Congress, NASA, White House

Briefly: Obama visit; shuttle updates; “Moon mission”

A roundup of miscellaneous items on a slow space policy news week:

As has been widely reported, President Obama will visit the Kennedy Space Center next Friday to witness the scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavour on STS-134. His appearance will only heighten the media frenzy surrounding the launch, which has less to do with the fact that it is the penultimate shuttle mission than that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, husband of STS-134 commander Mark Kelly and recovering from injuries sustained in a Tucson shooting in January, is planning to attend. However, it will be a very brief visit: he has a White House event (welcoming Auburn University’s national championship football team) at 10 am, which means he would not get to KSC until early afternoon at the earliest. In addition, he’s speaking at graduation ceremonies at Miami Dade College Friday at 5 pm in downtown Miami, which suggests he’ll leave immediately after the 3:47 pm launch (and probably still be late.)

President Obama also had something to say earlier this week about the placement of the space shuttles. A reporter for Dallas TV station WFAA asked the president in an interview earlier this week if politics played a role in not awarding Houston a space shuttle orbiter when the fleet is retired later this year, passing over the city in favor of sites in New York, Los Angeles, outside Washington, and at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “That’s wrong,” the president said. “We had nothing to do with it. The White House has had nothing to do with it. There’s a whole commission, a whole process, and that’s how the decision was made.” (The exchange takes place about four minutes into the video linked to above.) In testimony last week before a Senate committee, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that the decision was “free of any political involvement,” although he also said he had briefed people “close to the president” on the issue.

The president’s statement has hardly assuaged critics of the decision. “Sadly, it seems partisan politics permeates this announcement,” Reps. Pete Olson and Ted Poe (R-TX) said in an CNN op-ed. Saying they are “demanding answers”, they added, “If, as we suspect, the measures were purely political, we will do everything in our power to make this right.” The two are among the 12 co-sponsors of HR 1536, which would override NASA’s selection and award Endeavour to Houston (giving Enterprise to LA and leaving New York empty-handed). They have not co-sponsored a competing bill, HR 1590, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), that would require the Smithsonian to loan Discovery to Houston for 15 years.

The curious headline of the day comes from National Journal: “Spending Bill Funds NASA Mission to the Moon”. The article reports on funding in the final FY11 continuing resolution that funds work on the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and Space Launch System (SLS), which combined will get no less than $3 billion in 2011. “The money will fund NASA’s Constellation Program,” the article claims, later referring to “the reauthorization of the Constellation Program” in the NASA authorization act last year. Strictly speaking, that’s not accurate: while MPCV is, to at least first order, a continuation of Orion, SLS is different from Ares, bigger in its initial iteration than Ares 1 but smaller than Ares 5. And a return to the Moon is not an overt goal of the administration’s exploration plan announced a year ago, which calls for instead a mission to a near Earth asteroid by 2025 and Mars orbit by the mid 2030s. Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) said earlier this month he wants Congress to pass legislation that would “resume the goal” of a human return to the Moon.

Update 12:45 pm: the text of HR 1641, the bill introduced by Posey to make a lunar return NASA’s human spaceflight goal, is now available. (It was introduced last Friday but not posted on Thomas until some time this morning.) The “Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act” (or “REAL Space Act”) is primarily a set of findings about space exploration, with the key item at the end: “the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence on the Moon, in order to promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations.” According to one report, Posey drafted the bill “in consultation with Mike Griffin”, the former NASA administrator.

186 comments to Briefly: Obama visit; shuttle updates; “Moon mission”

  • Robert G. Oler

    “Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) said earlier this month he wants Congress to pass legislation that would “resume the goal” of a human return to the Moon.”

    and perhaps one day pigs will fly but as for now, in the real world both events are very unlikely. Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Obama visiting the shuttle launch will help end it. The coverage will increase a bit and the American people will get use to hearing “the next to last shuttle mission” and accepting the end of it. SLS and Shuttle fade together.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    “free of any political involvement,”

    Riiiight.

    Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) said earlier this month he wants Congress to pass legislation that would “resume the goal” of a human return to the Moon.

    Since there is currently no coherent mission, beyond lining the pockets of Obama supporters in Newspace, any effort to open meaningful debate about the direction to NASA is welcome.

  • Scia

    @amightywind

    Why do you hate capitalism?

  • Bennett

    “…beyond lining the pockets of Obama supporters in Newspace,”

    I wish this were true. If “Newspace” companies have fully lined pockets, progress is assured.

    The last 40 years of lining the pockets of “Oldspace” has gotten us… Ares 1x?

    Great.

  • Dennis Berube

    People, any manned vehicle that can make it to an asteroid, and then to Mars, will have no problem reaching the Moon! If it can do one it can do the other. People separate the two ideas. Even if the SLS fades, Orion will survive and carry people outward from LEO, at some point. Whether on a DeltaIV, or Falcon Heavy, or whatever. Orion will fly.

  • Major Tom

    “Since there is currently no coherent mission, beyond lining the pockets of Obama supporters in Newspace…”

    Your fellow Tea Party members disagree.

    http://www.teainspace.com/?p=382

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    The last 40 years of lining the pockets of “Oldspace” has gotten us… Ares 1x?

    It got us a flawed overall architecture in the shuttle, but wondrous components, facilities, and workforce that could be used to establish a new architecture. This is, if the administration weren’t so hell bent on letting them molder in the dunes.

  • Marshall Perrin

    I find it particularly entertaining that a man complaining that “the measures were purely political” is trying to override the results by passing a law. ‘Cause, y’know, that’s not a political act at all, passing laws in Congress…

  • Major Tom

    “wondrous components, facilities, and workforce that could be used to establish a new architecture”

    What’s “wondrous” about the Shuttle technical base and infrastructure?

    Multiple gaseous hydrogen leaks?

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-10266309-239.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/06/us/06shuttle.html

    Multiple structural failures?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/home/spacenews/files/4c8d593ea30625f33b6a41ec120639a4-113.html

    Parachute failures and ruined SRB casings?

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/.a/6a00d83451c3cb69e20120a63f2ff0970b-320wi

    Launch delays that last half a year?

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-08-18/news/17386594_1_shuttle-program-shuttle-s-external-tank-falling-foam

    A prime contractor workforce at USA (8,000) that’s twice as large as the EELV workforce at ULA (4,000), and eight times as large as the SpaceX workforce (1,000) and their associated costs?

    Are these the kinds of technical weaknesses, safety issues, schedule headaches, and costs that we want to baseline into a new BEO system?

    Really?

    Seriously, if this launch capability is so “wondrous” in its reliability, timeliness, and affordability, then why doesn’t the Air Force or NRO use it to launch their satellites?

    And why aren’t commercial comsat builders and operators furiously lobbying Congress to give them access to this “wondrous” launch capability?

    FWIW…

  • People, any manned vehicle that can make it to an asteroid, and then to Mars, will have no problem reaching the Moon!

    No, the requirements are entirely different. Orion will never go to the moon. For that you need a lander. At most it will orbit it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Even if the SLS fades, Orion will survive and carry people outward from LEO, at some point.

    Dennis, I’m glad that you’re finally realizing that the SLS is not really needed, and now it’s time to bring you from 60′s thinking on space travel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(spacecraft)

    To the future, where capsules are lifeboats & CRV’s:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=36068

    We don’t need the SLS to build this, and if Congress cancelled the SLS and directed the funds to Nautilus-X, we would be doing BEO exploration much quicker.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Simberg, of course I know you would need a lander, but my point is if Orion can be used within the outline of a deep space mission, then it is capable of being utilized for various destinations. Even Apollo could have been used for other than strictly lunar missions, if updated for what is required for that proposed mission. There is talk of sending an Orion to lunar orbit, to an asteroid, to a moon of Mars, all within the Orions ability. Orion is but a small fraction of the whole, but an important piece of that whole.

  • Artemus

    .Seriously, if this launch capability is so “wondrous” in its reliability, timeliness, and affordability, then why doesn’t the Air Force or NRO use it to launch their satellites?

    Apples and oranges. AF doesn’t fly humans, rarely manifests more than one major payload on a launch, doesn’t re-use or refurbish its vehicles, doesn’t operate in the public eye, doesn’t conduct in-space operations (those are done by entities outside those you included in your total), etc. A better comparison would be NASA LSP, which is if anything leaner than the AF operation because it leverages off a lot of work the AF does.

  • tu8ca

    Thank you President Obama. Finally we have an administration who is taking an active interest in the country’s space program, instead of a president who’s only interested in space when it includes corporate welfare to huge aerospace companies. Obama’s done a great job cleaning up ‘W’s messes – sill lots more work to do though.

  • We don’t need Orion for _anything_.: It’s simply a rehash of an Apollo capsule for a mission of comparable length as Apollo – i.e., a stunt. Anything longer and the only thing that makes sense has a much larger habitable volume, with (at most) a small and simple return capsule attached (that’s if you insist upon a direct to Earth return, only).

    We don’t need Orion for _anything_.: For a short ascent to a space station or interplanetary vehicle in Earth orbit, choose something like the Dragon, CST-100 or Dreamchaser, etc.

    We don’t need Orion for _anything_.: Regarding emergency descent from a space station, any of the three vehicles mentioned in the previous item (or others) much cheaper and lighter than Orion can have or have added in long orbital duration capability.

    To conclude: Folks, we don’t need Orion for _anything_.

  • Vladislaw

    Rand, nice piece you did at the Examiner

    ‘Shooting for the moon’ amid cuts?

    “If Congress was truly serious about returning to the moon, the rocket scientists on the Hill would give NASA a date, and a budget, and tell them to come up with a way to make that happen, without telling them which contractors to use, or how big the rockets must be, and how they must be designed. That the latter is their approach tells you that it’s all about the pork, and not about the moon at all.”

    That says it and shows why this isn’t about space exploration but about the NASA jobs mill and how they relate to certain politicians districts/states.

    With the Falcon Heavy in the mix now, the end of STS and Constellation, I feel the rest of congress is going to see the light and stop voting for the pork. Unless of course they trade, I will vote for your pork if you vote for mine.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Good afternoon –

    Notice the generation gap in answers to the “Why?” question:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Edv8Onsrgg

    http://rage.com/gate/?return=%2Fus%2Fabout-rage

    This is the generation that was raised on impact killing the dinosaurs.

    It is not the generation that was raised on the fantasy that Mars is very similar to the Earth.

    It is not the generation of the Korean and Vietnam wars.

    It is not the generation that was raised in the Cold War.

    Comet SW3 will be in the inner solar system later this year, and IF it is not turning into magic comet dust, the space debate will become significantly different.

  • I notice in the text of Posey’s bill that he repeats this fib:

    China and Russia, understanding the economic and strategic importance of human space flight, have declared their intentions of colonizing the Moon and are advancing their lunar exploration plans.

    Of course, he doesn’t say how he’ll pay for his moon rocket.

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    With the Falcon Heavy in the mix now, the end of STS and Constellation, I feel the rest of congress is going to see the light and stop voting for the pork.

    I would imagine all in Congress are aware of Shelby’s earmarking now, and I would imagine if the debate gets opened up in both houses, especially the House (lots of new Tea Party members), that the NASA SLS promoters will have to do lots of explaining to do, and the SLS will be put on the chopping block.

    My $0.02

  • Major Tom

    “Apples and oranges. AF doesn’t fly humans, rarely manifests more than one major payload on a launch, doesn’t re-use or refurbish its vehicles, doesn’t operate in the public eye”

    The discussion wasn’t about comparing the crewed/multi-payload/refurbishable Shuttle to the uncrewed/single-payload/expendable EELVs. Per the other poster, the discussion was about comparing “components, facilities, and workforce that could be used to establish a new architecture”. He/she thinks that using the technical base and infrastructure of the Shuttle would provide a “wondrous” start for a new architecture, while I’m pointing out the realities associated with leaky SSMEs, fragile ET structure, six-month launch delays, and average launch costs over a billion dollars a pop.

    The point is not why doesn’t the USAF and NRO fly their payloads on the Shuttle instead of EELVs. (That’s been a foregone conclusion since Challenger.) The point is why didn’t the USAF build on Shuttle elements and infrastructure for their ELV fleet instead of Atlas/Delta elements and infrastructure.

    If the military (and the commercial world) have chosen not to be held hostage to the technical frailties, unpredictable schedules, and high costs of Shuttle components and infrastructure, then we shouldn’t hold NASA and future civil human space flight programs hostage to those technical frailties, unpredictable schedules, and high costs, either.

    “doesn’t conduct in-space operations (those are done by entities outside those you included in your total), etc.”

    Actually, the USAF does conduct Shuttle-like “in-space operations” now:

    http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1012/03x37landing/

    But again, Shuttle heritage did not find its way into this vehicle or its launcher.

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    Multiple gaseous hydrogen leaks?
    Multiple structural failures?
    Parachute failures and ruined SRB casings?
    Launch delays that last half a year?

    When you have a 40 year track record it is not surprising you found a few nits to quibble over. That is what you are good at. A wider view would see past them recognize the technological Candy Land that is shuttle hardware.

    directed the funds to Nautilus-X

    ISS with nuclear propulsion. Has a worse idea even hatched by NASA? Someone needs to shovel out the stalls at the agency.

    Obama’s done a great job cleaning up ‘W’s messes – sill lots more work to do though.

    Are you serious? We have 3 wars instead of 2. Gas is $2 more a gallon. Unemployment is 3% higher. The deficit is 5x larger than GDubs largest. The US is about to lose its AAA bond rating. We used to be executing a new moon program. Now NASA is sitting on its hands while the leadership flounders in front of congress. To his credit, he did extend the Bush tax cuts.

  • pathfinder_01

    “We don’t need Orion for _anything_.: It’s simply a rehash of an Apollo capsule for a mission of comparable length as Apollo – i.e., a stunt. Anything longer and the only thing that makes sense has a much larger habitable volume, with (at most) a small and simple return capsule attached (that’s if you insist upon a direct to Earth return, only).”

    The trouble is only Dragon can return from BEO. CST100 only has 2 days worth of life support and a heatsheild that is for LEO only. It can not return crew from a BEO mission unless it returns to LEO. Dreamchaser likewise can not support a BEO crew in it’s ISS configuration.

    If you build something like Nautilus X(which I support) and station it at L1/L2 then you are going to need a capsule that can support a crew for at least 8 days(and it would be nice to be able to support the crew longer than that). Orion can support a crew for 21 days.

    Returning Nautilus to LEO is very costly in terms of propellant and direct reentry from l1/l2(or further out) is probably preferred. You can evolve the commercial crew craft to models that can travel to L1/L2 but the models that are going to the ISS will not support BEO operations as soon as Orion could.

    What the commercial craft could do in terms of BEO is they can help build something like Nautilus in LEO(if it has its own power and life support) cheaper than Orion but once you move it out to L1/L2 you can’t use them any more.

    In other words Orion is an BEO CTV/CRV. It can transfer a crew to anywhere in cislunar space and support long LEO missions(in a very limited manner) and return them to earth.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    When you have a 40 year track record…

    Windy is “spinning out of control” again – the Shuttle only has a 30 year track record of operation.

    Needless to say, the rest of your post was “spinning out of control” too.

  • pathfinder_01

    I”SS with nuclear propulsion. Has a worse idea even hatched by NASA? Someone needs to shovel out the stalls at the agency.”

    A mars base, moon base, mars transfer craft and just about any spacecraft designed to support a crew for more than a few days will have more in common with the ISS than the Shuttle, Apollo or Orion.

    There is a big difference between a system designed to support a crew for a short time(like say a car) and one designed to support crew or people for longer times(R/V or house).

  • B-767 guy

    “We don’t need Obama for _anything” except pie in the sky fuzzy game-changing technolgy missions 25 years in the future to an asteroid in an unbuilt spacecraft launched on an unbuilt rocket. Right.

    “To conclude: Folks, we don’t need Obama for _anything_.”except for the end of the US space program.

  • tu8ca

    ___‘W’s messes …

    “3 wars instead of 2.”
    What’s your suggestion? let petty dictators and terrorists grow up big and strong? How do you think that will affect your life?

    “Gas is $2 more a gallon.”
    That’s Obama’s fault? Are earthquakes his fault too?

    “Unemployment is 3% higher. The deficit is 5x larger than GDubs largest. The US is about to lose its AAA bond rating.”
    All thanks to ‘W’ and Greenspan and their cozy relationship big bankers — gestated and hatched before Obama ever took office.

    “We used to be executing a new moon program. Now NASA is sitting on its hands while the leadership flounders in front of congress.”
    CxP squandered $10 Billion and failed to produce in a timely manner, despite having most of the building blocks left over from the Shuttle and even Apollo. Only a ‘corporate welfare’ loving Republican would want to keep giving these people money.

    “To his credit, he did extend the Bush tax cuts.”
    At the rate we’re going, we’ll have the socioeconomic landscape of a third world country in no time — and look at how good they are at exploring space! And don’t forget, federal income tax isn’t the whole story, most of the other taxes are more regressive, such as sales and gas taxes.

  • Artemus

    He/she thinks that using the technical base and infrastructure of the Shuttle would provide a “wondrous” start for a new architecture, while I’m pointing out the realities associated with leaky SSMEs, fragile ET structure, six-month launch delays, and average launch costs over a billion dollars a pop.

    You think problems like that don’t exist in AF programs? It’s public knowledge that Delta IV was out of commission for many months because they spilled LOX on the launch table and cracked it. There are many other examples.

    The point is why didn’t the USAF build on Shuttle elements and infrastructure for their ELV fleet instead of Atlas/Delta elements and infrastructure.

    The reason is the same as I posted above. AF needs are different from NASA HSF needs. This was clear before the Shuttle ever flew. So after Challenger, the AF went back to its own vehicles, which were leaky, dangerous, expensive and delay-prone, just like Shuttle.

    If the military (and the commercial world) have chosen not to be held hostage to the technical frailties, unpredictable schedules, and high costs of Shuttle components and infrastructure, then we shouldn’t hold NASA and future civil human space flight programs hostage to those technical frailties, unpredictable schedules, and high costs, either.

    I’m all for it – if it can be done. The government has to oversee these programs, so there is going to be “waste”, i.e. effort that goes solely toward explaining to the gov’t why the system is OK, or to satisfying requirements that a private contractor wouldn’t impose. But that is going to be almost as true of CC as it was of Shuttle. There will be savings but not on the scale some would like to claim.


    Actually, the USAF does conduct Shuttle-like “in-space operations” now:

    http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1012/03x37landing/

    But again, Shuttle heritage did not find its way into this vehicle or its launcher.

    (A) Those who conduct these operations would have to be added to your total (along with many others such as Aerospace Corp) for a fair comparison

    (B) Look at a picture of X-37 and tell me it has no Shuttle heritage. You would guess it was designed by ex-Downey people if you didn’t know it already.

  • Artemus

    NB I do not believe that the Shuttle infrastructure should be retained for any technical advantages – only if it saves money overall, which is far from clear. But you need to be realistic about how other programs operate. It is not all rainbows and unicorns.

  • sc220

    “Since there is currently no coherent mission, beyond lining the pockets of Obama supporters in Newspace…”

    Your fellow Tea Party members disagree.

    http://www.teainspace.com/?p=382

    FWIW…

    Thanks for posting this link, Major T. This is very telling, and confirms what many of us suspected all along. Although, I would tend to put money on Obama’s reelection in 2012, if a Republican does get into office, he/she would likely accelerate the vectoring toward the Newspace/commercial sector, not against it.

    Perhaps there is more to Admiral Steidle’s taking the Commercial Spaceflight Federation position than what meets the eye.

  • tps

    windy says:
    directed the funds to Nautilus-X

    ISS with nuclear propulsion. Has a worse idea even hatched by NASA? Someone needs to shovel out the stalls at the agency.

    Just curious… What don’t you like about it and what would you do instead? As for me, I would take something like Nautilus-X and do a mission to Titan.

  • sc220

    ISS with nuclear propulsion. Has a worse idea even hatched by NASA? Someone needs to shovel out the stalls at the agency.

    I’m not really sure how you would interpret the more recent exploration concepts being studied as “ISS w/Nuclear Propulsion.” Almost all of the concepts, including Nautilus-X, use the inflatable TransHab approach and truss structure, but these type of ideas have been extant for some time. The most recent DRA 5.0 assessment in 2008-2009 used this approach for both the chemical and nuclear thermal alternatives.

    We will never go to Mars using an integrated capsule/upper stage/lander plunked on a super booster like we did with Apollo. All the concepts since Von Braun’s era have involved the multiple-launch assembly in LEO of a large interplanetary spacecraft.

  • Doug Lassiter

    An amusing bill.

    It cherry-picks Authorization language, and comes up with this line from 2005 — “In accordance with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, which established as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s priority goal: ‘To develop a sustained human presence on the Moon . . .”. Yes, but the Authorization bill that followed, in 2008, SPECIFICALLY mandated that “NASA shall make no plans that would require a lunar outpost to be occupied to maintain its viability. Any such outpost shall be operable as a human-tended facility capable of remote or autonomous operation for extended periods.” So sustained presence was no longer a priority goal. Of course the latest Authorization bill barely mentions the Moon at all, much less sustained or unsustained presence by humans.

    The evaporation of the Moon as a primary destination for NASA human space flight is unfortunate, and I suspect as the goals of NASA are reformed, the Moon will take a higher priority, but a bill such as this one is hardly honest or constructive. The “findings” proposed in the bill are tired recitations of lunar advocacy that are largely nonsense, for example “Space is the world’s ultimate high ground, returning to the Moon and reinvigorating our human space flight program is a matter of national security” or, even more bizarre, the alleged declaration by China and Russia that they are out to colonize the Moon.

    Of course, the last Authorization bill also chartered a “a review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight”, admitting with surprising honesty that Congress doesn’t really understand why we do human space flight. Not an auspicious fact to build a human lunar return program on.

  • Coastal Ron

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    In other words Orion is an BEO CTV/CRV. It can transfer a crew to anywhere in cislunar space and support long LEO missions(in a very limited manner) and return them to earth.

    I don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the MPCV, even though I do agree with the need that you outlined. I guess part of my reluctance is that we don’t have a funded need for such a craft yet.

    If we cancelled the SLS and funded Nautilus-X, I would hope we would also figure out the infrastructure roadmap for transporting people to/from L1 and beyond. Continuing the Orion/MPCV shortcuts that overview, and locks us into a system that could be marginal and expensive. Even the Dragon or CST-100 may not be appropriate.

    For instance, once we have a robust LEO transportation system in place, the need for direct return from beyond LEO could go away, and instead the process would be to slow down and enter into LEO, and then transfer to a separate vehicle for the ride to Earth’s surface. In that case a lifeboat wouldn’t need a heat shield because it would not abort through Earth’s atmosphere.

    In the same light, once you build up enough assets at L1/L2, a lifeboat on missions at or beyond L1/L2 only need to return to L1/L2, and again would not need heat shields.

    In any case, locking us into using the MPCV before we have determined a transportation roadmap is putting the cart before the horse.

    My $0.02

  • common sense

    “In other words Orion is an BEO CTV/CRV. It can transfer a crew to anywhere in cislunar space and support long LEO missions(in a very limited manner) and return them to earth.”

    No it is not. There is no BEO Orion being designed or built or anything. It might have but it is not.

    As for CST-100. With an appropriate SM there will most likely be no such limitation. And for the TPS we’ll see.

    But so far there is no business case for a BEO CST-100. Not even for a BEO Dragon. If such business case happens then you’ll see whether they are BEO or not.

  • reader

    I would imagine all in Congress are aware of Shelby’s earmarking now,

    Wishful thinking, and even if they were, how does that help anything ?

    Posey drafted the bill “in consultation with Mike Griffin”, the former NASA administrator.

    Welcome back Mike ! We were wondering what were you up to these days. You certainly did not do enough damage yet with ESAS and 9 billions thrown away on it, in these times of tight budgets. Every wasted billion that you can muster to maneuver into budgets, helps.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Not really. It’s disingenuous through and through as well as blatant shilling for SpaceX et. al. And it has already been established on earlier threads that the Examiner is an outlet for ultra-conservative think-tankers.

    “SpaceX has built an entire new company, developed two new rockets, a pressurized capsule, test and manufacturing facilities, and launch pad modifications, for less than the cost of a single Space Shuttle flight.”

    1. A false comparison. Shuttle has flown for three decades, carrying crews into and out of orbit since 1981. As of April, 2011, SpaceX has flown nobody and it’s ‘pressurized capsule’ has not been man-rated for a human-crewed survivable space flight. It most likely will only carry cargo and never carry crews to the ISS, given the time left, being an unwise investment to develop for humans to access the ISS, which already has safe, proven access via Soyuz, and is currently scheduled for de-orbiting in 2020.

    2. Simberg reperesents an ultra-conservative lobbying group and has shilled for SpaceX, which solicits government subsidies and is not a true ‘private enterprise’ firm.

    3.”Apollo was done the way it was because we were in a race, it was of national importance to win it, and money was no object. It is not the way that von Braun himself would have done it if he had wanted to do it in a more affordable and sustainable fashion”.

    Another Simberg inaccuracy. Von Braun supported LOR after his initial embrace of EOR was rejected on engineering and cost factors of the era. The necessity for multiple Saturn launches (and/or proposed NOVA development) using EOR actually would have increased costs.

    With respect to orbital HSF, Newspace, is a ticket to no place for decades to come. Branson’s ‘ticket-to-ride’ is the next logical step in this field- suborbital flights. He’s currently hiring pilots and will be lofting paying passengers up and down by next year.

  • Glad to see a real, meaningful destination for NASA, with an aggressive, but realistic timeline.

    In the original NASA 201l budget rollout there were no specific BEO plans and archiectures, or even goals and deadlines, just the Obama matra of giving away taxpayer money to commercial space businesses and funding a wide collection of diverse feel-good research projects.

    The NEO “goal” and 2025 deadline was only reluctantly added months later in response to widespread criticism. However, it has not been taken seriously because, again, there is not even the most vaporous of plans to actually pull it off.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Coastal Ron

    I hope you’re right. If only Gabby were back to work. She was the strongest (practically the only) one who openly opposed the current Authorization Act, specifically saying that congress shouldn’t design rockets.

    @Pathfinder

    Pretty fair points if they are indeed accurate assesments of the capsules’ capabilities. But I have to point out that your argument basically admits the Orion/MPCV has no additional advantage over the commercial capsules until there is a BEO program. Where is the funding for this BEO program? How long until we can have a BEO program budgeted with SLS sucking up funds, and Orion/MPCV costing over a billion a year vs. Hundreds of millions invested into multiple competing capsules? By the time a BEO program can be budgeted and completed couldn’t the commercial capsules have been pushed to meet those specs also?

    SLS and Orion are on a long road to uselessness. By the time we actually have a program to use those systems for, FH will have flown for a few years, commercial crafts will have been flying humans to orbit for a couple of years, so how much longer will it be for there to be something like a Dragon Heavy? I say soon enough that any reasonable person will look back and realize we should have finished off zombie Constellation when we had the chance. Double Tap.

  • Luminaux

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:55 am: “if Congress cancelled the SLS and directed the funds to Nautilus-X, we would be doing BEO exploration much quicker.”

    Cheers Ron! Thanks for the link!
    I was confused by the fact that the Nautilus-X PP presentation doesn’t include anything about using the Bigelow “TransHabs” already in production.
    Although I appreciate the centrifuge and its many values, isn’t it the most limiting and expensive part (research and development required)? I’m not saying we shouldn’t put the money into it, but as far as getting humanity beyond LEO, don’t we already have the parts/production facilities to make a “space-only vehicle” like this minus the centrifuge? If so, lets throw the components on some of the working LVs we already have production sites for and get to space exploration. The sooner we’re out there the sooner we’ll learn more and come up with better and better technologies. Faced with challenges and adversity human ingenuity flourishes.

    amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 3:05 pm: “directed the funds to Nautilus-X… ISS with nuclear propulsion. Has a worse idea even hatched by NASA? Someone needs to shovel out the stalls at the agency.”

    Rather than using inflammatory language and inaccurate descriptions could you please communicate specific details you have issue with regarding the Nautilus-X design? Or are you just trying to push HLVs instead?
    With regard to the ISS statement, what would it take to move the ISS out of LEO? Could it survive such a move? Given its price tag, finding a way to save it seems worthwhile.

  • Vladislaw

    “When you have a 40 year track record it is not surprising you found a few nits to quibble over.”

    Once again the wind is blowing. The shuttle failed to launch on schedule 65% of the time. Can you imagine any other form of transportation, after 50 years of development, didn’t start and take off almost 7 out 10 times?

    Cars didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    Planes didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    Trains didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    Ships didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    Buses didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    Conrstruction equipment didn’t start and take off 65% of the time?
    et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    If that is what we have to look forward to, once commercial competition takes place, it is all a moot point anyway because we will never go anywhere if the NASA record is what we will get commercially.

    Who thinks commercial spaceflight will not launch on schedule 65% of the time, raise your hand?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    “Are you serious? We have 3 wars instead of 2. Gas is $2 more a gallon. Unemployment is 3% higher. The deficit is 5x larger than GDubs largest. ”

    sorry there are just some things that I delurk in your case for to make sure that you are corrected.

    I am baffled as to why we are in Libya, but people like Whittington and Sarah Palin (his hero) and other goofballs on the right were beating the drums for intervention so if you want to be critical of Mr. Obama on this you need to be at least even handed and be critical of “Tough girl” Palin for her equally goofy stand.

    As for the deficit and other “malaise” that you mention. We would have none of these problems if “Shrub” aka Mr. bush the last had not got us into a situation where everyday things got worse. From 9/11 to his last few weeks in office the UXB’s going off in his administration herald a policy on almost all fronts that was out of control….and this includes his “lunar” effort which had consumed more then the Gemini program did from start to finish and had almost no flight hardware (and I am being kind here about Ares 1X).

    I dont argue much that Obama had/has made things better but at the very least he has “mostly” stopped things from getting worse…and has shut down the goofy lunar program that you and others support much for the same reasons that teenagers of both sexes compare on a day to day basis body parts.

    But in your world the first Falcon9 second stage did not make it into orbit and you dont have the courage to say “you were wrong”…so you are a troll and mostly I “ignore” but when you say something as goofball at this I dont mind verbally slapping around a bit.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Posey’s Pork Bill is what this dishonest jobs program ought to be called.

    I resent my tax dollars being spent in this fashion.

    The GOPers can all go pound salt.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 6:32 pm
    “In the original NASA 201l budget rollout there were no specific BEO plans and archiectures, or even goals and deadlines, just the Obama matra of giving away taxpayer money to commercial space businesses and funding a wide collection of diverse feel-good research projects.”

    Because, had there been such specific BEO plans, no one would have believed it. The purpose of that FY11 budget proposal was to lead Congress into the aching dismantling of a BEO architecture that NASA had been overwhelmingly invested in, but which was was fiscally unrealistic. That was a huge job, and the pain is hardly done with. It would have been incredibly irresponsible to pull the plug on a major engineering and management endeavor and quickly replace it, like a band-aid, with a quick destination with a slightly updated deadline.

    Instead, what the Obama administration chose to do was to pull back and think hard about new capabilities that would more naturally lead to destinations that people could actually consider credible.

    Yes, I agree with you completely that the NEO goal was a stupid mistake. One of those ill-conceived band-aids. On closer inspection it’s a plan that has little rationale and serious programmatic faults. Oh, sure, there are workshops featuring arguments for attempting such a feat and, you know, those arguments have turned out to be limp. Science? Far better done by robotic probes. Threat mitigation? The problem is detection, not putting human footprints on one that is hugely unlikely to be the one that takes aim at us. Exploration? Ah, sure, whatever that means. Footprints, flags and golf balls that make the nation, er, proud.

    As I said above, Congress has admitted that it needs guidance about what human space flight is for. No wonder, in that right now only those Congressional leaders whose constituents get large amounts of NASA money seem to understand what it is for. (Hey, speaking about giving away large amounts of taxpayer money …!) Until Congress figures out what human space flight is for, it would be daffy for an Administration to start drawing bulls eyes on rocks.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “Who thinks commercial spaceflight will not launch on schedule 65% of the time, raise your hand?”

    this is going to be, in my view where the “rubber meets the road”.

    There is no more supporter of commercial space ops then myself, and I laugh when I see folks like who you responded to declare “SpaceX has never flown anyone” as if that is of any value. It has almost none.

    Having said that…the “break point” that is coming for SpaceX (and some other people), the break point that killed NASA and caused NASA to kill people…the break point that killed the shuttle in so many ways…is going to come when SpaceX tries to transition from a “rocket/spacecraft building company” to an “operational launch company”.

    This transition has almost nothing to do with the product but has everything to do with the “mindset” that no longer is a test flight organization but now is “operational” for a certain cost and on a certain schedule and that is going to take an expertise that is completely different from the expertise that SpaceX has developed to develop (and test fly) their rockets.

    If you look at the history of the shuttle system, where it started going off track was about STS-4 to STS-7. There the limitations of the system in both frequency of flight and to a large measure “cost” were making themselves very very clear…and NASA HSF simply refused to bend “where it was going” to those limitations.

    While they did a constant descope “on the number of flights a year” the descope was simply not fast enough nor took into account any real operational realities (like the blow by…and others)….and when the accident (51-L:) happened the response was completely insane in terms of trying to figure out how “operational” fed into the hardware they had.

    Instead what they have summoned is the worst of both worlds…test flying and “operational” and that is what killed the Columbia crew.

    When SpaceX (or Boeing or whoever) leave the test flying phase and move to operational…that is the most dangerous time.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Luminaux wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I was confused by the fact that the Nautilus-X PP presentation doesn’t include anything about using the Bigelow “TransHabs” already in production.

    I view all the proposals that comes out of NASA as concepts, not necessarily blueprints. If they received the go ahead for Nautilus-X, and it’s put out to industry for bidding, then I’m sure Bigelow will be on some or all of the teams offering inflatable structures.

    Although I appreciate the centrifuge and its many values, isn’t it the most limiting and expensive part (research and development required)?

    I would imagine so, and they seem to imply so by wanting to do a small-scale test of it on the ISS.

    If so, lets throw the components on some of the working LVs we already have production sites for and get to space exploration. The sooner we’re out there the sooner we’ll learn more and come up with better and better technologies. Faced with challenges and adversity human ingenuity flourishes.

    I agree. The components and technology we’ve used to build the ISS would be a good starting point for a vehicle that could take us beyond LEO, and our existing launchers are all we need. We don’t need an HLV.

  • Vladislaw

    ” DCSCA wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 6:26 pm
    @Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Not really. It’s disingenuous through and through as well as blatant shilling for SpaceX et. al. And it has already been established on earlier threads that the Examiner is an outlet for ultra-conservative think-tankers.”

    As Rand is well aware I am a social liberal in most cases, but what the hell does the messenger have to do with the message?

    I disagree with Rand on a lot of issues, but I also agree with him on issues. I do not care if I get facts from a liberal rag or a conservative one. We are all entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts. On most issues, relative to space, I believe Rand is spot on. I am a die hard capitalist and believe free enterprise and ending the NASA monopoly on spaceflight is in the best interest of the Nation.
    ——————

    Shill:

    “A shill or plant is a person who helps another person or organization to sell goods or services without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with the seller. The shill pretends to have no association with the seller/group and gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer. The person or group that hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members (who are unaware of the set-up) to purchase the said goods or services. Shills are often employed by confidence artists. The term is also used to describe a person who is paid to help a political party or other advocacy organization to gain adherents; as with the situation of selling goods or services, the shill gives the impression of being unrelated to the group in question, and gives the impression that he or she finds merit in the ideological claims of the political party.”

    So unless you can prove Rand has a financial stake in SpaceX or is getting paid by SpaceX for his advocacy, you are wrong on him being a shill.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 6:32 pm
    “In the original NASA 201l budget rollout there were no specific BEO plans and archiectures, or even goals and deadlines, just the Obama matra of giving away taxpayer money to commercial space businesses and funding a wide collection of diverse feel-good research projects.”

    That paragraph almost takes you out of the serious space policy debate.

    We can argue IF commercial is a good idea or we should have what Whittington calls “the public option” aka a NASA run launch development system…that’s fine that is one thing the board is for.

    But you start to drop into the “Wind” category when you say “Obama matra (sic) of giving away taxpaery money to commercial space businesses…”

    goofy and that is all it is.

    The money given to “commercial space” is for a service and a product, if the companies dont succeed in their end of the deal they do not get the reserve money of the effort and likely dont get any more in the future rounds.

    Now we can all differ (I guess) on what that is called…to me it is not a giveaway. It is the “big company” equivelent of an SBIR…but you are free to differ.

    What I find odd is that you use those words and yet support what is a real taxpayer “giveaway” to people like the ones who were in Cx. there really is no yearly milestone that they have to meet, the money just keeps rolling in (or did until recently).

    Dont tell me that you have crossed over into the land of Whittington rhetoric…

    Robert G. Oler

  • “The components and technology we’ve used to build the ISS would be a good starting point for a vehicle that could take us beyond LEO, and our existing launchers are all we need. We don’t need an HLV.”

    Whenever I hear statements like the above, I tend to suspect that the speaker, although very well-intentioned, does not have a very strong technical background.

    I remember the first time, 45 years ago, when I saw a model of the Apollo Saturn V, and was surprised and shocked at how such an enormous rocket soon became a much smaller service module and LEM, at how the LEM returned with it’s lower half missing, and how just a tiny capsule was all that was left when it reentered.

    The key strategy was mass reduction. That is why the LEM cabin was essentially a plastic bag. If someone had dropped a wrench, it would have punctured the skin… The mass, with fuel, was 15 mT. The command/service module, with fuel, was 30 mT.

    In order to send these on their way, even with extreme mass-reduction measures, they had to design and construct one of the most MASSIVE (119 mT) heavy lift rockets, ever, the Saturn V.

    The ISS mass is 417 mT, which is about 10X greater. And that is without the required propulstion. Even worse yet, that is without any fuel.

    So you say that you want a big honking spaceship? Something about the size of the battleship Missouri. And you are going to put it into space using what?

    I hear people complain that Orion is too small and cramped, and they want something large and expansive like the ISS. If we are going BEO, we will have a very limited mass budget. If you want to launch with a 10.5mT Falcon 9 instead of a 130 mT HLV then you better get very aggressive with your mass reduction stratgies.

    Maybe that is the reason why all those little green men are so LITTLE!

  • pathfinder_01

    SpaceColonizer, I agree with SLS being a complete utter and total waste of money. If I were king I would put the money into Orion and an earth departure stage that could be lifted by delta and expanded to fit Falcon heavy. You can do l1\l2 missions with two launches of Delta IV heavy and with the ISS and commercial crew Delta does not even need to be man rated(just dock with the ISS and depart from there).

    With Orion you can have a role for falcon heavy ASAP. At the moment Orion is planned to make a test flight in 2013. The big problem is that Orion is being held back by SLS which wont be ready till 2016(and more likely 2018 or never). LM thinks Orion could be ready for BEO work in 2016.

    common sense, The Original plan was for Orion Block O to be ISS capable only. However when commercial crew arrived and Orion got canceled and revived Lockheed martin decided to aim for Block 1 Orion. Those Orion’s would be BEO capable, however not all systems may be present(like the toilet).

    Costal ron:

    “For instance, once we have a robust LEO transportation system in place, the need for direct return from beyond LEO could go away, and instead the process would be to slow down and enter into LEO, and then transfer to a separate vehicle for the ride to Earth’s surface. In that case a lifeboat wouldn’t need a heat shield because it would not abort through Earth’s atmosphere.”

    Right now the Delta V to go to or from L1 is about 3.77Km/s. The Delta V needed to reenter from L1 is like .77 km/s. A huge savings. If you can do aerocaputre you could return the crew via LEO taxis or returning to the ISS. Aerobraking is useless because it would expose the crew to multiple trips through the Van Allen Belt. Vasmir and other forms of electric propulsion would likewise be too slow to carry a crew but could be useful to return it uncrewed to LEO.

    To return to LEO with a crew you either need to aerocaputure or return propulsivly(which takes a large amount of mass if you are using chemical and I am not crazy about hot nuclear reactors returning to LEO if you use Nuclear Thermal.). It takes so much mass for a chemical system that you would somehow need to figure out how to put about 20-50MT worth of propellant on the other end so that you can refuel.

    In short I don’t see being able to return to LEO with the crew of a deep space mission being possible for quite some time. Being able to directly return to earth can prove handy in emergency scenarios. You could leave l1/l2 at any time if you need to. You could leave your VASMIR propelled craft while it is still in a very high orbit(or perhaps before it even gets into Orbit) and let it return to a lower Orbit slowly without the crew.

    I can see the use of an HLV like falcon or Delta phase I or Atlas phase II but 70 or 130 ton government designed launcher that doesn’t share a part with other rockets will eat the budget. With a 50 ton man rated HLV like Falcon Heavy or Delta Phase I could launch Orion directly to l1/l2 where it could dock with a space station or NEO mission, or a Vasmir powered mars craft. Payload are what we need to push atm not rockets.

  • pathfinder_01

    Nelson, On orbit assembly has been invented. You could put toget a BEO mission with a 15MT to Orbit rocket if you wanted to.

  • pathfinder_01

    “I hear people complain that Orion is too small and cramped, and they want something large and expansive like the ISS. If we are going BEO, we will have a very limited mass budget. If you want to launch with a 10.5mT Falcon 9 instead of a 130 mT HLV then you better get very aggressive with your mass reduction stratgies.”

    Not really. Delta IV heavy comes in at 25MT and is cheaper than the shuttle or SLS will ever be. Falcon Heavy is cheaper than the shuttle and SLS will ever be. IMHO you seem more worried about the MT the rocket can lift and less worried about the price which is the perfect way to assure deep space flight never happens becuase like Apollo it will be too expensive.

    HEFT”S hab is 23MT wet and that is a non inflatable one and is planned to support a crew of 3 for 365 days. Sundancer come is at a whoping 8MT.

    You can lift both without heavy lift. Orion itself masses 21MT again can be lifted to LEO without heavy lift. Only a chemically powered earth depature stage would need Heavy lift and even then only if only if you don’t use propellant transfer.

  • Russian media, today, is reporting they’re saying NO to Space-X on early ISS hookup, here’s the link:

    ROSCOSMOS says NO

  • reader

    “So you say that you want a big honking spaceship?”

    Whenever I hear statements like the above, I tend to suspect that the speaker, although very well-intentioned, does not have a very strong technical background.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    really that is one of the best “space groupie” post I have read…”awe and power”…wow all those words…and in them the makings of the reality that you dont have a clue about either the technology or the strategery of moving past “Apollo spectaculars” which are not awesome or all the powerful to that many people any more.

    Space Groupie

    Robert G. Oler

  • Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    “If we are going BEO, we will have a very limited mass budget. If you want to launch with a 10.5mT Falcon 9 instead of a 130 mT HLV then you better get very aggressive with your mass reduction stratgies.”

    This argument is predicated upon a single launch vehicle whereas the alternative he argues against is to use multiple launches and assemble larger vehicles in orbit (either Earth or Lunar transfer for that matter), something NASA has proven time and again they’re capable of. Not sure why comparison to Falcon 9 is relevant when a better comparison to the Falcon Heavy at 53 mT is perhaps more warranted but weakens Mr. Birdwell’s argument. He speaks of the moonshots “…The mass, with fuel, was 15 mT. The command/service module, with fuel, was 30 mT…” so two Falcon Heavies at $95M each and you’d be there in 2013 or 2014. No $10B rocket needed.

    Further, this argument is fatally weakened in terms of mission development costs (how many billions for new Heavy Lift? Nobody knows!). Development costs are something the ‘old commercial’ fans in Congress and without seem to dismiss and accept without question? The ‘new commercial’ companies are proving this mentality to be tax dollar foolish and without misguided political intervention to be over!

  • “What I find odd is that you use those words and yet support what is a real taxpayer giveaway”

    Unlike COTS, CCDev has been a pure giveaway in the sense that the beneficiaries are not obligated to provide any services to NASA, other than to write up a report summarizing the results of their efforts. If they don’t accomplish what they say they will accomplish, then they don’t get all of the moolah, but none of the activities directly support ISS crew transport, or are in any way guaranteed to be part of a solution. It is more like a DARPA research grant than the DoD flyoff between the F-16 and F-17. I did not look into the fine print, so I do not know if NASA receives any rights to use resutling techniques that are developmed as a result of it’s grant to SpaceX, Boeing,

    Defintion: Grant (monetary)
    A grant is money given to a certain individual on the basis that s/he should not have to repay. In that respect, it differs from a loan.

    Most often, grants are issued by the government to those in need, such as families with low income or students attending post-secondary education institutions. In certain cases, a part of a government loan is issued as a grant, particularly pertaining to promising students seeking financial support for continuing their educations.

    Grants are also given out by foundations. These grants can be either scholarships or donations to non-profit organizations. Many non-profits hire grant writers who assist them with obtaining grant money.

    Constellation and COTS, on the other hand, have multi-year contracts where LM, Boeing, or ATK is obligated to provide a working solution that NASA can use for BEO exploration. If they do not deliver then they are in breach of the contract. About here, we get into the Cost-Plus vs Fixed-Cost contract religious wars:

    Advantages:

    + In contrast to a fixed-price contract, a cost-plus contractor has little incentive to cut corners.
    + A cost-plus contract is often used when long-term quality is a much higher concern than cost, such as in the United States space program.
    + Final cost may be less than a fixed price contract because contractors do not have to inflate the price to cover their risk.

    Disadvantages:

    - There is limited certainty as to what the final cost will be.
    - Requires additional oversight and administration to ensure that only permissible costs are paid and that the contractor is exercising adequate overall cost controls.
    - Properly designing award or incentive fees also requires additional oversight and administration.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost-plus_contract

  • One last disadvantage, which I am sure you would want to see included:
    - There is less incentive to be efficient compared to a fixed-price contract.

  • You might remember the quote from John Glenn:

    I guess the question I’m asked the most often is: “When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?”

    Well, the answer to that one is easy. I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    “So you say that you want a big honking spaceship? Something about the size of the battleship Missouri. And you are going to put it into space using what?”

    A suite of ELV-Hs, or Falcon 9′s or whatever.

    The ISS is a big honking spaceship right now, and they put it into space using what? Oh yeah, in order to send it on it’s way, they had to design and construct one of the most MASSIVE (400 mT) heavy lift rockets, ever. Um, didn’t they?

    It would be interesting to understand why Apollo was done with a single launch vehicle, rather than several. I suspect it was because we simply didn’t much of any heavy lift at all. Titan IIIC had less than half the capacity of present ELVs. But the reasons for doing it in a single launcher then are certainly not applicable now.

  • Luminaux

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm:”The [Apollo LEM] mass, with fuel, was 15 mT. The command/service module, with fuel, was 30 mT. In order to send these on their way, even with extreme mass-reduction measures, they had to design and construct one of the most MASSIVE (119 mT) heavy lift rockets, ever, the Saturn V.”

    The important point you seem to be missing is that we are not talking about launching the entire craft from the surface of the Earth. We are talking about launching a series of components from the surface of the Earth, and constructing in orbit.

    Even if we do build the 130mT-to-LEO capable SLS, the cost per launch would conservatively be equivalent to the 2011 adjusted $1.1B cost of a Saturn V launch. This does not include the more than $15B (likely MUCH more) the US will have to spend on SLS development and testing.
    SLS: $1100M/130mT= $8.5M per mT.

    Compare that to the LEO payload capacities of CURRENTLY AVAILABLE mid-size launch vehicles…
    Falcon 9: $56M/10.5mT = $5.3M per mT.
    Atlas V 551: $138M/20mT = $6.9M per mT.
    Delta IV: $170M/22.5mT = $7.6M per mT

    All the parts would be (or already are, e.g. Bigelow “TransHabs”) designed to fit in these smaller launch vehicles, and humanity wouldn’t have to wait for new technology to pursue serious human space exploration/colonization. Also, the chance of a new administration/congress deciding to scrap the program would be lessened do to the fact we could have the program active by the end of this year or next, rather than still be in the development/testing stage 5 years from now (using the Constellation program as an example).

    You know that proverb, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”? Well, each launch vehicle is quite the explosive basket. Failures are bound to happen. I rather like the idea of parts going up separately, rather than all at once…

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    The ISS mass is 417 mT, which is about 10X greater.

    It’s tough to figure you out Nelson. You are obviously aware of the various space programs, but then you act totally oblivious to current space construction techniques.

    Maybe you were not aware of this, but the ISS was built by assembling components smaller than 20mt, which means we could duplicate it or expand it using existing launchers like Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5 and Proton, or near-term launchers like Falcon Heavy and Atlas V Heavy.

    We don’t know what the upper limit is to how big we could make the ISS or similar structures using existing launchers, and we’re already at 919,960 lb.

    Did we need a 130mt launcher to build the ISS? Nope.

    So you say that you want a big honking spaceship?

    No I didn’t say that. I guess we have to add reading comprehension to your list of “issues”. What I said was that we could use ISS “components and technology” – parts like Node 3, the Quest airlock, Cupola, and other existing technology that is repackaged for a small exploration vehicle (or mobile laboratory).

    Building more of what we’ve already proved out saves money and time, and that means we can start exploring quicker. You also end up with a more capable vehicle, and one that can reused for future missions (which saves time, money & mass).

    There are two basic problems with your HLV argument:

    1. If you argue that assemblies/vehicles in space will be limited by the size of the launchers, then you will always be limited by how big your launchers are. For instance you could only put an ISS-sized structure in space if you had a launcher capable of putting 1,000,000 lbs into LEO, and the SLS would limit you to structures 1/4 the size of the ISS. Of course the ISS proves this argument wrong.

    2. If you agree that modular construction CAN be used in space, then you also have to admit that larger launchers truly aren’t needed until design constraints require capabilities bigger than current launchers (50,000 lbs to LEO). But right now there are NO funded programs requiring large amounts of mass in space, so existing and near-term launchers would save $Billions.

    Nelson, sometimes I think you others have never watched NASA TV when they are showing tours of the ISS. It is a huge structure internally, and the size of a football field externally. We don’t lack the ability to build large spaceships, and with fuel depots we could push spaceships the size of the ISS beyond LEO. And we can do all of that without HLV’s.

  • Beyondnasa

    We should forget how we went to the Moon the first time – in a spare-no-expense cold-war rush. We should return to the Moon as if it were the first time – using 21st century technology, logic and relative economy. Start from that blank sheet of paper and we’ll make a lot better go of it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Sorry Nelson, that is not all that well an informed post. I dont know if you simply dont know what you dont know and hence are falling back on the standard lines or are trying to sort of obfuscate the issue. I’ll go with the former because the latter would turn me off.

    A few points.

    Cost plus contracts are DESIGNED. in simple terms to cover “things” for which the scope of work is simply undefinable with precision at the time the contract is issued.

    The Apollo lunar lander is a pretty good (and extreme…but by all means not the only example). Who knew when Grumman got the contract what the shape and form of the lander was going to be because at the time it was issued no one really knew how to “land on the Moon”…they didnt even know the surface content of the Moon.

    If on the other hand one is designing say tankers for the US military NOW then the requirements are fairly well in hand and the acquisition process is not much more complex then Delta or SWA buying the same plane to carry passengers.

    Almost all the advantages you mention for cost plus are PAO babble…they are simply not accurate or true. Companies like cost plus because it gives them almost no requirement to actually produce ANYTHING FOR A SET COST.

    It is in your words the perfect “giveaway”. If, a true story in the case of Orion, the astronaut office comes up with “a special request” about the “windows” in the vehicle…there is almost no incentive to avoid the several million dollar cost to meet the request, it is after all a “cost plus” contract so well why not.

    By contrast say an airlines pilot group wants “this or that” on their version of the Boeing (and all airlines have unique versions with unique designators so all airplanes are somewhat different)…then everyone needs to be clear and justify WHY theirs has to be special. Because there is going to be real money associated with the effort.

    ATK, etc and even NASA are on a cost plus under no obligation to produce any hardware for any fixed amount of money or on really any time schedule…this is one reason why Cx spent 12 billion dollars and got nothing for it.

    An example…when ATK needed to do the “cold weather” testing on the 5 segment..they built massive AC units…in a state where had the effort been planned for the winter…there are few days above freezing. There are no incentives to make hard choices to keep cost down.

    Grants you likewise misstate. The right wing line is that “they are for the poor” but they are more, from the government the product of attempting to enable people to do things that better society….

    Finally as for Glenn’s statement. Yawn. While government contracts have a lowest bidder aspect, the analogy he draws to a rocket is pure bravado. Back in his youth Glenn sat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the dead of night waiting for a cat shot with the knowledge that the airplane was maintained by 20 somethings and the cat steam pressure was set by those same 20 somethings.

    Trust.

    The label the CCdev money, which is trivial in scope to the billions spent on cost plus, as a giveaway means you either dont understand the issues and are vulnerable to Whittington like rhetoric…or you are doing the rhetoric yourself.

    Dont succumb to that….do better, debate the issues on the issues. If you dont like commercial have the courage to say that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    “the text of HR 1641, the bill introduced by Posey to make a lunar return NASA’s human spaceflight goal, is now available. (It was introduced last Friday but not posted on Thomas until some time this morning.)”

    so much for the claim by Whittington, wind etc that the GOP will embrace a lunar return. Not a single GOP candidate including Palin has embraced this bill.

    LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 9:23 am
    “so much for the claim by Whittington, wind etc that the GOP will embrace a lunar return. Not a single GOP candidate including Palin has embraced this bill.”

    Yes it has been posted for review a whole day now and none of them have run to the nearest microphone.

    That is real rejection alright. :)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 9:44 am

    “Yes it has been posted for review a whole day now and none of them have run to the nearest microphone.”

    Pretty much. How things like this work, unless (and this is completely possible) the entire excersize is just something to crank up the dullards in the home district and say to them “see I am fighting for your jobs”…is that a person like Posey tries to get some high profile person who can give the effort a little “wind” (grin) in the sails to sign on and sign on as the thing is cranked up.

    But there is more or less silence from almost everyone in the GOP…because they recognize the reality of life.

    In this era of tax increases (which are coming) lots of cuts to very popular programs and general budget problems a complete non starter in the American political system would be “but we are going to have a hundred billion dollar program to send a few astronauts back to the Moon…be of good cheer and reelect us”.

    That might play in space groupie circles…but it wont even play in TX-22 and thats the home of JSC. You cannot imagine how much “flack” Pete caught for his trying to save “government jobs” while not doing a thing to stop the layoffs in the CAL/UAL merger.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Scott Bass

    I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon, regardless whether it is based on reality or not……sometimes you just gotta put it out there and see if anyone bites

  • Scott Bass

    The republicans will be too busy explaining their blunder of a plan to dismantle medicare for the next 18 months to even consider talking about NASA. I think they had a backroom talk and decided this was the best way to keep Obama in office :)

  • Coastal Ron

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Right now the Delta V to go to or from L1 is about 3.77Km/s. The Delta V needed to reenter from L1 is like .77 km/s. A huge savings.

    Good info. Certainly in our early efforts to go beyond LEO we will have to be relying on the least costly methods of returning to Earth, but over time I don’t see capsule transportation to/from L1 as the primary method that everyone will want to use. But that transition period could take a while depending on how quickly we add traffic to “L1 Highway”.

    To return to LEO with a crew you either need to aerocaputure or return propulsivly (which takes a large amount of mass if you are using chemical…

    The approach I thought would be the most likely would be aerocapture, since the fuel requirements are far less, and we would do that using a dedicated class of vehicles that only travel between LEO and L1/L2.

    I guess I look at our terrestrial transportation systems as inspiration for how our space transportations will evolve, where in the beginning we use multi-purpose vehicles, but over time we replace them with ones that focus on doing one segment very efficiently. I’m just hoping that we take the time to think this out somewhat before we dedicate too much money on a system that could be obsolete fairly quickly.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 am
    “I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon, regardless whether it is based on reality or not……sometimes you just gotta put it out there and see if anyone bites”

    Has Posey proposed anything that is, in fact, based on reality?

    BTW, he wrote a guest column in Fla Today a few weeks back. (It’s also on his HOR website.)

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110407/COLUMNISTS0205/110406020/Bill-Posey-Back-moon-April-7-

    He therein does some elaboration on some of the wacky words in his bill, as on the “military advantage” of space that should not, he says, be ceded to the Russians and Chinese. (DoD needs to sit up and take notice!) What it all comes down to, it seems, is “maintaining our position as the world’s preeminent spacefaring nation.” One hilarious quote is this one …. “As the shuttle program winds down, our human spaceflight program lacks a clear mission.” Perhaps as if to say, before our shuttle program wound down, it had one? Well, funneling money to his district was clear to him, I guess.

    Posey also stated, in a press conference last month

    “NASA’s primary purpose is human space exploration and directing NASA funds to study global warming undermines our ability to maintain our competitive edge in human space flight.”

    Mr. Posey has evidently never read the Space Act. He might learn something about NASA’s primary purpose if he did.

    Keep fishing, Mr. Posey! You might get a bite.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 am

    “I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon, regardless whether it is based on reality or not…”

    Scott. I concur. The problem is that the bill, the notion the thoughts by Griffin are simply out of touch with the realities of today and they really doom such an effort to almost “laughing stock”.

    Griffin etc live in a world that has haunted human spaceflight now for 50 years…the world where Apollo never (or should not have) stopped, where all the reasons Apollo started are still the only reasons for doing anything in human spaceflight today.

    Once the notion is stripped of “the Chinese or Indians or Iranians or Al Queda are going to take over the Moon” or “we have to do this because it is what a great power does” or “wow we are Americans we are number 1 so we have to stay number 1 and do this” or some combination of these reasons…then the effort has nothing but the notion of “jobs” that are on the government dole.

    The problem is that there notions have given us a space shuttle system that cost far to much, a space station that has no real valid purpose anymore and a lot of attempts (NLS/ALS etc) to try something different…so now 50 years after human spaceflight started and LOTS of money rolled into the effort there is nothing really to show for it; nothing that produces any value for the cost.

    And as a result the people have really just turned away from human spaceflight except when there is some PR value that really has nothing to do with space…

    So yeah while the idea in general is ok, the execution means a lot

    Robert G. Oler

  • Joe

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 am
    “I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon, regardless whether it is based on reality or not……sometimes you just gotta put it out there and see if anyone bites”

    Hi Scott,

    For what it is worth, a couple of comments in Representative Posey’s bill.

    - It attempts to restore a specific goal (and a deadline to achieve it) to the HSF Program. It does not call for any additional appropriations (the Authorization/Appropriation process has been completed for 2011).

    - It has a bi-partisan group of co-sponsors (Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas, Mr. WOLF, Mr. BISHOP of Utah, and Mr. OLSON – Who Oler, of course attacks above)

    - I have no idea how serious Mr. Posey is (neither does Oler). The coming weeks will tell. If there is a parallel Senate Bill, who it’s Sponsor/Co-Sponsors will be. How will it do in committee hearings, and so on?

    - If it succeeds then will be the time to see if presidential candidates from any party will indorse it.

    - To assert that the Republican Presidential Candidates (none of whom has yet officially declared) have rejected the idea (because they have not publically addressed it, within a day of its posting for review) is (well) let’s call it questionable, but (unfortunately) par for the course.

  • Scott Bass

    Well Robert, thats the problem isn’t it, If nationalism or exploration for explorations sake are no longer valid arguments then people start with the fear mongering angle which really does not work either…… I can’t convincingly argue a moon base because I fall on the exploration for explorations sake side and as many have pointed out repeatedly that is not good enough in today’s climate. So I sit and hope either some entity comes up with a way to make it profitable or something happens politically that changes the will, both of those seem very far off and is definitely one of the reasons I was so disappointed with constellations cancellation, I wanted to see us return to the moon in my lifetime…… It is also a reason I am supporting SLS….. It’s current lack of a mission everyone talks about leaves that door open slightly , if it gets built we would be a step closer to the out come I want.

  • Martijn Meijering

    We don’t lack the ability to build large spaceships, and with fuel depots we could push spaceships the size of the ISS beyond LEO.

    We can do that even without depots, as long as we assemble the spaceship at L1/L2, which would be a natural “home port” anyway.

  • Frank Glover

    “People, any manned vehicle that can make it to an asteroid, and then to Mars,”

    What vehicle is this? Orion can marginally do *Near Earth* Asteroids flown as a pair. Barring some breakthrough in propulsion I’m unaware of that would allow a round trip in a month or two (and even then just to Mars orbit and its moons), it’s not going to Mars.

  • E.P. Grondine

    If all of you space fans can not come up with an easy to understand answer to the “Why?’ question, then this entire “discussion” about the “How?’ question you’re having is moot, IMO.

    It is indeed very unfortunate that Rep.Giffords and those she spoke for have been silenced for the time being.

  • Frank Glover

    “Returning Nautilus to LEO is very costly in terms of propellant…”

    So be it.Nautilus-X is not intended to be expendable. The point is to have BEO missions that don’t end with nothing but a return capsule, but a spacecraft that can be refueled/re-provisioned in LEO and go out again. You want to get to where you replace the fuel, not the ship…
    .

    “Another Simberg inaccuracy. Von Braun supported LOR after his initial embrace of EOR was rejected on engineering and cost factors of the era.”

    Which only means Von Braun did the best he could with the architecture he was given, not the one he preferred. (and I do understand EOR was judged to take longer to develop than single-launch LOR…important if the driver is to beat the Soviets and the ‘before the decade is out’ deadline) He did not reject EOR himself, his bosses did. Would you have had him quit over it?

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon money

    There, I updated your statement to reflect reality. And once you realize that, you’ll understand why NASA doesn’t have enough money to actually DO any exploration – it’s being spent on jobs programs like the SLS.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So be it.Nautilus-X is not intended to be expendable. The point is to have BEO missions that don’t end with nothing but a return capsule, but a spacecraft that can be refueled/re-provisioned in LEO and go out again. You want to get to where you replace the fuel, not the ship…

    Having it cycle beween high Mars orbit and high Earth orbit is much more efficient than travelling up and down deep gravity wells. Lagrange points are the most obvious candidates. It would save a lot of propellant. Returning to LEO is more appropriate for an aerobraking crew transporter between LEO and L1/L2, but for the time being EOR in LEO with a cryogenic upper stage on the outward journey and return from L1/L2 straight to the surface on the return journey is the more pragmatic solution.

  • Luminaux

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 2:06 pm: “If all of you space fans can not come up with an easy to understand answer to the “Why?’ question”

    The ultimate “why”, in my mind, is preservation of humanity’s accrued knowledge. What is the purpose of humanity’s constant “investment” in itself? How much money is “invested” every day on global stock markets with the only goal being to gain more wealth? Beneath all humanity’s greed and deception there is still the same basic premise of all biological life… to survive. The difference is that we are not ONLY individual biological entities, we are also all part of a collective consciousness.

    Without investments and advancements in human space flight beyond Low Earth Orbit humanity will not be able to face the challenge of survival when we finally find ourselves in “need” of the ability to leave or expand beyond this planet. (“Need” is in quotes because we actually don’t NEED to survive… survival is a choice for a conscious being.)

    Humanity is a pattern of nature (or God or the big bang or whatever creation/creator(s) term you prefer), and the knowledge humanity collects is dependent on our perspective being present. Imagine for a moment our pattern as a data set that we have spent thousands of years collecting… is it not prudent to have at least one back-up copy? The Earth holds humanity’s “one copy” in its chaotic embrace. Colonization of space is the only way humanity’s experiences and expressions have a long-term chance for survival.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Once again the wind is blowing. The shuttle failed to launch on schedule 65% of the time.

    Have you ever flown? Or taken a bus or a train? Schedule slippage is SOP for these modes of transport and are regarded as ‘operational’– shuttle is an experimental vehicle. Given the complexities and the inflexible laws of orbital mechanics, they’ve done okay regarding technical delays. Delays from poor management, less so, and inexcusable. The quicker NASA ends shuttle and cleans house of the STS managment deadwood, the better.

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    “Whenever I hear statements like the above, I tend to suspect that the speaker, although very well-intentioned, does not have a very strong technical background.”

    Pretty good one! Look who’s talking…

  • common sense

    @ pathfinder_01 wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    “common sense, The Original plan was for Orion Block O to be ISS capable only. However when commercial crew arrived and Orion got canceled and revived Lockheed martin decided to aim for Block 1 Orion. Those Orion’s would be BEO capable, however not all systems may be present(like the toilet).”

    I am not saying that this is not what LMT wants. I am saying that the financial reality is such that Orion will not be built, especially not for BEO. Considering that Dragon will be LEO, crewed, much earlier than any one else, Orion will not be built.

    You don’t have to believe me.

    You’ll see.

  • common sense

    @ Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:35 am

    “I find it refreshing someone in washington is still fighting for the moon, regardless whether it is based on reality or not……sometimes you just gotta put it out there and see if anyone bites”

    Oh yeah “refreshing” is how I’d put it. Maybe you ought to try that at your next rally of unemployed people. See how refreshed you come out of it. I don’t know. Maybe you will be all refreshed and new. Give it a try.

  • DCSCA

    @Frank Glover wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 2:10 pm
    The architecture he ‘preferred’ was what he knew and, in his role at MSFC, ‘preferred’ because it funnelled more missile work their way. It was a bit dogmatic. He’d have loved to be stamping out Saturns and Novas for years down there. doing it ‘his way.’ His reluctance to accept LOR at first had a lot to do with factors beyond engineering not the least of which being it wasn’t ‘his idea.’ The guy had quite an ego, you know. Given the multiple launches involved, his ‘preferred’ method was- more complex and more costly (he was always good at spending other people’s money,– be it Hitler’s or Uncle Sam’s). The MSFC folks fought the famed ‘all-up test’ concept as well, which saved money and time. He was quite aware of himself, you know, as most engineers w/big egos can be.

  • Coastal Ron

    This is a little off topic, but related to what I was talking about earlier.

    Though the MPCV may turn out to actually fly and be used on some number of “missions”, I don’t see it as part of the transportation infrastructure that will eventually be established. At some point I see the following specific transportation segments in space:

    :: Earth-LEO-Earth (ELE) – This is the transportation segment that NASA is working on with CCDev money, and it is needed to support the ISS. But it can also be used for getting anyone to LEO, where they can transfer to;

    :: LEO-L1-LEO (LLL) – This segment could use a number of technologies or techniques depending on how successful aero capture turns out to be, how expensive fuel is in LEO or L1, and other things such as radiation shielding and electric engines;

    :: L1-Moon-L1 (LML) – Once this segment is established, we will likely see a dramatic increase in the amount of activity on the Moon, and ISRU becomes a lot less expensive to initiate;

    :: L1-BEO-L1 (LBL) – Going beyond the Moon will require vehicles that are like ships at sea, large and self-contained, and able to weather minor mishaps. Because of the delta-v requirements, I think L1 will be as close as they get to Earth.

    Note: I’m using L1 as shorthand for Earth-Moon Lagrange points.

    This type of segmentation makes it easier for the marketplace to build the least expensive vehicles for each segment, which also means that competition is easier to maintain. Each segment can also be maximized for reusability, which lowers costs and increases availability.

    Boeing, SpaceX and SNC are current examples of ELE transportation, but at some point they could be replaced with RLV’s. If NASA instead defined their need as Earth-L1-Earth (what Orion would do), then the capital requirements would be much higher, per seat prices would be higher, and there would be less competition.

    Each transportation segment moves between the two closest points of potential commerce, which again maximizes traffic and keeps cost down.

    This segmentation does not block the use of multi-segment transportation systems, but those types of vehicles would only be operated by governments or companies that had a need for faster transportation, and could afford the higher prices. Over time those systems could end up being the norm as demand increases and prices drop, but the demand will have been established by the single-segment transportation systems.

    This type of segmentation supports any type of exploration, and though this may not be what the Augustine Commission had in mind for “Flexible Path”, it does enable it.

    Maybe I’m rehashing something that is already out there, and if so I apologize, but for the money we’re spending on the MPCV I think we could be building out the LLL segment and making the Moon a lot closer, so I think we are wasting time and money.

    My $0.02

  • E.P. Grondine

    I wish you space fans could get your history straight.

    von Braun supported LOR once it was made clear to him that it would use the Apollo capsule, which was more or less under his control, and had been under development for several years by that point in time.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Luminaux wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    “The ultimate “why”, in my mind, is preservation of humanity’s accrued knowledge. … Colonization of space is the only way humanity’s experiences and expressions have a long-term chance for survival.”

    Hilarious, but true. Hilarious because you’ll NEVER see words like that come out of the Administration or Congress. Now, they’re smart. They understand that species survival or preservation of humanity’s accrued knowledge isn’t up to the American taxpayer. But maybe if we start talking about preservation of the American way, they’ll go along?

    Really, this is why our Congress can’t achieve what is probably the best reason for human space flight. Partly because that reason is not an identified national need, and partly because success isn’t measured on the time scale of any one Congress.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    ” I was so disappointed with constellations cancellation, I wanted to see us return to the moon in my lifetime…… It is also a reason I am supporting SLS”

    Look…on this reasonable minds can differ and you are a reasonable person…so (as my saintly Mother says) I say this with all kindness and with all due respect but in my viewpoint we stand about as much chance of getting to the Moon with SLS as we did with NLS or ALS or any program that consumes more then a billion dollars a year. IE we stand no chance at all.

    We are never going (in my view…and this is what is wrong with Posey’s effort if the effort is serious and not just a throw away to the locals)…until the cost gets down to something around a billion a year and can be done in about five years…and has some staying power…and I think all this is possible.

    But it never will be possible with SLS because at least for another 10-20 years that will cement the notion that space with humans is “a test vehicle proposition” and very very expensive…and in today’s budget climate (or even the one that Bill Clinton had) that dog wont hunt.

    These are not your words but they illustrate the issue…

    ” DCSCA wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    – shuttle is an experimental vehicle.”

    we have flown the vehicle for three decades, spent nearly 200 billion dollars and the darn thing is still being pushed as an experimental vehicle? DCSCA’s line is straight from the NASA PAO…

    SLS will bear the same cross…it will always be “experimental” and need lots of dollars and people and it will never fly much less get used.

    I predict that we are on the verge (the next 10 years) of going back to the Moon. And I’ll bet you that the total cost are under 10 billion maybe even 5 billion because most of the “stuff” will have been done 1) for something else (SpaceX, Boeing, Bigelow) and the lunar stuff (VLVT) will have been done for similar dollars that SpaceX, Boeing and Bigelow are now doing real space hardware. ie far cheaper then NASA’s pathetic bureaucracy can do it.

    When we can do it for that…we as a nation will do it, not because it is hard or even easy, but because it is affordable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Scott Bass

    Robert, I very much respect what you said, I am not even saying my logic is correct, I am just not convinced the steps you and others have put forth will materialize either….. Everything everyone is expressing is really pure speculation with history and experiences as a guide. If I had a crystal ball I feel sure we would all snap in to quick agreement on the best way forward. I enjoy the discussions here but the bottom line is I want to support the program that supports pure beo manned space flight and exploration with a personal hope of a lunar return. If they announced tomorrow a program using existing delta or atlas launch vehicles with contracts for a lander I would drop SLS support like a hot potato, no one is throwing me that bone though

  • guest

    EP Grondine wrote:
    “von Braun supported LOR once it was made clear to him that it would use the Apollo capsule, which was more or less under his control, and had been under development for several years by that point in time.”

    I think you are trying to write a revisionist history.

    Apollo – the CSM- had been under development since the Eisenhower administration (as a Phase A/B concept) by the Space Task Group at Langley working under Bob Gilruth. It was the intended follow-on to Mercury and was intended to be circumlunar. Max Faget and Cadwell Johnson were the lead designers. At the time von Braun worked for the US Army. He had nothing to do with it at the start. Faget and Johnson initially drew the scale drawings of the Apollo and made an error because they made the diaeter about a foot too large. They fixed it by redrawing it and cutting off the sharp corners at the base of the CM.

    Once Kennedy announced the moon landing goal, and von Braun was part of NASA once NASA formed about a year and a half earlier, von Braun initially did not favor LOR, nor did any of his people. von Braun, Gilruth and Faget were visiting NASA Headquarters and Gilruth and Faget were going to present LOR to Webb and Seamans. Faget briefed von Braun on the LOR plan. Gilruth and Faget were concerned that von Braun had not favored LOR. Gilruth asked von Braun to brief Webb and the NASA Headquarters management on LOR and give the presentation Faget had already prepared. It was at that point that von Braun got comfortable with LOR and told his MSFC people to support it.

    Many people credit the success of Apollo to the clear line of demarcation between the rocket, which was von Braun’s responsibility, and the spacecraft, which was the Manned Spacecraft Center’s. von Braun wanted to manage all of Apollo, and he was considered for the job, but many of the top NASA managers said they would not work for him.

    The Apollo spacecraft was never under the control of MSFC, von Braun, or anyplace other than the Space Task Group (Langley) or the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.

  • guest2

    Cost of development of a jumbo jet like the Airbus 380 has been about $15 billion. Cost of each airplane is about $300 million. Cost of the Boeing 747 is roughly similar. The average age of 747s now flying is about 12 years. Most individual airplanes are flying everyday. That is what makes them affordable.

    By comparison, Constellation, Orion and Ares have already cost close to this amount (in rough numbers. The Airbus 380 went through a concept development period of several years, and then engineering design began in 1994. The first vehicle was completed in about 9 years and flew before the 11th year, in 2005.

    A similar comparison to Shuttle would show its development cost under $6 billion (about $15 billion in today’s money). Though concepts started in 1968, the program started in 1972 and first flight was less than 9 years later.

    All of these facts and figures show that for vehicles that are of similar complexity to a new lunar landing vehicle, costs probably ought to be in the same ballpark and time to first flight probably similar. Unfortunately we then compare it to the last 7 years and $12 billion of Constellation spending, and we are nowhere even close.

    Getting the per vehicle cost down to anywhere close to the cost of a jumbo seems unlikely. The numbers quoted for Orion/Ares was in excess of a $billion each, and each is used only one time. It is not an affordable.

    Seems to me we started on what Mr. Posey wanted about 7 years ago, and we are not a lot closer now than we were then.

  • Dear Mr. Posey,
    Please order the moon-launch from Space-X for a 2014 launch date and save us taxpayers $10B on the “Shelby-Lift” pork in space launch vehicle.
    Sincerely,
    one of Congress’ bosses

  • @Coastal Ron

    Once we identify the precise segments you describe the advantages of depot(s) and transfer stations at EML-1 / EML-2 become stunningly obvious.

    EML-1 / EML-2 facilities are the logical “next step” whether it proves cheaper to lift fuel from Earth with RLVs or some other cheap access to space launcher OR whether lunar ISRU is a better investment than RL:Vs

    Either way, EML-1 / EML-2 depots are the next step.

    For all the reasons you identify at April 23rd, 2011 at 6:02 pm

  • @ Robert Oler

    I agree “we” could very well get back to the Moon within 10 years using SpaceX launches and Bigelow habitats, however I very much doubt that “we” will mean “NASA”

    Some other “we” will decide to listen to that old Nike slogan and “Just Do It”

    And, if its not NASA it won’t be US tax dollars that pay for that lunar return, either.

  • pathfinder_01

    “So be it.Nautilus-X is not intended to be expendable. The point is to have BEO missions that don’t end with nothing but a return capsule, but a spacecraft that can be refueled/re-provisioned in LEO and go out again. You want to get to where you replace the fuel, not the ship…”

    Frank, I agree. I was thinking more along the lines of parking it in L1/L2 rather than returning it to LEO. From L1/L2 the amount of propellant needed to escape is much reduced. You could still use Delta IV heavy or Flacon heavy to refuel/ re-provion it. You could use an LEO to L1/L2 SEP tug to just send the needed supplies/propellant out to L1/L2. You could use 100 day ballistic trajectories to carry cargo out to it. Parking it here after an BEO mission promotes reuse because l1/l2 are easier to get to from a BEO mission than LEO(without aero capture) and the Van Allen Belts are not kind to crew, electronics, or solar panels. My favorite method would be to establish an l1/l2 SEP tug so that you can use the same rockets that are able to supply the ISS for BEO missions. Tug would not need to carry 8-20MT worth of hab module with it.

    It could be built in LEO or built at l1/l2. I suspect LEO is probably the best place to build it. Orion would only be used to send or return crew from it. Commercial could be used to resupply it and in time send crew to it or say a tourist station near the moon. The l1/L2 tugs could support mars missions, lunar surface missions, satellites in GEO, probes to planets and so on. I can imagine using Dragon for instance to send supplies out to it and load rocks from a NEO or Lunar mission on it for return and using a version of Cygnus to send supplies out and load garbage on for disposal. You could carry much more if you don’t need to carry it with the crew.

  • pathfinder_01

    Costal ron, I agree with breaking it up into segments but there are lots of ways commercial can participate.

    You could use commercial to launch Orion and EDS to deep space missions.

    You can use NASA or commercial to create in space transport systems.

    My view is we need to give them an anchor point in deep space just as the ISS is an anchor point in LEO. Then commercial could participate. Right now I think totally commercial deep space missions are too expensive but they can supply parts and services that can be helpful.

    One of the big problems with deep space flight is that it tilts the playing field toward bigger more expensive boosters. If I were in charge I would use the SLS money to build a SEP tug so that you could use a Tarsus II or Falcon or maybe at worse a Atlas to supply a L1/L2 station, Nautilus or a Moon Base. An L1/L2 space station for instance could be a point where commercial cargo and crew could work towards.

    Without that then everyone is forced to build bigger rockets or use more expensive rockets to supply a deep space mission and so far only Space X is risking that and even then Falcon Heavy is much better putting cargo in LEO than pushing it further out.

    LEO-L1-LE0 at the moment is the most difficult for crew but if aero capture matures it could make sense to depart from a space station in LEO to l1 and return using a deep space capsule left at l1 only for emergency return. I don’t see Orion as precluding commercial from doing deep space but perhaps enabling it.

    A FH or Delta can launch an EDS. A Delta can launch an Orion and off to an L1/L2 station or spacecraft you go and now NASA would have a reason to bring commercial in(to lower the price of resupply) or develop technology that commercial might not like SEP tugs(ad astra is developing the engine not a whole spacecraft).

    Once commercial is up to l1 then Orion could be canceled or evolve into something suitable for mars(i.e. storable for 400+ days vs. 6 months) or NASA could work on lunar landers leaving crew transport to l1 to commercial. Orion at best will probably only do two missions a year and perhaps not even that.

  • “I can’t convincingly argue a moon base because I fall on the exploration for explorations sake side and as many have pointed out repeatedly that is not good enough in today’s climate.”

    Scott:

    I tend to agree. In the future we are going to establish a research station on the Moon, like Antarctica. (I don’t see self-supporting commercial ventures on the Moon anytime soon, just as it has not and does not appear to be happening on the ISS.)

    Because delivery costs to lunar surface will be 2X as expensive as LEO, we will want to take maximum advantage of ISRU for generation of air, water, propellant, and shelter. At this early stage, I therefore favor extensive exploration to identify resources, increase our comprehension of Lunar geology, and perform small-scale test of ISRU concepts.

    Because of the high risks of Lunar exploration, I see the NASA SLS and MPCV as primary components of the solution, as well an Altair-class lander that will begin construction and testing after the HLV becomes operational.

    When we begin to establish that outpost, I also see opportunities (like COTS) for lower-cost commercial delivery of equipment and supplies to the lunar surface.

  • It had to happen sooner or later:

    http://www.teainspace.com/

    TEA in Space is a place on the internet where TEA Party conservatives can come together to talk about the United States Space Program: NASA.

    I found my party spinning its wheels as it tried to define its stance on NASA, Human Spaceflight (HSF), and robotic exploration. I found republican senators treating NASA as a jobs program and not a space exploration program. It is time that the TEA Party start molding NASA in its own image of fiscal responsibility.

    Trying to reconcile a “socialist” government space program with the Tea Party movement. Should be amusing.

  • Martijn Meijering

    At some point I see the following specific transportation segments in space:

    Good post Ron.

  • Martijn Meijering

    His reluctance to accept LOR at first had a lot to do with factors beyond engineering not the least of which being it wasn’t ‘his idea.’

    The MSFC folks fought the famed ‘all-up test’ concept as well, which saved money and time.

    Ego may have been part of it, but if so I think it was a small part, even if it turns out he did have a huge ego (and I don’t know either way). The real reason was that von Braun was in favour of incrementalism and of developing infrastructure along the way. If he had had his way (and maybe that was politically impossible, as it has been for at least the past thirty years), then both the space program and commercial development of space would be in much better hape than they are today.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Either way, EML-1 / EML-2 depots are the next step.

    Better yet, let the spacecraft that will use the depot be the depot and let market forces determine when and where to put dedicated permanent depots and what kinds of propellants and what forms of propulsion (chemical, SEP, NEP) to use.

  • Martijn Meijering

    One of the big problems with deep space flight is that it tilts the playing field toward bigger more expensive boosters.

    How so? EOR works with small rockets too and Falcon 9 could launch resupply payloads straight to L1/L2 if necessary.

    Once commercial is up to l1 then Orion could be canceled or evolve into something suitable for mars(i.e. storable for 400+ days vs. 6 months) or NASA could work on lunar landers leaving crew transport to l1 to commercial.

    It could be cancelled right now. Dragon is capable of lunar and even hyperbolic return and CST-100 could be upgraded later. Building a beyond LEO only capsule is a giant waste of money. Ditching the capsule part (or spinning it off as a commercial crew taxi if that’s what LM wanted) and turning Orion into a lander or an orbital transfer ship (a stepping stone towards Nautilus) would do wonders for development of cheap lift, as such a craft could be both its own makeshift depot and a large consumer of storable propellant.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Because of the high risks of Lunar exploration, I see the NASA SLS and MPCV as primary components of the solution,

    A total non-sequitur. What risks do you mean and what do SLS and MPCV have to do with it? If anything they increase program risk.

    as well an Altair-class lander that will begin construction and testing after the HLV becomes operational.

    What do you mean by Altair-class? I suspect you mean a lander that will only fit on SLS. If you looked at capabilities you’d see that it would be much wiser to do this instead of SLS and MPCV and to make sure it would fit on EELVs. If you had even very limited technical insight you could do the calculations yourself and see that you could land larger payloads than Constellation this way. But no, you’re still shilling for an HLV.

    If you are deliberately changing requirements to lock in SLS and MPCV, then you know in your heart of hearts that they are a mistake.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @pathfinder:

    An L1/L2 space station for instance could be a point where commercial cargo and crew could work towards.

    That was my starting point too, two years ago when I first started to follow discussions about NASA’s future and commercial development of space. It would be much easier to reach than the lunar surface, making it a convenient stepping stone for commercial space. I’d like to share with you how my thinking developed from there and see if we can find common ground. Apologies for the length of my reply, I could’t make it any shorter.

    I realised HLVs were too expensive for commercial space, but not for NASA and reckoned DIRECT would be cheaper than Constellation. I was trying to find a way to get early results through incrementalism and getting an L1/L2 station operation as soon as possible seemed like a good way to do it.

    It would require funding of course, but a perfect opportunity presented itself when people pointed out the possibility of using an Atlas or Delta IV upper stage as an upper stage for a J-120. That should save a lot of money, hopefully enough for an L1/L2 station.

    Some simple calculations showed that this could get an Orion to L1/L2. Not with a whole lot of margin, but it would be possible. I didn’t realise it then, but now I know that Orion was deliberately designed not to fit on an EELV and that a smaller capsule could easily do this with lots of margin.

    It also turns out that there’s no need for the Jupiter first stage to lift the EELV upper stages, it could be done on an EELV Heavy too. You could then do EOR in LEO, very similar to what Constellation or DIRECT wanted to do, instead of the single launch Apollo to L1/L2 I had been imagining with a J-120 + DCSS.

    The lander was then offered as a counterargument, since it was too heavy to be transported that way (too heavy to lift to LEO on an EELV and too heavy to move from LEO to L1/L2 by Centaur/DCSS), especially if it were to use storable propellant as it would have to for a multiple-launch scenario, unless we gave up on the possibility of not having to wait for development of cryogenic depots.

    Again, I now know that this wasn’t a true obstacle, as the Apollo LM was small enough to be transported this way and Altair, like Orion, was deliberately designed not to fit on an EELV. And even though I didn’t know it then, I did realise that we could circumvent size problems on both segments (Earth to LEO and LEO to L1/L2) by offloading the storable propellant, something I knew to be proven and mature technology.

    That is when my enthusiasm for using storable propellant was born. I didn’t get there out of dogmatic considerations, in fact I had started out hostile to hypergolics and sympathetic to the Shuttle stack. It seemed as if using a smallish HLV (J-120), existing (but modified) EELV upper stages as EDSs and storable propellant transfer to make everything fit would be a perfect way to break the deadlock, so I enthusiastically started to promote this possibility.

    It took me a while to realise that people were arguing against this for selfish reasons while hiding behind technical arguments that upon inspection could be either accommodated or dismissed. This led me to reconsider my preferences.

    Because I had realised that the possibility of EOR in LEO made the J-120 superflous, I slowly realised that I shouldn’t be arguing against J-120 + JUS and proposing J-120 + DCSS instead, but that I should be arguing against DIRECT altogether and promoting EELV Phase 1 instead. A larger EDS would actually be more useful than a larger first stage!

    But of course, even that would no longer be necessary immediately if you went with a smaller capsule. And since Dragon was under development Orion started to look less and less attractive. I had been starting to think of it as an escape pod for use anywhere from LEO to SEL1/2, but even that could be done by multiple Dragons. Starting with existing EELVs started to look more and more attractive.

    Another thing that had happened in the mean time is that Jon Goff’s blog had enlightened me on the crucial role of depots (or more generally propellant transfer) for commercial development of space.

    It wasn’t merely the case that HLVs were unaffordable for commercial manned spaceflight and that depots were a way to allow more affordable launchers to be used for exploration too eventually. It turned out that the rocket equation being what it is, the vast majority of IMLEO was propellant that could easily be launched on tiny RLVs and that an exploration program was the perfect way to get these RLVs funded.

    In other words, the opportunity cost of building these HLVs was tremendous, it would mean foregoing the opportunity to slash launch prices by an order of magnitude in the near future. It was further explained to me that high launch prices were the only obstacle that was holding back commercial development of space.

    With that in mind, my focus shifted from providing an L1/L2 anchor point for commercial space (useful as that would be), towards finding a way to create a large and fiercely competitive market for propellant launch services so that market forces could lead to development of small RLVs.

    And again L1/L2 staging combined with storable propellant transfer seemed like a promising solution and for the same reasons I had considered them before: existing technology, low risk and low development cost. It then seemed to me that Altair was actually a more useful piece of hardware than Orion, since we could use commercial capsules combined with an all-hypergolic Altair.

    On further reflection I realised we don’t need a full lander, we could make do with any spacecraft, manned or unmanned, whether it be a lander, an orbiter or a probe. It would be better for it to be a spacecraft than an EDS, since hypergolics are clearly suboptimal for EDSs, but the propellant of choice for spacecraft.

    It could also be something slightly similar to an EDS, namely a transfer stage for use from a high energy orbit like L1/L2 onward (including Mars orbit), where the relative inefficiency of hypergolics would be much less important, especially if supplemented by SEP which is also proven technology for storable and easily divisible payloads like hypergolic propellant.

    This is why I am now advocating turning Orion into a storable transfer stage. It is the simplest application I can think of that can consume large quantities of propellant soon and so stimulate development of cheap lift, it would remove a serious threat to commercial crew, it would build on something that has Congressional support (MPCV) and turn it into a direction that is synergetic with commercial crew and would have a promising long term future (deep space propulsion unit for Nautilus, even after development of cryogenic depots and its use for TMI) and something that would allow early exploration without an HLV.

  • vulture4

    I see little evidence that the taxpayers would be willing to pay for human spaceflight BEO with current technology. The work people can do in space is useful, ut it is not of infinite value. If government is to invest, it should be in new technology that will reduce costs of spaceflight or in research that directly benefits people on earth. The existing MPCV and HLV represent old technology and the expenditure of between $100 and $200 billion just for a handful of lunar landings. It doesn’t do anything to make flight to Mars possible since what is needed for flight to Mars is a way to do it at a practical cost.

    We have many higher priorities for the budget including tax cuts, health care, and adequate staffing for major airport control towers. As spaceflight advocates, we have to either provide the capital ourselves or show that tax dollars will provide practical benefits.

  • amightywind

    Trying to reconcile a “socialist” government space program with the Tea Party movement. Should be amusing.

    The Tea Party is a movement concerned about government spending, coddling Newspace billionaire hobbyests. It is not surprising an increasing desperate, retreating Newspace lobby would attempt to align with the movement. It is not authentic. The orthodox GOP, Mike Griffin vision of NASA is the default vision of the Tea Party, just like support of the troops and a strong defense is.

  • Martijn Meijering

    If government is to invest, it should be in new technology that will reduce costs of spaceflight or in research that directly benefits people on earth.

    Agreed.

    The existing MPCV and HLV represent old technology and the expenditure of between $100 and $200 billion just for a handful of lunar landings. It doesn’t do anything to make flight to Mars possible since what is needed for flight to Mars is a way to do it at a practical cost.

    But using existing technology (partly based on MPCV) to create a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market straight away would be an excellent way to let market forces fund the necessary R&D. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to allocate R&D money. You could also launch vast quantities of water instead (say for later use as radiation shielding), but propellant would allow you to do either science missions or manned spaceflight for its own sake immediately.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    “If nationalism or exploration for explorations sake are no longer valid arguments then people start with the fear mongering angle which really does not work either…… I can’t convincingly argue a moon base because I fall on the exploration for explorations sake side and as many have pointed out repeatedly that is not good enough in today’s climate.”

    That makes some sense, though not necessarily as an argument for a speedy return to the Moon. If the goal is for a Moon base to do research, perhaps even research on ISRU, then fine, but then there is absolutely no reason to get back there by 2022. The only reason for a date (besides that fact that a date makes a challenge more real, or unreal, as the case may be) is in order to beat someone else, in the spirit of “nationalism”. So if one is going to draw a line in the sand at 2022, as Posey wants to do, he has to make a compelling case for a race. He hasn’t done that.

    This is the natural extension of the argument that human space flight is primarily justified by species survival. If that’s the case, then what’s the rush?

    At some level, the silliest thing about Posey’s bill is the 2022 date for putting U.S. feet back on the Moon. If he just wants a sense of Congress that a return to the Moon is important in our exploration of space, I don’t think many would argue.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Once we identify the precise segments you describe the advantages of depot(s) and transfer stations at EML-1 / EML-2 become stunningly obvious.

    Hi Bill, I thought I would illicit some feedback from you (in a good way).

    I’m sure it’s quite obvious that I forgot to identify that the transportation segments I was talking about were for crew only – where’s a proofreader when you need them…

    Cargo is a different beast, because it’s mainly one direction until we start producing a significant amount of goods on the Moon or beyond. Because of that you don’t have to be bound by the same transportation segments used by crew, although there might be some infrastructure overlap that could make it more economical to use the same “routes”.

    And just like we have fuel stations at all the popular destinations, so I think it will be with depots and transfer stations. As always it’s more a matter of which comes first that’s the hard part.

  • JohnHunt

    I would agree with the goal of returning to the Moon. However, I would include what I think is by far the most important rationale which is to establish a self-sufficient colony in order to ensure the survival of the human species. Strange that more people don’t value the saving of humanity in this way.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi guest –

    You haven’t told the readers here at spacepolitics what Apollo was originally designed for yet.

    Now is being less than truthful the same as lying?

    I would say it depends on the circumstances. So I told them that once von Braun was convinced that LOR would use the Apollo capsule, he backed it, and left it at that.

    If you want to add more…

  • Coastal Ron

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 2:27 am

    I agree with breaking it up into segments but there are lots of ways commercial can participate.

    Agreed, and although I think it will be some form of public/private partnership in the beginning, eventually each of the people transportation segments should transition to purely commercial at some point. Should be interesting from an international competition standpoint.

    My view is we need to give them an anchor point in deep space just as the ISS is an anchor point in LEO. Then commercial could participate. Right now I think totally commercial deep space missions are too expensive but they can supply parts and services that can be helpful.

    I’m hoping that’s how it unfolds, and that’s why I wish we would start having the conversation on identifying transportation segments now, before spending $Billions on the MPCV & SLS, so we know what is needed to move to the next segment.

    I would say that within 5 years of implementing commercial crew, we will be ready to start planning the next infrastructure leap to L1/L2. Space related technology has such a funding/construction lag that anything faster is probably not sustainable – doable as one-off stints (i.e. “missions”), but not reusable/sustainable from an infrastructure standpoint.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Because delivery costs to lunar surface will be 2X as expensive as LEO…

    Wow, are you ever off. Just a little simple math tells us that payload to GTO is about 2X as expensive as to LEO, and going to the Moon involves even more fuel, plus a lander (with fuel).

    Do you use a dartboard to make up your numbers? ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    ” The orthodox GOP, Mike Griffin vision of NASA is the default vision of the Tea Party, just like support of the troops and a strong defense is.”

    if that is accurate…well then the TEa Party is more goofy then I had imagined…and that is saying a lot

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    With that in mind, my focus shifted from providing an L1/L2 anchor point for commercial space (useful as that would be), towards finding a way to create a large and fiercely competitive market for propellant launch services so that market forces could lead to development of small RLVs.

    Other than an L1/L2 anchor, what architectures might create a “large and fiercely competitive market for propellant launch services” ??

    Fomenting a race for lunar resources between the various spacefaring nations (and private companies) would seem to create the market demand needed to develop small ELVs.

    Also too, wouldn’t a LEO zero gravity sports facility create a “large and fiercely competitive market for * crew * launch services”

  • tu8ca

    ” vulture4 wrote … If government is to invest, it should be in new technology that will reduce costs of spaceflight or in research that directly benefits people on earth. “

    The problem is that most government funded spaceflight and research is contracted out to aerospace companies. Reducing the cost of space flight is not in these companies interest. They often have monopolies on the work they do, along with cost+ contracts.

    Realistically, what’s a company in this circumstance supposed to do — work its butt off to become more efficient, smaller and less profitable? No, that’s not in their interest. The exact opposite is; make a lot of money on excessive R&D, increase infrastructure and personnel, use politicians and lobbyists to keep the money flowing.

    NASA needs to do a better job fostering competition and reducing certain types of monopolies that their prime contractors enjoy.

    I think the large aerospace companies have fare more influence with Congress than the uninformed public who is footing the bill.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Other than an L1/L2 anchor, what architectures might create a “large and fiercely competitive market for propellant launch services” ??

    Anything that goes beyond LEO can serve as a customer, but some applications (interplanetary or lunar with L1/L2 as a staging point) lend themselves more to use of storable propellant than others (LEO to L1/2 or GEO orbit raising) and could therefore be used to make this happen soon (within five years). Spacecraft, even unmanned ones, can consume large amounts of low cost payloads (propellant) more easily than space stations, which only need relatively small amounts of consumables for humans and stationkeeping propellant.

    Fomenting a race for lunar resources between the various spacefaring nations (and private companies) would seem to create the market demand needed to develop small ELVs.

    Only if it is profitable enough to finance development of cheap lift, which it isn’t. I can believe that one day in the distant future lunar resources might be profitable for building space stations and producing propellant for exploration, but only after we have cheap lift or else because it is the government that is funding the exploration. So in a word, no.

    Also too, wouldn’t a LEO zero gravity sports facility create a “large and fiercely competitive market for * crew * launch services”

    If the government funded the transport of individuals to that facility, then yes that could work potentially. But it would require greater up front investment (the sports facilities) as well as larger (but still small) and more reliable manned launch vehicles and spacecraft. And it would look more frivolous than exploration.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 12:41 am

    “I agree “we” could very well get back to the Moon within 10 years using SpaceX launches and Bigelow habitats, however I very much doubt that “we” will mean “NASA””

    I agree with you.

    Charlie has two challenges, the first of which he is on the verge of accomplishing. That is to shut down the legacy program (shuttle) which is killing NASA. That is why in my view Charlie is working as hard as he can (and succeeding) in killing any legacy hardware from the shuttle. If he doesnt and some emerges, like crab grass the bureacracy which has, after three decades and 200 billion dollars still describes shuttle as “experimental” will continue for another three decades and 200 billion more describe some legacy hardware as the same.

    Once that happens then his next big challenge is to find some relevance for the Johnson Space Center and some way to get NASA back into what will be an emerging human effort to move beyond Geo orbit. If Obama gets a second term (60/40 right now in my view) and Charlie stays on then he will I think get that chance, and the trick is going to find someone to head JSC who is outside everything NASA and who can start mentoring and shaping a new civil service force there.

    Otherwise the cart will find another horse.

    I am not at liberty to say more because some are clients…but there are universities and other groups who are knocking about seeking funding for launches of uncrewed vehicles to the Moon OUTSIDE of NASA. If Falcon 9 and 9H make their cost numbers that is going to take off…

    200-300 million dollars over two years or so is not outside the realm of block grants to a couple of universities particularly ones with powerful Senators…and if that launches off well the natural progression is pretty clear.

    If 9H makes its numbers it is not hard to see taking a “used” Dragon scooping it up to human standards and flying it around the Moon on a test demo…it wouldnt cost all that much…

    As I told someone (a reasonable name) this morning at a “thing”…you can sort of sense NASA JSC as the folks arguing the use of battleships in 1942.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “The Tea Party is a movement concerned about government spending, coddling Newspace billionaire hobbyests.”

    Windy, can you provide a link, article, video .. anything, showing that the teaparty expressed concern that the government was spending to much on coddling billionaire space hobbiests?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Other than an L1/L2 anchor, what architectures might create a “large and fiercely competitive market for propellant launch services” ??

    I forgot to say explicitly that I don’t believe just having an L1/L2 anchor would lead to a large and competitive market for launch services.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    “Robert, I very much respect what you said, I am not even saying my logic is correct, I am just not convinced the steps you and others have put forth will materialize either…”

    you are correct.

    It is perfectly likely that no steps will materialize in the next several decades to get back to the Moon…particularly from an American viewpoint. We are at one of those inflection points in our country (absent the civil wars I think one of the worst we have ever been at)…where we could in all possibility start to fade as a superpower and even as a “large power”

    How to recover from the disaster of the first 8 years of this century (and perhaps even the last two) is a question which will in my view set the tone for the future of The Republic over the next half century.

    There is good reason to be pessimistic. We have political groups who are long on self appointed rally goofy “demigods” or those appointed by people who are long on rhetoric and simple thoughts and short on serious thought or even some basic basis of politics on both sides of the ideological spectrum. There is no sense on these groups of realism. Not you of course but we have representatives of these people here.

    I suspect even at best, even assuming WSC was correct and after we have exhausted all the goofy answers we will rise to the challenges of the correct one (a bit of a paraphrase to be sure but in the spirit of his words) the next few decades are going to be some of the most painful in our history…so deep is the hole.

    But I have great faith in The Republic, I have watched people sacrifice all for it, and I have small child(ren) and I like to think that we can be as good as the folks who walked before us.

    And if we get to that then I suspect that 20 years from now we will look on the emerging time of space commercialism as the golden time in what might be a rebirth of a more modern US.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    guest2 wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    nicely done.

    The only thing I would disagree with is that I predict that the cost of development of space (and airplanes) vehicles will come down as new entrants emerge

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    “In other words, the opportunity cost of building these HLVs was tremendous,”

    Senator Shelby is putting a highly skilled workforce to the wrong task. It’s a waste of a national treasure.

  • vulture4

    tu8ca wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    “. Reducing the cost of space flight is not in these companies interest. They often have monopolies on the work they do, along with cost+ contracts.”

    True, but changes in contracting can help. The EELV program was intended to promote competition, but neither Boeing nor Lockheed was aggressive about commercial marketing and instead they simply merged, gaining a monopoly on DOD missions, which are essentially cost-plus. SpaceX entered the market as a vertically oriented business with no interest in mergers, and NASA provided a more competitive contract arrangement which (so far) does what the EELV program originally intended in splitting sales between various competitors. SpaceX has turned out to be a worthy competitor for ULA. DOD should thank NASA.

    As to a government market for bulk transport to LEO, this would increase production of existing large ELVs (SpaceX, ULA) but it is difficult to see a major impact on cost or technology, since the payback period for new designs would be many years. If we want new technology, NASA should pay companies to develop it, much as NACA paid North American to build the X-15.

  • “Wow, are you ever off. Just a little simple math tells us that payload to GTO is about 2X as expensive as to LEO, and going to the Moon involves even more fuel, plus a lander (with fuel).”

    I originally assumed that it was more expensive, but in the Falcon 9 “Heavy” press announcement in Washington DC Musk gave an estimate of something like 50% more expensive to get to the lunar surface.

    Should it be even more expensive, which I suspect it will, that further reinforces my point that ISRU will be vital to human presence on the Moon, something that “commercial” space has been ignoring, thus far.

    Lower-cost rockets might realistically reduce costs by 50%. ISRU, on the other hand, should be able to reduce costs by 10X or more…

  • “I would agree with the goal of returning to the Moon. However, I would include what I think is by far the most important rationale which is to establish a self-sufficient colony in order to ensure the survival of the human species. Strange that more people don’t value the saving of humanity in this way.”

    Although true, if we are serious about saving humanity, there are other steps, such as building underground and undersea shelters, elimination of warfare, biologically quaranteened communities, … that would be significantly more effective.

    The simple truth is that in the most optimistic and aggressive space development plans, no outpost on the Moon or Mars will become totally self-sufficient anytime soon. One metric would be how soon they would be able to locally construct spacecraft, including needed computers. It is going to be a long, long time until there are seminconductor fabs in space with the needed semiconductor crystal growth, etch, lithography, and diffusion technologies.

    Because it will take a long time, that is precisely why we should get started now, while we can, and not just sit around for another 50 years.

    The rational for space exploration should be to begin our expansion out into the universe. It is something much larger and greater than simple survival…

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    As spaceflight advocates, we have to either provide the capital ourselves or show that tax dollars will provide practical benefits.

    Well said.

    Posey and others keep trying to create a bogeyman to justify going to the Moon, whereas they should be using the “American way” of creating a capitalistic reason to go there (and other places in space). That would not leave out exploration, as government exploration is often used to open up new frontiers for it’s citizens, and exploration can use established supply lines to get closer to their destination in a cost effective way.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Senator Shelby is putting a highly skilled workforce to the wrong task.

    I no longer believe that MSFC has what it takes to design an RLV, but if they succeeded that would be fine with me and it could be privatised over time.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Lower-cost rockets might realistically reduce costs by 50%. ISRU, on the other hand, should be able to reduce costs by 10X or more…

    More uninformed nonsense. Both RLVs and ISRU could reduce costs by a factor of ten, and RLVs will benefit both exploration and commercial activity in LEO, whereas ISRU will only help exploration. If a factor of two was all that could be expected then proponents of commercial development of space wouldn’t be opposed to an HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Lower-cost rockets might realistically reduce costs by 50%. ISRU, on the other hand, should be able to reduce costs by 10X or more…

    Not that that would be an argument against lower launch prices and in favour of an HLV even if it were true. ISRU isn’t any easier with an HLV and once you have ISRU you’ll have much less to do for an HLV. Against you are putting the cart before the horse.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As to a government market for bulk transport to LEO, this would increase production of existing large ELVs (SpaceX, ULA) but it is difficult to see a major impact on cost or technology, since the payback period for new designs would be many years.

    I don’t understand what you mean. Why wouldn’t the existence of a large and competitive market lead to commercial funding for something like the Delta Clipper? The suborbital people would certainly jump at the opportunity to get funding for an orbital RLV.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I originally assumed that it was more expensive, but in the Falcon 9 “Heavy” press announcement in Washington DC Musk gave an estimate of something like 50% more expensive to get to the lunar surface.

    See what happens when you assume? And I think we’ve established that your memory is not reliable either, so my suggestion is to actually look for facts BEFORE you hit the “submit” button.

    What Musk stated is that Falcon Heavy could put around 120,000 lb into LEO, 42,000 to GTO (2.8X LEO), and 35,000 lb to TLI (3.4X LEO). All he talked about in detail was getting mass to lunar orbit, not down to the surface, so unless you’re planning on crashing your cargo onto the surface of the Moon, you still have to add in the cost of the transportation down to the surface.

    Should it be even more expensive, which I suspect it will, that further reinforces my point that ISRU will be vital to human presence on the Moon, something that “commercial” space has been ignoring, thus far.

    No equipment or known techniques exist for doing ISRU on the Moon, so ISRU will likely take a long time and lots of mass before it satisfies just the local lunar demand. Ramping that up to export levels will likely take even longer given the amount of infrastructure that will be required. There are plenty of terrestrial analogies that you can look at to validate this, and we don’t have to contend with vacuum, low gravity and wild temperature swings.

    The other thing that ISRU has to worry about is competition, which means that as $/lb continues to drop from Earth, the ROI for ISRU gets stretched out further and further. That’s also why it will take a LOT of demand around L1/L2 to justify sourcing even water from the Moon, so if you want ISRU to get investor attention, then you should be helping to get a lot of activity going at L1/L2. Bill White has a sports team he’d like you to invest in… ;-)

    Lower-cost rockets might realistically reduce costs by 50%. ISRU, on the other hand, should be able to reduce costs by 10X or more…

    I think what you’ve proven, without a doubt, is that your numbers are not based on anything close to reality or facts. Dart board?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    “If we are serious about saving humanity, there are other steps, such as building underground and undersea shelters, elimination of warfare, biologically quaranteened communities, … that would be significantly more effective.”

    Quite true. The civilization that can put a self-sustaining outpost on another planet can send bombs and (even more easily) disease to that other planet. With respect to natural catastrophes, such as impacts by asteroids, it would be far more economical to make sure we see them coming, and do impact mitigation robotically, than to wave goodbye to many billions of people, and send a small representative piece of civilization somewhere else.

    That’s probably why people don’t value the saving of humanity in this way. It just isn’t a very good way to do it. As I’ve said, it is noteworthy that species preservation is never broached by Congress or NASA as a justification for human space flight. It probably never dawned on them that it isn’t a good way to save humanity, but just that species preservation isn’t something that the U.S. taxpayer wants to pay for, and partly because the public doesn’t really see any threat, even in the long term.

    It should probably be considered that (I’m thinking Ray Bradbury here), that taking a small representative piece of civilization and putting it somewhere else is probably a better way to develop a new civilization than to preserve an old one.

    The fact remains that the best case for human space flight is to take humans somewhere else. You simply can’t do that robotically. Just have to figure out why we need to send them somewhere else.

  • tu8ca

    “vulture4 wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 3:18 pm … The EELV program was intended to promote competition, but neither Boeing nor Lockheed was aggressive about commercial marketing and instead they simply merged, gaining a monopoly on DOD missions, which are essentially cost-plus.”

    I believe the EELVs did and are competing for commercial launches, but their international competitors are all heavily subsidized.

    “SpaceX entered the market as a vertically oriented business with no interest in mergers, and NASA provided a more competitive contract arrangement which (so far) does what the EELV program originally intended in splitting sales between various competitors. SpaceX has turned out to be a worthy competitor for ULA. DOD should thank NASA.”

    I agree – the US should take more advantage of SpaceX. We should also take a look at Ariane, who’s rocket was developed with government money and now has the bulk of commercial launches.

  • tu8ca

    “We should also take a look at Ariane['s subsidies], who’s rocket was developed with government money and now has the bulk of commercial launches.”

  • pathfinder_01

    “Should it be even more expensive, which I suspect it will, that further reinforces my point that ISRU will be vital to human presence on the Moon, something that “commercial” space has been ignoring, thus far.

    Lower-cost rockets might realistically reduce costs by 50%. ISRU, on the other hand, should be able to reduce costs by 10X or more…

    ISRU has no commercial need atm. I mean where are you going to export to?Bring lunar water to earth? Export lunar propellant to non existent depots? There is no one on the moon to need your commercial stuff not even a tourist.

    ISRU wont reduce costs by ten times or more. What ISRU can do is make a moon base fit within a fixed budget. If I don’t need to send water and oxygen to the moon then there are big savings. If I don’t need to send as much food to the moon again savings. If I don’t need to send propellant again savings. However a lunar base will always be far more expensive to supply than a space station in LEO.

    What ISRU really does is cut into the need for an HLV. If I only need to send 12 tons to the moon why would I build or maintain a rocket that can send 20MT? It will be a long time to never before a moon base is self sufficient and I would bet closer to 200 years. The house you live in and the car you drive are the result of hundreds and thousands of man hours. It is going to be a long time before a lunar base can support that much labor and a very long time before internal demand is great enough that making it on the moon is cheaper than importing.

    For some basic goods like water and oxygen then yes I can see that combined with a closed loop life support system using lunar ISRU to top off for looses would be cheaper. With food, it takes a lot of space to grow plants. A moon base might grow snacks but you are going to be importing food for a long, long time. With propellant the amount of material that may need to be processed to make propellant could be excessive and it might at best only be economical to refuel the lander on the moon at best.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    “– shuttle is an experimental vehicle.” DCSCA’s line is straight from the NASA PAO…”

    In fact, it’s straight out of the CAIB report. (Was re-reading it over the past week. Only reinforced the belief that shuttle must ende and current NASA management cleared out) And, of course, the three X-15′s, part of the series of ‘experimental’ aircraft family which flew 199 flights between 1959 and 1968. So flying an experimental aircraft/spacecraft for many years doesn’t seem that unrealistic. Per your own posting, the shuttle went astray post STS-4, when Reagan declared it ‘operational.’ Which, in fact, it showed itself repeatedly to be no such thing as reflected in both the Rogers Commision and CAIB findings.

    ” “SpaceX has never flown anyone” as if that is of any value.”

    Given SpaceX’s lack of experience in HSF, experience carries a great deal of value. They’ve not lost a crew because they’ve not flown a crew. NASA has half a century of manned spaceflight experience. Space X has zero experience in that field. SpaceX has flown nobody in orbital flight and returned them safely to Earth– and most likely never will. The next phase of commerical HSF is Branson’s ticket-to-ride. He’s hiring pilots and will be lofting suborbital flights w/paying passengers next year. SpaceX will fly nobody– unless they buy a ticket on Branson’s bird.

    @ E.P. Grondine wrote @ April 23rd, 2011 at 6:21 pm
    “I wish you space fans could get your history straight. von Braun supported LOR once it was made clear to him that it would use the Apollo capsule, which was more or less under his control, and had been under development for several years by that point in time.”

    Hmmm. Joe Shea, in that era D/D of NASA’s OMSF and later Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager, might disagree. ” Shea’s task became to shepherd NASA to a firm decision on [the LOR] issue. This task was complicated by the fact that he had to build consensus between NASA’s different centers — most notably the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston headed by Robert Gilruth, and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, headed by Wernher von Braun. Relations between the centers were not good, and it was a major milestone in the progress of the Apollo program when von Braun and his team finally came to accept the superiority of the LOR concept. NASA announced its decision at a press conference on July 11, 1962, only six months after Shea had joined NASA. Space historian James Hansen concludes that Shea “played a major role in supporting Houbolt’s ideas [LOR over EOR] and making the… decision in favor of LOR” while his former colleague George Mueller writes that “it is a tribute to Joe’s logic and leadership that he was able to build a consensus within the centers at a time when they were autonomous.” -source/wiki/NASA

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ April 22nd, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    “… Rand Simberg, representing the Competitive Enterprise Institute, The task force is a coalition of conservative groups and individuals seeking “a free and competitive market for spaceflight and space services enabling the country to recapture the imagination and innovation of America’s space program and foster a new entrepreneurial spirit in the emerging Space Economy,” according to its press release. “ SpaceX is a commercial firm. He’s a shill. In Washington, they’re called lobbyists. Not, per Seinfeld, that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 4:35 am

    operating a vehicle (in any place) to do operational goals and in an operational manner and calling it experimental is goofy…

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    SpaceX is a commercial firm. He’s a shill. In Washington, they’re called lobbyists

    And he has not revealed who is paying him. The majority of you on this forum are opinionated technology hacks, but honest and earnest ones. Simberg is one of a handful of paid political astroturfers. Who knows who’s doling out the cash? One should remember that when reading their posts.

    Space X has zero experience in that field.

    Worse, SpaceX has made extravagant claims on cost and capability that have been a damaging distraction to the nation’s post shuttle space program. Look at all of the zombies Musk has has animated here! The damage done by one transnational hobbyist is incalculable.

  • mr. mark

    DCSCA and amightywind are starting to sound like the same person….

  • common sense

    Off topic, somewhat: The 4 finalists of CCDev2.

    Three of them belong to the so called “NewSpace” and I have said multiple times how great they are, how ambitious, tenacious and audacious.

    I would just like to pause and today acknowledge Boeing. A lot of people probably do not realize the courage it took Boeing to go this route. Especially this side of the Boeing company. I always thought that the most direct competitor to SpaceX were Boeing: They have the knowledge and talent. However I was unsure about their will to go this route. I don’t know if they will succeed but I wish them the best. An oldspace company that found the courage to be newspace.

    Thanks Boeing and keep up the good work now!

  • I feel compelled to respond to the comment posted by “amightywind”. His thoughts and conjectures of both spaceflight and the TEA Party are misconstrued.

    The Tea Party is a movement concerned about government spending

    This is a very narrow and myopic view of the TEA Party. The TEA Party is based on three core values from which members base their decisions upon. They are Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, and the access to Free Markets.

    To suggest to anyone, especially one who is familiar with the TEA Party, incorrect. How do we make the access to space a “free market”? What is the responsibility, both fiscally and otherwise, of the United States government?

    I can give you my own, personal opinions on this as a TEA Party member; however, I cannot speak for the TEA Party because the national party has not spoken yet. amightywind is entitled to his opinion but I can say with 100% certainty this is not the official stance of the TEA Party.

    coddling Newspace billionaire hobbyests

    How is the TEA Party coddling any company, or anything? We are vocal in our displeasure of certain bills that have become law but I cannot find a single instance where the TEA Party has “coddled” anyone or anything. However, I would submit that certain companies have begun to open new markets to space. Following the core principles of the TEA Party it would be logical for members to be excited and support such ventures.

    It makes good fiscal sense, limits the power and scope of government, and begins to open new and “more free markets.” I will admit that some of these new companies have benefited greatly from government assistance. It is not hypocritical of TEA Party members to support government assistance when there are tangible results that are measurable and out perform the government sponsored alternative.

    It is not surprising an increasing desperate, retreating Newspace lobby would attempt to align with the movement.

    This sentence is somewhat hard to decipher or otherwise comprehend. Actually, it makes no sense.

    New Space companies are teaming with successes, some with government funds, others without. Masten, ‘Dillo, SpaceX and XCor come to mind. COTS and CCDev have been quite successful for fractions of what NASA has been spending. This is not a swipe or malicious insult to anyone who is employed with or contracted to work with NASA.

    It is not authentic.

    How can you make such a statement as to who is authentic and who is not? Are you saying that the TEA Party is not authentic? Look at the last elections and it is quite easy to see that this statement is simply hyperbole. In my humble opinion, and that of many others, you will see the TEA Party gain strength in 2012. We are authentic.

    The orthodox GOP, Mike Griffin vision of NASA is the default vision of the Tea Party, just like support of the troops and a strong defense is.

    This is simply false. Point to one document where there is any official position on Space Flight by a TEA Party leader, state chair or higher. I cannot find one. I can tell you that on core principles alone the GOP, Mike Griffin vision does not pass muster.

    Yes, we do need a space presence. It is called “Soft Power”. I can obtain this power for a lot less than three billion a year through 2016. I can obtain space power with those two neophytes Boeing and ULA…

    I respectfully disagree with you on your post. I have reviewed many, but not all, of your posts. I can say with 100% certainty that every post of yours I have read I completely and unequivocally disagree with.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA in Space

    PS Long time lurker, first post.

  • amightywind

    Looks like Musk should have spent more time lobbying the Ruskies.

    NASA is now being told what to do with its own space station. SpaceX has already slipped the schedule for ISS resupply by several years. One wonders how much longer it will be. It would have made more sense to focus on Ares I/Orion.

  • tu8ca

    @amightywind — “Looks like Musk should have spent more time lobbying the Ruskies.

    Ha ha … How many recent Soyuz’ have had nasty ballistic reentries, air pressure control problems and new electronic packages that don’t talk to each other? The last Soyuz – the one that was so sick it couldn’t unbirth to take the ‘family photo’ – should never have been allowed to dock with the ISS if judged by the same standards Russia is judging SpaceX.

    “It would have made more sense to focus on Ares I/Orion.”

    No, it would not make sense, even if Ares I and Orion could have been completed sooner, which itself is doubtful. For something like three years that project was falling a further year behind schedule – each year. And it was squandering bucket-loads of money. All this despite having most of the building blocks pre-existing as flight proven hardware. CxP was corporate welfare at its finest – kill it with fire and never mention its name again.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I would just like to pause and today acknowledge Boeing.

    I’ll second that. If commercial crew is going to be a successful market, then it will need two or more strong competitors. Replacing one monopoly (NASA) with another (SpaceX, Boeing, LM, etc.) does not raise the likelihood that we’ll ever expand past relying on the largess of Congress (like NASA does now).

    One of the byproducts of Boeing aggressively pursuing the market is that it validates the market for those that may be considering entering themselves. Sure Boeing will be a huge force, but it remains to be seen if they will play the role of just manufacturer, or if they will jump into the services side too. If they stay as a manufacturer, I can see them selling (or even leasing) their spacecraft to companies that want to be operators – I think SpaceX will follow this path eventually too.

    Competition is good!

  • I guess I’d be a little more concerned about all of these libelous accusations about my motives and supposed paymasters if they weren’t coming from pseudonymous internet loons.

  • amightywind wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    “It would have made more sense to focus on Ares I/Orion.”

    Not if you’re a tax payer.

    SpaceX or ULA?
    $Millions or $Billions?

  • I like the fact that Bill Posey introduced his NASA Moon exploration bill on April 15th, exactly 1 year after Obama’s loony “been there, done that” proclamation at KSC.
    This could be bad news for Elon Musk, who wants NASA to forget about space exploration and instead divert billions of taxpayer dollars into his pockets.
    Can it be a coincidence that Musk got in front of cameras a few days later and tired to counter with vacuous promises that he will put a man on Mars by 2021.
    The stark reality is that Musk doesn’t even have vaporware powerpoint designs for how he is going to get to the Moon, let alone Mars.

  • common sense

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    “If they stay as a manufacturer, I can see them selling (or even leasing) their spacecraft to companies that want to be operators – I think SpaceX will follow this path eventually too.”

    I think Boeing will most likely stay as manufacturer. I believe their business plan is to have NASA as a customer. So in essence they updated their business model, fixed cost vs. cost plus but still plan to provide the vehicle to an operator, short term being NASA, long term being mostly unknown or possibly Bigelow.

    Today I think SpaceX will be both manufacturer and operator. I think that is what Elon is telling us all the time. Whenever they become public and whether Elon keeps a majority in the company will possibly change the game for SpaceX. Until then…

    Others who have airline like operations in mind of course include Virgin Galactic who might be the original operator of one (several) of these vehicles.

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    It would have made more sense to focus on Ares I/Orion.

    The Ares I / Orion wasn’t going to make it to LEO before 2019, and that’s only if the ISS was de-orbited in early 2016.

    What good is a logistics craft that arrives three years after de-orbit?

    Mike

  • DCSCA

    tu8ca wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
    Never knock success, fella– Soyuz has been carrying crews to orbit for over 40 years. SpaceX has not orbited anyone.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 6:39 am
    Ahhhh, but the ‘Tea Party’ folks like to wave the flag along with their vinegar-paper copies of the Constitution and can claim a ‘socialized’ space effort as essential to ‘national security’– right out of the USA of 1955. A NASA as part of the DoD would fit their ideals. Wrap it in a flag and they’ll go for it, and that includes a government-funded space program launching the ideals of the Founding Fathers out into the cosmos.

  • tu8ca

    DCSCA wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 8:29 pm “Never knock success, fella– Soyuz has been carrying crews to orbit for over 40 years. SpaceX has not orbited anyone.”

    That doesn’t mean they are above criticism, especially when they opened that door.

  • DCSCA

    @Andrew Gasser wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 2:02 pm
    How do we make the access to space a “free market”? What is the responsibility, both fiscally and otherwise, of the United States government?

    Hate to break it to you but nothing is inhibiting ‘free market access’ to space with respect to HSF except the very parameters which define a free market: supply, demand, ROI and willingness of quarterly driven private firms to risk capital investment for a reasonable ROI. Free market capitalists have never led the way in this field over the 80-plus year history of modern rocketry– a relatively new and fledgling area of science and technology to the human species. Governments, in various guises and for a variety of motives (mostly military and political, not for profit BTW) have shouldered and socialized the heavy burden of the financial risks in this field, not the private sector, simply because of the largess and scale of the projects involved. That’s why governments do it.

  • This could be bad news for Elon Musk, who wants NASA to forget about space exploration and instead divert billions of taxpayer dollars into his pockets.

    This is your most idiotic and vile slander yet. But no surprise.

    Do you have any evidence whatsoever for it? Or does it have the same source (your rear end) as most of your other assertions?

  • vulture4

    In Dragon/Falcon SpaceX has a good design that is efficient and reliable and carries more than twice the crew of Soyuz. think the current prices, about $50M per seat for Soyuz and about half that for Dragon, will stand; the total launch costs are roughly the same. Soyuz has the same disadvantage as Orion; it was designed for the lunar mission with a large propulsion module and a small return capsule, and isn’t optimal for ferrying people to LEO. Dragon is the first attempt since Shuttle to design a vehicle for manned LEO logistics. In contrast to Orion, Musk has kept the design simple and the upgrade path flexible.

    I

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    “I like the fact that Bill Posey introduced his NASA Moon exploration bill on April 15th, exactly 1 year after Obama’s loony “been there, done that” proclamation at KSC.”

    Profound indeed.

    “This could be bad news for Elon Musk, who wants NASA to forget about space exploration and instead divert billions of taxpayer dollars into his pockets.”

    Off your meds again? References? Links?

    “Can it be a coincidence that Musk got in front of cameras a few days later and tired to counter with vacuous promises that he will put a man on Mars by 2021.”

    More vacuous than Congress? If so I think he deserves a prize!

    “The stark reality is that Musk doesn’t even have vaporware powerpoint designs for how he is going to get to the Moon, let alone Mars.”

    You too have access to SpaceX’s plans? Just like amightwind. You have access to their technical plans and the windyboy has access to their books. Why don’t you too form a company?

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    1 year after Obama’s loony “been there, done that” proclamation at KSC

    Of course he never said that, but then again accuracy has never been your strong point.

    He did say “We’ve been there before”, and maybe you’ve forgotten, but we have been there, on the surface of the Moon – SIX TIMES!

    And we know how to keep going back and landing, so doing it over and over again, while fun and interesting, doesn’t fill in missing knowledge we need if we want to move on to Mars. That was Obama’s point.

    This could be bad news for Elon Musk, who wants NASA to forget about space exploration and instead divert billions of taxpayer dollars into his pockets.

    Oh, and Boeing, Lockheed Martin and ATK DON’T want $Billions from NASA? Honestly Nelson, who are you shilling for?

    Can it be a coincidence that Musk got in front of cameras a few days later and tired to counter with vacuous promises that he will put a man on Mars by 2021.

    You’re worse than Windy and DCSCA – at least they remember that Musk originally talked about going to Mars last year. And no, he didn’t say he would put a man on Mars by 2021 – he said go there in 10-20 years. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re an airhead or something, since you have a problem remembering what people say…

    The stark reality is that Musk doesn’t even have vaporware powerpoint designs for how he is going to get to the Moon, let alone Mars.

    You’re right, they don’t have vaporware – SpaceX has real flight hardware!

    They also have permission to build their launch site at Vandenberg AFB, and are already in production on their first Falcon Heavy. Oh, and Falcon Heavy can send 30,000 lbs towards Mars by 2015 if someone has a payload.

    But I’m sure you know of someone else that can send that much mass to Mars in one launch? Oh, right, maybe the government-funded, contractor built SLS if it ever gets fully funded, but Congress hasn’t even approved funding for a payload for it yet, so big whoop.

    Are you jealous that Musk is building real hardware that can reach Mars?

  • @Nelson Bridwell;…WELL PUT, MY FRIEND! Low Earth Orbit is really where the “been there, done that” argument should be targeted! So what, I say, if Elon Musk should soon re-create John Glenn’s 1962 orbital flight! Whoopie, so a new manned capsule makes it into LEO?!! We who care about REAL space exploration have been starving to see something truly amazing happen in deep space, involving astronauts. PLEASE, Mr. President!—NO MORE of this same old-same old Low Earth Orbit crap! All SpaceX & their ilk will get us, is re-creations of the Mercury capsule & program. The ISS just makes for a re-acheivement of the Skylab program. Remember THAT one?—In 1973-74. If these Anti-Moon people want to rave about re-inventing the far past, they should at least be fully honest about what’s really going on with Flexible Path/Obamaspace!

  • @Michael Kent;…..Again, if the ISS gets de-orbited before the Orion CEV comes on line: GOOD RIDDANCE!! The ISS has held us back for far too long, in the quest to get Americans OUT of LEO! If the space station goes down into the Pacific, the focus then becomes building a DEEP SPACE version of the Orion, putting together a lunar lander—the Altair L-SAM— and getting on with America’s first foray into cislunar space since 1972. Obamaspace is a deadly march over a cliff! A RESTORED variant of the Constellation program gives us renewed & robust Lunar capability, and hence, future interplanetary capability. ONWARDS TO THE MOON! It will be the new Antarctica.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    “I like the fact that Bill Posey introduced his NASA Moon exploration bill on April 15th, exactly 1 year after Obama’s loony “been there, done that” proclamation at KSC.”

    and how many Americans do you think found the date or the effort relevant? LOL

    Posey’s bill will go nowhere, the GOP House is still trying to turn their medicare/caid proposals into something less then a disaster.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson, has been drinking windy’s koolaid again:

    “This could be bad news for Elon Musk, who wants NASA to forget about space exploration and instead divert billions of taxpayer dollars into his pockets”

    Show one single quote where Musk has even so much as alluded that he wants NASA out of exploration? One link, a video ANYTHING where Musk infers, implies, or says straight out he wants NASA out of space exploration? Talk about desperation when you have no arguement left.

    Musk has said over and over, he believes NASA should be out of the launch business and be pushing BEO. In the article by Aviation and Space Tech, when they were talking about his Falcon X and XX Musk is quoted twice as saying NASA should focus on BEO.

    Who’s pockets do you want to line with cost plus contracting to build your giant phallic symbol of American might?

    Musk said he would build a heavy lift on a FIX PRICE contract and guarantee the price. Show me one of your cost plus contractors willing to guarantee a price utilizing 30 year old shuttle technology, prebuilt infrastructure and workforce already in place?

    You are not even pretending to make it a debate anymore. You have effectively put yourself into the hot air catagory of windy with statements like this.

    SpaceX, and the CEO want to line their pockets with a guaranteed price and a fixed price for development. While your cost plus pork machine is the way to go.

    You have taken it beyond silly now and turned it into a stand up comedy routine.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
    LOL “Charlie” will retire after he reaches 65. He’ll leave by this autumn.

  • common sense

    As I asked in another thread, why are those threads hijacked by these people??? The ignorance and/or stupidity of their incessant moronic posts has put off, it seems to me, much better debaters from either camp that used to be around here.

    Pretty sad indeed.

  • Let’s hold Musk to his promise to safely deliver a man to the Martain surface by Dec 31, 2021. The launch window would be around April 11th, 2018. He would need more than 12 launches of the Falcon Heavy, in order to get the required 600mT (Doug Cook) into LEO for a Mars mission, along with on-orbit rendezvous and docking. Let’s assume that he uses his Dragon capsule and modifies a Bigelow module to incorporate a small shielded area and uses thrusters to spins the entire spacecraft, creating a 1 g work environment. Over the next 7 years he would need to finance the design and test of a lander/ascent module, aerobraking, and reliable interplanetary propulsion stages, as well as equip and provision the landing party until the next return launch window… Not going to happen because it is “unaffordable” for SpaceX.

  • common sense

    I am wondering what someone with such a statement in his resume has against commercial space. See below, emphasis mine.

    And Nelson, what makes you a capable aerospace critique? What do you know of LVs and RVs? I did not see anything in your experience suggesting otherwise.

    You are entitled to your opinion but it is all it is, an opinion. All you talk about is vapor-engineering. Talk about armchair engineer…

    Whatever…

    http://MirageRobotics.com/Resume.htm

    “Objectives
    Significantly advance the technical capabilities and commercial applications of machine vision, machine learning, and robotic technologies.”

  • And Nelson, what makes you a capable aerospace critique? What do you know of LVs and RVs?

    Based on his comments, he is worse than ignorant — he is certain of many things that are nonsensically untrue. This thread does seem to have brought all of the netloons out of the woodwork.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The ignorance and/or stupidity of their incessant moronic posts has put off, it seems to me, much better debaters from either camp that used to be around here.

    I try to respond to posts that seems superficially reasonable because I don’t want anyone to be misled by them. I also try to respond to replies made to my posts. And every now and then I give people an opportunity to show whether they are being honest or not, and often they appear not to be.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Based on his comments, he is worse than ignorant — he is certain of many things that are nonsensically untrue.

    And some people appear to be happy to trot out arguments that they know to be invalid. It’s frustrating and hard to comprehend.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    of course people like you never held Griffin or NASA In general to a single deadline…and they were working with taxpayer money! Completely…that is all they were spending.

    Aside from the engineering flaws in your argument (rendezvous and docking is pretty mild stuff…) I doublt 1 gee is needed for the entire trip…but moving on…

    What Musk rockets “can” enable is the work on things which will change the Mars equation a lot. The VASIMER is one such example. Launch cost with the shuttle are high, but a FAlcon9H If it meets its cost can do the trick for not a lot of money and if the engine works…things change a lot.

    What people like you are pretty stuck on…is NASA projections of how things are done. Think outside the box man.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 5:26 am

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 24th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
    LOL “Charlie” will retire after he reaches 65. He’ll leave by this autumn…

    what makes you think that 65 is a break number? Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    I do try to respond to reasonable argument too. I try to inform on that I know as much I can too.

    I can see a reasonable approach as to why we may want to preserve the “old” workforce. I can see how disappointing it is to see NASA fail over and over again. I can imagine why one may be attached to a full NASA approach to space exploration. I can see all that. For example. I don’t know if he reads this but Dennis Wingo used to favor I believe a SD-HLV. I debated with a few times at nasawatch.com. I think he now is in favor of a commercial approach. I think his ISRU is far fetched as of today. But I think he sees that ISRU will only happen if commercials are successful. If he reads this he’s welcome to respond as I do not, absolutely not, mean to speak for him or put words in his mouth and if I did I apologize.

    But come on! After all that has been debated and shown that any Constellation approach is not affordable even if it were technically sensible, which it was not. After all the flaws in the design of at least the Ares LVs. Please!

    Why do these people keep attacking people who put their own cash in this business? People like Musk no matter what you think about him has done a tremendous service to the US! And he’s not alone. All those private investors crazy enough to invest in space! When the only model was that of NASA and its inumerable failures! People who actually employ our youth building the next generation of space vehicles!

    Could they at least debate the real issues? Not the Moon by 2020 and Mars by whenever idiocy.

    I too watched in wonder the astronauts on the Moon but I am not hypnotized!

    Come on a real debate!

    Can these investors keep the cost down as they grow? Can they keep their engineering process sane as they grow? What are they doing after ISS? Can they contribute to BEO exploration? Can they help other industries access space? Etc…

    A little effort! Please!

  • common sense

    Oh yeah. How about the acknowledgment that NASA did the right thing with CCDev2? That they selected a diverse group of companies? That this how you foster technological accomplishments!

    Every one always is ready to criticize NASA. But this time around they did the right thing! Beautifully so I might add.

    Cheers to my NASA friends! We need more like this!

    Forget Shelby!

  • “I am wondering what someone with such a statement in his resume has against commercial space. See below, emphasis mine.”

    So, are you going to post your resume? Or am I the only one who is not afraid? Credentials, please!

    It will be interesting to find out who some of you folks really are, or are not…

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    What Musk rockets “can” enable is the work on things which will change the Mars equation a lot. The VASIMER is one such example. Launch cost with the shuttle are high, but a FAlcon9H If it meets its cost can do the trick for not a lot of money and if the engine works…things change a lot.

    And that’s what most naysayers miss. Companies that previously were priced out of space activities (like Musk originally was) now have a much lower price starting point. For instance, the price differential between Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy is about $300M – you can build a lot of payload for $300M, and you also get a bonus of double the mass or a much further delivery point.

    It will take a little time for the market to react, since funding and build times are long on space hardware, but once it does there will be a lot of non-governmental groups trying stuff out in space – a true renaissance.

    Windy just doesn’t get it – he would rather stay on the government-funded ATK dole.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    He [SpaceX] would need more than 12 launches of the Falcon Heavy, in order to get the required 600mT (Doug Cook) into LEO for a Mars mission, along with on-orbit rendezvous and docking.

    So you’re saying that the only way to get to Mars is with a spaceship 30% bigger than the ISS? Just the fuel along to push that sucker is going to require it’s own fleet of fuel deliveries.

    But OK, but even assuming you’re close to right (even dart boards can pick a right number), Musk stated that they plan on being able to build and launch 10 ea Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy per year, so that is well within their capabilities.

    So far all you’ve shown is that you don’t like SpaceX, and not that you care about the goal of going to Mars, or anywhere for that matter.

    Let’s hold Musk to his promise to safely deliver a man to the Martain surface by Dec 31, 2021.

    He never promised that, but that’s your “issue” with facts again, isn’t it?

    But if you want to prove me wrong, great, just paste a copy of what he DID say, and provide the link to it. I’m more than happy to have my facts corrected – are you?

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    Bolden turns 65 in August, full, flush pensions and bennies kick in and shuttle ends this fiscal year. He’s gone.

  • DCSCA

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ April 25th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    “Are you jealous that Musk is building real hardware that can reach Mars?”

    Mars, Pennsylvania looks forward to the display he will set up in the R/V park out near the Wal-mart and McDonald’s by the highway. Another press release. Musk is going no place fast.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Credentials, please!

    You need surprisingly little knowledge of spaceflight to verify the arguments put forward by advocates of commercial development of space as to why an HLV is unnecessary. I posted the relevant information in one of the other recent threads. It requires no more than high school maths.

  • common sense

    @ Nelson Bridwell wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    “So, are you going to post your resume? Or am I the only one who is not afraid? Credentials, please!

    It will be interesting to find out who some of you folks really are, or are not…”

    Nice try Nelson. Keep working your robots. Think about it this way. Tomorrow you may apply for a job and this job may be related to space. And frankly some people here do not like your views, simplistic views and name calling of fellow space engineers and entrepreneurs. So what do you think might happen? Yes you have the “courage” of giving your name but there is no consequence to you for it. Some of us don’t have the luxury. Call us cowards for all I care.

    As for my credentials. I am still waiting for anyone here to say that I don’t have any. Whatever I posted speak to my credentials, or not. You are free to question them. You are free to debate my opinions. You are free to debate the facts. For all this you will not be called upon.

    What I find annoying is the slander, the outright lies you spout most of the times. You are not the only one mind you. You gave your name. You did not have to.

  • DCSCA

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 26th, 2011 at 5:55 pm
    Because ‘commercial development’ of space isn’t about spaceflight- it’s about the ideology of privatization of current- or traditional- government functions. It might as well be the post office. Unfortunately, exposed government agencies, such as NASA, are ripe for targeting. The DoD, less so. Nat’l security, ya’know, works wonders as a shield. All the more reason why, in an age of austerity and change, NASA get tucked under the protective wing of the DoD once shuttle ends.

  • Bennett

    As I read the debates between Nelson and other folks that comment on this forum, I see relatively calm presentation of facts (backed up with quotes and links) by Coastal Ron, common sense, Martjin Meijering and others – and in comparison I see Nelson’s outright lies, twisted facts, ignored challenges to his “facts”, and false analogies (none of which are backed by links or quotes).

    I wonder why Nelson even posts comments here. His resume lists his “interests”, but space or rocketry or NASA do not make his list. Like windy and DCSCA I see only a focused dislike of SpaceX, and comments that to try to discredit the accomplishments of Elon Musk and the team he has brought together.

    I know that to let these lies go unchallenged is to risk the creation of more Chris Castros, but trying to engage these trolls in a rational debate is silly.

    They don’t want that, they want to drop bombs on the really interesting debates here at Space Politics. They want to stop the conversation. They want people to stop talking about SpaceX and the NewSpace companies.

    Why is that, do you think?

    I really enjoy reading the thoughts of 99% of the folks who comment here, except when they’re having to, one again, post links and quotes to counter the bullshit lies and overall smears from the 3-4 trolls I’ve mentioned. This means I have to skip over 50% of the comments. I find that sad.

  • So I take it that I am the only person in this forum, aside from perhaps Simberg, who has any engineering credentials?

    So who exactly do we have here, a gaggle of mostly high school students?

    Except for Oler, who is ex-military?

    Today I heard rumors that Rick Tomlinson, the president of the Space Frontier Foundation, was a of community college dropout, and he was studying drama, not engineering…

  • Jeff Foust

    If people are going to debate about each other’s “credentials” rather than on-topic discussion, I am terminating this comment thread.