Congress, NASA, White House

The big picture of how space policy gets done – or doesn’t get done

The 2011 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) kicked off in Huntsville, Alabama, yesterday with a panel titled “How Space Gets Done” featuring a number of current and former officials and experts. The title was perhaps a bit unintentionally ironic, since panelists described just how inefficiently space policy is getting done in Washington today.

“Where we are right now is, I think, rather unprecedented,” said John Logsdon, referring to last year’s events that led up to the passage of the NASA authorization act. “One can question whether that’s the right way to make choices for the next quarter-century or more of the US space program.”

Much of the panel was a review of that debate, as well as the creation of the national space policy also released last year. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Paul Damphousse, who served as a fellow in Sen. Bill Nelson’s office last year, mentioned the challenge of crafting authorization legislation that could make it through the Senate by unanimous consent, something Nelson considered the only way such a bill would pass given the limited time available. Peter Marquez, the former director of space policy at the National Security Council, mentioned work on the national space policy, including digging through historical papers and finding a quote from Eisenhower that went into the introduction of the 2010 policy after being asked by an unnamed participant in a senior leadership meeting during the development of the policy about why, rather than how, we do space.

Most of that policy work, panelists acknowledged, gets done by a relative small, insular group of people in Washington. “Getting into the old boys network is a very difficult thing to do,” Marquez said. Influencing policy is challenging, but with enough hard work by advocates, he said, good ideas make their way into policy.

So, is there a better way to develop space policy? Logsdon discussed the provision in the authorization act that calls for a “decadal study” of human spaceflight analogous to those done in the space and earth sciences. “There’s some hope that study… might provide a vehicle for coalescing around a long-term program,” he said. However, he cautioned, “there is no recognized leadership within the human spaceflight community that could serve as the focal point for forming a consensus.” That’s a concern similar to one voiced by Marcia Smith in a panel discussion in Washington in March.

Could having a cabinet-level secretary for space could provide some of that leadership? “I can’t find any rationale to do that,” Marquez said. Creating such a position, he argued, would take away authority from a number of existing civil and national security agencies, who would be naturally reluctant to give it up.

“How do we get ourselves out of this morass?” Logsdon asked. Fifty years ago, he noted, we had an external motivation in the Soviet Union; a similar driving force doesn’t exist today. “I kind of fall back on presidential leadership,” he said. “I doubt this is going to happen, but I would hope that on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s own speech, next Wednesday, President Obama has something positive to say about working together internationally to find a global strategy for exploration… I would not hold my breath on that happening, but something like that needs to be done.”

111 comments to The big picture of how space policy gets done – or doesn’t get done

  • Vladislaw

    “So, is there a better way to develop space policy?”

    Yes, get it out of the hands of congress and into the hands of private enterprise. Have the government play the hand of the enabler and pump primer.

  • amightywind

    President Obama has something positive to say about working together internationally to find a global strategy for exploration

    We don’t need a global strategy. We need a rocket and a spacecraft some time and money, and give NASA and industry engineers time and peace to build it. It isn’t that complicated. Constellation was that, but destructive activists had other ideas. Here we are. These activists including the NASA leadership must be accountable for the current state of chaos at NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The problem is that these things are only issues for human spaceflight…the notions of national policy regarding uncrewed assets is quite different…why?

    There is no underlying rationale for human spaceflight right now…ie there is no reason for it that approximates the cost. for the national assets of uncrewed spaceflight there are rationales for them…weather sats, the various military/national security assets all HAVE REASONS for doing them…and those reasons drive the policy.

    In human spaceflight after 30 years and 200 plus billion in the shuttle era not a single reason has been found to do human spaceflight…other then to feed the various groups that have latched onto the federal dollars associated with it.

    Hence there is no driving force or driving group.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    plus billion in the shuttle era not a single reason has been found to do human spaceflight

    George Bush laid out the rationale in 2004. If you parse his confused words, Obama seems to embrace it. It i just that his policies are not aligned with it.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Oler, you say there are reasons of unmanned missions, but not for manned. Let me ask you do you think we should have the up and coming Mars Science Lab as a mission? What of Mars exploration? Are military and environmental projects all you support? What of the James Webb tele? Should the science only be done for profit and or military purposed? Should we colonize space, since in a few years our world population will tally in at around 9 Billion people? Or perhaps you dont care as that my be past your time, so let someone else worry about it? If you want to save money, dont go with any exploration beyond Earth orbit. We dont need to look for life on Mars, nor have the James Webb tele seek out secrets to the Universe, now do we?

  • Dennis Berube

    Sorry guys my computer typing is at best minimal. Thus the missing letters and mispelled words! Also any run together! To bad this cannot be edited! I try to proof read, but miss alot. Must be my age!
    Signed the Senior Citizen. I would like to see our administration commit to a 20 man and of course woman, lunar base, to give us a major foot hold on another world. Commercial could then add to that base if desired, making it become a bigger living complex.

  • Is there the possibility that our space future might simply not belong with NASA?

  • Vladislaw

    Here is a response to how that path was unsustainable.
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=30702

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    George Bush laid out the rationale in 2004.

    As Inigo Montoya would say:

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I’m amazed at how often you cite the VSE, but you hate so much of what it wants to do. Just to refresh your leaky mind, here are the four Goals and Objectives of the VSE:

    • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;

    • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;

    • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and

    • Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.

    Except for the aspirational 2020 date for the Moon, which even Bush wasn’t going to make, Obama is enabling more of the VSE than Bush/Griffin were. How ironic.

  • John Malkin

    Why not human spaceflight?

    What I think is wrong.
    Congress is focused on hardware as it relates to jobs instead of the best path forward. Actually the vision doesn’t demand a heavy lift vehicle only an evaluation of the need for one AND it doesn’t dictate design or up mass.

    The Vision for Space Exploration p. 15
    “NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems. Depending on future human mission designs, NASA could decide to develop or acquire a heavy lift vehicle later this decade. Such a vehicle could be derived from elements of the Space Shuttle, existing commercial launch vehicles, or new designs.” Sean O’Keefe & President George W. Bush

    Also the word International was used a lot which doesn’t seem to be the focus now.

  • Vladislaw

    Most use the 2020 date for the first landing on Luna, but a careful reading of the VSE clearly shows that 2015 was the date for first landings. Here are three quotes from the VSE:

    Use the Moon as a Testing Ground For Mars and Beyond
    Under this new Vision, the first robotic missions will be sent to the Moon as early as 2008 and the first human missions as early as 2015 to test new approaches, systems and operations for sustainable human and robotic missions to Mars and beyond.

    ———————————

    Starting at the Moon in 2008 and at Mars in 2011, NASA will launch dedicated robotic missions that will demonstrate new technologies and enhance our scientific knowledge of these destinations. These new technologies and discoveries will pave the way for more capable robotic missions and eventually human missions. The first human explorers will be sent to the Moon as early as 2015, as a stepping stone to demonstrate sustainable approaches to exploring Mars and other worlds.

    ————————————————–

    A human mission to the Moon will follow these robotic missions as early as 2015.

    ————————————————–

    If the VSE would have actually been followed maybe the date of 2015 could of been reached:

    “NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities”

    In 2005 the Nation already had the Atlas and Delta for module launches and Orbital Sciences for cargo and the Falcon coming on line.

    People REALLY have to understand what the VSE was about and it wasn’t about Constellation and heavy lift, it was about finally doing something like the Nautilus:

    “In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring. For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused, have systems that could be applied to more than one destination, and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews. NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly, that could enable these kinds of vehicles. These technologies will be demonstrated on the ground, at the Space Station and other locations in Earth orbit, and on the Moon starting this decade and into the next. Other breakthrough technologies, such as nuclear power and propulsion, optical communications, and potential use of space resources, will be demonstrated as part of robotic exploration missions. The challenges of designing these systems will accelerate the development of fundamental technologies that are critical not only to NASA, but also to the Nation’s economic and national security.”
    [boldface mine]

    Enable these kinds of “vehicles”, instead of Nautilus we got a bill for 12 billion dollars, two rockets to nowhere and the failed Ares Ix sideshow.

    If, in 2005, a program like ACES had been followed and commercial crew funded through COTS-D just think how close we would actually be towards a lunar landing in 2015.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Dennis Berube wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    “I would like to see our administration commit to a 20 man and of course woman, lunar base, to give us a major foot hold on another world.”

    If you’re worried about the population of the Earth, it’s not sensible to see a cost effective solution in colonization of other worlds (that happen to be very unfriendly to human life). A base on the Moon gives major footprints, but not really a major foothold. That base, at least until IRSU is wholly validated and executed, would be entirely dependent on Earth. If you’re going for a major foothold, you’d better be willing to give up major handholds.

    The comparison of space science with human space flight is ludicrous. Why? Because human space flight is VASTLY more expensive. How many people are you going to have gasping for breath on the Moon for the price of a JWST or an MSL? That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be doing human spaceflight. Just that your reason isn’t why we should be doing it.

    If my gift to my grandkids is a foothold on another world as a solution to their overpopulation problem, I’ll get a good laugh from them. While we’re putting a hundred people on Mars, the population of the Earth will increase by a few billion. The problem is that we make too many people. Not that we don’t have enough places to put them.

  • vulture4

    Sorry I could not make it to the Space Development Conference. However I am not sure anyone in Washington will be listening. Does anybody know who actually wrote the “Vision for Space Exploration”? Unlike Apollo, which had its genesis in a publicly accessible series of memos between Kennedy and von Braun, for the VSE it is hard to tell. Griffin seems unlikely as so many people criticize him for changing it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    John Malkin wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    “Also the word International was used a lot which doesn’t seem to be the focus now.”

    Not sure where this comes from. The “National Space Policy” released last summer, is strongly international in its perspectives.

    All nations have the right to use and explore space, but with this right also comes responsibility. The United States, therefore, calls on all nations to work together to adopt approaches for responsible activity in space to preserve this right for the benefit of future generations.

    You won’t find words like that in the previous national space policy document. One of the top level goals therein is now to

    Expand international cooperation on mutually beneficial space activities to: broaden and extend the benefits of space; further the peaceful use of space; and enhance collection and partnership in sharing of space-derived information.

    Congress too. The 2010 Authorization Act mandates that, where practical, our efforts on human space exploration will involve international partners. Reaching for Mars is explicitly considered there as an international effort.

    No, the emphasis on “international” in our space policy is very much the focus now, and moreso than previously.

  • DCSCA

    “I kind of fall back on presidential leadership,” [Logsdon] said. “I doubt this is going to happen, but I would hope that on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s own speech, next Wednesday, President Obama has something positive to say about working together internationally to find a global strategy for exploration… I would not hold my breath on that happening, but something like that needs to be done.”

    Logsdon must have been out of town a year ago in April. It was done on April 15, 2010 when President Obama delivered his own address on space at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And President Obama followed up and revisited KSC on April 29 of this year– when NASA let him and space advocates down by scrubbing STS-134 after months of time to properly prepare to launch on schedule. This is 2011, not 1961. The Cold War challenges and accompanying problems facing President Kennedy were much different than those facing President Obama and the U.S. today.

    Kennedy”s complete 5/25/61 speech is an absorbing read and reveals the pressing priorities of his times and must be considered in the context of that era, 50 years ago, when revisiting the whole thing as delivered. It was billed as a ‘Special Message to Congress On Urgent National Needs’ — with the famed moon passage toward the end. The speech has 10 sections- the famed ‘moon passage’ contained in the part about space is section 9, just ahead of the conclusion of his address.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Speeches/Special-Message-to-the-Congress-on-Urgent-National-Needs-May-25-1961.aspx

    It was essentially a supplement to JFK’s 1/30/61 SOU speech after which some very adverse international events occurred for the U.S.– Bay of Pigs debacle, Gagarin’s flight… and JFK’s Vienna summit w/Khrushchev was just a few weeks away with the Berlin Wall fated for construction that August. Very Cold War stuff and as relevant to the problems facing Americans today as FDR’s speech reacting to Pearl Harbor on 12/8/41.

    Reading the speech, you see that President Kennedy saw space as just another ‘battle front’ in the Cold War and if President Obama could draw any urgent comparative ‘national need’ to the moon proposal, it would be in the area of energy independence, as similar ‘threats’ cloud the national horizon in our times.

    The only nation positioning itself to begin to challenge the U.S. in space along similar competitive lines facing President Kennedy is the PRC– and unlike the USSR of 1961, the PRC is ‘behind.’ But partnering with them in some form at this point in time seems a more fiscally appealing route to budget-starved American space officials given the rolling deficits facing the U.S. today. No doubt it’s a bitter pill to swallow just as using Soyuz to carry America astronauts to the ISS is to veterans of the Cold War’s ‘space race.’ JFK and NK briefly flirted w/joint space projects as well but the politics of their times popped that trial balloon very fast. Logsdon knows all this. Kennedy’s address was unique for his times and although was essentially the ‘charter for the Apollo program’ it offers little guidance for writing the next chapter in HSF.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    “There is no underlying rationale for human spaceflight right now…ie there is no reason for it that approximates the cost.”

    You’ve made a stellar argument waving off wary investors in commercial HSF enterprises. Alert Wall Street and private capital markets– Oler says, ‘there’s no reason for it that approximates the cost.” Well played, sir.

    Still, your disdain for HSF is well known: Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 2nd, 2010 at 4:17 pm: “First I really dont care that we (the US or humanity or whatever) goes to the Moon or Mars or an asteroid in the next 10-20 years. I dont think that there is any need to send people we have good robotics which can do the job at far lower cost.”

  • common sense

    @ John Malkin wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    “Also the word International was used a lot which doesn’t seem to be the focus now.”

    In the orginal CEV proposals LMT and others had international partners. When Griffin came up with Constellation they were told to not have international partners.

    FWIW.

  • Does anybody know who actually wrote the “Vision for Space Exploration”?

    Brett Alexander was reportedly heavily involved.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Lassiter, does that mean you do not believe that a Lunar base could become self sufficient? At first it would be like an Artic outpost and yes depend on Earth for supplies. As its base progressed I see why it could not attain self sufficiency, thusly giving man his first foothold on an other world..

  • Fred Willett

    The VSE shows what we should have done.
    We got Constellation instead.
    The Augustine committee showed clearly that heavy lift done the Constellation way was unaffordable.
    But Norm and Co. went further and showed that ANY heavy lift, Shuttle derived or whatever sucks up all the money and leaves nothing for actual lunar landers, CEVs and all the other stuff that is needed to do anything BEO. And even then to get the heavy lifter you needed to increase the NASA budget substantially.
    NASA didn’t get that budget increase and is not going to get it.
    The senate insists NASA build a HLV anyway.
    This effectively kills NASA BEO HSF for the forseeable future.
    Wanna go to the moon or mars or even just beyond LEO?
    Forget it. There is no budget for it.
    The only hope I see is that commercial companies are starting to get into crew and cargo deliveries to space.
    Maybe they can build a business.
    ISS of course and maybe Bigelow.
    Bigelow’s first space station is planned to support 12. Twice the ISS crew numbers. Their second, 18 crew. 3 times ISS.
    These are big numbers.
    It may be a start. Enough of a start anyway to bypass NASA and actually start doing things in space again.
    And let NASA get on with building their rocket to nowhere.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    you ask some entertaining questions and rather then “yes/no” them all…let me just say this.

    I am what is known as a strict Constitutionalist, meaning that the government exist to serve the people. I dont have any problem with taxing or taxation as long as the things being done are things that 1) the people agree to and 2) things that make The Republic and the people who make it up have a better life. I dont get hung up on “What the Founders would do” these were great men but had flaws as we all do and governed/formed a country far different then what existed even when they passed into history, much less today.

    What my two points sum up to is that whatever is being done with tax dollars NEEDS TO HAVE VALUE FOR COST…if there is not much cost at risk; then the value that justifies the cost can be “less” or even ephemeral to this generation.

    The purchase of Alaska is a good example of this. The value to the generation that paid the cost was pretty good and obvious (to most) but the cost was not that high considering how things were and “Sewards folly” has paid great dividends to The Republic down the future.

    On the other hand the second F-35 engine; a favorite of the “defense hawks” (a term which applies to p eople who will spend almost anything in the name of defense) has zero value to this or any other generation. And today’s spending is especially critical because thanks to GOP policies on taxation todays Americans are paying little for the government that they have (I think we are borrowing from the future about 40 cents on the dollar).

    Each space program needs to be measured by that metric…and if it generates public support then the metric can said to be satisfied (both points). The military programs would, (and there is some waste there) for the most part qualify easily. We ARE DEMONSTRABLY safer with most of them, they have helped keep the peace for decades and will in the future. Weather sats justify themselves easily.

    Mars rovers? The two small rovers on Mars did not take much money and hence the value to cost equation is smaller…the bigger rover? To me thats about the limit of value to cost, in fact it probably goes over it. The Webb Telescope is something similar…Great idea to darn expensive for what we will get out of it.

    Human spaceflight right now meets no real value to cost equation. When the shuttle stops flying other then the folks employed by it; there will not be any dip in the GDP, there wont be any process of business or leisure or whatever that benefit the Citizens of T he Republic that is lost.

    I think that this can change, the cost can come down for instance…but it is clear that human spaceflight as NASA practices it fails the value test, because people like Wind, Whittington and Spudis all say the value is things that cannot be measured…American expectionalism is the latest goofy notion.

    The phrase “American exceptionalism” is itself used out of context of the origins of it…but exceptionalism is not defined by doing things that have no value to anyone but the people doing it….And American exceptionalism is defined as things which make The Republic as a whole great.

    I think HSF has a future in The Republic, but at some point it has to earn its keep directly, we have to find things to do that have value in themselves worth the cost. And if we dont, we have no business using any kind of tax dollars to do it

    Long Live The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • As Mr. Oler points out, everything we can do has both value and cost, and to be sustainable the value of human spaceflight must be greater than its cost. Right now robotics are cheaper for any task in space. Many interpret the Shuttle experience as proving that the cost of human spaceflight will remain high and we have to find missions of extremely high value, such as drugs or semiconductors that can only be made in space. This has always been a fantasy.

    The truth is that despite its high cost, the Shuttle provides strong evidence that human spaceflight can be quite cheap. In the one case where we simply added an extra shuttle mission with the same crew and cargo (the tethered satellite reflight) only $77 million was added to the budget. And even of this, the cost of the actual fuel to put the vehicle in orbit, all the energy that carries the Orbiter’s heavy wings into space, was essentially zero. LH2 costs 98 cents a gallon at LC-39, LOX is 60 cents. Most of the marginal operational cost of a Shuttle mission was for parts that aren’t reusable (the ET) or must be completely disassembled and rebuilt for each flight (the SRBs), or for maintenance costs that were completely unanticipated (the orbiter TPS).

    The much higher costs often quoted include long-sunk development costs, the vast overhead of maintaining Apollo-era facilities, development, and other NASA activities that were tacked onto Shuttle because, under the highly unrealistic “total cost accounting” system, the agency would not fund separate activities like center operations and general R&D adequately.

    If the cost per seat to LEO can be brought to $1-2M or less, many research tasks will become practical for humans because the cost of automating even a simple experiment is greater than $1-$2 million. This would still provide many times the potential operating cost. Fuel alone is about 60% of operating cost for an airliner, a mature reusable aerospace system using aircraft that are equal in complexity and manufacturing cost to an orbital launch vehicle.

    This was well understood at the beginning of the Shuttle program. What wasn’t understood was that operational costs and failure modes for a fantastically radical craft like the Shuttle could not be predicted by the magic of systems engineering. When this bitter lesson was learned, we began the reusable launch vehicle program, to test ideas for a new generation of RLVs without putting lives at risk.

    Unfortunately these were complex ideas, and the Bush administration did not understand the rationale for all these vehicles that didn’t do anything to advance American greatness. Our leaders, including most of my co-workers, even today have no real understanding of why we went to the moon, because they don’t study history in any serious way. They share a cultural myth of Apollo as a time when they had blank checks and clear goals, see Constellation as a return to that party, and revile Obama for taking away the cookie jar. They see human spaceflight as a spectacular adventure and have no taste for the hard work of making it practical and routine.

    The Shuttle was terminated to pay for “Apollo on steroids”, not because it was unsafe. If Shuttle were unsafe, LAS or no LAS, we obviously could not have launched the next mission. Yet we have supposedly erudite pundits who claim the LOC is equal to the number of losses divided by the number of missions. When Constellation was announced, the plan was to leave the US with no human launch capability for years. As John McCain pointed out in 2004, this was a mistake. But Shuttle and even, under Bush, ISS were tossed on the trash heap in a vain attempt to pay for the incompatible goals of another Apollo and massive tax cuts.

    The weakness of the Democrats has, ironically, been the assumption that the magic words were “private enterprise”. Clinton and Golden expected Lockheed and Orbital to pay for the X-33 and X-34 on the fond hope that they would generate profits. This was absurd since the vehicles were technology demonstrators, not operational systems. and forced both companies into untenable positions. When the Bush administration came in, all the RLV programs needed (relatively modest) government funding, and, not understanding the need for new technology that would make practical spaceflight possible, Bush cancelled them all.

    Today Obama again feels private industry can square the circle. But because the desperate need is for something to replace the Shuttle, which is finally working well but has already been abandoned, all the CCDEV projects are based on short-term capsule-on-ELV solutions and none has the potential to lead to a true RLV, because the proper predecessors for a manned RLV are unmanned, subscale, fully reusable booster stages and spacecraft.

  • “reading the speech, you see that President Kennedy saw space as just another ‘battle front’ in the Cold War ”

    In a sense. Kennedy had no interest in missiles on the moon. He saw the Moon Race as a symbolic substitute for the race in nuclear arms; a way to divert the ideological conflict with the USSR into an arena where the two sides could compete for world leadership without coming ever closer to the brink of nuclear annihilation:

    http://opinionmatters.flatoday.net/2011/04/why-we-went-to-moon.html

  • amightywind

    The Webb Telescope is something similar…Great idea to darn expensive for what we will get out of it.

    How on earth do you rationalize ISS then?

    Hubble was a similar total fiasco. Now you couldn’t pry it from the hands of astronomers world wide. Lesson: it is hard to predict the total return of a project when it is being developed. Creation of often messy. When the going gets tough the weak minded panic.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    completely out of context in the use of my words. Come on…do better, you can and have here RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    amightywind wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am
    “Hubble was a similar total fiasco. Now you couldn’t pry it from the hands of astronomers world wide. Lesson: it is hard to predict the total return of a project when it is being developed.”

    That’s not quite the right lesson. In both the case of Hubble and JWST, astronomers have an EXCELLENT understanding of what they’ll get out of each. The observatories were designed to answer specific science questions. The ISS, on the other hand, was not obviously designed for specific goals, though it could be argued that ISS helped us excel in more general goals, like developing capabilities for human spaceflight, and in-space construction.

    No question that Hubble and JWST will return important surprises, but they are not built on the premise of serendipity. Serendipity is a nice thing, but you can’t build a credible project on it. (SLS advocates, take note!)

    Hubble was a total fiasco because when it was launched, it didn’t work. When it was fixed, and became the Hubble that astronomers wanted, it became the prime tool that they had expected it would be.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am

    How on earth do you rationalize ISS then?……………….

    I dont rationalize ISS, I was oppossed to it; I have under my name the op eds against it, the speeches against it, the talks at NSS against it, the screaming matches with Lori Garver against it.

    ISS illustrates what is wrong with the development process of human spaceflight; but we have it now…and the trick is to find something useful to do with it.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am

    “Hubble was a similar total fiasco. Now you couldn’t pry it from the hands of astronomers world wide. ”

    only because it is “the toy that they have”.

    Hubble is a fiasco and illustrates the complete failure of the space shuttle as does ISS…

    In the case of Hubble to “go fix it” cost more then simply developing a new one and launching it on an expendable…OK they cant get the money to build a new one and launch it on an expendable because the money for Hubble is caught up (or was) in maintaining and flying the shuttle…and in maintaining the Hubble infrastructure which is now a political cost center.

    But the cost to do Hubble is high because of its legacy with the shuttle.
    Compared to the Keck telescopes which cost $94 million (US dollars) apiece, the HST seems costly with its initial price tag of $1.5 billion (US dollars). . By 1992 costs had increased to $2.5 billion. By 1999, $3.8 billion had been invested. By the time it is retired , the estimated total cost will be between $6 and $10 billion. (this is from a position paper I wrote for a political campaign in 08)

    I dont know what the cost of the KECK are over that period of time, but it is hard for me to imagine that the cost of KECK come close to the cost of Hubble and I dont think Hubble is doing that much break through science.

    there is no value for cost here…and a lot of other things dont get done because Hubble soaks up the money.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Egad

    > Brett Alexander was reportedly heavily involved [in writing VSE].

    Yep. Has he opined on the current situation?

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/nac/members/Alexander-bio.html

    Bretton Alexander
    President
    Commercial Spaceflight Federation

    [snip]

    From 2000 to 2005, Brett served as an advisor on space issues at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under Presidents Clinton and Bush. While at the White House, Brett was one of the primary authors of the Vision for Space Exploration announced in 2004.

    [snip]

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    “I dont rationalize ISS, I was oppossed to it…”
    “…the trick is to find something useful to do with it.”

    In other words, you are rationalizing the ISS, contradicting yourself yet again.

  • Yep. Has he opined on the current situation?

    I think that you could consider every press release that the Commercial Spaceflight Federation has put out for the past several years his ongoing opinion on the situation.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Lesson: it is hard to predict the total return of a project when it is being developed.

    A surprise admission for someone that has given up on the ISS before it’s even finished.

    “reader” pointed me to this 2009 report called:

    Science Research Accomplishments During the Assembly Years: An Analysis of Results from 2000-2008

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/science_results.html

    If we’re going to survive for long periods in space, then research like this will be needed (under the heading Human Research Program):

    The HRP research now focuses on knowledge gaps in our understanding of the physiological changes that are observed during long-duration space flight and research that is aimed at ameliorating the greatest health risks [11]; today’s experiments are designed to provide more detail in the complex changes in crew health. Today, an integrated set of parameters is monitored on ISS crewmembers. For example, Nutrition (Nutritional Status Assessment), which is a comprehensive in-flight study of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight [12], and Integrated Immune (Validating Procedures for Monitoring Crewmember Immune Function) sample and analyze participant’s blood, urine, and saliva before, during, and after space flight. These samples are used to study the changes that are related to functions such as bone metabolism, oxidative damage, and immune function. These studies are unique because of the information that they collect on the timing of changes during the course of a space mission. Another collaborative set of experiments measures and monitors body fluid shifts; electrocardiograms are collected to monitor the heart function and vascular health of the crew. The crewmembers periodically test their pulmonary function, and keep journals that are used to quantitatively analyze their response to isolation. Future research is also ensured. Extra biological samples are collected for the Repository investigation, which is a long-term archive of critical biological samples that are collected from ISS astronauts, for future analysis when new tools and methods can be used and
    new questions are posed.

    You can’t do this type of research on the MPCV, nor on the Moon, and the longer we wait to figure out life-sustaining techniques for zero-G, then the longer it will be before we can live in space.

    My. $0.02

  • Vladislaw

    Vulture4 wrote:

    “The weakness of the Democrats has, ironically, been the assumption that the magic words were “private enterprise”. Clinton and Golden expected Lockheed and Orbital to pay for the X-33 and X-34 on the fond hope that they would generate profits.”

    NASA had invested almost a billion into the X-33.

    and …

    “Today Obama again feels private industry can square the circle. But because the desperate need is for something to replace the Shuttle, which is finally working well but has already been abandoned, all the CCDEV projects are based on short-term capsule-on-ELV solutions and none has the potential to lead to a true RLV,”

    I believe it is a bit different, I would have to reread some history, but the x-33 and 34 were not milestone based, NASA got to insist on repeated design changes (which led to the cancelation of the x34) and the x-33 was seen more of a threat to the shuttle interests of the day.

    Here commercial is doing the design and development and on their own dime until they fulfill a self directed milestone.

    Commercial is not longer seen as threat to the shuttle (seen more as a threat to NASA having their own launch systems) and there is more on board within NASA then you heard with the X-33. Even Kelly was singing the praises of commerical on the ISS. Something I do not recall NASA astronauts doing with a commercial venture star.

  • Since Americans really weren’t space travelers when Kennedy committed us to the Moon and the Soviets were, Kennedy viewed the Moon as a way for America to possibly leap frog the Soviet Union and into the lead in space and in the exploration of the New Frontier which Kennedy called “the new ocean”.

    Nixon, on the other hand, was very cynical about the practical use of a manned space program and saw no reason to use the Apollo infrastructure to establish a permanent base on the Moon once America had established its supremacy in space. Instead, he endorsed the creation of a space shuttle as a means for NASA to use manned space travel more practically and more geocentrically by being able to cheaply place military and commercial satellites into orbit with a reusable vehicle that was predicted to have a launch rate of more than 40 flights per year.

    Of course, once the first accident occurred early in the shuttle program, such notions were no longer entertained and Congress eventually took NASA completely out of the commercial launch business. And shuttle launch rates on an annual base were nearly ten times less than expected which dramatically increased the predicted recurring cost.

    Additionally, other nations believed it was in their own interest to develop their own space launch capability in order to launch their own satellites rather than depend of American rocket systems.

    However, returning to the Moon once again offers the US a chance to leap frog other nations technologically and economically by building an infrastructure that could allow us mine water at the lunar poles in order to dramatically reduce the cost of manned and unmanned space travel within cis-lunar space and beyond. The first nations to successfully exploit the Moon’s water resources, IMO, will strategically and economically dominate cis-lunar space and the solar system and will become the OPEC on the New Frontier.

  • Martijn Meijering

    all the CCDEV projects are based on short-term capsule-on-ELV solutions and none has the potential to lead to a true RLV

    Dream Chaser isn’t a capsule and could become part of an RLV. And we don’t really know what the availability of commercial crew transport will do for flight rates. If Bigelow is successful he may be able to open up a market that would lead to development of commercial RLVs. I’m not optimistic, but it’s too early to write off the possibility. I’d be very optimistic if there were plans for near term exploration based around propellant transfer and fair, competitive and redundant procurement, but alas that’s not the world we live in.

  • Kennedy viewed the Moon as a way for America to possibly leap frog the Soviet Union and into the lead in space and in the exploration of the New Frontier which Kennedy called “the new ocean”.

    This is a fantasy with no basis in reality. Kennedy viewed Apollo primarily as a battle in the Cold War. He told Webb a few months before his death that he “didn’t care that much about space.” It’s likely that he would have canceled it in 1967 had he served two terms, just as Johnson did.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “A surprise admission for someone that has given up on the ISS before it’s even finished.”

    One of the main reasons for no results was put forth by Thomas Boone Pickens, the CEO of SpaceHab/Astrotech. When he took over he found out that just about every experiement performed on the ISS was an unintended one off. No one every expected to get a second experiment or a follow up because of the extreme difficulty of getting something on the space shuttle.

    With multiple providers making more routine trips into LEO, I believe you are going to see more on the experiment front. Also when Sir Branson gets going that will see an increase also. It is all about, lowered costs and routine access to space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    However, returning to the Moon once again offers the US a chance to leap frog other nations technologically and economically…

    …by going further in debt for no reason.

    Regarding “leap frogging”, maybe you haven’t looked around much, but no one does space as good as the U.S. – not even close. Even with the Shuttle retiring we have a large, knowledgeable and diverse aerospace industry to draw upon for anything we want to do, so the only limits are money – like everyone else.

    …by building an infrastructure that could allow us mine water at the lunar poles in order to dramatically reduce the cost of manned and unmanned space travel within cis-lunar space and beyond.

    In business, you have to make sure you’re addressing an actual need, otherwise you won’t have any customers for what you’re offering.

    The lack of inexpensive fuel is not a gating item for space exploration, so creating an expensive fuel refinery on the Moon doesn’t solve anything.

    Focus on real problems, not imaginary ones.

  • Das Boese

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    “I dont think Hubble is doing that much break through science.”

    Think again.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    “In other words, you are rationalizing the ISS, contradicting yourself yet again.”

    no, I am dealing with reality

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Das Boese wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    “I dont think Hubble is doing that much break through science.”

    You replied:

    “Think again.”

    I looked at it pretty extensively for a position paper in the 00 and 08 campaign…if you want to point me to some breakthrough work that I have missed go ahead…I am always willing to learn.

    The point is however is it doing the type of science that cannot be done by KECK or the eqvuilent at a price that is affordable? The answer seems to be no.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    “Since Americans really weren’t space travelers when Kennedy committed us to the Moon and the Soviets were, Kennedy viewed the Moon as a way for America to possibly leap frog the Soviet Union and into the lead in space and in the exploration of the New Frontier which Kennedy called “the new ocean”. ”

    that is fantasy…JFK told Webb (I believe ) words to the affect of “I am just not that interested in space”. rhetoric is rhetoric and JFK had some of the best that there was…but there was no grand visions of a space future held by JFK

    Robert G. oler

  • @Rand Simberg wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Kennedy viewed the Moon as a way for America to possibly leap frog the Soviet Union and into the lead in space and in the exploration of the New Frontier which Kennedy called “the new ocean”.

    “This is a fantasy with no basis in reality. Kennedy viewed Apollo primarily as a battle in the Cold War. He told Webb a few months before his death that he “didn’t care that much about space.” It’s likely that he would have canceled it in 1967 had he served two terms, just as Johnson did.”

    Its not a fantasy since the US had no manned spaceflight capability when Kennedy made his speech. John Glenn hadn’t even made his first orbital mission. And we were in a technological race with the Soviet Union– including in the New Frontier. The US was well behind Russia in space technology and we had doubts if we could even compete with the Russians in space. Most at that time thought that the Russians would be the first to land on the Moon no matter what Kennedy said in a speech!

  • DCSCA

    Per my earlier posting on this thread, revisit the full text of JFK’s 5/25/61 speech and read the famed ‘moon passage’ in its proper context.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Speeches/Special-Message-to-the-Congress-on-Urgent-National-Needs-May-25-1961.aspx

    Space was clearly just another ‘battle front’ opening up in the Cold War when JFK delivered the address– a supplement to his SOU speech a few months earlier– and recent events of that era, adverse to the U.S.– played heavily into his presentation. Gagarin, Shepard… Bay of Pigs, etc. JFK entertained (albeit briefly) a joint Soviet/American space proposal w/NK (aware of the costs U.S. space initiatives would incur) but that trial balloon dissipated within a day or two over technical and political issues. Bear in mind Kennedy’s ‘view of the moon’ remained fairly static– frozen in the context of the 1961-1963 time frame. He was alive for four of the early Saturn I launches between 1961-63 and saw Project Mercury conclude. No more. The Johnson Administration is really where the the credit should rest for maintaining the momentum that pushed Apollo to the moon.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 7:16 pm
    “It’s likely that [JFK] would have canceled it in 1967 had he served two terms, just as Johnson did.”

    Inaccurate, as usual. You’ve been repeatedly schooled by a number of people on this forum about this revisionist fallacy of yours. If you’re going to pass yourself off as an educator, lobbyist or even a shill you best start getting your facts and your history correct. The Apollo program was definitively cancelled by the Nixon Administration, not the Johnson Administration.

  • On this JFK thingie, I’ve written about it many times, and Dr. John Logsdon published a book on the subject earlier this year. Both are summed up here:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-review-john-f-kennedy-and-race-to.html

    JFK’s proposal was a fluke of its time. It has no relevance to today, other than it created NASA’s current dysfunctional structure.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I dont see how a thing you wrote speaks to the points Rand raised.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    “The US was well behind Russia in space technology and we had doubts if we could even compete with the Russians in space. Most at that time thought that the Russians would be the first to land on the Moon no matter what Kennedy said in a speech!”

    Let’s take these statements one at a time.

    “The US was well behind…”

    Sputnik went up October 4, 1957, Explorer 1 was launched on January 31, 1958 – a “gap” of 4 months. This gap had closed to less than 2 months by 1961 with the launching of Gagarin on April 12 and Shepard on May 5. So really, how far behind were we?

    “we had doubts if we could even compete with the Russians in space.”

    Who is “we”? I have never heard anyone express this nonsense. I’m sure you could have found some loser somewhere in the USA who may have said “I don’t know if we can even compete with the USSR…” but they would have been laughed at. If you have any documentation to the contrary, show it.

    “Most at that time thought that the Russians would be the first to land on the Moon…”

    Again, this is fabrication, not fact. You are making things up to support your fantasy worldview. You may be entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    When you write things like those above, your already weak credibility sinks ever lower.

  • vulture4

    Martijn Meijering wrote
    “Dream Chaser isn’t a capsule and could become part of an RLV. ”

    I have an open mind. As I’ve said, if anybody has any definitive aero data that shows the Dream Chaser could land on a runway at a credible airspeed without powered lift, powered thrust, or parachutes I’d be interested in seeing it. But the HL-10 configuration has been around (like me) since the pre-computer days and has changed little. I worked with it peripherally over 20 years ago. It looks good in graphics. But the 60′s demonstrators were just lightweight shells. To my knowledge no one has ever landed a lifting body on a runway at anything approximating a realistic spaceflight weight. Crossrange can be increased somewhat at the cost of greater weight and complexity than a roll-vectored capsule like Apollo, but whether this is worth the cost depends on the exact demands of the mission.

    The NASA romance with lifting bodies began in the 60′s when it seemed conceptually simple to just take a cone and cut it in half so all the pressure forces would push it up. Of course this was simplistic and the early airdropped prototypes gradually evolved fins and boattails. But, as is the NASA way, the goal was always to show that a lifting body was _possible_, never to show that it was the best solution. The aerodynamic goals of wing and fuselage are diametrically opposed and for most purposes incompatible.

    The Shuttle’s conventional delta wing provides high crossrange and is just at the limit for runway landing, while maintaining an immense cargo volume in the fuselage. The downside of the Shuttle configuration was CG sensitivity and the limited effectiveness of the vertical fin, masked by the shockwave during most of entry.

    These lessons were well considered with the X-37 platform, keeping the delta but moving it amidships and adding a V-tail that provides greater pitch trim authority and is always in the airstream. Its first test flight appears to have gone well, though unfortunately NASA abandoned the program, apparently having forgotten why they started it.

    Apparently long after the HL-10, a group at Langley worked out a TSTO concept that appears to allow LEO access with full reusability. Both booster and orbiter would be capable of runway landing and both used conventional wing-fuselage configuration. Of course the prototype would be subscale and unmanned, but this approach makes sense if we are ever to have human spaceflight at an affordable price. The first step would be a subscale, suborbital prototype of the reusable booster stage, using LOX/RP, vertical launch and runway landing, and returning to the launch site with a Shuttle-like RTLS maneuver.

    CCDEV, in contrast, has a very short-range objective, getting people into orbit quickly, so is limited to relatively conventional designs. A vehicle that proves new technology should not also have to carry people, which vastly increases cost. In 2011, this just doesn’t make sense.

  • Byeman

    “When he took over he found out that just about every experiement performed on the ISS was an unintended one off. No one every expected to get a second experiment or a follow up because of the extreme difficulty of getting something on the space shuttle.”

    Pickens doesn’t know what he is talking about. The most of the same experiments that flew on the first two Spacehab missions were still fly 10 more more missions later. In fact, NASA had to beg some experimenters to refly sooner to fill up the Spacehab module on later missions.

  • Dreamchaser is based on an HL-20, not an HL-10. And it has been extensively studied and modeled, for decades. There is no reason to think that it will not be able to land on a runway.

  • Michael from Iowa

    If you’re going to create a cabinet position devoted to space exploration and science there’s no need to create a completely separate position – just change NASA Chief Administrator to a cabinet level position, add on additional responsibilities, and rename it ‘Secretary of Space and Science’ or whatever.

  • Das Boese

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 21st, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Off the top of my head I’d say the Deep Field and Ultra Deep Field surveys. I think even with the best and latest in adaptive optics something like it isn’t possible with ground based telescopes. The same goes for observation at UV wavelengths.

    Wikipedia’shas I think a nice overview of important HST discoveries, though it’s hard to say if these could have been achieved otherwise. Some, probably.
    On scientific impact it only says this:

    “Many objective measures show the positive impact of Hubble data on astronomy. Over 9,000 papers based on Hubble data have been published in peer-reviewed journals,[100] and countless more have appeared in conference proceedings. Looking at papers several years after their publication, about one-third of all astronomy papers have no citations, while only 2% of papers based on Hubble data have no citations. On average, a paper based on Hubble data receives about twice as many citations as papers based on non-Hubble data. Of the 200 papers published each year that receive the most citations, about 10% are based on Hubble data”

    It’d be dishonest to not also mention that they, too, mention the high costs vs. the return of scientific data

    Although the HST has clearly had a significant impact on astronomical research, the financial cost of this impact has been large. A study on the relative impacts on astronomy of different sizes of telescopes found that while papers based on HST data generate 15 times as many citations as a 4 m ground-based telescope such as the William Herschel Telescope, the HST costs about 100 times as much to build and maintain

    However the referenced paper is pure statistics and doesn’t tell us which discoveries would and wouldn’t have been possible.

    Look, I’m not even arguing wether Hubble was worth its cost. Compared to alternative approaches, possibly not. But to say that it hasn’t made any important discoveries (that weren’t possible with ground-based systems at the time), I think, is disingenious.

    You might even say that making a large space telescope serviceable isn’t necessarily cost-effective was an important HST discovery in and of itself ;P

  • I would still be interested to know the claimed touchdown weight and speed. I know it’s been studied for decades, but the closest vehicle to the HL-20 to reach the airdrop stage was the Scaled Composites ACRV 80% drop test prototype, which used a parasail, although there was a problem in deployment.

    Don’t get me wrong; it could probably be made to work. But if there is a study that shows why it makes sense I’d like to see it. The original rationale for not using wings was the lack of TPS for sharp leading edges but Columbia notwithstanding, there seem to be acceptable materials for this today.

    The X-37, despite its tiny wings and extremely chunky fuselage, actually flew in orbit and touched down on a runway somewhere around 200mph. It blew a tire but otherwise performed well.

    We could take the HL-20, add some stubby wings near the CG, give the fuselage a round low-drag cross-section with a larger internal volume, and just call it a lifting body.

  • Dennis Berube

    Hubble has and continues to do breakthrough work. Apparently people here think to gain knowledge about the Universe, is nothing. Look at Hubbles deep field pic. and tell me what that picture makes you think about. Certainly our smallness in the grand scheme of things If we do not push and crave to learn we as a species will become stagnant and go the way of the dinosaurs. I am hoping for so much more from the James Webb tele too.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Das Boese wrote @ May 22nd, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    “Look, I’m not even arguing wether Hubble was worth its cost. Compared to alternative approaches, possibly not. But to say that it hasn’t made any important discoveries (that weren’t possible with ground-based systems at the time), I think, is disingenious.”

    and if I had said it hasnt made “any important discoveries” then you might have a point, but I DID NOT.

    What I said was there is a serious question is if Hubble was worth its cost…and you have not made any statements that said it was.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.economist.com/node/18712369?story_id=18712369&fsrc=scn/tw/te/rss/pe

    best line

    “Yet it did not escape the notice of critics even at the time that this entailed an irony. The Apollo programme, which was summoned into being in order to demonstrate the superiority of the free-market system, succeeded by mobilising vast public resources within a centralised bureaucracy under government direction. In other words, it mimicked aspects of the very command economy it was designed to repudiate. ”

    this is why support of such endeavors (endeavours) by people like Whittington and Wind and other so called teaparty folks…are really quite amusing

    Long Live The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    An interesting and skeptical article about SpaceX. One must believe that the writer has read amightywind’s contributions about this subject on this forum.

  • Loren Thompson’s on the Lockheed payroll. You have to be a Harper’s subscriber to read the article, but in it, the magazine calls the Lexington Institute the “defense industry’s pay-to-play ad agency.” Thompson is quoted as saying:

    “I’m not going to work on a project unless somebody, somewhere, is willing to pay.”

    And he doesn’t have to read your fantasies and nonsense to come up with his own.

  • Justin Kugler

    That’s the same guy who wrote the same kind of tripe for his own Lexington Institute’s blog. The same Loren Thompson who has traditional aerospace companies as his clients. Don’t hurt yourself trying to pat yourself on the back, windy.

    The article itself completely misrepresents the CRS contract awards, which were given out before the Obama Administration came to power, and entirely ignores the private customers that SpaceX has lined up. This is a propaganda piece and it’s about as transparent as when Facebook tried to smear Google in the press.

  • Bob Mahoney

    @Oler this is why support of such endeavors (endeavours) by people like Whittington and Wind and other so called teaparty folks…are really quite amusing

    And this is contributing to the discussion…how?

  • E.P. Grondine

    My guess is that at some time THE answer to the “Why?” question will finally become obvious.

    My hope is that not too many lives will be lost in the process.

  • kayawanee

    amightywind wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 1:19 pm
    An interesting and skeptical article about SpaceX. One must believe that the writer has read amightywind’s contributions about this subject on this forum.

    The only thing interesting is that Forbes is willing print a hit piece masquerading as a supposedly “objective” article by someone like Loren Thompson. At a bare minimum, Forbes should at least reference his connection to Lockheed Martin, rather than trying to pass him off as just some disinterested observer from some obscure think tank.

    However, there is absolutely nothing interesting about you referencing such an article. This is exactly what I’ve come to expect from you..

  • amightywind

    Look folks. The people at Lockmart and Boeing are no slouches. By what magic does Musk achieve his economy? In the article that idiot Bolden is quoted as saying Musk’s technology is ‘disruptive’? May we know why? If we are about to supplant the industry leaders shouldn’t we understand how SpaceX achieves its low cost? Given SpaceX’s murky financing it is a prudent question to ask. From the outside an F9 looks like an Atlas V with a less capable upper stage and a Rube Goldberg main stage.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    @Oler this is why support of such endeavors (endeavours) by people like Whittington and Wind and other so called teaparty folks…are really quite amusing

    You replied:
    And this is contributing to the discussion…how?///

    in political arguments frequently all there is to tell the folks who believe what they believe from those who are told what they believe, is the logic of their beliefs.

    Whittington, Wind and a host of others babble on incessantly about the free market, the notions of replacing one government program after another with “privatization”, the other day on his blog Whittington was touting the virtues of “privatizing” the city of Houston’s tourist bureau…

    But when it comes to the national space effort their ardor for privatization collapses among a sea of big government, centralized planning efforts. They never have the courage to come out and say “wow we are for a big government program”, they call it something different but it is a big government program…and based on that what they believe really has no currency or value.

    As I am fond of telling those who supported the SCOTUS decision in Bush V Gore…so did I. It killed the 10th amendment and used the same logic as Roe V Wade. I didnt want Bush to be POTUS but I believe what I believe. Logic is important.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    My guess is that at some time THE answer to the “Why?” question will finally become obvious.

    My money is that the answer will either be “42″, or “Because I Said So!”

    My hope is that not too many lives will be lost in the process.

    I think I know what you’re alluding to, but I don’t know if everyone else thinks or knows what you’re alluding to. But I’m fine with not discussing your allusions, as alluding to lost lives is a lost cause. My hope is that clears things up…

  • Major Tom

    “An interesting and skeptical article about SpaceX.”

    Multiple other analysts have pointed out that Thompson’s “article” is erroneous on multiple counts:

    “It’s not clear where Thompson, who has worked as a consultant for Lockheed Martin, got the $2 billion figure. SpaceX does have a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA that when coupled with other agency investments in the company gets into the $2 billion ballpark. However, SpaceX has received only a small fraction of the CRS funding to date; the bulk of that money will be paid out over the next several years once SpaceX begins routine space station logistics runs with Falcon 9 and Dragon, and those flights won’t begin until next year.”

    spacenews.com/commentaries/110505-lexington-institute-takes-spacex.html

    “Maybe he’s [Thompson's] just so completely clueless that he doesn’t know that SpaceX has received less than three hundred million dollars from NASA…

    “Note that he provides no data with which to demonstrate the “efficiency” of the traditional launch providers, which helped NASA spend over ten billion of the taxpayers’ money on Ares and Orion with nothing to show but a single giant bottle rocket test, and a half-completed capsule…

    “When a company has a steadily improving record, with the successful development of one operational rocket after three test flights, and the successful development of a much larger rocket, that has had two successful flights, with no failures, the second of which delivered a pressurized capsule that was successfully and flawlessly recovered on its first flight, all at a cost to the taxpayers of less than three percent of that expended on Constellation to date, that is the sign of a company that is maturing rapidly and high on the learning curve. He doesn’t note the order of the failures and successes, or that they involved two different rockets, because it doesn’t play into his false implication that the failures are random events, and that the next vehicle has a three in seven chance of failing.

    “And what is he talking about, as far as ‘backing out of price commitments’? He doesn’t say. Likely because he’s making it up.”

    transterrestrial.com/?p=33624

    “One must believe that the writer…”

    The “writer”, Thompson, is paid millions of dollars annually by Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and other defense firms to be their flack:

    “But Thompson said it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to ‘comment on defense.’

    The institute brought in $2.4 million in 2009, according to its financial statements. Thompson proposes projects to its clients, such as one he wrote earlier this year denouncing subsidies received by the European Union, an argument used by Boeing for bouncing its competitor EADS from the effort to win the $35 billion tanker contract.”

    politico.com/news/stories/1210/46155.html#ixzz18DK1yuCj

    “… has read amightywind’s contributions about this subject on this forum.”

    Wow, your megalomania has reached new bounds. But no, even a paid shill is more professional than that.

    Sigh…

  • The only thing interesting is that Forbes is willing print a hit piece masquerading as a supposedly “objective” article by someone like Loren Thompson.

    It’s a blog. They’re generally lightly edited. A better question is why Forbes allows him to blog there. Maybe if they get enough complaints about this, they won’t any more.

  • Look folks. The people at Lockmart and Boeing are no slouches. By what magic does Musk achieve his economy? In the article that idiot Bolden is quoted as saying Musk’s technology is ‘disruptive’? May we know why? If we are about to supplant the industry leaders shouldn’t we understand how SpaceX achieves its low cost?

    This has been explained many times. Elon Musk explained it himself recently. There is nothing “murky” about their financing.

    Do yo pay no attention whatsoever to what has been happening? Do you live in a cave?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “ook folks. The people at Lockmart and Boeing are no slouches. By what magic does Musk achieve his economy? In the article that idiot Bolden is quoted as saying Musk’s technology is ‘disruptive’? May we know why? If we are about to supplant the industry leaders shouldn’t we understand how SpaceX achieves its low cost? ”

    lol. The Brannifs and Americans never quite figured out why or how Southwest airlines achieved its low cost. They still do not today. SWA’s folks are some of the highest paid in the industry and there is nothing really special about their Boeings…yet they have an amazing cost structure.

    Boeing and Lockmart have feed at the trough so long it is hard for them to think that anything can be done …

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    The people at Lockmart and Boeing are no slouches.

    No, they’re not, but they don’t run their aerospace divisions from a commercial perspective, but from a government contracting one. If you’ve never worked for both a government contractor and a commercial company in similar fields, then you are missing the difference.

    For instance, the goals of program managers are the same (generate the most revenue), but their avenues to do that are different. The government contractor generates more revenue by INCREASING billable’s to the government, not reducing them. The commercial program manager looks to reduce costs, increase market share, and increase competitive features.

    The key to doing this starts with competition, and even though initial government contracts are competitively awarded, program managers worth their salary know how to find more ways to generate more revenue from contracts that are supposed to be fixed-price. And Time & Material contracts are hard to manage too when you have sophisticated government contractors.

    In the article that idiot Bolden is quoted as saying Musk’s technology is ‘disruptive’? May we know why?

    I’ll ignore the idiotic statement and focus on the more enlightened question. First we’ll define “disruptive innovation”:

    The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers.

    For SpaceX, one of the initial things they benefit from is that the company is new, and doesn’t have legacy assets and overhead. Second, they are using a fairly conservative design that is based on lots of historical data, which lowers their R&D. Third, their manufacturing is vertically integrated, which means that they build most of their product in-house, which again lowers costs. Fourth, their manufacturing and operations are designed from the outset for low cost. Compare the rollout and launch process for Falcon 9 against Atlas V or even the Shuttle. Combine other small tangibles like bargain hunting for major assets (their factory building, oxygen tanks, etc.), attracting top talent who gladly work long hours, and taken as a whole that gives you lower overall costs, and hence, lower prices.

    The real question though is why is ULA (Boeing & Lockheed Martin) is charging so much? What are their big cost drivers, and what are they doing to reduce costs?

    Given SpaceX’s murky financing it is a prudent question to ask.

    It’s not murky if you look:

    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/space-exploration-technologies

    And NASA’s contract for the CRS program gives them access to SpaceX detail financials, which NASA has stated they have already reviewed. Their other customers would have reviewed their finances too before committing important payloads to them, so you seem to be in the uninformed minority.

    From the outside an F9 looks like an Atlas V with a less capable upper stage and a Rube Goldberg main stage.

    Atlas V 401 – 10,470 lbs to GTO and ~$90M/launch
    Falcon 9 – 10,000 lbs to GTO and $59.5M/launch

    If “less capable” mean far more cost efficient, then OK. But otherwise you’re using units of measure that don’t mean anything. All that matters to the customer is how much it costs them to get their product to the right place. Whether they use an engine that is 95% efficient versus 97% is immaterial.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    “Logic is important.”

    “I dont rationalize ISS, I was oppossed to it… …the trick is to find something useful to do with it.”

    ROFLMAO

  • Major Tom

    “By what magic does Musk achieve his economy?”

    Workforce and contracting cost structure.

    United Space Alliance, the prime contractor for the Shuttle, needed 8,100 employees at its peak.

    space-travel.com/reports/United_Space_Alliance_To_Slash_Workforce_As_Shuttle_Ends_999.html

    United Launch Alliance, the prime contractor for the Atlas and Delta LV families, needed 4,400 employees at its peak.

    space.com/9682-rocket-launch-provider-scale-workforce.html

    SpaceX, by contrast, only has 1,200 employees.

    dailybreeze.com/ci_17775443?source=pkg

    SpaceX has a workforce that’s one-eighth to one-fourth that of its domestic competitors.

    On top of that, the Space Shuttle carries a massive NASA civil servant Shuttle workforce and both USA and ULA have many and large subcontracts providing engines (e.g., Aerojet, ATK, and Rocketdyne) and other subsystems. SpaceX does not carry those contracting costs.

    “… is quoted as saying Musk’s technology is ‘disruptive’? May we know why? If we are about to supplant the industry leaders shouldn’t we understand how SpaceX achieves its low cost?”

    See above. SpaceX employs technologies and systems that are not as labor intensive as their competitors by a factor of four to eight. And they build the vast majority of these subsystems without having to support additional standing armies of subcontractors.

    “Given SpaceX’s murky financing it is a prudent question to ask.”

    There’s nothing “murky”. SpaceX is upfront and public about its costs and pricing. See “Why the US Can Beat China: The Facts About SpaceX Costs” at:

    spacex.com/updates.php

    Don’t make up and spread lies.

    “From the outside an F9 looks like an Atlas V with a less capable upper stage and a Rube Goldberg main stage.”

    Gee, do you think that mass-producing smaller, more manageable engines in larger numbers and forgoing a different upper stage engine and propellant infrastructure could have any workforce and cost implications?

    Think before you post.

    “In the article that idiot Bolden…”

    The NASA Administrator evinces an understanding of launch vehicle costs that you do not. He is not the “idiot”.

    Take your slime elsewhere.

    Ugh…

  • For those interested, I’ve responded to the mendacious Thompson hit piece at the Washington Examiner.

  • Bob Mahoney

    @Oler

    A simple “It doesn’t.” would have sufficed.

  • amightywind

    Wow, this innocuous little piece has really put a burr in your collective saddle. None of you has explained in the least how SpaceX is saving a factor of 3 in launch costs. The points the article raises are legitimate. Your responses have been less so. In the great game, the counter attack has begun…

    If you’ve never worked for both a government contractor and a commercial company in similar fields, then you are missing the difference.

    For the record, I have worked for Hughes Space and Comm, Raytheon, and Honeywell in commercial and classified satellite and avionics projects. I also worked for NASA.

  • The TEA Party wants space policy that is fiscally responsible, limited in government, and opens up access to free markets (space). No one in sound judgment can make the argument that SLS does this.

    COTS, CCDev2, and CRuSR are all examples of how NASA is adopting new programs and adapting to market forces. By the same token one could argue that SLS does completely the opposite. SLS demands using the old infrastructure, workforce, and business practices that lead to higher costs for the US taxpayer.

    I have not heard anyone call for cutting NASA. However, many TEA Party people think NASA can do a better job on how it spends its money. NASA could do so much by restructuring itself, decommissioning the Apollo infrastructure, and build something that doesn’t take 10,000 people to launch.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    http://www.teapartyinspace.com

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    The only way forward for NASA is to slowly eliminate the traditional methods. Bolden’s doing that despite the efforts of the Pork mysters in Congress using his ‘cunning’ (nod to AW) go-slow tactics and now they fallen for the bait by demanding every document they can think of. LOL.
    Meanwhile SpaceX keeps moving on with their plans even if some of the bods on NasaSpaceFlight get their nickers in a knot over weld defects. Note to them: identified before they brought the vehicle down in flames.
    The more the critics attack SpaceX the more they’ll know they’re winning.

  • Major Tom

    “An interesting and skeptical article about SpaceX.”

    As pointed out by other writers and analysts, like this one at Space News, Loren Thompson’s “articles” usually contain falsehoods:

    “It’s not clear where Thompson, who has worked as a consultant for Lockheed Martin, got the $2 billion figure. SpaceX does have a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA that when coupled with other agency investments in the company gets into the $2 billion ballpark. However, SpaceX has received only a small fraction of the CRS funding to date; the bulk of that money will be paid out over the next several years once SpaceX begins routine space station logistics runs with Falcon 9 and Dragon, and those flights won’t begin until next year.”

    spacenews.com/commentaries/110505-lexington-institute-takes-spacex.html

    These falsehoods are purposeful, as Thompson, in his own words, is paid low single millions of dollars annually by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and other major defense firms to be their flack:

    “But Thompson said [his Lexington Institute] receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to ‘comment on defense.’

    “The institute brought in $2.4 million in 2009, according to its financial statements. Thompson proposes projects to its clients, such as one he wrote earlier this year denouncing subsidies received by the European Union, an argument used by Boeing for bouncing its competitor EADS from the effort to win the $35 billion tanker contract.”

    politico.com/news/stories/1210/46155.html#ixzz18DK1yuCj

    “One must believe that the writer has read amightywind’s contributions…”

    You’re making claims of plagiarism over blog comments and referring to yourself in the third person?

    Cripes, get some counseling for that narcissism.

    Sorry, no, this shill gets paid millions for his false facts. Thompson is a professional, not an amateur. He has to write higher quality bull than you produce.

    Sigh…

  • Flexible Path IS A PATH TO NOWHERE!! It was hatched up as a scheme because some ignoramuses decided that the Moon had to disappear as a manned destination. They wanted, and still want, a future without the Moon. Sure, they’ll pretend that Luna is still on their list—-but Luna is merely a minor “maybe-we’ll-still-do-that” option, in their minds. They totally ignore any and all details about the logistics of a translunar journey. Just as their Mars zealotry blinds them to the fact that the sheer technology does NOT exist for such a Red Planet trip. To land on Mars, you would need a lander—-and a lander of vastly immense complexity, compared to whatever flew a cislunar trek forty years ago. But the Anti-Moon people can simply ignore that one issue, while they clamor for their demi-god Obama to direct the nation to send a mission to Mars. It’s funny & ludicrous how Flexible Path wants nothing to do with a manned lander; avoiding the building of such a vehicle as if it were a plague. And yet, if something like the Altair lunar lander would get built, and would emplace a crew on the Moon, regardless of how long—be it four days or four months—a crucial piece of the puzzle of interplanetary expeditions would be grappled with: Keeping spacemen alive on a planetary surface, for an appreciable time span. Project Constellation could’ve been the Gemini project of our times: the great intermediate goal that resolves the legion of issues that need addressment, if the nation is to go further forward in space. The Moon is the key arena that needs dealing with. It is the new Antarctica.

  • Mark Bernard

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    For those interested, I’ve responded to the mendacious Thompson hit piece at the Washington Examiner.

    Excellent response, Rand.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 8:09 pm
    Still shilling for SpaceX. Nothing new there. Meanwhile, mid-2011 approaches and half a century on from the fist successful government funded and managed human spaceflights by the USSR and the USA, SpaceX has not launched, orbited or safely returned anybody. And they never will. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • kayawanee

    It’s a blog. They’re generally lightly edited. A better question is why Forbes allows him to blog there.

    Oops! I still think Forbes ought to be a bit more up front to the audience about who exactly this character is.

  • Justin Kugler

    The simple fact of the matter is that NASA is moving in the direction of procuring LEO services so it can focus its limited resources on the development of BEO exploration systems.

    It may not be SpaceX, though I think DCSCA’s proclamations of “never” go inordinately too far, but it will be American companies using commercial business practices and working with NASA via milestone-based payment structures. That’s the only way to get operational costs – which are eating NASA’s lunch right now – down.

    Those of us who want to see NASA really building the infrastructure for sustained space exploration should be cheering companies like SpaceX on, not treating them like the enemy.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    C***t, I hope this is not going to be like levees in New Orleans, or the tsunami alert system in the Indian Ocean.

    Hi Rand –

    “mendaceous” – great word. Its so much more polite than “lying” and “perjury”.

    Hi RGO –

    There’s more to space than Mars. ISS was and is the right step – and note carefully the general public support. As far as future ISS utilization and development goes, that is no problem either.

    But people will believe what they want to believe, at least until reality gets in the way.

  • Vladislaw

    Distruptive theory illustrated

    SpaceUp DC – Suborbital Markets and Disruption Theory
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-Q72yOiXOE&feature=related

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Just as their Mars zealotry blinds them to the fact that the sheer technology does NOT exist for such a Red Planet trip…. But the Anti-Moon people can simply ignore that one issue, while they clamor for their demi-god Obama to direct the nation to send a mission to Mars.

    Yike! It’s bad enough that you claim we’re anti-Moon, but to claim that we’re some sort of Zubrin acolytes is even worse!

    Which brings up my point, that I am for ALL destinations, whereas it seems like you are just for a CERTAIN destination. And in case it makes you feel any better, I actually think that we’ll revisit the Moon before we make a serious attempt at Mars.

    Why? Because by building up reusable transportation systems (part of Flexible Path), the next closest places become easily reachable as soon as you put each transportation segment in place. For instance, once commercial crew and cargo are in place, then Bigelow or anybody can create their own destinations in LEO for far less than what has been required.

    That is also the point that just about anyone could mount an expedition to circle the Moon or visit the Lagrange points, and when fuel depots are added, they’ll be able to do it on a regular basis. At that point the only major component you need to revisit the Moon is a lander, which makes the budget much more manageable.

    Maybe you don’t understand this, but this type of incremental infrastructure improvement makes it easy to utilize each segment without the need for massive government programs, which makes space more of a place, not a “program”.

    For further info, here is an article that Rand posted quoting Jeff Greason about the elements of Flexible Path (Jeff was on the Augustine Commission), and I think it explains things pretty good:

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=25919

    It is the new Antarctica.

    You do realize that Antarctica is only a place of research, and not resource extraction? Are you proposing that we ban all resource extraction from the Moon? Uh oh, that’s going to put you at odds with the ISRU Moonies… ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    “I dont rationalize ISS, I was oppossed to it… …the trick is to find something useful to do with it.”

    reality is important…Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Still shilling for SpaceX.”

    Unlike Loren Coleman’s contracts with Boeing, LockMart, and NorthGrum, I’m pretty sure Mr. Simberg receives no payments from SpaceX.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    Correction…

    “Still shilling for SpaceX.”

    Unlike Loren Thompson’s [not Coleman's] contracts with Boeing, LockMart, and NorthGrum, I’m pretty sure Mr. Simberg receives no payments from SpaceX.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ May 23rd, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    @Oler

    “A simple “It doesn’t.” would have sufficed.”

    the problem is that “phrase” does not declare the “reason” why.

    One of the greatest issues in my view facing The Republic right now is the reality that we have stopped being a logical nation and instead have let politicians (of both parties but mostly the GOP right now) take us off into excursions into fantasy land…that has no logical bearing. We have in gone into the world (from a Sabado Noche Vivar skit) of “How things should be, not how they are”.

    “Wind” talks about a “traditional NASA”. Either (as I suspect) he is trolling or he is a functional example of what passes for the GOP far right field…he is a person who sees what he wants to see in the past and extrapolates “how it should have been” into how it should be today. Along the way he completely disregards the flaws in the past (ie Apollo was not politically sustainable nor financially affordable) because there is no rigor in his debate.

    I really dont mind what people’s stands are on the issues…but the litmus test if you will is that they must be logical. One cannot be a shill for privatizing almost everything in the world that government does and then say “but we need a centralized program from NASA to explore space for no reason other then to make us feel good” and get a pass on the logic or lack of it.

    We have had far to much of that during the Bush years and we are as a nation in deep do do for it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 2:03 am
    “Project Constellation could’ve been the Gemini project of our times: the great intermediate goal that resolves the legion of issues that need addressment, if the nation is to go further forward in space. ”

    it could have been…but once Griffin got hold of it, it wasnt.

    Gemini spent 5 billion dollars from start to finish while Cx spent 12 billion and had not even seen the end of the beginning, much less the beginning of the program. Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    he is a person who sees what he wants to see in the past and extrapolates “how it should have been” into how it should be today.

    I want continuity in the program. Post shuttle we have world class components, we lack the political will and leadership to use them. For all of the stary-eyed disruptive ‘innovators’ out there. You need to prove that you have a better idea, on your own dime. Don’t give us your road show sales job. That is the prevailing conservative canon.

  • I want continuity in the program.

    We want affordable progress in the program, and no one cares what you want.

  • Vladislaw

    You forgot one other thing we lack, the money to not only pay for those over priced, cost plus, world class components, but the pork train that comes with them.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Post shuttle we have world class components, we lack the political will and leadership to use them.

    I’m sure the same thing was said about piston engines for commercial airliners.

    But assumptions are just assumptions until you test them out in the open market, and so far no one is seeing the benefit of using Shuttle propulsion architecture for cost effective transportation.

    You need to prove that you have a better idea, on your own dime.

    Heed thy own advice. How much taxpayer money has ATK received for building boosters that haven’t flown? ATK’s modus operandi is to ask for money upfront before they try out work on something “better”. Oink, oink.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    “I want continuity in the program”

    and what value does that have? Bad decisions and bad courses of action are rarely “evolved” out of…they are mostly ended by “abrupt” changes of behavior that move the vector another way. You want a “traditional NASA” and have no clue why other then it is a notion from the past.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Post shuttle we have world class components”

    No, we don’t.

    The SSMEs, ETs, and associated fuel lines regularly leak gaseous hydrogen.

    There were leaks in 2010:

    news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20022008-239.html

    In 2009:

    space-travel.com/reports/US_space_shuttle_launch_delayed_over_hydrogen_leak_999.html

    In 2007:

    usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2007-06-07-atlantis-fix-tank_N.htm

    In 2002:

    spacedaily.com/news/shuttle-02d.html

    In 1999 (when Columbia launched with one of these leaks):

    guardian.co.uk/science/1999/jul/29/spaceexploration1

    In 1995:

    articles.latimes.com/1995-09-29/news/mn-51341_1_space-shuttle-columbia

    And in 1990 (STS-35).

    On top of these gaseous hydrogen leaks, the ETs repeatedly suffer from structural cracking.

    It happened in 2010:

    spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts133/101115crack/

    In 2005:

    physorg.com/news/2010-11-shuttle-fuel-tank-foam.html

    And in 1991 (STS-39).

    And on top of these structural cracks and gaseous hydrogen leaks, parachute technology isn’t up to the job of recovering SRBs intact from non-Shuttle flights:

    universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/dent.jpg

    It’s a testament to the Shuttle workforce that this technical base has not led to more mission accidents and loss of crew. But given the risks that these components carry, the standing army required to avoid these risks, and the multi-month schedule delays they induce, the last thing you want to do is carry these components forward into a new launch system, heavy-lift or otherwise.

    FWIW…

  • John Malkin

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    John Malkin wrote @ May 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    “Also the word International was used a lot which doesn’t seem to be the focus now.”

    I was talking about SLS and the general emphasis of the Space Act and NASA budget. We seem to be inclusive on robotic mission and exclusive on human besides ISS. Building SLS with no payloads or input from our current partners on payloads for it, doesn’t seem smart. It will be interesting to see once NASA releases its plans for SLS, if it includes payloads, timelines and cost of the payloads. ITAR might be a big part of this issue.

    It seems policy doesn’t match implementation.

  • Das Boese

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Thanks, great link.
    I found this one in the “related” section very interesting:
    SpaceUp DC – Innovative Uses of the ISS

  • @Robert G. Oler;…..I do not put any villany upon Griffin. He did a fine job with trying to viably put together a new grand space initiative. It was the Anti-Moon people who wanted a space program that went off into a thousand directions all at once! They just could not comprehend that, of course, NASA had to place some concerted focus on the manned Lunar Return, if that great intermediate goal was to viably get off the ground. All their silly complaints about Project Constellation not including the components of a Mars mission were VERY far off the mark, and the point. Constellation would have gotten NASA out of Low Earth Orbit, for the first time in 50 or even 60 years, of an agency doing nothing but going around in circles, all those decades. THAT would’ve been worth its weight in gold!

  • DCSCA

    Justin Kugler wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 9:20 am
    There’s no profitable economic rationale for Space X to pour millions into developing a safe, reliable, man-rated, crewed LEO capsule to ferry people to a space station which was slated for splash by space officials in planning just 24 months ago in 2016 and now projected for splash in 2020, especially with alternative access already in place from the USSR and possible access via China. It might ferry cargo, but never crews. The future of commerical HSF is with Branson. It is the next logical step.

  • Justin Kugler

    You keep on saying things that just aren’t true, DCSCA. The ISS is absolutely not projected for splash in 2020. In fact, the partners explicitly stated that the agreement out to 2020 is not to be taken as an end date for the program and worded it explicitly to be amenable to extension.

    Besides, CCDev is the only way we’re going to increase the size of the crew to allow a crew member dedicated for payload ops. We can’t do that with Soyuz and Congress isn’t going to allow China to play.

  • Das Boese

    John Malkin wrote @ May 24th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Building SLS with no payloads or input from our current partners on payloads for it, doesn’t seem smart. It will be interesting to see once NASA releases its plans for SLS, if it includes payloads, timelines and cost of the payloads. ITAR might be a big part of this issue.

    America could have asked ESA and Roskosmos, but the answer would have been “not interested”. Nobody has any need for heavy-lift capability beyond what is commercially avaliable (or will be soon) for a long time.

    It wouldn’t have mattered either way, since the decision for SLS wasn’t made based on need.

  • DCSCA

    Justin Kugler wrote @ May 25th, 2011 at 7:29 am
    For God’s sake- NASA’s station management planning had it de-comissioned, de-orbited and gonig to splash the thing in 2016– all of 24 months ago, to keep Constellation funded and this was even brought up again in last week’s sub-committee hearing. You can keep trying to scramble and search for justifications to stretch the ISS out to ’2020 and beyond’ all you want NOBODY knows what they’re doing up there and there are 11 souls there now at great expense to the U.S. The crews spend more man hours maitaining the beast than doing any research and it has been permanently crewed since 2000 and returned nothing of value to justify the $100-plus billion costs– costs that roughly equal the price of purchasing, (not operating) 14 Nimitz class aircraft carriers. Its a massive, massive waste and a classic example of an aerospace works program from the 1980s that could never get killed– saved by 1 or 2 votes every time. LEO is a ticket to no place and tevery dollar wasted on LEO is a dollar less available for BEO. The ISS is a massive waste and ending throwing good money after bad has been done before- leaf through the Congressional Record and you’ll find it littered with absurdly expensive ‘science’ and ‘aerospace’ boondoggles terminated after huge investments. Soyuz will carry the crew loads and PRC will participate if it suddenly seems an economicly viable path– or the PRC uses financial leverage for access– which we may never hear about.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 25th, 2011 at 5:21 am

    There’s no profitable economic rationale…

    …that your limited mind can understand. nuff said.

  • Das Boese

    DCSCA wrote @ May 25th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    For God’s sake- NASA’s station management planning had it de-comissioned, de-orbited and gonig to splash the thing in 2016– all of 24 months ago

    And yet they hadn’t even figured out how they were going to do it, since the USOS can’t deorbit itself.

    to keep Constellation funded

    Constellation is history.

    You can keep trying to scramble and search for justifications to stretch the ISS out to ’2020 and beyond’ all you want

    You can keep sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “I can’t hear you”

    NOBODY knows what they’re doing up there

    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/isslivestream.asx

    The crews spend more man hours maitaining the beast than doing any research and it has been permanently crewed since 2000

    Aside from the fact that station maintenance itself is research, need I remind you that the station has been under construction until now, including a two-year gap after Columbia.

    and returned nothing of value to justify the $100-plus billion costs– costs that roughly equal the price of purchasing, (not operating) 14 Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

    Well it’s good you didn’t go for the carriers then, since the $100 billion include building the station and operating it for 30 years.

    LEO is a ticket to no place and tevery dollar wasted on LEO is a dollar less available for BEO.

    LEO is the ticket to BEO. Every dollar spent on BEO is wasted without viable routine access to LEO.

    Soyuz will carry the crew loads

    Soyuz will be retired before this decade ends.

  • @Das Boese;….BEO is where REAL space exploration is!! Who cares about “routine excess” to LEO?!?! What the freak is all this: going around in circles, over & over again in LEO?! What the freak are we all doing up there, anyway, that’s so “important”?! Maintaining A Lunar surface base would be FAR more grander!! How NASA could be directed into extending the freaking ISS into ANY further decades is beyond me!! DCSCA IS COMPLETELY RIGHT!! LET’S DE-ORBIT THE ISS AS SOON AS IT CAN BE ARRANGED!! Then, let’s get on with the REAL exploration.

  • common sense

    @ Chris Castro wrote @ May 26th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    There are freaks in LEO???

    Hmmmm

    Interesting.

  • The Flexible Path people are out of their freaking minds, that’s what! This petty avoidance of ever having to build a lander, because of the Lunar re-visiting potential, is a major flaw in their way of thinking. The Moon is VERY much needed to be the proving ground of any farther deep-into-space initiatives. The Zubrin acolytes have things VERY wrong, in their assumption that NASA must mount a manned Mars expedition immediately. Having to deal with deep gravity wells is a given. If humanity is ever going to do more extensive surface activities & further scientific work in space, in person. Something rather like the Altair L-SAM lander will ultimately have to be built.

  • Das Boese

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 26th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    @Das Boese;….BEO is where REAL space exploration is!! Who cares about “routine excess” to LEO?!?!

    Routine access to LEO is a prerequisite for sustainable expeditions beyond.

    What the freak is all this: going around in circles, over & over again in LEO?! What the freak are we all doing up there, anyway, that’s so “important”?!

    We’re learning how to survive extended periods of time in a microgravity and increased radiation environment, which is sort of desirable if you want your astronauts to return alive from their BEO trip. We’re also testing out procedures and technology that are necessary to enable that sort of trip.

    Maintaining A Lunar surface base would be FAR more grander!!

    It would also be far more expensive whilst not allowing any of the research necessary to eventually venture out into deep space.

    How NASA could be directed into extending the freaking ISS into ANY further decades is beyond me!!

    I believe it was your elected representatives that made that decision, not NASA, so you might want to take it up with them.

    DCSCA IS COMPLETELY RIGHT!! LET’S DE-ORBIT THE ISS AS SOON AS IT CAN BE ARRANGED!! Then, let’s get on with the REAL exploration.

    Sure, let’s do that.
    Where do you want to explore? What do you want to do there that requires the physical presence of humans? How many do you need to send? How are you going to get there, what spacecraft, propulsion system, life support system? How do you ensure their survival and safe return?
    Most importantly, how do you pay for it all?

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 27th, 2011 at 1:34 am

    The Flexible Path people are out of their freaking minds, that’s what! This petty avoidance of ever having to build a lander, because of the Lunar re-visiting potential, is a major flaw in their way of thinking.

    That doesn’t even make any sense at all, Chris. Might I remind you that under Constellation, development of the lander was frozen and would not have occured until after the completion of Ares V in the 2020s?

    The Moon is VERY much needed to be the proving ground of any farther deep-into-space initiatives.

    The Moon is a proving ground for… the Moon. It teaches us nothing about deep space.

    The Zubrin acolytes have things VERY wrong, in their assumption that NASA must mount a manned Mars expedition immediately.

    I agree, although my reason is perhaps different from yours. I’m opposed to it because any realistically conceivable near-future Mars mission has a 100% fatality rate.

    Having to deal with deep gravity wells is a given.

    What, the moon isn’t a gravity well?

    If humanity is ever going to do more extensive surface activities & further scientific work in space, in person. Something rather like the Altair L-SAM lander will ultimately have to be built.

    If humanity is ever going to have a sustained presence on the Moon it will require a lander that is nothing like the expendable, “supersized Apollo LM” design of Altair.
    Such a vehicle would need to be reusable, modularly reconfigurable for crew, pressurized or unpressurized cargo and capable of autonomous operation.

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