Congress, NASA

Budget wrapup and heavy-lift language

On Friday the president signed into law the final fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill, ending an appropriations process that started over a year ago. Passage of the bill last week was greeted relatively quietly, with a rather generic statement of appreciation from NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who noted the bill gives NASA the funds to implement the programs in the authorization act despite “these tough fiscal times”. Lockheed Martin offered their thanks as well since the legislation provides a minimum of $1.2 billion for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the continuation of the Orion spacecraft the company was working on under Constellation.

But then there is the language in the appropriations bill about a “130-ton” heavy-lift launch vehicle. In a statement issued Monday, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) took credit for that, saying he “added language to the final Continuing Resolution for 2011 that requires NASA to fully develop its heavy lift capability.” Last week Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) said he had worked with Shelby and others to get that provision into the final bill. Shelby added the provision “saves over 500 jobs at the Marshall Space Flight Center”.

That language (specifically, that the heavy-lift vehicle funded in the bill “shall have a lift capability not less than 130 tons and which shall have an upper stage and other core elements developed simultaneously”) has raised concerns that it short-circuits the NASA authorization act last year that mandated a 70- to 100-ton vehicle that could later be upgraded to at least 130 tons. A congressional source familiar with the formulation of the legislation, though, said that’s not the case. Early versions of the language in the appropriations bill did call for an initial lift capacity of 130 tons, but that word was stricken from later versions. The language does require NASA to work simultaneously on the core elements as well as an upper stage that may be specific to the 130-ton version, but that work does not have to take place at the same pace, allowing NASA to focus more attention on an initial, smaller version while assuring Congress that it will evolve it later to the ultimate capacity.

310 comments to Budget wrapup and heavy-lift language

  • Fred Willett

    I’m afraid if NASA has to go ahead with SLS it’s never going to get built. The budget will blow out. The schedule will slip. Worse SLS will eat up funds for actual exploration efforts. It could be Constellation all over again.
    Please prove me wrong.

  • amightywind

    I am glad that Shelby won’t let Bolden weasel his way out of building a large rocket. Now if only we had his proposed design. My guess is he will attempt to sabotage the effort, again. Continuing Orion is a no-brainer. The question becomes what will launch it. How can we be this far into development and not know that? Very strange indeed.

  • NASA Fan

    NASA’s future with respect to developing a heavy lifter will look very much like it’s past with respect to developing new rockets. No matter the legislation, it isn’t going to happen. No way, no how.

  • borecrawler

    Addressing the comment “I’m afraid if NASA has to go ahead with SLS it’s never going to get built. The budget will blow out. The schedule will slip. Worse SLS will eat up funds for actual exploration efforts. It could be Constellation all over again”.

    I think Constellation became the “poster child” for everything wrong with the budget battles between Congress and the administration. It is very unfortunate. Just stop and ponder where we would be today if Obama hadn’t cancelled Constellation. We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year (much sooner than Space-X). We would be laser-focused on one program instead of several commercial startup proposals. Now that the NASA budget has appropriated money for heavy lift, they will have to prove that they are capable of turning this project into a reality quickly and at low cost. I believe they can do this, but the current NASA leadership has demonstrated an awful track record and an unwillingness to commit to anything meaningful. God help us all if we truly want to see any significant manned space exploration any time soon!

  • Major Tom

    Even the editors at Space News think SLS and MPCV are poorly defined:

    spacenews.com/commentaries/110418-misplaced-priorities-congress.html

    Sigh…

  • mr. mark

    To answer amightwind’s question a Delta 4 Heavy or Falcon Heavy will launch Orion because NASA’s launch vehicle most likely will never see completion. It’s a job’s project and there really is no reason for it Especially with all the launchers that are currently or will be on the market by 2015.

  • The 130 mT edict and the funds provided are not based in any kind of reality, just a jobs program that’s guaranteed to slip a year per year like CxP did.

    Of course that’s okay for pseudo-conservatives in the NASA Districts and other self proclaimed “anti-socialists.”

    Pathetic.

  • CharlesHouston

    MPCV/Orion will almost certainly fly on an Atlas or Delta. The SLS will likely be finally killed in the next couple of budgets – it is just a way to allow MSFC to ramp the work force down rather than cut them all at the same time. Hopefully those folks will find jobs with ULA, doing expendables. NASA has already looked at needed modifications to the pads on CC AFS.

  • mr. mark

    It’s really simple private industry is replacing a government run space launcher construction program. The government will eventually buy use of spacecraft and launchers for their projects. It’s already happening with the COTS program. The US fosters inovation through grants for new systems and then purchases use of those systems for future projects.

  • Major Tom

    “I am glad that Shelby won’t let Bolden weasel his way out of building a large rocket.”

    To where? To do what?

    “Now if only we had his proposed design.”

    Now only if we had Shelby’s proposed target and mission, there might be a reason for NASA to spend tens of billions of dollar on yet another launch vehicle and for Bolden to decide on a design for that launch vehicle.

    But, instead of doing something productive in space or even just paying down a little of the debt, thanks to the leadership at the North Alabama Space Administration, tens of billions of my and other taxpayers’ dollars are earmarked for waste on a big, honkin, do-nothing, rocket-to-nowhere.

    “My guess is he will attempt to sabotage the effort, again.”

    My guess is that Bolden has so many scars from cleaning up Griffin’s mess of delayed actions, massive overruns, and multiyear schedule slips on Shuttle workforce, Constellation, and other projects like JWST that the last thing Bolden wants to do is commit the agency to another, unrealistic, unneeded, poorly studied, budget-busting, workforce-wrenching development that will never see the finish line.

    “Continuing Orion is a no-brainer.”

    Yes, the nation really, really, really needs to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on a _fifth_ human space flight vehicle when we’re already building four others for hundreds of millions of dollars, including biconic capsules capable of Mars entry and vehicles with TPS capable of withstanding Earth entry on Mars return trajectories.

    procurement.ksc.nasa.gov/documents/NNK11MS02S_SAA_BlueOrigin_04-18-2011.pdf

    procurement.ksc.nasa.gov/documents/NNK11MS04S_SAA-SpaceX.pdf

    procurement.ksc.nasa.gov/documents/NNK11MS01S_SAA-%20SNC_Redacted.pdf

    procurement.ksc.nasa.gov/documents/NNK11MS03S_Boeing_SAA_Combined_Redacted.pdf

    “The question becomes what will launch it.”

    After Ares I imploded, Delta IV is the only remaining option. Even LockMart recognizes this:

    spacenews.com/civil/101126-lockheed-reserved-delta-for-2013-orion-flight.html

    “How can we be this far into development and not know that? Very strange indeed.”

    How can you post so much here and be so ignorant of Orion’s LV options?

    Sigh…

  • @borecrawler
    We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year (much sooner than Space-X).

    Even if that were true (which it isn’t), it would have still been billions over budget and have a low flight rate. What you and all die-hard Cx huggers just don’t seem to get is, it’s not just about getting there, it’s about getting there affordably and sustainably. Also, have you noticed 7 crew each for SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100, versus 4 maximum for Ares I/Orion. Launching more people per spacecraft and being able to do it more often means putting a lot more people per year into space. More than any other country and that means human spaceflight supremacy for the U.S. But you guys won’t quit drinking the old status quo Kool-Aid.

  • ok then

    “”Just stop and ponder where we would be today if Obama hadn’t cancelled Constellation.”””

    Prepping for the de-orbit of ISS in 2015? Wondering how to restore funding for the lunar lander? Hoping the AF was wrong about launch escape scenarios with Ares I? Ah, utopia!

  • Ferris Valyn

    borecrawler

    Whatever you are smoking, you gotta share with the rest of the class.

  • We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year (much sooner than Space-X).

    This is nutty. Ares I hadn’t even passed a real PDR. How would it have gotten past CDR?

  • amightywind

    We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year (much sooner than Space-X). We would be laser-focused on one program instead of several commercial startup proposals.

    I agree with you. Ares I would be nearing completion. The shuttle hiatus would have been minimum. The shuttle workforce would have been preserved. When Holdren, Garver, Bolden and Obama sabotaged Constellation the clock started ticking on what comes next. It is still ticking (crickets). We had our latest ‘scattershot’ yesterday when NASA larded $300 million (fresh off Obama’s printing press) on wild eyed hobbiests and Obama campaign contributers. None of the ‘winners’ is even required to launch! The incompetence of the NASA leadership becomes more apparent every day. They and their political backers in the Florida congressional delegation are answerable for the economic devastation on the space coast. I hope you demonstrated with your local Tea party this week, like I did. Real change for this country cannot come soon enough.

  • John Malkin

    I think the truth lies in the fact that Lockheed essentially abandon ATK. Since they are going to use a ULA (Boeing/Lockheed) launcher instead of either Ares I or ATK’s “Commercial” Liberty. Lockheed could still use ATK if they thought it could be finished on time. I don’t think the cost is a big concern to Lockheed. Why didn’t they do it in the first place?

    MPCV will be the biggest waste of money. Bolden will try and direct SLS development into something useful. Maybe by 2013 a payload other than MPCV will be aligned to complete at the same time as SLS. It won’t be 2016 any version, I’ll bet on that. We can only hope that all the money for SLS isn’t totally wasted like Ares I. What technology would have been transferred from Ares I to Ares V and how will technology from Ares I transfer to SLS? (Assuming SLS used ATK).

  • MrEarl

    Well, here we go again. Same argument, different decade.
    If NASA was smart it would partner with Boeing to create a Shuttle/Delta hybrid class of vehicals with initial capabilities of 70mt that can be evolved to 130mt. The 70 to 100mt size would give the US capability to fully exploit cis-lunar space with the 130mt vehicle able to allow excursions to Mars and NEO’s.
    Only a government/business partnership could work in this time of uncertain federal funding. Boeing would be the natural partner for such an plan because of the limited commonality between Shuttle and Delta systems and Boeing has expressed interest in the past about creating a SDV. Also with the SpaceX announcement of the Falcon Heavy and the interest it has generated, I would think Boeing would be anxious to find something to compete with Falcon Heavy.
    As for Orion/MPCV, that is being built for a different purpose than the commercial LEO space craft. The MPCV is designed to be a long duration exploration craft while the commercial vehicals are designed to be short term “taxi” vehicles. The MPCV can also substitute as a crew escape vehicle if the secretive Blue Origins craft is not ready.
    No matter how convoluted the path to get here, this compromise could work very well to insure access to LEO through commercial carriers and human exploration activities through development of the MPCV and a NASA/business partnership for the SLS.

  • Major Tom

    “We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year”

    That’s a false statement. Before the program was terminated, the next Ares test flight after Ares I-X, Ares I-Y, wasn’t scheduled until March 2014:

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

    That’s three years from now, not “next year”.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “(much sooner than Space-X).”

    Another false statement. SpaceX has conducted orbital launches of Falcon 9, twice now.

    news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20006863-239.html

    abcnews.go.com/Technology/spacex-falcon-launch-successful-privately-owned-spacecraft-return/story?id=12345299

    Stop making stuff up.

  • Malmesbury

    Interestingly the SpaceX bid includes a roadmap to crewed flight to ISS before the end of the current contract with the Russians.

  • Robert G. Oler

    @borecrawler
    We would be past critical design reviews for Ares-1 and ready to fly by next year (much sooner than Space-X)…..

    that is just one lie after another. Robert G. Oler

  • Good to hear that rational minds in Congress are forcing NASA to look beyond just LEO.

    I look forward to SLS/MPCV missions in the future, hopefully to the Moon.

    I also look forward to giving commercial space a chance to prove what they claim. I expect some to be highly successful.

    As for those misguided children who try to slander the engineering talent at NASA, which is more capabile and competent (if not cheaper or more agile) than anything that commercial space can offer, I can only offer my sympathy. You will grow up. This will pass.

    NASA’s limitations in the past have alwasy been poor leadership. Bad decisions at the very top, such as scrapping the Saturn V, unrealistic promises for the shuttle, ISS, and now Commercial Space. And most of all, a political lack of ambition to actually reach out into space.

  • Dennis Berube

    It will be interesting to see if Orion will eventually launch on Falcon heavy. Lets give these guys a chance and see if they can pull it off. If may prove a worthy ship, as a launch vehicle.

  • “I think the truth lies in the fact that Lockheed essentially abandon ATK. Since they are going to use a ULA (Boeing/Lockheed) launcher instead of either Ares I or ATK’s “Commercial” Liberty. Lockheed could still use ATK if they thought it could be finished on time. I don’t think the cost is a big concern to Lockheed. Why didn’t they do it in the first place?”

    The ULA launchers already exist and are ready to go, so for a test flight, you usually want to go with what is currently available. At this point Liberty is a proposal, as is the Blue Origin reusable VTVL booster, which they also did not select.

    Another reason is that current NASA management has been seriously considering the Delta IV for MPCV launches, so the test flight could also test integration with the Delta IV.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    “As for those misguided children who try to slander the engineering talent at NASA, which is more capabile and competent (if not cheaper or more agile) than anything that commercial space can offer,”

    you dont understand engineering talent…

    There are individuals at NASA HSF who are quite competent and talented in all segments of the agency. But they are screwed by a system which is incapable of managing building a toilet for anything approaching schedule or cost…and those two things are a large part of engineering competence.

    One may argue “thats the system” …but the system inside NASA is incestuous and is a product of what the agency is. No one forced Cx to spend 12 billion dollars and produce little…except the NASA managers who were running the program…and none of those managers were “outside” picks, they were all products of the “birthing” process of the agency.

    NASA HSF and the people who are managers today are the ones who put together the system that signatured by killing 14 people and losing two orbiters, they took Cx and spent 12 billion dollars and have nothing to show for it. As we speak Armadillo is testing a quick nibble lunar lander at the JSC and the incompetence of the agency is not allowing any live coverage of it…and these are the same turd balls who are insisting that a heavy lift vehicle is essential for exploration.

    Sorry the system at NASA HSF is incompetent. There are competent people…but there were competent people on the Titanic.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Is anyone surprised Dream Chaser got the money it got? I am…pleasantly but surprised.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @Bridwell
    “Good to hear that rational minds in Congress are forcing NASA to look beyond just LEO.

    I look forward to SLS/MPCV missions in the future, hopefully to the Moon.”

    As I pointed out to Hillhouse in another thread on this blog, the only thing keeping real BEO progress from happening is SLS. While completing Commercial Crew the money that is being thrown away on SLS could instead be put toward developing a truly rational (as in economically viable) BEO system.

  • To Oler
    I understand your position now vis-a-vis Bridwell. One can only put up with so much B.S.

  • Matt Wiser

    If NASA does use Delta IV for Orion/MPCV launch, it’ll be likely for LEO testing and checkout (ISS visits, long-duration earth orbit tests, etc.). To go BEO, Heavy-lift, while not essential, is a good thing to have.

    I’ve let go of Constellation: very reluctantly, but I did let go. My advice to those still clinging to CxP: have an appropriate wake, let it all out, and move on.

    Nelson: I’m in agreement with you. The commercial sector will have a chance to succeed, though lunar return (boots on the ground) will have to wait a while (Mid-late 2020s). Lunar orbit, though…that can be done on the third or fourth Orion/SLS crewed launch. (2 uncrewed tests, a crewed test in LEO, then repeat Apollo 8)

    Commercial space compliments NASA, not replaces it. Sorry to rain on anyone who thinks otherwise. That doesn’t prevent NASA in the future from purchasing vehicles from SpaceX (or Boeing, Orbital, etc) and operating it themselves, though-which is what we’ve always done since Mercury.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Good to hear that rational minds in Congress are forcing NASA to look beyond just LEO.

    Oops, you had a couple of typos – I’ll fix it:

    Sad to hear that irrational minds in Congress are forcing NASA to avoid space exploration in general by spending money on the wrong things (i.e. the SLS).

    There, now it makes sense.

  • tu8ca

    The next ten years should be very interesting … until now, ‘old space’ companies have had little reason to be efficient. Once they got their NASA sanctioned monopoly they could concentrate on increasing infrastructure and overhead – a great way to grow a company, as long as politicians have your back and you don’t have competitors. There’s always another project on the horizon with billions of dollars of tax dollars for R&D.

    I don’t say this to be mean, but realistically what is a company with a guaranteed monopoly on a NASA launcher part supposed to do – work its butt off to become smaller and less profitable in the name of efficiency? That’s what competition is for.

    Ten years from now I hope there is real competition for tax dollars in the space launch industry. And not just competition for the initial design contracts.

  • @Matt Wiser
    Commercial space compliments NASA, not replaces it. Sorry to rain on anyone who thinks otherwise.
    Indeed, they should compliment each other. NASA should be doing the cutting edge BEO stuff and leave getting to LEO to commercial space. Anything else is just going to delay our return to deep space exploration.

  • Only a government/business partnership could work in this time of uncertain federal funding.

    It is working, and very well. It’s called Commercial Crew.

  • Gary Warburton

    I think the money for this monstrosity should come out of the pockets of the politicians who seem obsessed with building it. I wonder how long it would take them to cancel it, then.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Robert,

    Regarding Dreamchaser – not really. I think there is a preference to see both the capsule trade-space & winged vehicle/lifting body trade-space explored (that certainly is my preference), and so I expected either Orbital or SNC to get money. So, at its worst, it was a 50/50 they’d get money (IMHO)

    If you haven’t read the selection statement, go check it out – interesting read.

    Matt Wiser

    Commercial space compliments NASA, not replaces it. Sorry to rain on anyone who thinks otherwise. That doesn’t prevent NASA in the future from purchasing vehicles from SpaceX (or Boeing, Orbital, etc) and operating it themselves, though-which is what we’ve always done since Mercury.

    Most commercial space advocates don’t think it replaces NASA.

    Also, why does NASA need to purchase an entire vehicle? Why not just have them buy seats on the ride? That way, you avoid market segmentation (which is a bad thing right now).

  • byeman

    So many wrong statements on this thread and by the usual suspects.

    1.”NASA was smart it would partner with Boeing to create a Shuttle/Delta hybrid class of vehicals”

    NASA can do no such thing. NASA would have to hold a competition for such a vehicle. It just can’t “pick” Boeing. Also, Delta is now ULA technology to manage not Boeing. Know what you are talking about before posting.

    2. “I think the truth lies in the fact that Lockheed essentially abandon ATK”

    There is no truth that statement. LM has no dealings with ATK as far as determining which booster Orion/MPCV flies on. NASA determines the booster. There was never a Liberty/Orion agreement, nor would LM make one

    3. “As for those misguided children who try to slander the engineering talent at NASA, which is more capabile and competent (if not cheaper or more agile) than anything that commercial space can offer,”

    As far as misguided, look at the poster. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. As far as launch vehicle engineering talent, the bulk of it, including the cream of the crop resides in industry (i.e. commercial space). NASA hasn’t developed an orbital launcher for more than 30 years, so how could it have the “experts”? The experts are at Boeing, LM, ULA, OSC, and yes, Spacex. Who does NASA go to to launch most of its spacecraft? not NASA, but Commercial space.

  • One may argue “thats the system” …but the system inside NASA is incestuous and is a product of what the agency is.

    I agree Robert and that incestuous relationship extends out to Congress, which in large part is incorporated into the various NASA districts. These are political constructs in of themselves and thus reduces NASA into jobs programs for votes and political gain. Nothing needs to be built and the funding reflects that.

    And I’m pleasantly surprised about the Dream Chaser funding too. ;)

  • Major Tom

    “I agree with you. Ares I would be nearing completion.”

    Unless “nearing completion” means “half a decade or more away”, that’s a lie. Before cancellation, the program had the Ares I-Y test flight scheduled for March 2014 and the first manned Ares I launch for March 2015.

    flightglobal.com/articles/2009/07/09/329473/nasa-drops-ares-v-from-launch-services-contract.html

    And that assumes an unconstrained budget. Per the Augustine Committee, Ares I wasn’t going to exit development until 2017-2019 under that actual budget.

    “The shuttle hiatus would have been minimum. The shuttle workforce would have been preserved.”

    A gap of six to eight years is “minimum” compared to what? The 28 years it was going to take before we saw the first Ares V launch?

    “None of the ‘winners’ is even required to launch!”

    Unlike the multi-billion-dollar, cost-plus, sole-source contracts that dominated Constellation, none of the CCDev winners will be awarded an agreement for an orbital demonstration until they prove themselves in the critical tests (engine firings, abort tests, captive carry flights, etc.) that precede such a demonstration.

    It’s a novel concept, but if you want to earn another taxpayer dollar, maybe you should have prove yourself on the taxpayer dollars you already have, first.

    “The incompetence of the NASA leadership becomes more apparent every day.”

    Yes, it appears that we can buy four crewed space vehicles for a fraction of the cost of Griffin’s Orion. It doesn’t get much more incompetent than that.

    “They and their political backers in the Florida congressional delegation are answerable for the economic devastation on the space coast.”

    What “economic devastation on the space coast”? Economic studies? Statistics? References?

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Commercial space compliments NASA, not replaces it. Sorry to rain on anyone who thinks otherwise.

    I think you’re one of the last to think that. Glad you finally realized it.

    Lunar orbit, though…that can be done on the third or fourth Orion/SLS crewed launch.

    Or for about $20B less, on the 3rd or 4th Falcon Heavy.

    Which brings up the question – what would you do with $20B for NASA to spend? See what opportunities commercial launchers provide?

  • John Malkin

    byeman wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    2. “I think the truth lies in the fact that Lockheed essentially abandon ATK”
    There is no truth that statement. LM has no dealings with ATK as far as determining which booster Orion/MPCV flies on. NASA determines the booster. There was never a Liberty/Orion agreement, nor would LM make one

    “Lockheed Martin Space Systems is negotiating with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to buy a Delta 4 Heavy launch for an unmanned test flight of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2013 even though NASA has not committed to funding the demonstration. “

    http://spacenews.com/civil/101126-lockheed-reserved-delta-for-2013-orion-flight.html

    So are you saying Lockheed was forced by NASA to use the Ares I launch vehicle?

  • Elmar_M

    Dragon is alraedy capable of reentry from a lunar, even a mars mission. No need for Orion to do that.
    Dragon will also be the more moder system doing powered landings on land instead of water landings like orion. Dragon can stay in orbit for months, it does not make sense as a primary habitat though, but neither does Orion.
    There are several proposals using DeltaIV or Falcon9, or Falcon heavy launchers for how BEO missions could be done.
    A recent one talked about using 12 Falcon Heavy launches to do a Mars mission. Those 12 launches would cost about the same as a single(!) launch with the SLS. A launch of the SLS will cost in a best case scenario 1.5 billion USD (cost of a shuttle launch). In a more realistic scenario it will cost even more than that.

    @amightywind who said:
    >”We had our latest ‘scattershot’ yesterday when NASA larded $300 million (fresh off Obama’s printing press) on wild eyed hobbiests and Obama campaign contributers.”>

    Dude, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about! You call Boeing and Lockheed hobbiists? IMHO this is outright stupid or libel. SpaceX is also not a hobbiist. They have already flown their rocket twice and made a successful orbit and recovery of their dragon capsule. In addition to that, they have several huge contract for satellite launches (e.g. Iridium). Their company has been profitable for a few years now, because of that.
    Some people are just unbelievable in their neglect of reality!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    If you haven’t read the selection statement, go check it out – interesting read. …

    Thanks Ferris…I intend to its just that our 1 year old is learning independence, the job is going at a dull roar, even my flight training business has picked up, there are a surprise or two on the horizon and ducks are hatching like mad (grin)…I just have not yet had the time but will.

    I am just pleasantly surprised. It is a great concept and has a good legacy and certainly a “flying vehicle” should not be more complex in my view then a capsule…but the fact that it got the money coupled with the success of the X-37 is to me entertaining.

    and good news

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    dad2059 wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “I agree Robert and that incestuous relationship extends out to Congress, which in large part is incorporated into the various NASA districts”

    exactly…and that is the large part of the problem. We are I think in the “beginning of the end” phase…you know WSChurchill once said “Americans generally do the right thing but only after they have tried all other options”. I think we are about there in so many things, including human spaceflight Robert

  • byeman

    “So are you saying Lockheed was forced by NASA to use the Ares I launch vehicle?”

    Orion is NASA’s vehicle. NASA says what it flies on, not LM and NASA chose Ares I as the Orion launch vehicle. LM had no part in the selection. As far as the Delta IV, NASA wants a test flight, NASA doesn’t have Delta IV on contract and so LM is hedging a bet. So when it comes to a test flight, NASA is going to direct LM to procure a DIV.

  • Scott Bass

    It may be time for everyone to stop whining and embrace SLS, I thnk it will get built and in time for another administration to fund lots of exploration missions. Of particular note, once Orion is operational I anticipate an Apollo 8 style mission just because of the free return….. That will be exciting and will give them a good systems work out, my money is still on 2020 or before

  • Scott Bass

    In ref to my last comment, I still think Mr. Musk would love to do a trans lunar flight with dragon …… He could very well beat SLS back there, don’t forget he has already contracted for delivery of one of the google Xprize contenders

  • common sense

    @John Malkin wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    “So are you saying Lockheed was forced by NASA to use the Ares I launch vehicle?”

    Your question lacks context. In the good ol’ days of Constellation absolutely yes. NASA dictated the LV and Orion design. Orion was to be launched on Ares-1 which gave quite a few nightmares to the contractors, since they knew it would not work…

    Once Ares was cancelled I guess there was no other choice than to go with another LV if Orion/MPCV ever gets built, which it won’t.

  • Shelby is NASA’s worst friend and a proven failure as a fiscal conservative.

    Bolden’s challenge now is to make the most of the Shelby-Heavy-Lift language so as to get some practical techno developments before that future Congress shuts it down for it’s porkishness.

  • John Malkin

    Wow, that would add costs. Another reason in favor of “Commercial” Cargo and Crew. This is an example of how SpaceX can keep costs down, correct?

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    It may be time for everyone to stop whining and embrace SLS…

    Why should we stop being concerned about wasting $20B+ of our tax money?

    Let me know when it actually has a funded program it’s going to launch, but until then I’ll continue to advocate for it’s cancellation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    It may be time for everyone to stop whining and embrace SLS..

    it is not time for that. SLS has not a chance of being built, the notion that another administration is going to fund exploration beo is simply a hope not a reality (see Whittington, he has Griffin coming back…goofy)…and there is no reason for SLS.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @Scott Bass wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    “It may be time for everyone to stop whining and embrace SLS, ”

    As far as I can tell only those Constellation cheerleaders are whining. Every one else seems pretty happy.

    Oh well.

  • common sense

    I’ll try to explain. There are two worlds at NASA it appears these days. That of Sen Shelby who’s only concerned with jobs at MSFC and that of CCDev2 that is concerned with every one trying to expand access to space.

    While there is very little we can do about Congress nonsense we can cheer the WH/NASA direction for CCDev.

    SLS/MPCV will die by suffocation. In the mean time we’ll have all those LVs/RVs going up and down it’ll be entertaining to learn of the progress of SLS/MPCV.

    As I predicted a long time ago: SLS = Zombie Ares for jobs. LMT cannot bid Orion for commercial crew. Orion is de facto dead or zombie whatever you prefer.

  • “Nelson: I’m in agreement with you. The commercial sector will have a chance to succeed, though lunar return (boots on the ground) will have to wait a while (Mid-late 2020s). Lunar orbit, though…that can be done on the third or fourth Orion/SLS crewed launch. (2 uncrewed tests, a crewed test in LEO, then repeat Apollo.”

    Matt: Good to hear agreement, as well as disagreement!

    It is nice to hear different voices, other than just the small cabal. Sometimes it can remind one of those first Gulf War press scenes of Saddam Hussein touring Bagdad, surrounded by the exact same handful of cheering citizens, no matter whatever part of town he happened to “visit”.

  • “Sad to hear that irrational minds in Congress are forcing NASA to avoid space exploration in general by spending money on the wrong things (i.e. the SLS).”

    Ron: Although we do not agree, I can at least give you credit for a superb sense of humor… Just don’t espect to be hired as the next Capcom ;-)

  • One suggestion for the anti-SLS clique: If you really want to put SLS on hold, this could be a viable “line of attack”…
    (1) Scrap felxible path. That was a colsolation prize under the premise that we cannot afford the Moon. With F9H we can afford return to the Moon ASAP, which should be NASA’s BEO mission.
    (2) A substantial Moon surface mission could be accomplished with 3 F9H launches.
    (3) If NASA were to defer SLS development until Mars, when it would need all the HLV that it can get, it could instead spend the funds on accelerated development of Orion and Altair.
    (4) Lunar return could be pulled off BEFORE 2020.

  • Scott Bass

    Well that’s the difference, I believe the political resolve to get sls built exist, whether for jobs or any other reason. I support it obviously and I am excited for the commercial folks too. SLS is being funded as we speak so I was just saying people might want to move past the skeptic stage and concentrate on the best design, perhaps some of you here will actually have some input as to what we get.

  • “It is nice to hear different voices, other than just the small cabal.

    A “cabal”? You mean like you, Hillhouse, Whittington, ablastofhotair, etc?

    You’re a well known voice in Republican politics in a part of Texas that has a significant stake in the traditional way of doing things at NASA. I’m sure the local jobs and local politics have nothing to do with your space-related positions and support for SLS. Instead you are altruistically thinking of what is good for the entire nation’s future in space. Your position has nothing to do with automatic knee-jerk rejection of anything remotely connected to Obama. Right?

  • John Malkin

    I like this from SpaceX press release

    Over time, the same escape thrusters will also provide the capability for Dragon to land almost anywhere on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy, overcoming the limitation of a winged architecture that works only in Earth’s atmosphere.

    http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20110419

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I can at least give you credit for a superb sense of humor

    I don’t think it’s funny to waste $20+B on something that’s not needed, especially in this economy.

    Just don’t espect to be hired as the next Capcom

    As long as the SLS/MPCV are being pushed by the few in Congress, there won’t be much need for a Capcom, since we won’t be able to afford many flights to space. Too bad you can’t see that.

    In the meantime, there will be lots of commercial crew flights ferrying people to & from the ISS, and eventually Bigelow stations in LEO. Too bad you can’t see that either.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “Is anyone surprised Dream Chaser got the money it got? I am…pleasantly but surprised.”

    I said as much, the military would get dream chaser, and NASA/commercial space would get the capsules.

    I still believe that the Xprize was a backdoor way for the military to get either suboribital or orbital capabilities. Once it turns commercial and the public is riding suborbital space planes it won’t be long before the military has it. The private sector has never had a transportation system that was banned or denied use by the military. I can’t believe suborbital point to point travel won’t be wanted for the miltiary to extend capability.

    I can already hear Dennis Kucinich ranting about weapons in space.

  • That should protect the jobs.. great work. Can we go back to ignoring NASA now?

  • amightywind

    Their company has been profitable for a few years now

    You have a short memory, the kind a stockbroker loves. They have been profitable for years because Iridium was bought out of bankruptcy for pennies on the dollar in 1999. A monkey could have run the company profitably. It will be very interesting if the business will stand on its own. Terrestrial telephones killed Iridium the first time. My guess is they cannot lower the costs of the satellites and launch enough to be profitable. The chances that SpaceX performs on this contract are remote anyway.

  • Joe

    Trent Waddington wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 8:02 pm
    “That should protect the jobs.. great work. Can we go back to ignoring NASA now?”

    If by ignoring NASA you mean ceasing the incessant irrational attacks on it, yes you can.

    In fact would you please?

  • @ablastofhotair
    “You have a short memory, the kind a stockbroker loves.”

    Reread Elmar’s comment for comprehension. He was saying SpaceX has been profitable for several years now. He was NOT talking about Iridium except as a customer of SpaceX.

  • “You’re a well known voice in Republican politics in a part of Texas that has a significant stake in the traditional way of doing things at NASA.”

    Well known? Texas? Not sure who you are talking about.

    I am an unknown from Oregon, a “Blue” state. And, personally, I think our whole two-party nonsense is for the birds. Government should represent the needs of all. Not just unions. Not just the religious. If SPS was being constructed in New Jersey, that would be fine with me, just as long as it actually is going to get us into space.

    Support for NASA is bipartisan. In case you did not notice, Senator Bill Nelson is not exactly a conservative Republican…

    Opposition, on the other hand appears to originate from the far right Obama camp, complemented by a few on the far-right (Newt), plus the usual troupe of parasites who want to divert NASA’s budget to their particular cause, be it welfare, environmentalism, or more funding for academic institutions, mixed in with a few unrealistic dreamers.

  • DCSCA

    Heard today Branson is looking to hire pilots for his space venture. This is where the next phase of commercial HSF will take root whereas SpaceX is a ticket to no place in HSF.

  • Opposition, on the other hand appears to originate from the far LEFT Obama camp, complemented by a few on the far-right (Newt), plus the usual troupe of parasites who want to divert NASA’s budget to their particular cause, be it welfare, environmentalism, or more funding for academic institutions, mixed in with a few unrealistic dreamers.

    Sorry to paint such a bleak picture, but sometimes reality is not as lovely as it could be…

  • “There will be lots of commercial crew flights ferrying people to & from the ISS, and eventually Bigelow stations in LEO. Too bad you can’t see that either.”

    Lots = 2 flights per year x 3 NASA astronauts per flight = a whopping 6 people per year. Commercial cheerleeders have been complaining that so far, NASA has only put about 500 people in space. At this rate, it will take nearly a centry for them to match that number.

    And no, I don’t currently see manned Bigelow stations in LEO. They have been sitting on the ground for the last decade in Las Vegas, which could be about as close to the stars as they ever get. Let’s hope not…

  • “Governments should represent the needs of all.
    Yes, what is good for the Republic as a whole should come first, not pork for certain regions.

    Nelson, I and others like me are some of the biggest supporters of NASA. We just think it’s strengths should be applied to where they could do the most good. As for the political role you are trying to sidestep admitting, this says it all.
    http://www.texasgopvote.com/topic/nelson-bridwell

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: that $20 Billion…lunar return, PLYMOUTH ROCK, etc. And I don’t mean flybys. Boots on the ground. That is, lander, rover, surface systems (suits, ROVs to go into any lunar caves, ISRU demonstration/application, etc.) Now, if SLS does get the ax, we’d have to go to Falcon 9 Heavy-it’d be a useful backup in that instance. But don’t jump on it just yet. Wait and see if SLS can be made to work-it’s the law, mind you. If it works, use it.

    Some in Congress were grilling Charlie Bolden about lack of destinations and target dates in recent hearings. That’s the big problem with FlexPath so far: other than a NEO by 2025, and a Mars orbit by 2035, that’s it. They keep trying to pin down other destinations and target dates, and so far, nada from Charlie. What he needs to do is assure the Congresscritters that yes, we will be going back to the moon-orbit first, then landings as budgets allow, L-Points, and so on. So far, he’s being very cagey at best, and elusive at most.

  • Matt Wiser

    One other comment: what is really needed is a for-real Space Summit, not that “Preaching to the Choir” one last year down at the Cape. Get input from all sides: the moon first people, commercial providers, FlexPath, etc. and find some common agreement. It’s not that they (and people here) lack passion for HSF, far from it, it’s how we get there that battle lines get drawn and the “my way or the highway” attitude sets in. Now, I’m a convert from Moon first to FlexPath, but I do want to see boots on the ground on the lunar surface at some point in the 2020s. FYI, have a look at Professor Ed Crawley’s presentation last year outlining FlexPath-it’s on NASA’s Youtube channel. There needs to be more meat on the bones than the NEO by 2025 and Mars orbit by 2035. Having such a conference-not a daylong PR stunt, but a for-real two or three day event-would go some towards that.

  • common sense

    “What he needs to do is assure the Congresscritters that yes, we will be going back to the moon-orbit first, ”

    bla

    “then landings as budgets allow”

    blabla

    “, L-Points, and so on”

    blablabla. Yeah I thought I heard similar thoughtful argument before…

    “So far, he’s being very cagey at best, and elusive at most.”

    He’s afraid to tell the truth? Nah he told them the truth all right but when you deal with unintelligible bravo-sierra babblers you have to respond in kind. So he does.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Nelson Bridwell

    (1) Scrap felxible path. That was a colsolation prize under the premise that we cannot afford the Moon. With F9H we can afford return to the Moon ASAP, which should be NASA’s BEO mission.

    Flexible path doesn’t presuppose that there won’t be lunar missions. In fact, I’d argue that you can build into the flexible path time & budget to put boots on the ground

    (2) A substantial Moon surface mission could be accomplished with 3 F9H launches.

    Fundementally I don’t disagree – I think you could do a lot with just 2, or throw in depots and things get more interesting, but nothing inherently wrong with what you said.

    That said, why limit the trade space to just Falcon Heavies? Lets expand the trade space to at least include Atlas V Phase 2 (and really, we should expand it to include depots, but lets leave that to the side) BTW, lets get the name right – its the Falcon Heavy, not Falcon 9 Heavy.

    (3) If NASA were to defer SLS development until Mars, when it would need all the HLV that it can get, it could instead spend the funds on accelerated development of Orion and Altair.

    Now, here I have 2 issues
    1. Why would you need SLS to do Mars missions? If you can do Lunar missions with 2-3 F Heavies, why not 4-6 for Mars missions? And of course, there is the point about expanding the trade space, again

    2. Why Altair? There are better lunar lander designs out there, beyond Altair.

    (4) Lunar return could be pulled off BEFORE 2020.

    If you want lunar orbit, yea, I could see a mission by 2020. If you want boots on the ground, I have my doubts (largely related to lead time issues). That said, a 2025 boots on the ground is entirely doable. However, (and this is the problem) you are over prescribing the systems and focus.

    I’ve said this other places, and I’ll say it here – I want a plan that can make us spacefaring NOW. We aren’t there yet, and we are a ways from it, and if it can’t do it now, show me how it does it, and the steps taken. A plan, focused solely on putting a singular human on the moon, can become overly prescribed, and not consider the larger issue of making us a spacefaring society.

    Give me a plan that can do that (and its not enough for technical details – I need sociological & economics as well) and I’ll get in line and argue loudly

    Scott Bass,

    Let me show you where your equation breaks down

    SLS is being funded

    I believe the political resolve to get sls built exist

    These two statements are the problem. I’ll grant that SLS is being funded. but the question is, is it being funded at a level that will result in it being built. And the answer is certainly not in any sort of reasonable time frame, particularly if they are going the SDLV route

    Nelson Bridwell

    Support for NASA is bipartisan. In case you did not notice, Senator Bill Nelson is not exactly a conservative Republican…

    Show me where you have regular discussion about space issues in congress outside of those few people who have space in their districts.

    I’ll grant its bipartisan, but its not wide spread. Its bipartisan like there is bipartisan support for a treaty related to the great lakes – if you are from a great lakes state, almost all congressional people support it. If you aren’t, you don’t give a damn

    And no, I don’t currently see manned Bigelow stations in LEO. They have been sitting on the ground for the last decade in Las Vegas, which could be about as close to the stars as they ever get. Let’s hope not…

    1. If you don’t have any way to access them, then why would you launch them?
    2. I repeat the point about the MOUs Bigelow has with other countries
    3. There is evidence for the sovereign client market outside of Bigelow – you have Canada (& I think some in Europe also expressed an interest in this) to purchase flights on board the Soyuz for their own astronauts
    4. This also ignores the idea that, as we ramp up projects on ISS, there won’t be a demand for more flights for more crew – and no, I don’t necessarily mean from NASA.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt Wiser,

    what is really needed is a for-real Space Summit, not that “Preaching to the Choir” one last year down at the Cape.

    We had that almost 2 years ago, a little less than a year before Obama’s speech

    It was called the Augustine committee, and they had a formal report and everything.

    Everyone got their chance for input (moon, mars, flex path, HLVs, depots, commercial, NASA based, etc)

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Nelson

    I would love it if FH was used for a Moon missions, and that as a result the need for a larger payload system were pushed back. But what you’re refusing to get is that if we do that, we might as well cancel the Senate Launch System.

    A) Legistlaters should not be in the business of dictating the design specs for a launch vehicle, ESPECIALLY when there is no mission in place to use it. If NASA gets a mission, THEN they can decide what they need to accomplish that mission effectively.

    B) If we use FH for near term exploration missions, what makes you assume that we can’t use it for further missions. If we already have a cheap $/lb then

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Lots = 2 flights per year x 3 NASA astronauts per flight…

    Two flights per year equals 14 seats, or 8 extra seats that can be purchased by NASA, ESA, JAXA or anyone else that the ISS partners want to let onboard. That amount of excess capacity has never been available before, since Soyuz flights are capacity constrained, and Shuttle flights were planned years in advance.

    Since the extra seats would most likely be used for temporary visitors, the extra capacity can start being used once they start rotating 7-person capsules. Some uses could be:

    - Scientists to set up or help run experiments

    - Maintenance engineers sent up to fix balky equipment

    - Engineers getting a first hand look at the environment their equipment is being used in, or that they are designing

    Since their stays will be short, and they likely will be working “inside”, the training needed ahead of time is less, which means their overall cost is far less too. These temporary workers also reduce the amount of work that the ISS crew needs to do for “all the little things”, so they become more productive with their time.

    We don’t know how NASA will be buying crew flights, but if they buy the whole flight, then expect them to maximize the amount of people they can send up. Even if they buy by the seat, I would imagine that they will have a GSA Schedule price, and ISS program managers will be adding these types of temporary trips to their budgets.

    Heck, members of Congress could ride up to visit the ISS – probably the best money NASA can spend out of their budget.

    Think outside the box Nelson.

  • Bennett

    common sense wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Inspired!

    no bla whatsoever.

  • Bennett

    DCSCA wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    It’s a bot.

  • Bennett

    common sense wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Thank you for writing that. Spot on.

  • SpaceColonizer

    (continued… need to stop posting with my Droid)

    $/lb then we can just use modular designs and don’t have to demand a larger payload UNLESS it would really end up being cheaper to do so. We can assemble an in-space only vehicle like the NAUTILUS-X. Once assembled it can be resupplied, refueled, and recrewed with a smaller launcher like the F9 probably (maybe large resupplies would to better with an FH launch). This can be used for a mission to Mars along with other elements launched separately (i.e. Mars lander/launcher), and I don’t see why a 130 ton per launch payload is NECESSARY for that mission.

    C) Let’s say for the sake of argument that a 130 ton payload would be NECESSARY for at least some element of a Mars mission. If we’ve already deferred NEO/Lunar missions to the FH or other launch vehicles, what makes you think that commercial won’t improve upon their success and attempt to fill that larger capacity themselves? If NASA determines they really NEED that capability they can just create a milestone based cash prize like they’ve done with COTS and CCDEV. Why is it so important that NASA own the launch vehicle and operate it themselves? It would certainly be cheaper, allowing NASA to use the rest of the money to actually development the rest of the mission (something the current SLS does not allow for in the budget).

    So my general point here is: In a world where we’re going to be getting 53 tons/launch at $1000 per pound in 2014 with less that $1B in government investments, why would we want to pay more than $10B to get 130 tons/launch for much much more $/pound? Keep in mind the later won’t be ready until 2018 at the earliest and also has no payloads planned to launch on it.

    So that’s why some of us are so adamantly against the SLS… because we realize that there is no NEED for it NOW, and by the time we “want” such a thing, there will be absolutely ZERO incentive to go with legacy cost-plus contracts over free market fixed-price contracts. That’s why the pork mongers are pushing so hard for a ludicrous payload requirement and an unrealistic timetable, because they see the writing on the wall… why can’t you?

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Matt Wiser

    /signed

    YES. There does need to be a Space Summit. And we shouldn’t just be inviting people from the different views you mentioned… this also needs to be an international summit with representatives from ALL the space faring nations.

    Unfortunately, with the global economy in the state that it’s in, and with all the other issues that garner so much more media and political attention, holding such a summit might not be viewed very popularly right now. If Obama called for such a summit prior to the 2012 election, it could backfire in this landscape. When FH flys in 2014, that’s the “oh shit” moment that will make such a summit really count.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Wait and see if SLS can be made to work-it’s the law, mind you. If it works, use it.

    Matt, there is no question in my mind that given enough money and time NASA contractors can build a 130 ton capable launcher. The questions have always been 1) Do We Need It, and 2) Can NASA Afford It?

    Your laissez-faire approach to spending ten’s of $Billions of taxpayer money is pretty shocking – build it, then see if we really need it? Should we do that with everything?

    If the SLS was truly needed, there would be a line up of missions already being funded, planned and built. But there is none, ZERO, nada.

    Two years, tops, before the rest of Congress sees this as a way to save $20B or more. And those few in Congress that pushed for the SLS most likely already know this, but that pushes the issue out two more years, and then just like Constellation, the congressional NASA overlords can disagree with the rest of Congress when the SLS is put on the chopping block. Normal politics.

  • Fred Willett

    I’m fed up with people saying we need this or that HLV.
    I want to start exploring NOW.
    SLS and MPSC together are going to cost $20B over the next 5 or 6 years.
    And until they’re built we can’t even begin to do BEO exploration.
    But if even a small amount were diverted into starting NOW think of what we could accomplish.
    Dragon is capable of re-entry from the Moon or Mars as is. Cost $50-60M.
    A Bigelow Sundancer module costs around $100M. Just stack ‘em together, add a propulsion module to push it around and you could start BEO exploration by 2015.
    What about a F9 upper stage modified to be restartable. The Merlin engine is designed to be reusable. Perhaps a COTS agreement to upgrade the engine to be restartable, say $300M.
    Add refuelability, Say another $300M.
    Do a COTS deal with ULA for a fuel Depot (It’s on the flexible path and was due to be funded anyway.)
    With just this little bit of funding, say $500M per year, we could be out doing BEO exploration by 2015.
    If SLS ever get’s built that’s icing on the cake. If it doesn’t then at least another NASA program failure hasn’t held us back for another 5 years.

  • Fred Willett

    The problem is that Congress really isn’t interested in BEO exploration, only the jobs.
    (sigh)
    only the jobs.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: Augustine is not what I have in mind: the Space Authorization Act (correct me If I’m wrong, and if I am, then I will duly stand corrected) I believe directs NASA to have such a conference. The problem Charlie Bolden has in getting congressional support is that all that’s on his plate is NEO by 2025 (and no ID’d target destination as yet), and Mars orbit by 2035. That’s it. He’s being very cagey in his testimony as to other destinations, when, and so on. Either he doesn’t have ESMD’s report as yet-and given D.C., that’s very possible, or he’s under instructions from Dr. Holdren (POTUS’ Science Advisor) not to disclose that information. Charlie would have a much better time if he would at least hint at other destinations, and give a rough timeline as to when he expects to fly some of them. Not deadlines, mind you, but basic estimates.

    Ferris again: You mentioned earlier buying seats instead of buying the vehicle. I was referring to any BEO use of such craft. Even though Orion is the vehicle that’s the baseline for the future MPCV. Remember: Commercial does the LEO stuff: NASA goes BEO. Commercial BEO is not politically possible at the present time. When the exploitation phase kicks in, certainly. But not now.

    If you don’t like SLS, then get your Congresscritter to sponsor the appropriate legislation. It’s part of the Space Authorization Act that most folks here (including myself) supported. NASA has to follow the Act until succeeding legislation directs SLS cancellation. Or does that little detail get in the way? As Sens Nelson, Hutchinson, etc., keep pointing out, they’re insisting that NASA follow the Act. And they’re not happy with the funding for SLS and Orion/MPCV in the FY 12 budget. Expect major changes, as Sen. Nelson has strongly suggested.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    “Support for NASA is bipartisan. In case you did not notice, Senator Bill Nelson is not exactly a conservative Republican…”

    thats simplistic. Support for NASA is bipartisan but that support and bipartisanship is limited to people/congressfolks who have more or less a direct interest in space expenditures. Otherwise there is little support for NASA projects.

    Now what is gaining some traction is support for local space projects being done outside of NASA…soon you are going to see some proposals from Universities for projects on Dragon Lab and some interest in a “university module” on the station. That effort is gaining some headway…

    there are going to be more then just NASA astronauts flown on commercial flights. Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    “Think outside the box Nelson.”

    Well I never really thought he was in a box when thinking but it could explain a lot. On the other hand “thinking” may not aptly describe what his comments reflect.

    Another person dangerous with a keyboard…

  • common sense

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 19th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    “Is anyone surprised Dream Chaser got the money it got? I am…pleasantly but surprised.”

    If you mean “surprised” that NASA is trying to do the right thing, yeah I am to some extent. Actually if you think of it and you remove congressional obstruction then it makes very good sense.

    The first easy vehicles to be built are capsules.

    Then there is the biconic from BO which I find disappointing for the lack of audacity. And I suspect they will have some difficulty doing it because in the end it’ll have to fly like a lifting body and roll stability here is going to be something else I suspect but we’ll see. See they plan to carry people in there not warheads so the shakin’ and the rollin’ may be a little difficult on the crew. Now if they want to fly it nose first they’ll have to come up with some interesting crew seats (on pivots a la tSpace I believe?) and ops which in an abort may make life a little difficult…

    Then in the logical sequence there is a lifting body (with wings or whatever you want to call those thingies). The advantage of Dream Chaser is that it is based on a lot of pre-existing work. I would be very surprised though about the cost. For example if NASA is adamant about an abort system then it is far from a done deal. But still I would keep some money going to see how far they can go. Airline ops with a Dream Chaser vehicle “looks” better than with capsules.

    Finally if some one can come up with thrust landings then the lifting body may stay a study for ever.

    FWIW.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris again: A new “space summit” wouldn’t be “Where do we go from here?” which is what Augustine was for. It would be this: “How best do we implement the Flexible Path?” There should be input from NASA, other space agencies, the commercial sector, the Moon first advocates, members of Congress, and so on. That meeting down at the Cape last year was preaching to the choir. Here, you’d have input from others. And hash out some rough ideas as to where to, when, how, and what needs to be done to get some exploration done in the near term. Which is what we can all agree on. Get the how, where, and when out of the way ASAP and start getting hardware built, tested, and then flown.

  • “As for the political role you are trying to sidestep admitting, this says it all.
    http://www.texasgopvote.com/topic/nelson-bridwell

    WELL KNOWN??? ARE YOU KIDDING??? I was invited by Lauro to call into his internet talk radio show, which probably had about 5 listeners, about NASA issues. Did I say nice things about Obama for trying to kill off the Vision for Space Exploration? NO. There are lots of registered Democrats who would say exactly the same thing. Ask David Wu, our Democratic Congressman from Portland, who doesn’t want Chinese to be the language of outer space. On the other hand, we also have a dummy in Congress named Defazio who wants to cut NASA’s funding so that he can shift the money into social programs.

  • Matt:

    Again, I have to agree. At this point the F9H is a design and some promises, backed up by 2 successful F9 flights. Musk THINKS that he can boost the engine thrust by 50%. He THINKS that he can achieve a sufficiently high engine reliability that 27 engines will not present a major safety hazard.

    He might achieve these. I suspect that he will. But remember that Mush THOUGHT that he would have COTS operational 2 years ago. He also THOUGHT that he was going to lower cost launches with 100% reusable first stage boosters.

    In Congressional hearings Doug Cook responded to a question from Rohrabacher about using SpaceX instead of an HLV that for a Mars mission we will need to put a minimum of 600mT into LEO. A F9, at 10.5 mT would be totally impractical. A 130mT HLV would require 5 launches. The F9H would be far less impractical, at 12, than a F9 at 60, but neither would be as reliable as the SLS HLV.

    The Saturn V payload was 119mT to LEO for Apollo capability. For Altair capability the Ares V + Ares I combined payload was 188+25.4 = 212.4 mT. With two SLS vehicles you would have Constellation capability to spare.

    Two F9H would probably be a USSR-class mission with one astronaut on the surface. With 4 F9Hs you should have very close to the Constellation lunar payload and crew size with access to the lunar poles.

  • “So my general point here is: In a world where we’re going to be getting 53 tons/launch at $1000 per pound in 2014 with less that $1B in government investments, why would we want to pay more than $10B to get 130 tons/launch for much much more $/pound? Keep in mind the later won’t be ready until 2018 at the earliest and also has no payloads planned to launch on it.”

    Good points. All valid.

    My take:
    (1) Let’s hope that SpaceX succeeds. I don’t think that a 10.5 mT F9 is at all practical for BEO, but 53 mT starts to get interesting.
    (2) We are going to need HLVs for the next 50 years. Although 10B sounds like a lot, over the course of 50 years that comes to $200 million/year. Not too bad if you are NASA. Rember, the USAF is still using B52s.
    (3) That Bolden says that he will not need an HLV until after 2020 is one of several major concerns about NASA management. The Moon is the only practical destination for the next 20 years. There are hardly any NEOs at all that are reachable, so without the Moon, NASA would need to twiddle it’s thumbs for years waiting the next NEO launch window.

  • (cont.) NASA management needs to get off it’s posterior and start organizing lunar lander development as well as surface mission development. They need to start planning and funding this so that they are ready with integrated flight testing of lunar hardware well before 2020.

  • If you want to go back to the Moon, why not ask the expert next Tuesday on The Space Show. Maybe read this first though http://bit.ly/gv1t1w

  • @Bridwell
    “I am an unknown from Oregon, a “Blue” state.”
    You may be originally from Oregon, but your primary residence is in Port Arkansas, Texas. My point is people should be less concerned with jobs in shuttle/Ares I related regions, more concerned with what will advance the nation’s best interests in space. NASA should be primarily a space program, not a jobs program and the latter is really what SLS is about. As for Nelson, I’m as critical of him as I am of any Republican and I stated that in my article for Yahoo! News service. I would extend the same criticism to any member of ANY party or any independent that backs that boondoggle.

    As for Wu being concerned about the Chinese, the Chinese are now worried about how they can’t meet SpaceX’s launch prices. See the article
    China Great Wall Confounded By SpaceX Prices – Aviation Week
    http://bit.ly/hxBTtJ

    So much for that paper tiger.

  • Nelson Bridwell wrote:

    Ask David Wu, our Democratic Congressman from Portland, who doesn’t want Chinese to be the language of outer space.

    The Chinese haven’t launched anyone since September 2008. Look up Shenzhou 7. And that was only a three-day flight in low Earth orbit to do their first spacewalk. Clearly human space flight is not a priority for China.

  • Rember, the USAF is still using B52s.

    Because they can afford to, because they don’t throw them away every time they use them.

  • kayawanee

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 3:51 am

    “(2) We are going to need HLVs for the next 50 years. Although 10B sounds like a lot, over the course of 50 years that comes to $200 million/year. Not too bad if you are NASA. Rember, the USAF is still using B52s.”

    There are several problems with that analysis.

    First government owned HLV’s are custom made creatures which require hundreds (if not thousands) of contractors and tens of thousands of people to build, maintain, and fly them. So, the cost of the HLV you mentioned will not be $200 million/year, but rather BILLIONS of dollars per year. I believe I’ve read estimates of $1 to $1.5 billion per flight of a heavy lift vehicle if there were two flights per year, and that the number would be much higher per flight (though lower per year) if there were only one flight per year. And IIRC, these were low end estimates. The Saturn V had to be cancelled for these very reasons.

    Second, why would you want to use the same launch system for fifty years. Do you use the same phone for fifty years? The same TV for fifty years? Even the example you provided (B52′s), which is a VERY rare example indeed, is not using the same avionics it started out with. Systems get updated, and it costs money to update those systems. So the $200 million number cannot be truly representative of a vehicle flying for fifty years.

    Third, the Ares I sucked down $8 billion over the course of 5 or so years and had very little to show for it. Some estimates had it going over $15 billion when all was said and done. That was for a medium lift LV. Somehow, I’m EXTREMELY skeptical that we’ll be flying an HLV for $10 Billion, in almost ANY time frame.

  • Egad

    > Some in Congress were grilling Charlie Bolden about lack of destinations and target dates in recent hearings… [snip] They keep trying to pin down other destinations and target dates, and so far, nada from Charlie.

    Serious question: who were those Congressfolk and when did they ask Bolden about destinations and dates? I’ve been looking for such questions from Congress, as they would indicate that there’s some interest in SLS/Orion beyond pork. So far I haven’t seen any, but would really appreciate pointers to things I’ve missed.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt Wiser,

    Charlie would have a much better time if he would at least hint at other destinations, and give a rough timeline as to when he expects to fly some of them. Not deadlines, mind you, but basic estimates.

    Honestly, on that, I totally disagree. This debate isn’t about destinations. Its a debate about vehicles & spending. At least among the Congress & Administration.

    then get your Congresscritter to sponsor the appropriate legislation.

    Whose to say I am not actively doing that? However, associated with that, I will point out that the Authorization act doesn’t require a Senate Launch System based around the Shuttle. Because there is a form of SLS that I wouldn’t oppose, which is commercial derived (and no, this is not prevented by the Authorization act).

    A new “space summit” wouldn’t be “Where do we go from here?” which is what Augustine was for. It would be this: “How best do we implement the Flexible Path?” There should be input from NASA, other space agencies, the commercial sector, the Moon first advocates, members of Congress, and so on.

    Sorry, but again – Augustine did all that. You may think Augustine was all about the Flexible path, and thats it, but there was a lot more that went into that, related to issues like
    – what launch vehicles should be used, and how much lift capacity do you need (the report itself ultimately found 3 that fit within a profile of realism – Ares V (original & derived), Directly-shuttle derived, and commercially based)
    – should the ISS be retained (most ultimately agreed this is a yes)
    – what vehicle is best suited to take astronauts to LEO (government based systems, in the form of Shuttle or Orion, or Commercial based systems)
    – how important is technology development, and included in there, are depots a major game changer?(very important, and it does turn out to be game changing)
    – what are the impacts for NASA’s science program?
    - justifications for doing BEO spaceflight (Space colonization, it turns out, is the primary one)

    It included
    – reports from ESA
    – reports from RSA
    – reports from commercial providers, both new (SpaceX) and old (ULA), and both inside & outside of US (Arianespace & EADS)
    – reports from people related to the DIRECT plan
    – reports from multiple people inside NASA working on various aspects of the program (science, Constellation, Station, astronaut office, etc)
    – comments from 6 different congressional offices
    – comments from Moon & Mars & other destination advocates
    – multiple public comment times (of which I took part)

    So tell me, how does that NOT fit into what you are talking about? If you doubt me, go watch all of the hearings again.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Nelson Bridwell

    In Congressional hearings Doug Cook responded to a question from Rohrabacher about using SpaceX instead of an HLV that for a Mars mission we will need to put a minimum of 600mT into LEO. A F9, at 10.5 mT would be totally impractical. A 130mT HLV would require 5 launches. The F9H would be far less impractical, at 12, than a F9 at 60, but neither would be as reliable as the SLS HLV.

    Assuming your numbers are correct (although I think they are wrong)…

    Why is 60 impractical? If its cheaper, and you can build in safety margin without too much additional costs, why?

  • “You may be originally from Oregon, but your primary residence is in Port Arkansas, Texas.”

    Mr Boozer:

    You deserve credit for your sleuthing efforts, but you are misinformed and, quite probably, misguided.

    I am originally from the midwest, and the last time that I was in Texas was in 1969, when my family camped at Big Bend National Park…I remember taking a time exposure with my 35mm Mamiya Sekor SLR of a satellite crossing the skies…..I won’t ask you what you have been drinking ;-)

    Glad to hear that the Yahoo News Service has hired on such a competent investigative journalist. I trust that you are very well paid…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 3:36 am

    “In Congressional hearings Doug Cook responded to a question from Rohrabacher about using SpaceX instead of an HLV that for a Mars mission we will need to put a minimum of 600mT into LEO. A F9, at 10.5 mT would be totally impractical. A 130mT HLV would require 5 launches. The F9H would be far less impractical, at 12, than a F9 at 60, but neither would be as reliable as the SLS HLV.”

    The problem of course is that there is no data to support the claim that what is now a paper rocket “the SLSHLV” would be more reliable then anything. And it probably would not be affordable.

    If the SLS HLV Launches at a very unlikely 700 million dollars a launch after a 10-20 billion dollar development cycle…it doesnt take much math to figure out that the F9H option is much much more affordable.

    The problem is larger then that. There is no commitment to go to Mars and as it stands right now we are technologically and operationally incapable of mounting a Mars mission. (forget the finances of it).

    NASA has no experience and really is not trying to gain it with the station in the kind of operational techniques it would require to send a craft to Mars and have them operate (gasp) without any sort of real time mission control. We live in an era where if the “mythic heroes” on the space station want to download something from one laptop onto a thumbnail drive they have to get “words” from one of several mission controls to do it.

    I find all the fixation on a Mars mission the height of goofiness for all those reasons. But back to the financial. If ANYONE right now went to the people of The Republic and said “we want to spend (make it simple) 50 billion dollars to go to Mars” …

    what do you think the response would be from the average American?

    I am curious..what do you think that the response would be?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 3:51 am

    “(2) We are going to need HLVs for the next 50 years. Although 10B sounds like a lot, over the course of 50 years that comes to $200 million/year. Not too bad if you are NASA. Rember, the USAF is still using B52s.”

    two points. AS Ed BOland correctly said about the space station…”if NASA can build an HLV for 10 billion dollars I’ll eat my hat”.

    Second…the USAF is still using B-52′s in large part as Rand said because “it can afford to use them” and second because there is nothing better to do the job. That is not true of an HLV.

    Robert G. Oler

  • “So, the cost of the HLV you mentioned will not be $200 million/year, but rather BILLIONS of dollars per year. I believe I’ve read estimates of $1 to $1.5 billion per flight of a heavy lift vehicle if there were two flights per year, and that the number would be much higher per flight (though lower per year) if there were only one flight per year.”

    Good points!

    Hypothetically (none of us has the exact numbers) lets say that development costs $10 B, and the marginal cost of each HLV is $750M.
    (According to Doug Cook the marginal cost of an Ares I would be $176 million) If you only use it once, you can look at the cost of that one launch as $10.75 B. If you use it for 50 years, at an average of 4 launches per year (for Mars we are going to launch a lot more than 4 for each mission) the cost is $800 M per launch. And in reality, after 2016-17, we will have already paid the development costs, so the real cost per launch is going to be $750 million.

    The primary reason why we scrapped the Saturn V and started the shuttle effort was because of press reports that each Saturn V launch cost more than 1 billion dollars. The marginal cost of each Saturn V was actually much less than that, but when reporters included the development costs, which had already been paid for, years ago, it made the Saturn V appear much more expensive than it actually was. Want to guess where those press stories originated? (Maybe a place that starts with a U, and ends with an R, and where they build 31-engine Moon rockets that blow up on the pad?)

    As far as the massive labor costs, the SLS is not the shuttle, and will not require 500,000 man hours for every launch to inspect a fragile TPS. The engine, the RS-25E, will also require significantly fewer man hours.

    The only sound argument against the SLS is if commercial can build a HLV that is much less expensive to develop and operate. The current answer is no. But at some point in the future, they might….

  • “Serious question: who were those Congressfolk and when did they ask Bolden about destinations and dates? I’ve been looking for such questions from Congress, as they would indicate that there’s some interest in SLS/Orion beyond pork. So far I haven’t seen any, but would really appreciate pointers to things I’ve missed.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8A9Z8AQlA&feature=related

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 3:36 am

    “In Congressional hearings Doug Cook responded to a question from Rohrabacher about using SpaceX instead of an HLV that for a Mars mission we will need to put a minimum of 600mT into LEO. A F9, at 10.5 mT would be totally impractical. A 130mT HLV would require 5 launches. The F9H would be far less impractical, at 12, than a F9 at 60, but neither would be as reliable as the SLS HLV.”

    How much of that 600 tonnes is fuel? With a fuel depot you could have Russia, Japan, India, EU, Atlas, Delta, SpaceX, Orbital all launching fuel and increasing everyone’s flight rate bringing down costs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    “Hypothetically (none of us has the exact numbers) lets say that development costs $10 B, and the marginal cost of each HLV is $750M. (According to Doug Cook the marginal cost of an Ares I would be $176 million) ”

    not so much

    People use “Marginal cost” when they dont want to actually know what something cost.

    The eggs my hens lay have a marginal cost that is very very small…on a per day basis the “feed” for the hens is about 3 dollars a day and the hens lay between 4-5 dozen eggs a day. So wow I have very cheap eggs…and could undersell HEB or Kroger without any problem.

    But none of that figures in the cost of the “chicken yard”, nor the hay, nor the refrig to keep the eggs cool, nor the electricity to run the lights at night…nor anything…

    and that is just how NASA does it when they start the goofy “marginal cost” language. You almost use the exact line “other cost have already been spent”.

    There is no way one could write a check for say 200 million and get an Ares 1 launch…and the real numbers for an Ares 1 launch put to rest the notion of yours that a SLS HLV is going to be some orders cheaper then the shuttle. The SLS that the JSC wants has about 6000 FTE working on it…and thats just now.

    “The primary reason why we scrapped the Saturn V and started the shuttle effort was because of press reports that each Saturn V launch cost more than 1 billion dollars. ”

    and that was about right in “then” dollars even if you start taking away the development cost…and it would have gotten higher had “replacement parts” started being ordered.

    Why cannot you folks talk “total launch cost”?

    When you talk “marginal cost” it is like saying “the war in Iraq is only costing X number a day” and not including replacement cost for the parts used.

    come on.

    Robert G. Oler

  • “Second…the USAF is still using B-52′s in large part as Rand said because “it can afford to use them” and second because there is nothing better to do the job. That is not true of an HLV.”

    Good point, Robert!

    The B52 continues to be effective for some, but not all missions. The USAF also has other, more modern aircraft such as the B2, which have other capabilites. The BUFF might not be cool, but it can be awesomely devistating.

    NASA needs an operational HLV, now and for decades into the future, so that it can shift it’s focus to exploration, rather than run in circles, wasting efford on dead-end development projects that lead nowhere. Using proven components that already work is the most expedient ways to get there.

  • @Bridwell
    There is a Nelson J Bridwell of Port Arkansas, TX. Who’d have thought there were two. And I just found out he’s 104 years old! :)

    OK Nelson, I am about to do something I have never seen you do. I am going to admit being wrong about something I posted. Your radio interview was promoted on a Texas GOP centered website and from that fact I jumped to an erroneous conclusion about your party affiliation. For that I abjectly and sincerely apologize. In this instance, I did not follow a cardinal rule I have set for myself, to be as meticulous and exact with my blog comments as I am with my scientific research. To do proper research takes time and I did not take as much time as I normally do in my professional endeavors.

    And yes, your use of the word “cabal” rankled, which is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot or a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues”. The people I see with a hidden agenda (that is essentially only jobs for a few years until the money runs out rather than sincere efforts at practical space accomplishments) are the elected officials behind SLS. Such as Senator Hatch of Utah and Senator Shelby of Alabama.
    http://mainstreetbusinessjournal.com/articleview.php?articlesid=5409&volume=13&issue=29
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/26/2135772/this-senator-is-lost-in-space.html

    So I let a perceived insult get the better of me. But, as I and others have pointed out, you have made numerous inaccurate statements on SpacePolitics and not admitted any error on your part. Remember saying that the Ares I solid rocket booster had been flight tested, even though Ares I-X used a 4 segment Shuttle SRB instead of the 5 segment motor that was to be on Ares I? Remember saying that the around $2000 per lb charged by SpaceX “is about what everyone else has been charging for the longest time” when that was not the case? Also, there was “The shuttle marginal cost per launch was only $60 million”. I could go on.

    All right, those kinds of issues with extensive research done on my part are what I should stick to. You would do well to have the same goal and not just say something off the top of your head to convince people of the validity of your point of view. Are you introspective enough to ask yourself this question, “Am I on the wrong side of the issue?” If your position is a valid one, you can just cite established facts from confirmed sources. Anything else is just unsubstantiated conjecture.

    I used to be as enthusiastic as you are about traditional NASA methods, but occasionally I like to question my core principles to see if they are really valid in light of present facts. That questioning led to my current stance of continuing to support NASA in its role of cutting edge human spaceflight, but going about it in a different way that is more likely to accomplish great things without being as susceptible to cancellation from one administration to the next due to budget restraints and cost overruns.

  • “There is no commitment to go to Mars…If ANYONE right now went to the people of The Republic and said “we want to spend (make it simple) 50 billion dollars to go to Mars”

    Robert:

    What you said did happen. Bush Sr. proposed a Mars mission 25 years ago, and Congress totally rejected it due to the $80B price tag. However, after the CAIB, people realized that NASA has been spending massive amounts of money (and lives!) with no real results to show for it, which lead to bipartisan Congressional endorsement of the VSE Moon, Mars, and Beyond direction. It was overwhelmingly endores by both a Republican-controlled, and then a Democrat-controlled Congress.

    The support is there in Congress, if not in the WH.

  • Nelson Bridwell wrote:
    “The only sound argument against the SLS is if commercial can build a HLV that is much less expensive to develop and operate. The current answer is no. But at some point in the future, they might….”

    Elon Musk, in his last screen appearance, indicted a heavy lift of 150 or even 200 tons was possible for SpaceX but that a new engine would need to be developed and that that would have to involve NASA…

  • Ferris Valyn

    The only sound argument against the SLS is if commercial can build a HLV that is much less expensive to develop and operate. The current answer is no. But at some point in the future, they might….

    Sorry, but thats not accurate. We have 2 varients of commercial HLVs, which don’t cost the kind of money, and don’t have the kind of overhead that something like the Senate Launch System has – EELV growth (Atlas V Phase 2 or Delta IV Growth) and Falcon Heavy.

  • Another minor point:

    Chemical rocket technology is mature. There are not any anticipated technical “game-changers”. As Neil Armstrong pointed out in Congressional testimony, any improvements from an HLV R&D program would be marginal at best. In a recent lecture at MIT to engineering students, Wayne Hale pointed out that the shuttle main engines achieve an efficiently of greater than 99 percent.

    Could something be made cheaper? I think so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    “The support is there in Congress, if not in the WH.”

    you really think that there is support in THIS CONGRESS for spending 50 billion (and it would take far more then that) to send a few NASA people to MARS?

    If that is the case then why could they not save Constellation? Or why is there this mamby pamby language on a HLV which ensures that it wont be shuttle derived?

    you really believe that the Congress would support that spending?

    Sanity check here.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    The B52 continues to be effective for some, but not all missions. The USAF also has other, more modern aircraft such as the B2, which have other capabilites. The BUFF might not be cool, but it can be awesomely devistating.

    NASA needs an operational HLV, now and for decades into the future, so that it can shift it’s focus to exploration, rather than run in circles, wasting efford on dead-end development projects that lead nowhere. Using proven components that already work is the most expedient ways to get there….

    “proven components” that have a price tag way beyond what people are willing to pay. We are ending the shuttle system in large part because it is unaffordable. If it were affordable we would be still flying it. There is no repeat NO data that says a shuttle derived HLV will be affordable. 750 million a launch is not affordable.

    Second…”going around in circles” except for hyperbolic escape trajectories everything that is done in space is “going around in circles”…that includes going to Mars or the Moon or anywhere. That is not a valid reason to do anything.

    Third…the B-52. You dont seem to understand. The Buff is still used because it is the most affordable platform for the mission (including most of what the B-2 realistically does, the B2′s unique role was a mobile ICBM hunter)…an HLV derived from the shuttle is not that…and there is no data except “marginal” cost that says it is

    Robert G. Oler

  • “We have 2 varients of commercial HLVs, which don’t cost the kind of money, and don’t have the kind of overhead that something like the Senate Launch System has – EELV growth (Atlas V Phase 2 or Delta IV Growth) and Falcon Heavy.”

    Delta IV Growth cannot achieve 130mT. It is almost a complete redesign, requireing a new factory, pad, and infrastructure, which would not be cheap. Even the current Delta IV is not exactly cheap…which is why it will be going out of business in a few years due to competition from…

    Falcon Heavy (so long, # 9), which likewise cannot achieve 130mT. What is Musk going to do next? Strap on 4 more boosters to bring the engine count up to 63?

  • Matt Wiser

    Nelson: thanks for sharing that link. Charlie Bolden still has a lot of explaining to do to Congress about his future plans-which he has to do instead of preaching to the choir. He has to if he wants Congressional support for FY 12′s budget.

    Jay Barbree has a op-ed at MSNBC.com about the Commercial Crew funding awards. He’s not very happy about “neophytes” instead of firms like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc. getting the money. Keep in mind that it’s his opinion. Here’s the link:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42667942/ns/technology_and_science-space/

    Ferris: Augustine was the “where do we go from here?” It set out the FlexPath as an option, which POTUS selected. Now, what needs to be done is put meat on the bones, so to speak. Start filling in the blanks on destinations, tentative dates for lunar orbit, NEO (assuming a target asteroid can be determined by 2025), L-Points, lunar return with boots on the ground, etc. Vague promises do not fit the bill.

  • “If that is the case then why could they not save Constellation?”

    As a matter of fact, the total descruction of Constellation, as proposed by Obama, was scrapped.

    Congress restructured Constellation. Orion is alive, in case you did not notice. The Ares V has been downsized as the SLS.

    Not precisely what Bolden requested. I wonder why that is!!!

  • kayawanee

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    “Hypothetically (none of us has the exact numbers) lets say that development costs $10 B, and the marginal cost of each HLV is $750M…If you use it for 50 years, at an average of 4 launches per year (for Mars we are going to launch a lot more than 4 for each mission) the cost is $800 M per launch.”

    First, the $10 Billion development cost seems unrealistic to me. As I posted earlier, medium lift rocket Ares I was cruising towards a final pricetag of nearly $15 Billion dollars, and we’re supposed to believe that the gov’t can do heavy lift for 33% off? Sorry, that is simply not a credible number for a government owned and operated LV.

    Furthermore, the idea that we’re going to launch 4 of these suckers a year for fifty years is absolutely laughable. First, there is currently no mission that requires a HLV. Second, expensive missions are NOT the priority of the American people. The idea that we’re going to go back and forth to Mars on chemical rockets in any kind of routine manner seems farfetched. And if the HLV is used to lift a more permanent cycler type of vehicle, there wouldn’t be enough money for it in the budget, because the HLV eats it all up with development and maintenance costs. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone in this communitiy to buy that $750 million figure.

    “As far as the massive labor costs, the SLS is not the shuttle, and will not require 500,000 man hours for every launch to inspect a fragile TPS. The engine, the RS-25E, will also require significantly fewer man hours.”

    Yeah, I think I remember similar promises with regards to the shuttle. “A reusable spacecraft that can go up every week will significantly lower launch costs due to amortization.”

    The reality is that any HLV is going to have a high price tag and some kind of standing army. For the Shuttle it was those who maintained the orbiter, refurbished the SRB’s, and those who built the tanks. For the Saturn V it was the army of contractors and sub-contractors necessary to build and rebuild all of the custom parts for an enormous rocket–one which would NEVER be used for any commercial purpose.

    So now we’re supposed to do this again–build another low flight rate HLV, for a mission that isn’t funded, and arguable will NOT exist for the next several decades.
    As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    “The only sound argument against the SLS is if commercial can build a HLV that is much less expensive to develop and operate. The current answer is no. But at some point in the future, they might….”

    I’m sorry Nelson, but that is NOT the only sound argument against the SLS. Here are a few:

    1) There is no need for it, because there is currently no mission that requires it.
    2) If there were a mission that required it, the costs of building and maintaining it would prevent investment in all the other hardware necessary to pursue it.
    3) The SLS is more concerned with pork than progress.
    4) Congress critters have no qualifications for designing a launch vehicle.
    5) Even the primary cost plus contractors provided plans for returning to the moon WITHOUT building any heavy lift vehicles.
    6) In-space refueling & in-space construction are far more sustainable capabilities than heavy lift.

  • “Elon Musk, in his last screen appearance, indicted a heavy lift of 150 or even 200 tons was possible for SpaceX but that a new engine would need to be developed and that that would have to involve NASA…”

    That is why Bolden originally proposed a $5 B + 5 year HLV R&D delay. In order for SpaceX to catch up with the rest of industry, such as the P&W RS-68, which already exists. No doubt, an SpaceX engine could be cheaper. But Congress is not interested in keeping NASA on the ground in order for Musk to play catch up..

  • “proven components” that have a price tag way beyond what people are willing to pay. We are ending the shuttle system in large part because it is unaffordable. If it were affordable we would be still flying it. There is no repeat NO data that says a shuttle derived HLV will be affordable. 750 million a launch is not affordable.

    NASA is not people. With a budget of $18 B, NASA can easily afford several SLS flights at $750M each. What made the Shuttle so expensive was the labor intensive TPS and the maintenance-intensive reusable engines. The SLS will not have 25,000 tiles. It will not have any. The RS-25E will also require much less maintenance. The downside is that it will not be as cheap as the RS-68 that was planned for the Ares V.

    Will it be expensive. YES. Will it be affordable for NASA. YES.

  • “there is currently no mission that requires a HLV.”

    The Saturn V was a 119mT HLV, in case you did not know. They did not choose to go to the Moon with a cluster of Little John rockets. There was a reason.

    “The idea that we’re going to go back and forth to Mars on chemical rockets in any kind of routine manner seems farfetched.”

    The idea that we are going to launch any BEO mission from earth on anthing other than chemical rockets is farfetched.

    “I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone in this communitiy to buy that $750 million figure.”

    Looking at the numbers, if a 25.8mT Delta IV “Heavy” costs NASA $600M, a 130mT SLS at $750M sounds to me like a real bargain. Of course, a 53mT FH at $100 sounds even better. Is Musk far-fetched???

  • Matt Wiser

    In-space refueling is nice-in theory. Demonstrate it first before betting the farm on it. But if it works, it adds all kinds of possiblities. Heavy-lift, though will still be needed-because there will be big payloads needing those services. Mars mission payloads, national security, TPF (when it gets funded, lunar support, etc.)

  • Ferris Valyn

    The Saturn V was a 119mT HLV, in case you did not know. They did not choose to go to the Moon with a cluster of Little John rockets. There was a reason.

    Yea, it was called speed, and having an unlimited budget

  • “The Saturn V was a 119mT HLV, in case you did not know. They did not choose to go to the Moon with a cluster of Little John rockets. There was a reason.”
    Yes and that reason was it was the fastest way to be the Russians to the moon with a virtually unlimited budget. That method was NOT chosen because it was economically sustainable.

  • Egad

    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8A9Z8AQlA&feature=related

    Thank you. That was in February 2010 and the Congressman was former Congressman Grayson (D-FL) — he lost to a Republican last November. It was also, AFAIK, before SLS had really jelled as something Congressbeings were pushing. Have any destination-and-timing questions come from the Senators and Congress people who are now pushing SLS?

  • SpaceColonizer

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    “NASA needs an operational HLV, now and for decades into the future, so that it can shift it’s focus to exploration, rather than run in circles, wasting efford on dead-end development projects that lead nowhere. Using proven components that already work is the most expedient ways to get there.”

    You keep using that word… “need.” Well… in order to really establish that something is “needed,” you first have to establish EXACTLY what it is “needed” for. But as we’ve been saying, SLS does not yet have that “need” established yet. You can’t just be as general as saying “exploration.” Most of us do want to see a vibrant exploration program, but there is no established “need” for a 130ton launcher to do that.

    The folly of this program is that we’re building a vehicle with congressionally mandated design parameters before we even have anything to use it for. We need to design/approve a mission first. Establish the goals of that mission and decide what is needed to accomplish it. THEN when we have that picture, we can see if we actually “need” to have a launcher with a payload as large as the SLS. Again, we don’t “need” to build anything before we have that picture. And again, the only reason that the space pork cabal says we “need” it is because they KNOW that we actually don’t need it and if they wait long enough for that to be obvious to everyone then their precious shuttle derived money pit will never get built. Alternatively, if we DO end up “needing” a payload of that size, by the time we’ve established that commercial will be up to the task and there will be no support for a government launch infrastructure.

    @ Vladislaw

    I’m pretty sure I don’t normally agree with you, but YES. We most definitely should develop a fuel deport and I really think that should be one of our earliest efforts for any exploration program. Does anyone think Bigelow could design an expandable structure that could be filled with fuel? How much post-expansion volume could a 53ton pre-expansion payload gold?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    “Jay Barbree has a op-ed at MSNBC.com about the Commercial Crew funding awards. He’s not very happy about “neophytes” instead of firms like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc. getting the money.”

    this is what is so confusing about Jay’s op ed…Boeing did get some of the money…in fact I think that they got the largest award. Lockmart got 1 billion for Orion …

    Jay seems to be off his meds Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    That is why Bolden originally proposed a $5 B + 5 year HLV R&D delay. In order for SpaceX to catch up with the rest of industry, such as the P&W RS-68, which already exists.

    If you’re going to concoct a conspiracy theory, it helps if the facts support your thesis, but in this case they don’t.

    The FY2011 NASA budget was released in Feb. 2010, five months before SpaceX talked about their Merlin 2 engine roadmap, as well as the Falcon X & XX that could use it. And since it was the Bush/Griffin administration that gave SpaceX their NASA contract at that point, you would think it would be Griffin pushing for SpaceX favors, not Bolden.

    The real reason the Obama administration didn’t want to build an HLV is that THERE IS NO DEMAND FOR ONE, and they wanted to use the 5-year period to figure out the most effective way to meet PROJECTED DEMAND (i.e. if Congress ever funded a program needing one). If during that 5-year period, no demand for an HLV appeared, the U.S. taxpayer would not be out much. As it is, we are paying for something that has no need.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – what you are talking about in your last post is NOT what you were talking about earlier. Having a “formal space summit” of the kind you were talking about earlier happened, in terms of developing the STRATEGIC goals.

    What you are talking about in your most recent post is a “space summit” on tactical goals, and for that, you don’t need quite the level of people you were implying.

    Second, I am less interested in hearing “we are going to destination X by such and such date” because we’ve done that in the past, and missed.

    If we are going to have a discussion about tactics, then the more relevant starting point, if you are truly going to embrace the idea of flexibility & commercialization, is not to start with the development of date and time of landing, but rather
    1. How much money do we have per year?
    2. What realistic broad based capabilities can be developed with that money?

    In other words, stop worrying about destination and time lines – lets talk about capabilities and funding. You get those 2, you’ll have your destinations & time lines.

  • Rick:

    Nelson and Bridwell are not common names, so I can understand why you assumed, quite reasonably, that he and I are one and the same. Not the case, but life is know to throw the odd curve ball.

    And sorry if I occasionally resort to language that is not entirely complimentary, but at least I try to keep it clean, and acknowledge the occasional Touche! ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Looking at the numbers, if a 25.8mT Delta IV “Heavy” costs NASA $600M, a 130mT SLS at $750M sounds to me like a real bargain. Of course, a 53mT FH at $100 sounds even better. Is Musk far-fetched???

    Delta IV Heavy is more around $450M/ea ($19,946/kg), but a 130mt launcher is more around $1.6B/ea ($12,307/kg w/o DDT&E, $19,444/kg w/DDT&E), and that number is one your buddy Spudis uses. Here is the link:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2011/01/the-hlv-cost-in.html

    The Falcon Heavy can move mass to LEO for $2,358/kg. Why should the American Taxpayer pay 8X MORE to have NASA put mass into space, when it can pay 8X LESS?

    Still the question you can’t answer is what is the funded payload the SLS has to be used for?

    [crickets chirping]

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    “Congress restructured Constellation. Orion is alive, in case you did not notice. The Ares V has been downsized as the SLS.

    Not precisely what Bolden requested. I wonder why that is!!!”

    because Charlie got what he wanted…he just got it the ‘washington two step” way.

    In the end what is going to happen this year is that Cx will die and there will be no real SLS…as the last shuttle flies the SLS hardware and people go away and presto by the end of this budget cycle a SLS HLV will not be possible.

    If Congress wanted to save the SLS HLV there was a way to do it..there was not the will

    Watch

    Robert G. Oler

  • “If you’re going to concoct a conspiracy theory, it helps if the facts support your thesis, but in this case they don’t.”

    Consipracy: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

    Well, I am certain that there was planning. You would be hard pressed to prove that the Feb 2 2010 NASA budget was an act of nature.

    Secret? Yes, everyone was surprised with the proposal, including everyone in Congress. There are even claims that Bolden did not know the plan until the previous day.

    Unlawful? Only to the extent that Congress did not enact it. It did not become law, but that is semantics…

    Harmful. Yes. Member of Congress would agree. And not just from NASA states.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    No doubt, an SpaceX engine could be cheaper.

    Part of the argument you and others seem to be making is that competition is not good. You seem to think that only the companies that have NASA contracts can do future contracts. But such thinking is part of the reason why costs are so high and innovation is fairly low.

    I don’t advocate for any one particular company to win a launch contract, but instead I want to see competition. Part of the reason I don’t like the SLS is that the Senate meant it to be a no-bid product, with legacy companies getting contracts without alternatives being examined. However NASA hasn’t finalized the SLS architecture, and there is still time to do something other than USA support, ATK SRM’s, Lockheed Martin ET’s, and PWR SSME’s.

    First though, you have to have a funded need, and there is no need for HLV sized payloads. Lots of desire, but no funded programs.

  • kayawanee

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    “The Saturn V was a 119mT HLV, in case you did not know. They did not choose to go to the Moon with a cluster of Little John rockets. There was a reason.””

    Yes, I knew that. The new SLS is about the same size (130 standard/English tons). And, indeed, there was a reason. They had a specific mission. That mission was to go to the moon, and the parameters were: 1) get there as quickly as possible 2) in such a manner where money was no object, and 3) they could throw away all the hardware when they were done. Had there been no mission to the moon, the Saturn V would not have been built. We currently have no such mission. Furthermore, had the priority been money rather than time, we likely would have created a more sustainable architechture rather than building that behemoth. They were forced into an unsustainable architecture because they were in a race.

    “The idea that we are going to launch any BEO mission from earth on anthing other than chemical rockets is farfetched.”

    Sorry, I didn’t fully elaborate. They idea that we’re going visit Mars on a REGULAR basis, with THROWAWAY chemical rockets is farfetched, because it is not sustainable. A single mission or two, maybe, but not repeated over and over with that architecture. It’s simply too expensive. A space-only cycler that is refuelable would be a more rational architecture for multiple visits.

    “Looking at the numbers, if a 25.8mT Delta IV “Heavy” costs NASA $600M, a 130mT SLS at $750M sounds to me like a real bargain. Of course, a 53mT FH at $100 sounds even better. Is Musk far-fetched???”

    It would be a real bargain. But you’re suggesting that the costs of a government owned and operated cost plus HLV are going to be in the same neighborhood as commercial company that sells its launches as a service. THAT is what is farfetched.

  • Egad

    > The Ares V has been downsized as the SLS.

    The HLV has had its ups and downs over the past six+ years. I had occasion earlier today to look at an early CBO study of VSE costs and found this:

    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5772&type=0

    Congressional Budget Office
    A Budgetary Analysis of NASA’s New Vision for Space Exploration
    September 2004

    The Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle

    The third major component that would support astronauts’ return to the moon is a new heavy-lift launch vehicle (defined as being capable of lifting a 100-metric-ton payload into low-Earth orbit). The vehicle would carry a smaller payload than that of the Saturn V rocket used by the Apollo program (the Saturn V’s payload was 120 metric tons). NASA projected the costs for the new launch vehicle on the basis of studies of space launch alternatives conducted at the Marshall Space Flight Center in the early 1990s. In addition to funding for developing the heavy-lift launch vehicle, the projection includes money for an injection-stage rocket that will propel the CEV and the lunar lander from their low-Earth orbit to the moon.

    NASA’s projected budget incorporates the assumption that four heavy-lift launch vehicles, at a cost of about $1 billion each, and three injection-stage rockets, for $70 million each, would be needed to test the new systems and ultimately conduct the first human landing of the lunar return mission. Total costs for development and procurement of the launch vehicle and the injection-stage rockets are estimated to be about $18 billion.

  • Scott Bass

    When people speak about the billions wasted on constellation do you believe that is really true? Other than the obvious benefits like jobs that get derided here…… It would be hard to imagine that we have not increased our know how going forward, trained thousands of engineers and making things easier to design SLS or whatever we see fit to do. I don’t see it as a total waste like some do unless of course NASA does lay offs due to farming out everything to the commercial folks and those valuable people end
    up working in some unrelated industry. That would be the true waste.

  • common sense

    Why are the threads now hijacked by a few people posting over and over and over and over again the same nonsense? Why do we have to explain over and over and over again that SLS and MPCV are not affordable and worse not even properly funded? What the heck is wrong?

  • Joe

    common sense wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
    “Why are the threads now hijacked by a few people posting over and over and over and over again the same nonsense? Why do we have to explain over and over and over again that SLS and MPCV are not affordable and worse not even properly funded? What the heck is wrong?”

    That’s right why is anybody else ever allowed to express an opinion that really needs to be fixed.

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    When people speak about the billions wasted on constellation do you believe that is really true?

    The goal of Constellation was to build the infrastructure and capability to perform human lunar missions. The Constellation program never actually finished any of it’s major deliverables, so though there were some lessons learned, it was a waste of $Billions.

    What if Delta IV Heavy had been used instead of Ares I? We’d have saved $Billions, and the Constellation program might not have been cancelled.

    it all boils down to choices. What did we get for the $8B or so that we spent on Constellation? Could we have used that money on something else, and done more in space?

    I don’t see it as a total waste like some do unless of course NASA does lay offs due to farming out everything to the commercial folks and those valuable people end up working in some unrelated industry.

    I know plenty of people with degrees in areas that are completely unrelated to what they are doing now, so why should our space industry be any different? In fact, there are far more people working in aerospace than space, and I would imagine there are few people that don’t have a skill set that couldn’t transfer over to some other place in the economy. Let the market decide where people should work – aren’t we all capitalists?

    Working for NASA is not a birthright, or some sort of protected industry, despite what some in Congress think.

  • common sense

    @ Joe wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    “That’s right why is anybody else ever allowed to express an opinion that really needs to be fixed.”

    It has nothing to do with opinions. It has to do with repeating for the umpteenth time that there is no, zero, budget allocated to an HLV or even MPCV. You can believe the current Congress showmanship or check the facts of what Ares I and V were going to cost in addition to Orion. Once you’ve done that you come back and tell me what your are going to build at NASA with the budget from Congress.

    100 mT, 130 mT, 70 mT HLV if possible SD, BEO Orion???? If you are in this business as you claim you are then you ought to know better than believe we will be able to build them. If not well I am sure we’ll have this conversation at the next Blue Ribbon panel.

    What is it they say? “You’re entitled to your own opinion not to your own facts”?

    Please.

  • “When people speak about the billions wasted on constellation do you believe that is really true? Other than the obvious benefits like jobs that get derided here…… It would be hard to imagine that we have not increased our know how going forward, trained thousands of engineers and making things easier to design SLS or whatever we see fit to do. I don’t see it as a total waste like some do unless of course NASA does lay offs due to farming out everything to the commercial folks and those valuable people end up working in some unrelated industry. That would be the true waste. ”

    I would like to think that the Constellation development accomplished much more than getting people up to speed. There was the architecture which, although perhaps not exciting, is a very practical, functional, and safe way to get us to the Moon and Mars, unlike much of the pre-Constellation nonsense. There was substantial development progress on Orion, some work on the J-2X upper stage. Most of the concrete progress was specific to the Ares I 5 segment SRB design and test, most of which will be incorporated into the SLS HLV.

  • Scott Bass

    Lol Joe…….. See ya at the launch common sense ;)

  • common sense

    @Scott Bass wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    “Lol Joe…….. See ya at the launch common sense ”

    Yeah I’d love that. See you in 2016 then…

  • Martijn Meijering

    In-space refueling is nice-in theory. Demonstrate it first before betting the farm on it.

    It has long been demonstrated. It has seen operational use ever since Salyut 6 in 1978 and is routinely used on the ISS today when it is refueled by Progress or ATV.

    But if it works, it adds all kinds of possiblities.

    It certainly does.

    Heavy-lift, though will still be needed

    No it won’t. You can land bigger payloads on the moon than Constellation with just existing and mature EELVs and existing and mature storable propellant transfer. Imagine what you could do with cryogenic propellant transfer and storage.

    -because there will be big payloads needing those services. Mars mission payloads, national security, TPF (when it gets funded, lunar support, etc.)

    None of those hypothetical payloads exist and none of them would need an HLV if they did, although you could certainly invent versions that artificially do. There is no reasonable payload that cannot be converted into one that will fit on an EELV or perhaps, just maybe, an EELV Phase 1.

    It’s time to face the truth. You simply want an HLV for irrational reasons or from an ulterior motive and you won’t let mere facts stand in the way of your dreams.

  • Joe

    common sense wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 5:08 pm
    “It has nothing to do with opinions. It has to do with repeating for the umpteenth time that there is no, zero, budget allocated to an HLV or even MPCV.”

    An appropriations law was signed last week by President Obama that directs spending of a minimum of $1.8 Billion on SLS and a minimum of $1.2 Billion on MPCV in this fiscal year. If you can convince yourself that translates into “no, zero, budget allocated to an HLV or even MPCV” then any further discussion with you is pointless.

    “What is it they say? “You’re entitled to your own opinion not to your own facts”?”

    Yes indeed, they do say that.

  • Vladislaw

    “There was the architecture which, although perhaps not exciting, is a very practical, functional, and safe way to get us to the Moon and Mars,”

    It was practical, if it was 10 billion would have seen an orbital launch. It wasn’t functional, if it was then NASA would not have had to do hundreds of design changes over and over at cost plus. A functional design should be a pretty straight forward build and go. Boeing, Lockheed and SpaceX all managed to build rockets and launch them for WAY less then the 10 billion Griffin burned through. If solid rockets were safe for human space, practical for human spaceflight, and functional they would have been considered by commercial firms. You can not shut them off once you light them up. NOT SAFE.

  • Scott Bass

    I do hope Bolden takes it all seriously enough to spell out for congress the milestones and a realistic date for launch instead of just saying we can’t do it by 2016, I still believe that date will slip so they should be upfront and try to give realistic hard numbers. I think it would less likely get canceled that way. I also believe the contractors will be less likely to drag there feet the next time around, I bet constellation would have moved much further along had they actually believed the program would get canned

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris, if you want Congress to fully support what Charlie Bolden has in mind, he’s going have to start at the very least penciling in destinations and some target dates. All he has to do is at the next hearing that he testifies at is offer some kind of chart, showing intended destinations, type of mission, and tentative dates. He would have to emphasize that it’s all subject to change, given budgets, rocket development, technology research (closed loop life support, on-orbit refueling, etc), and so on. At the last House Science and Technology Committee hearing, he was roasted by two Congressmen who were upset at the lack of goals and target dates, other than the vague promise of NEO by 2025 and Mars orbit by 2035. If he wants more support, he has to offer more than that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    ” If you can convince yourself that translates into “no, zero, budget allocated to an HLV or even MPCV” then any further discussion with you is pointless.”

    what HLV design do you think that there is going to be things spent on ?

    Robert G. Oler

  • “Boeing, Lockheed and SpaceX all managed to build rockets and launch them for WAY less then the 10 billion Griffin burned through.”

    Just because something is cheaper does not alwasy mean that it is better.

    “If solid rockets were safe for human space, practical for human spaceflight, and functional they would have been considered by commercial firms. You can not shut them off once you light them up. NOT SAFE.”

    Solid rocket motors are inherently more reliable than liquid motors, which is in itself a safety factor. The real risk factor would be any rupture of the SRB casing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDnkEOKR1BE

    As far as the myth that there is a need to throttle the main engines, can you back that up with any actual supporting document? Looking over abort modes for the Saturn V, I do not see any mention of throttling back the main stage engines:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_abort_modes

    What you do need is a launch abort system, which is usually activated if the main engines have failed, and possibly will explode. SRB engines do not tend to fail. In the case of Challenger, they did not explode. They continued to generate constant thrust well after the orbiter and external tank disintegrated.

  • @Vladislaw
    :You can not shut them off once you light them up. NOT SAFE.”

    Agreed, Wernher von Braun abhorred SRBs for human spaceflight for that very reason, as mentioned on page 454 of his biography:
    Neufeld, Michael J, von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War, Vintage Books, 2007

  • “None of those hypothetical payloads exist and none of them would need an HLV if they did, although you could certainly invent versions that artificially do. There is no reasonable payload that cannot be converted into one that will fit on an EELV or perhaps, just maybe, an EELV Phase 1.”

    That is not what Doug Cook believes. For Mars, we need an HLV to put up 600mT with a reasonable number of launches. The payload size of an EELV is too small, and SpaceX is in the process of putting ULA out of business, in case you have not been keeping up.

    As far as payloads, right now that is a moot point because without an HLV, nothing substantial is going into orbit.

  • Rick:

    Thanks for the reference. I have a lot of respect for Von Braun’s opinion.

  • “All he has to do is at the next hearing that he testifies at is offer some kind of chart, showing intended destinations, type of mission, and tentative dates.”

    Exactly.

    The fact that Bolden claimed that he has no use for an HLV until after 2020 says it all. He has been ordered to sit on his rear, and knows how to follow orders.

  • Bennett

    Rick, I just wanted to say that your apology was wasted on someone who believes that lying in order to further his goal is justified. His performance in the radio interview was filled with outright “untruths” and distortions of fact. Right about now he has put himself in the same class as allanalwind and gary church.

    Moving on, Scott Bass wrote: “I bet constellation would have moved much further along had they actually believed the program would get canned”

    Do you really think that’s a good thing? Stiff the taxpayer as much as possiblejust short of getting fired?

    You don’t know how much that nauseates me. To hand the dreams of BEO HSF to contractors who will do “as little as possible, for the most money possible, for as long as possible” is a sick thing.

    It’s exactly what many of us who want to see real progress abhor, and are fighting to change.

    ATK doesn’t really care about HSF, they just like the color green.

  • common sense

    @ Joe wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    “An appropriations law was signed last week by President Obama that directs spending of a minimum of $1.8 Billion on SLS and a minimum of $1.2 Billion on MPCV in this fiscal year.”

    Where does it say a “minimum” of whatever? And in any case, as I said, if you were in this business you would know that this is far from enough. Then again you may just be working on anything but LVs or RVs. You will not go anywhere with this amount of money.

    “If you can convince yourself that translates into “no, zero, budget allocated to an HLV or even MPCV” then any further discussion with you is pointless.”

    I don’t care whether it is pointless to talk with you. You and others like you seem to be looking at the mirror every morning saying how great you look. This is a juvenile attitude. If you cannot get even from Sen Shelby who mentionned the jobs preserved that this is all about jobs and none about HLV or MPCV then I cannot do anything for you. But go on keep dreaming. 2016 is only 4 1/2 years away. We shall see.

    You’re entitled to your own opinion not to your own facts.

    Did you read the Augustine report? Or is it the report of the “evil” committee?

    Whatever…

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I bet constellation would have moved much further along had they actually believed the program would get canned

    That is a pretty ignorant statement, and by that I mean that every major aerospace company is motivated to move quickly on major contracts for the simple reason that it provides more revenue.

    But if you want to know why Ares I was so delayed, all you have to do is look at this picture:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ares_I_Evolution.jpg

    It turns our Griffin’s Simple, Safe, Soon was just a marketing gimmick, and they really didn’t have any idea how to build an SRM-based med-heavy launcher.

    The lesson learned? Don’t shortcut the design process. Get ready for round 2 with the SLS, since the rocket scientists in the Senate want to do the same thing.

    This is what Bolden wanted to avoid by taking a couple of years to figure out the best combination of technology, design and cost. Unfortunately the Senate wants a jobs program, not an HLV…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt,

    Sorry, but I disagree. While I grant there are a lot of space activists who claim they would support Bolden if they got such a plan (I tend to be skeptical of their claims, but anyway), I don’t agree that that applies for MOST of congress (a few limited cases its true).

    What he has to provide to the congresspeople is that we are funding big ticket stuff in your district – thats the relevant point. Or rather, we aren’t going to upset your status quo.

    Nelson,

    Is there a point to you responding to Matt, who is responding to me? Because you never respond to any of my points.

    I am really just curious.

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    “Just because something is cheaper does not alwasy mean that it is better.”

    Can you define “better”? If yes then please tell us all what it means otherwise…

    “Solid rocket motors are inherently more reliable than liquid motors, which is in itself a safety factor. The real risk factor would be any rupture of the SRB casing.”

    And you know that because you’ve been working on SRBs for how long?

    “What you do need is a launch abort system, which is usually activated if the main engines have failed, and possibly will explode. SRB engines do not tend to fail. In the case of Challenger, they did not explode. They continued to generate constant thrust well after the orbiter and external tank disintegrated.”

    Well see here is my problem again with people who have no, like in zero, clue how those things actually work. Opinions not facts again. What is the relationship between Challenger and a safe abort off Ares? Please do explain. The point is not to have a LAS. The point is to have an LAS that does not kill the crew. There are abort scenarios that will most likely kill the crew off an SRBs that would not off a liquid booster. Very simply because you can not stop them. Then there are all kinds of scenarios of SRBs burning/exploding on pad that would create a shock front that would most likely kill the crew on abort. SRBs maybe inherently safe so long they do not fail. If they fail they are just dangerous and you cannot even bail out off them. Please make an effort in learning what a LAS is all about instead of regurgitating what you read from the Constellation “cabal”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    That is not what Doug Cook believes.

    It’s funny how you take the gospel of some in NASA, but not others. Any rhyme or reason?

    Besides, you keep missing the point. NASA has never been told to plan big missions with constraints, such as no HLV, so of course they don’t know of any other way.

    But even with NASA’s most well thought out plans, like HEFT and Nautilus-X, the mission elements can be put in space using existing and near-term commercial launchers. Read the reports – HLV’s are not mandatory, just preferred by some.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    “what HLV design do you think that there is going to be things spent on ?”

    I am afraid he is not the kind of person who actually thinks, only one who’s happy even if they had said they would give $10 for an SLS and an MPCV. Some people are happy so long there is a budget line, no matter if the low budget will result in yet another failure. After all if people say there is not enough cash to build an HLV they must have an agenda.

    A little exercise just for fun. 12 months of Shuttle not flying is about $2.4B and that is for an ongoing program with every thing operational in place for 30 years. So let’s just take the $1.8B for SLS. With that money they will design a vehicle that will fly in 2016, I hope that at least it will be designed because see they have about 4 1/2 years to do it, I mean design, test and fly operationally. They will go from zero to a full fledge HLV without knowing the budget for the following years, so for the sake of the exercise let’s pick $1.8B times 5 so about $9.0B. Right? For the past what 7 years Constellation spent about $10.0B and they got a suborbital SRB to fly. No Orion in any shape. But for $9.0B now they will have an HLV??? Come on!!!! All the while maintaining the Shuttle workforce who today has almost no experience in design since they would be those most likely to transition to HLV.

    Anyway. Whatever.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    if you want Congress to fully support what Charlie Bolden has in mind, he’s going have to start at the very least penciling in destinations and some target dates. All he has to do is at the next hearing that he testifies at is offer some kind of chart, showing intended destinations, type of mission, and tentative dates.

    The term “penciling in” usually means a plan that is not yet funded but is an unofficial goal, and Bolden has stated that for NEO’s (2025) and Mars (2035).

    Does he need to use a thicker lead on his pencil? How is that not goals & target dates?

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: the people that Charlie Bolden has to convince are the ones sitting on the relevant House and Senate Science and Technology and the Appropriations Committees. If he doesn’t convince them-no funding: it’s as simple as that. Especially the latter committee in each house….. While Bolden’s initial plan of deferring HLV work may have been sound, it clashed with the political reality of some very angry people on The Hill, and they disposed of that disaster known as the FY 11 budget-as is their right to do so and wrote their own. What the HLV backers-Nelson, Hutchinson, Shelby, and all the rest want is getting out of LEO as soon as possible: not waiting until the early 2020s. Why do you think the Senate put in a end of 2016 date for initial operations of the HLV: they want some exploration done, even if it’s Lunar orbit and L-points for the time being. Which, in a way, does fit in with Ed Crawley’s presentation…his point was this: build a rocket and crew vehicle, and get some basic exploration done with that, then move on to NEO, lunar return, etc. in the 2020s. That is actually in his presentation-if you haven’t watched it, do so: it’s at NASA’s youtube channel. It convinced me, and I was a CxP/Moon first person. He “made the sale” as they say. Charlie didn’t in that disaster, and he’s still recovering.

  • Ferris:

    Sorry. I haven’t had a chance to read everything, let alone respond to most… ;-)

    In your last point, the way that I prefer to look at it is:

    (1) Consider what you want to accomplish when you get there. For instance, I suspect that Moon exploration could be much more productive than a NEO mission. And if you don’t have any idea what you are going to do, going there might be pointless.

    (2) From that you select and prioritize your destinations.

    (3) Funding is an uncontrolled variable that will depend upon the economy, warfare, politics, and other NASA programs. You have no control over it.

    (4) The funding will determine the schedule, which will have to be adjusted according to changes in funding and technical challenges.

    Nelson

  • Matt Wiser

    Martin: A depot would be nice to have, but it has to be tested-and not just to a company’s delight, but NASA’s and other potential users. There’s safety questions that need to be answered, as well as how a depot is restocked, propellant storage/transfer, and so on. Would EVA be needed to handle refueling tasks-especially if it’s a human mission? All of these need to be answered before a depot can be included in an exploration portfolio.

    As for big payloads, I’ll take what Doug Cook (head of ESMD) has said. He’s been on record in House testimony as saying that heavy-lift is essential. There will be big payloads that will be needed-especially if it’s a Mars mission, as well as lunar return and support of extended lunar activities. Then there’s potential use, as Charlie Bolden has also said in House/Senate testimony, by DOD, the intelligence community, other space agencies (ESA, JAXA, etc.), and by NASA for planetary probes, TPF (when it’s greenlighted) and so on. Assuming we won’t need a heavy-lift vehicle is not a good idea. The only question is, this: what kind of HLV? Either a NASA vehicle or one built by a private entity and purchased by NASA. That’s the debate now.

  • Some of my thoughts on funding:

    (1) We need to avoid feel-good efforts and programs that might sound nice, but that accomplish nothing practical in terms of actual space exploration. For instance, complaints from universities that because NASA is actually going out and exploring space, there is less money for them to conduct cool experiments in the lab. That strikes me as backwards. My impression of VASIMR, for instance, is that it will probably not be of any practical use for several decades, if ever.

    (2) NASA needs to focus on just a few real efforts, such as the HLV, and break the cancelled project syndrome. It needs to get some real manned spacecraft out of the door. And with SLS/MPCV it can, as long as Bolden and the WH keep their hands off and out of the way.

    (3) NASA needs to avoid projects that eat up funds and do not provide utility. The ISS comes to mind. If it is producing useful research results, they are being kept TOP SECRET. We need to seriously try to get a return on this investment. And if the ISS does not begin producing useful results in a few years we should admit that it was a mistake and drop it in the ocean. Maybe we can use it to test out BEO spacecraft hardware???

    Likewise, for lunar exploration, I am inclined to think that we want to focus on manned sotries for exploration and servicing missions to ISRU experiments, rather than a permanent outpost. We will want some long-term human exposure data for 1/6 g, but at this point, I am not sure that we need lots of boots in the regolith. We should accomplish as much as is practical with robots.

    (3) The claim that an HLV is unaffordable stikes me as a shallow, highly subjective, defeatist excuse. The reality is that NASA can afford to spend many billions on manned space exploration. It just needs to be very selective about how and when it spends it…

    NASA cannot do everything at once. At the moment it needs to create a working HLV and crew vehicle. It then needs lunar surface landers and rovers. Beyond that, it might need a basic habitation module that has a radiation shelter and can be spun for artificial gravity. Then maybe they need to work on aerocapture and Mars lander technology….

    Maybe 5 years focused on new hardware development, alternating with 5 years focused on exploration. Sort of like the Intel Tic Toc strategy where they alternate the introduction of new process technologies with refinement of logic design to optimize the performance.

  • “This is what Bolden wanted to avoid by taking a couple of years to figure out the best combination of technology, design and cost. Unfortunately the Senate wants a jobs program, not an HLV…”

    As Neal Armstrong pointed out, NASA does not need a 5 year HLV R&D program. That would be like proposing to spend 5 years learnng about how DC electric motors work.

    NASA already has lots of highly efficient rocket motors such as the P&W RS-68. The only person who needs 5 years is Elon Musk, who may own the small rocket market, but is behind the curve for really big monsters, and needs to catch up. If he already had a tested, proven HLV-class motor that was less expensive, they would have seriously considered it, but he doesn’t. It took a lot to get the instabilities out of the Saturn V F-1 motors, which is why the Soviets instead went with too many small engines.

  • “Rick, I just wanted to say that your apology was wasted on someone who believes that lying in order to further his goal is justified. His performance in the radio interview was filled with outright “untruths” and distortions of fact. Right about now he has put himself in the same class as allanalwind and gary church.”

    No doubt, you often walk up to swordsmen, and comment on the leingths of their noses, fair Viscount?

  • Byeman

    “Solid rocket motors are inherently more reliable than liquid motors”

    That is a false claim backed by no data.

  • Scott Bass

    It’s not ignorant, it is just a fact with cost plus contracts, and it does not just apply to the space industry. Even highways take twice as long to finish in SC unless there is a bonus for finishing early….. The bean counters ultimately determine the schedule, put a billion dollar bonus on a 2015 SLs launch date and it will fly, guaranteed

  • “Even highways take twice as long to finish in SC unless there is a bonus for finishing early.”

    Scott if by SC you mean South Carolina I have noticed that myself (Being an SC native, my family has been here since 1735). But things have always been a little bizarro in this state anyway. I hate to say it, but a lot of times I agree with fellow native South Carolinian (and former poet laureate of SC), James Dickey when he said:
    “South Carolina, too small to be a country, too large to be an insane asylum!”

  • Egad

    > What the HLV backers – Nelson, Hutchinson, Shelby, and all the rest want is getting out of LEO as soon as possible: not waiting until the early 2020s.

    Have any of those Congresspeople or their spokespeople said/written that?

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:17 pm
    “what HLV design do you think that there is going to be things spent on ?”

    The details of the Authorization Law strongly indicated that Congress has bought into something very close to the Jupiter 130/246. You can like that or hate it, but it does no good to pretend it does not exist. It was not my first choice either (although I am obviously not as hostile to it as many around here). With the passage of the Appropriation Bill and the President signing it, that is now the law.

  • Ferris Valyn

    The details of the Authorization Law strongly indicated that Congress has bought into something very close to the Jupiter 130/246. You can like that or hate it, but it does no good to pretend it does not exist.

    Law doesn’t require something that is SDLV – the law strongly encourages it, but does NOT require it

  • Major Tom

    “With the passage of the Appropriation Bill”

    It’s not a bill (or act). It’s a year-end continuing resolution or CR.

    “and the President signing it, that is now the law.”

    The CR says nothing about a 70-ton vehicle, like Jupiter 130. It requires a 130-ton vehicle, which may or may not be Shuttle-derived.

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 6:29 am

    put a billion dollar bonus on a 2015 SLs launch date and it will fly, guaranteed

    No. Keep in mind that the SLS is a custom product, which means no one knows what the challenges are going to be that need to be overcome. Contractors look at the total POSSIBLE amount of revenue they can get from a customer, and though a bonus could be worthwhile, it may not.

    Besides, what you’re missing here is what the lack of competition has done for these NASA mega-launchers. Introduce competition, the prices will fall, and the schedules will more likely be met. Capitalism is better than third-world type bribery.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt Wiser

    the people that Charlie Bolden has to convince are the ones sitting on the relevant House and Senate Science and Technology and the Appropriations Committees. If he doesn’t convince them-no funding: it’s as simple as that. Especially the latter committee in each house…..

    Ok, so far so good, I agree with that

    While Bolden’s initial plan of deferring HLV work may have been sound, it clashed with the political reality of some very angry people on The Hill, and they disposed of that disaster known as the FY 11 budget-as is their right to do so and wrote their own.

    While I dispute the notion that FY 2011 budget was a disaster, the rest is reasonably true

    What the HLV backers-Nelson, Hutchinson, Shelby, and all the rest want is getting out of LEO as soon as possible: not waiting until the early 2020s. Why do you think the Senate put in a end of 2016 date for initial operations of the HLV: they want some exploration done, even if it’s Lunar orbit and L-points for the time being.

    This is where your logic breakdown is. I will suggest that there are 1-3 Congress people who are actively interested in seeing a BEO ASAP (and yes, I can name names), but most want to see money spent on an SDLV Super-HLV. Because if what they are truly worried about is getting a BEO mission by 2016, why not, you know, WRITE INTO LEGISLATION THAT THE FIRST MISSION BE BY 2016? Or, additionally, why put in some prescriptions for what technologies to use (HLV vs Space assembly)? Or, why put in a direction for what the Super-HLV should be like (IE strongly suggesting it needs large diameter solids)? Because they could have easily said “We need a Super-HLV that can lift starting at 70 mT, and grows to 130 mT – we want it by 2016 – here’s the money, go to it.”

    They didn’t do that, and they are making noise about wanting to see it done via contract extention, rather than a formal competition process.

    Sorry, but those facts tell me they are interested in how and where the contracts are spending money, rather than what they are getting for that money, and seeing real space exploration

    Which, in a way, does fit in with Ed Crawley’s presentation…his point was this: build a rocket and crew vehicle, and get some basic exploration done with that, then move on to NEO, lunar return, etc. in the 2020s. That is actually in his presentation-if you haven’t watched it, do so: it’s at NASA’s youtube channel. It convinced me, and I was a CxP/Moon first person. He “made the sale” as they say. Charlie didn’t in that disaster, and he’s still recovering.

    As I’ve said, they didn’t do a good job with last years budget (in terms of making the sale).

    But, not addressed with what you said, is whether you have to do it all in one launch (no I don’t know that I’ve seen Dr. Crawley’s presentation – I’ve seen a lot of stuff). You could easily do some major Deep Space Missions with Orion, existing launchers, and avoid the issue of SLS. For example – I haven’t run the numbers, but I am sure, at a minimum, you could do a Lunar Orbit with Orion, 2 Delta IV Heavies, and a modified fully loaded Centaur. (I’ve heard that you might be able to do it even with 1 Delta IV Heavy, but I have not run the numbers). You might be able to do Lagrange points, or other missions, with just that. There are other, similar, trade space considerations that could be done, all with largely existing technology, that is basically alread deployed (or near deployment, like Orion & Commercial Crew).

    I’d have no problem with something like that. Orion isn’t my ideal vehicle, but there is enough value there to save it. And, again, the rest already exists (Centaurs and Delta IV Heavies are well established)

    So you start with that, and at the same time you do ISS with Commercial Crew, and you are doing exciting things, both in LEO & BEO.

    And in that time, you start developing the other hardware that allows you to do more. And most importantly, you don’t break the bank on one Super big project (IE Super Duper SDLV Super-HLVs)

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 11:01 am
    “The CR says nothing about a 70-ton vehicle, like Jupiter 130. It requires a 130-ton vehicle, which may or may not be Shuttle-derived.”

    If you really want to debate that point again maybe you should take it up with the moderators of this board, who in the article to which this thread is attached said:
    “That language (specifically, that the heavy-lift vehicle funded in the bill “shall have a lift capability not less than 130 tons and which shall have an upper stage and other core elements developed simultaneously”) has raised concerns that it short-circuits the NASA authorization act last year that mandated a 70- to 100-ton vehicle that could later be upgraded to at least 130 tons. A congressional source familiar with the formulation of the legislation, though, said that’s not the case. Early versions of the language in the appropriations bill did call for an initial lift capacity of 130 tons, but that word was stricken from later versions. The language does require NASA to work simultaneously on the core elements as well as an upper stage that may be specific to the 130-ton version, but that work does not have to take place at the same pace, allowing NASA to focus more attention on an initial, smaller version while assuring Congress that it will evolve it later to the ultimate capacity.”

    “Don’t make stuff up.”

    Do you ever take your own advice?

  • Major Tom

    “Do you ever take your own advice?”

    I’m not making anything up. I’m repeating what the CR actually states. You’re relying on an unnamed source.

    Think before you post.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Nelson,

    A few points
    1. I am not sure what you were referring to in your last post to me. You’ll have to point me to which one, because there were a lot of post recently aimed at you, and I don’t quite see which ones make sense.

    Second

    (1) We need to avoid feel-good efforts and programs that might sound nice, but that accomplish nothing practical in terms of actual space exploration. For instance, complaints from universities that because NASA is actually going out and exploring space, there is less money for them to conduct cool experiments in the lab. That strikes me as backwards. My impression of VASIMR, for instance, is that it will probably not be of any practical use for several decades, if ever.

    In principle, I don’t neccessarily disagree, but I’d like you to put a number on how much money is being spent, right now, on this. Quantify it the total amount of money.

    (2) NASA needs to focus on just a few real efforts, such as the HLV, and break the cancelled project syndrome. It needs to get some real manned spacecraft out of the door. And with SLS/MPCV it can, as long as Bolden and the WH keep their hands off and out of the way.

    Where do you think the cancelled project syndrome comes from? I grant thats a huge problem – what do you think is causing it? Why was NASP, X-33, SLI, OSP, and now Constellation canceled?

    (3) NASA needs to avoid projects that eat up funds and do not provide utility. The ISS comes to mind. If it is producing useful research results, they are being kept TOP SECRET. We need to seriously try to get a return on this investment. And if the ISS does not begin producing useful results in a few years we should admit that it was a mistake and drop it in the ocean. Maybe we can use it to test out BEO spacecraft hardware???

    So, its ok to admit that it was a mistake to build a $100 B spacestation, and throw it in the ocean, just when its finishing completion, but not ok, to kill a much smaller project, that had yet to produce any real working hardware? Sorry, I am having a logic disconnect moment.

    There are 2 problems here. The first is, we’ve actually talked about some of what has been going on at ISS, and you’ve dismissed it (or at least not responded to it). The second is that to make it work, we need adequet transportation to it, which we don’t have, and won’t get without Commercial Crew (or something like Commercial Crew)

    (3) The claim that an HLV is unaffordable stikes me as a shallow, highly subjective, defeatist excuse. The reality is that NASA can afford to spend many billions on manned space exploration. It just needs to be very selective about how and when it spends it…

    Quantify and provide numbers that prove its so. Yes, NASA will get many billions of dollars to do HSF, but you’ve never considered how much it costs in the near term, and how to defend against the issue of “give us the money, keep it constant for 20 years, and the come back to us at that time.” Thats not practical.

    NASA cannot do everything at once. At the moment it needs to create a working HLV and crew vehicle. It then needs lunar surface landers and rovers. Beyond that, it might need a basic habitation module that has a radiation shelter and can be spun for artificial gravity. Then maybe they need to work on aerocapture and Mars lander technology….

    Why? Whats the justification for doing all that? I grant it can’t do everything at once. But there are more fundemental needs, then having an HLV.

    Maybe 5 years focused on new hardware development, alternating with 5 years focused on exploration. Sort of like the Intel Tic Toc strategy where they alternate the introduction of new process technologies with refinement of logic design to optimize the performance.

    You do realize we’ve spent, arguably, the last 10-15 years on hardware development, and produced no real results?

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 11:38 am
    “Do you ever take your own advice?”

    …”Think before you post.”

    I will take that as a no.

  • Egad

    > Because if what they are truly worried about is getting a BEO mission by 2016, why not, you know, WRITE INTO LEGISLATION THAT THE FIRST MISSION BE BY 2016?

    Exactly. If they’d written something like “NASA shall develop a capability to conduct human space flight beyond Earth orbit and demonstrate it by landing an initial manned expedition to explore for water and other volatiles at the lunar south pole by December 31, 2020,” that would have reeked less of pork than the present “build a big rocket in our districts” edict. Wonks would still have had plenty of material to fight about, but pork wouldn’t have figured so prominently (probably).

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 20th, 2011 at 9:17 pm
    “what HLV design do you think that there is going to be things spent on ?”

    you replied:
    “The details of the Authorization Law strongly indicated that Congress has bought into something very close to the Jupiter 130/246″

    if they had “done” that aka bought into something very close to the “jupiter” thing…then they were fools not to write that into the law. They could have written that into the law, there is precident for them writing something like that into the law, if they want to save a particular program from an administrations “axe”…but they didnt do that.

    There is nothing in the law (and if you think there is I would be entertained to see what language that you are referring to) that requires the HLV to be a Shuttle derived vehicle or a “Jupiter” derived vehicle or really anything. There is a tonnage requirement, …but thats that.

    If Congress (or more importantly the porkers there trying to save NASA and contractor jobs) had wanted to be effective saving those jobs they would have required the money be spent toward a particular design or even mandated a particular “vehicle frame” that the money be spent to. I know for a fact that certain elements were pushing for a “Shuttle C” knock off demonstration language…but got no where.

    If they had wanted to save a shuttle derived vehicle they would have done “the B-1 trick” which is where they put language in the authorization and appropriations (both actually) that required certain funds be expended on “variable geometry supersonic research” by an aircraft of a certain mass and engine capability (ie four), there were only four planes in the country that could do that research (the B-1A’s).

    Congress (or certain elements of it) may have bought into a Shuttle derived vehicle…but here is how this works.

    Bolden has his money, he can do with it whatever he wants to…in terms of which heavy lift he works on. There IS NOTHING that Congress can now do if he spends the money this year and comes up with a “design” or whatever that looks like a Delta IV heavy or whatever.

    They can use harsh words but in the end the next whack that they ( Congress) gets at authorizing/appropriating more money is the next budget cycle and by then what WILL HAVE HAPPENED is the shuttle contractor workforce will be GONE.

    And thats the end of DIRECT and SLS.

    If you think otherwise you do not understand Charlie Bolden or the basic civics system of The Republic. And really…. I would be interested in why you think things are going otherwise. The Clowns over at NASASpaceflight.com can only utter “its the law” …goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • This forum reminds me of a simultaneous chess match, where a master player is up against a dozen lesser-ranked players, except that in this case it is a dozen lesser-ranked players (no offense, that includes me) playing simultaneously against each other… It can be stimulating at times…

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    “Bolden has his money, he can do with it whatever he wants to…in terms of which heavy lift he works on. There IS NOTHING that Congress can now do if he spends the money this year and comes up with a “design” or whatever that looks like a Delta IV heavy or whatever.”

    Let’s see the positions around here have been:
    - The “Congresscritters” “bloviating” for their “Pork” (often spelled in all Caps) would do nothing and would end up giving the administration whatever it wanted.
    - Then when the Authorization Law passed it became, Authorization Laws do not have to be followed only Appropriation matter
    - Now that the Appropriations have become law (and are even more unpalatable to a number of people around here) there is another position “Bolden has his money, he can do with it whatever he wants to”. Translation the executive branch can ignore the legislative branch and do whatever it wants (The Imperial Presidency reborn).

    Continue to believe that if it gives you comfort, and of course have a nice day.

  • “Bolden has his money, he can do with it whatever he wants to…in terms of which heavy lift he works on. There IS NOTHING that Congress can now do if he spends the money this year and comes up with a “design” or whatever that looks like a Delta IV heavy or whatever.”

    That is what Bolden and the WH used to believe. However, Congress, if pressed, can cut back, or even totally eliminate any CCDev funding. Congress can, in fact, be even more specific as to the design parameters of the SLS. And tot just next year. At any time.

    To the extent that Bolden continues to look for loopholes, like the ADA act, he is going to find himself increasingly shackled by specific legislation that will limit his options and freedom of action.

    There was actual mention, in a recent Congressional hearing, of finding Bolden in contempt of Congress. They are dead serious. To the extent that Bolden attempts to skirt the compromise and shortchange the HLV effort, he runs the risk of marginalizing his authority.

  • Scott Bass

    Rick, I am not even going to try to defend my state haha, it is what it is ;) I stay in disbelief most of the time, as for my commments about incentives, I stand by that, however it does have to be a large enough amount to be a worthy carrot and it also has to be closely monitored to ensure safety short cuts are not taken. In the old days it was ok to blow up a few rockets and then just troubleshoot what went wrong, luckily we should not have to do that in this day in age

  • “Solid rockets are still used today… on larger applications for their simplicity and reliability.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-fuel_rocket

    “The solid-fuel SRBs are advantageous for the purpose of boosting launches compared to liquid-fueled rockets, because they provide greater thrust and do not have the refrigeration and insulation requirements of liquid-fueled rockets.

    Solid boosters are usually cheaper to design, test, and produce compared to equivalent thrust liquid boosters. However, the costs on a per-flight basis tend to be equivalent.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_rocket_booster

    “Together they provide about 83% of liftoff thrust for the Space Shuttle. Each SRB produces 80% more liftoff thrust than one F-1 engine, the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fueled rocket engine ever flown.”

    “SRB casings are recovered and reused many times. In one recent example, an SRB stiffener (lower) segment from STS-1 — which over a 30 year period flew six times plus one ground test — was used in 2009 as part of the Ares I DM-1 test SRB. Collectively, the Ares 1 DM-1 included SRB segments from 48 different Shuttle flights and five ground tests.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Solid_Rocket_Booster

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Congress can, in fact, be even more specific as to the design parameters of the SLS.

    If that takes legislation, then the only way it will happen is through middle of the night additions to unrelated bills, not in a fully debated House or Senate.

    Their charade can only last while it is hidden, and bringing it out into the light will make it very apparent that the SLS is being designed as a giant earmark, benefiting existing contractors and not following ANY competitive bidding rules.

    It only takes a simple question to illuminate this – where is the funded need for the SLS?

    Come on Nelson, simple question.

  • pathfinder_01

    I agree with what you said Ferris, but small point:

    “But, not addressed with what you said, is whether you have to do it all in one launch (no I don’t know that I’ve seen Dr. Crawley’s presentation – I’ve seen a lot of stuff). You could easily do some major Deep Space Missions with Orion, existing launchers, and avoid the issue of SLS. For example – I haven’t run the numbers, but I am sure, at a minimum, you could do a Lunar Orbit with Orion, 2 Delta IV Heavies, and a modified fully loaded Centaur. (I’ve heard that you might be able to do it even with 1 Delta IV Heavy, but I have not run the numbers). You might be able to do Lagrange points, or other missions, with just that. There are other, similar, trade space considerations that could be done, all with largely existing technology, that is basically alread deployed (or near deployment, like Orion & Commercial Crew).”

    You can do an L point with Orion or a lunar flyby with Orion and two Delta IV heavies. Lunar Orbit will require more.
    Basically Orion got hit with lunar requirements and Ares 1 requiments. It is like requiring that a car be fuel efficient and easy to park in an city yet able to carry ten passengers and their equiment on rough terrain. Conflicting requirements (one suggests small with small engine and front wheel drive (Honda Fit), the other large, with all wheel drive(Hummer)).

    In the case of Orion it has to be lofted by Ares 1(an underperforming rocket), use Apollo’s shape and be 5 meters in diameter (not the most space efficient design, but well understood aerodynamically). Support itself for 6 months, and support a crew for 21 days and use as little new technology as possible in order to reduce risk (buying another kind of risk in the process). It ‘shypergolic service module is well understood, but heavy some technological development might have yielded a lighter cryogenic service module that Ares 1 could have had less trouble lofting.

    Orion only has enough propellant to leave lunar orbit. It would have used Altar to break into lunar orbit. This is why the commercial crowd is so much for L points. Orion would need a bigger service module to do lunar missions (although it is kind of oversized for many other BEO missions).

    I support Orion but it defiantly needs some evolution (i.e. Spiral development). For instance if you could station a lander at l1 then surface mission become possible and if you spent less money building an SDHLV that is 130 and more money developing payloads and had more freedom to choose the best design rather than the design that keeps the status quo in place you don’t wind up with lunar spacecraft that can’t do lunar orbit because it lacks the propellant to get back.

    Apollo for instance was built for lunar work and not really LEO work or space station work. It too had to have some adaptations to do Skylab missions and the Lunar stuff/Abilities tended to drive the price up. This is one of the minor reasons I love Commercial crew. Spacecraft can become more specialized if your moon ship does not need to be the same craft you launch in.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    “That is what Bolden and the WH used to believe. However, Congress, if pressed, can cut back, or even totally eliminate any CCDev funding. Congress can, in fact, be even more specific as to the design parameters of the SLS. And tot just next year. At any time.”

    they wont do that.

    If they were going to do that then this was the year to do it…the shuttle is still flying, they could have easily taken the CCDev funding and pushed it toward say the USA proposal to “keep the shuttles flying” (this was what USA was arguing for) and from that then sequed into a shuttle launch system demonstration flight of a HLV “variant”…

    What doing as you suggest NEXT year will require is that now that the shuttle is gone (and it will be gone as will the people and the contracts that keep it feed) then to say “we will zero out the CCDev funding) since you are not building our heavy lift”…then that will stop both resupply and future crewing of the station…and with no real alternatives.

    It will be worse “next time” because unlike SLS, the commercial folks will (and are) making real progress in terms of moving toward an operational capability. AND in the meantime the shuttle system will be moving toward history.

    “There was actual mention, in a recent Congressional hearing, of finding Bolden in contempt of Congress. They are dead serious.”

    you may think that but it wont happen, it is posturing for the home team. First off there is no support even in committee for that and second the notion of taking the effort to the full “houses” of Congress while the nation is wallowing in the midst of its various (and quite serious) crisis and saying “time out here we are going to hold the NASA administrator in contempt because he wont build the rocket we want which will do missions that there are no payloads for and no political support for” is goofy.

    When Bush pushed his “vision”, after a few weeks I predicted here what would happen, and except for missing it by a year…I nailed it (go check the archieves). at the time it blew people like Whittington (and even Keith from NASA watch) up who were big supporters of the “Vision”.

    here is what is going to play out over the summer.

    More and more shuttle contractors will go on the unemployment line and one after another of the folks who are essential (the contractors) to keep the shuttle flying will fade into history. With STS 135 the end of the shuttle era will happen both in reality and in the minds of the American people. There will be lots of PR about the end of it and the dollars that it took will also get a lot of press. The American people outside of the ones on teh government dole in the program wont care. They simply wont.

    IN the meantime Charlie is going to cancel one Cx contract after another…and by the time we get to oh July most of the Cx and shuttle contract force will be gone.

    There will be some HLV studies but no hardware.

    In the meantime the larger political scene is harder to divine but it takes two courses. One there is some sort of massive budget deal that cuts a lot of spending…or there is not budget deal which means that there is no real budget as the end of the money year comes.

    By the time we get there Charlie will have lots of numbers that talk about how expensive a Shuttle derived system cost and how a Delta IV Super heavy or maybe even a Falcon9H super heavy derivative cost…and all of a sudden the CCDev contract is mirrored in terms of looking at a super heavy.

    In any event there wont be a shuttle derived vehicle…other then in models.

    And commercial crew and cargo will keep on trucking.

    And in your world Congress is going to hold Charlie in contempt…now which do you think is the more likely!

    Watch

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    but you dont answer the big question (I know there is no real answer that any of the SLS folks like)…

    What is there in the language to force Charlie to build something based on the shuttle?

    What happens when he says “no”…?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Haven’t you ever wondered why only one rocket has been attempted that uses SRM’s as the primary motor?

    Their thrust profiles are determined when they are cast, which means if you want a different thrust profile, say for a customer that won’t have a full payload, then you have to cast & qualify those way back at the factory (months? years?). The alternative is to add ballast to the rocket, since a lighter weight payload changes the g-force and dynamic loads on the rocket and payloads, but even ballast adds cost.

    Liquid fueled rockets don’t have to worry about these kinds of issues, and don’t have the safety issues of transport, stacking and preflight. SRM-based rockets are armed & dangerous from the moment they are stacked, but not so for liquid fueled ones.

    Lastly you left out the issue of vibration, which is one of the reasons that Ares I was so far behind schedule, and cost so much to begin with. Non-value added mass must be added to dampen out the vibration coming from the SRM’s, and who knows if they would even be safe for human transport or sensitive payloads.

    In the end, SRM’s are OK for boosters, but not for being the primary motors. And even as boosters, as you even admitted, they don’t have a cost advantage over liquid-fueled boosters, which is part of the reason that Delta IV Heavy, Atlas V Heavy, Angara, Falcon Heavy and other rockets just use multiple cores as boosters, since it simplifies their product.

    I doubt very much that ATK will make much headway on their Liberty proposal – I think that was timed for the budget & CCDev events, and since it failed to attract any government subsidies, they will likely just let it fade away…

  • Robert G. Oler

    BTW on some personal news. If all goes well by December of 2011 Monica and I are filled with joy to announce that Lorelei will become a big sister to baby (sex yet determined)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “I will take that as a no.”

    Take it as whatever you want. But when Bolden has to testify before the likes of Shelby and Hatch, and they’re pounding him on why NASA is not building a 130-ton SLS per their legislation, Bolden is not going to be able to say that some unnamed source on a blog said that it would be okay.

    Sigh…

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 2:08 pm
    “Take it as whatever you want. But when Bolden has to testify before the likes of Shelby and Hatch, and they’re pounding him on why NASA is not building a 130-ton SLS per their legislation, Bolden is not going to be able to say that some unnamed source on a blog said that it would be okay.”

    It is sad to hear that you have so little respect for the news reporting on this site.

  • Ferris Valyn

    pathfinder_01,

    It was my understanding that, if you did Orion on on Delta IV Heavy, and did another Delta IV Heavy with an EDS (which could be based around the Centaur booster) you would have enough thrust to get to Lunar orbit, with your Centaur derived EDS acting as a break to get you into Lunar Orbit.

  • “they wont do that. ”

    Actually, if you listen to Congressional staffers, speaking off the record, they really couldn’t care less about anything that Bolden and the WH proposes. To them, it is all hot air.

    “It will be worse “next time” because unlike SLS, the commercial folks will (and are) making real progress in terms of moving toward an operational capability.”

    If that was true then why is NASA wasting another unnecessary year on CCDev2, and not moving immediately toward an “end-to-end” solution, rather than stalling? Why are they investing their very limited time and money on suboorbital Blue Origin and Dream Chaser, which lacks launch abort capability???

    “First off there is no support even in committee for that and second the notion of taking the effort to the full “houses” of Congress”

    If that was true, they how did Shelby manage to get the Constellation provision passed? It was approved by the full Congress.

    “IN the meantime Charlie is going to cancel one Cx contract after another…”

    If he does, he will incur billions in cancellation closeout penalties. Something like $2.5B. That, in itself, would be more than enough fro everyone to site him for contempt.

    Sorry, but how matter how you attempt to spin it, 2+2 does not equal 17.

  • “Who knows if they would even be safe for human transport or sensitive payloads….In the end, SRM’s are OK for boosters, but not for being the primary motors.”

    Hmm. Solids are ok for boosters, but not primary motors. Perhaps you need to tell the USAF and the US Navy. There goes 2 out of 3 components in our triad. I guess that we had better put those B-52s back up in the air… Will have to go scrounging for hardware out at the Boneyard. Maybe lots of super glue to put those wings back on???

    Hmm. Not safe for sensitive payloads. Would a 50 kiloton W68 nucelar warhead, which includes chemical explosives, as well as fissile material, be qualified a “sensitive” ???

  • “BTW on some personal news. If all goes well by December of 2011 Monica and I are filled with joy to announce that Lorelei will become a big sister to baby (sex yet determined)”

    Congratulations are in order! Keep up the good work! ;-)

  • Major Tom

    “It is sad to hear that you have so little respect for the news reporting on this site.”

    I respect the even-handed reporting (or blogging) here.

    I don’t put much stock in an unnamed source whose statement contradicts what was actually written into the law. If this source was so close to the CR’s formulation, then why wasn’t he/she able to get the 70-ton provision from the authorization act reflected in the CR? Did this individual lose the debate, and they’re trying to get a new interpretation of the CR accepted after the fact? Or were they actually well-removed from the CR’s drafting, and their statement merely reflects their hopes and wishes, not any actual insider knowledge?

    Either way, the unnamed source is not a reliable narrator. But that’s their problem. This site is just passing along the quote.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Perhaps you need to tell the USAF and the US Navy.

    If we were talking about missiles, but we weren’t. Trying to change the subject?

    This debate is kind of silly, since launch providers around the world have already voted on the issue by building liquid fueled rockets, and SRM’s are relegated to booster status. That’s true too for the Senate Launch System.

    Are you trying to drum up support for the ATK Liberty? Because they are free to pursue that turkey if they so desire – there’s an open market they can pursue, just like SpaceX is doing.

    And just like SpaceX with their Falcon Heavy, ATK can afford to fund the Liberty internally if they think it has merit. We’ll see if they do, and it does, but I don’t think anyone is holding their breath.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Nelson,,

    Hmm. Not safe for sensitive payloads. Would a 50 kiloton W68 nucelar warhead, which includes chemical explosives, as well as fissile material, be qualified a “sensitive” ???

    In a word, no

    “IN the meantime Charlie is going to cancel one Cx contract after another…”

    If he does, he will incur billions in cancellation closeout penalties. Something like $2.5B. That, in itself, would be more than enough fro everyone to site him for contempt.

    By law, now, he has to, since Ares I is no more

    If that was true then why is NASA wasting another unnecessary year on CCDev2, and not moving immediately toward an “end-to-end” solution, rather than stalling? Why are they investing their very limited time and money on suboorbital Blue Origin and Dream Chaser, which lacks launch abort capability???

    Nelson Bridwell, I am sorry, but this is crap, and its demonstratedable crap, and this is why you lack any sort of credibility

    The reason we are getting CCDev 2 is because of the Authorization Bill – by law, NASA cannot move right to a full end to end program solution.

    Additionally, Blue Origin’s isn’t suborbital – its orbital. Thats why they said they were launching on an Atlas V in their release.
    And SNC doesn’t lack a launch abort capability – NASA was concerned about “the development of appropriate launch abort systems requirements and launch abort system capabilities.”

    That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any abort capabilities.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That is not what Doug Cook believes. For Mars, we need an HLV to put up 600mT with a reasonable number of launches.

    Not with a reasonable number of launches, but with a reasonable amount of money. High flight rates are crucial, RLVs won’t be economical until you have at least fifty flights a year. If you want to do a Mars missions every three years, then you shouldn’t be aiming for RLVs greater than 4mT.

    The payload size of an EELV is too small, and SpaceX is in the process of putting ULA out of business, in case you have not been keeping up.

    False on both counts and then there is the possibility of EELV Phase 1 (or 2).

    As far as payloads, right now that is a moot point because without an HLV, nothing substantial is going into orbit.

    No reasonable payload requires an HLV and all payloads require money. Our only hope of exploration any time soon is to ditch the HLV plans.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ If that was true then why is NASA wasting another unnecessary year on CCDev2, and not moving immediately toward an “end-to-end” solution, rather than stalling? Why are they investing their very limited time and money on suboorbital Blue Origin and Dream Chaser, which lacks launch abort capability???”

    CCDEV was planned to have 2-3 rounds before selecting the winners for crew transport. It allows NASA to see how well each company performs and to see if the product is what they want. Dream Chaser does have abort capability (It has tested its abort motors). NASA is concerned with some abort modes and is working with the company to fix those. Blue Origin I know less about, but I do know that no CCREW company is building a spacecraft without an abort system.

    The trouble with picking winners(like Congress wants with SLS) is that you don’t get to take advantage of improvements in technology and you don’t get to at least try the product to see if it suits you. It would be like picking a car without having a test drive. Or the Air force buying a new fighter without a fly off. A bad idea. It is like marring a woman without at least dating or meeting the bride.

    With CCREW if Dragon, CST100, Dreamchaser, or New Shepard fail you can use the other company.

  • Scott Bass

    Congratulations Robert

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: while the FY 11 budget may not have been a disaster, it was seen as one, and responded to as such by Congress. That rollout was a PR fiasco, and Charlie Bolden had the guts to admit he was wrong in not listening to his PAOs. He’s still in recovery mode from that, and whenever he’s on The Hill, he gives the impression of a gladiator going into the arena knowing bad things are about to happen.

    Take a look at Ed Crawley’s presentation: it sold me on FlexPath, at a time when I was very angry about cancelling CxP. He’s of the opinion that HLV and a crew vehicle should be built ASAP, so that some basic exploration can get done. (he mentions this in his presentation)

  • “This debate is kind of silly, since launch providers around the world have already voted on the issue by building liquid fueled rockets, and SRM’s are relegated to booster status. That’s true too for the Senate Launch System.”

    Agreed. There are specific situations where solid rockets make sense, and others where liquids are more advantageous. If you want to reuse your rocket, a solid is more likely to survive splashdown, intact. If you want full throttle control for a vertical landing capability on the Moon or Earth, a liquid is clearly the way to go. And there are some situations where either one can be viable, depending on what you have to start with, your development budget, cost constraints, and additional factors.

    Just because Elon Musk does not manufacture iPads does not necessarily make the iPad a badwards or corrupt influence…

  • “No reasonable payload requires an HLV and all payloads require money. Our only hope of exploration any time soon is to ditch the HLV plans.”

    To your limited understanding, what is “unreasonable” can in fact be necessary for real NASA missions.

    Perhaps you need to talk to Musk about scrapping his plans for the Falcon Heavy.

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 3:16 pm
    “I don’t put much stock in an unnamed source whose statement contradicts what was actually written into the law.”

    You seem to think you know who the “unnamed source” is. If they are so unreliable why does this site (who you claim to respect – “I respect the even-handed reporting (or blogging) here”) call them “a congressional source familiar with the formulation of the legislation”? Shouldn’t they be disparaging them as you do?

    I will move on to other subjects now, you keep playing the ‘he who post last wins game’. Keep digging that hole deeper.

  • “If that was true, they how did Shelby manage to get the Constellation provision passed? It was approved by the full Congress.”

    Nelson, if you had been keeping track of the controversy surrounding what Shelby did to get this provision going since its inception, you would know the answer to it like practically everyone else here. It was done using an old procedural trick that politicians have used for generations to get something passed that would normally meet with great opposition by their colleagues. Said procedure is known as “a last minute rider”

    There was a large omnibus spending bill that funded a large number of crucial nationwide initiatives, things that were considered too important to block by the majority of Congress. Just a few minutes before the bill was to be voted on and before others had a chance to notice, Shelby attached a few sentences to the end of omnibus bill. Such an addendum is what is know as a “rider” because normally it would not stand a chance on its own, but “rides” on the coat tails of a necessary major piece of legislation that is too important to stop. Due to the last instant move, most people didn’t know it had been added. Even if someone who cared about the issue noticed it, they couldn’t have stopped that big a bill at the last instant and wouldn’t have tried because the main bill was considered to be far too important to the nation.

  • “The payload size of an EELV is too small, and SpaceX is in the process of putting ULA out of business, in case you have not been keeping up.

    False on both counts and then there is the possibility of EELV Phase 1 (or 2).”

    My expectation is that the Delta IV will be motballed within 3 years, and the Atlas V will be kept around for a few more years because of CCDev. They will both be history well before the end of this decade.

    The DoD, because of the vulnerability of key space assets, will move towards rapid launch capability of constellations of large numbers of smaller, less expensive sats. To be able to put these up on a moments notice, they will move towards solid rocket boosters that can be ready to go, 24×7.

  • …I also expect DoD to resort to large numbers of balloon decoy sats, using standard ICBM penetration tactics.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    “Actually, if you listen to Congressional staffers, speaking off the record, they really couldn’t care less about anything that Bolden and the WH proposes. To them, it is all hot air.”

    No doubt to Charlie most if not all Congressional staffers particularly the ones pushing a HLV are like O-4′s at the Pentagon…a dime a dozen.

    The difference between Charlie and the Congressional staffers is that Charlie has the power, the money, and command of NASA. I’ve listened to “51D” babble over at NASAspaceflight.com and he is either the dumbest thing that can be had or he is just preaching to the choir.

    REally people like him on Capital Hill are about like LCDR’s at the Pentagon.

    “If that was true then why is NASA wasting another unnecessary year on CCDev2, and not moving immediately toward an “end-to-end” solution, rather than stalling? Why are they investing their very limited time and money on suboorbital Blue Origin and Dream Chaser, which lacks launch abort capability???”

    Because NASA is doing something very very smart with CCDev…they are taking it one step at a time. The notion of this entire debate actually is about fixed cost contracts vrs cost plus contracts… AS for suborbital…that is exactly the way to groom new technology.

    “If that was true, they how did Shelby manage to get the Constellation provision passed? It was approved by the full Congress.”

    because in the scheme of things his “provision” was small potatoes or potatos take your pick and a contempt of Congress with an agency head is not. Thats never going to happen (the later).

    I wrote:
    “IN the meantime Charlie is going to cancel one Cx contract after another…”

    you replied “If he does, he will incur billions in cancellation closeout penalties. Something like $2.5B. That, in itself, would be more than enough fro everyone to site him for contempt.”

    not so much…sorry you need to get back on the cusp of current affairs…Cx has been canned and Bolden will start tossing the contracts pretty quickly.

    Watch…how I predicted it is going to play out…will happen.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    “Hmm. Solids are ok for boosters, but not primary motors. Perhaps you need to tell the USAF and the US Navy.”

    there is a great deal of difference between the ride an ICBM warhead needs and people…but maybe ATK will get some traction with “Liberty” (Laugh)

    Robert G. Oler

  • “Charlie has the power, the money, and command of NASA…
    Charlie is going to cancel one Cx contract after another…
    Watch…how I predicted it is going to play out…will happen.”

    You are the one who needs to watch what has happened and is happening, rather than the altered reality in which you subsist…
    Your rumors of the demise of Cx are greately exagerated:
    Orion remains entirely intact.
    NASA will be incorporating the 5 segment SRB and the J-X2 into the SLS.

    Bolden does not have the money. Congress does. His command and power is very limited, as was proven by the Cx provisions. At the same time, he is a quisling, subject to the whims of the WH.

  • Vladislaw

    “Perhaps you need to talk to Musk about scrapping his plans for the Falcon Heavy.”

    A heavy lift launch vehicle for NASA will only fly once or twice a year as NASA will be it’s only customer. SpaceX as already said they will fly military, intelligence, commercial and NASA, if they want to use it. He is predicting 10 launches a year.

    So why scrap a low cost launcher which has a demonstrated multiple customer interest?

    Why not scrap the senate launch system with a very limited customer base, low launch rate, high design and development costs, high construction costs, high operating costs.

  • “Charlie has the power, the money, and command of NASA…”

    http://www.spacenews.com/policy/100205-obama-game-changing-nasaplan.html

    “You can hope forever that the president’s going to change his mind,” Bolden said during the all-hands address broadcast to the agency’s 10 field centers. “You can hope that I will go to the Hill and get beat up, and … will say, ‘OK, Congress, you’re right, my recommendations to the president were all wrong. I was dumb. And we need to go back and spend $30 billion … on the Constellation program.’ Ain’t going to happen.”

    Someone didn’t eactly watch what happened…

  • “Why not scrap the senate launch system with a very limited customer base, low launch rate, high design and development costs, high construction costs, high operating costs.”

    The “Senate” Launch System is what NASA needs. Falcon Heavy is large enough to be interesting, and potentially useful, but if you actually want to be accomplishing anything substantial on the lunar surface and lot just playing tiddlywinks in LEO, a real HLV is the only way to go.

    I have no doubt that the Falcon Heavy will prove to be a success. And at the same time, so will be the SLS. I see more like 4 launches per year of the SLS, so they will both probably be putting about the same mass in orbit. The FL will had the advantage of a lower cost per pound… For commercial space that is the most important factor. For NASA that is a secondary consideration.

  • Byeman

    Only idiots quote Wikipedia.

  • Byeman

    And idiots predict the demise of ULA, DIV and Av.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    “Your rumors of the demise of Cx are greately exagerated:
    Orion remains entirely intact.
    NASA will be incorporating the 5 segment SRB and the J-X2 into the SLS.

    Bolden does not have the money. Congress does. His command and power is very limited, as was proven by the Cx provisions. At the same time, he is a quisling, subject to the whims of the WH.”

    no its dead….Orion will never fly…nor will the 5 segment.

    Basic civics. It is now Charlie’s money; the Congress appropriated it. He now gets to spend it within the law…and the law gives him a lot of latitude. and in the end the only thing that the Congress can do is use harsh words.

    Charlie has survived the worst that they can do…and he is still there with his program. Watch. Dont worry Whittington is still smarting from having called “the vision” wrong.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    If you want to reuse your rocket, a solid is more likely to survive splashdown, intact.

    Maybe they can survive splashdown better, but who says that reusing SRM’s make economic sense? Just because the Shuttle program spent a lot of time and effort to reuse the SRB’s doesn’t mean that it was worth the money to do so. Anyone know of an independent study that looks at the cost/benefit of SRM reuse?

    Just because Elon Musk does not manufacture iPads does not necessarily make the iPad a badwards or corrupt influence…

    SpaceX is just the latest company to rely on liquid engines, so no need to single them out. The reason for liquid fuel vs solids is likely economic, both in development as well as operational costs.

    The Shuttle program was most likely an anomaly, or the result of undue influence. Considering the political influence we have on the SLS, that would not have been surprising…

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    To your limited understanding, what is “unreasonable” can in fact be necessary for real NASA missions.

    What “real NASA missions”? When will they be funded, and how much?

    Perhaps you need to talk to Musk about scrapping his plans for the Falcon Heavy.

    Private companies taking gambles on future markets is the American way, and as long as the American Taxpayer doesn’t have to bail them out, why shouldn’t they introduce a new service? Besides, at $125M/flight, SpaceX can make money flying less than 1/2 full, so it’s a good bet they’ll gain marketshare at a profit.

    Whereas the SLS, being 100% public funded, should have a demonstrated need before it’s built – who are the customers, when will they be funded, how often will it operate?

    Simple questions – what are the answers Nelson?

  • Matt Wiser

    Vadislaw: there is no support as yet on The Hill for that course of action. In case you’ve forgotten, Congress has the final say. And they want NASA to have its own heavy-lift vehicle. Read: Nelson, Hutchinson, Hatch, Shelby, etc. They’re the influential ones on the Senate side, and you’d have to convince them that Falcon 9 Heavy is a much more affordable alternative. Good luck with that. If Mr. Musk can make a case before The House Science and Technology Committee, as Chairman Hall wants him to do, he may have a good chance. But if he comes across to the Committee as a “rocket boy” with a lot of arrogance, forget it.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt Wiser,

    Again, I don’t dispute Charlie & the entire administration having screwed up on the delivery of FY 2011 budget. I won’t say thats the only thing that cause the need for compromise, but it CERTAINLY didn’t help.

    Regarding Crawley’s presentation
    1. I couldn’t find it exactly – if you could provide a link, that would be helpful
    2. I’ll be very curious to see how he defines the HLV, because amount & size matter
    3. I’ve said before, I don’t have a problem keeping Orion in the mix – its not ideal, but its got more right than wrong, and its something I have no problem with compromising.
    4. It’s also worthwhile to point out another document that Crawley helped write, which is the Augustine report itself – in it, they talked about the importance of tech development, of ISS, and the potential of fuel depots. The point being, racing right to a big rocket may not be the shortest path to getting BEO spaceflight.
    5. Even given all that, even if we still assume that a minimum requirement is 70 mT, there is the obvious point – why are we prejudging the rocket? Why must we make it Shuttle derived? We can more easily do an EELV derived vehicle, that is likely to be ready in approximately the same amount of time, and for far cheaper? I’d be surprised if Crawley prescribed the type of HLV vehicle. There are cheaper HLV options than Shuttle, that can arrive in the same timeframe. Something like multi-core Falcons, Atlas V Phase 2, or more multi-core Deltas (or something akin to those optiosn) do NOT require nearly the level of funding.

    So why can’t we have a real discussion about all of the tradespace, both within the types of HLV vehicles, and on other aspects related to BEO spaceflight.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.colorado.edu/news/r/54e8b1c817bc93efcb5d179f02eb2f7f.html

    some interesting stuff on Dream Chaser again pleasantly surprised…I’ve seen this mockup (and they have a great restaurant at the airport)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    At the same time, he [Bolden] is a quisling, subject to the whims of the WH.

    You do realize that the NASA Administrator is appointed by the President to run NASA, and not appointed by Congress?

    quisling |ˈkwizli ng |
    noun
    a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.

    It’s one thing to be ignorant about NASA Administrators, but to call Bolden a traitor stoops really low. And what “enemy force” is he collaborating with? Obama?

  • Major Tom

    “You seem to think you know who the ‘unnamed source’ is.”

    I have my suspicions, and I think that individual is unreliable as a source on this topic. But my suspicions don’t matter. As I already stated, the quote from the unnamed source contradicts the CR language in black and white, and if this source was so close to the CR’s formulation, then why wasn’t he/she able to get the 70-ton provision from the authorization act reflected in the CR? Did this individual lose the debate, and they’re trying to get a new interpretation of the CR accepted after the fact? Or were they actually well-removed from the CR’s drafting, and their statement merely reflects their hopes and wishes, not any actual insider knowledge? Either way, the unnamed source is not a reliable narrator.

    “If they are so unreliable why does this site (who you claim to respect – “I respect the even-handed reporting (or blogging) here”) call them ‘a congressional source familiar with the formulation of the legislation’?”

    Because the unnamed source claimed to be such.

    Duh…

    “Shouldn’t they be disparaging them as you do?”

    No, they shouldn’t. A good reporter doesn’t disparage a quote or a source, no matter how stupid they think the statement may or may not be.

    As I already stated, the blog entries here are even-handed, and the site is simply passing along a statement. It’s up to us to apply some brainpower and think through the information.

    “I will move on to other subjects now, you keep playing the ‘he who post last wins game’.”

    Since when is it wrong for a poster to reply to a post directed at them?

    If you don’t like what other posters have to say about your posts, then don’t post in the first place.

    “Keep digging that hole deeper.”

    I’m not the poster who made a false statement about legislation, tried to cover for that misstatement by relying on an unnamed source, and then blamed the site when explained to why the unnamed source was unreliable. That’s you, not me.

    Sigh…

  • “Due to the last instant move, most people didn’t know it had been added. Even if someone who cared about the issue noticed it, they couldn’t have stopped that big a bill at the last instant and wouldn’t have tried because the main bill was considered to be far too important to the nation.”

    Your assertions raises some questions. There actually were 2 Shelby provisions. One was signed into law on Dec 16, 2009, as part of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill (HR2847):

    “Provided, That notwithstanding section 505 of this Act, none of the funds
    provided herein and from prior years that remain available for obligation during fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program nor shall such funds be available to create or initiate a new program, project or activity, unless such program termination, elimination, creation, or initiation is provided in subsequent appropriations Acts.

    According to accompanying report language, the provision was included because Congress is awaiting a decision from the White House about its plans for Project Constellation and Congress wants time to consider the decision before approving any changes to the course that Congress already has approved and funded for several years.”

    In addition, on May 13, 2010 Senator Shelby co-sponsored a provision, together Senator Bennett of Utah, that was added to the Fiscal 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill:

    “Provided further, That notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, funds made available for Constellation in Fiscal Year 2010 for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration” and from previous appropriations for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration” shall be available to fund continued performance of Constellation contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may not be terminated for convenience by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Fiscal Year 2010.”

    This bill was not signed into law until August 9th, 2010. That was nearly 3 months later. If, in fact, there was any real opposition to this provision, they had plenty of time to act. Furthermore, there has been more than ample time to repeal these provisions, if there had ever been any credible opposition.

    A somewhat surrealistic picture that you paint, but I suppose that we all take a certain amount of artistic licence.

  • Any my sincere apologies for my surreal spelling and occasional attrotious lapses of grammar!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

  • Dennis Berube

    It does appear Orion will survive all of this. It is still up in the air as to how she will be launched. Where money wasnt extended to ATK, this time around, one wonders which way NASA will go. If ATK was selected, I would have thought they would have continued to acquire money. Time will tell.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    “Charlie has the power, the money, and command of NASA…”

    http://www.spacenews.com/policy/100205-obama-game-changing-nasaplan.html

    that article is over a year old. Much has changed…Cx is now dead. By the end of summer nothing of it or the shuttle will be left.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 21st, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Vadislaw: there is no support as yet on The Hill for that course of action. In case you’ve forgotten, Congress has the final say….

    no they really dont. Watch as Charlie has the final say.

    I dont know which it is. Either the folks who are pushing a shuttle derived vehicle in the Congress are the dumbest people ever or they are just playing to really dumb people…

    Robert G. Oler

  • “Furthermore, there has been more than ample time to repeal these provisions, if there had ever been any credible opposition.”

    OK, I got the lead timeline of the addition wrong. It was still a short addition to an omnibus bill in both cases, that makes it still a “rider”. Just not a last minute one. Again, it wasn’t considered important enough to interfere with the passage of the major bill. Seems I got some of my info from an unreliable source the same as you have a much greater number of times.

  • Martijn Meijering

    To your limited understanding, what is “unreasonable” can in fact be necessary for real NASA missions.

    Not it cannot. By reasonable I meant without imposing arbitrary constraints such as “payload shall be launched with all propellant on board”, “spacecraft shall be wider than 8m”, “habitats shall not use inflatable technology” etc which are just thinly veiled obstacles to using anything but an HLV.

    I’m pretty sure you cannot name a single payload that cannot be replaced by one that can be launched on multiple smaller launchers.

    Perhaps you need to talk to Musk about scrapping his plans for the Falcon Heavy.

    If he’s spending his own money or competing fairly for NASA business then he should be free to do whatever he wants. I don’t care about the large payloads, but if he can achieve the prices he is talking about then that would be a breakthrough. I’m skeptical, but time will tell.

  • Rick:

    At times we are all guilty of embelleshment to tell a good story. With so many details, it is impossible to have a firm grasp on everything, so we interpolate, filling in the gaps with our semi-reasonable assumptions, which have an amazingly good batting average, but once in a while reality trips us up…

  • “By the end of summer nothing of Cx or the shuttle will be left.”

    In the immportal words of Charlie Bolden, ” Ain’t going to happen”

  • “It’s one thing to be ignorant about NASA Administrators, but to call Bolden a traitor stoops really low. And what “enemy force” is he collaborating with?”

    True. I was being figurative. Not a nice thing to say, but the term leaped from my fingers onto the keyboard before I could catch it. Sorry, I will try to show more restraint. I was trying to get a message across, to help others to begin to see that maybe there is something wrong with this picture…

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Any my sincere apologies for my surreal spelling and occasional attrotious lapses of grammar!

    Even the lack of attention to spelling and grammar in your half-hearted apology just reinforces the perception (and many times reality) that facts are not important to you, nor that you care if you get the facts wrong.

    Maybe you should change your writing philosophy from quantity to quality…

  • pathfinder_01

    “The Shuttle program was most likely an anomaly, or the result of undue influence. Considering the political influence we have on the SLS, that would not have been surprising…”

    No I there was a MIT(I think Aircraft Systems Engineering, Fall 2005) class that is found on you tube on the shuttle’s history. The lectures were done by some of the people who worked in the program. Basically the shuttles main engines are a miracle in a sense. They are the most fuel efficient chemical engines ever built(ISP). However ISP and thrust are rather opposites. High ISP usually means low thrust. The low thrust of the shuttle main engines requires another source of thrust to get off the pad…the SRB. Almost any rocket that uses the SSME will need boosters due to the low thrust.

    The RS-68 is Delta’s engine and it is loosely based on the SSME(RS-25). It trades some ISP to get greater thrust and is cheaper than the SSME. One of the big issues with shuttle derived is that you are using parts in a way that the designer’s did not consider(adding risk). In the case of the SSME, the shuttle’s main engine is the most expensive rocket engine in production. Which is ok if you are reusing it(they are reusable) but if you plan to throw it out on every launch like many Shuttle derived concepts this gets expensive.

    SRB’s were chosen becuase they are cheaper to develop and at high flight rate do not increase in price as much as liquid fueled rockets. The cheaper to develop part might have been helpful but the high flight rate part was a bad assumption. Remember this is when the shuttle would do twenty plus flights a year. At low flight rate(4-6 a year) the system is costly. In addition they thought they could make the SRB safe by adding systems to shut them down, but they soon found out that didn’t work.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    True. I was being figurative. Not a nice thing to say… I was trying to get a message across, to help others to begin to see that maybe there is something wrong with this picture…

    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I think there are less rude ways of saying you disagree with someone than calling them a traitor.

    And I applaud your desire to use more descriptive words, but you clearly shouldn’t rely on your memory for what they mean.

    It’s like if I called you an idiot (someone lacking intelligence or common sense), when I really meant to call you ignorant (lacking knowledge or awareness in general). There is a difference.

  • “SRB’s were chosen becuase they are cheaper to develop and at high flight rate do not increase in price as much as liquid fueled rockets.”

    Another major factor was that the SRBs, with very heavy external casings and absolutely no internal plumbing such as delicate turbopumps, are much easier to reuse. They are so indistructible that when Challenger orbiter and ET disintegrated from aerodynamic forces, the two SRBs continued onward and upward as if nothing had happened.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Another major factor was that the SRBs, with very heavy external casings and absolutely no internal plumbing such as delicate turbopumps, are much easier to reuse. They are so indistructible that when Challenger orbiter and ET disintegrated from aerodynamic forces, the two SRBs continued onward and upward as if nothing had happened.”

    Only one survived Challenger the one that was not affected and it didn’t continue upward it circled round and round confused by the loss of the rest of the stack till ground control destroyed it.

    Also in terms of reuse no other rocket even trys to reuse them. Not worth the effort since basically they are not much more than a solid steal tube. It is at best a wash wither reusing the SRB and those solid steal casings are no longer state of the art. The shuttle could get better performance from composite cases and they are not indestructible. The recovery system can and does fail at times causing damage.

  • An interesting interview with Wayne Hale, who was shuttle program manager, and now works in commercial space, as well as Alan Stern.

    Some of Wayne’s comments:
    Most advocates of fuel depots do not understand orbital mechanics.
    It would impose major limitations on use and launch windows.
    HLVs have a significant number of technical advantages but medium lift spacecraft have cost advantages.
    Forget about a reusable spacecraft unless you have a flight rate. It will be too expensive if you do not fly it more than 10 times per year.
    He does not see any solution for TPS challenges such as on the shuttle.
    There tend to be some very competent congressional staffers.

    http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=1544

  • common sense

    Just to add to the fun here.

    Orion is dead, a little less dead than Ares but dead nonetheless…

    SLS son of Ares is dead, very dead, like not alive.

    How about sidemount??? Hmm let’s see. Seidemount is dead because it was the cousin of SLS and the gene pool ain’t no good either.

    Dead, dead dead, dead dead dead.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Another major factor was that the SRBs, with very heavy external casings and absolutely no internal plumbing such as delicate turbopumps, are much easier to reuse.

    But are they economical to reuse? Any studies that you know of that show reusing SRB casings is cost effective?

    Just because we have been doing something for 30 years doesn’t mean that it is the best or least costly way to do it going forward. You have to remember that the Shuttle program was is ended, so there has been no need to do economic evaluations of the program costs. Because of that, no one really knows whether using Shuttle-derived components & systems are a good thing or bad.

    However if you compare the costs of putting mass into space, or the potential costs of carrying crew to space, none of the current or proposed commercial solutions come anywhere near the cost of even one Shuttle flight (~$1.5B). So from a $/lb or $/seat standpoint, why would anyone want to use Shuttle legacy systems?

    “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not an valid excuse for wasting U.S. Taxpayer money.

  • “Where money wasnt extended to ATK, this time around, one wonders which way NASA will go.”

    It looks like the ATK SRBs will be incorporated into the HLV.

    And in the radio interview I linked to, above, Wayne Hale suggested that the HLV would probably fly about 4 times per year. (Exactly my wild guess in this case, although I am often somewhat off.)

  • In the opinion of most of us here, Bolden is anything but a quisling. He is trying to do what is best for his country’s future as a leader in spaceflight instead of having a misplaced loyalty to a way of doing things whose time has past. Getting NASA to go in a more effective direction is not a betraying of NASA, it is making it relevant to the the 21st century and could actually bring back its glory days. It’s time to lay the groundwork for BOTH putting the maximum number of Americans into orbit and moving Americans out into the solar system. Using a super launcher to do the latter is so 1960s and will give us the least amount of human exploration for the buck.

  • Byeman

    “I was trying to get a message across, to help others to begin to see that maybe there is something wrong with this picture…”

    It is the person behind the keyboard make idiotic statements that is the issue

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris, I’ll try and get you the link. I saw it via NASA.gov’s link to their youtube channel. Try typing in on their multimedia section “space summit” and see what comes up: it was in the exploration panel of that event.

    Ed wasn’t specific on the HLV, only that one is needed, so that some BEO exploration can get done by the end of the decade. He left specifics to NASA and industry (and left unsaid, congress-because I think he knew that Congress would get involved, given the acrimony that developed after that FY 11 rollout….). It’s been a while since I saw the presentation, and he indicates a preference for a lunar orbit as the initial BEO mission, though he’d also like a GEO mission as well-but lunar orbit satisfies not just NASA, but the political side as well-it shows, in his words, “that we can return to the moon whenever we feel like it.”

    Would you agree that the members of the committee were surprised, as Norm Augustine himself was, with all the vitriol that came out after that botched rollout? Leroy Chao, a former astronaut and committee member, was very surprised at the heat directed their way with CxP’s cancellation, reliance on commercial space, and deferring lunar return. One got the impression that the committee members were not anticipating the reaction they wound up getting.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m pretty sure you cannot name a single payload that cannot be replaced by one that can be launched on multiple smaller launchers.

    … crickets …

  • Matt, even if some sort of HLV is useful, it doesn’t mean a SUPER BIG HONKING 130mt one is. Even Bigelow’s proposed super space station module only requires a 70mt launcher. And even then it doesn’t require a shuttle derived vehicle that would be subject to the “whittle knife” effect as outlined here.
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-06-13/news/os-mike-thomas-elon-musk-061310-20100613_1_spacex-falcon-nasa

  • Martijn Meijering

    Most advocates of fuel depots do not understand orbital mechanics.

    Possibly, since not many people understand anything about orbital mechanics and orbital mechanics is too complicated a subject for anyone to understand fully.

    It would impose major limitations on use and launch windows.

    Absolute baloney and unworthy of someone like Wayne Hale.

    He is probably thinking about depots in LEO that serve to refuel missions that depart straight for interplanetary destinations instead of using L1/L2 as a staging point but that is black aluminium thinking of the kind popular with SDLV advocates. It is a total strawman. Use of Lagrange points is vastly superior for many reasons and Hale must be familiar with many studies that show why.

    It is also good to bear in mind that many of the limitations that apply to this black aluminium strawman also apply to EOR in LEO as HLV proponents tend to propose.

    HLVs have a significant number of technical advantages but medium lift spacecraft have cost advantages.

    HLVs have hardly any technical advantages. They only have clear advantages compared to silly strawmen. I suppose Hale means medium lift launch vehicles, not spacecraft. They do have definite cost advantages over HLVs, mainly because they can achieve higher flight rates than the latter. It’s not so much size in itself that matters, just that it is much easier to get high flight rates out of them.

    And the real issue (ignored by Hale and ignored until very recently by the likes of Paul Spudis, who cannot have been ignorant of the argument) is reusability, not size. And that requires high flight rates, very high flight rates (50 flights a year each for 2-3 competing RLVs). That could lead to a major breakthrough, not mere cost advantages.

    Forget about a reusable spacecraft unless you have a flight rate. It will be too expensive if you do not fly it more than 10 times per year.

    With a reusable spacecraft propellant launches would be the major cost driver for mission costs, unlike now where hardware construction dominates. Once propellant launches dominate, we’ll have the volume to fund RLVs commercially and once they are operational we’ll be able to slash launch prices and thus mission costs.

    The guy simply doesn’t get it. There can be little doubt about the man’s technical credentials, but he is stuck in the Soviet-style thinking that has dominated the space program since Apollo. What we need is a breakthrough in economics, not a breakthrough in technology.

    Compare this to the telecommunications industry. Breaking up phone monopolies around the world was not enabled by new technology, it’s breaking up the phone monopolies that allowed market forces to direct technical developments, which is what led to the revolution in services we’ve seen since.

    He does not see any solution for TPS challenges such as on the shuttle.

    Then he must not have been looking or perhaps he is the wrong person to listen to since others certainly have seen such solutions.

    Even Shuttle-style TPS would not be at risk from debris strikes on a spacecraft that rides atop its launcher, like Dream Chaser. It might not need waterproofing and rewaterproofing on a small spacecraft like Dream Chaser that can be protected from the elements. A spacecraft like Dream Chaser would also have a much smaller area that is covered in tiles for the same number of passengers.

    All of this knowledge can be found in NASA studies for HL-20, and Hale cannot be ignorant of that.

    Lots of work has also been done on more advanced replacements for the Shuttle TPS. Gary Hudson has been promoting very promising solutions with transpiration cooling, something which would have the fascinating capability to “dial a yield”, depending on the application (LEO, cis-lunar, hyperbolic).

    There tend to be some very competent congressional staffers.

    Good at bringing home the pork, certainly.

    It’s a good thing Hale has retired from the space program. Now if only he would 1) get a clue or 2) would stop writing about things he doesn’t understand like economic development of space. Or if everybody stopped listening to him.

    I’m reminded of an alleged Chinese proverb:

    Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – was it during the April 15th event, when Obama was at the Cape, last year? Because if so, I did see it, but I’ll go back and look at it

    he’d also like a GEO mission as well-but lunar orbit satisfies not just NASA, but the political side as well-it shows, in his words, “that we can return to the moon whenever we feel like it.”

    The problem is that the political side (most of it) isn’t worried about going to the moon – they are worried about contracts and whose working those contracts (and using the “where are we going” as a shield)

    Would you agree that the members of the committee were surprised, as Norm Augustine himself was, with all the vitriol that came out after that botched rollout?

    Well, sorta – I would argue that vitriol was directed their way with the initial release of the Augustine report, and that it intensified after the release of the budget.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: yes, it was. After POTUS’ speech, there were several panel discussions-Ed’s was in the exploration group, and he was first right off. You might want to take another look.

    One must please the politicans if one wants them to write the checks. You know that as well as I do. Ed may have been trying to satisfy the critics (Congressional and otherwise) by mentioning destinations and tentative mission dates (i.e. boots on the lunar surface by late 2020s, for example). He may have gotten a wake-up call with the angry reaction to FY 11, and had to respond to that in a way that would at least satisfy critics of that botched rollout that yes, we are going places under this, we will have boots on the ground, and sooner under this new approach than under Constellation. It sold me, and I was a CxP supporter.

    Augustine’s final report mentions Heavy-Lift, and their recommendation was an “Ares V lite”-because I think (and it’s just my opinion) that they were anticipating that their recommendations would meet a lot of resistance on The Hill (after all, CxP spent $9 Billion on the effort), and they were looking at a way so that some of that effort wouldn’t have been wasted-the commiteee may have been looking ahead to after their report’s release and the reaction to it.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt,

    Augustine’s final report mentions Heavy-Lift, and their recommendation was an “Ares V lite”-because I think (and it’s just my opinion) that they were anticipating that their recommendations would meet a lot of resistance on The Hill (after all, CxP spent $9 Billion on the effort), and they were looking at a way so that some of that effort wouldn’t have been wasted-the commiteee may have been looking ahead to after their report’s release and the reaction to it.

    No, that wasn’t their recommendation – in their charter, they were experessly forbidden from making recommendations

    They did say that Heavy-Lift was necessarily, but they laid out 3 options for heavy lift, and commented on positives & negatives for each – Ares V-lite, Direct, and Commercially Derived (IE EELV derived – which is what Obama chose)

    They also said that propellant depoting had some HUGE implications, and it needed to be included in tech development, and also planning development.

    As for Dr. Crawley using dates & missions to silence critics – that may have silenced some of the space advocate critics, but it was NOT going to silence the congressional critics (at least most of them) because they aren’t interested in missions & dates – they are interested in contracts & where the money is going to be spent.

  • Matt Wiser

    Depots certainly need to be investigated, evaluated, and proven not only viable, but safe. But don’t bet the farm on ‘em. Are they an option for later? Certainly-it does give options to the commercial sector to support exploration, but don’t wait on the concept. As Crawley said: build the rocket and the crew vehicle (maybe with a hab module for long duration flights, such as to an NEO or to L-Points if you’re planning on staying a while) and get some exploration done by the early 2020s. Then start work on lunar lander, surface systems, etc. so that by the late 2020s, that stuff is ready.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – But then we shouldn’t be betting the farm on Super-HLVs either. We certainly shouldn’t be putting the entire budget into a Super-HLV that isn’t cheap.

    And how & why do you think it’ll take depots longer than it’ll take to develop & deploy an HLV?

    Finally, and this is the most important question, which you do need to answer – How big a rocket do you need to do a GEO mission, a lunar pass, a lagrange point, and a lunar orbit? Because these numbers are very important, and I am 90% certain we don’t need to wait for any Super-HLV, or even depots.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Depots certainly need to be investigated, evaluated, and proven not only viable, but safe. But don’t bet the farm on ‘em. Are they an option for later? Certainly-it does give options to the commercial sector to support exploration, but don’t wait on the concept.

    Propellant transfer is a proven technology and you know it. Why do you keep bring up this red herring? Doing exploration with EELVs and storable propellant transfer is less risky than building an SLS and much faster too.

    As Crawley said: build the rocket and the crew vehicle (maybe with a hab module for long duration flights, such as to an NEO or to L-Points if you’re planning on staying a while) and get some exploration done by the early 2020s.

    The new rocket isn’t necessary for that. Start with the lander and we could have both commercial propellant flights by 2015 and lunar missions by 2020.

    But it looks as if your goal isn’t reduction of risk, early exploration or early propellant flights, but funding for SLS + MPCV. The arguments you put forward argue against them, not in favour of them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Because these numbers are very important, and I am 90% certain we don’t need to wait for any Super-HLV, or even depots.

    Which 10% are you uncertain about? The calculations are fairly simple and the necessary numbers (Isp for existing engines, delta-v, mass fractions of upper stages and spacecraft, dry mass of payloads, throw weight and fairing sizes of EELVs) are publicly available.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Martijn – Cause I haven’t actually run the numbers myself, nor looked at someone elses numbers. I suspect it wouldn’t be too difficult to find papers & the like, but I haven’t really invested time into it, to actually SEE the equations. If you’ve got one, I’d gladly take it.

    Until I do that, I don’t wanna claim absolute certainty.

  • Matt Wiser

    Martin: there are two reasons for putting forward Heavy-Lift: the first is that Augustine (even though I disagree with some of what they said) stated that heavy-lift is something we’ll need. If you want to lift heavy stuff into orbit or beyond, existing rockets just won’t cut it. Even Charlie Bolden in that piece of crap rolled out on 1 Feb 2010 stated that heavy lift was essential: he just wanted to defer a decision until investigating what could be used-instead of taking legacy hardware and using that. Norm Augustine, Ed Crawley, Leroy Chao, and others have said that HLV is almost mandatory: the only question is how big, and when to start work. Congress got involved, as is their perogrative, and said “Get started NOW.” Not in five years, NOW.

    Second: political, and I’m not talking pork. In case you haven’t noticed, Congress writes the checks. Unless you can convince Congress that “alternative X” is a “faster, better, cheaper” (three words I hope NASA never again is associated with…) you will not get funding. If HLV isn’t as “essential”, why is Mr. Musk getting ready to build one, hmm? Now, if he offers to sell NASA his vehicle-which WOULD be politically possible, that’s one way. But one must get the Congresscritters involved, and none of the influential members on the appropriate commitees are on record as saying “We don’t need heavy lift.” Keep in mind that there’s a difference in what you want to do and what Congress will allow you to do. Charlie Bolden, Lori Garver, and Dr. Holdren found that out the hard way when their cherished FY 11 proposal was shot down in flames.

    It’s not a red herrring. A small scale use of the concept is one thing. A big depot in LEO or at an L-point is something else entirely. Even NASA has said that there are questions that need to be answered before they’ll sign on to a depot. Propellant storage and transfer, whether or not EVA will be needed, how a depot is restocked, and so on are all questions that need to be answered to NASA’s (and Congress’) satisfaction. Until somebody does a technology demonstrator in orbit (Not ISS, mind you), the concept of a depot will be considered “unproven.” Once it’s demonstrated as safe, reliable, and maintainable, all bets are off.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: Do you have any links to where such info about EELVs for GEO, L-Points, or Lunar Orbit may be found? Professor Crawley (he is a MIT professor, after all) was on record at that Space Summit last year as saying HLV would be needed for those flights.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Let me offer 2 points, and then a presentation, and why I suspect the numbers would work out

    Point 1 – it is pretty well established that a Delta IV Heavy could put something like Orion & a BEO Dragon into LEO.

    Point 2 – Building an EDS stage that can fit on-board a Delta IV Heavy would give you more thrust than the Orion Service module. How much is open for debate, but it should give you quite a bit. And we’ve already used Centaur as an EDS for Probes, so there might be some very interesting commonalities so you don’t need an EDS that is too big

    Presentation – Exploration Beyond LEO Subgroup Briefing and Deliberations – please see slides 69-72, with special attention to slide 70.

    On slide 70, you’ll notice that the lift capacity for “Minimum Capabilities (which they mention as Lunar flyby) is one Ares I, and one Delta IV Heavy – we can easily substitute a Delta IV Heavy for the Ares I, and thus we are talking 2 Delta IV Heavy Launches. Also, slide 70 under the Near Earth part, which are 21 day missions beyond LEO (and include Earth-moon lagrange points) they show 2 Delta IV Heavies and an Ares I (again, replace the Ares I with a Delta IV Heavy, and thus we are really looking at 3 Delta IV Heavys). Its not until the 3 mission that we talk about an HLV on the scale of the Ares V, which are 30-90 day missions. And, if you fold in tech developmental work, there is no reason to not consider something that would reduce your launch needs when you get to the 3rd level, which is the 30-90 days (things like depots, or advanced in-space propulsion, whatever)

    BTW, that presentation was give to the Augustine Committee, by Professor Ed Crawley of MIT. (You can still watch him give it – I found the talk about that slide the most interesting, and it is in fact what lead me to see the beauty of the flexible path)

    This is why I say that we don’t need a Super-HLV to do early exploration missions. The important thing is to know not whether we are classifying a vehicle as an HLV, but actually what the required payload capacity is (because, if you compare, Delta IV Heavy should be considered an HLV vehicle, where as Saturn V & Ares V are Super-HLVs). Additionally, as I’ve said elsewhere, the type of Super-HLV is important – commercially derived Super-HLVs (such as Atlas V Phase 2) that are built around clustering existing rockets I have much less of a problem with because they are the least expensive, and need the least of amount of specialized systems. These are all major points, and I submit that the evidence is in my favor (and that Dr. Crawley would agree with me)

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Matt:

    Lots of people have said an HLV is necessary, but they say that out of political concerns, not technical ones. A simple rocket equation level analysis shows you why it isn’t needed – by a mile. It’s only when you start to add artificial constraints (spacecraft shall be wider than 8m, spacecraft shall not be launched dry, no “excessive” number of commercial launches, mission shall depart from LEO straight to an interplanetary destination without stopping and refueling at L1/L2, all assembly must be done in LEO, not at L1/L2, no propellant transfer shall be used) that an HLV becomes necessary. It’s a racket.

    An HLV specifically isn’t what’s necessary politically, pork is. And just because politicians favour something not everybody likes, that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. People criticise politicians all the time, as they should.

    As for propellant transfer: the uncertainties are only related to use of cryogens, especially LH2 and even then it’s mostly about how long it will take and how much it will cost to develop, not whether it is possible, desirable or whether it will happen eventually. The only argument against relying on use of depots is that it would lead to delays and even that is something we could choose to accept.

    But it isn’t necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater, since storable propellant transfer has none of the uncertainties and gives you most (not all) of the advantages of cryogenic depots, specifically the ability to do exploration with existing rockets sooner than with an HLV and the ability to create a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market.

    Storable propellant transfer has been used ever since Salyut 6 in 1978 and is used on the ISS today as I’ve reminded you several times now. That’s not experimental technology. Sure, it would have to be scaled up, just as Altair would have been vastly scaled up compared to the Apollo LM. A storable deep space transfer stage could still be smaller than a Titan second or first stage. And once at a Lagrange point, that gives you an enormous throw weight. It’s called a high energy orbit for a reason.

    Again a simple rocket equation level analysis shows you this doesn’t lead to unreasonable increases in IMLEO, especially since it could 1) slash launch prices, 2) make launch prices the main driver for mission costs and thus lead to cheaper missions soon which influences what is reasonable and what isn’t. Cost is what counts, not IMLEO. Roughly speaking cost would equal IMLEO times specific launch price and if the former increased less than the latter decreased we’d still come out ahead. And IMLEO might increase by a factor of 2 at worst, while specific launch price might drop by a factor of ten.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Ferris: Do you have any links to where such info about EELVs for GEO, L-Points, or Lunar Orbit may be found?

    I’m not Ferris, but I do have a bunch of links and a huge spreadsheet full of calculations. I’ll give some numbers later, but I think you’ll find it more convincing if you do the calculations yourself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-v_budget
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_equation
    http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/library.html – Ed Kyle’s treasure trove of launch vehicle information
    http://flight-dynamics.esa.int/MA_Workshop_2007_Presentations/LP5_Trajectories_to_from_the_Earth_Moon_Lagrangian_Points_L1_and_L2_for_the_Human_Exploration_of_the_Moon.pdf – describes 3.2km/s trajectories to L1/L2 that would be suitable for cargo and propellant, but not for crew

    Based on this information you can find how much an EELV can lift to LEO and how much a Centaur or DCSS can transport from there to L1/L2. Once you’re at L1/L2 you can use storable propellant to your heart’s content without incurring excessive performance penalties. It is such a strategic location that you can reasonably reach all destinations in cis-lunar space and beyond – except LEO – by storable propulsion. That one exception can be dealt with by use of existing EELV cryogenic upper stages.

    The two choke points are Earth to LEO and LEO to L1/L2. The former a trivial problem once you offload the propellant and the latter is a bit on the tight side for large space station modules, but more than good enough. A DCSS could even get Orion to L1/L2 and a smaller capsule would have no problems at all.

  • @Mat Wiser
    “Do you have any links to where such info about EELVs for GEO, L-Points, or Lunar Orbit may be found?”

    If you don’t mind me answering the question, here is a technical paper from ULA on the subject:
    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

  • Matt Wiser

    Interesting reading, fellows: Thanks for the links, and they will get some attention.

    There’s still a big problem: convincing Congress that it can be done without a HLV in the short-to medium term. Long-term, HLV will come about. Political reasons, for one thing (have to keep those who were working on Heavy-Lift employed), and second, there will be big payloads coming down the pipe that will have to be launched. Whether they’re national security payloads (read: spy satellites), DOD communications satellites, large planetary probes (you could launch several at the same target-if that’s possible), and big things like TPF, Mars habitats to send on ahead, lunar support, and so on. Again, there’s a difference in what you’d like to do and what the politicos will let you do. Now, if Mr. Musk builds a HLV and offers to sell examples to NASA, well and good. Because Congress appears dead-set on maintaining a government launch capabilty instead of relying exclusively on the private sector. The latter course of action is not politically feasable at the present time. It may later, it may not.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt,

    A few things

    First, it has to be more clearly defined than “we need an HLV”, because, as I’ve said, there is the issue of what is the actual lift capacity (and, as I’ve said, we have HLVs, in the form of Delta IV Heavy – we lack Super-HLV, ala Saturn V)

    Second

    Now, if Mr. Musk builds a HLV and offers to sell examples to NASA, well and good. Because Congress appears dead-set on maintaining a government launch capabilty instead of relying exclusively on the private sector.

    Those two sentences are fundamentally at odds with each other. If its a government launch capablity, that you can’t buy on the private sector, than SpaceX or ULA doesn’t qualify. By default. Only thing that qualifies is a brand new vehicle or Shuttle based system

    Third – the point under debate is the type of Super-HLV – does it have to be based around the existing Shuttle hardware infrastructure, or can it be based around other existing hardware, ie EELV? What exact level of tonnage do we need? 70 tonnes? 100? 130? 200? Does it need to be done under cost-plus, or can we do it under fixed price? Should it be used to sustain other needs, or should it be designed around the idea that other systems will help offset its costs? And ultimately, how much do we have to spend on a Super-HLV system?

    So its not about do we need a Super-HLV or not, even with regards to exploration or congress? Because there are options that allow for growth, that stay within budget, that allow us to do exploration, and even move the ball down the field ala Super-HLVs

    The question is, can we consider options like that, because it will result in some political & financial losers? Things like starting exploration before we jump into doing an HLV, and doing a commercial developed HLV based around non-Shuttle components, other tech development work, and of course commercial crew would allow us to explore sooner rather than later.

    That is why I say its not about dates and destinations for congressional people – its about contracts and whose building the vehicles

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Political reasons, for one thing (have to keep those who were working on Heavy-Lift employed)

    That is the only reason, because:

    and second, there will be big payloads coming down the pipe that will have to be launched.

    There are NO funded programs that will use the SLS. Which means that the SLS will sit around doing NOTHING, except generating more revenue for USA (Boeing & LM) and residual revenue for ATK.

    Whether they’re national security payloads (read: spy satellites), DOD communications satellites…

    The DOD is not going to use NASA. They tried that with the Shuttle, and all that proved was that NASA run systems are not reliable enough. Besides the DoD & NRO are more likely to move to the Falcon Heavy in order to save money, and that has plenty of growth potential for them to use. NASA would have to sell flights at a loss in order to compete with both Delta IV and Falcon Heavy, and that won’t happen.

    large planetary probes (you could launch several at the same target-if that’s possible)

    Sure it’s possible, but it won’t happen either because there are no “large” planetary probes that Congress is funding – that’s part of the “NO funded programs” statement above. Besides, ULA and SpaceX are both listed on the NLS II contract for such things, and at far lower prices.

    and big things like TPF, Mars habitats to send on ahead, lunar support, and so on.

    I don’t know what “TPF” is, but everything you mentioned is NOT funded, and by the time they can build it, the SLS will have been sitting around for YEARS. How does that make sense?

    You see the theme here Matt? Why do you defend the waste of so much taxpayer money? Why do you accept that just because a minority in Congress have pushed through legislation that benefits their constituents, that it makes sense for the whole nation? Minor agencies like NASA are not debated on the floor Congress like major departments are, they are controlled by a few powerful members of Congress, who quite often treat it as their own private fiefdoms. Think about the needs of the nation, not the needs of the politicians.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron, it’s also known as political reality. Right now, the politics in Congress dictate a NASA owned HLV. Charlie Bolden brought this upon himself when that botched FY 11 budget rolled out, and he deferred HLV for five years in that, and he got a very hostile reaction in Congress. The congresscritters’ opinions who matter are the ones who run the Science and Technology committees, as well as Appropriations. Now, if-and I do mean IF, Musk and some of the other Commercial Space people go to the Hill (as Chairman Hall of HSTC says he wants them to), and say “We can build a HLV cheaper than SLS, get it flying sooner, and here’s what we can do with it, maybe they’ll change some minds. Remember, Ron, there’s a difference in what you want to do, and what the politicans will allow you to do-why is that so hard to comprehend? I understand what you’re saying, and reasonable people can disagree, as Bolden said before Neil and Gene testified. Should the exploration archicture be affordable and sustainable? Of course. Now, if Martin’s right, a depot helps in a big way-but it needs to be flight-tested first. Not like on ISS, but get a technology demonstrator in orbit and use it. But if it doesn’t pan out, you need a backup plan, and that means heavy-lift.

    Sooner or later, you will have payloads that are heavy, or are massive, that need to be lifted into LEO or beyond, and an existing rocket (or even Falcon 9 Heavy) may not be able to do the job. It’ll take 5-7 years to develop a HLV once the go decision is made. And I’m not talking about a scaled-up version of an EELV as Ferris is hinting at: you’ll need a shuttle-derived vehicle, or something new altogether. Why not use legacy hardware to get things rolling now? If Doug Cook (head of ESMD), Professor Crawley and several others on Augustine-including Norm Augustine himself, and even Bolden all agree on HLV, go ahead and do it. Just decide on a system and stick to it. SLS, Direct, Ares V lite, Falcon 9 Heavy-or whatever. Build it, test it, fly it several times without crew, then stick a crew in an Orion and repeat Apollo 8. And go from there.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet, and I might as well now, since it has come up, is preserving the industrial base for SRBs and other potential components for Heavy-Lift. Once you give up a capability, it’s hard to reconstitute it. You run into this when suggestions for cuts in DOD are made: things like submarines, for example.

  • Matt Wiser

    Btw, TPF is the Terrestrial Planet Finder. Concept only so far (no thanks to Mike Griffin), but when-not if-it’s built, it would be several telescopes tied by datalink in solar orbit past Mars. Its objective would be to search for earthlike planets around nearby stars. Not like Kepler, which is searching past the immediate neighborhood.

    Commercial space has opportunities to support government space agencies, such as fuel depots (when such facilities become practical), resupply of lunar outposts, and so on, but it won’t be in the lead. That’s NASA’s (and by extension other participating government space agencies-ESA, JAXA, Canadian Space Agency, etc.) responsiblity. NASA does the hard stuff, commercial exploits when things shift from exploration to exploitation.

    Ron, a Nautilus-or something very much like it, will be useful for deep BEO (NEO, unless L-M’s PLYMOUTH ROCK-which I support-is flown; Mars flyby/orbit, etc.), but Orion/MPCV will be what takes us to lunar orbit, L-points, and is part of the lunar program when that becomes an action item again-and that will happen, especially if no NEO destination can be found before the 2025 deadline, though PLYMOUTH ROCK says one is possible. Do what Ed Crawley said last April: build a HLV and a crew capsule, and start going places. Get some basic exploration done and don’t wait until a depot comes along. Then develop the lunar lander in the early to mid 2020s so that in the late 2020s, we can use it. That’s what the near-to-mid term for BEO should be, IMHO. Long-term, that’s Mars (flyby, orbit/moons, and the big one: Mars proper)….

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt,

    You have to explain this statement

    And I’m not talking about a scaled-up version of an EELV as Ferris is hinting at: you’ll need a shuttle-derived vehicle, or something new altogether.

    Why? When I talk about Atlas V Phase 2, thats a 70 mT vehicle – capable of lifting more than Falcon Heavy, and equallying at of Direct’s Jupiter 130. And if you need something in the 130 mT class, there is Atlas V Phase 3 (and this doesn’t even consider the multi-core options).

    Why are you discounting EELV growth options as a technical solution? They can meet the payload numbers you are talking about, so why discount them so quickly?

  • Coastal Ron

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Why are you [Matt Wiser] discounting EELV growth options as a technical solution? They can meet the payload numbers you are talking about, so why discount them so quickly?

    All Matt knows is that the “Moon First” people have said that if we get SDLV’s we’ll go back to the Moon, and Matt only cares about going back to the Moon, not creating systems that can go ANYWHERE in an affordable fashion.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Ron, it’s also known as political reality. Right now, the politics in Congress dictate a NASA owned HLV.

    Sure, today. But then again you were saying the same thing about Constellation last year at this time, and we all know that Congress changed directions quickly and cancelled it.

    Congress agreed with President Obama that Constellation was not worth the money, and with all the budget issues this nation has, the SLS will in danger of changes to it’s funding as early as this next budget.

    You have to look at the directions all the different space-related issues are going. SLS is under funded, and that will start becoming very apparent when the GAO issues it’s first review of the program. In the meantime, commercial companies will continue to move forward much faster than any NASA programs for HSF, and that will reinforce the impression in Congress that commercial space is worthy of more funding.

    The other thing that will become readily apparent by next year is that there are no funded programs that will use the SLS, especially programs that can be ready by the 2016 date. Again, this will reinforce the perception within the non-space related member of Congress that the SLS is being pushed for no real need.

    And since NASA’s budget is very small, there won’t be enough space in the budget to add a big new funded program to use the SLS, and that’s when the house of cards will start to fall. It’s just a matter of time before the efforts of the few (SLS congressional promoters) come to the attention of the many (all of Congress), and the many agree with the President to either push out or cancel the SLS.

    So Matt, if the Tea Party has shown anything, is that nothing in Congress is sacred, and all programs are on the chopping block every year. And you don’t need to settle for something terrible when you can fight for something good. Come over to the good side Matt.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Get some basic exploration done and don’t wait until a depot comes along.

    Very well, you asked for it, and I’m going to have to call you on it: you are being dishonest. I’ve explained many times how you don’t need to wait for depots and can do exploration straight away without an HLV and you’ve been unable to refute the point. I pointed you to the information you need to do the calculations yourself. For all your superficially reasonable sounding arguments you are a dishonest shill and you deserve to be called on it.

  • Matt Wiser

    Good side?-We all have a passion here, and that is getting out of LEO. Sooner rather than later. Where we differ is in how. Personally, I prefer SLS with Orion, and have it start at 70 tons and scaled up to 130, as Charlie Bolden has said-which means he complies with the 2010 Authorization Act. Saying we won’t need Heavy-lift is very premature-it will be needed at some point, because there will be cargoes that will exceed capacity of EELVs or even Mr. Musk’s Falcon 9 Heavy, and Heavy-lift takes 5-7 years to develop-and they don’t grow on trees. When Doug Cook, Ed Crawley, and Norm Augustine say we need heavy lift down the line, I tend to agree with them.

    Martin: I am not a shill for ANYONE. FYI NASA this week issued RFPs for technology demonstrators for on-orbit refueling. Go here: http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/7329

    That article lists NASA’s requirements for the demonstrator, and the objectives NASA wants done. Assuming that the demonstrator works, and I’ve said it before, go ahead and do it. Just because I’m skeptical of the concept doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it. I want to see it demonstrated. Back in the day, if someone told me they had a seat that could be blown out of an airplane so the pilot could bail out, I would’ve told them: “Show me that it works and then I’ll support you and your work.” Same thing here. Why is it that skepticism about a depot-or commercial crew-is taken as outright hostiltity here? If it proves to work, go ahead and do it. Nothing worng with that. The sooner the commercial side gets the LEO ops up and running, the sooner NASA can go BEO. Said it before: commercial can support exploration, but BEO ops are NASA’s ball game, not commercial. They can support exploration with depots and with ISS support, but actual missions past LEO are NASA’s for the foreseeable future. Like Ed Crawley said: build the rocket, build the crew vehicle, and go. NOW. Have the design adaptable so that it can use a depot if/when that comes online, but get out of LEO at the earliest opportunity. Decide on how and when, and start getting things built, tested, and flown.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Saying we won’t need Heavy-lift is very premature-it will be needed at some point, because there will be cargoes that will exceed capacity of EELVs or even Mr. Musk’s Falcon 9 Heavy, and Heavy-lift takes 5-7 years to develop-and they don’t grow on trees.

    I think this is the root of the issue that most of us have. We do not say that HLV’s will never be needed, just that there is no need for them today.

    All you have to do to show that HLV’s are needed is show there is a funded progression of cargoes that can only fit on an HLV. But until that day comes, the SLS (or any HLV) is money being spent too early, which in the business world means it’s being wasted.

    They [commercial] can support exploration with depots and with ISS support, but actual missions past LEO are NASA’s for the foreseeable future.

    You’re still in government-only mode here. Look around you and see what the non-NASA world does, and you’ll realize that pretty soon the only thing holding back non-NASA groups from going BEO is an amount of money that is well below $1B, and likely less than $500M. That is well within the reach of coalitions that want to work together, such as SpaceX and Boeing, as well as countries that use our commercial space services.

    There is no barrier or law that prevents anyone from going BEO without NASA. The only limits exist in your mind.

    What is missing is the money to do it, which NASA doesn’t have either, but commercial companies, especially those with deep pockets, can amortize expenses out of a number of different business accounts (R&D, marketing, etc.), not unlike the companies that use auto racing as proving grounds for their commercial products.

    You have to adjust to the new paradigm Matt. Lower costs open up new possibilities, and in my experience, the government is the slowest to realize the new realities and take advantage of them.

    And the SLS may in fact end up being built, but it will only be used for NASA, and NASA won’t have enough budget left over from SLS sustaining costs to launch it very often. It will end up being a transportation system that was built too early, and built for the wrong need. However I think it’s lack of need will be realized soon, and it will be cancelled in two years. Then NASA can actually afford to do some exploration, and public/private partnerships will get us out of LEO for good.

    And on that I’ll bow out on this topic…

  • Coastal Ron

    Oops, spoke too soon.

    Just to provide some backup to what I just said, the next organization to leave LEO may be doing it on a Soyuz in 2015:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/rockets/just-one-150-million-seat-remains-on-space-adventures-lunar-flyby

    The Soyuz will be pretty cramped, but it shows that there is a market (at $150M/seat) for this type of adventure.

    Imagine the possibilities when Falcon Heavy comes online, and you can make the same trip in a Dragon for around $100M/seat for two people, possibly less. They could even beat the Russians if they wanted to, since Dragon could be human rated by that point, and Falcon Heavy will have launched at least once. Hmmm, the next space race?

    And look at the costs involved – $150M/seat on a Soyuz, likely $100M/seat on Falcon Heavy/Dragon (I can explain my math if you want), whereas for NASA to do the same thing it takes $20B for a mega launcher and $4B for a capsule.

    That’s the problem with what Congress is doing to NASA – they are forcing NASA to build old technology that costs far more that any other alternatives.

    OK, done (again)

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – please note that, before I begin, I don’t believe I’ve accused you of anything beyond not having yet answered my question, (of which we’ll come back to)

    But a few points

    Good side?-We all have a passion here, and that is getting out of LEO.

    No, we don’t. I don’t care about getting us out of LEO. What I care about, first and foremost, is getting us a spacefaring society (followed closely by going on an intersteller mission before I die – we’ll count the second as successful if I die enroute). At somepoint, that does mean we’ll have to go BEO, but that is not my driving interest – I wanna see 1,000 people on the moon, and hundreds of people on Mars, and I want it to happen now. And if I can’t have that, then I want every step we take in human spaceflight to be focused on getting that.

    Saying we won’t need Heavy-lift is very premature-it will be needed at some point, because there will be cargoes that will exceed capacity of EELVs or even Mr. Musk’s Falcon 9 Heavy, and Heavy-lift takes 5-7 years to develop-and they don’t grow on trees. When Doug Cook, Ed Crawley, and Norm Augustine say we need heavy lift down the line, I tend to agree with them.

    This presupposes that our only options are SDLV, or some sort of modernized Saturn V. Again, why are you not willing to consider the EELV growth option, like Atlas V Phase 2? None of them have said that Commercial based systems and EELV growth options cannot be considered because of technical reasons. So why are you not allowing them?

    Finally, one last thing – I tend to agree with Coastal Ron about the next BEO mission – it’ll be a Space Adventures Soyuz to the moon.

    I’ll offer ten bucks. Any takers?

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: I’ll believe that when I see it. In case you forgot: some time back you actually agreed that commercial does LEO and station support, while NASA does the exploration side, with commercial doing the exploitation when that time comes. What changed your mind? If, and I do mean IF, Rohrbacher had gotten the chair of House Science and Technology instead of Hall, your proposals would have more of a political chance (in the House, at least), but he didn’t.

    If this is a space tourism attempt, hey, all power to ‘em. And the Russians finally catch up to what we did back in ’68 with Apollo 8. But it may backfire on the “newspace” people, because there’s going to be political pressure to fly a NASA human BEO mission-and soon. Count on it.

    Said it before, but I”ll repeat: I do want the commercial sector to succeed: first with cargo to ISS, then crew, and space tourism. The more, the better. That frees up NASA to do the hard stuff, like return to the Moon, NEO, L-Points, Mars, etc. (which is what Professor Crawley said in his presentation, and Jeff Greason said in this youtube video-it outlines FlexPath:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMrfAtqTikg )

    The sooner a NASA BEO mission with humans is on the flight manifest, the better. We start getting some exploration done, even if it’s a lunar orbit or flyby. Get PLYMOUTH ROCK (L-M’s NEO proposal) done-if a destination can be ID’d by the 2025 deadline; and once that’s out of the way, get boots on the ground on the lunar surface. As Ed Crawley says in his presentation-do you want to tell the POTUS in the early 2030s that “We’re ready for Mars” and have no planetary surface experience? Or conversely, no deep-space experience? You need both before a Mars landing. Just build the rocket, stick Orion on it, a hab module if it’s a long-duration mission (PLYMOUTH ROCK, long duration lunar orbit or L-Points), and go. Once the “how” has been decided, stick with it. Enough of this changing course with each new Administration-as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) said when Bolden testified before the Senate, and before Neil and Gene did in that second panel. Decide on the architecture, start cutting metal on hardware, and go. Get some basic exploration done by the early 2020s, decide on a lunar lander so that’s ready by the mid to late 2020s, and get boots on the ground. Get both deep space and planetary surface ops done in the space environment, and shoot for a Mars flyby, Mars orbit/moons-if you want to land on either one, then get the big prize-Mars itself. What’s wrong with that?

  • common sense

    @ Matt Wiser wrote @ April 27th, 2011 at 1:16 am

    “What’s wrong with that?”

    It is unaffordable, your timeline makes no sense and as you present it “boots on the ground” serve no purpose and provide no tangible return to the investment the US would have to make today.

    How’s that?

  • Martijn Meijering

    I am not a shill for ANYONE

    I was accusing you of shilling for SDLV. Shilling is not the same as advocating. It is advocating a preconceived conclusion while pretending to be led by disinterested, rational and transparent arguments.

    Just because I’m skeptical of the concept doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it.

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being skeptical about cryogenic depots, though you are clearly much more skeptical of them then I am. But that’s fine. My complaint is that I’ve shown you how we can do exploration straight away without depots and without HLVs, simply by using EELV upper stages and storable propellant transfer for the spacecraft. This would be faster and less risky than an HLV – and create a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market, something you say you support. It is simply untrue that an HLV is necessary and it is dishonest to keep implying or even stating it is – unless you can poke a hole in my argument, which you haven’t done so far.

  • Matt Wiser

    Untrue that HLV is necessary? Look at Ron’s post above. He admits that HLV will be needed. Just not now. I respectfully disagree. Norm Augustine, Ed Crawley, Charlie Bolden, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Gene Krantz, among others, have stated that HLV is necessary-all but the latter have said that in Congressional Hearings. Even the high and mighty Augustine Commission stated that Heavy-Lift is a must. Where Ron and I disagree is when. I say build it now, and payloads will follow-the old saying “build it and they will come.” He feels that waiting until the 2020s to do heavy-lift is preferred. However, that approach has zero support in Congress…..if you have a problem with that, write your congresscritter and try to get them to vote against heavy-lift.

    Healthy Skepticism is good, and wanting the various providers-and any other aerospace concept-to put action where their mouths are is a good idea. And no, I don’t have blind faith in NASA, but I do have healthy optimism: when they are properly funded and supported, they accomplish what they set out to do. IF Constellation had been properly funded from the get-go, instead of being gutted by 1/3 (no thanks to OMB), we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Do I have optimism that Boeing, Orbital, and yes, even Mr. Musk’s company, will succeed with Commercial Crew and Cargo services? Yes. The sooner we can stop paying the Russians, the better. Can commercial support exploration activities with a propellant depot (assuming the technology demonstrator that NASA has asked RFPs for is a success)? Certainly. But forget about commercial providers supplanting NASA BEO. It will be a partnership-and the level of balance between NASA (and other space agencies) and the private sector is still TBD. I’d still stick with Commercial LEO, NASA and other agencies handling BEO. For now. When the time comes for exploitation of resources (asteriods, lunar, etc.), that’s the private sector’s can of worms. But we’re a long way from that.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt,

    You still haven’t answered my question – Why are you discounting EELV growth options as HLV? Or multi-core EELV options?

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris: I am not discounting those. If Falcon 9 Heavy, or a similar system proves viable, use it. But right now, SLS has the political support, which is what counts right now. If you want NASA to use the system, try and convince both NASA and Congerss that such systems are the way to go. If DIRECT had been chosen instead of SLS, would we be having this discussion? Probably not, though there would be those screaming about “not using Constellation workforce and components,” and they would be hollering very loud. I’m just someone who wants to get out of LEO as quickly as possible: just build the rocket, crew vehicle, and any necessary hab module, and start going places. Decide on how we’re going to do this, start picking places to go, and get systems built, tested, and flown.

    Said it before and I’ll repeat: there’s a big difference in what you want to do and what the politicians will allow you to do. Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver (if not Dr. Holdren and the President) found that out the hard way last year.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Matt:

    You still haven’t answered my point. You keep attacking the uncertainties of cryogenic depots and relying on proof from authority for the alleged necessity of HLVs. The witnesses you cite want an HLV. I showed you one isn’t needed because EELVs, EELV upper stages as EDSs and storable propellant transfer for the spacecraft are enough. It’s quite simple to see they are. They’re totally mature technology too. You keep ignoring this fact. Your choice between HLVs or cryogenic depots is a false dichotomy. The approach I advocate would lead to exploration sooner than with an HLV. It is simply not true an HLV is the shortest way to do exploration.

  • Matt Wiser

    Then why are you against HLV at all? There will be payloads in due course that will be either too big in terms of size, or in terms of weight, for EELVs-not to mention an evolved EELV-Heavy, to lift. Not much that a depot can do in that regard….Did you check some of the above posts? Where I disagree with some people is WHEN we’ll need it, not IF. We’ll need it sooner or later-and I prefer sooner. And if that depot technology demonstrator doesn’t work, what then? No way would Congress approve funding for an operational depot if the proof-of-concept in orbit didn’t work out. Got an alternative handy?

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 28th, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    There will be payloads in due course that will be either too big in terms of size, or in terms of weight, for EELVs-not to mention an evolved EELV-Heavy, to lift.

    Fine then. At that point somewhere in the future where a program has been identified that requires individual space hardware elements that are larger in mass than 117,000 lbs, NASA can issue an RFP for moving whatever it is that’s needed, and award the winner of the competition a contract.

    The alternative is what those few in Congress want, which is to build an HLV and then let it sit on the ground waiting for a payload. Every day it’s not being used means that NASA is wasting money it could have used for exploration. And there is no telling when that mythical HLV-sized payloads will show up…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ferris: I am not discounting those. If Falcon 9 Heavy, or a similar system proves viable, use it. But right now, SLS has the political support, which is what counts right now.

    Matt, SLS is a program right now, not a rocket. NASA has 3 competing designs for it – Direct/Ares V-lite, what might be termed a modernized Saturn V, or an EELV-derived. EACH ONE OF THOSE CAN MEET THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE AUTHORIZATION LAW.

    Now, I will grant, SLS is moving towards the Senate Launch System (the DIRECT/Ares V-lite options), as opposed to Space Launch System, but we aren’t there yet. And so, I pose the question to you again – why are you discounting the possibility of a SLS system based around EELV evolution?

    Said it before and I’ll repeat: there’s a big differnce in what you want to do and what the politicians will allow you to do.

    I am fully aware of that. I want to see us become a spacefaring society, whereas mots of them are only interested in getting funding for specific campaign contributors. And if they won’t give me what I want, I wanna take away their toys.

  • Mike Griffin was guest on the “The Space Show” this week and I actually listened to all 2 hours of it last night and was impressed by Griffin’s philosophy, if not his humility. He does make a good argument for his 130T heavy lift, and did address many of the “hot button” issues, while not always conclusively (a he admits) he did give a clarity to each issue he answered.

    I came from it with a feeling that SpaceX is going to have a 70T lifter in a few years so there seems to be no point in NASA planning to build that. Which leaves NASA to produce a 130 or 150T heavy lift is the next most progressive step to take. The question is whether to include solid rocket boosters in that design, Bolden prefers a new engine with liquid fuels, and Congress prefers ATK’s SRBs and the jobs that vote.

    There lies the unsolved issue I came away with, not to build a heavy lift but which type of propellant and thus which type of engine?

    I’ll also add, I do not know Mr. Griffin except by reputation, nor have worked under any of his programs.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You still haven’t answered my point.

    .. crickets …

    Matt wrote:
    There will be payloads in due course that will be either too big in terms of size, or in terms of weight, for EELVs-not to mention an evolved EELV-Heavy, to lift.

    No there won’t be, unless the payload is designed specifically (i.e. wantonly) not to fit on an EELV and even that is very unlikely budget-wise. No near or medium term spacecraft will have a dry mass greater than or even close to 25mT or a diameter wider than 7.5m. The one flying spacecraft that fits that description (the Shuttle orbiter) is going away and the only other one that ever flew (Buran) never entered service.

    We’ll need it sooner or later-and I prefer sooner.

    No we won’t, but why do you prefer it sooner? Because you want an SDLV for its own sake?

    And if that depot technology demonstrator doesn’t work, what then?

    Storable propellant transfer.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ferris, at least you do recognize the limitations on NASA the politicos can (and do) impose. It’s not just NASA, but other agencies have the same problem. Again, if SLS doesn’t work out, then Falcon 9 heavy or a similar system can be used as a backup. But we’ll have a heavy-lift vehicle. As long as it meets the 2010 Authorization Act, I’m pleased. Personally, I’d rather see more of CxP’s work make it into space than just Orion (i.e. Ares V lite or DIRECT). A number of Congresscritters have made similar remarks: “We spent $9 Billion on this, and all we get is a capsule?” (Among these: Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Vitter, Sen. Hutchinson, Sen Sherwood Brown (D-OH), Sen. Mikulski-all have made such remarks in recent hearings, as well as last year) But as long as we get a HLV that meets the Act, I’m happy: build it, build Orion, build a hab module for long-duration flights (PLYMOUTH ROCK, L-Points, etc.) and start going places.

    Martin, aren’t you being presumptous? If someone comes up with a payload that needs a big booster to get into orbit, someone else will have to build a rocket to lift it. Something, like, oh, Mars habitats and other surface systems-if the mission concept involves sending equipment on ahead, support of a lunar base, and not if, but when it’s built, TPF (to give but three examples).

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martin, aren’t you being presumptous?

    How so?

    If someone comes up with a payload that needs a big booster to get into orbit, someone else will have to build a rocket to lift it

    No, it would be silly for someone to come up with a payload that is too big for existing launch vehicles. That’s one reason why companies that make the payloads (and their clients) choose not to make them larger than they are today. In fact, they even try to make sure at least two commercially available launch vehicles can lift them, so they can play off the suppliers against each other. Cost of the spacecraft itself is another reason not to make it too large. Currently, the most popular launch vehicle in the world (Ariane 5) is too large for most payloads and those payloads are currently launched fully fueled…

    As I explained above we aren’t even close to the point where the capacity of existing launch vehicles is a meaningful limitation.

    Something, like, oh, Mars habitats and other surface systems-if the mission concept involves sending equipment on ahead, support of a lunar base, and not if, but when it’s built, TPF (to give but three examples).

    Mars/moon habitats and surface systems and support of a Martian/lunar base do not require an HLV, no matter how much you might want them to. This isn’t an opinion, it is a verifiable fact. To paraphrase Richard Feynman, it is possible to fool blog posters, but it isn’t possible to fool Nature. As for your third example, I don’t know what TPF means.

  • Matt Wiser

    TPF is the planned Terristrial Planet Finder. A group of 4-6 telescopes in solar orbit past Mars that would look for earth-sized planets around nearby stars.

    Prove that you wouldn’t neet Heavy-Lift, when you have NASA brass, outside parties (like Norm Augustine and Ed Crawley), and the politicos involved saying it’s needed. There will be payloads in due time that will require heavy-lift. The only question is when.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I already explained how. Evidence is what matters, not opinions from interested parties. The numbers don’t lie. Existing EELVs can get 16mT to L1/L2 with EOR in LEO. From there you can use storable propellant transfer so you would have no realistic mass limitations, just cost limitations. Actually, you could use storable propellant from LEO too (it’s how von Braun initially wanted to go to Mars), but that would be needlessly expensive in boh the short and long run. Building large spacecraft and surface infrastructure from pieces with a dry mass of 16mT would not be problematic at all. It’s what Constellation intended to do. I’m starting to think you’re not a numbers person and that you have no idea of the sizes and masses involved.

    There will be payloads in due time that will require heavy-lift.

    You keep asserting this without proof, when the evidence that’s out there points in the opposite direction.

  • byeman

    And the time is not now

  • Martijn Meijering

    TPF is the planned Terristrial Planet Finder. A group of 4-6 telescopes in solar orbit past Mars that would look for earth-sized planets around nearby stars.

    Unsurprisingly nothing on JPL’s TPF page suggests it would need an HLV. Did you simply make that up?

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    TPF is the planned Terristrial Planet Finder.

    If it’s not in the budget, it’s not planned – it would be an unfunded concept. And there are probably hundreds of unfunded concepts floating around NASA right now, including HEFT and Nautilus-X, which are far enough along to know that they DON’T need the SLS.

    In looking at the website for TPF, I don’t see a need for anything bigger than Delta IV Heavy, and that would only be if you wanted to launch the pieces with integrated departure stages.

    Matt, in the business world you would go bankrupt with the SLS business plan you’re supporting. It is truly a faith-based program (build it and oversized payloads will be funded?).

    I’ll tell you one of the reasons why I see a whole lot of waste coming down the road if the SLS is actually finished by 2016. The payloads it will require to be SLS unique have to be built in brand new factories, with brand new fixtures and test equipment like vacuum chambers. Oh and the concept for the designs have not been communicated to the aerospace industry so they can start providing feedback about manufacturability and potential costs. And lastly you still need to fund and compete each payload contract.

    We are ten years away from having a complex SLS-only payload ready to launch. What is the SLS going to be doing in the meantime? Other than forcing NASA to spend part of it’s budget on an idle standing army…

    I see a lot of waste, don’t you Matt?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – but there are also other realities, beyond politics – such as physical, and economical.

    And the problem is that the case for doing the Senate Launch System (instead of keeping the trade space open for a Space Launch System) does NOT close. There is not enough money in the budget, and it will eat so much, and it will endanger the Space Station. The idea of sunk cost s a fallacy in this case, and always.

    So, here is the question – which do you want? A Direct/Ares V-lite rocket, or space exploration? If you answer the former, you aren’t getting the later. There isn’t any money for it

  • Matt Wiser

    Martin: no. I’ve seen several concepts for TPF that involve heavy lift. One was NSF (National Science Foundation), another was from Popular Mechanics.

    I’d follow what Ed Crawley and Jeff Greason said: build the rocket, build the crew vehicle (Orion), build any necessary hab module, and GO PLACES. Get some exploration done so that by the time NEO (PLYMOUTH ROCK) is out of the way, lunar return is back on the agenda as an action item.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Matt – want me to link you to what Greason said about the need for a Saturn V launch vehicle?

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’d follow what Ed Crawley and Jeff Greason said: build the rocket, build the crew vehicle (Orion), build any necessary hab module, and GO PLACES. Get some exploration done so that by the time NEO (PLYMOUTH ROCK) is out of the way, lunar return is back on the agenda as an action item.

    Why, because you generally follow advice from these people or because you happen to like their conclusion? The rocket and Orion are totally unnecessary and you know it. What we need is the hab module (Bigelow?) or a lander. We already have plenty of launch vehicles.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 2:59 am

    At TEDxSanJoseCA Greason said that NASA can’t take us into space, because it has been an organization that is built to explain why problems “are not that serious” (that was in reference to the Challenger accident). Because of Challenger, he realized that no matter how much money Congress gave NASA, they were not going to open up space as a frontier.

    He puts his faith in competition and quick evolution of the ideas and hardware.

    I don’t know about his comments about “build the rocket”, but it doesn’t sound like he was talking about the Senate Launch System, and he was probably talking about commercial launchers.

    Ferris, can you provide that link?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Coastal Ron – I was thinking about his talk at ISDC last year, where he says, quite clearly, we don’t need a Saturn V capable vehicle right now to explore – its a nice to have.
    ISDC Talk

    But the TEDx talk was good too

    TEDx talk

  • Coastal Ron

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Thanks Ferris. I just watched it, and I think Greason summarized rather nicely the state of the current space program.

    Matt, if you watch this video, there is no way you can come away with the impression that Greason thinks we must have an HLV. If anything, he makes a very good argument to “use what you have”, with a specific example about using Delta IV Heavy.

    I think his biggest points regarded the spending habits of Congress, and the lack of fiscal restraint or accountability that NASA inherently has.

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