NASA

Would a human spaceflight decadal survey be useful?

Tucked away in last year’s NASA authorization act is a provision calling for an independent study about human spaceflight:

SEC. 204. INDEPENDENT STUDY ON HUMAN EXPLORATION OF SPACE.

(a) IN GENERAL.-In fiscal year 2012 the Administrator shall contract with the National Academies for a review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight, using the goals set forth in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, the goals set forth in this Act, and goals set forth in any existing statement of space policy issued by the President.

The study’s scope, timeframe (the legislation calls for “findings and recommendations” for fiscal years 2014-2023), and use of the National Academies has caused many people to liken this to the decadal surveys used in various space science disciplines, such as the recently-released planetary science decadal survey. But would such a study for human spaceflight be effective?

That question was debated last week during the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation “Living in Space” session, part of the Satellite 2011 trade show in Washington. While the session was sparsely attended, with no more than about 15 people in the audience, the event featured a good debate about whether such a study will make much of a difference in shaping the long-term future of human spaceflight.

“Part of the problem, the reason why we’ve been going around and around and around, is that we have not been forced to reach a consensus” on the goals of human spaceflight, said NASA’s Phil McAlister. “This is why I believe in this Academies-like study that will allow the human spaceflight community to come together, like the science community has done for years and years, effectively.”

“With that kind of document and blueprint… then finally, maybe, we can get the long-term consensus required to actually finish one of these programs,” he said. “That is my sincere hope.”

Marcia Smith of SpacePolicyOnline.com, who previously worked at the National Academies, is more skeptical of the utility of a human spaceflight decadal survey. One concern she has is the scope of such a study. “You don’t do a decadal survey for ‘space science.’ The communities are too diverse,” she said. Instead, there are separate decadals for astronomy, planetary science, and other fields, narrow enough to make it likely to achieve consensus on goals. “I do not believe you can do that with human spaceflight, and I have been encouraging everyone I know to not call this thing that Congress is requesting a decadal survey.”

Scientific decadal surveys also benefit from strong leadership from scientists universally accepted by the community, such as Mars scientist Steve Squyres in the recent planetary science decadal or Roger Blandford in the astronomy and astrophysics decadal released last year. Smith wondered if there was a person with similar standing in the human spaceflight community to lead this study. “The human spaceflight community is so fragmented, and there are so many groups that want to do this, that, or the other, I cannot think of a single individual” with the standing of a Blandford or Squyres, she said. Anyone selected, she suggested, should be somewhat younger than chairs of past space studies like Norm Augustine and Tom Young. “I don’t know an individual who has that kind of support in the human spaceflight community, whatever that is,” she said.

Smith added that while decadal surveys look good to outsiders, they have their flaws and drawbacks as well. Well-connected scientists, she said, can do end runs around the surveys and win funding for their own programs regardless of their standing in the surveys’ final reports. Last year’s astrophysics decadal survey generated controversy when, instead of recommending one of the many mission concepts presented to it as the community’s top priority, it created a new mission called WFIRST. “There is this myth that somehow decadal surveys solve all of your problems,” she said.

McAlister, though, saw a decadal survey, as imperfect as it might be, as better than the current state of affairs. “I don’t see any plan for getting this community together that even has a hope or a chance as good as the decadal,” he said. “Noting its issues, that, to me, that has by far the best potential for bringing the community together.”

79 comments to Would a human spaceflight decadal survey be useful?

  • Another exercise on paper that will accomplish nothing. It won’t have the force of law nor will it compel the members of Congress to change their porking ways.

  • Das Boese

    What good would such a survey do? You know politicians are just gonna ignore it if it doesn’t suit their desire for pork or their ideology.

  • Doug Lassiter

    The problem with this is the implementation. Who is going to represent the space community in deciding priorities for human space flight. Who is the space community?

    An associated problem is how such a report would be accepted by Congress. Sure, the Authorizers are asking here for a prioritization, but while Congress is willing to let scientists tell them what the most important science goals are, I can’t believe Congress is really be willing to let anyone tell them what human space flight goals should be.

    That being said, an organized and inclusive discussion about the purpose of human space flight is in the national interest. We as a nation really don’t understand what human space flight is for. We’ve been afraid to ask the question. We hide behind words we don’t understand, like “exploration” and “inspiration”. Those who think, for example, that human space flight is to space exploration as the Lewis and Clark expedition was to exploration of our continent are seriously deluded. I think what Congress is reaching for here is that kind of discussion, which has been touched on by contemporary high level reviews, such as that of the recent Augustine committee, and the Aldridge commission.That takes some courage to ask the question, and I applaud Congress for doing so.

    Of course, federally funded human spaceflight takes center stage here. We don’t need to tell Elon what his priorities should be. But NASA’s charter doesn’t explicitly address human space flight. Maybe it should. This discussion could help understand how such a rechartering might best be done.

  • ST-1

    How many more studies do we need? Lets commission yet another study to think through the same stuff yet again? Please, stop wasting time and resources thinking about something that we already know. Just make a decision already!

  • Anyone remember this:

    http://history.nasa.gov/staffordrep/main_toc.PDF

    The Space Exploration Initiative by President Bush.

    No, not the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush II. This was a similar effort by President Bush I in 1989.

    I was there when Bush I announced it on the steps of the National Air and Space Museum, on the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were lined up on the dais. Bush said we would return to the Moon, then go to Mars.

    He directed the above study.

    Which went nowhere.

  • amightywind

    The debate over the shuttle follow on has raged since 2003. We need to cut iron! We need to build a 200mT class launcher for LEO cargo and earth departure stages, and a 30mT launcher for Orion. All that is required is a GOP President and congressional majority. We are almost there.

  • guest

    I don’t think there is anyone in the HSF community who is a recognized well accepted stand-out in the field to lead such an effort. There are a few leaders that have been around for awhile but you would be hard-pressed to identify that they ever accomplished anything in particular to put them in a leadership position. That is what too many years of too many astronauts and flight directors lead to. Astronauts are available by the hundreds and they all did a great job (by definition) but their job was usually just to do what they were told. Flight Directors are a bit less common, but again their main job was to do what the rule books said. Leaders who have actually designed and developed spacecraft, used creativity, developed new capable organizations that have actually done the critical work of getting a new systems developed and on-line, there is essentially no one in the program today. It is interesting that in the new JSC organization just announced so few astronauts or flight directors made the cut, but then the others that did make it into the leadership ranks are mostly indistinguishable by their achievements; in fact many came out of the Constellation organization where they certainly did not distinguish themselves.

    Is a decadal survey needed? I think that what is needed is a roadmap of what we are doing and where we are going. It needs to cover more than a decade. We need a von Braun 1950s paradign. von Braun did not get a lot of it right but he laid out some neat ideas and he publicized them with the help of Colliers and Walt Disney, so that when the opportunity arose, in 1957, people of the nation could understand what the dream was about. von Braun’s ideas led to the Gilruth’s, Faget’s, Low’s, Kraft and the early leaders that invented manned space flight and carried out Apollo.

    No one in HSF leadership today has shown any of this kind of creativity or salesmanship and none have any practical experience in actually developing anything. In fact what Constellation was, was exactly the opposite. Apollo on steroids was an apt description. After several years of that misdirection, why it was that any of it was being done was a question. That is the most disappointing aspect of the ‘new’ JSC organization. Its the same old people recycled; do we really expect to see any new ideas?

    The Nautilus concept of a long term maintainable, upgradable, solar system spacecraft is the right approach, certainly picking up now where we are with the ISS. Ideas of using existing boosters to create depots, taking a baby step approach to new capability development – that is certainly something that NASA needs to embrace in the current budgetary environment.

    I don’t think that what is needed is a decadal survey. I think NASA ought to offer a prize to anyone, inside or outside, to create the best roadmap and sales pitch. The competitive submissions need to be reviewed without anyone’s names attached so that the nation gets an unbiased review and selects the best approach.

  • With the passing of the shuttle era, the ISS and Soyuz are all that remain of the cold war, and we need a new motivation for a government-sponsored human space program.

    Decadal surveys have successfully guided the goals, scope and budget of astrophysics and robotic exploration of the solar system for several decades, and may be adapted to human space flight.

    I think that some kind of “consensus review” is needed in order to direct NASA’s (and other NASA partners) priorities with human space flight. There has been no clear sustainable direction since the decision to build the ISS. A survery would probably have to be done in some period less than a decade-maybe every five or six years. It could identify a timeline and budget for specific goals needed to successfully move beyond LEO–for example, what is the best way to mitigate the effects of 0 g, how to protect against cosmic radiation, what promising propulsion technologies should be developed.

    I see these as developments that are currently beyond what commercial space deals with, but would not limit the utilization of commercial space in order to achieve them.

  • Egad

    > That being said, an organized and inclusive discussion about the purpose of human space flight is in the national interest.

    Asking “Why are we doing this?” is usually a useful exercise. OTOH, one needs to remember the wise proverb “Don’t ask the question if you can’t stand the answer.”

    Smiley, I guess.

  • Actually, the Augustine panel did start to address this, when it said that if the goal wasn’t to settle space, then it made no sense to be sending people there, but few paid any attention to it.

  • With the passing of the shuttle era, the ISS and Soyuz are all that remain of the cold war, and we need a new motivation for a government-sponsored human space program.

    Decadal surveys have successfully guided the goals, scope and budget of astrophysics and robotic exploration of the solar system for several decades, and may be adapted to human space flight.

    I think that some kind of “consensus review” is needed in order to direct NASA’s (and other NASA partners) priorities with human space flight. There has been no clear sustainable direction since the decision to build the ISS. A survey would probably have to be done in some period less than a decade-maybe every five or six years. It could identify a timeline and budget for specific goals needed to successfully move beyond LEO–for example, what is the best way to mitigate the effects of 0 g, how to protect against cosmic radiation, what promising propulsion technologies should be developed.

    I see these as developments that are currently beyond what commercial space deals with, but would not limit the utilization of commercial space in order to achieve them.

  • mike shupp

    Doug Lassiter:

    “That being said, an organized and inclusive discussion about the purpose of human space flight is in the national interest. We as a nation really don’t understand what human space flight is for.”

    Really? We’ve been putting people in orbit for 50 years now, and nobody knows why. We spend billions each year here and in Russian and China and countries like Japan and India mull the idea of human spaceflight and no one on earth has the slightest clue about what’s going on. It’s all some great mystery.

    You really believe that?

  • Justin Kugler

    Okay, then, ST-1. What is the purpose and direction of human space flight?

  • Brandon

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and nominate Wayne Hale to lead it. He’s not perfect, but I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather do it. Gerst would be a good option as well.

    For real kicks and giggles, nominate Elon Musk.

  • amightywind

    He’s not perfect, but I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather do it. Gerst would be a good option as well. For real kicks and giggles, nominate Elon Musk.

    The problem is not planning, it is partisanship. What good is a great plan, like Constellation, when the other side sabotages it at the first opportunity. We currently have a compromise Senate plan, and the unabashedly political and recalcitrant NASA leadership won’t even implement that.

  • Vladislaw

    Great plan? What universe are you from?

    Over budget, behind schedule, constant design changes, cost plus contracts. If this is what defines a great plan, we better just stick with really bad plans. Like spending 278 million for COTS where we actually got a launch into orbit.

  • We currently have a compromise Senate plan, and the unabashedly political and recalcitrant NASA leadership won’t even implement that.

    Because Congress won’t fund it.

  • Bennett

    What good use is there for spending all of NASA’s budget on a pork barrel HLV a great plan like Constellation, when the other side a bipartisan congress sabotages is bound to cancel it at the first opportunity as soon as it becomes obvious that it will never fly for any reaonable amount of money, if then?

    It was tough, but I fixed that for you.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Personally, I think the idea of a HSF decadal survey won’t work, because it is inherently too broad. Or, at a minimum, way too early in the discussion, because there are missing data points.

    I would submit that there needs to be at least 2 other decadal surveys before a full HSF decadal survey.

    1. There needs to be a decadal survey on the technology required to open up space, to allow for its full utilization
    2. Maybe not so much a decadal survey, per se, but a study as to the required non-technical things (can’t come up with a better term) needed to allow full utilization of space by everyone.

    This is the required data points needed before we can move to the issue of a decadal survey for HSF.

    BTW – windy, your comments continue to amaze me. Why they amaze me, I don’t know, but they do

  • Monte Davis

    It’s all some great mystery… You really believe that?

    Mystery is essential to HSF as it is to other religions: kind of a reinforcing epoxy to hold it together even when the substantive arguments assembled as an armature have fallen apart, one by one, under close examination.

    The only real reason with any urgency is “because it’s thrilling… because it will happen with reasonable ROI eventually, but I’m impatient and want it without reasonable ROI now, while I’m here to see it.” The rest is rationalization.

  • Monte Davis

    BTW, Rand — you nailed it at 10:09, then again at 1:30. This is getting to be a habit :-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Another exercise on paper that will accomplish nothing. It won’t have the force of law nor will it compel the members of Congress to change their porking ways……………

    I agree (and greetings from Germany) a complete waste of time. The goal to settle space is goofy (thats the Augustine commission) it should be to allow American industry to operate in space much as it does on Earth.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Egad

    > 1. There needs to be a decadal survey on the technology required to open up space, to allow for its full utilization

    First we need to agree on what “open up space” and “its full utilization” mean. If we can do that, figuring out the technologies needed should be doable.

    (Agreeing on what “exploration” means wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)

  • guest

    “I’m gonna go out on a limb and nominate Wayne Hale to lead it. He’s not perfect, but I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather do it. Gerst would be a good option as well.”

    “Flight Directors … their main job was to do what the rule books said. Leaders who have actually designed and developed spacecraft, used creativity, developed new capable organizations that have actually done the critical work of getting a new systems developed and on-line, there is essentially no one in the program today.”

    Hale and Gerst are both nice guys. But what distinguished their careers? Hale got up thru the Flight Director ranks and then moved into the program manager position in a long established program, and made few if any organizational changes. To my knowledge he never designed or developed anything. Gerst was an ops payloads manager, then an ops branch chief and then started moving through the program manager ranks. Again, never was involved in design or development. Again, never instrumental in organizational establishment.

    Both of these guys were in a position that they could have made a difference in continuation or extension of Shuttle when it was obvious that Orion was not going anywhere fast and when there was time available to do something or discuss the situation. Gerst especially had a lot he could have said and done on Orion’s readiness since he was Griffin’s chief consultant.

    Both chose to do nothing. The situation we are in is due in large measure to their passivity.

    Gerst’s job now, since he is taking over both consolidated space ops and exploration organizations, is to figure out what to do. So if he wanted to do a decadal survey, he’s empowered. Fact is, Gerst has never been in a situation where he has done anything other than keep whats was already happening continuing to happen.

    Don’t get me wrong -they are both super nice guys; both are good communicators, Hale with his reflective essays and Gerst with the rationale behind his technical decisions; and both have some experience in technical management. But figuring out what to do and how to do it, and then selling the plan for from where we are now to the future?? Sorry, I’ve not seen any evidence either can do the job.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 9:35 am

    We need to build a 200mT class launcher for LEO cargo and earth departure stages…

    Maybe some day, but what is the payload, and who is paying for it? You keep ignoring this important point – CONGRESS HAS NOT FUNDED A PAYLOAD FOR THE SLS! So why build it if it doesn’t have a use? Do you need your ATK options to mature?

    …and a 30mT launcher for Orion.

    It’s the MPCV, not Orion, and it doesn’t need a launcher that big. We already have an existing launcher that the MPCV can use (Delta IV Heavy), and all it needs is $1.3B to upgrade it for crew – that’s cheap by government standards. And for redundancy, Falcon 9 Heavy can also launch the MPCV, so we don’t have to be stranded with an SPOF system like the SLS.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Doug –

    “Who is going to represent the space community in deciding priorities for human space flight. Who is the space community?”

    I think you’re right at the heart of the problem. There’s the “space community”, among the people usually utopianists of one stripe or another, and among industry those usually advocating one or another compeny’s products.

    Then there’s the rest of the people living in the US and want they want done.

    In my view, the key still remains relieving Ed Weiler from his post, so that NASA assumes its responsibilities for impactor detection. While Weiler has done a fine job on deep space navigation systems, and in many other areas, he refuses to take on responsibility for impactor detection.

    All else follows…

    PS – The scientists and engineers within the impact community have not been represented in any of the priority studies.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Part of the problem, the reason why we’ve been going around and around and around, is that we have not been forced to reach a consensus” on the goals of human spaceflight, said NASA’s Phil McAlister. “This is why I believe in this Academies-like study that will allow the human spaceflight community to come together, like the science community has done for years and years, effectively.”

    “Why bother?’ is THE question, and in my view those within the “space community” don’t have a clue as to THE answer.

    Phil is optimistic as to the study group’s results. What usually happens in the public “space community” is that the various utopianists declare the other utopianists to be heretics. In the commercial “space community” usually each company’s supporters claim that it has THE only way.

  • Martijn Meijering

    In the commercial “space community” usually each company’s supporters claim that it has THE only way.

    I’d like to see some evidence for this extraordinary claim. Commercial is about fair, competitive and redundant procurement so by definition it can’t be about shilling for a single system or proclaiming it is the only way. In fact, that’s the sort of thing associated with SDLV supporters, who may agree amongst themselves exactly what type of SDLV is needed, but not on the principle of an SDLV. And the DIRECT people have often said DIRECT is the only politically and technically feasible solution, even in the face of direct evidence it is actually politically impossible.

  • amightywind

    It’s the MPCV, not Orion…

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… I don’t care much for the sleazy politics that attempt to taint the previous program.

    MPCV can use (Delta IV Heavy), and all it needs is $1.3B to upgrade it for crew – that’s cheap by government standards.

    SLS has been mandated. That’s the reality (which I happen to agree with.) It sounds like Direct/Orion, but nobody at NASA will come out and say it. Man rating D4H or F9H are not in the budget, that I know of. The realities of the Senate compromise are all that matters.

    One a side note, I don’t know what the heck is stopping Boeing from putting a CST-100 on top of a simple Delta IV. Seems obvious for a quick and not so dirty solution. They must be pretty reluctant about the business case.

  • John Malkin

    I agree, it won’t go anywhere. It would be useful to have a real National priority list for Human space science and technology. Something we can share with our international partners. We could build missions around them like we do for robotic missions but…

    The space community needs to work together and stop bickering over a rocket. NASA and other space users need to drive the Why and the space industry needs to drive the How. Again I think it will go nowhere but…

    I give up on Congress doing the right thing and I just hope that commercial comes under the radar and they are successful because I’m sure a big US only government program will not be successful. Freedom was a failure and only with the help of Russia, Europe and Japan did ISS get finished.

    Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of NASA to circle the Earth above political bickering to go nowhere, where everyone has gone before.

  • VirgilSamms

    “The Nautilus concept of a long term maintainable, upgradable, solar system spacecraft is the right approach, certainly picking up now where we are with the ISS. Ideas of using existing boosters to create depots, taking a baby step approach to new capability development – that is certainly something that NASA needs to embrace in the current budgetary environment.”

    That path is certain death for HSF.

    Rand is right- the public has no compelling reason to elect politicians that will vote for BEO-HSF funding. There is no market in deep space to get rich off of. That pretty much leaves exactly what is happening; astronaut taxi’s to what amounts to a multi-billion dollar space tourist station. Nothing is being accomplished in the ISS and nothing will be. It is just endless circles.

    Give the public a valid reason- and there is only one; the impact threat.
    You can cite all the studies that say it probably won’t happen for a hundred years but that is just an excuse to not spend money. Just like the Shuttle studies that Feynman said were so flawed. No one knows when that rock or chunk of ice is going to come out of nowhere and wipe civilization out. It could be tomorrow and that is the truth. It will happen. Like they teach in motorcycle safety class- it is not if you go down, it is when.

    With that said, there is also the warning by Stephen Hawking about contact with alien civilization. You can laugh but he is not kidding. He certainly has no reason to make things up in his condition.

    Establishing a means of defense against a natural catastrophe that we do not know when it will come- only that it will. Unlike the Japanese catastrophe we can actually deflect this threat.

    Establishing a separate population in the event something really bad happens on earth. We are playing with alot of organisms these days- it only takes one genie out of the bottle to do us all in.

    And just doing what the human race should do- explore space. I have said it before- we can play games around the globe with drones and satellites being used to kill illiterate tribesman at the cost of billions- or we can build spaceships. The money is available- the DOD budget leaves no doubt of this. It just takes a grass roots movement to jump start this thing. And the people posting here are the ones to do it.

    But just like the scientific community end-running against their own best interests, we are divided. But are we hopelessly divided? I have read alot of books on this stuff and burned some hours up on it. I think I have got it right. I used to troubleshoot autopilot systems on rescue helicopters. A very high stress job, believe me. I like to think I have some sense of what will work. Step by step is how you take a problem apart and get a system working right. The first things I always come up with concerning human space flight are:
    1. A reason- planetary protection (kind of like rescuing fisherman I guess)
    2. Showstoppers- Radiation (no one wants to talk about it, hmmmm.)
    3. Propulsion- HLV’s and Nuclear energy are the tools that no one likes, but are the only ones that will fix the problem.

    I can argue this stuff with you guys forever; you always come up with something. I am willing to change my view; but I have not seen anything to change my mind about the essential problems I keep bringing up that no one will admit are real. That study from Maryland using Delta IV’s to go to the moon? It took me about two minutes of reading to hit the catch- he said re-entry heat shield mass would have to be solved with some “new technology.” It invalidated his whole approach. He wants to build a huge house of cards with storable propellants and multiple rendezvous and transfers to put two people on the moon. There is no unobtainium. ISPs and material properties have not change that much since the 60′s. And physics does not change either.

    So unless I get some kind of support here from the regulars I am going to have to break my addiction to space politics and move on. Finally. Thank you for your time you guys. It was fun.

  • Das Boese

    I’d like to add that IMO we really need to have this discussion about HSF goals on an international level. The current piecemeal approach just won’t cut it for the future beyond ISS.
    Any national discussion should have an eye on that.

  • Our future in space, according to authorities and powers, advocates and detractors, depends on a number of self evident truths: We need Orion and heavy lift, we don’t need Orion or heavy lift, we must keep the legacy of giant SRB’s, we must avoid SRB’s; we must go to Mars (although the trip might be fatal), an asteroid, a Lagrange point, anywhere but the moon (Buzz has been there), and that the moon is our only realistic target, at least at this point; Access to space should only be by safe Government programs (Russian and eventually American), or quickly by a varied fleet of commercial craft. All for only 18 billion dollars a year and while we argue!

    A “decadal” (or perhaps shorter period) survey as is practiced for government science funding, would at least establish “next step” goals to be targeted within available budgets. The big arguments are settled before taxpayers are required to pay and the survey presents programs in a digestible form to politicians, who eventually must endorse the projects and trust that the projects are worthy of supporting. I think this is fundamentally different than a “grand plan” as was attempted by George H.W. Bush in 1989, where a feasible budget was apparently not an issue.

    As an outsider to the aerospace community (just an avid fan old enough to remember Alan Shepard’s first flight and a space program which has progressively lost focus since Apollo 17), I don’t see how NASA can remain relevant to human space flight much longer. The accomplishment of the Space-X Cots 1 flight (which was initiated under the watch of Michael Griffin and George W. Bush, and embraced by our current Administration) should be NASA’s new “Sputnik moment”. The window for NASA to have a continuing human spaceflight budget may be closing, unless something worthwhile is done with it. Us taxpayers are on to unproductive pork, and it is now in the limelight for all to see.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That path is certain death for HSF.

    No, it is certain death for much of NASA current HSF workforce. Not at all the same thing.

    I can argue this stuff with you guys forever; you always come up with something. I am willing to change my view; but I have not seen anything to change my mind about the essential problems I keep bringing up that no one will admit are real.

    No, you keep spouting nonsense. You always come up with the same arguments that have been discredited many times without even responding to our rebuttals. If there were something wrong with them you could point that out, but you never do. And then you throw in some arguments (lunar water, radiation shielding) that argue against the need of HLVs instead of in favour of them and pretend they argue for an HLV. And then you go on to say everyone ignores the radiation threat, when in fact we’ve discussed it many times with you.

    That study from Maryland using Delta IV’s to go to the moon?

    I missed that one. Do you have a link?

  • Doug Lassiter

    mike shupp wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 10:58 am

    “That being said, an organized and inclusive discussion about the purpose of human space flight is in the national interest. We as a nation really don’t understand what human space flight is for.”

    “Really? We’ve been putting people in orbit for 50 years now, and nobody knows why. We spend billions each year here and in Russian and China and countries like Japan and India mull the idea of human spaceflight and no one on earth has the slightest clue about what’s going on. It’s all some great mystery.

    You really believe that?”

    Entirely and absolutely. Want to take a crack at it? Umm, I mean, besides pork. That’s one very obvious answer.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    One a side note, I don’t know what the heck is stopping Boeing from putting a CST-100 on top of a simple Delta IV. Seems obvious for a quick and not so dirty solution. They must be pretty reluctant about the business case.

    Boeing has been quite public about their needs to move forward on CST-100 – they need a customer to 1) commit, and 2) share the cost of startup.

    No one, including NASA, has stepped forward to satisfy those two conditions.

    Also keep in mind that the requirements for what a crew system needs to meet in order to carry U.S. Government personnel has not been fully defined, so no company is going to move forward without a clear chance of getting business from the only current customer.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that NASA won’t need a replacement for the Soyuz until after mid-2016, so Boeing (and SpaceX) are not time constrained yet, since that point in time is 5 years away.

    Oh, and so far Boeing has talked about launching CST-100 on Atlas V (Dream Chaser too). ULA has also promoted Atlas V as their commercial crew launcher, and Delta IV Heavy as their exploration-class capsule (i.e. MPCV) launcher. I haven’t heard the reasoning for the difference.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 3:25 pm
    “In my view, the key still remains relieving Ed Weiler from his post, so that NASA assumes its responsibilities for impactor detection. While Weiler has done a fine job on deep space navigation systems, and in many other areas, he refuses to take on responsibility for impactor detection.”

    Gimme a break. Ed Weiler’s job is space science. Impactor detection isn’t space science. “Impact community”?? What’s that? Actually, one can ask whether those down pointing telescopes developed in the interest of national security might best be pointed up. You know who. The ones with the deep pockets who aren’t doing science.

  • John Malkin

    NASA will have HSF until at least 2020. We will have funding for other HSF than just ISS this year and next. Commercial crew will be funded since it’s just a drop in the bucket. I wonder how much money we will waste on something that will never fly. I give a 20% chance MPCV will fly (Is it still doing the Dragon Demo 1 test in 2013) and SLS in its current form as defined in the Authorization Act will never (0%) see the dark of space.

    Anyone want a gentlemen’s bet of a pound? First 5
    .

  • pathfinder_01

    Amightwind.

    The Boeing CST100, Dream chaser, Prometheus, New Sheppard all plan to use Atlas V 402. Dragon can use Atlas too but instead will use Falcon. Atlas is cheaper to launch, cheaper to man rate, and faster to man rate than Delta.CST100 is planned to make its unmanned flight in 2014 and manned flight in 2015.

    Orion is forced to use Delta IV heavy (or Falcon 9 heavy) due to its 21MT mass. Orion’s mass was caused by cramming lunar requirement s and Ares 1 requirements (i.e. make up for the poor launcher) into the capsule. In theory Orion could use Atlas V heavy but I think its mass might be a tad too great for it to support it. (i.e. There is concern with the rocket supporting that much weight).

    The LEO taxi capsule don’t need to meet those requirements and thus are much cheaper to launch and operate. Orion is planned to make its unmanned flight in 2013 but no estimate on the manned flight. If Orion needs to wait for SLS it will never make a manned flight anywhere and man space state politicians do not want Orion to make even an unmanned flight on Delta for fear of making SLS look useless.

    As for a survey that would be an interesting idea. We need certain technologies to be advanced and it could help direct funding to those technologies (and Heavy lift is something that will just eat up funds).

  • pathfinder_01

    Costal Ron

    Both Atlas and Delta are man rate able but Atlas is much easier to man rate, much cheaper per flight, has more flight history and is a much better starting point than Delta. ULA’s emergency dection system will work on both rockets but Atlas is the one for commercial crew because their capsules are much lighter than Orion.

    For Orion Delta is the must have due to Orion’s mass. Atlas V heavy in theory can loft more than Delta V heavy but there is concern about it not being able to support as much mass as Delta. Orion might need a bit more redesign to use Atlas V heavy.

    Delta is also the starting point for EELV based heavy lift. There are Delta Dervatives that can loft more and Atlas Phase I/II would use Delta tooling.

  • Bill White

    Monte Davis wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 1:47 pm
    BTW, Rand — you nailed it at 10:09, then again at 1:30. This is getting to be a habit

    Indeed. Rand Simberg did hit the nail on the head, twice.

    (1) If we are not going out there to settle space (which ultimately can only mean raising families at locations away from Earth) then there are few if any valid reasons for sending humans into space at all; and

    (2) Congress won’t fund a sufficient space program.

    Thus, I add a point (3):

    (3) Those who seek to accomplish (1) will need to go around NASA and the US Congress not through NASA and US Congress.

  • amightywind

    Oh, and so far Boeing has talked about launching CST-100 on Atlas V (Dream Chaser too).

    I’ve seen the renderings. It must be a ULA thing where Boeing is afraid to total screw Lockmart. But the CST-100/Delta IV is more logical.

    I’d like to add that IMO we really need to have this discussion about HSF goals on an international level.

    Europe is sitting there with the Ariane launcher suited to anyone’s spacecraft. Their inaction is sad and inexplicable. I hope the US doesn’t get tied down again by international commitments. ISS is a bloody disaster. We shouldn’t even come to the table before the SLV is launched.

  • Fred Willett

    An atlas V is quite capable of lofting Dragon or CST-100 while a Delta IVH would be required for the more massive MPCV.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Oh, and so far Boeing has talked about launching CST-100 on Atlas V (Dream Chaser too). ULA has also promoted Atlas V as their commercial crew launcher, and Delta IV Heavy as their exploration-class capsule (i.e. MPCV) launcher. I haven’t heard the reasoning for the difference.

    Minor clarification, Coastal Ron

    Boeing has talked about making the CST-100 launcher independent – there are pictures of a CST-100 on an Atlas V, on a Delta IV, and on a Falcon 9 out on the intertubes (I’ve heard someone say that at a recent Commercial Crew event, they also showed it atop Liberty)

    ULA is promoting Atlas V as their main Commercial Crew vehicle – I suspect that there may be a price issue in that (IE Atlas V is cheaper than Delta IV for equivalent payload, and ULA knows this) and Atlas V does have a longer flight record. As for choosing Delta IV over Atlas V for exploration – it really depends on how much of a Super-HLV we need. Obviously, since Delta IV Heavy is already flying, and Atlas V Heavy is not, it would be easier just to use the Delta IV Heavy for the exploration rocket (no developmental costs incured). With some reasonable modifications, you can get Delta IV Heavy I *believe* close to 50,000 kg to LEO. If you want to go past that number, it becomes cheaper to go to Atlas V vehicles, rather than Delta IV Heavy mods.

    Price always plays a role

  • Ferris Valyn

    Bill White

    (3) Those who seek to accomplish (1) will need to go around NASA and the US Congress not through NASA and US Congress.

    Then that leads to an obvious conclusion – NASA funded HSF serves no logical purpose, and should be canceled.

  • DCSCA

    “We need a von Braun 1950s paradign. von Braun did not get a lot of it right but he laid out some neat ideas and he publicized them with the help of Colliers and Walt Disney, so that when the opportunity arose, in 1957, people of the nation could understand what the dream was about. von Braun’s ideas led to the Gilruth’s, Faget’s, Low’s, Kraft and the early leaders that invented manned space flight and carried out Apollo.”

    Bear in mind, Russia’s Korolev ‘invented’ “manned spaceflight,” not NASA management. Actually, von Braun DID get a lot of it right based on the state of the technology in his time. What was possible became reality- at least from the American POV- within the budget constraints of the period with the guidance and skills of his ‘Americanized’ Paperclip team at NASA and peppered into key management spots at contractors (Debus/Dornberger, etc.,) along with the management and engineering skills of Gilruth, Faget, Kraft, Low, Kranz, Lunney, etc. Of course, the extent and depth of Von Braun’s Nazi past aurrounding the V-2 was sanitized and concealed from the American public during his lifetime and only recently has begun to surface. Its concealment only helped his sales pitch. Had he lived beyond 1977, he most likely would have been subjected to some sort of scrutiny similar to that of his trusted colleague from the V-2 days, Arthur Rudolph. Such is the price of Faustian bargains.

    These ‘decadal’ reports are make work for think tanks and a waste of time. Chris Kraft’s op-ed some months back pretty much layed out the general direction for HSF and the methodology required for this period in human history. and the contstraints are always the same- budgetary and the state of the art at the time. Whether the next step outward is American led remains to be seen (at this point, doubtful, too) but it is the way forward for HSF out to the moon again, to stay, and beyond given the state of the art today. The ‘Von Braun’ pitch via Collier’s and Disney (no less nurtured by the sci-fi writers of their times as well – Heinlein/Clarke, etc.,) presented a realistic vision fo its time (and satisfied Von Braun’s self-indulgence as well) to an audience already familiar with grandiose space ‘adventures’ presented in the ’30′s to the general public via comics and serials of ‘Flash Gordon’ and ‘Buck Rogers.’ (Tip of the hat to Buster Crabbe.) Today that same appetite has been fed to younger audiences with more sophistication by Lucas, Spielberg and the late Roddenberry, with fantasies of ‘Star Wars’ or ‘warp drive’ and the like. Their expectations may be high, if not unrealistic for this era. But a closer look at von Braun’s pitch in both Collier’s and via Disney reveals a stark bare-boned reach, laced with military overtones if not oversight for the period- reaching out toward Mars and/or the moon. Lang’s 1929 classic, ‘Frau Im Mond’ (which was technical advised by von Braun mentor Hermann Oberth) is a remarkable blueprint for what actually came to be at Baikonur and at Cape Canaveral for Apollo as well. The current crop of projected ‘fantasies’ may seem equally grandiose. But in the not-too-distant-future an ‘Emperor Ming’ of sorts may just be making a comeback cloaked via the auspices of the PRC. And a new race may just begin again.

  • Ferris Valyn wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Did you forget that Sputnik and Vostok and JFK’s challenge to beat the USSR to the Moon are the reasons the US Congress funded human spaceflight in the fist place?

    Success coming from folks going around NASA may be the motivation the US Congress needs to wake up. Otherwise, how will you get their attention?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Bill White wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 6:28 p
    “If we are not going out there to settle space (which ultimately can only mean raising families at locations away from Earth) then there are few if any valid reasons for sending humans into space at all”

    Which means, to answer an earlier post, the only valid reason for sending people into space at all is NOT one that Congress, the Administration, or the American public has ever explicitly ascribed to in budgets or legislation. So do we as a nation really know why we’ve been sending people up into space for the last fifty years? Nope. But some people have a good idea.

    Stuff like this is what a major review of human space flight could actually accomplish, as long as it doesn’t diddle around, get sidetracked, and hide behind meaningless words like “exploration” and “inspiration” as being the purpose for human space flight. We’ve seen plenty of that.

    Now, John Marburger made a spirited try at this a few years ago, with a provocative vision of bringing the solar system into our economic sphere. But we know so little about what economic advantages might be derived from the solar system, aside from enabling colonization, that’s kind of a flaky, or at least premature, vision.

    There is a caveat to all this. For federal expenditure by us, it’s got to be about settling space with Americans. Well, hmmm, I guess we could offer the opportunity to our enemies. Give Osama bin Laden a one way ticket to Pluto, perhaps?

  • Driving home this evening in north Merritt Island, a pickup truck pulled in front of me which had in its rear window a sign promoting a union local, presumably one at KSC. The sign read:

    SAVE SPACE EXPLORATION
    PROTECT OUR JOBS

    So there you have it. Why waste money on a study? That sign told us all we need to know. Human space flight is defined as protecting taxpayer-subsidized union jobs.

  • pathfinder_01

    amightwind,

    Regan convinced both Japan and the ISS to us the US crew capacity in the shuttle when the ISS was going by the name space station freedom. It allowed both countries to drop their expensive manned spacecraft development programs and still have access to space via their US alliance. In return the HTV and the ATV both bring up cargo the station needs. It allows all three countries to make better use of their money. We also agreed to transport Canada’s astronauts.

    The shuttle has been an problem in a sense. After Columbia the 2 year stand down stopped ISS construction, limited the crew and Soyuz became the only way to the station. The need to replace it and the failure to do so is again causing problems.

    Ariane in its current version is not suitable for crew but it does launch cargo to the ISS. It needs manratting like the rest. They also did not want to spend the money on manned spacecraft(very expensive). However I can see working with say Boeing or buying additional seats for extra crew could happen. Canada for instance is thinking about buying an extra Soyuz flight to the ISS.

    Working with Europe means we could say in the future have a moon base partly supplied by Europe in exchange for transporting their astronauts to the moon. That is a very fair and reasonable trade that benefits both. Having the ISS means that they would be more willing to join us in a next step.

  • Bill White wrote:

    (3) Those who seek to accomplish (1) will need to go around NASA and the US Congress not through NASA and US Congress.

    Commercial space is the only way out of this dilemma.

    History has shown us that exploration usually occurs for commercial exploitation, not for any noble scientific reason. Columbus was looking for a shorter route to trade in India, for example. Imperial colonization was to exploit resources. The East India Company at times was indistinguishable from the British navy.

    It has to be the same with space. To push out further into the solar system, we need to establish a permanent commercially-motivated human presence in Low Earth Orbit. That’s when you’ll see the people making big bucks off LEO making campaign contributions to members of Congress, urging them to use taxpayer dollars to push out further into the solar system.

    Commercial space is the solution. Demanding an Apollo rerun is a waste of time and money.

  • pathfinder_01

    Also one of the problems with CXP is that it was unable to get international support. International programs are harder to cancel because doing so hurts the US’s credibility.

    Early CXP sorta expected foreign support on a moon base but did nothing to enable it then went it alone when support was not forth coming. Sort of like the Iraw war.

    For instance if you had a solar electric tug between LEO and LLO you could use the ATV or HTV to supply the moon base and Europe would not have to invest huge sums of money in it. This tug could be built at the ISS or maintianed from the ISS and if it made repeated journeys could cut the cost of supplying a moon base since you could use 20ton(or less) rockets for supply instead of an HLV.

    The lesson here is you can’t dictate to your allies.

  • spacermase

    @DCSCA

    “Chris Kraft’s op-ed some months back pretty much layed out the general direction for HSF and the methodology required for this period in human history”

    Are you referring to the one that came out in August of 2010? (I’m not being snarky- that’s the first one that pops up in a Google search, and I don’t know if others have been written since then)

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    It’s pretty clear what the result of such a survey would be. You only have to look at the various points of view on this blog to appreciate that. So, my conclusion, waste of time.
    Meanwhile commercial moves on as does the year with Congress CR no closer to resolution. Who’s willing to bet another CR forthcoming?

  • Ferris, which means you can still have a decadal survey of human spaceflight, you just don’t include anything that NASA is doing and you don’t address the resulting report to NASA.

    Perhaps having widespread consensus that NASA’s activities in HSF are not considered worthwhile will result in change…

  • Bryan R

    “Bear in mind, Russia’s Korolev ‘invented’ “manned spaceflight,”

    Not really. NACA and NASA had been studying and planning the manned space program for about 2 years by the time the Soviet politburo caught wind and told Korolev to put a man in space first. US astronauts were selected and in training for 2 years prior to the Soviet cosmonauts. In a real sense the US program was established as a technology research program emulating what had been done with the X-planes and with test vehicles out of Langley. The Soviet program was more like an extension of unmanned spaceflight, but adding a payload of a man.

    I also don’t think von Braun’s premonitions were that technically accurate. Yes, he talked about unmanned satellites a few years before IGY discussions started. All of his plans for manned spacecraft were huge flying winged vehicles that bore no resemblance to anything until Shuttle. Like others of the era, von Braun failed to foresee the development of computers and automation and so his space station was definitely something out of WWII and he did not invent or conceive of the circular rotating station, which of course has never come to pass because he failed to foresee the potential for interest in zero-G.

    But more important, von Braun popularized the ideas of satellites, orbital space stations and travel to the moon and mars. It wasn’t necessarily because he was so technically astute. I was once told by one of his comtemporaries that von Braun never met an idea he didn’t immediately fall in love with. What von Braun did, which no one in spaceflight has done, is to create the images and animations to illustrate the visions and then take the case to the US people every way he could, on TV, in magazines, in books.

    Bycontrast, a lot of the engineers in our midst, like Dr, Griffin or Mr. Gerstenmaier, say, ‘let NASA give up on education – we can let the Department of Education lead that charge; let’s minimize the efforts we put into publicity and public affairs; NASA’s job is designing, building and flying hardware. NASA doesn’t have the people or the time or the money to waste on rationalizing for the public what we are doing.’ Unfortunately its this same attitude that winds up placing people with no experience in things like public affairs or education into public affairs and education leadership positions in NASA. What you wound up with was a program called Constellation that a lot of people wondered, ‘what is the point; didn’t we already do this?’.

    People like Gerstenmaier, or Hale or Griffin are really such poor choices as the NASA organizational leaders because they cannot reach beyond their engineering or operations roots to see the larger picture of what it takes to do the job. They might be nice guys, but with nice guys like them in charge, we’ll be lucky to see the program survive. That is why there is not a leader in the US HSF program today that could lead a decadal survey.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Success coming from folks going around NASA may be the motivation the US Congress needs to wake up. Otherwise, how will you get their attention?

    Sorry, but life doesn’t work like that. BEcause at that point, NASA will be totally irrelevant, and we’ll have wasted so much money on stupid stuff that someone will have pulled the plug, because we have other priorities that are more important.

    The simple fact is, we are standing at a crossroads – NASA gets saved in the next 2 years, or it becomes totally irrelevent in the larger human spaceflight context. Then it becomes a question of how much money gets wasted until someone pulls the plug.

  • Stephen C. Smith wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I agree with this 100%.

    “Commercial space is the only way out of this dilemma.”

    Therefore we need to identify business models that can be profitable without reliance on tax dollars. And that will require going around NASA and the US Congress, not through NASA and the US Congress.

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ March 24th, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I believe it is very unlikely Congress will agree to “save” NASA in the next two years, at least in the manner you advocate. Take away the pork and too few members of Congress care enough about space policy to bother with the topic.

    And, in the remote event they do embrace your vision in the next two years, Obama’s successor will simply reverse course soon thereafter anyway.

    The answer is to be GENUINELY commercial by going around NASA & Congress rather than fighting to drink from the federal tax dollar spigot, which will dry up soon enough anyway.

  • amightywind

    This tug could be built at the ISS or maintianed from the ISS and if it made repeated journeys could cut the cost of supplying a moon base since you could use 20ton(or less) rockets for supply instead of an HLV.

    You aren’t thinking clearly. The ISS’s useless orbit is an inclination of 51.9 deg. It is there because Baikonur lies at 45.6 deg, with a few more degrees added because of flight path constraints. (Thanks Russia!) The Kennedy Space Center sits at a latitude 28.5 deg. An easterly launch from the Cape will have that inclination. That is 23.4 deg more inclination difference. Here is a discussion of the associated energy tax for ISS launches from the Cape. It is about 3.5%. The lesson: if you want to go to the moon efficiently don’t make gratuitous orbital plane changes.

  • Egad

    > Orion is forced to use Delta IV heavy (or Falcon 9 heavy) due to its 21MT mass.

    21 MT is capsule + service module + full fuel/expendables load, no?

  • pathfinder_01

    Yeap Egad 21MT is capsule plus full fuel/expendable load

    amightwind

    For solar electric propulsion that Orbit is perfect. The craft would have sunlight out most of the way to the moon or L1. Plane changes are not so costly at apogee.

    The 3.5% penalty is small. It is just for the Shuttle a problem because the Shuttle masses so much. For expendables not a problem In fact the soviet moon program was going to depart that Orbit.

  • pathfinder_01

    Anyway the thing with CXP or a lunar program is that if NASA goes alone then it makes little sense to pay the 3.5% penalty unless the ISS is suppling something and CXP didn’t need anything the ISS could supply(It was just going to redo Apollo again). However there are dozens of plans NASA and otherwise that would have uded the ISS as a steping stone to the moon.

    Here is one: http://history.nasa.gov/DPT/Architectures/Moon%20-%20L1-Moon%20Exploration%20Architecture%20DPT%20Jun_00.pdf

  • Monte Davis

    …the extent and depth of Von Braun’s Nazi past surrounding the V-2 was sanitized and concealed from the American public during his lifetime and only recently has begun to surface…

    Nonsense. There was active concealment for a few years in the wake of Paperclip. But for anyone who cared to look, by the mid-1950s a number of books and articles (especially in Belgium and the UK, where for some reason they took the V2′s more personally) had left little doubt that WvB and all his top aides could not not have known the worst about the Mittelwerk and Dora.

    The only “concealment” from then on was that Army PR, NASA PR, Disney, the American press, and their great citizen audience were all much more interested in “Great engineer/organizer/advocate steers our contest with the Reds” story than in musty old WWII stuff.

    In other words, we “concealed” it from ourselves by choosing to look in another direction. The post-Arthur-Rudolph version — that von Braun’s past was tightly held in an Ultra Top Secret Need To Know safe until 1980, 1990, 2000, or the pub date of the next now-it-can-be-told book — is simply wrong.

    ( NB: I am not myself more outraged over von Braun than about 10,000 other accommodations — many of them smellier — that were made as Evil Nazi Germany morphed into Vital NATO Ally Germany. But it does annoy me to see our late-blooming, collective bad conscience about it soothed by fairy tales.)

  • amightywind

    For solar electric propulsion that Orbit is perfect.

    Solar exposure of any LEO orbit is about same.

    Today’s XIPS propulsion would work terribly for lunar cargo transfer. Because it is so low thrust it could take years to transfer a large payload (~20mT) to the moon using our most advanced thrusters. XIPS is great for station keeping satellites, great for long term (months) maneuvering of small spacecraft in deep space. Useless for massive vehicles.

  • Ferris Valyn

    I believe it is very unlikely Congress will agree to “save” NASA in the next two years, at least in the manner you advocate. Take away the pork and too few members of Congress care enough about space policy to bother with the topic.

    A few things – while for some, I think it is about pork, for a select, but powerful few, there is a vision (but a vision that has fundamental flaws, built around certain vehicles & people). I do think there is a way to come together, both on the pork & commercial side, but that small group I mentioned may end up ruining it.

    And, in the remote event they do embrace your vision in the next two years, Obama’s successor will simply reverse course soon thereafter anyway.

    I am hopeful that Obama wont’ be gone in 2 years.

    The answer is to be GENUINELY commercial by going around NASA & Congress rather than fighting to drink from the federal tax dollar spigot, which will dry up soon enough anyway.

    I suggest you listen to Bob Werb’s bit recently on the Space Show – he ends it by saying that there really is 2 options going forward – either NASA embraces commercial space, or it’ll die, and the suborbital guys are the only game in town. I think its near the end

  • pathfinder_01

    amightywinf

    Hipip, Vasmir, nexis are techs that NASA developed that are high thrust electric. The only issue is power.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ March 24th, 2011 at 8:56 am

    The answer is to be GENUINELY commercial by going around NASA & Congress…

    You keep chanting this mantra, but what you are implying is that NASA & Congress are blocking commercial access to space. I don’t buy that characterization.

    What I think has been missing is a revenue generating reason to go beyond the existing satellite and satellite launch marketplaces.

    For instance, Bigelow Aerospace would like to put up their research stations, but they won’t until there is redundant transportation infrastructure in place. They already are taking on enough risk, and they need to make sure getting customers to their stations is not one of them.

    But Bigelow stations are not enough of a market (yet) to drive the creation of two or more crew transport services. Hence the chicken-and-egg situation.

    However NASA has a need for crew transport to the ISS after mid-2016, so that could provide enough demand to allow two crew service providers to start up their service. I don’t think the ISS on it’s own will be enough to be profitable for two or more providers, but it opens up the opportunity for Bigelow to start their service, and allow other entrants to get going too.

    So in our current situation, NASA’s transportation needs after 2016 are what’s going to provide a minimum level of demand that can be depended upon for at least 4-5 years. Without that demand, I think it’s going to take a lot longer for commercial crew services to start up, especially two or more.

    So I don’t see NASA & Congress as holding anything up, and in fact the ISS transportation needs provide a dependable amount of market demand. Once those transportation services get going, and the market starts expanding past the ISS and Bigelow demand, then the market will likely survive on it’s own without depending on U.S. government contracts, but government work will still provide a percentage of the revenue, just like what happens in a lot of markets here on Earth.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Delta is also the starting point for EELV based heavy lift. There are Delta Dervatives that can loft more and Atlas Phase I/II would use Delta tooling.

    Only Phase 2 I think, not Phase 1. If you look at old pre-ULA HLV poposals from LM and Boeing then Atlas was the better basis for an HLV. Atlas Phase 1 would require the Wide Body Centaur and little else whereas EELV Phase 1 would require ACES , which is the new WBC with some Delta input. Atlas Phase 2 would have required a wide body booster. After the merger such a vehicle could use Delta tooling for that wide body booster. But EELV Phase 1 seems to make a lot more sense and existing EELVs + lunar mission kit may make even more sense for the foreseeable future.

  • amightywind

    Delta is also the starting point for EELV based heavy lift.

    Boeing and Lockmart both have admirable upgrade paths for EELV. I think they’re cool. But after the current generation D4H and AtlasVH they basically have to construct new rockets. It ain’t gonna happen with shuttle parts, workforce, and facilities kicking around. The bucks just won’t come their way. SpaceX’s prospects are even more remote.

  • If we may, I would like to throw Our hat into the ring, as the Tribe is fast
    at work, trying to develop the PNW (Pacific Northwest) SPACEPORT. And
    we would hope to praticipate in any Program to support manned Spaceflight. (See at Our Website.)

    And, if you want some more technical details, see Our associated ZDK Institue (www.veldantia.com/zdki).

    Keep us Posted on what happens!

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ March 23rd, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Europe is sitting there with the Ariane launcher suited to anyone’s spacecraft.

    And what spacecraft, aside from the ATV, would that be?
    And why would the US, who clearly are not comfortable relying on Russia, suddenly rely on Europe? Why would any other spacefaring nation, most of which have their own LVs?

    Their inaction is sad and inexplicable.

    It’s perfectly explicable if you have basic knowledge of Ariane 5 and how ESA works.

    I hope the US doesn’t get tied down again by international commitments.

    You’re doing fine getting tied down into unsustainable projects all by yourself, or so it seems.
    I hope the international spaceflight community (including America’s) doesn’t get shafted by US partisan politics.

    ISS is a bloody disaster.

    Constellation was a “bloody disaster”.
    It’s too early to say if ISS will be a success, but it has at least produced tangible results even at less than full operational capacity.

    We shouldn’t even come to the table before the SLV is launched.
    That seat will remain empty for a long time, then.

    I’m amazed though, I never pictured Windy as a fan of Ariane 5. Of course, it could be that that is only the case since ATK showed interest in the Vulcain engine.

    Fun fact: My space propulsion class has an excursion to the DLR Lampoldshausen test facility planned for May, hopefully we’ll be allowed to take a look at Vinci :D

  • DCSCA

    Monte Davis wrote @ March 24th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Inaccurrate. The extent of Von Braun’s Nazi ties only began to surface after his death with respect to the American public– and its an ugly story.

  • DCSCA

    Bryan R wrote @ March 24th, 2011 at 7:36 am
    “Bear in mind, Russia’s Korolev ‘invented’ “manned spaceflight,”
    “Not really.” Uh, yes, really. See Vostok 1/ Yuri Gagarin for details. Facts are subborn things.

  • DCSCA

    @Monte Davis wrote @ March 24th, 2011 at 11:54 am
    “…little doubt that WvB and all his top aides could not not have known the worst about the Mittelwerk and Dora.”

    A postscript- FYI, Von Braun was quite canny on the topic and on the occasions it arose was careful on how he addressed it. He acknowledged the conditions were a ‘pretty hellish environment’ on camera… but if you want to believe he and his team were unaware of the conditions and methods used in production of his rocket- uncharacteristic for these meticulous engineers BTW who worked years on it- then you’ll find yourself in a small group. Not that it matters much in 2011. but you wont be seeing a von Braun postage stamp issued anytime soon in America.

  • Manny Bergstrom

    If you want a legitimate and thorough background of von Braun that reflects what is known and when it was known, then I recommend “Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War” by Michael J. Neufeld. Its really the only even handed and thorough bio that there is.

  • Monte Davis

    Let’s make it very simple. US papers prominently reported the discovery of Nordhausen as a V-2 factory and work-’em-to-death labor camp in April 1945. This link was public record via a war crimes trial in 1947:

    http://www.archives.gov/research/captured-german-records/microfilm/m1079.pdf

    Now, even the admiring early accounts of Our Rocketeers, e.g. Dornberger 1954 and Bergaust 1957, mention many visits by von Braun and others to Nordhausen to deal with A4 production issues. Unless you believe the place was cleaned up for them every time (“Hey, Otto, you get those hanged corpses down from the traveling crane while I bring in the 7,000 well-fed, typhus-free workers”) — the “hidden history” has been sitting in plain sight for 60+ years. Neufeld’s notes and bibliographies document this (and he took it for granted when we talked about it in 2004 or 2005).

    Look: slave labor under appalling conditions ran all through German industry (not just war production) in 1943-45. Countless executives, middle managers, and foremen didn’t just “know about it,” but worked with it every day. Because the Cold War made it strategically as well as economically important to get West Germany up and running, only a symbolic handful were ever prosecuted. The only thing that sets von Braun & co. apart is that they subsequently became American heroes, especially to space fans. That required a selective backstory we were all happy with… for a while.

  • Jeff Foust

    Discussion of von Braun is off topic here. Thanks for your cooperation.

  • DCSCA

    No, it’s not- and if you’re going to edit out the rationale per my earlier comment addressed to you it speaks volumes about your own poor perception of the topic.

  • Mark Craig

    This thread highlights a long overdue conversation about root causes of NASA human spaceflight (HSF) churn and instability. Critical components of eliminating HSF instability are having an effective rationale for its existence and maximizing its relevance to stakeholders.
     Rationale that is more than personal opinion and that shapes destinations and vehicles, not just communication. Rationale that is about “ends” not the “means” of destinations and vehicles;
     Relevance that is actually experienced by a critical mass of stakeholders not just claimed by NASA, and that involves much more than jobs.

    Having said this, please consider these contributions to the conversation:
     Concerns about Congressional acceptance of decadal process results or its establishing decadal goals should take into account the fact that in the NASA 2011 Authorization Act Congress has done just that. See Sec. 202 Goals and Objectives.
     For the Sec. 202 Goals and Objectives, how will they be decomposed into guidance that NASA is able to implement? Some will require little or no decomposition. But other goal/objectives will require significant decomposition to give NASA a clear understanding of what to do. And, how is priority set between these goal/objectives? An external decadal process will be required to do this. Without it, NASA will be set up for failure.
     To promote relevance, members of the decadal process team should NOT generally be from the space community, but rather be thought-leaders in history, culture, science, anthropology, commerce, technology, diplomacy, entertainment, etc. People who understand who we are as America, where we’ve been, and where we need to go in the future; our opportunities, challenges, and fears. People who understand why the U.S. government should risk human life to send people into space. And people who can “market” their conclusions to the nation and energize enthusuasm and support.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

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