Congress, NASA

Congress to NASA: follow the authorization act

At a Women in Aerospace panel event last week, several Congressional staffers had a clear message for NASA: they have little interest in renegotiating, or simply ignoring, provisions of the NASA Authorization Act the Congress passed last year.

“This isn’t a negotiation,” said one participant of the panel, held under the Chatham House Rule of non-attribution.* “There is no interest in renegotiating that framework.” Another panelist said that there was interest in no more than “minor relative changes along the margins” to the authorization act that could be implemented in future appropriations bills, without going into further detail.

One particular area of concern several panelists cited was NASA’s support—or lack thereof—for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), which combined get about $2.8 billion in the administration’s FY12 budget request, compared to just over $4 billion in the authorization act. One panelist suggested Congress might have to look elsewhere within NASA, or even outside the agency, such as the Departments of Commerce and Justice, which share the same broader budget allocation as NASA, to fully fund those programs.

Likewise, one panelist expressed disappointment that NASA hadn’t delivered an acceptable report on the development of the SLS and MPCV that the act required 90 days after enactment. The agency did deliver a report in January, but many key members effectively rejected it. “NASA, with no consultation with the authorizing committees, decided to produce what they called a preliminary report, and sent that up and said, ‘We’ll get back to you when we decide on the rest of it,’” the panelist complained. “That’s an approach that’s simply not going to work in this environment.”

Participants also wondered why, while NASA was proposing funding SLS/MPCV below authorized levels, it was also proposing funding commercial crew development above authorized levels: $850 million in the FY12 request versus $500 million in the authorization bill. One panelist said that while there was general suport for commercial crew development, there remained some skepticism that there was a need for multiple providers.

That led one participant to state that there’s an “absolutely zero chance” the administration’s FY12 budget proposal would be supported by Congress, echoing comments by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee earlier this month: “The president’s budget is not going to be enacted.”

* There was some confusion at the event about whether the event was under the Chatham House Rule or completely off the record. However, others, such as SpacePolicyOnine.com and Space News, have reported on the event under the less restrictive Chatham House Rule, so this report will as well.

99 comments to Congress to NASA: follow the authorization act

  • amightywind

    “This isn’t a negotiation

    Good to see congress is now playing hardball against Garver/Bolden delaying tactics.

    One particular area of concern several panelists cited was NASA’s support—or lack thereof—for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)

    I am concerned as well, since all that was really required by Bolden was to dust off the Direct Launch plans, or better tweak Constellation. We still don’t know that basic configuration that will launch Orion. Must congress specify that as well?

  • Doug Lassiter

    With all due respect for the Chatham House rule, I’m not sure what purpose it serves when the panel membership was public, and it included two congressional staffers (one of whom is somewhat junior).
    http://www.womeninaerospace.org/events/current/69.html , which you can also find cached on Google.

    Actually it is hardly a surprise when Congressional staffers have to step forth and say “Yes, we were REALLY serious”, about major legislation that was passed. That one participant echoed Bill Nelson is also hardly surprising, considering that one of the two staffers on the panel works for him.

  • Jeff Foust

    it included two congressional staffers

    Four, not two.

  • Justin Kugler

    Did anyone tell those staffers that Congress proscribing technical solutions isn’t going to work, either?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Sorry, Jeff. You’re right. Four staffers.

  • CharlesHouston

    Isn’t a huge part of this discussion the difference between what the President wanted (cancel Orion for example) and what Congress wants (fund Orion/MPCV)??? The NASA Administrator (what was her name, again??) works for the President. Congress insisted that NASA proceed on Heavy Lift and on MPCV, for NASA to emphasis that would have them working against the preference of the guy that appointed them. The White House leans heavily towards commercial operations and that is echoed by their team at NASA. Duh.

    It does occur to us that Congress has NOT produced any appropriations bill and so the authorization bill could yet be changed.

    This discussion would morph into a discussion of next year’s budget if Congress would send the President something, anything, to sign as an appropriations bill.

  • amightywind

    Did anyone tell those staffers that Congress proscribing technical solutions isn’t going to work, either?

    Under normal circumstances congressional functionaries would be embarrassed to suggest designs to the smartest rocket designers on the planet. But you have to consider who now sits across the table to understand why they feel so emboldened.

  • Legislative Agenda

    Perhaps it’s time to remind everyone that this is the legislature that intends to legislate the reality of anthropogenic climate change away as well.

    You get what you vote for.

  • Major Tom

    It would be interesting to know which comments came from Diana Simpson. As the only appropriations staffer on the panel, her comments were the only important ones going forward. The other staffers are from authorization committees, and they shot their wad in last year’s 2010 NASA Authorization Act. At some point, there will have to be some new FY11 or FY12 appropriations bills, but there won’t be a new NASA authorization bill for another three years.

    “‘This isn’t a negotiation,” said one participant of the panel…”

    The reality is that the passage of any budget _is_ a negotiation between congressional appropriators and the White House. The White House is not bound to propose in FY12 the same budget levels authorized in FY11. And the President is not required to sign an appropriations bill into law that his Administration opposes. It’s called separation of powers and apparently at least one congressional staffer needs to take a few lessons in basic civics.

    “One particular area of concern several panelists cited was NASA’s support—or lack thereof—for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), which combined get about $2.8 billion in the administration’s FY12 budget request, compared to just over $4 billion in the authorization act…

    Participants also wondered why, while NASA was proposing funding SLS/MPCV below authorized levels, it was also proposing funding commercial crew development above authorized levels: $850 million in the FY12 request versus $500 million in the authorization bill.”

    The differences in these figures really tell the story. To adequately fund SLS/MPCV, the authorizers have to convince the appropriators to add another $1.2 billion (with a “b”) to the President’s FY12 budget request. But to fully fund commercial crew, nothing has to be added to the President’s FY12 budget request and only $350 million (with an “m”) has to be added to last year’s authorization.

    If you’re an appropriations committee member or staffer under extreme pressure to bring down government spending, which increase are you more likely to put in NASA’s budget: $1.2 billion or $350 million?

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom wrote:

    If you’re an appropriations committee member or staffer under extreme pressure to bring down government spending, which increase are you more likely to put in NASA’s budget: $1.2 billion or $350 million?

    The flaw in that thinking is that the Congresscritters look at it as which choice sends more pork to their district. Let somebody else take the cut.

  • Major Tom

    “Good to see congress is now playing hardball against Garver/Bolden delaying tactics.”

    To be brutally honest, chest-thumping by low-level authorization staffers who are protecting themselves with Chatham Rules is hardly “playing hardball”. Loud complaints are the only thing the authorizers have left at this point. Last year, they passed 2010 NASA Authorization Act covering the next three fiscal years. For FY11-FY13, it’s now up to the White House and the appropriators whether they want to follow the authorizers’ guidance or ignore it. Historically, authorized funding levels are ignored, and significantly lower funding levels are actually appropriated. That’s going to be even more true in this budget environment.

    “I am concerned as well, since all that was really required by Bolden was to dust off the Direct Launch plans, or better tweak Constellation. We still don’t know that basic configuration that will launch Orion. Must congress specify that as well?”

    Congress doesn’t know. One part of Congress wants a new 70-100 ton SLS by 2016, per NASA’s 2010 Authorization Act. Another part of Congress wants a new 130-ton SLS, per NASA’s 2010 Authorization Act. Yet another part of Congress wants to continue Ares, per the Constellation earmark in the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

    It’s silly to ask whether Congress “must specify” a vehicle design, when Congress can’t even decide what goals the vehicle is suppossed to meet.

    “Under normal circumstances congressional functionaries would be embarrassed to suggest designs to the smartest rocket designers on the planet. But you have to consider who now sits across the table to understand why they feel so emboldened.”

    You mean the same team that’s failed to get ALS, NLS, VentureStar, SLI, OSP, and now Ares I/Orion to orbit over the past 20 years?

    FWIW…

  • John Malkin

    I think that we have to return — particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations — we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.

    So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control. – John McCain (Transcript of first presidential debate 2008)

    Can this be applied to HSF? Can the Commercial companies (Lockheed, ATK…) that get the contracts for SLS and MPCV give the American people a fixed cost contract and can congress fund that fixed cost? I think not.

  • amightywind

    You mean the same team that’s failed to get ALS, NLS, VentureStar, SLI, OSP, and now Ares I/Orion to orbit over the past 20 years?

    Not really fair to lump Ares in with those other pie-in-the-sky programs. Ares 1-X flew successfully almost a year into the current administration. I thought the flight earned the Ares/Orion program great credibility. You can hardly fault those working on the program when they are undercut by a capricious leadership.

  • Major Tom

    “Not really fair to lump Ares in with those other pie-in-the-sky programs.”

    ALS and NLS were simpler ELVs than Ares.

    “Ares 1-X flew successfully almost a year into the current administration.”

    It flew suborbitally, demonstrated a configuration that bore very little resemblance to the operational, orbital Ares I design, and suffered parachute failures that brought the reusability, safety, and operational cost of the Ares I first stage into question.

    “I thought the flight earned the Ares/Orion program”

    Even if it had been successful orbital test flight in a configuration with relevance to the operational Ares I vehicle, Ares 1-X wouldn’t have earned Orion anything. It’s payload was a weight simulator, not Orion hardware.

    “…great credibility.”

    Like the other programs, Ares I never flew orbitally. The job of a launch vehicle is to get to orbit. Get to orbit, and we can talk credibility.

    “You can hardly fault those working on the program when they are undercut by a capricious leadership.”

    It’s not “capricious” to terminate a program that is years behind schedule, projecting tens of billions of dollars of cost growth, and beset by numerous technical showstoppers. It’s not even “leadership”. It’s just plain “management”.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    “Under normal circumstances congressional functionaries would be embarrassed to suggest designs to the smartest rocket designers on the planet.”

    How many new rockets have these designers launched into orbit the last ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years?

  • Ares 1-X flew successfully almost a year into the current administration.

    If by “successfully” you mean it proved that the wind tunnels and CFD were right, and the parachutes failed, damaging the supposedly reusable first stage that was not an Ares first stage.

    I thought the flight earned the Ares/Orion program great credibility.

    No doubt. But then, you think all manner of idiotic things.

  • John Malkin

    So Repulicans really think hacking away at science and advance research and supporting SLS and MPCV will help the US? Sad.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12885271

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 10:33 am
    “To be brutally honest, chest-thumping by low-level authorization staffers who are protecting themselves with Chatham Rules is hardly “playing hardball”.”

    This from the guy who calls himself “Major Tom”.

  • amightywind

    So Repulicans really think hacking away at science and advance research and supporting SLS and MPCV will help the US?

    ‘Science’ can not really claim the moral high ground or immunity from the priority setting process. Much of NASA research is trivial, as with the ISS, or corrupted by politics, like climate research. Seems to me they are likely sources from which to reclaim funding for NASA’s primary space flight mission.

  • sb023

    I think Charlie wants to build an evolvable HLV to cause the program to fail.

    Here is what I mean, when Ares-1x launched the critics of Constellation said that it was not the “real” Ares-1 and therefore the “real” vehicle did not launch.

    So, if we build a small HLV and then launch it (even if it is a fully successful test flight) then the critics of HLV/SLS can say: Well, it’s not the “real” HLV and therefore the program is a failure, it costs too much, the “real” HLV is too different than the test flight you just launched, etc…

    I don’t understand it anyway, if we have a limited budget and we need to get to “x asteroid” do we really have enough money to build a small HLV, then a medium HLV, and then finally a large HLV to actually get there?

    That’s just an example, but 3 vehicles is going to cost a lot more than 1.
    So, if we know we are going to “x asteroid” let’s build what is needed to actually get there and do it right with the money we have.

    Or maybe not…

  • common sense

    That has got to be hilarious for the WH and Charles Bolden. I think the Admin next move is to say “Why thank y’all staffers and here is the budget request again. Now tell me when you want to give me my budget and get going.”

    Okay then no hope for amightywind… Ares-1X??? Defending Constellation with the most expensive hobby rocket ever built in the history of the space program? I believe some one built a Saturn V replica a while ago that flew successfully too. I think we ought to give him the Ares budget and recreate Saturn. Considering his original likely budget he may even get us to Mars! Yeah here is the link:
    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2009/04/one-tenth-scale-saturn-v-to-fly.html

    Now come to think of it maybe Congress ought to look at this replica and think really hard of the benefits of Ares…

  • Joint Heavy Lift development with Defense Department was suggested earlier this year. Might motivate Bolden if he saw control of the project slipping away to DoD, might also add the extra $$$ to get the project done on Congress’ schedule.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “echoing comments by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee earlier this month: “The president’s budget is not going to be enacted.”

    pretty goofy.

    The reality is that RIGHT NOW THERE IS NO BUDGET THAT IS GOING TO BE ENACTED.

    Since the founding of The Republic budgets have been the source of negotiations between various competing factions and political “winds” to come up with some consensus on the spending direction of the nation. RIGHT NOW there is no such consensus among either party or in the case of the GOP the various factions within the party.

    This is not only accurate for NASA but for almost everything and every dime that is spent from the federal treasury. That it is accurate is shown by the fact that right now there is no real “budget” for The United States nor even a consensus on how to achieve one…and barely one to keep the government operating period through a series of Continuing Resolutions.

    For mid level staff members speaking only in terms of “dont attribute the quote to us” to make some basically goofy statements just shows that they are trying to push up their own standing…and the only place it plays to is groups like space fans who really think that what they are saying means something.

    Stay tune, there is a lot more coming in the threesome of the Democrats in Congress, the President and the various factions in the GOP.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ sb023 wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    What kind of reasoning do you actually have? Friendly with amightywind above?

    Ares-1X was not Ares-1, far from it! Try and learn the differences.

    Evolvable does not mean 3 different vehicles. It means 1 vehicle with 3 or whatever different capabilities.

    Any HLV program that NASA commits to right now will fail. Bolden already said they CANNOT build one of the SLS vehicles with the planned budget and timeline.

    Bolden does not want it to fail, he’s telling you that it will fail.

  • Bennett

    @sb023

    I think that if NASA had a scalable HLV capable of putting ~70MT into LEO built by LockMart, and it ended up costing two billion tax payer dollars for development and delivery of a flight ready test article, everyone on this board would cheer.

    Hell, even if it cost 4 billion over 5 years, NASA just might have money left in its budget to concurrently design some sort of payload for it.

    But what we see is an agency that ties itself into knots every time it tries to design something. Whether through graft or industry bribes or internal turf wars, things end up costing 10-20 times what they would cost if designed and built by an outside contractor.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the HLV proposals from the aerospace industry, and would actually like to see if any of them would sign a fixed price deal for development and construction.

    I think SpaceX would, if NASA “oversight” was contractually limited so that costs wouldn’t explode out of control every time a NASA manager thought of some “cool new thing”.

    However, I’m against wasting money on the experiment. We have perfectly fine LVs from ULA, Orbital, and SpaceX that can loft anything currently on the drawing boards. When you can show me something that we NEED to put into orbit that can’t be done with a Delta IV Heavy, then we can talk about building something bigger.

  • Coastal Ron

    sb023 wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    So, if we build a small HLV and then launch it (even if it is a fully successful test flight) then the critics of HLV/SLS can say: Well, it’s not the “real” HLV and therefore the program is a failure, it costs too much, the “real” HLV is too different than the test flight you just launched, etc…

    I could care less what something is called. I look to see what function it performs, and whether it’s worth the taxpayer money we’re spending on it.

    My basic opposition to the SLS is that there is no need for it. So if it gets built, whichever size, and there is no need for it, then it is a waste of our tax money.

    What need do we have for more mass than the Shuttle or that Delta IV Heavy can take to LEO (about 50,000 lbs)? What level of demand do we have for mass and size that current launchers cannot satisfy? What is the funded need?

    Any SLS/HLV supporters want to justify this rocket?

  • amightywind

    Defending Constellation with the most expensive hobby rocket ever built in the history of the space program?

    You mock, but it not justified. Ares I and V were just SLV’s. If the program needed restructuring it could have been restructured, like any military program would be. (Even the most rabid Elon Musk fanbois must admit the end of Constellation was abrupt.) Some of the military’s finest technology came from problematic development programs. The M1 tank, B2, C-17, Milstar, F-35… The fact is the cancellation of Constellation was political, and incomplete. There is no end in sight to the conflict. The future of NASA will be decided in the 2012 election. Until then, incalculable loss of expertise and political stalemate.

  • Justin Kugler

    Future Combat Systems was three times the size of Constellation and was canceled without so much as a whimper because it was spending money like water without deployable hardware to show for it or a clearly-defined scope. The Army is having to go back and change its procurement strategy to acquire clearly-scoped vehicles with sustainable budget projections.

    Maybe we could learn from that example…

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Even the most rabid Elon Musk fanbois must admit the end of Constellation was abrupt.

    So your answer to canceling a program is to keep spending on it? You and Senator Shelby are, unfortunately, of like minds.

    Some of the military’s finest technology came from problematic development programs.

    And many others were cancelled because of the same reasons Constellation was cancelled – excessive cost growth.

    The fact is the cancellation of Constellation was political, and incomplete.

    You forgot to include bipartisan, and without a whimper from the public. You keep ignoring the fact that Republicans willingly helped to kill the program, and none of them took to the floor to filibuster it’s demise. If that’s political, at least it’s bipartisan political.

  • Major Tom

    “when Ares-1x launched the critics of Constellation said that it was not the “real” Ares-1 and therefore the “real” vehicle did not launch.

    So, if we build a small HLV and then launch it (even if it is a fully successful test flight) then the critics of HLV/SLS can say: Well, it’s not the “real” HLV and therefore the program is a failure, it costs too much, the “real” HLV is too different than the test flight you just launched, etc.”

    No, you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    Ares I-X wasn’t critcized because it was “small” version of Ares I. It was criticized because it was suppossed to be a test flight for Ares I, but it tested very little actual Ares I hardware. Ares I-X utilized a 4-segment first stage with different propellant and propellant geometry from Ares I’s 5-segment first stage. Ares I-X had a dummy weight simulator for the second stage, while Ares I needed an operational, J-2X-powered upper stage to do anything useful. And Ares I-X flew suborbitally, while Ares I needed to get to orbit.

    That’s different from building an operational SLS core stage and boosters that deliver X tons of payload capability by 20XX and then adding an upper stage to that same SLS stack to increase the payload capability to Y tons by 20YY. Adding new elements to an existing LV stack (and continuing the existing elements) is very different from using one LV stack as a test flight for a very different operational LV stack.

    SLS is not criticized because it’s like Ares I-X/Ares I. SLS is criticized because Congress has mandated requirements and schedules that don’t match the budget they’ve authorized. The authorized SLS budget is smaller than the budget for Ares I. But SLS is suppossed to carry more payload and do so sooner than Ares I. That’s a very tall order, but if NASA had room to innovate, it might be doable. If given flexibility to pursue the most efficient path forward, some industry leaders and aerospace experts think an HLV could be developed for as little as $2.5 billion:

    http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/101213-blog-new-sputnik.html

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awst/2010/11/29/AW_11_29_2010_p28-271784.xml

    But going down this path requires NASA to shed the old Shuttle workforce, contracts, and infrastructure, and Congress isn’t giving NASA the flexibility to do that. Congress has directed NASA to use the old Ares I and Shuttle workforce, contracts, and infrastructure to the extent practicable to build and operate SLS. Constellation has already proven that approach is too expensive to build even an intermediate-lift launch vehicle like Ares I. With even less budget and schedule available than Ares I had and bigger requirements, if SLS is forced to go down the same Shuttle-heritage path, it will be even less likely to see flight than Ares I.

    I personally would also criticize SLS, or any other HLV proposal, because history shows that they’ve not affordable and sustainable over the long-run. Only two HLVs have ever seen flight: Saturn V and Energia. Saturn V was shut down after a little more than a handful of missions because the Johnson and Nixon Administrations couldn’t afford it, and Energia only launched once as the Soviets couldn’t justify its costs. Every other HLV has been killed in development (N-1) or design (ALS, NLS, Ares V), again because those development and design exercises showed that they’d be too expensive or arrive too late to do the jobs assigned to them.

    “I don’t understand it anyway, if we have a limited budget and we need to get to “x asteroid” do we really have enough money to build a small HLV, then a medium HLV, and then finally a large HLV to actually get there?”

    You don’t need an HLV to go to a NEO (or anywhere else). The choke point in practically any exploration architecture is the tonnage of propellant in the Earth departure stage (or EDS) on orbit. Because it’s just a liquid, that propellant can be delivered in one launch (an HLV) or over multiple launches (smaller LVs with in-space propellant storage).

    Instead of worrying about what size SLS to build, we should be demonstrating a few very mature in-space propellant storage technologies. With that capability, to first order, it won’t matter how big the LV is, and you can skip all the cost, schedule, and headaches associated with HLV development. With in-space propellant storage, you’ll always be able to put more or less fuel on orbit with existing LVs to support longer or shorter EDS burns to more or less challenging exploration destinations (Lagrange points, Moon, NEOs, Mars, etc.)

    FWIW…

  • Joe

    Justin Kugler wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 2:07 pm
    “Future Combat Systems was three times the size of Constellation and was canceled without so much as a whimper because it was spending money like water without deployable hardware to show for it or a clearly-defined scope. The Army is having to go back and change its procurement strategy to acquire clearly-scoped vehicles with sustainable budget projections.

    Maybe we could learn from that example…”

    You are very correct, but remember that would mean using existing assets (Stryker’s for example in the military case) and upgrading them.

    In the NASA case it would mean taking shuttle/ISS /other existing hardware and upgrading them (and reconfiguring them) for new missions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    “If the program needed restructuring it could have been restructured, like any military program would be. ”

    I normally just let you go on…but delurking for a moment simply because the post seems to encapsulate Tea Party thinking so well.

    The post you have is so entertaining but the above does it for me. Cx was not a military program. AT best military programs that are underperforming (and Mr. Bush’s administration left so many) have a claim on restructuring because what they did had on its own some value. I think the F-35 is a turkey, but it at least is a turkey with some basic goal…ie without it there is no NavAir shortly…

    Cx is a turkey with no basic goal that has any real value. Aside from the ridiculous hardware that the program encompasses the basic thing that the hardware was to do…has no support outside of the pork centers of NASA and those like you who view the US as some teenager constantly measuring parts of anatomy.

    That alone is reason to kill the program

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Because it’s just a liquid, that propellant can be delivered in one launch (an HLV) or over multiple launches (smaller LVs with in-space propellant storage).

    The H2 O2 fuels tend to boil off rapidly. Hypergolics are horribly inefficient. 10 trips to deliver fuel as a prerequisite to BEO is not practical. EDS is an essential element of a BEO architecture. We’ll never go anywhere if we don’t get off of stupid in evaluating options.

  • Justin Kugler

    If you think cryo and hypergolics are the only game in town, you’re really not following the propulsion field close enough, windy.

  • The H2 O2 fuels tend to boil off rapidly.

    Only if the storage facility is designed by an idiot. And fortunately, we don’t have you worry about you being involved in the design.

  • Joe

    “Justin Kugler wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
    If you think cryo and hypergolics are the only game in town, you’re really not following the propulsion field close enough”

    Some (kerosene derived) jet fuel equivalent (JP-5?) is certainly non-cryogenic, but those usually use LOX as an oxidizer in a rocket. I remember a concept (by Max Hunter) that used 99% Hydrogen Peroxide as an oxidizer (but that was for an SSTO concept). Just out of curiosity what non-cryogenic, non-hypergolic fuel mixture are you suggesting?

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    “You mock, but it not justified.”

    Where do I mock? When I say hobby? Please tell me the practicality of Ares-1X, see if you learned something.

    “Ares I and V were just SLV’s.”

    SLVs? “Just SLVs”? Whatever that means.

    “If the program needed restructuring it could have been restructured, like any military program would be.”

    It is not a military program by any stretch of the imagination.

    “(Even the most rabid Elon Musk fanbois must admit the end of Constellation was abrupt.)”

    Abrupt? It took from 2004 until 2009, more or less 5 years. Any less abrupt and we would say it was slow coming. Several reports were out there showing the financial abyss Constellation was diving into.

    “Some of the military’s finest technology came from problematic development programs. The M1 tank, B2, C-17, Milstar, F-35…”

    How do you compare Constellation to any one of those programs? What is your rationale? Whether we like them or not these programs have an identified goal: National Security.

    “The fact is the cancellation of Constellation was political, and incomplete. There is no end in sight to the conflict.”

    Oh yes there is an end. Just watch.

    “The future of NASA will be decided in the 2012 election. Until then, incalculable loss of expertise and political stalemate.”

    I truly hope for my friends at NASA and its contractors that they won’t have to wait that long. By then the budget request might be entertaining even more. Please quantify the loss of expertise you refer to.

  • common sense

    “In the NASA case it would mean taking shuttle/ISS /other existing hardware and upgrading them (and reconfiguring them) for new missions.”

    Ah I was wondering when we were going to hear again of Sidemount or Jupiter. If only we had the budget. If only.

  • DCSCA

    More meaningless meetings.
    More circular chatter.
    More free drift.

    2011 is shaping up to be another ‘lost-in-space’ year.

    @amightywind – give it a rest. Ares is/was a lousy rocket from the get-go.

  • amightywind

    If you think cryo and hypergolics are the only game in town, you’re really not following the propulsion field close enough, windy.

    Enlighten us, and please don’t bring up Vasimr.

    And fortunately, we don’t have you worry about you being involved in the design.

    No, you don’t. I am satisfied that the designers would have to face physical reality, which is why such an effort is not funded.

  • pathfinder_01

    Only hydrogen has the boil off problem. Oxygen while cryogenic can be stored in space for years and methane or propane likewise. Orion was going to use these propellant but funding issuses got in the way. With those propellants Orion would have massed less.

  • Only hydrogen has the boil off problem.

    Even hydrogen can be stored indefinitely with active cooling.

    With those propellants Orion would have massed less.

    And been much easier to process.

    I am satisfied that the designers would have to face physical reality, which is why such an effort is not funded.

    The effort is funded. ULA has funded it extensively, with detailed designs. More idiocy and ignorance from the usual source.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    wind wrote:
    “The future of NASA will be decided in the 2012 election. Until then, incalculable loss of expertise and political stalemate.”

    You replied:
    I truly hope for my friends at NASA and its contractors that they won’t have to wait that long.

    My guess is that it is going to take to the 2012 election or at least through this years budget cycle (ie I dont expect a budget this year…is this a first for The Republic?)

    What is going to play out over the summer is a sort of game of “which group do you trust?” in terms of where the public opinion lines up supporting whose notion of spending and tax policy. NASA is caught up in that.

    None of the sides have traction now, and I dont know what event will cause one to get it…but at some point some group will.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Justin Kugler

    Why not, windy? Electric propulsion is near the top of the space technology research that’s about to get underway. I’m working on the team assessing the integration costs of putting a VASIMR test article on the Station. I’m also helping a commercial non-toxic monopropellant design get through the system for an on-orbit demonstration.

    You can also find example of NASA research on advanced storable propellants, such as this 2004 JPL paper:
    http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/37950/1/04-0799.pdf

    The gates are wide open now that budget austerity is staring us in the face and NASA is looking for ways to lower mission cost. That just isn’t going to happen with the massive launch architectures you advocate.

  • John Malkin

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    ‘Science’ cannot really claim the moral high ground or immunity from the priority setting process. Much of NASA research is trivial, as with the ISS, or corrupted by politics, like climate research. Seems to me they are likely sources from which to reclaim funding for NASA’s primary space flight mission.

    Really trivial? Well politicians have used selective climate research data to prove points which even the experts aren’t sure. However the point of research is so you can be 99.9999% sure of something but all of this is small part of the big science research that goes on around the world including AMS which is pure science.

    Fermilab could have had the largest particle accelerator in the world but again politics destroyed that opportunity. Fermilab already had the basic infrastructure but Texas had to fund their SSC. They needed to build new infrastructure so the cost estimation grew and grew. So it died and the US was left with nothing. Sound familiar?

    One reason NASA gets strong support is they support programs and research that go far beyond NASA centers and into companies, universities and not-for-profit labs all over the United States and World. It would make sense if we have been over spending on science but we haven’t, it is always the first cut. We will borrow money to destroy things but never to create anything with long term benefits. ROI is Greek to the government.

  • Major Tom

    “Ares I and V were just SLV’s. If the program needed restructuring it could have been restructured, like any military program would be.”

    First, Ares I/V — and any other NASA program — is not a “military program”. For better or worse, the Eisenhower Administration created NASA as a civilian agency. NASA doesn’t address the nation’s defense needs, so it doesn’t share the priority of defense programs in the federal budget decisionmaking process. No US citizen or soldier is going to die, no overseas US interest is going to be threatened, and no US soil is going to be invaded because Ares I/V (or practically any other NASA program) was terminated.

    It’s a harsh reality for us space cadets. But to have an impact on policy and budget priorities, it’s better to deal with the world as it is than play in some disconnected fantasy.

    Second, military development programs are terminated, instead of restructured or descoped, all the time. Just recently in the milspace world, we’ve terminated the:

    NRO Future Imagery Architecture (FIA)
    articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Space-Systems-and-Industry/Future-Imagery-Architecture-FIA-United-States.html

    USAF (joint with NOAA) National Polar-Orbiting Environment Satellite System (NPOESS)
    spaceflightnow.com/news/n1003/29npoess/

    USAF Space Radar (SR) Program
    satellitetoday.com/st/topnews/Space-Radar-Program-Cancelled_22370.html

    USAF Transformation Satellite (TSAT) Program
    spacenews.com/archive/archive09/gatestsat_0413.html

    These programs represent tens of billions of dollars in military space expenditures.

    Then there’s tons of other recently cancelled military development programs, like the:

    Army’s Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer
    washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A53762-2002May8&notFound=true

    Army’s Comache Recon Helicopter
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAH-66_Comanche

    Navy’s Zumwalt-class Destroyer
    articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/31/nation/na-navy31

    There were hundreds of billions of dollars at stake in these programs, just like Constellation. And just like Constellation, they were all terminated when their cost growth, schedule growth, and/or technical issues made them irrelevant to the mission they were suppossed to address.

    “… the end of Constellation was abrupt.”

    No, it wasn’t. It was a slow motion train wreck that played out over years (and is still hanging by a thread with Shelby’s earmark).

    GAO has been warning Congress about major problems in Constellation in multiple reports since at least 2007, starting nearly four year ago:

    gao.gov/products/GAO-09-844

    parabolicarc.com/2009/09/26/gao-constellations-cost-schedule-remain-uncertain/

    gao.gov/products/GAO-08-186T

    articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-04-03/news/nasa03_1_space-shuttle-constellation-program-constellation-project

    gao.gov/products/GAO-08-51

    govexec.com/dailyfed/1207/120307e1.htm

    The Augustine Committee was created in June 2009:
    nasa.gov/offices/hsf/about/charter.html

    The Augustine Committee delivered its final report in October 2009:
    nasa.gov/offices/hsf/meetings/10_22_pressconference.html

    The White House didn’t proposed to terminate Constellation until the President’s FY 2011 budget request in February 2010:
    nasa.gov/pdf/421064main_NASA_OSTP_Joint_Fact_Sheet_FINAL_2020.pdf

    And Congress didn’t vote to terminate Constellation until the NASA 2010 Authorization Act passed in October 2010:
    foxnews.com/scitech/2010/10/12/president-obama-signs-nasa-space-exploration-act-law/#

    Starting with GAO, it took three years to terminate Constellation. Starting with Augustine, it took over two years to terminate Constellation.

    How much more warning do you need? A decade?

    “The fact is the cancellation of Constellation was political, and incomplete.”

    There’s no evidence of “political” cancellation. From budget, to schedule, to technical showstoppers, Constellation was replete with justifications for termination in multiple independent reports.

    Sigh…

  • common sense

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    “My guess is that it is going to take to the 2012 election or at least through this years budget cycle (ie I dont expect a budget this year…is this a first for The Republic?)”

    I agree with you but “hope springs eternal”. How funny that a former president who earned enough political capital did whatever he felt like doing. While the current president elected with strong public support is enslaved to Congress Dems and GOPers. Congress Dems have no shame and ought to be re-assigned to some low ranking GOPer staffs.

    “What is going to play out over the summer is a sort of game of “which group do you trust?” in terms of where the public opinion lines up supporting whose notion of spending and tax policy. NASA is caught up in that.

    None of the sides have traction now, and I dont know what event will cause one to get it…but at some point some group will.”

    Well no side has traction since the public does not trust either and rightfully so. The ridiculous budget cut will eventually hopefully show someday. The Dems are so bad I wonder how they can actually exist as a party anymore.

    I have thought for some time that the election of a Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich may change the game but we’d have to wait for some time. The other option is that the CRs and the status quo keep going and Obama gets a second term when he will finally do what he was elected for. But I am not holding my breath.

    Another event might be related to the financial crisis that we all forget with what is happening elsewhere but there may be other waves of bankruptcy and the likes coming. If the economy takes another nose dive whoever is in charge will have to take very unpleasant measures or they will be ousted come next election cycle. Unless of course the public has become so apathetic that they will accept anything and we’ll all go down happily chanting Fanny Mae, Wall Street, and possibly Constellation forever ;)

  • Major Tom

    “The H2 O2 fuels tend to boil off rapidly.”

    I don’t know what your definition of “rapidly” is, but the reality is that LH2 boil-off rates as low as 0.022% have been demonstrated in space over a periods of up to 150 months:

    spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Kutter_11-10-10/Kutter_11-10-10.pdf

    Detailed models show that you can have 100,000kg of usable LOX/LH2 (enough for a lunar mission using the Constellation EDS) at the end of 360 days, starting with a total mass of 120, 253kg, including 15,359 of dry mass.

    ssdl.gatech.edu/papers/mastersProjects/StreetD-8900.pdf

    And even if you don’t use this technology to eliminate HLVs from an architecture, it will double architecture’s capability, driving, for example, the Ares V TLI mass from just over 50mT to nearly 100mT.

    spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/McLean_3-2-11/McLean_3-2-11.pdf

    “10 trips to deliver fuel as a prerequisite to BEO is not practical.”

    Who says you need ten launches? A Delta IVH puts over 22,000kg into LEO. Even if the storage tank launches empty, using the 100,000kg Constellation EDS example above, you’ll finish fueling in 5-6 launches. If the storage tank launches partially full, you’ll finish in 4-5 launches.

    That’s only 12-18 EELV cores. Production capacity is sized for 34-40 cores per year.

    The cost for a human-rated Delta IVH is quoted at $300 million:

    parabolicarc.com/2011/03/20/orion-delta-iv-heavy-cheaper-faster/

    Assuming we were using the expensive, human-rated version to launch the propellant (doubtful), that’s $1.2-1.8 billion to put up the propellant for Constellation’s EDS. We could put up the propellant for 5 to 8 such missions for less than the $10 billion that’s been spent on Ares I/Orion to date.

    “EDS is an essential element of a BEO architecture.”

    No duh. Who said it wasn’t? Of course you need an Earth departure stage to depart from stage. It’s just a question of whether it launches fully fueled or is partially or wholly fueled on orbit.

    “We’ll never go anywhere if we don’t get off of stupid in evaluating options.”

    Yes, let’s close our eyes, put our hands over our ears, and sing the happy super-duper big rocket song at the top of our lungs. Remaining ignorant on these trades has proven so productive at getting us out of LEO sustainably over the past 50 years.

    Oy vey…

  • Martijn Meijering

    Hypergolics are horribly inefficient.

    No they’re not and they’re the propellant of choice for spacecraft and likely to remain so for quite a while. It’s not that hypergolics are inefficient, it’s that LOX/LH2 is spectacularly efficient, albeit harder to store and transfer in space (especially in low orbits around a massive body).

    And using hypergolics for an EDS is a strawman because there is no need not to use LOX/LH2 for that, as it requires only very limited boil-off mitigation and no transfer. This is easily verified as a fully fueled Centaur would be enough and that can be launched on existing EELV Heavies. Hypergolics would be possible, but needlessly inefficient (unless you already had an RLV but not cryogenic depots, which seems like an unlikely turn of events).

    More importantly, it would require a lot of thrust, more than is available in the US today, which kind of defeats the point of using hypergolics because their main advantage is that they allow refueling of sufficiently efficient propellant immediately, before LOX/LH2 refueling and long term storage is available. You can circumvent this by using Russian first or second stage engines and modifying them for vacuum operation, but that doesn’t sound politically attractive. Or you could even resurrect Viking, which has an incredible reliability record, and apply the same modifications. That ought to be feasible, but again politically unattractive.

    All in all LOX/LH2 (without refueling) for LEO to L1/L2 combined with hypergolics (with refueling) for L1/L2 to beyond (and back) is an excellent starting point, as you can easily verify by doing the numbers. It would give us most of the benefits of full LOX/LH2 refueling for a lot less money, risk and time. And since this addresses the only real obstacle to commercial development of space and large scale exploration, namely high launch prices, since we have wasted so much time and money already, and since there is so much risk of yet another early cancellation as it is, I find it very unwise to spend any more time, risk or money than we need to. It’s not as if we’re talking about an issue of secondary importance here, like what destination to visit first, it’s the number one issue.

    Once we have achieved and shored up both a fiercely competitive commercial propellant market and a healthy manned exploration program, we can start looking at less important issues such as upgrading to more powerful propellants, using high Isp in-space propulsion etc. Transporting propellant with SEP for L1/L2 LMO and L1/L2 SML1 would be an easy upgrade which requires no new technology and which would remain useful after the arrival of cryogenic depots. Replacing hypergolics with LOX/LH2 for use at L1/L2 too will be a great step forward and adding the same refueling capability in LEO would be another great step forward.

    I suspect a storable (and perhaps hypergolic) propulsion module will remain desirable for some deep space maneuvers even in the long run, but its overall importance would diminish over time and the storable propellants could be something else than traditional hypergolics.

    In any event, all of that could safely be left to the market, and should be. This would allow NASA to focus on exploration missions using something like Nautilus.

    10 trips to deliver fuel as a prerequisite to BEO is not practical.

    Nonsense. It would be no more impractical than using hundreds of cement mixer truck loads during construction of a building. Affordable lift requires very high flight rates. A little googling suggests there are about fifty thousand commercial airline flights a day. Nothing impractical about that.

    It not just that we don’t have to avoid high flight rates, we should want high flight rates, very high flight rates. And it’s not only possible, it isn’t merely desirable, it’s absolutely crucial. We don’t need heavy lift, we need cheap lift. To first order that’s the only thing that matters.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    In the NASA case it would mean taking shuttle/ISS /other existing hardware and upgrading them (and reconfiguring them) for new missions.

    Instead of asking how big an HLV we can build, what if we asked how much of exploration we could do using existing launch vehicles plus other existing or near-term space hardware?

    I don’t know how the NASA center hierarchy works, but to inject a little competition you could have groups within NASA competing for the best plan, which would be defined as the most exploration that can get done using a fixed budget – once the money runs out, the program ends. If you used the SLS & MPCV budgets and didn’t build them, you could probably fund two or more teams at the same time.

    RANT
    The lack of competition is another reason why I dislike the SLS and MPCV, since they were effectively anointed as what was needed, and did not come from any competitive winnowing of best choices for solving a defined goal.
    /RANT

    My $0.02

  • Michael Kent

    Vladislaw wrote:

    How many new rockets have these designers launched into orbit the last…Thirty years?

    It depends upon which designers you’re talking about.

    SSI: Conestoga 1
    Boeing: Delta II, Delta III, Delta IV Medium, Delta IV Heavy, Sea Launch
    Lockheed: Athena I, Athena II, Atlas II, Atlas III, Atlas V, Titan IV
    Orbital Sciences: Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur I, Minotaur IV
    SpaceX: Falcon 1, Falcon 9

    NASA: the Space Shuttle (29.962 years ago)

    Mike

  • amightywind

    I’m working on the team assessing the integration costs of putting a VASIMR test article on the Station.

    How reassuring. What is the cost of integration of the nuclear reactor it would take to power it? Unless you a ready to do that, the exercise is pointless.

    Minor Tom wrote:

    First, Ares I/V — and any other NASA program — is not a “military program

    amightywindwrote:

    “…like any military program would be.”

    Please note the word ‘like’. I was making an analogy. The rest of your post is a waste of cyberspace. And they call me windy…

  • pathfinder_01

    amightywind Milatary programs are cancelled just as well as NASA’s programs. There are consequnces for delevering over budget and late programs.

  • Justin Kugler

    We don’t need nuclear power to run VASIMR as a test article on the Station, windy. An advanced solar-electric free-flyer would be the next step, anyways. Nuclear isn’t required until you’re trying to build a fast people mover.

  • A_M_Swallow

    for the Congressional Staffers.

    NASA has (half) realised that the SLS is a pork project that Congress will almost certainly cancel before the launch vehicle can take Americans back to the Moon. Consequently NASA would like to spend the money on something useful. Cancellation by the Tea Party is likely to be bad for any Senator with production workers in his/her state.

    The Commercial Crew budget request is being increased because NASA hopes to use these rockets and spacecraft to get people and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The extra money may speed things up. NASA losing the space race to the ISS to the Russians may be embarrassing.

    If the United States wishes to return to the Moon then NASA will have to ensure a Lunar Lander is designed and built. The states containing the new jobs have not been chosen yet.

  • Bennett

    I offer a great video to make a point. The Atlas V launch of OTV-2 on the 5th of March was one of the most beautiful launches I’ve seen for a number of reasons.

    See it HERE

    The payload matched the lifting capacity (to the desired orbit) to such a precise degree (no need for strap on SRBs) that the slow acceleration from the pad is glorious.

    Imagine if you will, a DeltaIV Heavy lifting off with half of a Nautilas-X, followed a month later with part two. In the meantime ATK is using its SRB Core “Franken-Ares” tech to launch fuel to a LEO depot (because you can’t human rate an SRB rocket, and since they still make a million or two per launch it’s worth keeping the factory running to launch fuel – even if he shareholders only see a penny/yr dividend increase).

    ULA, Orbital and SpaceX are putting the ship parts, depot hardware, and construction crews up and down from the ISS/ISE constellation, and by 2020 we can mount a mission to anywhere we damn well please.

    I believe that if the shareholders of ATK really knew what was sacrificed on the alter of profit for their 2% gain, 70% would reject the trade-off.

    Let’s use what we have. With SpaceX challenging the cost-plus structure, and delivering a new price point for LEO access, I think that the only thing holding the country back is our elected numbskulls in the Senate and House.

    It’s time to pen a letter or two. Bending the ear of your local and DC staffer wouldn’t hurt. Tell ‘em:

    “We’re frustrated as hell and we won’t take anymore!”

    “Use what we have to access space!”

    and

    “It not just that we don’t have to avoid high flight rates, we should want high flight rates, very high flight rates. And it’s not only possible, it isn’t merely desirable, it’s absolutely crucial. We don’t need heavy lift, we need cheap lift. To first order that’s the only thing that matters.”

    Thanks Martijn.

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    How reassuring. What is the cost of integration of the nuclear reactor it would take to power it? Unless you a ready to do that, the exercise is pointless.

    Nonsense.
    The current power output of ISS is quite enough because the engine will not run off station power directly, but in pulsed mode from a buffer battery. Since the goal of the mission is flight testing and validation, not to provide actual propulsion to the station (although it very well may do so in the future), this is entirely sufficient.
    It would have taken all of two minutes to find this out for yourself.

    Ad Astra Rocket Company: VF-200

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    So it appears that CRs will remain the order of the day for a while. Correct me if I’m wrong but does that mean CCDev Round2 doesn’t get funded?!

  • Frank Glover

    “Joint Heavy Lift development with Defense Department was suggested earlier this year.”

    And what use has the DoD for heavy lift, to want to spend any part of its budget to develop it?

    “…and Energia only launched once as the Soviets couldn’t justify its costs.”

    Two launches actually, but your point’s the same…

  • I have sent a number of letters to Senator Nelson and called Congresswoman Adams. I have received absolutely no response except form letters and meaningless comments. It appears unlikely that the statemetns of space enthusiasts have much effect unless accompanied by a check for at least $1000.

    As to the desirability for a high flight rate, that depends on the degree of reuseability in the system. In a fully reusable system with limited maintenance requirements (i.e. modern commercial aircraft) facilities, acquisition and R&D costs are a large part of the total and high utilization is key to efficiency. However with an expendable launch vehicle, even one as efficient as the Falcon, actual assembly man-hours dominate and beyond about 10-12 launches per year there isn’t much cost savings in increasing flight rate since a new rocket still has to be build for every launch. ELV manufacturing is a pretty mature technology and although ULA has some ingrained inefficiencies SpaceX has pretty well ironed them out and there are not a lot of additional efficiencies that could be gained at any flight rate.

    That is why if we are ever to achieve practical human spaceflight we need fully reusable launch systems.

  • pathfinder_01

    Great example Bennett.

    SRB could be excellent at the fuel depot run. The shuttle chose SRBs due to low development costs and because at high flight rate SRB’s don’t increase in price as much as liquid fueled rockets. The shuttle failed to achieve a high enough flight rate to enable the economics of the SRB to come into play and thus cost more than a liquid system would to operate. However a depot could favor a cheap rocket that makes many flights and propellant wouldn’t care much about excessive g forces or vibration.
    A solid first stage coupled with a reusable 2Nd or 3rd stage could be quite good at filling a depot even If it only fills 10MT at a time.

  • Major Tom

    “Please note the word ‘like’. I was making an analogy.”

    Fine. Then it was an inaccurate analogy because civil programs are not “like” military programs in terms of their priority in the discretionary budget, and it was a dumb analogy because military programs are terminated, and not restructured, all the time.

    Happy?

    “The rest of your post is a waste of cyberspace.”

    I agree that having to refute your repeated false statements and incendiary trolling wastes a lot of posters’ time here.

    “And they call me windy…”

    Mighty wind? That’s a term for flatulence.

    Sigh…

  • Vladislaw

    ” have sent a number of letters to Senator Nelson and called Congresswoman Adams. I have received absolutely no response except form letters and meaningless comments. It appears unlikely that the statemetns of space enthusiasts have much effect unless accompanied by a check for at least $1000.”

    Maybe a more productive place to write letters is letters to the editor for the newspapers in that person’s district and just nag them about never giving a real answer. Turn THAT into the news.

  • Bennett wrote:

    I offer a great video to make a point. The Atlas V launch of OTV-2 on the 5th of March was one of the most beautiful launches I’ve seen for a number of reasons.

    See it HERE

    I thought that looked familiar. Here’s my video filmed from the Causeway. Yes, I need a windscreen.

    Major Tom wrote:

    I agree that having to refute your repeated false statements and incendiary trolling wastes a lot of posters’ time here.

    I’ve posted this suggestion a few times before, but no one ever actually tries it. DON’T FEED THE TROLL. I never respond to it, or the other troll regulars. (Although I’m of the opinion that several of the screen names are actually just one troll.)

    These trolls post offensive and inflammatory messages just to get attention. When you folks respond to them, they win because they got a reaction out of you, thereby encouraging them to do it again.

    What would the troll do if no one responded? Typically they react by becoming more and more offensive, but if everyone shows some restraint and doesn’t respond eventually they get the message.

    As an example … On another board I frequent a troll publicly condemned me because I wouldn’t “fight” him online. That was its last attempt to get a reaction out of me. I didn’t bite, and eventually it went away.

    Dan Woodard wrote:

    I have sent a number of letters to Senator Nelson and called Congresswoman Adams. I have received absolutely no response except form letters and meaningless comments. It appears unlikely that the statemetns of space enthusiasts have much effect unless accompanied by a check for at least $1000.

    Yeah, I wrote Adams last week but have failed to receive a response too. Last fall, Florida Today endorsed her opponent, finding that Adams’ lack of knowledge about NASA is “appalling.” She’s shown that since then with wild claims that U.S. astronauts are being forced to fly on Chinese rockets and that India has surpassed the U.S. in space flight technology.

  • amightywind

    Boese wrote:

    Since the goal of the mission is flight testing and validation, not to provide actual propulsion to the station

    Thisis nonsense. The idea of launching a new, very expensive thruster to the space station, that does not actually thrust (!) is completely absurd and crazy. It is the kind of ISS make work I rail about regularly.

    Justin Kugler wrote:

    Nuclear isn’t required until you’re trying to build a fast people mover.

    Isn’t that the whole point! The ISS orbit is maintained perfectly satisfactorily by periodic boosts by Progress. You aren’t solving any problem at all. You are on a lark, a very expensive one. NASA had pathfinder program for developing new technology, like NSTAR on the Deep Space 1 mission. VASIMR properly belongs there.

    Smith wrote:

    These trolls post offensive and inflammatory messages

    The censor usually filters offensive messages. I don’t use profanity. Inflammatory language is the language of debate, sorry to shock you boys and girls. I think you are looking for an echo chamber where no one disrupts your group think. Try the space chat group at AOL.

  • Justin Kugler

    VX-200 generates enough thrust to do the engineering evaluation in the space environment necessary to go to the next steps, windy. The ISS is a desirable test and evaluation platform for space technology precisely because it already has its own support infrastructure in place that would have to be developed independently for a free-flyer.

    Our commercial partners see the Station as a proving ground on-orbit, one that doesn’t require they wait for a science mission to come along that is willing to take the risk of a new system.

    You’re letting your disdain for the ISS get in the way of seeing the big picture and the benefits the Station can provide as a National Laboratory.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr. Kugler

    You’re letting your disdain for the ISS get in the way of seeing the big picture and the benefits the Station can provide as a National Laboratory.

    This is hardly a new development. Abreakingwind has always let his disdain for things he doesn’t like get in the way of seeing the big picture.

  • Dennis Berube

    I thought the station was kept in its orbit via the refueling of the central, and first segment, the Mir central core, and not by Progress. Progress delivers fuel I guess, but I thought it was transfered to the central core.. Maybe Im all wet on this!

  • common sense

    @ Ferris Valyn wrote @ March 30th, 2011 at 10:51 am

    “Abreakingwind has always let his disdain for things he doesn’t like get in the way of seeing the big picture.”

    … for things he doesn’t understand

    The problem with “don’t feed the troll” is that in our day and age most of the time he/she who has the last word is he/she that we remember. It is not necessarily a waste, look at Limbaugh, the mega-troll so to speak, but he has quite a few followers. Does he ever get challenged on his nonsense? And all like him.

    I still would love to find some one who can articulate a meaningful defense for Constellation and all sorts of HLVs so that we can have a conversation. So far…

  • Major Tom

    Mr. Smith: “I’ve posted this suggestion a few times before, but no one ever actually tries it. DON’T FEED THE TROLL.”

    I do ignore when it’s just opinions, even inflammatory ones. But blatantly false statements, especially repeated ones, shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Or at least I feel that way. Here’s a few of the latest examples:

    BreakingWind: “The idea of launching a new, very expensive thruster to the space station, that does not actually thrust (!)”

    What the heck are you talking about? Of course VASIMR produces thrust. It’s low thrust like any other electric propulsion, but it’s integrated over long periods of time to produce high dV at high Isp. If you understand DS-1 propulsion, you should know this.

    “It is the kind of ISS make work I rail about regularly.”

    VASIMR needs a large power source and stable spacecraft platform for testing. We can hook VASIMR up to the existing ISS, or spend some billions of dollars replicating and deploying an ISS-magnitude solar array and associated bus.

    “Isn’t that the whole point! The ISS orbit is maintained perfectly satisfactorily by periodic boosts by Progress. You aren’t solving any problem at all.”

    The immediate problem being solved is reducing dependence on the Russian space program.

    Duh…

    “NASA had pathfinder program for developing new technology, like NSTAR on the Deep Space 1 mission. VASIMR properly belongs there.”

    It hasn’t existed for years. Griffin terminated SMD’s In-Space Propulsion Program to pay for Constellation.

    “Inflammatory language is the language of debate…”

    No, it’s not. Calling other posters “leftists”, labelling entire research communities as “hippies”, painting companies that won open competitions as “cronies”, and worse is the polarizing language of AM talk radio, MSNBC, and Fox News that’s ruined political discourse in this country, put political decisionmaking into a straightjacket, and undermined basic respect for our fellow citizens. If you can’t control your rage and have to vent, there are many other political websites where like-minded posters will gladly join in your abuse. This is the one website where we can discuss space policy. Stop screwing it up.

    Ugh…

  • amightywind

    Our commercial partners see the Station as a proving ground on-orbit, one that doesn’t require they wait for a science mission to come along that is willing to take the risk of a new system.

    This is where we disagree then. IMHO, this is a poster child for why the NASA portfolio must be rigorously reviewed and aggressively pruned. It is an awfully expensive way to get a little information that can be obtained much more cheaply by other means.

    Abreakingwind has always let his disdain for things he doesn’t like get in the way of seeing the big picture.

    Who is the troll?

    The immediate problem being solved is reducing dependence on the Russian space program.

    That is the ISS way. Why solve a problem for $30 million when you can not solve it for even more. Have you no mind?

  • pathfinder_01

    Denis, the station is reboosted by Shuttle, ATV, and progress and refueled by ATV and progress. ISS has its own engines but the purpose of the VASMIR test is to test VASMIR not boost the ISS.

    VASMIR needs a vacuum in order to work. It processes so much propellant that it quickly fills any vacuum chamber on earth with processed propellant getting rid of the vacuum. It needs the vacuum of space for longer tests. It also needs electrical power of which the ISS has the most electrical power of anything in orbit.

    The downside of the ISS test is that the station can’t provide constant power to it and the constant acceleration provied VASMIR would ruin the microgravity environment but it is a good place to test VASMIR for short periods (ten minute bursts). If VASMIR works it will reduce the ISS’s need for reboost a bit reducing the amount of propellant it needs from progress and ATV.

    Space station station keeping is one of the many uses of VASMIR.

  • Justin Kugler

    It is less expensive for them to use the Station than build a free-flyer on their own, windy. That is why they’re coming to us. We can help them get past the technology “valley of death.”

    You’d rather throw an existing asset away that can be used in the near future for developing technologies that will make space exploration more affordable in the hopes that Constellation will one day in the far future become magically affordable.

  • The downside of the ISS test is that the station can’t provide constant power to it and the constant acceleration provied VASMIR would ruin the microgravity environment but it is a good place to test VASMIR for short periods (ten minute bursts). If VASMIR works it will reduce the ISS’s need for reboost a bit reducing the amount of propellant it needs from progress and ATV.

    Actually, in theory, if it thrust just exactly as much as the drag, it would improve the microgravity environment, and eliminate changes in orbital altitude.

  • Das Boese

    Dennis Berube wrote @ March 30th, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I thought the station was kept in its orbit via the refueling of the central, and first segment, the Mir central core, and not by Progress. Progress delivers fuel I guess, but I thought it was transfered to the central core.. Maybe Im all wet on this!

    Well you’re both half right and wrong ;)

    ISS has various means of keeping its orbit. When a Progress, ATV or shuttle is docked they can use their engines to reboost the station, in addition Progress and ATV also regularly deliver fuel for the station’s own engines which are located on the Service Module.

    What you refer to as the “core” would be the FGB, which, while it does have engines for station keeping, is no longer used in that capacity because the engines were disabled with the addition of the SM, so today it only stores the fuel for the SM’s engines.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Progress delivers fuel I guess, but I thought it was transfered to the central core..

    It can do both and so can ATV. The Shuttle can also do reboosts, but it isn’t designed to transfer propellant.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ March 30th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Actually, in theory, if it thrust just exactly as much as the drag, it would improve the microgravity environment, and eliminate changes in orbital altitude.

    Yep.
    The GOCE mission has nicely demonstrated the advantages of EP for sensitive LEO science missions.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As to the desirability for a high flight rate, that depends on the degree of reuseability in the system.

    I’m only saying a high flight rate is necessary for cheap lift, not that it is sufficient, although I do believe that in combination with fair, competitive and redundant procurement it would lead to cheap lift.

    That is why if we are ever to achieve practical human spaceflight we need fully reusable launch systems.

    Agreed, and I believe that is what the market would choose. But heavy lift and mass-produced expendables, which are two other proposed approaches to lowering launch costs, also require high flight rates. Even if you are agnostic about RLVs vs HLVs vs mass-produced expendables it remains the case that we need high flight rates. That should rule out HLVs, since it is difficult to get a high flight rate out of them.

  • amightywind

    Actually, in theory, if it thrust just exactly as much as the drag, it would improve the microgravity environment, and eliminate changes in orbital altitude.

    A gazillion dollars for an ‘active microgravity minimization control system’. You are not creating much value for your sponsors with such an utterly insane suggestion.

  • Major Tom

    A follow up to the in-space propellant storage versus HLV discussion in earlier this thread…

    Georgia Tech and the National Aerospace Institute have put together a detailed cost analysis of human space exploration architectures using propellant depots versus HLVs. It’s been in the works for at least a couple months now, and NASAWatch has apparently gotten hold of a copy:

    http://www.nasawatch.com/images/F9PropDepot.pdf

    The two, key, bottomline findings:

    - “No HLLV-based options fit within budget”, and
    - Depots offer “tens of billions of dollars of cost savings and lower up-front costs to fit within budget profile.”

    More shocking than the conclusions (which aren’t all that shocking to anyone who’s done a little analysis on this topic themselves) is that one of the two lead authors is Doug Stanley, the man who was handpicked by Griffin to head the old ESAS study that led to Constellation.

    FWIW…

  • I’m only saying a high flight rate is necessary for cheap lift, not that it is sufficient, although I do believe that in combination with fair, competitive and redundant procurement it would lead to cheap lift.

    There’s no way to realistically get a high flight rate, at least sustainably, if it doesn’t have that combination…

  • A gazillion dollars for an ‘active microgravity minimization control system’.

    Just on the minuscule chance that you’re really wondering why you have been characterized as a troll, the completely unsubstantiated, not to mention undefined word “gazillion,” should be a good clue.

    But it won’t, because you’re a troll. But at least others may understand the characterization.

  • Dennis Berube

    I think one problem for some of this stagnation, is Bolden seems not to have any enthusiasm about the space program in general. Maybe his hands are tied to some degree. I think he should be replaced with a more energetic person. One willing to move forward and not hesitate.

  • Ferris Valyn

    I think one problem for some of this stagnation, is Bolden seems not to have any enthusiasm about the space program in general. Maybe his hands are tied to some degree. I think he should be replaced with a more energetic person. One willing to move forward and not hesitate.

    I nominate Lori Garver

  • Dennis Berube

    It seems to me, that for an astronaut, Bolden really doesnt display a keen interest in the process. He doesnt have the get up and go. We need someone willing to push ahead, with the money still coming in. If that means launching Orion on a new revised man rated Delta, lets move forward in that direction. Lets at least keep the ball rolling along. I see everyone just standing by, while money is still available for some of these projects. Even if the money available is reduced to a former budget, it can still do a lot of good at gaining the goals desired. Though Delta and or Atlas, are military rockets, NASA could indeed take one of them under her wing, and adapt it for their own purposes. Lets go with something.

  • Ferris Valyn

    It seems to me, that for an astronaut, Bolden really doesnt display a keen interest in the process. He doesnt have the get up and go. We need someone willing to push ahead, with the money still coming in.

    You can only push ahead so fast, when you have stuff like the Shelby amendment in effect as law. I know there are people who like to apply the Green Lantern approach to doing national policy, but life is infinitely more complicated than that.

    If that means launching Orion on a new revised man rated Delta, lets move forward in that direction. Lets at least keep the ball rolling along. I see everyone just standing by, while money is still available for some of these projects.

    Again, there isn’t money available as yet, because of the Shelby amendment (and things like the Authorization aren’t helping, which pulls NASA in another direction)

    Even if the money available is reduced to a former budget, it can still do a lot of good at gaining the goals desired. Though Delta and or Atlas, are military rockets, NASA could indeed take one of them under her wing, and adapt it for their own purposes. Lets go with something.

    *Dead stop*
    Huh? Atlas & Delta are military rockets? Where did that come from?

    They are commercial rockets, not military rockets.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ March 31st, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Though Delta and or Atlas, are military rockets, NASA could indeed take one of them under her wing, and adapt it for their own purposes.

    Dennis, NASA has access to both Atlas and Delta launchers, as do commercial customers – they are not exclusively for military use. For NASA, look up the NASA Launch Services (NLS II) contract for more details.

    You really need to do simple searches before you post. Even using Wikipedia would get you 90% of the information you’re asking for before you post…

    As to your Bolden comment, what do you want him doing, flying every Shuttle flight? Weird.

  • Dennis Berube

    Sorry guys did I tighten your strings, or knot them to tight? Werent Delta and Atlas devised as military rockets? I realize for a price any can be had for use. My opinion, and after all that is what we all seem to have, only opinions, is that if a Delta can get Orion into space, lets go and get on with it. I thought money is alreadyin the works for an Orion/Delta test flight sometime in 2013? I thought I read the Delta was under construction? Okay maybe Im stretching what Im hearing. I dont think Bolden should fly every shuttle, but it seems to me he is much more transparent on the subject then many previous people holding his post. I do realize that he must follow what the govenment orders, and how the money purse strings get pulled, but he is to mundaned about everything.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Werent Delta and Atlas devised as military rockets?

    No. They weren’t. It is true that the military did invest some money into the EELV program, BUT that doesn’t mean that they are a military rocket. Because the military aren’t the owners of the rocket. ULA/Boeing/LM are the owners it – they are COMMERCIAL rockets (why do you think that they launch DOD, NASA and Commercial payloads?)

    I can’t speak about the money or Delta IV/Orion, but the soonest way to have access to LEO is Commercial Crew.

    I do realize that he must follow what the govenment orders, and how the money purse strings get pulled, but he is to mundaned about everything.

    We had Griffin – I am sorry, but I’ll take Bolden over Griffin any day of the week.

  • common sense

    ” I do realize that he must follow what the govenment orders, and how the money purse strings get pulled”

    Do you actually realize that?????

  • Martijn Meijering

    There’s no way to realistically get a high flight rate, at least sustainably, if it doesn’t have that combination…

    Absolutely, sustainable high flight rates need cheap lift and cheap lift needs high flight rates. NASA can break this deadlock by priming the pump, if I may be permitted a mixed metaphor. Once established cheap lift would enable continued high flight rates, and once high flight rates were enabled the market would demand them, because once it becomes cheap enough most people would like to visit LEO at least once in their lives.

    It’s beyond me why any self-respecting space enthusiast could be anything else than thrilled by the prospect of opening up space for mankind. Yet many Shuttle supporters refuse to even address the argument (even though opening up space for mankind was the Shuttle’s primary mission in which it failed spectacularly), preferring to attack strawmen instead. I can understand why someone whose livelihood depends on the continued existence of the Shuttle political industrial complex would feel that way and we’ve seen enough examples of that here and elsewhere, but the existence of fans without an economic motive who do so puzzles and frustrates me.

  • Dennis Berube

    The best possible way to ensure continued deep space exploration, would be to build a craft in orbit that could be continually used to travel out to various destinations! This would be the best possible answer. Certainly we could build such a vehicle, one that could be utilized for many, many years to come! We could reach the Moon, asteroids, and Mars, all with the same vehicle, using it for various manned science missions. Would this be bad, I dont think so. If commercial was used to get to this vehicle, all fine and well. Refueling in space has been shown, and about every other form of tech has been accomplished, so that a vessel of this type could be built today. We would have a permanence in space that nothing could beat. If colonization was desired, what better way to accomplish that then to have a vehicle in permanent orbit, ready to be dispatched to destinations unknown! Now that is the direction NASA should have.

  • Ferris Valyn

    The best possible way to ensure continued deep space exploration, would be to build a craft in orbit that could be continually used to travel out to various destinations! This would be the best possible answer. Certainly we could build such a vehicle, one that could be utilized for many, many years to come! We could reach the Moon, asteroids, and Mars, all with the same vehicle, using it for various manned science missions. Would this be bad, I dont think so. If commercial was used to get to this vehicle, all fine and well. Refueling in space has been shown, and about every other form of tech has been accomplished, so that a vessel of this type could be built today. We would have a permanence in space that nothing could beat. If colonization was desired, what better way to accomplish that then to have a vehicle in permanent orbit, ready to be dispatched to destinations unknown! Now that is the direction NASA should have.

    Dennis, in many respects, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    The problem is, a large portion of this was rejected last year, and those pieces that stayed in are in danger of being choked to death by the Senate Launch System, particularly if it ends up being Shuttle derived

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ March 31st, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    What a nice surprise… Keep up the good work now.

  • Dennis Berube

    Thanks for the upgrade to my thoughts. I have always been for such a move. Isnt the Enterprise a space only vehicle? Of course! It seems though that neither our government nor our commercial side wants such a vehicle. Well maybe commercial will think about it later.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Thanks for the upgrade to my thoughts. I have always been for such a move. Isnt the Enterprise a space only vehicle?

    Well, I do remember from the last movie, it was built on the ground. Anyway….

    Of course! It seems though that neither our government nor our commercial side wants such a vehicle. Well maybe commercial will think about it later

    See, this is where I think you have it wrong.
    1. The commercial has demonstrated an interest in such a vehicle, but they don’t see a “if you build it, they will come” market, unlike earth to LEO market. (That said, I’ve seen some stuff from Bigelow that includes using their Sundancer & BA-330 as the basis for a deep space spaceship)
    2. There are some within our government who do want such a vehicle – I point to the Nautilus-X, as well as last year’s budget (again, we aren’t at the point where we can build such a vehicle, without some tech development – I suspect we aren’t that far, but we aren’t there yet) – Had we gone with Obama’s proposed budget last year, I suspect this would’ve been a real possiblity come 2017-2020 time frame (which, unfortunately, were not in the 5 year budget projections)

    Again, though, not to sound like a broken record – this is all in danger because of the “we have to build SLS using Shuttle systems”

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ April 1st, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I have always been for such a move.

    Not really. Up until recently you have been advocating for space exploration in Orion capsules, not space-only vehicles that use capsules as lifeboats & CRV’s.

    Regardless, I’m glad you’ve “upgraded” your thinking…

  • Martijn Meijering

    particularly if it ends up being Shuttle derived

    It won’t be much better if it isn’t.

  • Martijn Meijering

    again, we aren’t at the point where we can build such a vehicle, without some tech development – I suspect we aren’t that far, but we aren’t there yet

    We are at the point where we can build a very robust and capable exploration vehicle. We don’t need to wait for technology development and I would like to keep NASA as far removed as possible from the main innovations I’d like to see: RLVs and cryogenic depots.

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