial space being THE way to go, with manned spaceflight. I just do NOT. The commercial space advocates are keen on saying that a Heavy Lift Vehicle will not be needed, because in-orbit refueling is just around the corner. But really guys: is there even a modest game plan of testing out this particular would-be technology on board the ISS in this decade?? I bet you a billion dollars that come 2020, NOT one iota of an in-orbit refueling depot, will have been developed!! LEO space-craft refueling is just another hold-me-up fantasy crutch for the Obamaspace people! It’s like VASIMR: they’re NOT really going to construct anything so bold. The Obamaspacers want to sabotage Heavy-Lift, because of the obvious Return-to-the-Moon implications. They’ll do just about anything to prevent an American Return to Luna. Even come up with wacky daydreams about spacemen visiting asteroids instead. [Let's see....a rocky, airless, crater-filled place; hmm...okay...just as long as it's 100% virgin territory!] The wholesale tragedy, the bottom line outcome is that these snake oil salesmen are going to strand the country in Low Earth Orbit for yet another twenty years!

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:04 pm
    “Charlie Bolden has made it clear we need commercial space if our HSF program is going to continue, because as we’ve seen Congress has no problem whacking away at the NASA budget. It *has* to happen, or government-funded HSF will die in this country.”

    Rubbish.

    Congress has been ‘cutting’ away at space budgets and refunding same since the Apollo days so this is nothing new in space circles. And FYI, Charlie Bolden’s “job” is to carry out policy directives from the WH, not create them. And if you’re reading Logsdon on the formulative days, you should come to understand that HSF had a strong future with the military (mainly the USAF) before NASA was created by Ike for Cold War realities of the times. And, of course, it can have a strong future under the umbrella of the DoD again. Start with 1956:

    “The impetus for feasibility studies came from a staff meeting at the headquarters of the Air Research and Development Command ARDC at Baltimore, on February 15, 1956. During the course of the meeting, General Thomas S. Power, Commander of ARDC, expressed-impatience with the failure of his “idea men” to propose any advanced flight systems that could be undertaken after the X-15. Work should begin now, he declared, on two or three separate approaches beyond the X-15, including a vehicle that would operate outside the atmosphere without wings. He suggested that a manned ballistic rocket might be “eventually capable of useful intercontinental military and commercial transport and cargo operation.” But the main benefit of having an advanced research project underway, Power pointed out, was that the Air Force could more easily acquire funds for the “general technical work needed.”

    “Thus prodded into action, Power’s staff quickly proposed two separate research projects. The first called for a “Manned Glide Rocket Research System” – a rocket-launched glider that would operate initially at an altitude of about 400,000 feet and a speed of mach 21. The other, termed “Manned Ballistic Rocket Research System,” would be a separable manned nose cone, or capsule, the final stage of an ICBM. Such a vehicle could lead to the “quick reaction delivery of high priority logistics to any place on Earth,” as suggested by Power, or to a manned satellite. Power’s staff argued that the manned ballistic concept offered the greater promise, because the solution to the outstanding technical problems, the most critical of which was aerodynamic heating, would result from current ICBM research and development; because existing ICBMs would furnish the booster system, so that efforts could be concentrated on the capsule; and because the ballistic vehicle possibly could be developed by 1960. Either program, however, should be pushed rapidly so that the Air Force could protect its own interests in the field of space flight!”

    “In March 1956, ARDC established two research projects, one for the glide rocket system, the other, known as Task 27544, for the manned ballistic capsule.” source- http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4201/ch3-5.htm

    ‘Task 27544′ evolved into NASA’s Project Mercury. =sigh=

    And you’ll also find JFK suggested to Khrushchev that the two nations pool resources and go to the moon together. Nikita initially agreed to the premise (per Salinger’s 1966 book) then 24 hours later said ‘nyet,’ as the two nations were using military missiles for their space efforts and it would be, in Nikita’s view, impractical.

  • Lars

    “I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV. When was the United States ground transport infrastructure degraded between the 1960s and now?”

    Joe, virtually anything is possible with unlimited funding. And Apollo had virtually unlimited funding which allowed NASA to build the infrastructure to support it. (some of which the Shuttle program makes use of) That situation does not exist today.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No, that would be you.

    Nope, I don’t have a preferred launcher or workforce. Let’s leave those decisions to the market. Furthermore, I don’t have to use any tricks in online discussions. You don’t need any if your cause is respectable. You can then also freely use your own name.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Or is it just gibberish for “people I disagree with”?

    It usually is…

  • Martijn Meijering

    How much would an HLV cost/lb to LEO? Fully amoritized of course.

    A good question. This is another good one: by how much will its use reduce commercial launch prices?

  • DCSCA

    Lars wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 3:11 am
    Actually, the funding wasn’t ‘virtually unlimited’ but substantially increased with respect to previous budgets but by 1966-67 the numbers were being pinched back as expenditures for other priorities (Vietnam, Great Society) pressured the Treasury. Most of the early budget items went into literally building the infrastructure for HSF operations (control centers, test facilities, lunar probes, etc., as well as manned spacecraft. And, of course, development of Apollo required not only spacecraft development but the Saturn class booster development as well. Mercury and Gemini made use of modified military missiles. And unlike today, the generation that ‘launched’ Apollo paid for it– they didn’t pass on the costs to us today.

  • E.P. Grondine wrote:

    You need to read my History of Cosmonautics instead of wasting you time with Logsdon’s writings. Maybe if you ask around someone will provide you with copies of volumes 1-4.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but your disrespectful comments about a man who obviously has the résumé to give validity to his work suggests I’m better off believing him and not you. Everything he cited in the book is documented with footnotes. If you want to prove that his sources lied, then go for it.

  • Florida Today has this opinion column on Charlie Bolden’s visit with their editorial board:

    “NASA Vision: Proceed Boldly”

    Affordable and sustainable are words ruling the day in long-term planning at NASA. Bolden concedes that NASA, and other big government space programs, have sometimes bitten off more than they can chew. They’ve started big projects with under-sized budgets in hope that, someday, the politicians would come later with more funding once they showed progress.

  • Porkfight

    @MajorTom
    Orion has two redundant communication systems, and a backup dissimilar system to protect against possible latent design issues. The article you referenced about the hybrid light architecture switch involves only the reduction in high gain and phased array antenna size to reduce mass and cost. You are also incorrect about the Avcoat vs. Pica-X heat shield capabilities, unmanned capability, and Orion redundancy in general. Are you really so short of legitimate arguments that you have to make things up about the vehicle design?

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:04 pm
    “Charlie Bolden has made it clear…” A postscript- Bolden will turn 65 in August, 2011. He’ll most likely retire as FY2011 comes to a close.

  • red

    “Holdren’s claims that science and aeronautics programs “had been gutted in NASA to feed Constellation” is another lie.”

    Don’t forget Griffin’s expensive cut/restore of Dawn, the shutdown of New Millenium, the removal of science research and analysis funding, etc.

    “The inconvenient truth is that Constellation was gutted to feed the Shuttle (see Wayne Hale’s blog) and ISS”

    ISS was also cut for Constellation. The Shuttle funding problems were obvious, and Constellation should have been made with them in mind. Constellation was the new program crowding out everything else in that environment. The Shuttle problems could have been absorbed had Constellation not been there starting its feeding frenzy. As Griffin said, “not one thin dime” would have come out of Science for Shuttle/Constellation had Constellation not been there, or had it been made as the VSE intended – as a program that could absorb budget changes.

    “and that the science budget before Obama was just as substantial (MER, Cassini, Hubble, Kepler, New Horizons…) as it is now.”

    You are giving the Constellation era credit for some Science missions that were developed and launched before Constellation started.

    The Constellation era is the time of a “drying up” of the Science pipeline. We will see the results soon as Science mission launches become less and less common. The effect doesn’t happen overnight since it takes years to develop these missions, and development is where the major expenses are.

    Also see the budget scenarios in the CBO report “Budgetary Implications of NASA’s Current Plans for Space Exploration”. Even with unrealistic budget increases, an on-time Shuttle shutdown, and/or early ISS loss, Constellation would force huge cuts in the number of Science missions and the Aeronautics budget beyond those already experienced because of Constellation:

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10051/04-15-NASA.pdf

    “In fact, Holdren/Obama, although they provide lip service to science, have done nothing $$$ for it. Compare the Obama 2010 proposed budget allocations for planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics with previous years, and you will not detect ANY increases.”

    How could there be a big Science (or Aeronautics) budget boost in FY2010? Constellation was still there in FY2010. Look at the Administration FY2011 budget proposal. Constellation was shut down in that proposal. In the same budget, Aeronautic got a small budget increase, but a big increase compared to what is left of the Aeronautics budget. Science didn’t see the sort of cuts Constellation would force. Earth Observation Science got a big increase. Planetary Science got a Pu-238 production start with DOE, more funding for NEO searches, etc. Planetary Science would have benefited significantly from the Robotic Precursor line. Planetary Science would have also benefited from some of the Exploration Technology Demonstration missions, like the potential SEP demo to Mars and the potential Aerocapture demo at Mars (FTD1 and 4). Science in general would have benefited from the large budget increases in the general Space Technology line compared to IPP. The FY2011 budget includes more Science work on the ISS. There are other examples in the FY2011 budget where Science benefits, even though the benefit is outside the Science budgetary borders.

    Of course FY2011 didn’t happen as proposed, and we’re funding the SLS rocket to nowhere and the MPCV. Thus most of these benefits to Science are removed or watered down. I don’t think you could blame that on the Administration, unless you take the reasonable position of blaming them for not fighting hard enough against SLS/MPCV.

    “The only increased funding was for Holdren’s pet obsession with weather research,”

    Earth Observation Science is about more than “weather research”. Earth is more than “weather”. This isn’t “Holdren’s pet obsession”. Lots of scientists, businesses, government agencies, and so on use NASA Earth Observation data and science results. Planetary Science uses technology, industrial support, and science methods from the Earth Science field. Planetary Science remote sensing missions aren’t all that different from Earth Observation missions, and our interpretation of Planetary Science remote sensing data uses our experience with Earth Observation missions.

    “which he now wants to be NASA’s primary destination, not the planets.”

    I don’t know what Holdren wants, but it seems like the intent is for NASA to stop building unaffordable rockets to nowhere, and instead include all of the solar system as destinations (including Earth, Moon, Mars, NEOs, etc) by funding robotic science, commercial space, technology development, and robotic precursors. Affordable HSF exploration missions would be built on these foundations plus what we learn from the ISS. Of course all of this is put in jeopardy by SLS/MPCV.

  • Major Tom

    “Oh, then what got shipped out from Lockheed-Martin’s plant for testing a few days ago? That was the first Orion, meant for ground testing. It’s being funded, for both testing and development. And it will fly.”

    To be clear, as you yourself even stated above, it’s a test article mean for “ground testing”. It’s not the “first Orion” that “will fly”.

    “Even if the first few flights are on an EELV to LEO and ISS. (as L-M has suggested)”

    It doesn’t matter what LockMart suggests. The only existing (or designed and funded) vehicle that can lift Orion is a Delta IV Heavy.

    “In case you haven’t noticed, development of Orion/MPCV is mandated in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.”

    No, only MPCV is “mandated” in the Act. The Act expresses a preference for using existing Constellation contracts, workforce, and infrastructure, but it does not mandate that the MPCV be derived from Orion.

    “And when you have Congresscritters wanting to transfer funds from other NASA programs to get HSF (not commercial, but NASA’s own) going strong,”

    No one in Congress has pursued a legislative action through voting (where it counts) to transfer funds from other NASA programs to human space flight. Rep. Olson stated that he was going to “preserve the human space flight budget by transferring money from NASA’s unneeded climate research programs”. But in the end, he chickened out and withdrew his amendment to the full-year CR that would have transferred $517 million from Earth science to human space flight.

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/02/16/crime-takes-a-bite-out-of-nasa/

    However, the Rep. DeFazio’s amendment to take money out of human space flight (SOMD, specifically) was never withdrawn and was voted upon (again, where it counts). The congressmen who want to cut NASA’s human space flight program are pushing harder and going farther legislatively than the congressmen who want to add funding to NASA’s human space flight program.

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/02/18/another-nasa-funding-amendment-to-watch/

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “I’ll simply tell you that JFK simply wanted to know which space goal we could beat the Soviets at, and the only one was landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

    No. The memo that Vice President Johnson sent to President Kennedy listed several viable options, but identified a human lunar landing as the option having the most probability of success for beating the Soviet Union in space. The memo is available in the online NASA archives:

    http://history.nasa.gov/Apollomon/apollo2.pdf

    “The paint JFK used to paint that corner was provided by Trevor Gardner.”

    No, the memo was written by Ed Welsh, Exec. Sec. of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, not Gardner.

    “You need to read my History of Cosmonautics instead of wasting you time with Logsdon’s writings. Maybe if you ask around someone will provide you with copies of volumes 1-4.”

    If you can’t get key facts straight that are publicly available in the online NASA archives, then you’re going to have a major problem catching up with Logsdon in the authenticity and authority of your historical account.

    “The only compelling need is planetary defense, specifically CAPS, the Comet and Asteroid Protection System, but since few in the Congress are aware of CAPS, since it was suppressed, and few aware of the size of the impact hazard, since that was suppressed as well”

    CAPS wasn’t suppressed. Anyone can find it in NTRS and numerous other online venues:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20050186565_2005187872.pdf

    It was one of several, long-range futuristic studies by NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept office about a half-decade ago. They also studied human missions to Ganymede and airplanes in the atmosphere of Venus, along with shooting ablative lasers at comets. But just because they studied it doesn’t mean that we’re ready technically to undertake any of these missions.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Easy to see where ‘NASA policy’ sits with this crowd. Late Friday, (dump day in the news-cycle– and late in the cycle as well) before a holiday weekend”

    Holdren was speaking at a AAAS event scheduled by the AAAS. He wasn’t speaking at a venue whose schedule he controlled.

    Think before you post.

    Sigh…

  • Major Tom

    “Orion has two redundant communication systems, and a backup dissimilar system to protect against possible latent design issues. The article you referenced about the hybrid light architecture switch involves only the reduction in high gain and phased array antenna size to reduce mass and cost”

    No, per the article, the high bandwidth S- and Ka-band are being run through the same antenna and boxes.

    “You are also incorrect about the Avcoat vs. Pica-X heat shield capabilities”

    No, I’m not.

    “Dragon’s PICA-X heat shield protected the spacecraft during reentry from temperatures reaching more than 3,000 degrees F. SpaceX worked closely with NASA to develop PICA-X, a SpaceX variant of NASA’s Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) heat shield.

    SpaceX chose PICA for its proven ability. In January 2006, NASA’s Stardust sample capsule returned using a PICA heat shield and set the record for the fastest reentry speed of a spacecraft into Earth’s atmosphere – experiencing speeds of 28,900 miles per hour.

    NASA made its expertise and specialized facilities available to SpaceX as the company designed, developed and qualified the 3.6 meter PICA-X shield it in less than 4 years at a fraction of the cost NASA had budgeted for the effort. The result is the most advanced heat shield ever to fly. It can potentially be used hundreds of times for Earth orbit reentry with only minor degradation each time – as proven on this flight — and can even withstand the much higher heat of a moon or Mars velocity reentry.”

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.rss.spacewire.html?pid=35548

    “unmanned capability”

    I provided an article and link above. Where’s your reference, quote, or link to the contrary?

    “and Orion redundancy in general.”

    I provided several articles and links above. Where’s your references, quotes, or links to the contrary?

    “Are you really so short of legitimate arguments that you have to make things up about the vehicle design?”

    I’m not the one claiming that other posters are making false statements, when those other posters have provide numerous articles, quote, and links to back up their statements, while I’ve provided none.

    That would be you.

    Doctor, heal thyself.

    Sigh…

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    In case you haven’t noticed, development of Orion/MPCV is mandated in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

    Matt, you always like to point at what Congress passes as justification for why NASA needs to do stuff, but you conveniently leave out the parts of the law that DON’T support what you want. For instance, Senate Bill 3729, which passed with bipartisan support in both houses to become the NASA Authorization Act, states:

    (10) Congress restates its commitment, expressed in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109–155) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 (Public Law 110–422), to the development of commercially developed launch and delivery systems to the ISS for crew and cargo missions. Congress reaffirms that NASA shall make use of United States commercially provided ISS crew transfer and crew rescue services to the maximum extent practicable.

    And regarding the multi-purpose crew vehicle (MPCV):

    The capability to provide an alternative means of delivery of crew and cargo to the ISS, in the event other vehicles, whether commercial vehicles or partner-supplied vehicles, are unable to perform that function.

    The MPCV is only a backup for LEO use such as cargo and crew to the ISS. Congress has to support it Matt, IT’S THE LAW… ;-)

    Of course Congress is schizoid when it comes to what they really want, so that is why there are these funding turf battles, because some lawmakers have vested interests in where money is spent, and others have vested interests in the future of the Nation.

    Let’s hope the right ones win.

  • Joe

    “Coastal Ron wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    Joe wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    “I guess that means that the Apollo Project never happened, as the payload capacity of the Saturn V exceeded that of the proposed HLV.”

    I was talking about payload sizes, not the rockets that put them in space. Both the Apollo CM and lunar lander were less than 5m in diameter.

    Then why do you think payloads for any new lifter would have to exceed 5 meters. I think the original conversation was about using an HLV to resupply the ISS, not something I actually think a good idea, however; the concepts I have seen for using the Side Mount in that capacity involve using mulitple versions of a cargo carrier based on the MPLM. They would easily fir in your 5 meter box.

  • Old Fart

    An alternative approach after watching / reading all the pros and cons on this and other sites , I guess Im at the point of just saying stop it all! We as a nation are faced with a “sputnik moment” and it doesn’t have anything to do with LEO’s to ISS, Moon, Mars….we no longer have any realistic control over the supply and cost our nations energy resources. (fossil fuel) So id propose the formation of a National / federal agency on a par with DOD that combines ( DOE, NASA,EPA,DOT, including partnerships with American Oil , Transportation, & Energy companies – whose sole purpose is the development and implementation of several viable and cost effective energy source(s) to be in applied in transportation and mfg sectors. This would include manufacturing efficiencies and improved materials. Thereby providing the means for the US such that the country’s dependence and use of Fossil fuel is reduced by at least 80% in 20 years and totally eliminated in 25-30 years. I am assuming the congress will not be willing to defund many existing programs to pay for this so besides the inherited budges form these agencies , The cost / funding for this massive effort would be paid for by the sale of some of our oil to foreign countries ( selective shale oil reclamation could be used for this or tapping into ANWR ) as well as an increased consumption tax on fuel oils ( + 25%) to help create an environment for consumer education and conditioning to minimize its uses. This would be politically difficult but I believe it is using the talents and skills in these agencies to solve a very real and serious threat. The USAF/ DOD / DARPA would continue to address space applications within their respective R&R’s and any unique areas that NASA does that isn’t already duplicated within DARPA/DOD would be reassigned to them. If the DOD or another agency wants ISS they can have it and its O&M costs, otherwise its gone. . But for this generation the idea of going to moon/ mars ect is not near as resonating as getting ourselves off of fossil fuels.. (how’s that for a sputnik moment the public would relate to?) In addition: any new technologies established by this agency could be used as a trade/ sale option to our foreign trading partners to also assist them in their transitions, if they are interested, and willing to pay. ( no free handouts) .We would use the revenue from these newly developed technologies to also offset costs and for reinvestment into the program. Not for anything else.
    The goal would be to have the United States essentially energy independent by 2036 so that the next generation would not have to deal with foreign mid east issues as we have done (poorly) it’s the least we can do for them.
    This effort would mitigate some of the employment issues we face today, but would more importantly retain and refocus our technical skills into area(s) we need help and should be focusing on. I believe it would create a sense of national unity that says this generation put a stop to our energy dependency from others.
    Commitment : This effort would have to be established in such a way ( i.e. constitutional amendment) such that no future administrations or political parties could revise it for their own near term agenda unless a majority of the US population concurred i.e thru an amendment .
    In closing: I do not claim to have any better insight than others, and so I offer up this as a possible approach. I am sure there will be critics, and I welcome the discussion, however I would ask if you do not agree with this suggestion Please offer up one that is equal to it or better by all means!! We can no longer afford to talk in abstract terms, we must become pragmatic and focused to undo years of neglect we have created. .

    Sincerely old fart (semi retired aerospace planner, and charter member of shuttle ops team i.e. a former shuttle hugger
    But now just a concerned citizen and grandparent

  • Joe

    ” Major Tom wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 10:05 pm
    Like the kind that allow a vehicle to operate unmanned or with an injured crew, a capability which Dragon has demonstrated from orbit but which Orion had stripped out in the summer of 2009:”

    The Orion vehicle is intended to be flown unmanned and recovered before commting to a crewed flight. Yes I know that has not happened yet, but if it does will Orion have “demonstrated from orbit” the capabilty to ” operate unmanned or with an injured crew”?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Oh, then what got shipped out from Lockheed-Martin’s plant for testing a few days ago? That was the first Orion, meant for ground testing. It’s being funded, for both testing and development. And it will fly…

    it has almost no chance of ever flying.

    What remains astonishing to me is that people like you keep defending Orion (and Ares). IN the end Orion and Ares are simply a tribute to the old adage that with enough money anything can continue forward…

    but I am curious…how do you justify the cost? So far over 10 billion dollars and as much as you and others wish to claim something that is not true…what is being built now is no more or less capable then Dragon/Falcon9…and it is certainly not 10-20 times more capable which is what it is so far costing.

    How do you justify that?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    “The Orion vehicle is intended to be flown unmanned and recovered before commting to a crewed flight. Yes I know that has not happened yet, but if it does will Orion have “demonstrated from orbit” the capabilty to ” operate unmanned or with an injured crew”?”

    It depends on how similar the “operational” Orion and the “test” one would be. What is different from ORion to Dragon is that the later was designed from the word go without the benefit of input from the genius in the astronaut office.

    I always wonder how much the “little window” modification that the strows wanted on Orion cost.

    A operational Orion which btw will never be built would be a lot like the shuttle…a vehicle designed to keep large amount of flight controllers employed while giving our mythic astronaut corps some ability to say that they are docking or farting or doing something at 17,500 mph..and in the process keep training cost high.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2011 at 9:04 pm
    “Charlie Bolden has made it clear…” A postscript- Bolden will turn 65 in August, 2011. He’ll most likely retire as FY2011 comes to a close…

    so this is the latest reason that Charlie will retire!

    LOL

    at 65 people like Charlie are simply just getting going. there is no reason he would retire based on age, unless there are health issues that he is telling no one, and my boss is a good friend of his…and my boss and him jog a lot together. (its a Marine thing)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Egad

    > The only existing (or designed and funded) vehicle that can lift Orion is a Delta IV Heavy.

    Assuming we’re talking about a mission to ISS, what would the complete stack look like? Three CBCs on the bottom, Orion crew module + LAS on top — what, if anything, would be in the middle?

    This is kind of related to the earlier question about the development status of the Orion/MPCV service module.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Then why do you think payloads for any new lifter would have to exceed 5 meters.

    One of the justifications that have been given for building HLV’s is that they can carry far wider payloads than existing launchers. None of those payloads have been proposed for funding, but nevertheless it’s used as part of the justification for building an HLV, especially an inline one.

    I think the original conversation was about using an HLV to resupply the ISS, not something I actually think a good idea, however; the concepts I have seen for using the Side Mount in that capacity involve using mulitple versions of a cargo carrier based on the MPLM. They would easily fir in your 5 meter box.

    In that case, why not use existing launchers? What does Side Mount do that can’t be done for far less using existing launchers? And I’m not asking rhetorically, but specifically, for our funded needs today. What costs us less money to perform the same function?

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 10:43 am
    “It depends on how similar the “operational” Orion and the “test” one would be.”

    How similar was the Dragon Test vehicle to a crew configuration Dragon. It was basically a test of the Dragon RCS, Comm, and landing systems (not knocking that, a good thing to do), but it had no ECLSS, crew interfaces, or anything else related to them. The Orion test vehicle would be at least that similar to the operational vehicle.

    “What is different from ORion to Dragon is that the later was designed from the word go without the benefit of input from the genius in the astronaut office. I always wonder how much the “little window” modification that the strows wanted on Orion cost.”

    Yes you really, really do not like the Astronaut Office, I think everybody gets that.

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 11:08 am
    “One of the justifications that have been given for building HLV’s is that they can carry far wider payloads than existing launchers. None of those payloads have been proposed for funding, but nevertheless it’s used as part of the justification for building an HLV, especially an inline one.”

    For BEO missions that is true, but it will be true regardless of the launcher. An EDS stages tanks will have to encompass a certain volume even if you launch them empty, so if they are acceptable (in terms of volume) for an EELV launch; by definition they would be acceptable for an HLV (shuttle derived or otherwise). Methods for handling that have been available for decades.

    ““I think the original conversation was about using an HLV to resupply the ISS, not something I actually think a good idea, however; the concepts I have seen for using the Side Mount in that capacity involve using mulitple versions of a cargo carrier based on the MPLM. They would easily fir in your 5 meter box.”
    In that case, why not use existing launchers? What does Side Mount do that can’t be done for far less using existing launchers? And I’m not asking rhetorically, but specifically, for our funded needs today. What costs us less money to perform the same function?”

    OK we have slipped to completely new topic. We started with you saying “What an HLV does create is the need to build new facilities near launch sites, since current logistic systems like trains, trucks and aircraft cannot be used with payloads much bigger than the current 15ft diameter that the ISS uses.” Now we are going to, even if it does not what about this; that (from past experience) can be an endless topic.

    But I will go one more round. The primary purpose of an HLV (to me at least) is to support BEO activities, Congress has mandated that it be able to do ISS support in case the “commercial option” does not pan out (again to me a prudent approach). If your point is that we should abandon work on BEO activities and concentrate on ISS the second rationale would still be valid.

  • GuessWho

    Minor Tom – “No, per the article, the high bandwidth S- and Ka-band are being run through the same antenna and boxes.”

    First of all, S-band and Ka-Band antennas are just structural elements, thus having a single antenna that serves both frequencies is not a loss of redundancy as there is no inherent failure mechanism associated with them. Additionally, there are other S-band antennas (patches, etc.) on Orion that provide comm-links if the main antennas cannot be pointed at Earth due to operational constraints/planned pointing modes, etc. This is standard design approach.

    Second, you cannot deduce from this article what the transceiver design entails and how the antennas are connected to the transceiver. Basic comm design would include a number of switches (baseball, etc.) that provide signal switching between antennas and transceivers during normal operation as well providing the capability to reroute the comm signal should a mechanical fault occur in one of the switches or a failure of a particular transceiver. Further, each transceiver may be internally redundant (A-side, B-side) or there may be redundant transceivers that are cross-strapped to the C&DH systems. The article doesn’t provide sufficient detail to determine what the architecture is so unless you have a block diagram of the comm system in-hand, your claims are made either out of ignorance or you are trying to mislead other posters on this site. And providing links to news articles that can’t possibly go into the design detail to a sufficient level to justify your “proof” is naive. Most reporters, even technical ones, aren’t astute enough at spacecraft engineering to understand the design nuances of telecomm subsystems (or any other subsystems for that matter) to convey a clear design/performance envelope associated with that subsystem. Even if they were led through the design, there wouldn’t be the necessary print space allocated to do so anyway. Readers would quickly navigate to other stories of more interest.

    Sigh, …. armchair engineers ….

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    “How similar was the Dragon Test vehicle to a crew configuration Dragon. It was basically a test of the Dragon RCS, Comm, and landing systems (not knocking that, a good thing to do), but it had no ECLSS, crew interfaces, or anything else related to them.”

    in terms of its design philosophy, which includes “how things work” on the vehicle I bet you that they are quite similar.

    The difference in design philosophies is enormous. Dragon has been designed much like an airplane (crewed or uncrewed) is…with a design philosophy that uses automation to either accomplish the mission or to assist the crew.

    The design philosophy at NASA HSF (JSC) is to 1) keep the astronauts looking like they are “pilots”, 2) keep a large flight controller staff (including SPAN) and 3 keep large training cost going. I am quite sure that this notion has “carried through” in Orion.

    The space shuttle is the only thing operated by the US government which has a crew do checklist items, and a staff “somewhere else” tell them what checklist items to run. Even the verbiage is goofy:

    Capcom to astronaut “we want switch X, Y and Z in this, that and the other position”.

    Other then the docking “thing” the maneuver that eats up enormous training cost is the landing of the shuttle. It could have long ago been automated with no difference in result. Guess who wants that last 400 feet or so of “stick time”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    “First of all, S-band and Ka-Band antennas are just structural elements, thus having a single antenna that serves both frequencies is not a loss of redundancy as there is no inherent failure mechanism associated with them”

    ah armchair RF engineers.

    Show me two comm/nav systems that share a single antenna and I will show you a single failure point.

    Robert G. Oler

  • pathfinder_01

    IMHO, the problem isn’t HLV. It is monolithic ones like Saturn V and ones that share nothing in common with other rockets like Shuttle Derived. If the HLV can exist in cores like Delta and Atlas then it is possible to have HLV capability without need ding a totally separate system.

    A fully fueled lunar capable Apollo capsule came in at around 30MT. This is more than what both the Saturn I and current launchers bar maybe Atlas V heavy can lift.

    However most of this mass is nothing but propellant. The way they did Skylab missions was to short load Apollo and even then Apollo was so lunar oriented that modifications were needed just to do docked LEO missions with Skylab. If Apollo had survived it would have been LEO only (due to the expense of BEO flight) and it would have been launched on Titian III.

    NON BEO capable Orion comes in at 21MT (a ridiculous amount for any ISS capsule). This mass is both the result of Ares I underperformance and putting lunar capability in a needed to be a LEO taxi (at least at first). There is a rational for using the extra propellant in certain abort situations, but I doubt the propellant would be on board if ARES I could have taken Orion to orbit.

    What an HLV does is allows you to launch all the propellant and the spacecraft needed for a lunar sortie at once. Want to do more than a lunar sortie then HLV alone is not enough.

    I favor market based solutions because that is the only way exploration is going to be made cheaper. If NASA builds/owns the rocket then you are completely at the mercy of congress. Propellant depots allow the market to determine the best way to get propellant into orbit. It could be for instance that two launches of a 40MT rocket that shares infrastructure with say Delta are cheaper than 1 launch of a 70ton SLS.

  • Major Tom

    Joe: “The Orion vehicle is intended to be flown unmanned…”

    Not anymore. That’s the point of the article that I linked to above. The crew complement has been reduced from a range of 0-6 to a range of 2-4 to buy back mass, schedule, and budget. If Orion is not built to accommodate a crew of 0 (i.e., fly autonomously/only with ground control), then it can’t fly unmanned.

    And, at the risk of repeating an argument that I’ve made before, why is the taxpayer being asked to cough up billions more development dollars to get another, duplicative, uncrewed capsule capability a few years from now when Dragon has already demonstrated such and is available now?

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    GuessWho wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    “First of all, S-band and Ka-Band antennas are just structural elements, thus having a single antenna that serves both frequencies is not a loss of redundancy as there is no inherent failure mechanism associated with them”

    I replied…
    ah armchair RF engineers.

    Show me two comm/nav systems that share a single antenna and I will show you a single failure point.

    and it should be “Show me two comm/nav systems that share a single antenna and I will show you multiple single failure points…

    The worst thing one does in terms of RF reliability these days is use a single antenna system…

    gee

    Robert G. Oler

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 12:12 pm
    “Joe: “The Orion vehicle is intended to be flown unmanned…”
    Not anymore. That’s the point of the article that I linked to above. The crew complement has been reduced from a range of 0-6 to a range of 2-4 to buy back mass, schedule, and budget. If Orion is not built to accommodate a crew of 0 (i.e., fly autonomously/only with ground control), then it can’t fly unmanned.”

    No disrespect intended to the authors of the linked articles, but the loss of unmaned capability refers mainly to rendezvous and docking capability (which the single Dragon flight did not even attempt to demonstrate – in fact the Dragon is to be berthed to ISS by the “Robot Arm” not dock). I have attended meetings of the Flight Test Working Group far more recently than the dates on any of those articles and at least one uncrewed Orion flight is still planned prior to any crewed launch.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    “No disrespect intended to the authors of the linked articles, but the loss of unmaned capability refers mainly to rendezvous and docking capability ”

    no doubt the automated Rendezvous and docking had to go…first off its to hard for JSC and second what would the astronauts do? Before long they will have their hands all over the controls doing just what Mission Control says to do…

    Robert G. Oler

  • GuessWho

    Oler – “and it should be “Show me two comm/nav systems that share a single antenna and I will show you multiple single failure points…

    The worst thing one does in terms of RF reliability these days is use a single antenna system…”

    First off, you need to work on reading comprehension. A single antenna that supports two RF frequencies is not a single antenna system. As I noted, patch S-Band antennas are used to cover other pointing modes to ensure full coverage and provide comm capability for off-nominal conditions. The Ka is a high data transfer system typically used for nominal mode operation only. It is not a faulted condition primary antennas as it typically would not be pointed at Earth during safe-mode conditions. S-bands provide basic comm capability, telemetry and command and control. The antennas are fixed structures, not mechanical devices thus a single antenna is coupled to redundant waveguides and redundant transceivers to accommodate failure modes related to these mechanical devices (switches, that do fail on occasion) and electronics, that can also suffer failures.

    Second, RF antennas are not used for Nav. This is done via star trackers, sun-sensors, earth-sensors, and IMU’s. Telemetry from these instruments are sent to the C&DH directly and either acted upon by flight software or the data down-linked to Earth for ground-supported troubleshooting/ground control. S-Band provides ample bandwidth for these functions.

    I can cite dozens of spacecraft that operate with a single medium or high gain (usually fixed) antenna for high data-rate transfer and also use S-Band (or X-band) for low data rate transmission and safe-mode operation.

    Ignorant arm-chair engineers are one thing, they just don’t have the requisite knowledge because their professions don’t require them to do so. They can be excused (partially) for talking about things where they don’t know what they don’t know. Stupid (or arrogant) arm-chair engineers like you are hopeless. You are “too smart” to accept the fact you are out of your league and instead bully on.

    Sigh …

  • GuessWho

    Minor Tom – “Dragon does better than Orion in several categories. For example, Dragon’s PICA-X TPS is capable of Mars return trajectories, in addition to LEO and lunar return.

    SpaceX chose PICA for its proven ability. In January 2006, NASA’s Stardust sample capsule returned using a PICA heat shield and set the record for the fastest reentry speed of a spacecraft into Earth’s atmosphere – experiencing speeds of 28,900 miles per hour.”

    Strawman arguments MT. Yes, PICA (or PICA-X) is a material that can withstand the high velocity entries associated with BEO earth return vehicles. But that is all. Application of PICA to a given mission is based upon the re-entry envelope the spacecraft will experience upon return, the design/performance requirements it must satisfy and the design margins assumed in the design process. What are the design dynamic pressure loads on the capsule? What are the re-entry stability requirements? What are the peak heating rates and where do they occur? What are the temperature limits of the heatshield structure and the structures/components behind them that the PICA is providing protection for? What are the allowable ablation rates of the heatshield? While the material itself might be expected to work, the design has to be such that it doesn’t exceed the material capabilities. What margins are assumed for the dynamic heating, 1-sigma or 3-sigma? What margins are assumed for dynamic loading, 1-sigma or 3-sigma? What margins are assumed for the ablation, 1-sigma or 3-sigma? What are the thermal soakback requirements?, etc. etc.

    The Stardust comparison is meaningless. Stardust used a monolithic PICA heat shield while Dragon most likely uses a segmented shield. That means joints; that affect boundary layer flow dynamics which affects heating rates and dynamic loading. This approach also affects ablation rates and introduces risks from failure of the joint sealing material. Any analytical model used is thus suspect as their is no benchmark experimental data upon which to validate the analytical model. Stardust performance doesn’t even come close and is thus invalid for arguments of heritage (which is what you are attempting to do).

    “It can potentially be used hundreds of times for Earth orbit reentry with only minor degradation each time …”.

    It’s an ablation heatshield! There is no such thing as minor degradation. The shield works because heat is removed through material ablation in a designed way. This ablation is very much defined by the boundary-layer flow across the shield and the entry conditions (attitude, angle of attach, velocity, etc.). Change the surface mold-line or surface properties and you drastically alter the aero-dynamic and aero-thermal response of the shield which becomes non-deterministic. It should perform as expected the first time; might even get close on the second time through; you couldn’t begin to predict what might happen on the third go-around. Hundreds of times?!!! Oy vey! Armchair engineers …..

    Sigh.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Stupid (or arrogant) arm-chair engineers like you are hopeless.

    Nor is there a shortage of prima donna NASA / NASA contractor engineers who are afraid to lose their phoney baloney jobs and who therefore continue to defend the indefensible.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:06 pm
    “no doubt the automated Rendezvous and docking had to go…first off its to hard for JSC and second what would the astronauts do? Before long they will have their hands all over the controls doing just what Mission Control says to do…”

    It had to go primarily based on the Budget cuts imposed by the Continuing resolution that ran the government for the year after the 2008 elections. Just not enough money to write all those “lines of code” in time.

    Once again, I know you really, really do not like the Astronaut Office and now I guess all of JSC, I get it, I really do. You do not have to keep reiterating over and over again.

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Very nice description of the TPS design requirements. It’s the first time I actually read something sensible about that stuff.

    But what makes you believe that SpaceX did not do any of that?

    As far as the gapfillers are concerned remember that SpaceX is actually flying their Dragon thereby collecting data on their overall systems. NASA abandoned PICA since they were afraid that said gapfillers were a liability and they may very well be. However the 2007 or so NASA AVCOAT is not the TEXTRON AVCOAT of the 60s. It is also fair to say that there is no reliable way to evaluate the capability of the TPS without flights and this is precisely what SpaceX is doing. So much so that NASA would love to have the data they (may have) collected. And NASA may get it in the end.

    I think there is a great disconnect here. SpaceX is designing Dragon with some help from NASA. They are taking risks and they (try to) mitigate the risks with uncrewed test flights.

    Now there is no guarantee that either Dragon (PICA) or Orion (AVCOAT) TPS will eventually work BUT SpaceX is flying Dragon and Orion is staying on the ground and will most likely stay so.

    What if? What if NASA were to provide AVCOAT to SpaceX??? What if…

  • Byeman

    “that the science budget before Obama was just as substantial (MER, Cassini, Hubble, Kepler, New Horizons…) as it is now.”

    Wrong, explain the Griffin gap. No science missions have been launched since SDO year ago.

  • Joe

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “It had to go primarily based on the Budget cuts imposed by the Continuing resolution that ran the government for the year after the 2008 elections”

    Editorial correction, I meant 2006 elections.

  • Space Activist

    Stephan, the only people and institutions that take the scribblings of John Logsdon seriously are the main stream media types, and anyone with any real experience and training don’t take the main stream media types seriously at all, particularly when it comes to aerospace engineering.

    Logsdon is a prima donna space historian. When it comes to real current programs and hardware, what he writes is nonsense. He’s status quo.

    That’s all he knows.

  • There are many ways to look at numbers, but a year ago, when Obama had his first crack at shaping the direction of NASA, I could have understood someone like him saying “totally forget manned spce, let’s shut down Constellation, ISS, and the Shuttle, and triple the funding for science missions. But no, not any increase at all, excpept for “earth observation”.

    Just as there were many of us who were slightly disappointed that after 40 years, Constellation was not a substantial advance over Apollo (becasue Apollo “got it right”), I found his proposal disappointing, as did so many others, except for the commercial space advocates, who were thrilled to be getting any funding at all for the very first time, considering how difficult it is for them to raise venture captial.

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:09 pm
    ” A single antenna that supports two RF frequencies is not a single antenna system. As I noted, patch S-Band antennas are used to cover other pointing modes to ensure full coverage and provide comm capability for off-nominal conditions. The Ka is a high data transfer system typically used for nominal mode operation only. It is not a faulted condition primary antennas as it typically would not be pointed at Earth during safe-mode conditions.”

    Whoever you are, you are clearly not an RF engineer.

    A single antenna that supports multiple frequences is not the same thing as a single antenna that supports multibands. S and Ka are not “multiple frequences” they are multiple bands and interfacing two sets of TX/Rx devices into such an antenna..and then in the case of a high gain device that is “fixed” electronically beam steering it is not a simple antenna.

    A “patch” antenna, even supporting multiple bands is a pretty simple antenna but it is in no way a “high gain” device suitable for long distance high data rate transmissions. A beam steered antenna for a single band is a relatively complex device and when you do it for multiple bands it makes a “mechanically steered” array look simple.

    “I can cite dozens of spacecraft that operate with a single medium or high gain (usually fixed) antenna for high data-rate transfer and also use S-Band (or X-band) for low data rate transmission and safe-mode operation.”

    I can as well and all the ones that do it if they use a “fixed” antenna for high data rates over distances from LEO to the TDRSS network do so with electronic beam steering. Low data rate is more or less omni directional (or less then 10 dbi directional) but its very low data rates.

    Finally not all navigation is non RF. the shuttle even has GPS systems.

    “Ignorant arm-chair engineers are one thing, they just don’t have the requisite knowledge because their professions don’t require them to do so.” it is obvious from all you’re post that you have no experience with the path loss equation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 10:45 am
    Given his status as a prime example of the ‘Peter Principle,’ it’s a good one. With no vision and even less influence to halt the agency bleeding away around him in the Age of Austerity, retirement looks like a smart move for ol’ Charlie Bolden. Rocking chairs, noy rockets, are his future. He’ll grab his pensions before the country runs complete out of money. After all, according to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, ‘We’re broke.’

  • The truth of the matter is that BO is no JFK.

    He is the guy who proposed in his 2007 campaign platform to shut down our manned space program for 5 years. His argument was that this would be “fiscally responsible”, something that he couldn’t care less about, in order to boost funding for early childhood education. I assume that this was a maneouver to solidify his minority support.

    He has been realuctant, at best, to provide NASA with any meaningful direction, and what little he has proposed has been totally uninspiring. Flexible path missions to empty space (Lagrange points). Bolden’s “Mars eventually”. Wasting 5 years on HLV R&D, as if we don’t know how to design chemical rockets. Turning the crew exploration vehicle for missions to the Moon and Mars into an ISS lifeboat that will never be used.

    It might be best for him to keep his hands away from NASA and concentrate instead on more pressing issues to him, like Moslem outreach.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Byeman wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    “that the science budget before Obama was just as substantial (MER, Cassini, Hubble, Kepler, New Horizons…) as it is now.”

    “Wrong, explain the Griffin gap. No science missions have been launched since SDO year ago.”

    GOES-P was launched last March. You missed that one. OK sure, that’s a joint agency mission. But it’s simplistic to derive launch statistics over a time scale of one year. Yes, Glory is going to launch in a few days, and there are several others on the table. In fact, if you look at the launch rate of science missions over what you call the “Griffin era”, it really hasn’t fallen off. Bottom line is that the NASA science budget has generally increased, though the serious threat to the science budget, as I said above, was in a Griffin-era budget proposal outyear. That threat has not materialized. In some cases, launch rates are being driven by mission sizes. Astrophysics, for example, is facing a launch dearth over the next half decade. Why? Not because of funding cuts, but because all the bucks are being sucked up by JWST.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    “The truth of the matter is that BO is no JFK. He is the guy who proposed in his 2007 campaign platform to shut down our manned space program for 5 years. He has been realuctant, at best, to provide NASA with any meaningful direction, and what little he has proposed has been totally uninspiring.”

    “Realuctant”. I like that. Sort of a combination of realistic and reluctant. Yes, that’s what Obama was. He was reluctant to throw money at a space program that was fiscally unrealistic. Constellation might have been “inspiring”, to the extent that putting more boots on lunar regolith is inspiring, but inspiration to engage in a plan that is patently unaffordable is not the kind of inspiration you want to give people.

    With regard to flexible path missions to empty space, our ISS program has been doing exactly that for a long time. In fact, Lagrange points are a venue in empty space that can be used as important stepping stones to go farther. Yep, stepping stones without rocks. Nice, eh?

    The consternation that this administration feels is in what way human space flight to anywhere can be considered “meaningful direction”. That they have failed to find that way is true, but so have most administrations.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Wasting 5 years on HLV R&D, as if we don’t know how to design chemical rockets.

    Remind me again, when has NASA delivered a working, operational launch vehicle? It seems to me its been a few years.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I bet you a billion dollars that come 2020, NOT one iota of an in-orbit refueling depot, will have been developed!!

    You are, of course, aware of competitions like the Orteig Prize, Ansari X Prize, and Google Lunar X Prize?

    The first was won by Charles Lindbergh, and helped spur the expansion of aviation that has culminated in a vast terrestrial transportation system in the air.

    The second was won by the Paul Allen/Scaled Composites team, which directly led to the creation of Virgin Galactic.

    The Google Lunar X Prize has not been won yet, but one of the competitors (team Astrobotic Technology Inc.) has booked a Falcon 9 for their vehicle, and they have offset their costs by selling back some of the information they gather on the trip. Their technology will vastly lower the cost to do robotic exploration of the Moon, and likely other places in space.

    So take that Billion dollars and create a competition. If no one wins, you’re out no money. But if the do, then likely you will spur a lot of innovation in the field of space refueling, which will let us expand into space far faster than your mythical HLV.

  • DCSCA

    @Major Tom wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 8:30 am
    Which has absolutely nothing to do with when the WH can authorize release of text of any statement for the news cycle. Yes, indeed, think before you post.

  • DCSCA

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    He has no personal interest or curiosity in NASA. It’s has had virtually zero impact on shaping his perceptions and priorities in life. He’s a law professor. His first ‘crack’ was to read the ‘brief’ handed to him by bureaucrats.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    if there had not been any “course change” in the path of human spaceflight by the Obama administration then there is a valid argument in these “tough economic times” that HSF be shut down. The notion of spending nearly a decade designing testing and then flying Orion/Ares 1 and in the process watching the space station “go away” was in my view goofy.

    BHO is no JFK but then today is not the early 1960′s with its various political and world issues…for instance JFK did not inherit a budget that was vastly in deficit nor did BHO inherit a world where there was massive bi power confrontation…

    in addition BHO did inherit a NASA that in HSF couldnt hit the ground with a book if it were not for gravity.

    I’ve not yet figured out and certainly you have not enlightened us how you (or those like you) can defend a program that so far has consumed 10 plus billion dollars, needed tens of billions more…just to recreate the Russian capability to “lift” to the space station. I dont get how you and others can support that program when SpaceX (and shortly some others) have demonstrated that things can be done far cheaper then NASA HSF has done them.

    That you wont even both to address that issue speaks volumes.

    As events in the Arab world are demonstrating “NOW” the notion of Muslim outreach is quite critical

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 11:47 am

    The primary purpose of an HLV (to me at least) is to support BEO activities, Congress…

    OK, maybe an HLV is needed for BEO, but maybe not. Congress has jumped a lot of steps in between.

    The HLV question to me boils down to how the decision making in Congress came up with the need for a 70-130mt capable HLV by 2016. What is driving that need? Why are we spending Billions of dollars to build a new class of launchers in such a short period of time?

    Keep in mind that NASA and the space industry were not involved in the specifications, and Congress has no specific (i.e. funded) need for it when the 2016 date rolls around. It is truly a launcher for nothing.

    The SLS is being built too far in advance for any need, and because of that, it will suck up funds that could go to real space activity, including BEO missions launched on existing launchers.

    …Congress has mandated that it be able to do ISS support in case the “commercial option” does not pan out (again to me a prudent approach).

    That in itself is not a reason to build it. An HLV by itself cannot support the ISS because it’s just a rocket, not the payload that interfaces with the ISS. We have lots of rockets in the world that can lift existing and planned ISS service vehicles to the ISS. An HLV does not solve any problems for the ISS, since there are many existing backups. The MPCV maybe, but it can be launched on existing or near-term commercial launchers.

    If your point is that we should abandon work on BEO activities and concentrate on ISS the second rationale would still be valid.

    There are no BEO activities going on to abandon, so this is a false choice. I do support the expansion of humanity into space, and I see the ten’s of Billions of dollars being spent on the SLS as delaying, not speeding up, the exploration beyond Earth’s orbit (BEO).

    Maybe you can explain how the SLS will be used, and what programs it will enhance with it’s larger payload abilities?

  • amightywind

    The Google Lunar X Prize has not been won yet, but one of the competitors (team Astrobotic Technology Inc.) has booked a Falcon 9 for their vehicle.

    40 years after the adventure of the millennium and the best we can do is to play pointless games for the pleasure of narcissistic liberal billionaire hobbyists. How low America has sunk under the current political leadership. NASA fans, have hope. The day will come again.

  • Egad

    > Maybe you can explain how the SLS will be used, and what programs it will enhance with it’s larger payload abilities?

    I was wondering about that today, along with wondering about the apparently missing Orion/MPCV service module, and suddenly recalled that SLS’ 130 tons to LEO is close to what Saturn V could do. So, if we recreated the service module and LEM, we could do Apollo 18 et seq., no? I’m sure the selenologists would be thrilled to have a continuing supply of moon rocks and dirt to analyze and perhaps south pole landings could be done to carry out some modest prospecting for water.

    And the Congressional porkers would be thrilled to have a continuing supply of tax dollars flowing into their domains.

  • Byeman

    “In fact, if you look at the launch rate of science missions over what you call the “Griffin era”, it really hasn’t fallen off”

    Yes, it has. Launching science missions is what I do. Science AO’s dropped off in the Griffin Era

  • DCSCA

    The echoes of false equivelency from commercial space firms in the West remain a source of amusement, particular when they chatter about gimmicks like ‘prizes’ and cling to the cloak of Lindbergh. Let’s look at the calendar… hmmmm, 49 years ago today on February 20, 1962, NASA, the U.S. government managed and funded ‘civilian space agency’ finally launched John Glenn on his successful three-orbit Mercury flight– nearly a year after the big, bad, commie socialists in the USSR successfully orbited Gagarin and six months after they orbited Titov. As of February 20, 2011– half a century on– wealthy capitalists, carnival-barking hype about commercial space, have not launched, orbited and safely recovered any crewed spacecraft from orbital flight. Seems they just can’t get off the ground without the help of government funding to socialize the risk on the backs of taxpayers since the private capital markets continue to balk today, just they did 50 years ago. Minimal profits and low ROI. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “As events in the Arab world are demonstrating “NOW” the notion of Muslim outreach is quite critical”

    Are you saying that what Charles Bolden was doing a while ago actually is MORE important than CxP? I thought CxP was going to save us from meteorite impact, Chinese invasion, diseases? Come on you cannot be right! Who cares what 1.6 billion people may think or not? It’s not even 25% of the people on Earth! Why would we try to befriend those people? After all we have the most powerful military in the world! Yes! Is that not enough to win hearts and minds?

    It looks like you actually do not know what compassion means. Unlike some other posters I mean.

    Ah and as usual… ;)

  • John

    Coastal Ron,

    “The HLV question to me boils down to how the decision making in Congress came up with the need for a 70-130mt capable HLV by 2016. What is driving that need? Why are we spending Billions of dollars to build a new class of launchers in such a short period of time?”

    Its called the attack of the fifty foot ATK.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “It had to go primarily based on the Budget cuts imposed by the Continuing resolution that ran the government for the year after the 2008 elections. Just not enough money to write all those “lines of code” in time.”

    the astronaut office was going to oppose autodocking and you know it.

    The problem with the astronaut office is that they screw into vehicles a lot of requirements that are not very operational just geared to “the good old days”…and that drives up cost.

    There is no reason that Orion could not have “berthed”…just like Dragon.

    Having said that it doesnt matter. Orion will never fly. I will bet money on it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    “Having said that it doesnt matter. Orion will never fly. I will bet money on it.” Call Vegas. You can make book on it. And you will lose.

  • What do “neo-cons” have to do with this discussion? Do you even know what that word means? Or is it just gibberish for “people I disagree with”?

    I usually have great respect for what you say Simberg and anyway, I was speaking about Windy’s bs.

    So why are you so insulted by my statement? I know you think Obama is a “Bolshevik”, which goes to my point that a lot of the country is hard right-wing. 30 years ago Obama would’ve been considered a Nixon Republican.

    I just think it’s amusing that Obama is out GOPing the GOP with his space policy and it renders all of the caterwauling that he’s a “Bolshevik” moot and it makes folks like you and Windy crazy. And yes, I realize you support Obama’s space policy.

  • “Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States of America, and which supports using American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries.”

    Oh.. that.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 12:23 am
    “the astronaut office was going to oppose autodocking and you know it.”

    Amazing, you can read my mind. What an I thinking right now? :)

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    That is why I said I would play only one more round. At this point debate starts to go circular. Nothing wrong with that if you enjoy that sort of thing, but I do not.

  • common sense wrote:

    I thought CxP was going to save us from meteorite impact, Chinese invasion, diseases?

    Don’t forget that it was also going to cure the heartbreak of psoriasis, discover the whereabouts of Bigfoot, and find Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate. :-)

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    As events in the Arab world are demonstrating “NOW” the notion of Muslim outreach is quite critical.

    If the entire Al-Jazeera interview is viewed in context, there’s nothing wrong with it at all:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e857ZcuIfnI

    The National Aeronautics and Space Act declares, “It is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.” To that end, one of the activities NASA is allowed to perform is “Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results thereof.”

    And it’s interesting that the critics of the so-called “Muslim outreach” never mention that the Reagan administration did the same thing in 1985.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    How low America has sunk under the current political leadership. NASA fans, have hope. The day will come again.

    So first you deride American competitiveness and ingenuity, and then you give people hope by telling them that a 100% government-funded space program is their only hope?

    Windy, you are certainly orbiting a different planet than most of us…

  • Doug Lassiter

    Byeman wrote @ February 20th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    “Science AO’s dropped off in the Griffin Era”

    Certainly not to defend Griffin’s “not one thin dime!” promises to the science community, the funding of the Science Directorate has been fairly flat. Yes, he didn’t intend to take one thin dime from science, but instead a few very thick ones. That flat funding level is, in many respects, a measure of science opportunity, and can be related to a product of mission size, lifetime, and mission launch rate, The number of science AOs certainly has little to do with the launch rate, and even launch rate is not a good measure of science opportunity if the mission scale mix changes. To the extent that some science missions (e.g. airborne Earth science missions, balloon payloads, SOFIA) aren’t “launched”, that has to figure into the assessment.

    I’m just saying that, fortunately, the level of NASA science opportunities has not changed a lot.

    Again, the threat to science from Griffin’s tenure was an out-year threat. It was a very real threat, but It didn’t happen, because Griffin and Constellation were thrown out before those threats could make their way into funding legislation.

  • amightywind

    Again, the threat to science from Griffin’s tenure was an out-year threat.

    Space science is currently enjoying the rich harvest of Mike Griffin’s tenure, which saw the development of Kepler, Dawn, Spitzer, Messenger, MSL. There have been no recent new starts due to the ham-handed handling of all aspects of NASA by Obama and his junta. An unprecedented dearth of missions lies ahead.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 9:31 am

    “And it’s interesting that the critics of the so-called “Muslim outreach” never mention that the Reagan administration did the same thing in 1985.”

    Stephen.

    Those who are basically “Obama not likers” are really no different then the folks who were irrational when it came to dealing with Bush…extremes are extremes no matter what positions that they take. I am pretty much “in the middle” so I see it from both sides. The rhetoric from Whittington and say Simberg is really no different then what I hear from some of the extreme folks on the left. Rand for instance babbles on about Obama’s citizenship and a good friend on the left is sure that Bush either set up 9/11 or caused the poorer parts of NOLA to flood first…its all fairly nuts.

    Muslims are the new red menace to those on the ‘right”. They are “civilization threateners” and allow and excuse almost any action in terms of “saving ourselves”. This allows people who call Obama “a dictator” to be quite happily go along with people who support dictators overseas…dictators who are opposed to American basic interest but deal quite well with our multinational corporations who are the basic folks manipulating the far right…it never surprises me for instance that Sarah Palin doesnt like universal health care but has it herself (from being a resident of Alaska).

    Since 9/11 really all the “foreign” threats to the US have been vastly exaggerated so that the real threat, the notion of wealth transfer to corporations via tax policy and to the chinese via deficit spending can be excused.

    You can see this attitude in space policy. The supporters of Cx here (all from “wind to whittington with spudis in between) are really shilling for the survival of large corporations like ATK whose ability to justify their own existance flounders when they are faced with true free enterprise. So folks like ATK gen up this “We must be number 1″ or “cant abandon American greatness in space exploration”…and the supporters of Cx which are sort of tuned into this sort of naturally pick it up.

    None of the people who support Cx here can or even attempt to justify the billions spent for nothing…Whittington keeps saying “Obama could have found the money to finish it” just simply refusing to justify the 10 billion already spent. That is why he attacks “corporate subsidies” so hard…it is, as I noted at the header of this post trying to use opposite rhetoric.

    Even if SpaceX and all the other COTS providers were getting “corporate subsidies (and they are not) the “dollar amounts” are far vastly lower then the dollars that ATK etc already squandered on Cx not to mention the additional ones they will need.

    Whittington et al will never address that…he and others just continue to babble “corporate subsidies” when in reality THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE ADVOCATING FOR FOLKS LIKE ATK. (caps intended)

    Hence it is easy to see the Muslim fear that is pandered by the likes of Beck and just lapped up. Its goofy…its predictable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • I just think it’s amusing that Obama is out GOPing the GOP with his space policy and it renders all of the caterwauling that he’s a “Bolshevik” moot and it makes folks like you and Windy crazy.

    It doesn’t make me crazy at all. There is zero correlation between Obama’s ideology and his space policy because he doesn’t give a damn about space policy, as most people don’t because it’s completely unimportant compared to (e.g.) socialized medicine.

    Rand for instance babbles on about Obama’s citizenship

    Once again, Robert blatantly lies about me, without providing a single shred of evidence.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “You’re entitled to your opinion, but your disrespectful comments about a man who obviously has the résumé to give validity to his work suggests I’m better off believing him and not you. Everything he cited in the book is documented with footnotes. If you want to prove that his sources lied, then go for it.”

    You know, I’m often surprised to lean what I’ve said. I did not say Logsdon’s sources lied, I just said that Logsdon was of limited competence as a historian. Either he never learned who to ask, couldn’t figure out who to ask or where to look for himself, or he had the bad luck of never “accidently” running into those who did know , or they never bothered to seek him out.

    As far as academic politics, power, and position goes, yout may not have noticed this yet, but I’d rather be right than popular, and have about zero desire to be politically correct.

    Thus Steve, I can p**s off enough people all by myself without having words put into my mouth.

  • Byeman

    Windy, you are wrong again
    “Kepler, Dawn, Spitzer, Messenger, MSL.” were started before Griffin.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “I bet you a billion dollars that come 2020, NOT one iota of an in-orbit refueling depot, will have been developed!!”

    Quite possibly, but if so it will be because the Shuttle mafia prevented it, cheered on by people like yourself. Self-created circumstances are not a justification.

    Not that we even need to develop depots to go beyond LEO in a fiscally prudent and sustainable way (or to create a competitive market for propellant launches), a refuelable spacecraft would be enough. And that can be done with 30 year old technology. And even if we choose not to do it that way (as, alas, seems likely), then it does give us enough information to conclude that an HLV is unnecessary. And given the current budget situation one can further conclude it will be more of a hindrance than a help, even if one doesn’t share the goal of “encouraging, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space”.

  • “in addition BHO did inherit a NASA that in HSF couldnt hit the ground with a book if it were not for gravity.”

    If you want to know why NASA is so incompetent, you might try looking in the mirror. What NASA does is not as easy as hitting the ground with a book, and when you are pushing the envelope (maybe not as much as our SciFi mentalities might wish) it tends to take longer and cost more. Add to that the “obscene” costs of any HSF program (a billion, no matter how well spent, sounds inherently obscene to all of us…when is the last time that you said “it only cost a billion!”…kind of like “I was only shot with at 22″.)

    And add to that NASA inherently big, lumbering organization that was never designed to do anything on the cheap, and there is no way that NASA is ever going to be a winner to some people. Lost cause, NASA. Don’t even try.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “The HLV question to me boils down to how the decision making in Congress came up with the need for a 70-130mt capable HLV by 2016. What is driving that need? Why are we spending Billions of dollars to build a new class of launchers in such a short period of time?”

    It seems to me you’re confusing two issues. The 70 ton one is DIRECT, which preserves the US solid rocket and engine manufacturing and technology base, the 130 ton one is ATK’s 5 seg Utah pork.

    The need is CAPS.

    The reasoning for building DIRECTby 2016 is that skill base is still intact.

    The only other viable alternative is Dr Aldrin’s reusable multistage liquid proposal.

    For others here, on the science front if the WISE 2 band survey continuation has not been funded at least through this year’s pass of 73P (Comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3), Weiler needs to be relieved, which he should be anyhow for his role in Griffin’s contempt of Congress in Griffin’s response to the instructions of the George Brown Jr amendment.

  • amightywind

    are really shilling for the survival of large corporations like ATK whose ability to justify their own existance flounders when they are faced with true free enterprise

    No. I am shilling for a competent HSF effort, like Apollo and the Shuttle. I am flummoxed as to why that Musk fanboi’s go all atwitter at SpaceX’s re-enactments NASA Atlas missions of the late 50′s, without the Monkey. SpaceX could not complete with Boeing, Lockmart, ATK, or Orbital without protection from their friends in government. I find that depressing. ATK is acting rationally given the current environment. The Liberty Rocket (aka Ares I on steroids) deserves serious consideration.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi MT –

    “I’ll simply tell you that JFK simply wanted to know which space goal we could beat the Soviets at, and the only one was landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

    No. The memo that Vice President Johnson sent to President Kennedy listed several viable options, but identified a human lunar landing as the option having the most probability of success for beating the Soviet Union in space. The memo is available in the online NASA archives:

    http://history.nasa.gov/Apollomon/apollo2.pdf

    “The paint JFK used to paint that corner was provided by Trevor Gardner.”

    No, the memo was written by Ed Welsh, Exec. Sec. of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, not Gardner.

    “You need to read my History of Cosmonautics instead of wasting you time with Logsdon’s writings. Maybe if you ask around someone will provide you with copies of volumes 1-4.”

    If you can’t get key facts straight that are publicly available in the online NASA archives, then you’re going to have a major problem catching up with Logsdon in the authenticity and authority of your historical account.

    “The only compelling need is planetary defense, specifically CAPS, the Comet and Asteroid Protection System, but since few in the Congress are aware of CAPS, since it was suppressed, and few aware of the size of the impact hazard, since that was suppressed as well”

    CAPS wasn’t suppressed. Anyone can find it in NTRS and numerous other online venues:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20050186565_2005187872.pdf

    It was one of several, long-range futuristic studies by NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept office about a half-decade ago. They also studied human missions to Ganymede and airplanes in the atmosphere of Venus, along with shooting ablative lasers at comets. But just because they studied it doesn’t mean that we’re ready technically to undertake any of these missions.

    FWIW…”

    What’s it worth? Not much.

    Gardner broke with Eisenhower early, and the Dems first raised the “missile gap” in the 1958 elections. LBJ was a key player working with Gardner by then.

    As far as the CAPS suppression goes, you know as much about that as you do Gardner.

    But then since its not in the NASA public archives yet, it’s really not fair for me to expect you to know. For as from what I’ve seen, most historians and a fair number of space reporters couldn’t investigate their way out of a paper bag.

    Neither is how China got hold of the CAPS study for their 2000 planning round…

    As someone once said, get your facts straight.

    (See Steve, I really can p**s some people off all by myself. So please don’t “help” me again.)

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 9:00 am

    At this point debate starts to go circular.

    I’m not sure what you mean. I asked the question:

    Maybe you can explain how the SLS will be used, and what programs it will enhance with it’s larger payload abilities?

    Congress wants the SLS built and functional by 2016. You seem to be in the aerospace business, so maybe you have better insight into this than I, but from my viewpoint as a taxpayer I think the SLS will be sitting around for a long time waiting for a purpose, all the while consuming NASA funding that could otherwise be used for real space missions.

    So, what do you think SLS will be flying for it’s first 5 years or so that can only fly on it?

    Any SLS supporters want to make some guesses?

  • E.P. Grondine

    PS, MT.
    RE: Me catching up with Logsdon.

    Logsdon sponsored several sessions on the impact hazard, about 10 years after I started reporting on it. And he still doesn’t have his hazard estimates close to straight.

    E.P. Grondine
    Man and Impact in the Americas

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    “If you want to know why NASA is so incompetent, you might try looking in the mirror. What NASA does is not as easy as hitting the ground with a book, and when you are pushing the envelope (maybe not as much as our SciFi mentalities might wish) it tends to take longer and cost more”

    thats a great line but sadly it does not reflect any version of reality.

    NASA did not lose 14 astronauts or run up a 10 billion plus bill for Cx accomplishing NOTHING to mimic the Right Stuff “pushing back that hairy edge” (cant recall it exactly)…

    What NASA was trying to do, at least with the Ares1/Orion combination was something that has been done before, and done for a far cheaper price. In today’s dollars The Gemini program consumed about 5 billion dollars and that was for development and 12 missions, including Agena target vehicle launches.

    How do you explain that Cx so far to essentially replicate Gemini capabilities has consumed more and has nothing really to show for it…then Gemini did to actually fly?

    You dont even seem willing to even try

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    “No. I am shilling for a competent HSF effort, like Apollo and the Shuttle.”

    well ok but how do you explain that Ares 1 and Orion have consumed more and produced no flight hardware then the Gemini program cost to develop and fly 12 missions? (including the Agena target vehicles)?

    I get it though, you and I have a different view of competent.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Let’s see … Mr. Grondine seems to feel the need to smear Mr. Logsdon to peddle his book. Mr. Logsdon, to my knowledge, has never felt the need to smear Mr. Grondine to peddle his books.

    I think I’ll go with the guy who has the mile-long résumé and no need to smear others to peddle his books.

  • Byeman

    “The Liberty Rocket (aka Ares I on steroids) deserves serious consideration.”

    No, it doesn’t because it doesn’t bring anything worth while to the table.

  • Credence Clearwater

    I think I’ll go with the guy who has the mile-long résumé

    That’s what they said about Michael Griffin too. Have you considered the truth and actual results? I hear that easily beats seven engineering degrees.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    In response to my question regarding the need for a 70-130mt capable HLV by 2016, you said:

    It seems to me you’re confusing two issues. The 70 ton one is DIRECT, which preserves the US solid rocket and engine manufacturing and technology base, the 130 ton one is ATK’s 5 seg Utah pork.

    I don’t think there are two issues, as there is only one SLS. There are two kinds of vehicles that could be built (sidemount & inline), and word came down from the Congressional Appropriations committee that it really wanted NASA to skip the 70-100mt version, and build the 130mt one.

    Either will preserve some part of the “US solid rocket and engine manufacturing and technology base” if the right “as practicable” choices are made by NASA, but NASA is not mandated to use them (but political hell may follow if they don’t).

    But so far you have only justified the need for the SLS in terms of jobs and not losing possible future manufacturing capabilities. Coming from a manufacturing perspective (manager in DoD & commercial manufacturing), neither of these warrant spending ten’s of Billions of dollars on a launcher that doesn’t yet have a need, nor is it being designed to address a specific market niche (bigger than everyone else is not a market niche).

    I did think it was funny when you described the 5-segment SRM launcher as pork, but the 4-segment SRM launcher as preserving manufacturing and technology. ATK doesn’t really care which one is chosen, and will laugh all the way to the bank as long as they are locked in on one of the two.

    For myself, I’m not so much technology focused as cost focused, and if solutions using SRM’s are better/less expensive overall, then great. Same goes for LOX/RP-1 vs LOX/LH2 – it’s like the gasoline vs diesel – let the market decide.

    So in summary, you feel it’s jobs and U.S. mfg/tech capabilities that are driving the need for the SLS, but not a driving need to use the SLS?

  • RGO:

    Even if Constellation did twice a much for half the cost, you would still condemn it. You simply don’t like NASA, for whatever reason, and nothing that it does, other than to go out of existence, would make you happy.

    I think that we need to take off our rose-tinted spectacles and make more realistic comparisions of NASA with other comporable government organizatoins (ESA, Japan, Russia)… It is not, and never will be SpaceX. It does more, and costs a LOT more.

    Maybe we are complainig that an apple is not an orange.

  • Egad

    > So, what do you think SLS will be flying for it’s first 5 years or so that can only fly on it?

    And if the answer is “nothing” or “almost nothing”, what will it cost during those 5 years (2016-2021?) to keep SLS production facilities, workforce, supporting contractors, etc. in readiness to start producing SLSes? Or should they produce a couple of SLSes a year and put them in a warehouse against future use? Or what?

  • pathfinder_01

    Robert, while I agree with much of what you say but there is a reason Orion docks and cargo Dragon berths.

    Berthing requires the space station robot arm to both berth and unberth. Which may not be available in an emergency. Berthing also uses a different interface than Docking. The ISS uses the common berthing mechanism to attach modules and some visiting craft like HTV, Cygnus,dragon.

    The CBM can is not built to handle the forces of docking.The CBM hacth is larger than any hacth used for docking which makes it ideal for cargo craft but the inability to berth and unberth without use of the robot arm makes it unsuitable for any craft that is going to be used for crew escape.

    You could design something that kinda sorta allows escape but just having docking ports it a better solution.Anything attached to the CBM is basically a part of the station itself(temporally or permanently). Something docked may use the robot arm but can come and go under it’s own power. i.e. A docked craft could undock back off the ISS then come back and re dock in an emergency while a berthed craft can not.

    Basically berthing is suitable for cargo and possibly suitable for a crew transfer craft that isn’t acting as crew escape vehicle.It isn’t suitable in any situation where a robot arm(like a lunar lander for Orion) is unavailable.

    Crewed dragon will dock using the international docking standard(same as Orion). CST100 will use APAS(same system shuttle uses).

  • It is not, and never will be SpaceX. It does more, and costs a LOT more.

    Well, we’re looking for something that does more, at least in terms of actual space accomplishments, and costs a LOT less. SpaceX has shown the way.

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    “Even if Constellation did twice a much for half the cost, you would still condemn it.”

    As some would say, you are spinning and not answering the question. My guess is that you actually don’t know why/what. You seem to be yet another NASA devotee for no other reason than that they actually did have a successful lunar space program back in the 60s.

    AGAIN: It is not about any one NASA engineer being incompetent. NASA may have some of the best scientists/engineers around. It is about NASA the system, including Congress, that is incompetent by design. Call it management if you will but it goes far beyond NASA’s management. It is an overall culture that is wrong.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 4:21 pm
    Not really a fair comparison- Gemini, or the “Mercury Mark II’ as it was conceived in ’61, were not excessive as many of the elements for development were in place– base design elements, a contractor, etc., and, of course, the LVs were military inventory.

    http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4203/ch3-4.htm

    “The Gemini spacecraft (originally called Mercury Mark II) was an improvement on the Mercury capsule. It was 19 feet long (5.8 meters), 10 feet (three meters) in diameter, and weighed about 8,400 pounds (3,810 kilograms)—twice the weight of Mercury. But it had only 50 percent more cabin space for twice as many people, and was extremely cramped. Ejection seats replaced Mercury’s escape rocket, and more storage space was added for the longer Gemini flights. The long-duration missions also used fuel cells instead of batteries for generating electrical power. An adapter module fitted to the rear of the capsule (and jettisoned before reentry) carried on-board oxygen, fuel, and other consumable supplies. Engineering changes, such as systems that could be removed and replaced easily, simplified maintenance. Since spacewalks were an essential part of these missions, the spacesuit became a crucial piece of equipment, providing the only protection for the astronaut from the deadly environment of space.” – source, NASA.

  • Doug Lassiter

    amightywind wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 10:58 am

    “Space science is currently enjoying the rich harvest of Mike Griffin’s tenure, which saw the development of Kepler, Dawn, Spitzer, Messenger, MSL. There have been no recent new starts due to the ham-handed handling of all aspects of NASA by Obama and his junta. An unprecedented dearth of missions lies ahead.”

    You got a few things right. Griffin saw the development of many key missions. He didn’t start them, but his tenure saw them. As to ham-handed handling, yes, Obama and his junta ham-handled Constellation, which is what it richly deserved. Any kind of delicacy in its cancellation would have been unjustified. And yes, an unprecedented dearth of unaffordable HSF missions lies ahead. I think that’s good! I look forward to the affordable ones, which will probably come out of COTS. That there is a lull in new starts for science missions is undeniable, but since the budget of NASA Science is pretty much flat lined, that lull is determined by what the directorate considers affordable. For astrophysics, gasping for air under the load of JWST, nothing is affordable. You’re blaming JWST’s problems on Obama? Heh.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Steve –

    At it again, I see.

    “Let’s see … Mr. Grondine seems to feel the need to smear Mr. Logsdon to peddle his book. Mr. Logsdon, to my knowledge, has never felt the need to smear Mr. Grondine to peddle his books.

    “I think I’ll go with the guy who has the mile-long résumé and no need to smear others to peddle his books.

    Look, Steve, I simply said that Logsdon is not the best source for space history, and that if you’re reading his books, then most likely you’ve gotten a less than accurate idea about what really went on.

    Now here you are saying that I smeared Logsdon, when I am civil with him and admire him for pioneering in the field and gaining academic resources for space history and space policy analysis. Hell, I even attended one of impact conferences, and he was pleasant with me even though I had called him on Eisenhowe’s “open skies” policy at an AIA session.

    As for the length of his resume, I will grant you that he is a very astute academic politician.

    But after saying all those nice things, I wouldn’t turn to Logsdon for space policy advice, nor for a theoretical framework to approach them with.

    Could you please go after Space Activist above? Like I told you before, I can p**s enough people off all on my own, and I don’t need your “help” to do it. I hope to eat at one of John’s buffets again someday, one well before his wake, and you’re screwing it up for me.

  • amightywind

    How do you explain that Cx so far to essentially replicate Gemini capabilities has consumed more and has nothing really to show for it…

    Ares I/Orion was to double the capability of Apollo/Saturn IB. Big difference between that and Gemini. Ares I-X flew an exemplary mission. You may quibble about the. Please tell me what large space technology project has ever come in under budget? The program was cruising to completion, before it was cut off at the the knees by its political enemies. The ‘commercial space’ emperor has no clothes.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “But so far you have only justified the need for the SLS in terms of jobs and not losing possible future manufacturing capabilities. Coming from a manufacturing perspective (manager in DoD & commercial manufacturing), neither of these warrant spending ten’s of Billions of dollars on a launcher that doesn’t yet have a need, nor is it being designed to address a specific market niche (bigger than everyone else is not a market niche).”

    You know, I used to have a comic business card that read “Association of American Television Manufacturers”. It was quite popular.
    You know why it was so funny?
    There are none.

    The national need is CAPS. Its not something that the private sector nor DoD can or should do. That’s the market niche.

    While Ares 1 and Ares 5 did and do cost tens of billions of dollars, Direct is not priced at tens of billions of dollars, but far less.

    I know this is going to sound strange to a lot of people here, but my thinking is that the next generation of launchers will be developed by those working on the current generation. If you look at the new start-ups, a lot of those folks got their experience working for the old main line firms.

    While I don’t know if clustered reusable liquids can be developed to work as a light HLV, I do know I don’t want to loose the engineers, manufacturers, and operators who might make that possible.

    Nor the payload folks for CAPS. Cause once they’re gone, they’ll be gone, and it will be over. Sorry all of you start-up enthusiasts, but CAPS is one project Bigelow and SpaceX can not handle.

    Bottom line: Its simply that ATK and the Utah delegation got so greedy that their greed damaged US space leadership.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Sorry all of you start-up enthusiasts, but CAPS is one project Bigelow and SpaceX can not handle.”

    Interesting thing about CAPS, which you keep referring to. I vaguely remember it. With regard to NEO defense, the modern posture recommendation is from the 2010 NRC study, which produced “Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report”. This was put together by a large group of aerospace engineers and scientists. You should read it. This report is easily accessible on the NRC website. Notably, I don’t believe this NRC report ever once refers to the very brief CAPS report. As it turns out, some of the recommendations from CAPS are echoed in the NRC report, mostly in the detection regime. But the recommendations for mitigation strategies are quite different. Bottom line — CAPS is not front and center with regard to NEO hazard assessment or threat mitigation. Not clear it ever was, but it certainly isn’t now. It may have laid some useful groundwork, but it is hardly a contemporary assessment. Comes as no surprise that this Congress is largely unaware of it.

    The NRC report makes a number of recommendations about mitigation strategy, but none of them requires development of new launch vehicles. To the extent that one believes that NEO mitigation requires human space flight (as many seem to do these days), one should heed their words about HSF (from their hundred page report!), which are, in their entirety …

    “In the future, NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate may conduct human missions to one or more near-Earth objects. The committee identified no cost-effective role for human spaceflight in addressing the hazards posed by NEOs. However, if human missions to NEOs are conducted in the future, the committee recommends that their scientific aspects be maximized to provide data useful for their characterization.

    Recommendation: If NASA conducts human missions to NEOs, these missions should maximize the data obtained for NEO characterization.”

    Translation … we don’t see any real need to send people there but, if you go, don’t forget to look around.

    So it may well be that Bigelow and SpaceX can’t handle CAPS. No big loss if they can’t.

  • Major Tom

    “No disrespect intended to the authors of the linked articles, but the loss of unmaned capability refers mainly to rendezvous and docking capability”

    No, those articles discuss more than rendezvous and docking. For example, they discuss the implications for lunar operations. If Orion can’t be left unmanned in lunar orbit, then at least one crewmember has to be left onboard, reducing the surface experdition to three or fewer members.

    “I have attended meetings of the Flight Test Working Group far more recently than the dates on any of those articles and at least one uncrewed Orion flight is still planned prior to any crewed launch.”

    The documentation I’m seeing and the discussions I’m hearing from the program indicate otherwise.

    But hearsay aside, talking about flights (tests or otherwise) in the absence of knowing what Orion’s LV is (for the tests or operationally) makes the flight test planning (unmanned or otherwise) a hypothetical exercise.

    FWIW…

  • Matt Wiser

    Nelson is correct: an apples-and-oranges comparison between NASA and SpaceX isn’t applicable. The commercial sector (of which SpaceX is the one most often in the headlines-and the one with the bulls-eye on them from Skeptics of the private sector) will handle LEO activites, with Orion/MPCV as a hedge in case they fail to deliver. NASA does the BEO stuff. Moon, Mars, L-Points, NEOs, and so on. Said it before and I’ll repeat: the sooner these commercial entities (Boeing, Orbital, Scaled Composites, and…ugh, Space X) get stood up and flying, the sooner NASA can free up its resources to go explore.

    As for the comercial sector acting as an enabler to BEO exploration? Certainly. If, and I do mean if, on-orbit refueling proves to be affordable, practicable, and safe, then the commercial entities have a role to play in operating, maintaining, and restocking such operations. (cf. Augustine Report) FYI, I’d rather go with the 70-ton HLV first, which appears to be Charlie Bolden’s preference, and scale it up to 130 as needs arise and capabilities improve. And first Human mission with Orion/SLS: lunar orbit. Show that we’re back, we’re going to stay, and we can return to the moon whenever we feel like it.

  • red

    amightywind: “Space science is currently enjoying the rich harvest of Mike Griffin’s tenure, which saw the development of Kepler, Dawn, Spitzer, Messenger, MSL”

    ??!

    Spitzer – launched in 2003, before Griffin
    Messenger – launched in 2004, before Griffin
    Dawn – launched in spite of Griffin, who canceled it … it was later added back
    MSL – massive cost overruns … for example, from back in November 2008, before the most recent round of cost overruns, from Alan Stern:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2008/11/msl-cost-overruns-more-smoke-and-mirrors-from-nasa.html

    “MSL is a fine scientific mission, and I hope it works, for the fate of the US Mars program lies at its feet. But MSL has caused a great deal of damage to NASA’s broader planetary program: all that remains in hardware development are just one lunar and one outer planet mission; and by NASA’s own recent reckoning, even those two missions and portions of the planetary research and analysis programs which produce scientific discoveries are endangered now by MSL’s spiraling cost.”

    Doug Lassiter: “For astrophysics, gasping for air under the load of JWST, nothing is affordable.”

    “Yes, and this has been getting worse for a while. For example, from November 2005:

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2005/11/21/jwst-delay/

    ” … NASA has decided to deal with the cost overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) program by delaying the mission rather than cutting it. JWST is now set for launch in 2013, two years later than previously planned.”

  • VirgilSamms

    “Ares I-X flew an exemplary mission.”

    It was beautiful.
    I must have watched it 20 times.
    Liberty is going to be the astronaut taxi of the 21st century. It will put Musk and these other converted cargo rockets out of the HSF business.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    The national need is CAPS.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I had to look up what CAPS meant. Start by Googling “NASA CAPS” and see how this is not easy. Then I put in “E.P. Grondine CAPS”, which led me to “Comet/Asteroid Protection System (CAPS)“. E.P., I would suggest defining acronyms if you are using them for the first time on a blog article, since not everyone is up to date on every space idea/initiative ever dreamed up.

    Regarding CAPS, is this the reason Nelson and Hutchison would give for funding SLS, or is this what you hope it will eventually be used for? Because the question at hand is what will Congress provide funding for the SLS to be used for? What payloads or missions will they allocate funding to at some point?

    My suspicion is that CAPS is not on Congress’s funding radar, and that no one sees it as a NASA imperative. In fact, I would say that if they do see it as a national threat, that they would be funding the DoD to address it, not a research agency.

    While Ares 1 and Ares 5 did and do cost tens of billions of dollars, Direct is not priced at tens of billions of dollars, but far less.

    I think DIRECT is a neat solution, and if we had to quickly build a 70mt launcher, I’d be OK with it. But Congress, who holds the purse strings for NASA, has indicated that it wants a 130mt launcher, and NASA has stated that in order to meet as many of the requirements as the NASA Authorization Act lays out, it would build an inline launcher. DIRECT is not in the running at this moment. Maybe that will change when Congress understands that they won’t get a 130mt launcher by 2016 with the money they would prefer to spend, but we’ll have to see. Don’t hold your breath.

    I know this is going to sound strange to a lot of people here, but my thinking is that the next generation of launchers will be developed by those working on the current generation. If you look at the new start-ups, a lot of those folks got their experience working for the old main line firms.

    I know this is going to sound strange to you, but we already knew that.

    While I don’t know if clustered reusable liquids can be developed to work as a light HLV, I do know I don’t want to loose the engineers, manufacturers, and operators who might make that possible.

    Who are we losing? Except for the Shuttle specific jobs like Tile Inspector/Fixer, the industries that supplied Shuttle continue on without the Shuttle. ATK lives, Pratt & Whitney lives too, as does Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the vast number of other contractors.

    And regarding cluster reusable liquids, why is that a requirement for future launchers? Who cares if we reuse the engines? Shouldn’t the bottom line be how much the launch costs, not how much we reuse? SpaceX wants to do both, but they started with the cost issue first, and will work on reusability as a secondary goal. Reusability, in what ever form it takes, should be driven by competitive reasons (which include cost).

    Nor the payload folks for CAPS. Cause once they’re gone, they’ll be gone, and it will be over.

    No one is irreplaceable. Good companies create sustaining knowledge, while bad companies exist on what is called “tribal knowledge”. Besides, new systems are the perfect time to create better systems – out with the old, and in the new.

    In any case, there are no requirements for CAPS, so why do you think they will need Shuttle “payload folks”, and why couldn’t they use ULA, SNC or SpaceX payload folks?

    Sorry all of you start-up enthusiasts, but CAPS is one project Bigelow and SpaceX can not handle.

    And you think NASA can? What U.S. federal department has flown a new generation space vehicle in the last year? Not NASA. Who launches the most payloads to space per year? Not NASA. What was the last program NASA completed on time and on budget?

    I’m not saying Bigelow or SpaceX could do your mythical CAPS, but I wouldn’t hold my breath that NASA could either.

  • RyanCrierie

    What an HLV does create is the need to build new facilities near launch sites, since current logistic systems like trains, trucks and aircraft cannot be used with payloads much bigger than the current 15ft diameter that the ISS uses.

    False. We routinely and easily moved around 33 foot diameter modules for the S-IC and S-II stages via barge for some real long distances — from Seal Beach CA to Kennedy.

    Smaller stuff like the S-IVB was flown by primitive versions of oversized aircraft — imagine how much bigger a upper stage could be if it could be flown via A-380 Freighter.

    Also, we already have the pad, assembly area, etc all in place from Apollo — the VAB was sized to handle no less than four Saturn V’s in various stages of processing simultaneously.

  • RyanCrierie

    What makes the whole thing more amusing is that the barge that transported the S-II from Seal Beach to Kennedy was a converted World War II steel covered lighter — rather than a unique special purpose vessel built for the job.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    you wrote:

    “Not really a fair comparison- Gemini, or the “Mercury Mark II’ as it was conceived in ’61, were not excessive as many of the elements for development were in place– base design elements, a contractor, etc., and, of course, the LVs were military inventory. ”

    Orion is an Apollo knock off…and Ares is a shuttle SRB knock off with an Apollo Saturn engine on the second stage.

    why are not the “elements for development in place”?

    you cannot have it both ways Ares cannot be “proven shuttle hardware with this or that track record”…and yet still be “new development”.

    Why did Gemini cost 5.X billion for the entire program and Cx Ares 1 and Orion…spend 10 billion and no flight hardware?

    Robert G. Oler

  • pathfinder_01

    Ares I might have had plans to double the capacity of Saturn I but it was no where near that. They were having trouble lifting a 21MT capsule!

    Ares 1-X is a very dishonest rocket.It didn’t use the same avionics nor propellant grain as Ares 1 would. It only had 4 segments and a dummy upper stage in a world where most rockets are launched with all stages.

    And what competition? Ares 1 was designed by NASA and ATK got a no bid contract on the first stage.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    you wrote:

    “Even if Constellation did twice a much for half the cost, you would still condemn it. You simply don’t like NASA, for whatever reason, and nothing that it does, other than to go out of existence, would make you happy.”

    not so much Nelson.

    If Cx got to the station and did “twice as much” (whatever that is) at half the cost that would mean that it got to the station and did “twice as much” (again whatever that means) about about 15 billion dollars.

    (it is going to take 30 billion to get Cx to a station delivery system)

    Trying to figure out, and you never quite seem to be willing to answer this quesiton…why we should spend 30 billion (or 15 billion at the “half the cost” you mention) when we can spend under 2 billion even at twice the cost at what has been spent so far on Dragon.

    To get it to do the same thing.

    When you can explain that to me, When you can explain why Gemini cost less then half that Cx has spent to date to do the same thing…and that included 12 flights..

    then you will move past rhetoric…until then you are simply in the “fan club” group

    Long Live The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Ares I/Orion was to double the capability of Apollo/Saturn IB.

    goofy Cx Ares 1 and Orion cost many many times Apollo Saturn1B.

    try again

    Robert G. Oler

  • “Well, we’re looking for something that does more, at least in terms of actual space accomplishments, and costs a LOT less. SpaceX has shown the way.”

    Elon Musk does deserves genuine credit for trying, and for somewhat reducing costs.

    However, SpaceX is grossly over-hyped. People claim that it is revolutionary, but in reality just about everything that it has accomplished is 50 year-old technology. (Talk about comparisons with Gemini!) Furthermore, it is inherently cash-strapped and lacks the financial resources to undertake the development of anything genuinely substantial, such as an HLV.

    I genuinely hope that commercial space is as successful as some advocates hope…Who wouldn’t? …But only time will tell. As afar as NASA, it can accomplish just about anything, given time. I really don’t mind if the return to the Moon does not happen until 2025 or 2030, just as long as there is steady, continuous progress, and that when it gets there, it continues on, instead of burying it’s head in the sand again for another 40 years.

  • Coastal Ron

    RyanCrierie wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 1:01 am

    False. We routinely and easily moved around 33 foot diameter modules for the S-IC and S-II stages via barge for some real long distances — from Seal Beach CA to Kennedy.

    This has been covered already – the discussion is payloads, not the launchers. Review what I wrote on February 19th, 2011 at 11:01 pm above.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 am

    However, SpaceX is grossly over-hyped. People claim that it is revolutionary, but in reality just about everything that it has accomplished is 50 year-old technology.

    Let’s review what Disruptive Technology is, which is what Musk is doing with SpaceX:

    A disruptive innovation is an innovation that disrupts an existing market. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers.

    Nowhere in there do you see the need for massive amounts of new technology, and really what SpaceX is doing is choosing the appropriate technology for the need, whether it’s mature or not. For instance their Merlin engine is based on 60′s engine technology, which let them build a simple engine yet reliable engine in a short period of time for far less than what it would take other companies.

    It’s their business approach that is “revolutionary”, not the technology.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 am
    ‘Elon Musk does deserves genuine credit for trying, and for somewhat reducing costs.

    However, SpaceX is grossly over-hyped. People claim that it is revolutionary, but in reality just about everything that it has accomplished is 50 year-old technology. (Talk about comparisons with Gemini!) Furthermore, it is inherently cash-strapped and lacks the financial resources to undertake the development of anything genuinely substantial, such as an HLV.’

    Evidence that SpaceX is ‘cash-strapped’ please. Also you are totally incorrect in the 50 year old tech’ statement. The result might have been similar however the means of accomplishment are totally different from the design of the systems to the technology used to implement the solutions.
    Wrt the HLV, I refer you to the following article:

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/SpaceX_to_focus_on_astronaut_capsule_999.html

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ February 21st, 2011 at 10:13 pm
    “No, those articles discuss more than rendezvous and docking. For example, they discuss the implications for lunar operations. If Orion can’t be left unmanned in lunar orbit, then at least one crewmember has to be left onboard, reducing the surface experdition to three or fewer members.”

    Which has nothing to do with Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for orbital missions. Due to budget cuts lunar capabilities were “bow waved” into the future.

    “The documentation I’m seeing and the discussions I’m hearing from the program indicate otherwise.”
    I do not know what “documentation” you are seeing but if you look up CxP 70085 Constellation Program Integrated Flight Test Strategy Document you will find a mandatory requirement (just as one example of many) ORI-041 which edicts flight testing of the loading (translational, vibrational, rotational) at the crew seat locations throughout the flight regime. The document is still in effect for Orion, even though Constellation has been canceled. The requirement must be fulfilled prior to first crewed launch. Again this is just one example of many.

    “But hearsay aside, talking about flights (tests or otherwise) in the absence of knowing what Orion’s LV is (for the tests or operationally) makes the flight test planning (unmanned or otherwise) a hypothetical exercise.”

    If you consider the above hearsay, then the only appropriate response is:
    Have a nice day.

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:39 am

    “Elon Musk does deserves genuine credit for trying, and for somewhat reducing costs.”

    Not somewhat!!!! He reduced the cost by orders of magnitude.

    “However, SpaceX is grossly over-hyped. People claim that it is revolutionary, but in reality just about everything that it has accomplished is 50 year-old technology.”

    Okay let’s try again. SpaceX innovation is in the COST. Constellation with Ares I and Orion is doing the same thing and it costs 10s of billions and they don’t even fly! What was it about the Shawshank Redemption quote?

    ” Furthermore, it is inherently cash-strapped and lacks the financial resources to undertake the development of anything genuinely substantial, such as an HLV.”

    And you know that because you saw their books? Or maybe you actually work for SpaceX.

    “I genuinely hope that commercial space is as successful as some advocates hope…”

    No you don’t. Your actions are opposite what you claim.

    “As afar as NASA, it can accomplish just about anything, given time. I really don’t mind if the return to the Moon does not happen until 2025 or 2030, just as long as there is steady, continuous progress, and that when it gets there, it continues on, instead of burying it’s head in the sand again for another 40 years.”

    See the problem is that you don’t really care and most people on Earth don’t really care what you care.

  • CR:

    I am not critcizing SpaceX for their choice of technology. I am criticizing those who think that buzzwords like “disruptive innovation, shock and awe, transformational…” should be the focus of attention. SpaceX is not revolutionary. It is just a very small company that makes small rockets and has a small subset of NASA’s capabilities for a small fraction of the cost. Kind of like the guy who decides to live in a camper. It cost less that a conventional house, but is not quite the same thing.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Good morning,everyone –

    I once thought of a name for an internet sex site tech support firm:
    Single Handed Computing. Now with my stroke, that has an entirely new meaning, and I hope you will bear with my typos and grammatical errors.

    DL wrote:
    “Notably, I don’t believe this NRC report ever once refers to the very brief CAPS report.”

    Neither did JPL’s response to the Congress which Griffin contemptuously sat on. JPL did not feel that they had a hope in hell of even getting minimum funding.

    As I mentioned before, the CAPS study was suppressed, as work on impact events generally has been. What qualifications Dwayne Day had to lead the NRC report are beyond me, except for his support of manned Mars flight and amateur interest in recon satellites. I am quite certain that Dwayne has very limited knowledge of the impact hazard, in other words what needs to be found, and how early it needs to be found.

    “Bottom line — CAPS is not front and center with regard to NEO hazard assessment or threat mitigation. Not clear it ever was, but it certainly isn’t now. It may have laid some useful groundwork, but it is hardly a contemporary assessment. Comes as no surprise that this Congress is largely unaware of it.”

    Actually, CAPS is the best method for detection of both comets and asteroids, and in particular for dead comet fragments. CAPS nuclear powered laser ablative system for course change is also the gold standard for mitigation.

    While CAPS was suppressed here in the US, that is not true everywhere.

    “it may well be that Bigelow and SpaceX can’t handle CAPS. No big loss if they can’t.”

    Uhhh, DL, 95% of the people living in North America died by impact 13,000 years ago, and mankind nearly went the way of the dinosaur several times during our evolution.

    CR wrote

    “Regarding CAPS, is this the reason Nelson and Hutchison would give for funding SLS, or is this what you hope it will eventually be used for? Because the question at hand is what will Congress provide funding for the SLS to be used for? What payloads or missions will they allocate funding to at some point.’

    Sort of, but the real questions at hand are “What will the voters of this nation pay for in space.” and “How much?”

    Because while there are a few key members whose industries motivate them, their colleagues have to face the voters back home. Those from those few districts need their colleagues’ support to get legislation through.

    Now if NASA does not do the work which those voters expect it to do, or those colleagues give NASA money for work which their voters do not feel is essential, or NASA wastes that money, then their colleagues’ constituents will vote them out of office.

    “My suspicion is that CAPS is not on Congress’s funding radar, and that no one sees it as a NASA imperative. In fact, I would say that if they do see it as a national threat, that they would be funding the DoD to address it, not a research agency.”

    And actually, The Congress asked Griffin for a report on the impact hazard back in 2005, and further the Congress feels that NASA is the proper federal party to handle detection and mitigation. That’s why the Congress also changed NASA’s charter back in 2005.

    “there are no requirements for CAPS”

    Uhhh, CR, 95% of the people living in North America died by impact 13,000 years ago, and mankind nearly went the way of the dinosaur several times during our evolution.

    Here’s my very short parse of the current situation. NASA’s focus has been on manned flight to Mars, which appeals to a small segment of the entire population, who embrace it with religious fervor, and those people form the readership of most “popular” space publications and place manned Mars flight high in their national priorities. Among the rest of the population manned Mars flight has less support, is interesting but not essential; BUT they do have a national pride in NASA.

    Dan Goldin wanted to cut the shuttle over to the NLS and fly men to Mars by 2020. It would have worked, at a good price, but he came under vicious political attack as part of the Clinton administration by the neo-cons, who will actually stoop to making it difficult to carry out national work for narrow political advantage. Further, since it wasn’t Mars Direct, Goldin was viewed as a heretic by the faithful, and they (particularly the SFF) wanted to shut down the shuttle and ISS, and spend the “money saved” on Mars Direct. But that’s a dead end politically, technically, and economically.

    (By the way, Thiokol also blew the composite tank for X-33. It’s too bad that tech development did not go to Boeing or Lockheed, for use in our aircraft.

    It is also interesting to note the Musk did not support federal subsidies to start ups, nor the SFF in any way, and still doesn’t, as near as I know. )

    Griffin planned to lock NASA into Mars Direct, using the Ares 5 launcher, and sized Orion for the Ares 1. He relied on ATK support. Further, Griffin tried his best to close off any other option.

    Thiokol has been fighting a delaying battle, hoping for Griffin’s closures of options to take effect. What they did not expect was that even some Republicans would not support their request for funds in the current economic downturn.

    That appears to me to be the short and simple of it.

    (By the way again, not only do you not pay for a war with tax cuts for billionaires, it used to be that this nation used to tax war profits. But then I suppose I’m just an old grouch.)

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson wrote:

    “Elon Musk does deserves genuine credit for trying, and for somewhat reducing costs.”

    SpaceX is not “trying” they have ALREADY launched successfully two different rockets for 800 million. NASA failed to even have a successful suborbital launch, that cost by itself 450 million and spent 10 billion overall and never got one single orbital launch. Hell not even a test article launched.

    “somewhat reducing costs” ?

    Are joking? How the hell do you expect to be taken seriously when you so absolutely under estimate and undervalue the costs savings SpaceX achieved?

    54 million for the Falcon 9 with competitors rockets selling for 100 – 180 million range. And you try to blow by that 100% – 300% price reductions as “somewhat”?

    Time to stop drinking the kool-aid.

    If you can not see how much money NASA can save in launch costs and how that funding can be used for actual space hardware for BEO than you are not really serious about human spaceflight at all.

  • byeman

    RyanCrierie, your point is wrong. It is not about launch vehicles. There is no infrastructure for large payloads greater than 15 foot dia.. VAB does nothing for spacecraft/payload processing. There are no spacecraft manufacturers near ports. The spacecraft manufacturers don’t have facilities such as vacuum chambers for large spacecraft. KSC doesn’t have the facilities for a large hazardous payloads.

  • byeman

    “Liberty is going to be the astronaut taxi of the 21st century. It will put Musk and these other converted cargo rockets out of the HSF business.”

    More proof that Gary Church is clueless about spaceflight.

  • byeman

    Church, if you believe that “Liberty is going to be the astronaut taxi of the 21st century. It will put Musk and these other converted cargo rockets out of the HSF business.” then your views about HLV, radiation protection and nuclear power are equally in error.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The commercial sector (of which SpaceX is the one most often in the headlines-and the one with the bulls-eye on them from Skeptics of the private sector) will handle LEO activites, with Orion/MPCV as a hedge in case they fail to deliver.

    Describing Orion as a hedge is totally misleading.

  • It would have worked, at a good price, but he came under vicious political attack as part of the Clinton administration by the neo-cons, who will actually stoop to making it difficult to carry out national work for narrow political advantage.

    Again with the nutty talk about “neo-cons.”

    What does this mean? Who are you talking about? What did these evil “neo-cons” actually do?

  • Egad

    > What qualifications Dwayne Day had to lead the NRC report are beyond me

    Allow me to explain. He was the NRC staff study director (RSO), which meant he assembled a panel of experts(*) and then coordinated meetings, arranged travel and briefings, and generally handled the administrative work needed to get the NEO report written based on the experts’ submissions. That’s the way NRC studies function.

    He’s currently coordinating a study of NASA’s human spaceflight crew office(**), though, I’m sure to his profound regret, he’s never been an astronaut.

    (*) http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/information.aspx?key=Committee_Appointment

    (**) http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49282

  • common sense

    @ byeman wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    “The Stick Mark II gets no CCDev2 money”

    Don’t discount the dark side of the farce err force.

  • byeman

    What qualifications does E.P. Grondine have other than an amateur interest in NEO hazards? Also, there is no urgency to deal with NEO hazards, the hazard level is no different from 50 years ago, and since we couldn’t do anything about it then, it didn’t matter.

    CAPS is not NASA’s job.

  • VirgilSamms

    “then your views about HLV, radiation protection and nuclear power are equally in error.”

    Why is that? Is there some magic formula you have that makes whatever ridiculous statements like this true?

    My views about Liberty, HLV’s, Radiation protection, and nuclear energy are all different subjects. Not the same. Each one is different. What is wrong with you Byeman?

    As for CAPS not being NASA’s job I guarantee if they see something coming a month out then all of a sudden it will be everyone’s job.
    But it won’t matter because of people like you. It will be too late.

  • VirgilSamms

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110222-nasa-picks-ccdev2-proposals.html

    “The Stick Mark II gets no CCDev2 money”

    It does not say that you idiot. Stop making things up.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Are joking? How the hell do you expect to be taken seriously when you so absolutely under estimate and undervalue the costs savings SpaceX achieved?”

    It is you who should not be taken seriously- as your attempts at posting elsewhere prove. You so vastly overvalue the inferior launch vehicle spaceX is hyping that no one can take you seriously anymore; especially your infomercial that repeats endlessly that the falcon 9 “heavy”, which is not even a heavy lift vehicle” is already seemingly in operation.

    SpaceX is a long long way from ever flying anyone. No escape system or environmental system- two of the most expensive parts of a spacecraft, only two flights and no cargo even delivered to the ISS. Yet you make it sound like the second coming.

    Ridiculous.

  • “[Elon Musk] reduced the cost by orders of magnitude. ”

    Hmm. Orders of magnitude, plural, would be a factor of at least 100X.

    Hmm. Launch costs are in the thousands of dollars per pound.

    Hmm. Advertised Falcon 9 launch costs are several thousand dollars per pound, not 10s of dollars per pound.

    Hmm. The NASA IG recently found that NASA will potentially waste 50-200 million by launching payloads on the more expensive Falcon 9s, compared to the Orbital Sciences Minotar, a recycled minuteman ICBM.

    The truth of the matter is that many SpaceX advocates suffer from a warped perspective, as if they are being sucked into a black hole and suffer from a totally different scale of space and time than the rest of the universe.

  • DCSCA

    Vladislaw wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 12:39 pm
    “SpaceX is not “trying” they have ALREADY launched successfully two different rockets for 800 million.”

    Repeating something today built upon the half century of experience the government accomplished 50 years ago is nothing to crow about. SpaceX is a ticket to no place. They will never orbit a crewed spacecraft and return it safely to earth- it’s a lousy business decision to try for a ‘for-profit’ enterprise.

  • No escape system or environmental system- two of the most expensive parts of a spacecraft

    Can you provide some historical data to substantiate the statement that these are two of the most expensive parts of a spacecraft?

    No, I didn’t think so. As usual, you simply flaunt your monumental ignorance.

  • To be fair, technically, most of what SpaceX is doing is not new at all. Some components, such as their idea for a reusable launch abort system have the potential to reduce costs, as will the recoverable first stage, if it ever works. The other major cost reductions are from vertical in-house manufacturing to cut out middlemen.

    All of these together are going to result in maybe a 50% reduction in launch costs.

    SpaceX lacks the needed investments to be able to go after really dramatic reductions (an order of magnitude) in costs, such as 100% reusability. This was nearly achieved by NASA’s shuttle, which has a marginal cost for each flight of only $60 million. If someone ever has the budget to develop a fully reusable two stage to orbit (let me guess…China), then some of you dreamers might actually be able to finally afford access to LEO, after you master …Manderin!

    And don’t forget, that China, Inc, will also easily be able to knock small American companies like SpaceX out of business by undercutting it’s prices. Not so with NASA. It’s fate lies in the hands of Congress.

  • RyanCrierie

    RyanCrierie, your point is wrong. It is not about launch vehicles. There is no infrastructure for large payloads greater than 15 foot dia.

    Airbus’ A300-600ST Beluga can transport cargos about 22~ feet in diameter.

    Boeing’s own 747 LCF Dreamlifter can transport cargos about 24~ feet in diameter (crude guess).

    While it’s not the 33 foot diameter of Saturn V’s lower stages; it’s more than enough to transport a S-IVB which is only 21.7 feet in diameter — and allows spacecraft manufacturers a massive boost in volume and space over Apollo’s 12.8 ft diameter for the CSM and the LEM’s 14 foot width.

    There are no spacecraft manufacturers near ports.

    There’s the former Douglas Seal Beach plant that manufactured the S-II stage — it’s now owned by Boeing for one. It’s a fairly straight shot from the plant to a pier via the roads — which was done for the S-II stage.

    There’s AFP #20 in Renton, Washington — where Boeing is. It’s literally right on the water.

    There’s the Michoud Assembly Facility — it already has barge access — that’s how the Shuttle ETs were transported to KSC.

    The spacecraft manufacturers don’t have facilities such as vacuum chambers for large spacecraft.

    Why should they?

    NASA owns several quite large chambers dating from Apollo — such as the Space Environment Simulation Laboratory at JSC.

    Chamber A of the SESL is 88 ft high and 55 feet in diameter; with a 39 foot diameter side door. It’s going to be used to test the Webb Space Telescope.

    The true kicker is that JSC has port access — the only real issue is the Route 146 Bridge going over the main channel to the bay that JSC is on. Is the bridge high enough to support a barge with a 33 foot diameter module on it? How cheap can we convert that bridge to a drawbridge if it’s not?

    Finally, Bigelow’s proposed BA330 module is going to be 22 feet when fully inflated. Do we throw that out because Bigelow doesn’t have a vacuum chamber that big to test it before it goes up? No, because they’ll just rent/lease the SESL or SPF from NASA for the BA 330 test.

    KSC doesn’t have the facilities for a large hazardous payloads.

    Could have fooled me. Isn’t one of the reasons the DIRECT fanboys claim that Ares I/V is such a bad idea, because the SRB segments are large and hazardrous (they’re essentially explosives) pieces that tie up an enormous amount of VAB space and are an explosive danger.

    Of course, they never explain why this does not apply to their beloved 4 segment SRBs of JUPITER-xxx. But that’s them for you.

  • RyanCrierie

    Besides; the spacecraft would be largely inert (except for the explosive bolts, gas generators etc of safety systems and parachutes) until they were loaded and fueled with propellant, which would occur on the pad anyway.

  • RyanCrierie

    Hmm. The NASA IG recently found that NASA will potentially waste 50-200 million by launching payloads on the more expensive Falcon 9s, compared to the Orbital Sciences Minotar, a recycled minuteman ICBM.

    Shh…you’re not supposed to talk about that. Nor about how NASA selected only those commercial crew proposals which would have an all new spacecraft on all new launch vehicles.

    The proposals which proposed to launch their spacecraft from existing EELVs were not surprisingly not chosen.

  • Byeman

    “Boeing’s own 747 LCF Dreamlifter can transport cargos about 24~ feet in diameter (crude guess).

    Not available to other users per Boeing.

    22 ft in diameter doesn’t do squat. The spacecraft container is going to take up some of that and you will be left with a EELV class payload

    Michoud is not a spacecraft facility nor was Seal Beach (was NAA). AFP #20 either.

    The real spacecraft manufactures like LM, Loral, Boeing El Segundo, NGST, are not near ports.

    I have helped with studies on this. The point is that costs to support an HLV are much larger than the launch vehicle itself

  • Byeman

    “My views about Liberty, HLV’s, Radiation protection, and nuclear energy are all different subjects.”

    And all are wrong.

  • Byeman

    :100% reusability. This was nearly achieved by NASA’s shuttle, which has a marginal cost for each flight of only $60 million.:

    Not one true statement in this.

    1. The marginal costs are way more. The ET costs more than that. The costs of the SRM’s do not include the costs to make them into SRB’s

    2. The SRB’s are not “reused”. They are rebuilt after each mission. Just some components are reused. The SRM’s reused the casings but that is minor.

  • Justin Kugler

    Boeing’s CST-100 is still in the running and it is being designed with EELV launch as an option. Orbital Sciences’ Prometheus is planned to launch atop an Atlas 5, as is Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser.

    The only likely difference for the commercial crew variant of the Atlas V would be the use of dual RL-10 engines on the Centaur upper stage for inherent redundancy, which is already an option for existing EELV payloads, so I really don’t see Ryan’s point.

  • Justin Kugler

    Nelson appears to be citing an unsourced marginal cost from the Wikipedia page on the Space Shuttle. When I was working on Constellation, the $150 million range is what I saw cited as what Ares I had to beat to be better than Shuttle.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    This was nearly achieved by NASA’s shuttle, which has a marginal cost for each flight of only $60 million.

    Only in your dreams.

    While it was at it’s height of production, the ET cost $173M each.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=24363

    For the SRM’s, they cost $68.6M/set.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=8785

    And USA alone was costing $1.167B/year (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/United+Space+Alliance+and+NASA+Sign+Space+Flight+Operations+Contract-a018721721), which would require 20 Shuttle flights/year to reach your $60/flight figure – just for processing the Shuttle fleet.

    As usual, you don’t know the facts.

  • Coastal Ron

    RyanCrierie wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Airbus’ A300-600ST Beluga can transport cargos about 22~ feet in diameter.

    And only carries 45,000 kg, which includes payload, container, pallet, etc., far short of what would be needed in diameter or assembled weight for a true HLV payload (10m in diameter and 100mt in mass).

    The true kicker is that JSC has port access — the only real issue is the Route 146 Bridge going over the main channel to the bay that JSC is on…. How cheap can we convert that bridge to a drawbridge if it’s not?

    And that’s where you prove my point. The unintended consequences of HLV’s is that to truly maximize their capabilities, you need to spend huge amounts on transportation and facility infrastructure. And that will take a lot of upfront spending, which no one is in the mood to do in Congress.

    Don’t you read the news? The Republican-led House just stripped NASA of $300M, and you think they will add in $500M or so to build a draw bridge for an unneeded launcher?

    You truly must live in cloud cuckoo land…

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Nelson –

    “And don’t forget, that China, Inc, will also easily be able to knock small American companies like SpaceX out of business by undercutting it’s prices. Not so with NASA. It’s fate lies in the hands of Congress.”

    Since the CZ5 will be mass produced at Chinese prices, it is not only small American companies, that will face considerable competition, but large launch companies in all countries.

    The current debate in China is over whether to develop a larger engine for their next launcher series, or whether to go with a flyback reuable cluster –
    think of it in terms of the Energia core, or Zenit re-usable, if you like.

    While they may do both, my guess is they will go with the Zenit class re-usable if they decide to choose one or the other.

    The implications for satellite manufacturers and ground equipment manufacturers in every country are profound.

    We’ll see.

  • Thanks, Justin!

    I would love to hear a detailed breakdown on what marginal cost does and does not cover. My impression is that it covered the cost of a new ET, fuel, and maint expenses associated with squeezing in one more additional flight. Not the large fixed labor/facilities costs.

    In Congressional testimony Bolden claimed that each Ares I flight would cost more than a billion, but Doug Cook testified that the marginal cost of each launch would be $176 million.

    The reason why the Saturn V got killed off was because some clever (soviet-inspired) journalist used the same accounting practices to convince us that we cannot afford to go to the Moon. (Geee, that tactic kind of sounds familiar.)

  • Jeff Foust

    It’s time to retire this comment thread. Thanks for your participation.