Congress, NASA, Other

Upcoming hearings

While Congress has been in recess this week, it will be back in business next week, with a busy schedule of hearings on tap:

At 10am on Wednesday, March 30, the space subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “A Review of NASA’s Exploration Program in Transition: Issues for Congress and Industry”. Scheduled to appear are Doug Cooke, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration; Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University; and Jim Maser, who is listed as chairman of AIAA’s Corporate Membership Committee but is perhaps better known as president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (and who recently warned that that continued uncertainty in space policy could hurt the country’s space industrial base.)

At 10:30 am on Thursday, March 31, NASA administrator Charles Bolden will appear before the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee for a hearing on the FY2012 NASA budget request.

The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee has two hearings scheduled next week of at least tangential relevance to space policy. On Thursday at 10 am the subcommittee will host John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, while at the same time on Friday the subcommittee will hold a hearing on NOAA, with administrator Jane Lubchenco testifying.

20 comments to Upcoming hearings

  • Bolden appears on the 31st?

    Might be a good chance for one to ask their Rep to ask him a few specific questions…

    What questions would this crowd ask of him?

  • Egad

    What payloads have you considered flying on the SLS in the period 2017 – 2020? What funding will they require?

  • Thank for the heads up, Jeff (I assume) !

  • Coastal Ron

    sftommy wrote @ March 25th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    What questions would this crowd ask of him?

    Which does our space program need first:

    A. An exploration vehicle that doesn’t have a funded mission?

    B. A redundant U.S. commercial crew transportation system to replace the Russian Soyuz for the ISS, and provide the crew transportation foundation for an U.S. LEO industry?

    I would choose “B”, as likely Bolden would too.

  • sftommy wrote:

    What questions would this crowd ask of him?

    How do you manage not to laugh in the face of these Congresscritters who haven’t the first clue what they’re talking about?

  • Egad

    > How do you manage not to laugh in the face of these Congresscritters who haven’t the first clue what they’re talking about?

    This reminds me of a question: Who’s telling them what to say in matters regarding SLS/HLV? Staffers? Industry lobbyists? Concerned citizens? Zeta Reticulans? Are any names known?

  • common sense

    Congress: So NASA my friends are you less confused now?

    NASA: We’re not confused.

    Congress: It’s okay to be confused with all that is going on in Lybia. We understand. Will you build our SLS now? And MPCV?

    NASA: Do you mean “build” like actually having hardware?

    Congress: What do you mean by “hardware”?

    NASA: You know, a long big thingy on a Launch Pad. Throwing flames, making a lot of noise and going to space.

    Congress: On a mouse pad? You have rockets on a mouse pad? Wow. Sounds cool. Yeah just do that.

    NASA: You want us to put rockets on a mouse?

    Congress: Yeah sure do that too. And then send the moose to space.

    NASA: What moose?

    Congress: Moose? No the pork, we mean send the pork to space. Sorry if we confused you. It’s a matter of national security!

    NASA: Porks are part of our national security?

    Congress: Sure they are! When can we get your final draft for the preliminary plan for FY10?

    NASA: FY12 you mean?

    Congress: Wow! Already FY12? You guys go fast. You must be real rocket scientists!

  • …Zeta Reticulans? …

    My money’s on them.

  • wingman

    After 3 years of COTS program how many percent of work have been achieved ?
    After 1 year of CCDev program how many percent of work for two full-end-to-end-service have been achieved ?
    What is the successor of the Shuttle program ?
    When will fly the first full-end-to-end-service ?

  • Coastal Ron

    wingman wrote @ March 25th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    After 3 years of COTS program how many percent of work have been achieved ?

    I have been referencing the 2009 GAO report on COTS:

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09618.pdf

    Based on that, SpaceX has completed 17 of 22 milestones, and been paid about 91% of the total award.

    For Orbital, they are a little harder to track since they are on a later schedule, and their milestones are not as visible. In 2009 they had 7 of 19 milestones completed, and paid $80M out of $170M total. Anyone else have a more up-to-date status?

    After 1 year of CCDev program how many percent of work for two full-end-to-end-service have been achieved ?

    The purpose of the CCDev program has been to develop individual technologies, but not complete systems, so I don’t know if anyone can answer your question. For the CCDev status for each program, you can find it here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/partners/ccdev_partners.html

    What is the successor of the Shuttle program ?

    In my view there is no successor to the Shuttle – we’re just changing from one type of service (reusable winged laboratory/cargo hauler) to a variety of other types of vehicles.

    - The ISS for all our zero-G laboratory needs
    - LEO capsules for crew and cargo (Dragon & CST-100)
    - MPCV for short trips beyond LEO
    - And hopefully future winged return vehicles (Dream Chaser & Prometheus)

    And of course we still have the Delta IV and Atlas V families for putting up payloads to LEO & beyond, as well as the Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy joining them.

    I think we’ll be OK without the multi-purpose, but expensive, Shuttle.

    When will fly the first full-end-to-end-service ?

    For the crew transportation services, they need a customer to step forward with enough demand/money. So far that first customer is likely to be the ISS, since the current Soyuz contract runs out mid-2016. Congress just needs to provide enough funding so NASA can hold an open competition to see who the (hopefully) two winners will be.

    The need is still 5 years away, so it’s not crunch time yet, but Congress needs to get the funding in soon. However only SpaceX is making substantial progress in getting ready for crew services, since they will be flying at least 12 Dragon cargo flights between now and 2016, effectively validating a large percentage of their launcher and capsule before any crew flights. Boeings CST-100, and even NASA’s MPCV, won’t have the same level of testing.

    And the bottom line is that the longer Congress delays funding the program, the more likely SpaceX will be the only company that can take over from Soyuz in 2016. Some people won’t like the irony of that…

    My $0.02

  • Bennett

    After 3 years of COTS program how many percent of work have been achieved ?

    Mucho

    After 1 year of CCDev program how many percent of work for two full-end-to-end-service have been achieved ?

    Mucho

    What is the successor of the Shuttle program ?

    ULA/Boeing/SpaceX

    When will fly the first full-end-to-end-service ?

    As soon as Congress decides to get off its ass.

  • Fred Willett

    SpaceX are scheduled to complete their COTS work later this year. All that’s left to do is COTS2 flight to test out rendevous and manouvering. and COTS 3 flight to test out actual docking. To speed things up a bit Spacex may merge these two missions. Actual cargo deliveries to ISS are due to start late this year.
    Orbital is on track to complete their COTS work next year, and start deliveries to ISS next year.
    CCdev is just about all complete. All work was to be completed by Dec 2010. This was to work on technologies needed for commercial crew. Not develop actual craft.
    Contracts for the next round of CCdev are being competed at the moment.

  • Dennis Berube

    I keep hearing no mission. I thought the asteroid mission is in the works even as we type here..

  • Ferris Valyn

    I keep hearing no mission. I thought the asteroid mission is in the works even as we type here..

    Right now its a hoped for, but its not funded.

    And if you mean for the HLV – its unneeded for a mission

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ March 26th, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I thought the asteroid mission is in the works even as we type here.

    Congress has appropriated $0 for the MPCV to leave LEO, so all you’re hearing is desires, but not actual work.

  • Dennis Berube

    First, people are saying Orion isnt for deep space, yet I see some early plans utilizing two Orion spacecraft, as what would carry people to the asteroid. If that isnt deep space,w hat is? I do understand that Orion is built for high speed returns to Earth, so in that guise it is not meant as a place to harbor crew members on Mars flights. They certainly need much bigger living spaces. I guess it is figured that a twin Orion hook up could take two astronauts out to the asteroid in enough comfort.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ March 26th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    …yet I see some early plans utilizing two Orion spacecraft…

    Dennis, you have to separate proposals from funded realities.

    Could you use two MPCV’s mated together to venture out and rendezvous with an asteroid? I’ll buy into Lockheed Martins proposal and say yes, but that doesn’t mean that the Plymouth Rock proposal is how NASA will proceed, or that it could get funded. Capsules by themselves are not exploration vehicles, so I would expect something more like Nautilus, which would have capsules for lifeboat and CRV duty, but not living space.

    Like spaghetti in your kitchen, these are just ideas that are being thrown around to see which ones “stick to the wall”. Don’t get excited until Congress allocates money, and NASA wants RFP’s.

  • Major Tom

    “First, people are saying Orion isnt for deep space, yet I see some early plans utilizing two Orion spacecraft, as what would carry people to the asteroid. If that isnt deep space,w hat is?”

    It’s a needlessly expensive kludge that only provides prison-like crew space for multi-month journeys.

    Two Orions alone are going to cost about $2 billion, per the Augustine Committee. Remaining development on Orion is in the neighborhood of $5 billion. Or about $7 billion total.

    The advertised price for a reusable, inflatable, in-space exploration vehicle like Nautilus-X is under $4 billion.

    So you can spend $7 billion to send astronauts to an asteroid — only once — in something resembling general booking or county lockup.

    Or you can spend $4 billion to send astronauts to an asteroid — and multiple other asteroids and targets — in something resembling a house and save $3 billion for other NASA activities (or the taxpayer).

    “I do understand that Orion is built for high speed returns to Earth”

    Orion is only built for lunar return (and maybe return from some asteroids) using Apollo-era Avcoat thermal protection. Dragon, in contrast, uses modern PICA-X thermal protection, enabling it to return from the Moon, practically any near-Earth asteroid, and Mars.

    FWIW…

  • guest

    The Double Orion concept is not much of a concept. It was a try by the Lockheed company to rationalize why ‘their’ Orion is needed for a future deep space mission, like an asteroid rendezvous or a Mars orbit. There are a number of issues with this concept:
    For missions of this class, crew size will probably need to be larger. Five is probably a likely number based on specialization. The double Orion only provides capability for 2.
    For missions that used a reasonably priced mission architecture, the spacecraft won’t be thrown away and instead will be maintained in space, most likely in earth orbit. So an Orion is not required for such an architecture.
    People talk about needing an Orion for use as an escape capsule from the type of spacecraft described in the prior point. Escape during a deep space/planetary class mission is only possible in the first hours after earth departure or in the last hours prior to earth arrival. This means the deep space spacecraft has to have the reliability, redundancy, and capabilities to support its crew for months, leaving the vicinity of earth, in deep space, and returning to the vicinity of earth. An escape capsule is of such little value for such a short time, that its not worth the mass penalty.
    Except possibly for high earth orbits (L-points or geo-synch) or possibly moon missions, an Orion really has no identified need. Do you really want to be throwing your $$billion+ spacecraft away after each high earth orbit or lunar mission? This is why Apollo could not be supported and was not sustainable.
    My prediction is that Dragon will be in use by 2016 and the need for Orion MPCV will go away before it flies.
    The Nautilus-X design is not quite right-there are several basic engineering and physics issues, but the modular, reconfigurable, sustainable architecture is the appropriate one.
    Dr. Griffin, in all of his imperial wisdom, committed NASA and the nation to spending pork in an unsustainable manner, and a few Congress people do not understand/do not want to understand the technical issues and only want to spend money in their districts. General Bolden is making more sense now than anyone has since Sean O’Keefe’s Vision was first established. NASA needs to tell the story and it needs to do so in a better way than General Bolden’s somewhat lame attempts at verbal explanations.

  • Major Tom

    “The Nautilus-X design is not quite right-there are several basic engineering and physics issues, but the modular, reconfigurable, sustainable architecture is the appropriate one.”

    How would you change Nautilus-X? (I’m genuinely asking.)

    Thx.

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