Congress, NASA

Briefs: assigning members and blame

Some miscellaneous items from the last few days:

It’s not posted yet on the committee’s web site, but the full House Science Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 2, on NASA’s FY12 budget request. NASA administrator Charles Bolden is the sole witness scheduled to testify.

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee announced the chairs and ranking members of its subcommittees. To no one’s surprise, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will return as chairman of the science and space subcommittee. The committee’s new ranking member is freshman Sen. John Boozman (R-AR). However, it’s likely that full committee ranking member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will continue to play a major role in any space topics during this Congress.

Last week the full House approved an amendment to its 2011 continuing resolution to transfer nearly $300 million from NASA to a Justice Department community policing program. The amendment was introduced by a Democrat, but passed thanks to the votes of 70 Republicans, who joined 158 Republicans to approve the amendment. So what was the reaction of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)? He blames the Obama Administration: “If the White House had argued for NASA among House Democrats, we would have protected NASA from this cut,” he told the Huntsville Times. Of course, if those 70 Republicans hadn’t voted for it, the amendment wouldn’t have passed regardless of what the Democrats did, as the GOP is now in the majority, but Brooks offers no explanation why 70 of his fellow House Republicans voted for the amendment.

97 comments to Briefs: assigning members and blame

  • amightywind

    but Brooks offers no explanation why 70 of his fellow House Republicans voted for the amendment.

    A statement showing liberal bias. I don’t recall the author castigating the democrats in such a way. If nothing else the last 2 years has shown the administration and democrats to be the enemies of NASA. The GOP vote tally of 169 to 70 to oppose the funds transfer is rather overwhelming. It is unreasonable cannot expect unanimous GOP support.

  • Florida Today reports this morning that both local Congresscritters, Bill Posey and Sandy Adams, voted to pass H.R. 1 although it cuts $600 million from the NASA budget.

    Posey was quoted as saying unnamed forces want the U.S. to “yield the ultimate military high ground, which is space, to countries which in the very best of times are not friendly of us.”

    He didn’t name those countries, provide evidence that they’re “unfriendly,” or explain who are those people who want us to “yield.”

    Apparently Posey is also unaware that, per the National Aeronautics and Space Act, all military spending is the purview of the Defense Department.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Well there’s the evidence. NASA and space generally do not rank higher than domestic policy issues for the general public and the politicians know it. Hence the fight to maintain the porker jobs programs. Jobs being a domestic policy issue. Only the die-hard space junkies don’t.
    NASA has failed to connect and sell it’s products to the general public and there are no signs that it has learnt this valuable lesson yet. Rather it will have to make do on continually reducing budgets and anyone who believes that the big programs of yesteryear can or will continue, is deluding themselves.

    The logical conclusion is that if NASA wishes to maintain the U.S. lead (and I’ll use that term advisedly) in space, it will have to change both in itself and also the behaviour of it’s partner U.S. commercial firms in terms of the way it conducts it’s business. Hopeful signs in COTS and CCDev. It will also have to develop relationships with selected international partners.
    The opportunity is there, but is the will?

  • …but Brooks offers no explanation why 70 of his fellow House Republicans voted for the amendment.

    Of course not. The name of the game is political partisanship and rhetoric, not results.

    So much for the NASA saving Republican Party.

  • From a Republican standpoint, what was appalling about that vote wasn’t that it took money from NASA, but that it provided it to something that no Republican standing up for supposedly Republican principles should have supported — community policing, which is a local, not a federal responsibility.

  • VirgilSamms

    “no Republican standing up for supposedly Republican principles should have supported”

    You are another excuse making conservative- yapping about everything except what you really stand for; protecting the ultra-wealthy and preying on the poor. I am not afraid to say the magic word; redistribution.

    Redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, not from the poor to the rich- that is the key to a healthy society. The Halcyon days of America were brought about by 90 percent and higher taxes on the ultra-rich. And we began our descent into 3rd world status when the bought politicians of the wealthy began to lower these completely fair tax rates to their presently criminally low and sheltered joke status.

    Like I said a long time ago, you private space free marketeers wanted cheap, now you are going to get so much cheap you will be out of business.

  • G Clark

    Get your history right, for starters.

    Yes, the US had an insanely high marginal tax rate. We were also the only game in town for a lot of things (the world still recovering from, you know, WORLD WAR II).

    Remind me again who it was that lowered those rates? Some guy named Kennedy?

    Sheesh…

  • You are another excuse making conservative

    I’m not a conservative.

  • common sense

    @ Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 8:29 am

    And the theater goes on and on… And all the mice followed…

    http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/hameln.html#browning

  • Major Tom

    “A statement showing liberal bias.”

    Mr. Foust’s statement was the antithesis of political bias. He was asking why a representative from one party would accuse the President from another party of doing something when 70 representatives from his own party voted for the same thing. Mr. Foust is questioning Brooks’ political bias, not adding his own.

    “It is unreasonable cannot expect unanimous GOP support.”

    But it is reasonable to ask why a certain representative is willing to accuse a member of another party of something when scores of members of his own party are guilty of the same.

    Does Brooks actually care about the nation’s civil space program? Or is NASA just a convenient political football to score points with in Brooks’ eyes?

    If it’s the former, then Brooks should/would have also castigated members of his own party who didn’t vote the way he thought they should have.

    But apparently it’s the latter.

    FWIW…

  • See what happens when NASA doesn’t have a vision or a mission? Expect more of the same.

  • VirgilSamms

    “I’m not a conservative.”

    Rand Simberg- Chairman of the the Competitive Space Task Force (“CSTF”) is a coalition of leading conservative and free-market thinkers- what are you?

    That’s OK, you don’t have to explain. Your comments say it all.

  • common sense

    @Gary Miles wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    “See what happens when NASA doesn’t have a vision or a mission? Expect more of the same.”

    NASA does have a “vision” and a mission. Only special interests, pork addicts, are actually slowing everything down.

    They should be and actually are exposed for what they are. Nothing to do with NASA.

  • John Malkin

    Last night one of our local news stations interviewed a top Chicago police officer. I thought this comment was very interesting and I agree.

    “Community-based policing in itself does not reduce crime but it allows us to interact more effectively in the community because many of the issues we face from a law enforcement perspective are social issues and not crime issues necessarily. They are social issues that transcend into criminal conduct,” Brown said.

    I don’t think this should come from the Federal government, it should be local or at least state but both are too scared to raise taxes to cover it so they push it to the federal government. I think taxes should stay close to the destination to reduce administrative cost and “corruption”.

  • Rand Simberg- Chairman of the the Competitive Space Task Force (“CSTF”) is a coalition of leading conservative and free-market thinkers- what are you?

    I’m a “free-market thinker.”

    That’s OK, you don’t have to explain. Your comments say it all.

    So do yours. They say you’re a name-changing troll.

  • amightywind

    VirgilSamms wrote:

    And we began our descent into 3rd world status when the bought politicians of the wealthy began to lower these completely fair tax rates to their presently criminally low and sheltered joke status.

    And yet Obama extended the BTC’s for 2 more years to increase the chances of stronger growth in time for the election. Isn’t that revealing? The time of public union corruptocracy is over.

    Like I said a long time ago, you private space free marketeers wanted cheap, now you are going to get so much cheap you will be out of business.

    COTS space is not a free market at all. No one who has bid the ISS contract has put up significant private capital. They bid without risk to get for an assured payout.

  • No one who has bid the ISS contract has put up significant private capital.

    SpaceX has put in more money of its own than it received for its COTS contract. So once again, “abreakingwind” is either lying or willfully ignorant.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    “I’m a ‘free-market thinker.’”

    Who authored a piece for New Atlantis last fall entitled “In Search of a Conservative Space Policy”. Nice article, actually. Now, of course, anyone can search for one. I guess even a liberal might want to take a crack at it.

  • Justin Kugler

    Fixed-price contracts lower the risk to the government, not the contractor. One of the lessons Andrew Aldrin points out from EELV was that industry assumed too much of the risk and was vulnerable to the collapse in the commercial satellite market, as a result.

    The COTS competitions and CRS contracts were all milestone-payment based, as are the CCDev awards. The COTS awards included private financing requirements. All of the six companies who were selected to go to the next round on CCDev 2 have put up “significant private capital” to develop their concepts, if you look at their actual history.

  • The problem with labels like “liberal” or “conservative” or “libertarian” is that they lock in an individual to certain pre-conceived stereotypes.

    An idea is either good or bad. Whether it’s “liberal” or “conservative” should be irrelevant.

  • Now, of course, anyone can search for one. I guess even a liberal might want to take a crack at it.

    Yup. Though I at least speak conservative, whereas most “liberals” (they aren’t really — true liberals, like me, are in favor of free speech and free markets) don’t.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    “An idea is either good or bad. Whether it’s “liberal” or “conservative” should be irrelevant.”

    In a rational world-view, that would be exactly right. But unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way. Many of the contributors to this forum, for example, wear their label on their sleeve. I try to ignore those labels, and those stereotypes, but it’s sometimes hard. For many, it’s about dissing a decision-maker, and not about discussing an idea.

    On the topic at hand, however, I have to wonder how much influence KBH will have, given her decision not to run for reelection. The assignment of Boozman to the position of Ranking Member is pretty stunning. Thin connection with science, and essentially none with space. One has to assume that in a contracting economy, such a position is not politically advantageous.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    “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.”

    sort of what I think about people like you who think that Cx is expensive because it is “cutting edge” technology or is pushing back some frontier.

    You cannot answer why Cx (Ares1 and the Earth Orbit Orion) have consumed twice the amount of money that Gemini the entire program did…

    When you can you will learn something

    AS for the Minatour…the savings are only because of government provided equipment.

    Robert G. Oler

  • It makes no sense to fuss at Jeff for his article and the comment about Brooks’ quote. Brooks has a big mouth and needs to talk about what HE will do instead of whine so much about Obama. His campaign was just the same. Obama this, Obama that!

    I’m really trying to keep an open mind about Brooks and I just wish he would do something positive for NASA and shut his piehole until he does!

  • NASA Fan

    @Gary Miles wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    “See what happens when NASA doesn’t have a vision or a mission? Expect more of the same.”

    Actually, expect more of the same no matter if NASA has a vision or mission statement. Every new NASA Administrator has played with the vision/mission wording….all to no affect.

    @ Robert:

    If you were a DoD or NASA Project Manager, and you only had so much money to spend on a mission, and that had to include your launch costs, you will go after the Minatour. Bolden is indeed pushing to buy Minotaur’s cause NASA is cash strapped…..and taking cuts in the 2012 POTUS budget. He’ll use the NASA IG report as ‘evidence’ to justify a decision that will meet with congressional resistance (Space X Ca. delegation), and probably legal constraints.

  • Miles G

    Mr. Oler said:
    sort of what I think about people like you who think that Cx is expensive because it is “cutting edge” technology or is pushing back some frontier.

    You cannot answer why Cx (Ares1 and the Earth Orbit Orion) have consumed twice the amount of money that Gemini the entire program did…

    It would have been hard to argue with success. Constellation, however was a multi-dimensional failure:
    -first NASA assembled a ‘team’ that did not have the ability or the experience to figure out what it needed to be doing
    -second, they strayed so far from the Vision, that they were getting little support inside or outside of the space supporters circle
    -third, their most important and most immediate job, to replace the Shuttle, consumed exorbitant amounts of time and money, well beyond anything reasonable, with nothing to show for it. It wasn’t high tech, it wasn’t cutting edge. Maybe the inadequate NASA managers were just so naive that they were playing into the hands of the partisan pork politickers and big aerospace by throwing money but not resolving the problem. Even if you use the Constellation manager’s excuse that they had to pay for existing carryover infrastructure, what that shows is they could not section off the cost allocations or figure they needed to go in a
    different direction that would get them around the existing old infrastructure. Any way you look at it it was a Constellation and a NASA failure. Assuming US aerospace has some technical competence (we are still building airliners) this was purely and simply a NASA management failure.

    In the real world of constrained budgets and crime, money has to go to where it might do some good. It is impossible for even the most ardent space supporting politicians to fight for money for NASA when the whole world has seen how little comes from those expenditures.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    AS for the Minatour…the savings are only because of government provided equipment.

    Robert G. Oler

    In additon, they also used incorrect pricing for the SpaceX flights which are available for anyone to see on their site. That smacks of deliberate misrepresentation. If you’d included the government provided equipment as Robert suggested, the Falcon 9 flights would put the Minatours in the shade since the Falcon 9 price is an all inclusive price.

  • common sense

    You know, I think there is no way to bring to reason those who think that Constellation was cutting edge and expensive thereby. I am almost certain that none of them actually did any work for Constellation. And so much so that the direction we got back then was to do as little innovation as possible, rather to use as much we could of existing (sub)systems.

    Now if you take as an example the much lauded (by some) Ares-IX it actually indeed use off-the-shelf (sub)systems. The cost was near what $1B? $500M? Which shows that for this amount we got a suborbital LV using off-the-shelf (sub)systems. Now you ought to ask the question whether this was cutting edge and whether the cost is justified. If you still believe so then it means you have no (as in zero) clue as to why Constellation failed. Because you know it actually failed. And you can put your heads back in the sand. For those who live real lives, not tinted (too much) with Sci-Fi, I think the course to be taken is clear. And again it is not about NASA, not only. If NASA cannot make it, for whatever reason, then it is time to transfer the work elsewhere. In the meantime NASA can, or not, regroup and try to identify the reason it failed then makes recommendation to Congress and the WH. But I am pessimistic. See NASA just told Congress they cannot built a purposeless HLV with the cash and time constraints by Congress. And Congress told them to take a hike. Unfortunately for my friends at NASA they are in a lose-lose situation. They may as well take the money offered and do whatever they can. Unfortunately again this will turn for the worse.

    So yeah SpaceX lowered the cost by orderS, with an “S”, of magnitude. Whatever they charge has nothing to do with it. It is a MARKET issue they will charge whatever the market is willing to pay. I am starting to wonder how many actually live in the US here. If NASA is willing to pay $50M/seat they will offer it. All those negotiations take place behind closed doors as they did occur between the majors and NASA for Constellation.

    Anyway. As I said several times get educated on how it all works and you’ll be that much more effective in your advocacy. Otherwise you can always wish Liberty and/or Sidemount will send people to the Moon, NEO or Mars.

    Whatever.

  • byeman

    “n additon, they also used incorrect pricing for the SpaceX flights which are available for anyone to see on their site.”

    Spacex public prices are not the same as the gov’t prices. Minotaur is cheaper to NASA.

  • amightywind

    You know, I think there is no way to bring to reason those who think that Constellation was cutting edge…

    Conversely, how do you have a rational debate with someone who denies Merlin, and Dragon, are crude lab projects that have never been submitted to critical review.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    “Conversely, how do you have a rational debate with someone who denies Merlin, and Dragon, are crude lab projects that have never been submitted to critical review.”

    Well, see, and you don’t have to believe me for all I care, but I do know more about these systems and others than you do about anything including Constellation.

    At the very least you ought to understand that these systems are under contract with NASA and therefore reviewed by NASA. But in your fantasy land I suppose NASA is going to let Dragon berth/dock with ISS without review or oversight. And the ISS partners are that foolish too right? And all that because President Obama is friend(ly) with Musk.

    You are making a lot of disservice to HSF including NASA HSF with stupid advocacy but what’s new?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Conversely, how do you have a rational debate with someone who denies Merlin, and Dragon, are crude lab projects that have never been submitted to critical review.

    Lab projects never make it out of the lab and into the hands of a customer.

    In case you missed it, both Merlin and Dragon are in production, have left the factory, made real life tests, and are being purchased in volume by customers. Ares I-X, which didn’t use any Ares I production parts, is an example of a “crude lab project”, since it will never be replicated.

    Regarding “critical review”, the customers buying SpaceX services are the only ones that matter, and in looking at the SpaceX launch manifest, they are passing that “critical review” so far. Your comments don’t matter.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    “I’m a ‘free-market thinker.’” Think harder. True ‘Free-market’ thinkers don’t go to the government for financing and hand outs (as SpaceX has done)- they seek investment in the private sector.

  • True ‘Free-market’ thinkers don’t go to the government for financing and hand outs (as SpaceX has done)- they seek investment in the private sector.

    They have sought and received investment in the private sector. They have also provided services to a customer (NASA) for pay, and for much less money than NASA could have procured those services otherwise. Anyone who calls these “handouts” is an economic ignoramus. But then, that’s nothing new.

  • True ‘Free-market’ thinkers don’t go to the government for financing and hand outs (as SpaceX has done)- they seek investment in the private sector.

    Historically, (in the USA at least), the government has helped finance transportation systems going back to the Erie Canal days.

    Why should modern space transportation systems seek all private sector investment when it goes against precedent ? Just because of partisan politics ?

    What is your advocacy all about, seriously ?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 8:22 am

    It is unreasonable cannot expect unanimous GOP support.

    House Republicans had no problem with unified voting while they weren’t in power these last two years.

    So what’s changed? Now they’re in power, and they have to actually do something, and surprise, surprise, there are no easy answers. In this particular case, John Boehner and the House Republicans can only blame themselves.

    So much for your theory about Republicans supporting NASA.

  • Justin Kugler

    I saw a Merlin engine being prepped for delivery to the McGregor test stand earlier this month. One of the nicest “lab projects” I ever saw. :)

  • VirgilSamms

    Ares I-X, which didn’t use any Ares I production parts, is an example of a “crude lab project”, since it will never be replicated.

    Liberty, or Stick II, will be flying astronauts before Dragon.

    Got to have an escape system, which takes years to develop and test- and Dragon has nothing. Little details like that get overlooked and control the flow of history.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    “Conversely, how do you have a rational debate with someone who denies Merlin, and Dragon, are crude lab projects that have never been submitted to critical review.”

    are you saying that NASA is not doing its reviews as part of the COTS effort?

    you’re claim that Merlin and Dragon are crude lab projects falls on its face…but no critical review is as goofy as the Obama birth certificate thing.

    YOU might not have seen the data (and who knows if you could interpret it correctly) but the folks who are buying rides on Falcon 9 and the NASA people who are overseeing the CCD program have seen the data from the two test.

    None of the Obama birther people seem to understand that after the EC votes the “winning” candidate has to submit a birth certificate to the sitting Secretary of State for confirmation of the natural born clause. OK Rand and other birthers might not have seen what they want to see…but they have no standing to see it..

    You dont have any standing to see the performance results of a commercial product…the folks who are going to buy it do.

    Dont make goofy claims or dont make them and expect people who know to sit idly by and let you make them without challenging them.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 2:01 pm
    Then they are not true ‘free-market’ private sector firms. Read again: True ‘Free-market’ thinkers don’t go to the government seeking financing and hand outs (as SpaceX has done) – they seek investment in the private sector which remains wary. In the Age of Austerity, firms which promote themselves in public as ‘commercial, free-enterprise, private sector’ entities then baint-and-switch, lobbying, seeknig and accepting government subsidies are disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. Indeed, anyone who shills as a promoter by billing this as “free-market” free-enterprise is, indeed, an economic ignoramus. But then, that’s nothing new. The obvious source for private enterprised space firms for anybody who pitches themselves as a ‘free-market thinker’ is the private capital markets, not the U.S. government which currently has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends.

  • DCSCA

    @dad2059 wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    What’s it all about: “We’re broke,” ‘dad’, according to Speaker of the House of Reporesentatives Boehner, and today the U.S. government has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends today. A government which already operates several ‘space programs’– civilian, military and black opps. Consolidation is overdue and would be cost-effective. The nation needs to fund necessities like healthcare and rebuild infrastructure like bridges and roads– not subsidize the luxury of ‘private space’ to profit a few by socializing the risk on the backs of the many. We went down that road with the banks. The place for private enterprised, ‘for profit’ space firms in this era is to seek funding in in the private sector. If they can’t get ity- tough. If they can, fine. It’s up to them to convince investors it’s worth it. Barge trafficking, particularly the ‘Erie Canal’ is hardly an apt comparison– particularly given its short lifetime and ultimate fate. The deep initial costs for start up and operations coupled with minimal ROI has kept investors wary and inhibits private-enterprised spaceflight from taking off in this era of human history. That’s why government do it. And over the 80-plus years of ballistic rocket development under various guises with military and political motivation, not to make a buck. (It’s a relatively new technology in terms of space operations in the human experience as opposed to centuries old commercial art of ‘barge trafficking,’ discounting the limited uses of rockets from ancient times into the early 20th century.) It has been fascist (Germany) and socialist/communist governments (USSR) with military and political aspirations which led the way in this field, not the West. Goddard went wanting with philanthropic handouts while von Braun’s research was flush with Reichmarks. The West has always been reactive, not proactive in this field, and in this era ‘profiteers’ make for poor ‘rocketeers.’ Government responded, not the ‘for profit,’ private sector, to Sputnik and Gagarin based on political and military pressures, not ‘free enterprise.’ When the PRC ramps up its lunar program, the West will, right in character, react again. The only place you’ll see profit-driven, ‘free-enterprise’ space enterprise succeed is in the 1949 film, “Destination Moon.” Strip out the entertainment elements and it’s actually a pretty good business plan- the profit motive in tune with the era of its production- the discovery of uranium on the moon. But the like ‘Reaganomics’ is not going to fuel the expansion of the human experience out into the cosmos.

  • Ryan Crierie

    I think when we look back at Constellation 10-20 years down the road, the bullet points that stand out for us will be:

    1.) It got NASA looking beyond LEO in a serious way.

    Even the Obama administration is looking beyond LEO in a crude spitball way — their concepts of visiting Near Earth Objects.

    There had been a lot of previous attempts by NASA to go beyond LEO like SEI in 1992ish; but they never went further than crude paper studies.

    2.) It’s driven a stake into the concept of Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicles — a concept which made a bit of sense back in 1986-1990, but now makes no economic sense at all with the Shuttle retiring.

  • Aberwys

    cooperation, makes it happen.

  • amightywind

    So what’s changed? Now they’re in power, and they have to actually do something, and surprise, surprise, there are no easy answers. In this particular case, John Boehner and the House Republicans can only blame themselves.

    Despite the rise of the Tea Party, Republican ranks still include moderates who operate in a murky netherworld of ideological confusion. It may take a few election cycles to purge them. Boehner has done a fine job in delivering on promises made by the GOP this fall. I wish him good luck in the coming lengthy government shutdown.

    It would be interesting to know, who on this forum is on the SpaceX payroll or is paid to lobby for them? I suspect at least two. In the interests of disclosure, I am not paid by any entity connected with NASA.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    byeman wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 1:04 pm
    “n additon, they also used incorrect pricing for the SpaceX flights which are available for anyone to see on their site.”

    ‘Spacex public prices are not the same as the gov’t prices. Minotaur is cheaper to NASA.’

    This is just a statement. Evidence please? The prices listed on the graphs and in the article did not mention any additonal compliance costs for Falcon. Therefore on that basis the data used was incorrect.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    “It would be interesting to know, who on this forum is on the SpaceX payroll or is paid to lobby for them? ”

    that is a bold statement from someone who post under a fake name…

    anyway for the records. I am not on the SpaceX payroll, have never received a thin dime from them…and am not paid to lobby for them.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Home page on CNN.com:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/23/nasa.interview/index.html?hpt=C1

    The space shuttle program should have come to an end a long time ago, NASA administrator Charles Bolden told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

    The 30-year program has been kept on life support because the United States has not readied another vehicle to take its place.

    “What is not acceptable is the fact that the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America, finds itself in a situation that we didn’t do the proper planning to have a vehicle in place to replace shuttle when it lands its last landing,” Bolden said.

  • Justin Kugler

    If you’re going to accuse someone of something, amightywind, just do it. Besides, you cannot make any credible claims of “disclosure” as long as you hide behind a pseudonym.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    “It would be interesting to know, who on this forum is on the SpaceX payroll or is paid to lobby for them? ”

    It doesn’t matter and the shills are self-evident and a waste of capital expenditures. All that matters is nearly half a century after Gagarin first orbited the earth, SpaceX has flown nobody– and likely never will.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    It would be interesting to know, who on this forum is on the SpaceX payroll or is paid to lobby for them? I suspect at least two. In the interests of disclosure, I am not paid by any entity connected with NASA.

    On a witch hunt, are we? Hard to believe that some quantity of the 300 million U.S. citizens that are not part of the 1,250 SpaceX employees would see the value in a launcher that costs half as much as the competition?

    I think you’re jealous that SpaceX is making progress while your 100% government-funded franken-launchers struggle to find funding and a mission.

    Oh, and I am not associated with SpaceX in any way, and as I have stated many times, my background is in non-aerospace manufacturing, which gives me the basis to understand why Technology Review picked SpaceX as one of “The 50 Most Innovative Companies 2011” because they “Introduced a low-cost production method for everything from rocket engines to astronaut capsules.

    I don’t really care who or how we get crew and cargo to space, but we need to lower the cost over time. SpaceX is doing that, and that is why I praise them in public. Many other companies are doing the right things too, like Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada Corp, Boeing, and Bigelow, and I praise them in public too.

    Bottom line, we’ll be able to afford more space exploration with companies like SpaceX, than without them. Maybe if you understood that, you’d spend less time looking for commies on blogs.

  • Ferris Valyn

    In the interests of disclosure, I am not paid by any entity connected with NASA.

    Great
    Wonderful

    Now, if we could actually verify that, I’d be thrilled

  • Coastal Ron

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    This is just a statement. Evidence please?

    What Byeman might have been stating is that SpaceX would have negotiated different prices for the NLS II contract, either higher or lower than their list prices depending on the requirements of the contract.

    Minotaur is an interesting product, because it uses government-owned motors from the retired Peacekeeper missile inventory. It’s hard to compete against what is essentially a government-subsidized launcher, but it’s legitimate for a customer (i.e. the government) to say “I’ve got free motors you can use if it makes my launch costs less expensive.

    Of course that kills a segment of the market that SpaceX would have liked to have, which is why they filed the protest – nothing to lose, and everything to gain. They lost the protest, which is probably part of the reason they are putting less work into Falcon 1e for now, and more on Falcon 9 Heavy (less market niche competition).

    My $0.02

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Ah amightywind…

    Whether one receives money from SpaceX or not does not matter if their argument is well founded. Were you to receive cash from ATK and were you to make a sane argument about its values and capabilities then we all could have a conversation with you. But so far we haven’t.

    What you fail to understand it seems is that not only SpaceX, but Boeing, ULA, BO and all under NASA contract are being reviewed by NASA. Such is life when you have a contract with the government. They just don’t give away cash.

    Now of course if you are a former exec at ATK sitting in an exec role at NASA and then ATK gets a sole source contract for Constellation you might wonder? Right? Can you say the same thing for SpaceX? Can you?

    http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/horowitz.html
    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2007/aug/HQ_C07036_Ares_first_stage.html

    But if some people here are actually receiving, or not, money from SpaceX, or from Boeing or from NOAA or the NBA, so what? Is this all you got? Pretty lame. As usual.

  • common sense

    @Ryan Crierie wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    “I think when we look back at Constellation 10-20 years down the road, the bullet points that stand out for us will be:

    1.) It got NASA looking beyond LEO in a serious way.”

    No Constellation did not. But the VSE did indeed.

  • common sense

    @ VirgilSamms wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    “Got to have an escape system, which takes years to develop and test- and Dragon has nothing. Little details like that get overlooked and control the flow of history.”

    VirgilSamms ah you too… Well see Liberty now has a new second stage. The LES or LAS has to be designed for the whole system. And up until now it was not designed for an Astrium 2nd stage.

    So in actuality ATK does not have a LAS nor a LES. Period.

  • GuessWho

    Oler – “… that is a bold statement from someone who post under a fake name…”

    Kugler – “Besides, you cannot make any credible claims of “disclosure” as long as you hide behind a pseudonym.”

    Are you saying he is being untruthful? Not that I agree with most of what he writes, but if you are calling him out on his disclosure, then what evidence do you have that he is being dishonest?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ February 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    “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.”
    then latter you wrote:

    “. This was nearly achieved by NASA’s shuttle, which has a marginal cost for each flight of only $60 million. ”

    I know this is on the other thread, but your entire post, illustrated by the quotes, shows you simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE.

    The notion that the shuttle has a marginal cost of “only” 60 million falls on its face…but people, including you rush to marginal cost when TOTAL cost are simply so high as to be nearly unbelievable.

    What you cannot seem to grasp is that NO technology development can lower cost when the basic concepts of how to “Operate” a vehicle are the basic cost driver themselves.

    A 737 of any version would be expensive if it were operated as NASA operates (and I include maintaining as well) the shuttle. Launch campaigns that require literally thousands, a mission control system that is one layer upon layer of people…all are what is driving the cost. We will never know what the shuttle system could have actually been operated for, because NASA never tried to find out. From how the folks who fly the shuttle are trained to what they are trained to do, to how the shuttle is “rebuilt” between flights there never has been serious cost reductions.

    If airlines trained their pilots Like astronauts are trained for the task of simply “flying” the vehicle…it would cost literally hundreds of thousands, maybe millions to train pilots.

    What SpaceX has done is not invent new hardware, but has gone back to the basic method of operation that brought us Gemini and Mercury and the basic method of design that brought us the F-4 and F-14…

    I realize you cannot grasp that…but NASA could invent an engine that fired 10 times before any “maintenance” had to be done on it, and under the current system they would find something for the hundreds or thousands of people who crank up the SSME’s to do…..or they would not save cost.

    When you learn why Ares has the number of people working on it in design and FAlcon 9 had a much smaller number….and neither was “cutting edge technology” you will have grown up.
    Robert G. Oler

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Bit of a hide thereblowsahotwind. Like Robert, nothing to do with SpaceX, either lobbyist or employee or consultant. But wish I was.
    Neil Shipley Perth Western Australia.

  • Justin Kugler

    GuessWho, disclosure only matters if it can be verified. We have no way of knowing whether amightywind is telling the truth or not, so his “disclosure” is essentially worthless.

  • …SpaceX has flown nobody– and likely never will.

    I wouldn’t bet money on that statement if I were you, you’d lose for certain.

    FWIW, I have to applaud your stand, because I know a lot of people who advocate what you want, but it’ll never happen because the international banksters won’t make money from it, unless they can find a way to bleed it from taxpayers.

    And the taxpayers, although they like space adventures, don’t want to pay for them.

    Elon Musk, and other smaller aerospace firms who want a piece of the ISS pie, acknowledge NASA’s help and are able to take a small investment like COTS and turn it into something needed and profitable.

    ~ Bryan A. Brown, aka dad2059, dad, grand-dad, manufacturing technician and Marine Corps Veteran (1977 – 1984).

  • amightywind

    But if some people here are actually receiving, or not, money from SpaceX

    Whether one receives money from SpaceX or not does not matter if their argument is well founded.

    Spoken like true astroturfers. If I need to explain ‘conflict of interest’ to you I am wasting my time.

    Like Robert, nothing to do with SpaceX, either lobbyist or employee or consultant.

    Congratulations, you are both off the hook.

    Now of course if you are a former exec at ATK sitting in an exec role at NASA and then ATK…

    I am not involved with ATK in any way, nor have I ever owned their stock.

  • Bennett

    I too, praise SpaceX in public, along with any other company who is working to lower launch costs and move our HSF programs forward (public and government). That SpaceX has achieved more, faster, for less money than any other aerospace contractor earns them a big cheer from me! That they do so in the most open way possible, including engine test and launch videos gets them a cheer from my 5 year old son.

    I am not affiliated with, nor receive money from anyone for my comments here or anywhere else on the web.

    Bennett Dawson, Fairfield Vermont

  • amightywind

    Justin Kugler wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    GuessWho, disclosure only matters if it can be verified. We have no way of knowing whether amightywind is telling the truth or not, so his “disclosure” is essentially worthless.

    “The treacherous are ever distrustful.” You’ve been open about being a NASA employee, so I take your arguments the same way I take the argument of a member of a public union for higher wages and benefits.

  • Bennett wrote:

    That they do so in the most open way possible, including engine test and launch videos gets them a cheer from my 5 year old son.

    Someone came up to me during my museum lecture yesterday and insisted that the Falcon 9 had actually blown up, and that SpaceX had all the videos online destroyed to cover it up.

    Sheesh.

    I told him I had personally watched both Falcon 9 launches at CCAFS and that neither had blown up. He didn’t have an answer for that.

  • Bennett

    Stephen,

    Wow, scary!

    Just proves that nutjobs are everywhere, not just here on Space Politcs… ;-)

  • Justin Kugler

    amightywind, that quote makes no sense in this context. How can you implicitly accuse me of deception when I have been open and honest about who I am, what I do, and where I get my data from? I’m not the one hiding behind a psuedonym and throwing up FUD in the debates here.

  • In the interests of disclosure, I am not paid by any entity connected with NASA.

    Great
    Wonderful

    Now, if we could actually verify that, I’d be thrilled

    Oh, I’m sure it’s true. It would be counterproductive for ATK to hire morons to shill for them.

    Are you saying he is being untruthful? Not that I agree with most of what he writes, but if you are calling him out on his disclosure, then what evidence do you have that he is being dishonest?

    His multiple untruthful comments here, over many months? Of course, he may not being dishonest. He’s probably simply ignorant enough to believe them.

  • Why does anyone here respond to the troll?

    Ignore it.

    If it wants to play Joe McCarthy, let it. Unlike McCarthy, it doesn’t have subpoena powers. So ignore it.

  • Bennett wrote:

    Just proves that nutjobs are everywhere, not just here on Space Politcs…

    Someone came into our History Center a couple months ago and insisted the Moon landings had been faked. I just laughed at him.

  • amightywind

    His multiple untruthful comments here, over many months? Of course, he may not being dishonest. He’s probably simply ignorant enough to believe them.

    Here is a truth I have deduced. I believe you are being paid by SpaceX to advocate for them. It is not a crime. But you should disclose it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Not too far in our past, patriotic members of Congress asked “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?” to fellow citizens. We all know how that ended.

    Amightywind is doing the same here. It doesn’t matter what answer you give him/her, because no answer will ever satisfy.

    Someone with a name is still suspect (Justin).

    Someone posting with a pseudonym, who then reveals their names, are still suspect (Beancounter from Downunder & dad2059).

    Amightywind asks for more proof than they are willing to provide. How do you prove that you don’t work for SpaceX when Amightywind doesn’t even know who the 1,250 employees of SpaceX are? Even his/her claims that he/she doesn’t own stock in ATK are unverifiable. Amightywind could even be a former ATK employee, and there is no way for us to know, regardless how much he/she says otherwise.

    There is no need to defend your reputation to Amightywind, so don’t try. Instead, maybe it’s time to review who is on your Dwight Schrute inspired “shun” list.

  • amightywind

    Amightywind is doing the same here. It doesn’t matter what answer you give him/her, because no answer will ever satisfy.

    I already cleared ‘Beancounter from Downunder, dad2059′. I am satisfied. They are silly and ignorant, but honest. I think it is honest to reveal conflicts of interest in the course of vigorous debate of politics. I have written truthfully that I have no conflict of interest. Your choice if you wish not to believe it. Anonymity is another matter. Traditionally anonymity has been preserved on the net to enhance freedom and prevent reprisals. Read about people who have been terrorized on the social media and you will understand. As one who has had their identity stolen before I think this is a good thing. Net cops might think otherwise.

  • Here is a truth I have deduced.

    Is that like the “truth” you “deduced” that the first Falcon 9 launch didn’t deliver its payload to orbit? You couldn’t “deduce” your way out of a wet kleenex.

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 1:23 am

    wrote:
    Oler – “… that is a bold statement from someone who post under a fake name…”

    Are you saying he is being untruthful? ”

    I cannot say that because I have no way of knowing anything about “wind” or you or anyone else who post under a complete made up name.

    What is a reality is that the statement is just an attempt to divert debate onto something that he/she can bang on for a few cycles and the basics of his/her statement that have been directly challenged by me and others forgotten.

    It is a pretty good right wing rhetoric position.

    Make a claim that Saddam has WMD and then when challenged on it the folks in the administration came back “do you think Saddam is a good leader”…completely dodging responsibility for the claim.

    “Wind” has made claims repeatedly that are BS and I called him on it in this post this thread

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    he doesnt have the horsepower to answer it…so he tossed a dodge

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @amightywind wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    “I already cleared ‘Beancounter from Downunder, dad2059′. I am satisfied.”

    Wow! You are “satisfied”? You “cleared” them!!! Who exactly do you think you are? I resisted the word “troll” until now but you are not even a troll. See buddy the USG actually clear people not you. We don’t need a total self important moron to clear us.

    “Anonymity is another matter. Traditionally anonymity has been preserved on the net to enhance freedom and prevent reprisals. Read about people who have been terrorized on the social media and you will understand. As one who has had their identity stolen before I think this is a good thing. Net cops might think otherwise.”

    Yeah of course. Anonymity is good for you but not for the rest of us right? I don’t know why the others felt the need to disclose who they are to you.

  • Justin Kugler

    Good analogy, Stephen, and good advice.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I have written truthfully that I have no conflict of interest.

    So you say, but you offer no proof.

    Besides, what’s the difference between an ATK investor/employee and an ATK fanboi? One gets material compensation, and the other doesn’t, but both sound the same when they post anonymously on blogs.

    But for some reason you have a problem with SpaceX, despite them having far less employees (1,250) than ATK (18,000 worldwide), which means far more potential blog posters in favor of ATK. But since the overwhelming blog posts are NOT in favor of ATK, I guess ATK employee/investors are not very ardent online supporters. How telling.

    Probably the funniest thing is that if I dig down far enough into my mutual fund investment portfolio’s, I’d probably find I’m an investor in ATK – still wouldn’t change my opinion that Ares I was a dangerous rocket and a financial money pit, and that Liberty will never supplant liquid-fueled competitors.

    But for the subject at hand (who can you trust), my suggestion to you would be to assume that EVERYONE who posts on this blog is a SpaceX employee, and that they are ALL out to get you… ;-)

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Classic. Thanks for the perfect end to my evening.

  • “I already cleared ‘Beancounter from Downunder, dad2059′. I am satisfied.”

    Wow! You are “satisfied”? You “cleared” them!!! Who exactly do you think you are? I resisted the word “troll” until now but you are not even a troll. See buddy the USG actually clear people not you. We don’t need a total self important moron to clear us.

    As I mentioned earlier (the comment didn’t get posted) I’m not worried about Windy and his channeling of Joe McCarthy, I outed myself for my own reasons. Besides, unlike most folks now-a-days, I still find clowns entertaining! ;)

    If anything, Windy is guilty of projecting and probably a paid troll himself.

    Anybody can write anything on the Internet.

  • common sense

    @ dad2059 wrote @ February 25th, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Yeah he has his own ways to p@@ off people. I guess he caught me off guard with his second rate McCarthy-ism.

    Oh well…

  • Bennett

    Posting my real name on this thread wasn’t to provide windy with anything. Lord knows I don’t need the approval of someone like him.

    It was mainly for the folks that use their full names as a matter of course. I usually go by my first name for no particular reason, habit I suppose, but I have no problem posting to the boards that want folks to do so under their actual name.

  • DCSCA

    dad2059 wrote @ February 24th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    It’s a safe bet. A smart one, too. Point is, with respect to SpaceX, there’s just no sound business rationale for investing millions into developing a manned LEO space capsule with the ISS as a destination at this point in time. Assuming all goes well, they might- just might- get one flying by 2015 but the ISS is slated for splash in 2020 and operational funding, at least in the U.S., is going to get increasingly difficult to secure as the Age of Austerity engulfs the American economy. It makes no business sense.If this was 1998 and trhey began to develop it as the ISS began constructuio, yes. But now, it’s a waste. And Musk knows it. They have no verified, operational ECS. And the investor community sees no viable ROI in such an enterprise. A cargoed Dragon may show promise and contractually is in work. But manned spacecraft- why bother. It would never be profitable. And there are other avenues of access to the ISS in existence. Soyuz et al., operational as well. The ISS is the end of an era — or error- in HSF planning. If there’s a future for American HSF it’s with Orion, not these goofy LEO space pods.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 23rd, 2011 at 9:37 pm
    Home page on CNN.com:

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/23/nasa.interview/index.html?hpt=C1

    The space shuttle program should have come to an end a long time ago, NASA administrator Charles Bolden told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

    The 30-year program has been kept on life support because the United States has not readied another vehicle to take its place.

    This didn’t stop Bolden from climbing aboard and riding the stack four times. He knows had he voiced any criticisms then he’d have been kicked out of line. He’s useless as an administator and will turn 65 in August.. He’ll grab those pensions before the money dries up and retire by the end of FY2011.

  • C. Adelphia

    DCSCA wrote @ February 25th, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    …with respect to SpaceX, there’s just no sound business rationale for investing millions into developing a manned LEO space capsule with the ISS as a destination at this point in time.

    The sound business rationale is to make more money than they spend, which with $56M seats being sold by Soyuz, won’t be too hard for the Falcon 9/Dragon.

    …but the ISS is slated for splash in 2020…

    No, they are getting ready to extend the funding for the ISS from 2015 to 2020. There has been no talk about ending the ISS program.

    They have no verified, operational ECS.

    There is a NASA verified ECS on Dragon, since it is designed for maintaining a breathable atmosphere inside the capsule until it docks with the ISS (can’t contaminate the ISS air when they open it). After it undocks from the ISS, it’s ECS will keep live cargo safe until retrieved back on Earth.

    For crew, they’ll likely need a more robust ECS (Environmental Control System), and that is what CCDev funded with Paragon Systems (an ECS & ARS). No need to get concerned about things that aren’t needed yet.

    And the investor community sees no viable ROI in such an enterprise.

    Since SpaceX does not trade their stock on the public market, there is no way to know that. In fact they have already received investment from savvy investors (Silicon Valley VC’s), so if anything, “the investor community” has not been adverse. Until SpaceX IPO’s, there is no way for you, or anyone else outside of the company, to know what investors think. But considering that Elon Musk has already lead two other companies through an IPO, and has announced that SpaceX will IPO, it’s looking pretty good for them.

    And there are other avenues of access to the ISS in existence. Soyuz et al.

    Soyuz et al is just Soyuz – there is no et al after the Shuttle, and Shuttle could only maintain crew at the ISS for two week periods.

    The business opportunity that SpaceX, Boeing, SNC et al are pursuing is not only the ISS slice of the business (at $56M/seat), but also the potential Bigelow business. Keep in mind also that as reliable as the Soyuz has been all these years, it’s very cramped, and only carries two passengers outside of it’s mandatory pilot/commander – all the U.S. systems will be able to carry at least 5 passengers in additional to it’s crew.

    If there’s a future for American HSF it’s with Orion, not these goofy LEO space pods.

    Considering that Orion/MPCV has about the same interior volume as Dragon (and likely all the other vehicles), the only difference is how long the consumables can keep the occupants alive – not a ringing endorsement for space exploration. And besides, no one is going to live in a capsule as they go BEO, so Orion will be resigned to taxi duty – just like Dragon.

  • Justin Kugler

    I work on the Station Program. We are not planning to “splash” it in 2020. In fact, we’ve been told to plan as if we’re going out to 2028.

  • DCSCA

    @Justin Kugler wrote @ February 26th, 2011 at 9:47 am
    That’s sound planning if this was 1998 but in 2011, it’s ‘make work’ paper shuffling and good for morale for people who are living in the past on paychecks which have 42 cents of every dollar borrowed. The people of the United States are facing a very bleak and austere future and ain’t gonna fund that turkey as the Age of Austerity closes in. Tell a granny who has to pay $5/gallon for gas and astronomical healthcare costs that the she has to suffer so the space station can keep flying. It represents past planning. Americans aren’t going to pay for that kind of ‘luxury’ when necessities like their bridges and their roads are crumbling. Wake up and smell the coffee– and be advised, a lot of Americans can’t afford a can of coffee any more.

  • DCSCA

    @C. Adelphia wrote @ February 25th, 2011 at 10:31 pm
    Dragon has no ECS for crewed flight. Which is what it’s all about. Investing millions into a LEO crewed ‘space pod’ designed to access a space station scheduled to splash by 2020 makes no business sense, particularly as a redundancy to the tried and true Soyuz- even if they managed to get a crewed craft flying by 2015- it will never be profitable and depends on government contracting; a government which has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends. It’s a tickst to no place. Cargoed, fine. Crewed, no way. Won’t happen– simply not economically viable for a ‘for profit’ company to do it now– maybe in 1998, but not now.

  • DCSCA

    @C. Adelphia wrote @ February 25th, 2011 at 10:31 pm
    Musk’s funding is chiefly from his circle of cronies and his own $. Look it up. He’s not really expanding his investor base, hence the back room attempts to pry capital subsidies from the government- which has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends. It’s a luxury a cash-strapped country desperate to fund necessities cannot afford.

  • C. Adelphia

    DCSCA wrote @ February 26th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Dragon has no ECS for crewed flight.

    Yet, but then again, there is no requirement for crew flights yet. However, once Congress funds the Commercial Crew program, then that will change.

    a space station scheduled to splash by 2020

    You keep saying this – can you point to legislation approved by Congress for this, or is this just your “hope”?

    particularly as a redundancy to the tried and true Soyuz

    Once an American alternative is available, the “Buy American” type legislation kicks in, and NASA is obligated to buy from an American crew provider. The other ISS partners are not so obligated, so Soyuz will still get business for ISS needs, but the first American company will be in a good position.

    it will never be profitable and depends on government contracting

    “Never” is a long time. You also don’t know what their pricing will be, which heavily influences eventual profitability. Regarding government contracting, how is that any different than what Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATK or literally thousands of NASA government contractors do? Do you expect NASA to do everything themselves, without using contractors to save the taxpayer money?

    Cargoed, fine. Crewed, no way. Won’t happen

    There is a bigger need for crew alternatives than cargo, so it looks like the crew is a better bet. We can revisit this next year, and see who’s right.

  • C. Adelphia

    DCSCA wrote @ February 26th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Musk’s funding is chiefly from his circle of cronies and his own $.

    Money is money – it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Startups, which is what SpaceX was when they received the investment, don’t get money from a wide circle of people, so what do you expect until they IPO?

    He’s not really expanding his investor base…

    Sure, at least until they IPO. SEC rules impose certain limits on the number of investors non-public companies can have (Facebook ran into this problem recently), so they wouldn’t have tried for a large base of investors until they IPO. But keep in mind also, that when they IPO, they will have a plan for the money they take in, which will be interesting.

    Next year is going to be an interesting year, and one where you’ll find out whether you’re right or not. All things considered, I don’t think you will. We’ll revisit this next year too.

  • DCSCA

    @C. Adelphia wrote @ February 26th, 2011 at 10:29 pm
    Everything you say hinges on ‘next year’ and time is not an ally in this instance for space operations- public or private– nor for deepening economic woes facing the U.S. Musk is not expanding his investor base and attracting new interest– something even a crewed suborbital flight would have done and maintaining ‘no requirement for crewed flight yet’ is a poor excuse– ‘commercial space’ is ‘required’ to reach that milestone for a place at the table and they’ve wanted that for 30-plus years. ‘Money is money’ is a bogus assertion– particularly when you’re presenting your firm as a ‘for profit’ enterprise yet go begging for it from a government which has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends while the private sector balks. Cargoed Dragons may just get operating due to contractual obligations but crewed Dragons doubtful- there’s just no economic rationale for it, particularly from investors who want a good ROI within a reasonable time frame. Re-ISS splash- they were talking 2015 just a few years ago. ISS repreents old planning from an era that has ended. LEO ‘space pods’ crewed or otherwise developed to access it ‘for profit’ are tickets to no place. Government investment in Orion as a GP spacecraft makes more sense for mid and long term planning; Soyuz for crewing the ISS ’til splash in 2020 or so as well as America disengages from economic commitments to the ISS through the decade as the era of the Age of Austerity engulfs the nation. In the immediate future, the U.S. has necessities like roads and bridges to fund; heathcare and general infrastructure reconstruction to fund and manage as well as geo-political commitments to maintain for energy and security requirements… not pay for ‘luxuries’ like a space station. Luxuries representing planning and thinking from another fiscal era decades past, that’s long gone.

  • C. Adelphia

    DCSCA wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Everything you say hinges on ‘next year’ and time is not an ally in this instance for space operations

    NASA has their crew needs taken care of through 2015 (Soyuz), so there is no rush to develop commercial crew. SpaceX could certainly upgrade their Dragon for crew within 3 years, and they will have lots of Dragon cargo flights to use for validation. You still haven’t made the case for why Dragon can’t do crew. Why?

    Even Boeing can step up to build CST-100 and fly it within 3 years, as Atlas V can do test flights without modification, and adding human-rating to Atlas V is a known quantity that is already being validated with CCDev work.

    Musk is not expanding his investor base and attracting new interest…

    Why does he need to? They have customers paying them, they have been profitable for 4 years, and the only large project left (Dragon Crew) is an incremental evolution of an existing product. Of course once they IPO, your whole argument goes away.

    ‘commercial space’ is ‘required’ to reach that milestone for a place at the table

    It looks like you keep creating fictitious milestones for everyone. All commercial space has to do is run a profitable business. Beyond that, everything else is bonus.

    NASA is the one that lacks choices, since it currently relies on just one provider for keeping crew at the ISS (Russia’s Soyuz), which is part of the reason why Congress created the law stating that commercial crew is to be the primary method of supporting the ISS. Whether that’s SpaceX, Boeing, SNC or whoever doesn’t matter, it just matters that the operations transfers from a government entity (NASA) to a commercial one.

    Your focus on SpaceX is missing the forest for the trees, since it’s a commercial crew system (more than one) that is the goal, not just one company.

    Government investment in Orion as a GP spacecraft makes more sense for mid and long term planning

    It’s funny how in one place you rail against the national debt, but in another you’re giddy over government spending on something that by law is only a backup for commercial services, but otherwise doesn’t have a funded need. How is that fiscally responsible?

    Re-ISS splash- they were talking 2015 just a few years ago.

    So you missed the whole 2011 NASA Authorization Act where they extended the ISS to at least 2020?

    Where are you reading that they are going to splash it after 2020?

    as America disengages from economic commitments to the ISS through the decade

    I guess this is your opinion, but so far Congress has not agreed with you. Time will tell.

  • DCSCA

    @C. Adelphia wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 6:41 pm
    It’s hardly a ‘focus’ on SpaceX but they are demanding government contracts and subsidies from a treasury that borrows 42 cents of every dollar it spends and it’s Musk’s own fault for hyping his firm that it has become a lightning rod. Generally speaking, ‘commercial space’ has had thre or four decades to get crewed spacecraft flying and they keep running into the same problem- little to no ROI for investors and a requirement for a high level of capital investment to get started. The private sector balks; that’s why governments do it. And a consolidation of civilian, military and black ops space operations is long overdue. NASA’s future is as a department/division of the DoD for planning and survivability. If ‘commercial space’ probes ever discovered oil on the moon– or gold– or uranium, as in the case of Hollywood’s 1949 classic, ‘Destination Moon’– then the commercial profiteers would become rocketeers very fast. Strip out the entertainment elements and you’ll see the business plan in that flick, updated of course, is pretty good.

    Re: ISS 2015-2020. No, you miss the point- that’s the thinking in play these days. It’s on the down hill track to splash. Forget about it in planning. It represents the past and any capital investments, public or private, for it are a waste. There are a dozen people there now at government expense (an expense of which 42 cents on the dollar is borrowed) and nobody knows what they’re doing, what they’ve accomplished since its elements were under assembly and what possible rationale there can be for funnelling billions more (billions BTW,currently borrowed at 42 cents of each dollar spent) into it with no ROI financial or scientific to the Treasury. It’s a white elephant; a make work project for the aerospace industry since the late 80s which has reached the end of the gravy train. It has no value as a way-station for BEO missions which as of now do not exist nor have any funding. The only immediate hope of any HSF future in that arena is Orion. The ISS a monument to government waste; a techno-luxury of past planning from a different economic era in a time when Americans are looking to cut this kind of waste and fund necessities for our times. It is obtuse for this era of American history. A space station is simply not a necessity without any commitment to an Orion-styled spacecraft and the sooner America disengages from it economically, the better. It’s the only turkey you’ll ever see fly.

  • C. Adelphia

    DCSCA wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    You certainly hold strong views, but they are conflicted.

    On the one hand you like to point out that the government spending is “borrowed at 42 cents of each dollar spent“, but instead of encouraging the private sector to create jobs (and tax revenue), you place your faith in a capsule with no mission, and 100% funded by those same borrowed dollars. Why do you believe that government is the answer?

    And regarding the ISS, it represents not only a $100B investment that you gleefully want to throw away, but it also represents the only funded mission for NASA and U.S. citizens. You would rather reduce our presence in space from over 1,000 days a year (3 U.S. astronauts on the ISS), to at most 80 days (an MPCV mission)? Hard to understand how that is better for HSF overall.

    Luckily Congress doesn’t agree with your views (nor I obviously), and by next year the commercial crew situation will be sorted out enough to know if your view dominates (100% government) or was just wishful thinking.

    Signing off on this thread…

  • Vladislaw

    “SpaceX but they are demanding government contracts and subsidies”

    Show me the document where SpaceX DEMANDED contracts and subisdies?

  • Coastal Ron

    C. Adelphia wrote @ February 28th, 2011 at 1:04 am

    …by next year the commercial crew situation will be sorted out enough to know if your view dominates (100% government) or was just wishful thinking.

    I think it may be sooner than that, especially with the budget crunch coming up.

    So far the Tea Party wing of the Republican party has not shown any interest in re-living Constellation or any other grand plans, and with commercial space making lots of good progress, Congress will start wondering why NASA is being told to build a launcher & capsule that don’t have a funded mission.

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