Congress, NASA

Competing heavy lift

As first reported by Space News last Thursday, California’s two senators have asked NASA to hold an open competition for the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift vehicle Congress directed NASA to develop in the 2010 NASA authorization act. In their letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked that NASA “quickly open a competitive bidding process on the propulsion component” of the SLS. Citing NASA’s interim report to Congress in January about the development of the SLS, Boxer and Feinstein wrote that “we believe that it is not ‘practicable’ to continue the existing contracts” as recommended in last year’s authorization act. “Instead, we believe that NASA should open a competitive bidding process for the SLS to ensure that the agency obtains the best technology at the lowest possible cost.”

The release of the letter (actually dated May 27) coincided with the announcement that Aerojet and Teledyne Brown Engineering had formed a partnership to develop liquid-propellant rocket engines. The joint release by the two companies specifically notes that they “will pursue contracts for the manufacture of liquid rocket engines for NASA through the Space Launch System program” as well as other, unspecified customers. The agreement got an endorsement from a major congressional supporter of the SLS, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who told the Huntsville Times, “The Teledyne-Aerojet team could have a critical role to play designing additional elements of the [SLS] system, and I hope NASA looks at their capabilities carefully.” (Teledyne Brown is based in Huntsville, while both Aerojet and Teledyne Brown’s parent, Teledyne Technologies, are headquartered in California, which may explain the senators’ interest in competing SLS components.)

But with a final report on NASA’s heavy-lift plans not expected until late this month or early July, NASA has not indicated if they’ll complete some or all elements of the SLS. Speaking at Women in Aerospace’s Aerospace 2011: The Road Ahead conference Friday in Arlington, Virginia, Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems, said no decision has been made yet on competing the SLS design. “We are weighing the various acquisition approaches,” he said. Asked specifically about a full and open competition, he said, “I would not rule it out.”

The panel on which Cooke participated was billed as “Beyond LEO: The Battle of the Heavy Lift Vehicles”, but there was little evidence of any battles among the panel’s participants, which included representatives of Aerojet, ATK, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, in addition to Cooke and Senate staffer Jeff Bingham. The industry participants in particular believed it was time to make a decision on an SLS design and start developing. “The range of things we’re trying to decide between now is pretty small,” said Jim Chilton, vice president and program manager of exploration launch systems at Boeing.

“It’s time for a decision,” said Jim Maser, president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, reiterating his desire for a near-term decision on the launch system he expressed a few months ago in a meeting with reporters. “We all have our opinions. NASA has the information. It’s time to move on.”

The panelists in general expected a decision on the SLS design this year, perhaps in the coming weeks, and also were optimistic the initial version of the SLS would make its first flight around 2016 as stated in the authorization act. Boeing’s Chilton, for example, said he envisioned SLS launching an Apollo 8-style “lap around the Moon” by early to mid 2017. Only Aerojet vice president Julie Van Kleeck offered a caveat: “I think we have the capability to do it in 2016 if we have the will.”

And will NASA have the will—and the funding—to develop and fly the SLS by 2016? Bingham, who said he was speaking for himself and not officially representing the views of the Senate Commerce Committee, said the authorization act supported the development of both the SLS and commercial crew development, but funding could put the two in conflict with each other. “There’s no issue with or conflict with those goals,” he said. “Where it becomes in conflict is in resources. When you only get so big a pie, and you start having to make priorities, that’s where you start having this push-and-shove between commercial and governmental. That shouldn’t be. That’s an artificial conflict that shouldn’t have to be there if we were properly resourced as an agency.”

115 comments to Competing heavy lift

  • Facts Ma'am

    This entire debacle is Bingham’s doing, and everyone knows it. except him.

    Teledyne Brown and Aerojet General intend to reverse engineer the AJ26, manufacturing them in direct competition with small SpaceX engines. The obsolete SRBs are out of the picture in everyone’s minds except congress, NASA and ATK. SRBs are entirely a non starter in this fiscal environment. These kind of small launchers just scream for GEM and SRM assistance.

    And that is as it should be. NASA and congress need to smarten up, because the only way they’ll fly a reasonable SLS on time and within budget is with three meter boosters powered by AJ26s, surrounding a single five meter ground started SSME that functions as its own LEO upper stage, with roll control and steering veneers, small hydrogen engines such as the EADS Astrium 300 Newton restartable cryogenic thrusters.

    You want big fuel depots? There you go. If NASA and congress want to launch a five meter Pratt and Whitney J2X powered upper stage to BEO or and eight meter fairing for special large LEO payloads, fine, but this is it, if you want a reasonable national launch vehicle in a reasonable time frame that will assist and complement existing commercial offerings and not compete with them and/or stomp them into the ground and consume all of the resources necessary to bring them up to modern standards.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “There’s no issue with or conflict with those goals,” he said. “Where it becomes in conflict is in resources. When you only get so big a pie, and you start having to make priorities, that’s where you start having this push-and-shove between commercial and governmental. That shouldn’t be. That’s an artificial conflict that shouldn’t have to be there if we were properly resourced as an agency.”

    The guy so doesn’t get it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    the only way they’ll fly a reasonable SLS on time

    There’s no such thing as a reasonable SLS, whether on time or otherwise. And that’s just a fact ma’am.

  • Facts Ma'am

    There’s no such thing as a reasonable SLS, whether on time or otherwise. And that’s just a fact ma’am.

    Sure there is, it’s called the Falcon 9. And Elon Musk has stated specific cost, price and development strategies and benchmarks that must be matched or beaten if anyone, including NASA, and congressionally lobbied military industrial complex operators, intends to compete with his new vehicles.

    On the other hand, there is Jeff Bingham’s ‘law’, and laws that prevent sole sourcing of government contracts when viable competition exists, as in this case. And in this particular case, liquid boosters powered by existing inventory engines, and in the case of the SSME, with specific assembly line support, is the only achievable, affordable and sustainable route to take.

    Once booster and engine recovery is demonstrated, this is a done deal. And it’s already a done deal when the Falcon 9 flies. The only question now is what does the $11.5 billion dollars over five years get applied to.

    There is something in this for everybody, except ATK of course. Too bad. They screwed up Constellation, and nothing is ever going to salvage that. But all the rest of it, the Ares I upper stage manufacturing technology, Pratt and Whitney and now two viable competitive engine manufacturers, and even the J2X in a five meter form factor, and even Michoud for the large scale three and five meter booster manufacturing,. It’s all good.

    If they are going to blow through another five years and ten billion dollars, I want something good to come out of it – an American AJ26 on an SSME sounds pretty darn good to me in the spirit of cooperative competition.

    If you think you can take on SpaceX, Martin, I’d be happy to hear about it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Facts Ma’am wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Teledyne Brown and Aerojet General intend to reverse engineer the AJ26…

    Aerojet has a license to build them, so they don’t need to “reverse engineer” them.

    …manufacturing them in direct competition with small SpaceX engines.

    The only way they could be in direct competition is if SpaceX were selling their engines to the same market. Maybe they intend to sell Merlin 1’s at some point, and certainly they have plans for their Merlin 2 in case they need something bigger, but so far I don’t think entering the rocket engine market is high on their list of priorities. Besides you can really only do that when a new rocket is being designed, and the SLS is the only proposed rocket of any size that could be in play – we’ll see.

    I do like the sound of your proposal, although I’m not enough of a rocket scientist to know if it’s better than any of the other alternatives.

    Of course building the least costly gigantic launcher still doesn’t make much sense if there’s nothing to use it for. The SLS is still a waste of time & money until we have a funded long-term use for it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    If you think you can take on SpaceX, Martin, I’d be happy to hear about it.

    There’s no need for an SLS, even a more reasonable one, in fact if we want to open up space it is crucial there isn’t one. There’s no need for SSME or a new launch vehicle either. NASA should permanently get out of the launch business altogether. Launches of mission elements and propellant should be procured fairly, competitively and redundantly. This almost certainly means they would be launched on a variety of launchers and which launchers would be involved would vary over time. This is what will make launch vehicle R&D profitable and this what will over time give us cheap lift, probably in the form of RLVs. The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll have cheap lift. An SLS, any SLS, gets in the way of that.

  • Sure there is, it’s called the Falcon 9.

    Falcon 9 (or Falcon Heavy, if that’s what you meant) cannot satisfy the SLS specifications (i.e., it must use existing Shuttle/Constellation contractors).

  • Dex

    What I find interesting is:

    “Boeing’s Chilton, for example, said he envisioned SLS launching an Apollo 8-style “lap around the Moon” by early to mid 2017. Only Aerojet vice president Julie Van Kleeck offered a caveat: “I think we have the capability to do it in 2016 if we have the will.””

    This seems to be at least a year “late” (possibly 2 or even 3). Space Adventures is looking for 1 more paying $150m-price tag customer to do an Apollo 8 utilizing Soyuz. In theory, assuming* SpaceX launches FH-demo in 2013** and a manned Dragon mission in 2013/14, there is the potential to see a FH/Dragon mission to do an Apollo 8-style mission in 2015 as well.

    Even if you make very conservative cost estimates, both the above missions likely come in cheaper per astronaut than a similar SLS mission.

    I think SLS needs to find a different first mission to remain solvent.

    *This means these things might not happen.
    ** The FH demo launch could be used to demonstrate Dragon’s capability to successfully re-enter on at trans-lunar velocities.

  • Major Tom

    “Boeing’s Chilton, for example, said he envisioned SLS launching an Apollo 8-style “lap around the Moon” by early to mid 2017.”

    This isn’t public yet, but a pretty good authority has told me second-hand that Falcon Heavy will execute the same mission during its shakedown trials in 2013-14.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “‘Boeing’s Chilton, for example, said he envisioned SLS launching an Apollo 8-style “lap around the Moon” by early to mid 2017.’

    This isn’t public yet, but a pretty good authority has told me second-hand that Falcon Heavy will execute the same mission during its shakedown trials in 2013-14.”

    And Space Adventures, with Russian help, may do it before then:

    seacoastonline.com/articles/20110605-NEWS-110609885

    FWIW…

  • Gerald R Everett

    I would only note that Adam Harris said at ISDC 2011 that he didn’t want to
    comment on the status of the Merlin II engine as he didn’t want to make
    news.

    Why would you cluster a bunch of hydrocarbon engines around a lox Hydrogen engine. Just cluster the hydrocarbons. Cross feed the engines
    and shed them and there tanks on the way up, ala Falcon Heavy.

    Also don’t see the AJ-26 (NK33) as anything special. The NK has 338K
    pounds of thrust at sea level. BFD.

  • Coastal Ron

    Facts Ma’am wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Sure there is, it’s called the Falcon 9.

    Falcon 9 maxes out at 11.5 tons to LEO, whereas the SLS is supposed to start at 70 tons to LEO, so Falcon 9 is not an option for the Senate Launch Vehicle contract. Even the Falcon Heavy is not big enough for the legal definition of the SLS (60 tons max).

    For SpaceX to compete on the SLS contract they would need to propose a new rocket. I imagine they wouldn’t mind doing that, since they have already outlined their growth path (Falcon X & XX), but since there is no commercial need for such a launcher, and no funded government need, I don’t see them building it without the customer picking up the full development & operational costs.

    an American AJ26 on an SSME

    You want to put a RP-1/LOX rocket engine on a LH2/LOX rocket engine?

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Facts Ma’am

    Do you even know what the SLS is? Because based on your comment, “Sure there is, it’s called the Falcon 9″, you don’t.

    SLS= Space Launch System (aka Senate Launch System): a congressionally mandated launch vehicles intended to have up to 130 ton payload to orbit in its final configuration. Final design has yet to be decided and there are no payloads yet planned for it to carry.

    Falcon 9: A commercial launch vehicle that can carry a 12 ton payload to orbit. Has been built, has been flown, and will begin to carry already contracted NASA missions next year to the ISS.

    Maybe you MEANT to refer to the Falcon HEAVY, and not the Falcon 9? Well firstly, stop making that mistake right now, and don’t call it the “Falcon 9 Heavy” either. The Falcon 9 is named such because it has 9 Merlin engines. The Falcon Heavy has 27 Merlin engines so there is no reason to mix the “9” into its name. And even if you were referring to the Falcon Heavy, there is no reason to call it a “SLS.” Was the acronym you were looking for “HLV” (Heavy Lift Vehicle)? That would have made at least some sense even though the proposed SLS actually qualifies as a “SHLV” (Super Heavy Lift Vehicle)

    Martin was saying NO to the government owned HLV and didn’t post anything against SpaceX in his posts here. There is no need for you to say to him “If you think you can take on SpaceX, Martin, I’d be happy to hear about it” because he wasn’t taking on SpaceX or commercial in general, he was taking on big unnecessary government spending.

  • Elmar_M

    IIRC, the max payload that SpaceX is aiming with Falcon Heavy (provided everything including cross feeding works out) id 70 tons…
    IMHO there is little of a market for more payload than that though. I would much rather see full reusability than more payload than that. Everything else cal be built in parts of 70 tons each…

  • SpaceColonizer

    I’m a Californian, born and raised. Glad to see my senate team getting into some space politics (wish my good for nothing house representative would maybe do something). I wish I could believe their intention is to stop the SLS before it gets built, but I think they just want the jobs to be preserved/created in our state.

    But it got me wondering… how cheap would the SLS have to become for it to actually become worth it to those of us speaking out against it? Could it ever become cheap enough to justify a NASA owned/operated vehicle? I think not. Those days are gone, we’re at the dawn of a new age in access to space. The air is still chilly and the morning dew is still on the grass, but we can see the sun on the horizon. All we have to do is hope for the clouds to part (the clouds represent congressional resistance) so we can have a picnic.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Elmar_M

    Agreed. Modular designs along with resupply/refuel/crew rotation flights are all we need. Larger payloads can only be justified by particular needs. No particular need for the SLS’s mandated payload capacity have been determined, let alone funded. So cost per pound of cargo/fuel and cost per seat of crew transportation is all we need to concern ourselves with. SpaceX is currently in the front running for both of those values, with healthy competition coming up behind.

  • Re Falcon Heavy, to quote from the SpaceX web site:

    Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful rocket, represents SpaceX’s entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle category. With the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons (117,000 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Falcon Heavy can lift nearly twice the payload of the next closest vehicle, the US Space Shuttle, and more than twice the payload of the Delta IV Heavy.

  • Facts Ma'am

    Unfortunately ‘we’ as in America and Americans, and not ‘you’, as in a bunch of British and European interventionists, as represented by a Jeff Bingham, passed a law demanding a new launch vehicle. I want that launch vehicle to be competitive with or surpass the recent advances in launch vehicle design and operations as clearly laid out in writing by a one Elon Musk of Space

    That means stretching and bending the law, and if that doesn’t work, throwing it right back in your faces, and using it against you. Thanks.

    That means ‘evolvability’, and a much smaller and more clever initial design, and ditching the SRBs entirely. If that means flying out the existing SSMEs in stage and a half to orbit configuration to the ISS and letting our NASA astronauts deal with them when they get there, then I’m all for it.

    I’m sure the NASA astronaut office and its astronauts would agree with it. What a bunch of old science denying Apollo astronauts think is irrelevant. And indeed, what a bunch of English and European wannabees think too.

  • Facts Ma'am

    The NK has 338Kpounds of thrust at sea level. BFD.

    And a T/W ratio of 137, as compared to a yet to be flown Merlin 1D thrust of 140 lbf maximum. That indeed is a big deal. Especially to the DoD.

    I hear they can push it to in excess of 120 percent thrust, and I also hear the Russians and the Americans will be flying them next year at the very latest.

    That’s another ‘big deal’.

  • Elmar_M

    I apllogize, I was wrong, appearently. I could have sworn I heard 70 tons at some point. It is indeed “only” 60. Still more than enough for pretty much any task in space.

  • Facts Ma'am

    Do you even know what the SLS is? Because based on your comment, “Sure there is, it’s called the Falcon 9″, you don’t.

    Oh gosh, thanks for that. I guess I missed that in thirty years of so of looking.

    Wooosh.

  • Facts Ma'am

    how cheap would the SLS have to become for it to actually become worth it to those of us speaking out against it

    $11.5 billion is going to be spent on it no matter what you say. ‘Cheap’ has nothing to do with it, because there are no mission and payloads for it.

    What it has to be is efficient, and to be efficient, it has to be reusable, and to beat SpaceXs prices, it has to be very small to begin with, and evolvable for payloads, missions and programs that may appear sometime in the future. Sorry, that’s the law and that’s reality.

    Smart people don’t write laws dictating reality and I don’t dictate reality, they just have to work with the laws that reality dictates. Do you grok that?

  • John P Kavanagh

    “When you only get so big a pie, and you start having to make priorities, that’s where you start having this push-and-shove between commercial and governmental. That shouldn’t be. That’s an artificial conflict that shouldn’t have to be there if we were properly resourced as an agency.”

    The conflict between a planned governmental launch program that costs an order of magnitude more than existing commercial launcher isn’t artificial, it is as real as it gets. NASA is properly resourced as an agency -if- it prioritizes itself right out of the launch business. Otherwise, it is just in the business of wasting money on cost-plus busy work for the Shuttle’s legacy centers/contractors.

  • Facts Ma'am

    For SpaceX to compete on the SLS contract

    There aren’t going to be any SLS contracts because there isn’t going to be any SLS. As soon as the Falcon 9 starts flying the program is deader than dead. You guys just don’t seem to get that. What there may or may not be is a government funded launch vehicle, and what that form takes is yet to be determined, but if any of you still think the SLS will fly as written you need to come to grips with economic and political reality. You are living in la la land.

  • Facts Ma'am

    You want to put a RP-1/LOX rocket engine on a LH2/LOX rocket engine?

    I’m pretty sure that’s how it works – dense hydrocarbon fuels for the boost stage and high energy hydrogen for the terminal launch phase and upper stages, and small GEMs and SRMs is you need additional payload or lift to get a heavy payload off the pad. I just happen to be of the opinion that ground starting a hydrogen engine is safer than starting one in the air, and that it is still capable of providing terminal boost to LEO as an upper stage engine. That also has the added extra benefit that you aren’t throwing your upper stage away after sending it all the way to low Earth orbit, since with the ISS operational LEO is well within the economic sphere of the Earth.

    Plus, well there are well in excess of a dozen flight worthy SSMEs ready to fly, right now, if there was a launch vehicle to fly them on. Plus, it’s the law.

  • pathfinder_01

    John P. Kavanagh yeap that is the truth.

  • Coastal Ron

    Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    This isn’t public yet, but a pretty good authority has told me second-hand that Falcon Heavy will execute the same mission during its shakedown trials in 2013-14.

    I would imagine that they are looking at lots of possibilities if they can’t find a paying customer for that first launch.

    I think this will depend on how well they are doing with the CRS program at the time, and whether they can spare the Dragon-related labor and assets.

    But it would be a pretty powerful statement if they can pull it off.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What there may or may not be is a government funded launch vehicle, and what that form takes is yet to be determined, but if any of you still think the SLS will fly as written you need to come to grips with economic and political reality. You are living in la la land.

    Apart from a handful of very vocal pro SDLV diehards most people here agree there will and should be no SLS. Opinion is divided over whether getting at least a working government launch vehicle (be it an EELV / EELV Phase n, FH, Liberty or whatever) for all the money sunk into it would be better than not getting anything. I am of the opinion it would be better (less bad) if nothing came out of it. Because then when this madness is finally cancelled a couple of years from now we’ll have at least the possibility of getting it right next time, instead of being stuck with another 30 year monopoly on the $3.5B a year NASA spends on single source launch vehicles and crewed spacecraft. That’s why I’m opposed to your more rational plan. It isn’t rational enough. Your mileage may vary.

  • Coastal Ron

    SpaceColonizer wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    But it got me wondering… how cheap would the SLS have to become for it to actually become worth it to those of us speaking out against it? Could it ever become cheap enough to justify a NASA owned/operated vehicle? I think not.

    If there was an established need for getting lots of government-owned 130 ton payloads to LEO, then maybe a government-built, government-run launcher would be a possibility. But there is no need for that much government-owned mass to space, and none forecasted.

    I think an important point to remember is it’s not necessarily what the $/kg are for a mega-launcher, but how much of your available funds it consumes. If NASA builds a launcher, any launcher, but it doesn’t have enough funds left over to build, launch and operate missions using that launcher, then what good is it?

    Congress needs to decide if it’s more important for NASA to run a transportation service, or mount space missions. It doesn’t provide enough funds to do both in a robust fashion. Heck, it can’t even provide enough funds to build payloads for the SLS, so that should tell you something.

  • Martijn Meijering

    This isn’t public yet, but a pretty good authority has told me second-hand that Falcon Heavy will execute the same mission during its shakedown trials in 2013-14.

    That would be awesome, but it might cement the idea that you need heavy lift for manned activity beyond LEO, which would be regrettable. It would of course shatter the myth that NASA has any magical “right stuff” that’s needed for exploration, other than that green stuff that’s supplied courtesy of US taxpayers.

  • Facts Ma’am wrote:

    There aren’t going to be any SLS contracts because there isn’t going to be any SLS. As soon as the Falcon 9 starts flying the program is deader than dead. You guys just don’t seem to get that.

    Um, Falcon 9 is not a competitor for SLS. Falcon 9 is to get cargo or crew to the ISS. SLS in theory is to go beyond LEO.

    In any case, the SLS is a jobs program for the status quo aerospace industry. It’s not intended to ever accomplish anything. It’s intended to deliver pork to the districts and states of Congresscritters on the space subcommittees. Falcon 9 could fly to Pluto and back tomorrow at Warp 9 for $1.99 and the porking members of Congress wouldn’t care.

    The equivalent a century ago would be those in Congress representing districts with stagecoach makers propping up those companies while the horseless carriage becomes ever more popular and affordable.

  • Martin Meijering wrote:

    It would of course shatter the myth that NASA has any magical “right stuff” that’s needed for exploration, other than that green stuff that’s supplied courtesy of US taxpayers.

    Here in the Space Coast today, a tourist told me that the people who work at NASA “pride themselves at being the best of the best.”

    Oh-kaayyyyyy …

  • Bennett

    Falcon 9 could fly to Pluto and back tomorrow at Warp 9 for $1.99 and the porking members of Congress wouldn’t care.

    You slay me. That’s really funny. True of course, ah well.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Yes people do like to believe what they like to believe irrespective of evidence to the contrary. As an example, I saw a program on wind farms somewhere in the U.S. and this local was telling the tourist that the way they worked was by ‘sucking’ the pollution out of the air. Yep, he was for real.
    Says it all really.

  • Facts Ma'am

    Um, Falcon 9 is not a competitor for SLS

    Indeed it isn’t, because the Falcon 9 exists right now, and the SLS doesn’t.

    You just can’t compete with something that doesn’t exist.

    That will become painfully clear after a COTS flight.

  • Blackjax

    Falcon 9 could fly to Pluto and back tomorrow at Warp 9 for $1.99 and the porking members of Congress wouldn’t care.

    I generally agree with your sentiment, but I think you are overlooking those who might feel that anything game changing is a threat to the status quo which they have a stake in preserving. Congress will care if those who have access to them are nervous about it and encourage them to care. Case in point…Shelby.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Arguments by people about where they want to go and how they want to get there, when they don’t know where they are.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Facts Ma’am wrote @ June 5th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    This entire debacle is Bingham’s doing, and everyone knows it. except him…

    that is a fact. “51D” is to busy listening to the roar of the crowd at NASAspaceflight.com to think all that hard.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Blackjax wrote:

    I generally agree with your sentiment, but I think you are overlooking those who might feel that anything game changing is a threat to the status quo which they have a stake in preserving. Congress will care if those who have access to them are nervous about it and encourage them to care. Case in point…Shelby.

    If the Falcon 9 flew to Pluto and back at Warp 9 for $1.99, I would expect Shelby to introduce legislation banning the warp drive … unless it’s built in Huntsville.

    And as an aside, if Jeff will permit … Florida Today has an article today about the opening this weekend of the Star Trek exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110606/NEWS01/106060316/Explore-new-worlds-KSC-Star-Trek

    This old Trekker is looking quite forward to it. I’ve walked around the construction sites and peeked through curtains. Lots of memories in there.

  • Dennis Berube

    I for one truly hope the best of Falcon heavy, but, and that is a big BUT, it hasnt flown yet. What happens if it fails. Everyone likes a winner, but if it should fail on its maiden flight, then will all of you still support it? Meanwhile, NASA moves slowly forward! If the heavy Falcon works as advertised, I can see it becoming a major factor in space business. It must prove itself, just as Dragon must still carry people. Seems like everyone is moving way to slow here! One shuttle flight to go!

  • amightywind

    Just more democrats blowing smoke. There are limits to how much an SLS can be competed because by definition an SLS is assembled from existing parts from existing contractors. Although I am sure Elon Musk could design an SLS at half the cost. The California congressional delegation is weaker than the combined Florida, Texas, and Alabama delegations. Boxer and Feinstein will lose.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Arguments by people about where they want to go and how they want to get there, when they don’t know where they are.

    I’m at home in my chair. Where are you?

  • Everyone likes a winner, but if it should fail on its maiden flight, then will all of you still support it?

    Why wouldn’t we?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Dennis Berube

    I for one truly hope the best of Falcon heavy, but, and that is a big BUT, it hasnt flown yet. What happens if it fails. Everyone likes a winner, but if it should fail on its maiden flight, then will all of you still support it?

    Dennis, for me the issue isn’t “support Falcon Heavy vs SLS” – its really a discussion about “support commercially competitive Heavy Lift (which can be Falcon Heavy, or Atlas Phase 2 or Delta IV Heavy Growth options) vs support Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift”

    And if you have the former, even if Falcon Heavy failed its maiden flight.

    Meanwhile, NASA moves slowly forward! If the heavy Falcon works as advertised, I can see it becoming a major factor in space business. It must prove itself, just as Dragon must still carry people. Seems like everyone is moving way to slow here! One shuttle flight to go!

    Why is the same argument not made about Shuttle-Derived Heavy lift? It ALSO needs to work as advertised, and so far, it hasn’t. So, why does it get a pass?

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Let’s take a look at this situation from a different perspective – Dennis instead could have wrote:

    I for one truly hope the best of the Senate Launch System, but, and that is a big BUT, it hasnt flown yet. What happens if it fails. Everyone likes a winner, but if it should fail on its maiden flight, then will all of you still support it? Meanwhile, commercial aerospace moves slowly forward! If the SLS works as advertised, I can see it becoming a major factor in space business. It must prove itself, just as MPCV must still carry people. Seems like everyone is moving way to slow here!

  • Dennis Berube

    Because Mr. Simberg, it will put doubt in your mind!

  • Dennis Berube

    As far as ashuttle derived heavy lift goes, I think people tend to have abit more faith in it, then say Falcon heavy. The reason is because a shuttle derived vehicle, side mount or in line has been flying as long asthe shuttle has. The componants are there and they work. Im not saying they are better, or even more cost friendly, just that the tech. has been proven. Falcon heavy has yet to fly, and if it proves itself worthy, GREAT. At any rate, lets just get some damn thing going. We have stagnated in low Earth orbit for to damn long! What holding Bigelow up too? I keep hearing of his up and coming hotel in space, but no reality to it! Everyone can promise you the world, as our politicians always do, but in the end it is something less then expected.

  • amightywind

    Good recent article

    Thanks for the link. 3 years lost for a 2.5m reduction in the Ares V tank diameter. Not the out-of-the-box thinking one expected from the NASA leadership. Perhaps they will eventually come to the same good sense as Mike Griffin and restore the full Ares V configurations. Curiously missing are plans for the Orion launch vehicle.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Politics is indeed a case of strange bedfellows – http://www.teainspace.com/press-release-tea-party-supports-senators-feinstein-and-boxer-demand-for-open-competition-on-sls-contracts/

    I will now wait for certain people’s heads to explode…..

  • Because Mr. Simberg, it will put doubt in your mind!

    Why would it? Falcon 1 failed its first three flights, and it didn’t put doubt in my mind. The history of rocketry is rife with early failures. Only someone ignorant of that history would lose heart after a single one.

    What holding Bigelow up too?

    Affordable crew launch. Why do you ask such silly questions? Why don’t you do a little research, instead of being apparently determined to look clueless?

  • Curiously missing are plans for the Orion launch vehicle.

    It’s called the Atlas V. Another clueless post from abreakingwind.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    As far as ashuttle derived heavy lift goes, I think people tend to have abit more faith in it, then say Falcon heavy.

    Come on Dennis, stay up with the current events.

    SDLV is not an option for SLS, and even if it was, then it would only offer marginally more lift capacity than Falcon Heavy but cost us taxpayers $Billions more.

    Why are you obsessing over Falcon Heavy anyways, since it is a private effort and not government funded? No one has even announced that they are going to use it, and that includes NASA.

    What holding Bigelow up too?

    Lack of two or more commercial crew transportation companies, since he has no plans to depend on NASA for support (too unreliable). If you want Bigelow to get going quicker, then support commercial crew.

    Everyone can promise you the world, as our politicians always do, but in the end it is something less then expected.

    Then why do you keep believing them?

    Why don’t you use your own judgement before you blithely believe what people say?

  • Tom D

    Rand,

    Isn’t the nominal Orion/MPCV launch vehicle most likely to be Delta 4 Heavy? I didn’t think any currently existing Atlas 5 variant had the necessary payload capacity. Of course an Atlas 5 Heavy or Atlas 5 Phase II should be able to handle it fairly easily, but no one is paying for those yet.

  • Alex

    “This entire debacle is Bingham’s doing, and everyone knows it. except him…

    that is a fact. “51D” is to busy listening to the roar of the crowd at NASAspaceflight.com to think all that hard. ”

    Is he the Hutchison staffer/adviser? If so, he has yet to spell “Endeavour” correctly on a press release.

  • amightywind

    It’s called the Atlas V. Another clueless post from abreakingwind.

    Since America’s next manned space activity will be the launch or Orion, don’t you find it rather curious that there is no discussion of how to launch it? Does a newspace shill, paid for by Elon Musk to astroturf on the conservative media, have curiosity? An Atlas V without GEMs did not have the capacity to launch Orion 3 years ago. Unless Orion has slimmed down, it doesn’t now. What is clueless about that?

  • Major Tom

    “Just more democrats blowing smoke.”

    And Republican Senators like Shelby:

    blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2011/06/teledyne_brown_aerojet_form_st.html

    And the Tea Party:

    teainspace.com/press-release-tea-party-supports-senators-feinstein-and-boxer-demand-for-open-competition-on-sls-contracts/

    “There are limits to how much an SLS can be competed because by definition an SLS is assembled from existing parts from existing contractors.”

    Only if “practicable”, per the authorization. NASA’s initial report to Congress stated that it was not.

    “Although I am sure Elon Musk could design an SLS at half the cost.”

    SpaceX is developing the ~50-ton Falcon Heavy on its own dime, so that’s free to the taxpayer. Musk has “personally guaranteed” that SpaceX could field a super heavy lift vehicle for $2.5 billion:

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

    Based on the budget in the authorization act alone, SLS development will run $6.9 billion through 2013, or $13.8 billion through its operational deadline of 2016.

    That means the SpaceX super heavy lift vehicle is less than 20% (one-fifth) the cost of SLS (which NASA has told Congress in writing that it cannot meet).

    “3 years lost for a 2.5m reduction in the Ares V tank diameter… Perhaps they will eventually come to the same good sense as Mike Griffin and restore the full Ares V configurations.”

    There was no budget for Ares V (or any other Cargo Launch Vehicle or CaLV) through FY 2012 in Griffin’s last (FY 2008) budget. See p. ESMD-14 (308 in the PDF) here:

    nasa.gov/pdf/168652main_NASA_FY08_Budget_Request.pdf

    Ares V had ceased to exist before Griffin left. Nothing has been lost. Rather, with Ares I terminated, an HLV effort has been reinstated.

    FWIW…

  • Egad

    > Isn’t the nominal Orion/MPCV launch vehicle most likely to be Delta 4 Heavy? I didn’t think any currently existing Atlas 5 variant had the necessary payload capacity.

    Which reminds me of a question: Orion + fully fueled service module has been reported to weigh in at a bit over 30 tons. If you launched MPCV + service module + just enough fuel for an ISS mission, how much would it weigh?

  • I assume that MPCV will be sitting on top of the SLS, along with other major components, considering that the SSME and SRBs are all human rated…

    I would be interested in data suggesting otherwise, aside from the usual religious and political side-shows.

  • John Malkin

    Why is SD SLS better than starting from scratch?

    Wouldn’t any configuration other than side-mount require a complete re-design? Are SSME the best engine for HL? Is building faster more important than building better? What is the rush to build a HL now?

    When we talk about SD components, we are discussing SSME, External Tank (is this special?) and SRB, correct?

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    considering that the SSME and SRBs are all human rated

    How do you human rate a rocket engine that won’t turn off, and if it explodes will melt the parachutes that are supposed to save the human passengers?

    http://www.physorg.com/news167210662.html

    Systems are “human rated”, not pieces and parts.

  • “When we talk about SD components, we are discussing SSME, External Tank (is this special?) and SRB, correct?”

    That is my understanding… There has been some consideration of the RS-68 instead of the SSME. It looks like LM and Boeing are retaining some of the ET workforce to build the SLS. And the ATK SRB is the current front-runner.

    There are many, many other possibilities, some of which would have various cost, performance, and political plusses and minuses.

  • “Just more democrats blowing smoke.”

    Sadly, there are just as many, maybe more, republican senators feeding of the earmark/pork barrel that is SLS. A partial list includes, but is not limited to:

    Senators Shelby, Sessions, Vitter, Cochran, Wicker, Hutchison, Cornyn, Hatch, and Lee.

    Where is the fiscal restraint that needs to be shown? Where is the limited government approach that these senators espouse and then run from after election? Where is the access to free markets?

    As a recovering republican I am embarrassed it takes two of the most liberal senators to ask for a competitive bid process for SLS. Why? So certain districts in certain states can steal ~.5 of 1% into their coffers with nothing to show for it.

    CxP has proved that the model espoused by Nelson and Hutchison do not work. We should adopt the Feinstein and Boxer model and open the competition so all sides can bid for those contracts.

    Not only would we save a ton of money, we would get something that actually, you know, flies into space.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew L. Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • “Why is SD SLS better than starting from scratch?”

    There dozens of valid arguments on all sides. For SD SLS, some of the main points are probably:
    (1) That is what the NASA A&A bills, signed into law, mandate.
    (2) The SD components have a significant flight heritate. Their characterisitics and limitations are well-known. This can portend greater reliability.
    (3) The workforce and instractructure to build this exists and is ready to go now.
    (4) This one of the most expedient ways to get the SLS off the ground ASAP.

  • Since America’s next manned space activity will be the launch or Orion

    That is vanishingly unlikely.

    I assume that MPCV will be sitting on top of the SLS, along with other major components, considering that the SSME and SRBs are all human rated…

    There is no such thing as a “human rated” engine. The Shuttle itself was never human rated. You reveal (as always) your ignorance of the meaning of that phrase.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    (2) The SD components have a significant flight heritate. Their characterisitics and limitations are well-known. This can portend greater reliability.

    Greater reliability? Compared to what? Compared to 30 year-old technology, but not to alternatives.

    But what it certainly portends is legacy cost structures. Compare the amount of labor it will take to prepare the 70t Shuttle-derived components & infrastructure for launch versus what SpaceX will do for their 53t rocket and you’ll see what I mean.

    (3) The workforce and instractructure to build this exists and is ready to go now.

    Uh, no, not any more. Most of the manufacturing personnel were laid off at the end of their respective production runs for Shuttle hardware, and Constellation is not far enough along to have any production.

    And with years of production break between Shuttle and whatever comes next, no one is retaining any manufacturing skillsets that are “ready to go”. Even the tooling is different between Shuttle and whatever comes next, so their processes and procedures will all be new too.

    (4) This one of the most expedient ways to get the SLS off the ground ASAP.

    Which is what proves it’s a jobs program, and not needed for any particular need, since Congress has not funded ANY payloads or missions that require the Senate Launch System.

    They are going to rush to spend money on jobs for the rocket, but they won’t make sure it has a payload – your tax dollars not at work…

  • “How do you human rate a rocket engine that won’t turn off, and if it explodes will melt the parachutes that are supposed to save the human passengers?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLdP-L7D58g

    The LAS will accelerate the capsule away at 12 gs for about 1 minute before the chutes start to open…Explodings rocket tend to come to a fairly immediate hault…

    As far as that report that Matthews references, do you have a link to it? Was that the one where someone just eyeballed a picture of the plume from an exploding rocket?

    My question for NASA would be how they could human-rate the shuttle, which has no launch abort system at all, or Gemini, which only had ejection seats. And then there were the Soviets who sent up 3 guys in a capsule with no space suits, let alone any ejection capability…

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    As far as that report that Matthews references, do you have a link to it? Was that the one where someone just eyeballed a picture of the plume from an exploding rocket?

    The report was by the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base — which has safety responsibility for the Cape Canaveral rocket range. They have lots of experience with rockets blowing up.

    My question for NASA would be how they could human-rate the shuttle, which has no launch abort system at all, or Gemini, which only had ejection seats. And then there were the Soviets who sent up 3 guys in a capsule with no space suits, let alone any ejection capability…

    Now you’re asking the right questions!

    And the answer you should come up with is “it depends”.

    Shuttle seems to be based on those theoretical “once every 100 flights” type estimates, where the law of averages allows for failures more than once every 100 flights, but that’s what it’s supposed to average out to over a really long time.

    Gemini was flown by professional test pilots, who knew the dangers about ejecting our of a failing vehicle.

    The Soviets suffered from the same problem as the early Shuttle program, in that they underestimated the likelihood of certain types of failures, and the simple procedures they could give their passengers some slight increase in their survival odds.

    The real question is not IF a rocket will fail, but how will the crew survive when it does. That’s why Launch Abort Systems are so important, as well as the failure modes of the rockets themselves.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    “The LAS will accelerate the capsule away at 12 gs for about 1 minute before the chutes start to open…Explodings rocket tend to come to a fairly immediate hault…”

    er halt! This is sad! You again demonstrate ignorance of basic physical laws along with facts. Rather than deal with ‘the law of conservation of energy’ or ‘Newton’s Laws of Motion’ just have a look at the video of the shuttle explosions. There was nothing immediate halting about them. How about again, doing some research before spouting unadulterated rubbish or better yet, take a basic physics science course.

  • pathfinder_01

    Nelson

    To my knowlege only Gemini and Vostock had ejection seats and in the case of Vostok that was the primary landing method. Shuttle had ejections seats for Enterprise test flights and Columbia’s first launches. The trouble with the shuttle was that there were only 2 seats(i.e. Commander and Pilot eject dooming the rest of the crew). Ejection seats are also very limited in the time that you could use them. Escaping a malfunctioning rocket is not an easy thing. With the shuttle you could eject right into a hot plume of rocket exhuast.

    Voshood was more a publicity stunt..yes it had value, but it was more important to cram three guys in and show how advanced Soviet technology is than for it to be safe.

    Apollo’s fire was likewise a matter of luck run out. All U.S. manned spacecraft had used prue oxygen for lifesupport till then.

    Soyuz and Shuttle both lacked space suits for early operational flights. Only did loss of Soyuz 11 make the Soviets put on space suits. Challenger made the Shuttle do likewise. Human rating is atm very much in the eye of the beholder.

  • “There is no such thing as a “human rated” engine. The Shuttle itself was never human rated. You reveal (as always) your ignorance of the meaning of that phrase.”

    OK, Mr Recovering Engineer, please educate us, rather than just tilting up your nose all the time. As Obama would say, “spread the wealth.”

    According to Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, “The SSME is the only fully reusable high-performance rocket engine rated for human spaceflight.”

    So, that is the difference between what you mean when you say “human rated” and when P&W says that the RS-25 is “rated for human spaceflight” ???

    http://www.pw.utc.com/media_center/press_releases/2011/05_may/5-16-2011_00001.asp

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    “The LAS will accelerate the capsule away at 12 gs for about 1 minute before the chutes start to open…Explodings rocket tend to come to a fairly immediate hault…”

    you obviously did not watch the Challenger footage. If so you would not have made such a goofy statement.

    The LAS On Orion as it is suggested to work is a death trap. RGO

  • “The report was by the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base — which has safety responsibility for the Cape Canaveral rocket range. They have lots of experience with rockets blowing up.”

    I found the report on the nasawatch website:
    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2009/fratricide.report.pdf

    If you read it, it is the result of a civilian ejection seat and rocketry analyst at Patric AFB named Sean P Stapf.

    He used a ruler to measure the cloud diameter of fragments from pictures of a Titan IV SRB explosion in 1998, and made some educated guesses (the launch failure would involve detonation of the SRB, the fragments would overtake the launch abort system, the density of fragments 3 miles away from the blast would be sufficient to melt exposed parachut material.)

    NASA used much more detailed analysis and models, run on supercomputers, rather than eyeballing photographs, and Jeff Hanley replied that their analysis indicated that the crew would survivie in most cases. Keep in mind that in the Challenger disaster the SRBs did not detonate. Also keep in mind that the Challenger crew survivied the blast, and they were still quite alive up until when the cockpit hit the ocean.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 6th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    “SLS configuration nears decision point – Two-phase approach rejected”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/06/sls-decision-nasa-two-phase-approach/>>

    LOL more wishful thinking from the “save our jobs” crowd. What porkers RGO

  • “Greater reliability? Compared to what? Compared to 30 year-old technology, but not to alternatives.”

    All other things being equal (which they never are), more matrue components are better characterized, based upon past flight experience, compared with totally new components. This allows engineers to better understand and mitigate real risks. When the shuttle first launched, engineers had no idea that falling pieces of foam or cold weather could be major risk factors. Now they have in-space repair procedures and limit launches to safe temperature ranges.

    “Most of the manufacturing personnel were laid off at the end of their respective production runs for Shuttle hardware”

    Yes, but SLS development will not need most of the Shuttle workforce. LM has just halted layoffs at Michoud in preparation for SLS work, and Boeing is hiring back former LM welders to manufacture prototype tanks.

    “Which is what proves it’s not needed for any particular need, since Congress has not funded ANY payloads or missions that require the Senate Launch System.”

    First things first. There will be payloads and missions. Without an HLV, however, they are pointless.

  • “You again demonstrate ignorance of basic physical laws along with facts. Rather than deal with ‘the law of conservation of energy’ or ‘Newton’s Laws of Motion’ just have a look at the video of the shuttle explosions. There was nothing immediate halting about them. How about again, doing some research before spouting unadulterated rubbish or better yet, take a basic physics science course.”

    It is the conservation of momentum that you are thinking of.

    At lower altitudes, exploding rockets tend to mushroom from a high-density aerodynamically-streamlined object with minimal aerodynamic drag to a low-density, diffuse cloud that has maximum aerodynamic drag. Consequently, they tend to rapidly decelerate, compared to a launch abort capsule.

    In the absense of an atmosphere, initially both capsule and booster will be traveling at the same velocity. A detonation of the booster will probably result in an end to any acceleration from the rocket motor, whereas the launch abort motors will accelerate the capsule away from the exploding booster.

    At least, that is the way Newton’s laws operate in this universe. Time brush up on your force vectors…

  • “just have a look at the video of the shuttle explosions”

    In the case of the Challenger explosion, the orbiter and external tank disintegrated due to aerodynamic forces. It basically turned into a cloud.

    The SRBs did no detonate, and continue to accelerated in an unguided manner off on a tangent until a destruct signal was later sent to them.

    If the crew had instead been in a capsule with a LAS they would probably have survivied.

  • Malmesbury

    Re: SRB and LES

    An ex-NASA guy over on nasaspaceflight did an analysis including a computer model. The heat effects from the cloud of burning solid fuel from an SRB destruct wasn’t a problem. However a certain percentage (5% or more IIRC) a heavy fragment of the SRB would hit the capsule or the parachutes.

    The problem is that in the event of the LOV, range safety will blow up the SRBs. Their job is safety for people on the ground. SRBs turn into a collection of many heavy fragments, plus lighter ones. The debris cloud is laterally quite wide.

    When a liquid rocket is destroyed, the lighter tank material fragments into much smaller pieces, which slow down rapidly. The oxidiser and fuel mix and burn – detonation is quite unlikely. The engines tend to keep on going in the original direction – though the turbo pumps might throw stuff in other directions depending on their orientation. The SpaceX design of their turbo pumps for contained failure in the style if aircraft engines is interesting in this context.

    The SRB issue meant that Ares I would have not met it’s probability of crew survival goals – LOV multiplied by the probability of a hit on the crew after the abort…. A bigger LES would be much heavier – to escape the cloud would require 18g IIRC.

  • amightywind

    The SRB issue meant that Ares I would have not met it’s probability of crew survival goals

    Not an issue because of the high acceleration and substantial cross range of the Orion escape tower, which was successfully tested in 2009. Your reasoning is dubious at best.

  • So, that is the difference between what you mean when you say “human rated” and when P&W says that the RS-25 is “rated for human spaceflight” ???

    Don’t confuse a marketing phrase with engineering reality.

  • Tangential but related …

    Florida Today ran an investigative report yesterday exposing the disaster that’s NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110605/NEWS01/110604013/Telescope-debacle-devours-NASA-funds

    The paper followed up today with a scathing editorial:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110607/OPINION/110606013/Our-views-NASA-s-Webb-debacle-June-7

    Particularly interesting to me was this passage in the editorial:

    The damage to NASA’s credibility is severe and further reduces confidence in the agency’s ability to meet fiscal and launch targets for its post-shuttle manned spaceflight program.

    It also shows the wisdom in having commercial space companies push forward to start launching astronauts aboard private space taxis from Cape Canaveral around 2015 rather than relying on NASA.

    That’s the farthest Florida Today has gone in endorsing CCDev — but more importantly, saying that we can no longer rely on NASA.

    And that’s coming from a paper whose major demographic is people working at KSC.

    Imagine that coming out of the Houston Chronicle (which so far it hasn’t).

  • And is it marketing when NASA says (???):

    “Given the synergy of the development schedule of the RS-68B for Ares V and the potential development of a human-rated Delta IV H, the lowest-cost option is to human-rate the RS-68B rather than the RS-68A.”

    Section 2.2.1 Approach to Human-Rating Engines
    Page 21 of of 71

    from “Human-Rated Delta IV Heavy Study Constellation Architecture Imapcts, 1 June 2009, NASA Advanced Programs Directorate, NASA Programs Division, Space Launch Projects, Launch Systems Division”

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/377875main_081109%20Human%20Rated%20Delta%20IV.pdf

    ??

    I am clearly not alone in not fully understanding the finer points of human-rating.

    I assume what you are trying to say is that changes to an engine, required to human-rate a particular spacecraft, might be insufficient for another spacecraft. For instance, a cluster of RS-68s on an Ares V might require greater tolerance to heat than a single RS-68 on a Delta IV.

    However, in practice, engines that have those upgrades/modifications tend to be refered to (technically correct or not) as human-rated.

    Is that in the ballpark???

  • “Don’t confuse a marketing phrase with engineering reality.”

    Is it a marketing phrase when NASA says:

    “Given the synergy of the development schedule of the RS-68H for Ares V and the potential development of a human rated Delat IV H, the lowest-cost option is to human-rate the RS-68B rather than the RS-68A.”

    In section 2.2.1 Approach to Human-Rating Engines

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/377875main_081109%20Human%20Rated%20Delta%20IV.pdf

    I assume what you are trying to say is that, technically, engine modifications required to human rate one spacecraft might not be sufficient for another. For instance, clustered RS-68s on an Ares V might need to have greater heat tolerance than a single RS-68 in a Delta IV.

    I don’t claim to fully understand the finer points of human rating of space hardware. Very few engineers do…

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson Bridwell wrote:

    “When the shuttle first launched, engineers had no idea that falling pieces of foam or cold weather could be major risk factors.”

    That is not true:

    “The Rogers Commission found that NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making processes had been a key contributing factor to the accident.[1] NASA managers had known that contractor Morton Thiokol’s design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but they failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning and had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.”

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

    So much for NASA’s being the final abitrator on launch safety.

  • …………or we could redesign the JWST to take advantage the Jupiter’s 10m payload fairing, significantly higher mass margins and in space assembly and check out at the ISS (or highly elliptical Earth Orbit via Orion)
    before departure to SEL2.

    The approach above would synergistically leverage the manned and unmanned space exploration investments and capabilities. Upgrades/Repairs would also be possible with this approach via Orion.

    Imagine a pair of 10m mirrors consisting of traditional lower cost construction and a sun shield. The savings in JWST construction cost alone could pay for half the development cost of the Jupiter, plus we get a significantly better telescope in the process and open up the possibilities of ‘all’ future unmanned missions.

    Imagine the unmanned mission we could now send to the outer planets or land on Mars with this capability. All for the same or lower price than we are paying to shoe horn everything into launch systems optimized for military satellites in Earth Orbit.

    Heck I’m sure even the military could find a use for a set of 10m binoculars in Earth Orbit. Maybe they would help pick up the tab like they did for Hubble.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    The savings in JWST construction cost alone could pay for half the development cost of the Jupiter…

    Look at how much money we save by spending more money!

    I think that was a marketing campaign by Toyota a few years back, and as a marketing campaign it may be fine, but in real life it’s apples & oranges.

    First of all JWST is substantially built, so they are not going to redesign it for a new rocket.

    Secondly, if they wanted to save substantial amounts of money on a future JWST, and not have to worry about weight, they could launch on a Falcon Heavy. Zero development costs, so far more money for the actual space hardware.

    The SDLV Jupiter suffers from the same problem as all government-funded mega-launchers – there is no funded need for them. No known programs that require 70-130t of mass lifted to LEO in one launch, and certainly no known funding streams to finance any such dreams.

    When is Congress supposed to create these new costly space programs that require super-heavy lifters?

  • vulture4

    Regarding Challenger,

    Unfortunately NASA became committed decades ago to the concept of “failure tolerance”, i.e. the vehicle will always be safe because all systems must be able to tolerate failure of any component. it seems like an easy solution, at least to a manager who has never torqued a bolt or welded a seam. Challenger is the classic proof that failure tolerance does not work. If had a primary O-ring and a backup O-ring. If either failed, the other could prevent leakage. Of course, the failure was deterministic and both primary and backup failed simultaneously. The failure was not in management per se, but in our blind faith in systems analysis and failure tolerance, which continues to this day. Constellation was recently proclaimed safe because it had adopted a requirement for failure tolerance.

    Unfortunately, failure tolerance itself is a failure. It is impossible to predict failure rates and modes accurately from analysis alone, particularly when dealing with systems for which there is little or no actual operational experience. When the failure modes and rates are unknown (usually management asks for “WAGs” which are pulled out of the air) then how can we possibly claim that any redundancy at all is needed, or that two or even a hundred redundant systems is enough?

    The solution is to return to the traditional FAA/NACA approach to aircraft development and certification; an evolutionary process combining engineering analysis with verification through extensive flight experience. This permits failures to be corrected at the component level while keeping the system simple, light, and affordable. Of course this would require NASA to actually fly prototypes and technology development vehicles as NACA used to do, instead of coming up with grandiose concepts for new operational systems to be procured at a firm fixed cost.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 3:47 am
    ” When the shuttle first launched, engineers had no idea that falling pieces of foam or cold weather could be major risk factors.”

    nope. That is simply not accurate. Engineers knew about the dangers of both, and were in fact struggling to deal with in particular the O rings which had come near to total failure before Challenger.

    what vulture4 wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 1:37 pm… more or less hit the nail on the head (and I think was quite well written…) but the reality is that if anything the years of operating the shuttle and the dead crew from it as well as the near misses illustrate the dangers of assuming anything that NASA HSF says on safety is valid. Particularly anything Jeff Hanley (who is a boob) said.

    Hanley (to name one) and the shuttle management in general is openly mocked at US government safety schools. Cx and the nutty stuff on the solid first stage is routinely pointed out as examples of where the science and engineering was made to fit the needed program.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    “Imagine the unmanned mission we could now send to the outer planets or land on Mars with this capability”

    that is all we can do is “imagine” because there are no plans to do any of those missions, as much as the DIRECT folks would love to invent them, nor is there any money to do that.

    Your comments remind me of the Vietnam notions “50,000 more troops and we win”.

    DIRECT and any version of the “Jupiter” is the booster equivalent of the Webb telescope. There are no real numbers that it can be built or operated to. All there are, are paper numbers which are meaningless, they dont match to any level of performance. And then again there are no missions period.

    The notion of “we spend more money to save some” is goofy

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    “Regarding Challenger,

    Unfortunately NASA became committed decades ago to the concept of “failure tolerance”, i.e. the vehicle will always be safe because all systems must be able to tolerate failure of any component.”

    I dont agree with everything you post, but the post you put out are always well thought out and agreeable to read. In this case I think you hit the nail on the head.

    It is hard for me to imagine how NASA HSF management at the time continued flying with the O ring blow by evidence that they had accumulated to that time. but Jay Greene set the standard for real idiots being in positions of authority.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    The damage to NASA’s credibility is severe and further reduces confidence in the agency’s ability to meet fiscal and launch targets for its post-shuttle manned spaceflight program.

    Oh, I get it. JWST is over budget, therefore we should hand manned spaceflight to Elon Musk. The Newspace argument in a nutshell. This is why Newspace will soon be another sad footnote of history. The world needs a follow-on to HST. Unless Elon Musk has a superior telescope in his garage, redesign the spacecraft or restructure the program if there is a problem.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 6:51 am

    “If the crew had instead been in a capsule with a LAS they would probably have survivied.(sic)”

    you dont know that. The crew compartment was so damaged on impact that it was and remains impossible to determine if it was significantly damaged by the explosion.

    There is indication that some of the crew go on their portable O2 systems, but there is no determination if the LAS would have survived the breakup of the vehicle or been able to function in that environment …the statement you make is absurd. Suits or more correctly pressure O2 would have helped at least to keep folks alive.

    But you have no idea of the aerodynamic forces that were at work in those couple of seconds. The statement you make is at best wishful thinking.

    RGO

  • Has JWST even passed CDR yet?

    I know specific instruments have passed CDR but not the telescope itself. Which is in and of itself, laughable.

    Direct, while an excellent proposal in 2008, is no longer logical or fiscally possible. We will never see it fly due to NASA waste, personal egos (ABD @ MSFC), and bureaucracy. Time to cut the cord with both SLS and JWST and reboot the NASA technology development and procurement models.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • SpaceColonizer

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 3:47 am

    “First things first. There will be payloads and missions. Without an HLV, however, they are pointless.”

    That last senstence SHOULD be : “Without a mission, however, a HLV is pointless.”

    Um… So you want to have us build a HLV and have it ready to go BEFORE we’ve developed the payloads and missions? You want congress to dictate a payload capacity of 130tons BEFORE we’ve even determined what missions could require such a payload? You think that is somehow the more effective strategy when there isn’t enough money to do both at the same time? Development of those missions elements will takes years on their own… and you want to just have this HLV sitting around waiting to be used? Oh, and it won’t be just “sitting around” free of cost either, people will have to stay employed to keep it ready and also they will need to be on hand for when we do eventually start to use it, all while waiting for a mission to be developed. The phrase “all dressed up with nowhere to go” comes to mind.

    You were right when you said “first things first” but it is the missions that should come first. We have to figure out what we’re going to be doing and what payloads we have to carry before we determine the launch vehicle for them. The reason congress refuses to take this common sense strategy is because they know commercial launch systems will be ready to carry those payloads before any government launch system can be built. Falcon Heavy will be flying in 2014, a full 2 years earlier than congress wishes their precious SLS can be finished by. In order to justify the SLS there had better be an actual payload greater than FH capacity that is not only funded but will be ready by the time SLS is completed or shortly thereafter. Otherwise FH can carry plenty for the time being and if NASA creates a demand for higher payload capacities (with a funded mission) then commercial entities will push to fill that demand.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    actually in my view it is time to give up on Webb as well. We have spent no where near the 1/2 mark in terms of what money will actually be needed to take the thing to flight. time for a serious “rethink”. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Um… So you want to have us build a HLV and have it ready to go BEFORE we’ve developed the payloads and missions?

    I believe Nelson has admitted that the main thing he cares about is preserving NASA jobs. I don’t really understand why because he doesn’t appear to be an aerospace professional (or else standards have dropped precipitously).

    But even WITH a mission the HLV still doesn’t make sense, since pretty much all missions can be designed in such a way as not to need an HLV. HLVs are a solution looking for a problem.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    “It is hard for me to imagine how NASA HSF management at the time continued flying with the O ring blow by evidence that they had accumulated to that time. but Jay Greene set the standard for real idiots being in positions of authority.”

    Not really, if you revisit the Rogers report. Such is the symptoms of an aging bureaucracy. The management vs. engineering culture was pretty much in place. The ‘going in circles’ nature of the vehicle they were operating was decidely less motivating and quite a come down after destination projects like Apollo. The symptoms showed up in Skylab- Greene himself noted it is some TV docs. The ‘fear’ of challenging management decisions reigned hard over career paths as well. Decentralized organization and decision-making; center rivalries and the added pressure to meet schedule ‘for profit’ didn’t help. The organization that placed men on the moon found itself being directed to operate like the postal service. Literally with disasterous results.

  • “There is indication that some of the crew go on their portable O2 systems, but there is no determination if the LAS would have survived the breakup of the vehicle or been able to function in that environment …the statement you make is absurd. Suits or more correctly pressure O2 would have helped at least to keep folks alive.”

    The crew of an Orion capsule would have been better protected than the shuttle cockpit, and the Challenger shuttle crew survived the orbiter breakup…

    http://www.spacestation-alpha.com/pix/blog/110210_01.jpg

    http://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Orion-GTA-parachutes_1.jpg

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/ssc/Orion/OrionHeatshieldRemoval.JPG

  • “The reason congress refuses to take this common sense strategy is because they know commercial launch systems will be ready to carry those payloads before any government launch system can be built.”

    Commercial crew has a foot in the door, and if they do not mess up (one major challenge will be the limited market size) they might own LEO within 10 years, but they really don’t have the capability or political backing to be able to leave earth orbit.

    The SLS HLV will come first because NASA does not have the budget to work on everything at once. The HLV will be useful for all the possible near-term destinations.

  • vulture4

    “The ‘going in circles’ nature of the vehicle they were operating was decidely less motivating and quite a come down after destination projects like Apollo.”

    Personally I find the Shuttle much more challenging and difficult. Apollo (like Constellation) was just a stunt; with enough money you can do anything once or twice. Shuttle was an attempt to do something much more difficult; reduce to cost of spaceflight enough to make it practical and productive. Of course it didn’t quite succeed, but it came close, and if we learn the right lessons from it, we can do better the next time. Unfortunately all the people with hands on experience maintaining the Shuttle are about to be fired.

    As to going in circles, I have met very few people who have actually _been_ to LEO who were bored with it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    one major challenge will be the limited market size

    That’s the challenge for any commercial company – expanding new markets. Governments don’t do that however, which is one of the reasons we didn’t have commercial HSF while the Shuttle was operating.

    With commercial crew, those companies aren’t creating transportation systems just for the ISS, they will be using their marketing powers to find and encourage new customers for human spaceflight. One company that is waiting for their services is Bigelow Aerospace, which needs four flights per year for each BA 330 module that they lease.

    they might own LEO within 10 years, but they really don’t have the capability or political backing to be able to leave earth orbit.

    More like 5 years. By virtue of the lack of any U.S. alternative, they will own LEO as soon as they become operational.

    Regarding capability, I don’t know about Boeings plans, but we already know that SpaceX has designed Dragon in anticipation of beyond LEO trips. Now they may need to add more systems, but they’ll have a whole fleet once-used CRS Dragons to start with. We’ll see what happens with the MPCV, which let’s keep in mind, requires an act of Congress for it to fly.

    Regarding “political backing”, why do they need that?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 6:33 pm
    “The SLS HLV will come first because NASA does not have the budget to work on everything at once. The HLV will be useful for all the possible near-term destinations.”

    goofy logic.

    Statements like the above are made when one has no real evidence for what one is claiming so something good has to be said. It is Like “a rising tide lifts all boats” to claim that tax cuts for the wealthy are great for the rest of us.

    There is no evidence to suggest that there are payloads “just waiting” for a Senate Launch system (SLS) to be developed. NASA JSC has tried to come up with a few on its own, but they are all goofy. There is no real demand even for the heaviest lift versions of Delta and Atlas…at the cost that those versions demand. Much less that of a SLS which will have cost above the 1 billion per launch and 12-16 billion to develop.

    If the cost come down for heavy lift, ala the FAlcon heavy…if those cost are viable then people and companies will come up with payloads for them. That is the history of almost every shipping situation.

    But you fans of the SLS ignore the cost. Go over to NASAspaceflight.com and the rhetoric there is clear…the cost dont matter…once one has the vehicle we have to fly it so something will come together. The DIRECT devotees make that same claim.

    But just as the bush tax cuts did not make the entire nation better, indeed made it worse; an SLS that has no cost constraints will doom NASA and HSF to the mediocrity that it is in now; and which you seem to support. RGO

  • Malmesbury

    The SRB analysis that I referred to took into account the “high acceleration and cross range” of the Orion abort system as tested. The problem wasn’t with the abort system itself, but that the SRB destruct cloud is large, though sparsely populated. Most of the time the capsule could parachute through the danger zone. Unfortunately there is a chance that a large chunk of SRB would ruin your day – a chance that when combined with the potential LOV rate added up to a risk greater than the ARES I safety requirement.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    “The crew of an Orion capsule would have been better protected than the shuttle cockpit, and the Challenger shuttle crew survived the orbiter breakup…”

    you dont know for a fact either of those things. AS I noted some of the personal O2 devices were turned on (but some were not, the majority were not and that would indicate something if one is reading those tea leaves) and the pilot did seemingly flip some switches trying to restore electrical power…but for “how long” the crew was functional we all just have our best guesses.

    If the cabin held press then they may have lasted longer, but if it was holed and diff P went to zero then they didnt last long at all. None of the post mortem data could indicate drowning as a cause of death nor blunt force trauma (there wasnt enough left). The O2 devices were not pressure fed and above FL200 or so are useless in terms of maintaining consciousness (one reason the “mask” on commercial airplanes are being debated as to removal right now). That is why I made the statements about having pressure suits on, and why the shuttle folks started wearing them again.

    The “cabin” left the breakup cloud with rotational rates on it and those alone would have been difficult for non trained people to have dealt with (and most of the folks were and are “not trained” to deal with that situation). How an LAS would have functioned there is hard to say.

    Besides Challenger was lost due to a solid malfunction; but the malfunction was not catastrophic in terms of the solid. What happened was that the hot gases burned through a support strut and the solid then drove into the ET.

    A catastrophic solid failure would be far more “dynamic”. Think the Trident missile that exploded shortly after being launched from the USS Tennessee and almost rolled the boat over, even though the boat was submerged and has far more mass then an Orion capsule would have. That Trident was 300 feet above the surface when it went “boom” and the “boat” was hovering at least 100 feet below the surface.

    High Mach separations are not trivial and while this is of course true for a liquid vehicle as well, the dynamics that come into play with a pressure wave AND very heavy fragments from an exploding solid are an environment all on its own.

    This is of course academic. The Senate Launch system is never going to be built, and is not going to carry anyone. If Orion ever launches (and I doubt that) it will do so on a EELV.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Fred Willett

    “Commercial crew…, but they really don’t have the capability or political backing to be able to leave earth orbit.”
    Yet a ticket has already been sold for a loop around the moon by commercial. A soyuz craft. A Space Adventures deal. looking at just one more seat to make it happen.
    Now if I only had $150M…

  • Aggelos

    with Falcon heavy,,maybe nasa have to just give money for the payloads,,why build all these rockets?

  • “The Senate Launch system is never going to be built, and is not going to carry anyone.”

    The reality is that the SLS and MPCV have very strong, very unified, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Despite your personal wishes otherwise, Bolden, Garver, and Obama simply do not have the Constitutional authority nor the required Congressional support to fully pull off the failed coup d’etat that was attempted last year.

    If CCDev2 is successful, and commercial crew happens in a reasonable timeframe, at reasonable cost, then the commercial school of thought will gain greater credibility. But the current scatterbrain direction of the newspace efforts suggest that SLS and MPCV could become operational about the same time as commercial crew to ISS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 8th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I wrote:
    “The Senate Launch system is never going to be built, and is not going to carry anyone.”

    You replied (in part)
    “The reality is that the SLS and MPCV have very strong, very unified, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress”

    if saying it so made it so then the 8 years of Bush would have been a glorious time in American history and SArah Palin would be correct, Revere did ride to warn the British firing rounds out of his muzzle loader and ringing a bell! Sadly no matter how many times we try and rewrite history it is still not going to change it.

    nor will saying what you said make it so. The Senate Launch System has support of Senators in space states and thats it. The rest of the support is what one Senator does for another so that the pork train keeps rolling…sadly for all this the pork train is collapsing under GOP economics as the nation slides deeper and deeper into a double dip recession.

    It is going to be politically impossible to continue the Senate LAunch system particularly as it drones on to the highest launch cost in history.

    You wrote:

    “But the current scatterbrain direction of the newspace efforts suggest that SLS and MPCV could become operational about the same time as commercial crew to ISS”

    HAH. NASA HSF has never met a deadline it couldnt not meet and tell us all why (space is hard you know) and the Senate Launch System will prove no different. Sadly this is the fault of NASA HSF. Those folks simply cannot manage anything any more. I sometimes wonder how they manage to flood the local eateries here at lunch. Those decisions must take all morning to come to.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    “Not really, if you revisit the Rogers report. Such is the symptoms of an aging bureaucracy. The management vs. engineering culture was pretty much in place. The ‘going in circles’ nature of the vehicle they were operating was decidely less motivating and quite a come down after destination projects like Apollo. ”

    that is in my view the worst indictment possible of any organization and all parts of it.

    Engineering is, well it should be a calling. If one is going to do engineering on anything the “joy” should be in the notion of practicing ones profession and doing it well. Bob Overmyer was a joy to be with and fly with and no matter what he was doing he took “test flying” pretty seriously, and I imagine did so even on his last flight.

    I agree with Vulture…the shuttle was a far harder technical and management challenge then Apollo. Apollo was really a stunt…it was a one of effort that had no hint at operational. Making a system work, to do a task, to accomplish day in and day out a mission is a far more demanding task…

    And yet I sadly think your statement is true. I hear the whinning of the folks (who are my neighbors) from JSC about how they need to be “inspired” …which is goofy. As I remind them “there are people on their fifth combat tour in either Afland or Iraq…why do we have to inspire you?”

    The phrase “going around in circles” is another one of those ‘rising tides lift all boats” goofy sayings. It is designed to try and make something seem less then it is and something else more then it is.

    NASA HSF must live and deal with the legacy that it killed 14 people and had near misses on others due to institutional incompetence. HAd they done this with an airliner…they would all be in front of the Harris county grand jury for manslaughter.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 8th, 2011 at 10:08 am

    The reality is that the SLS and MPCV have very strong, very unified, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

    So did Constellation. Don’t confuse subcommittee support for Congress in general.

    But the current scatterbrain direction of the newspace efforts suggest that SLS and MPCV could become operational about the same time as commercial crew to ISS.

    That statement doesn’t even make sense.

    “NewSpace”, which includes aerospace stalwarts like Boeing, OSC and SNC, is very focused on developing cargo & human transportation to LEO at cost levels far lower than what NASA can achieve on their own. Nothing “scatterbrain” about that, and completely separate from the NASA MPCV and SLS efforts (by law MPCV is only a backup for ISS support).

    The MPCV could become “operational” by 2016, but it wouldn’t have a meaningful purpose since there are no complementary missions that are being funded for it. It would be limited to extended test flights, which could involve flights around the Moon, but otherwise just flying around in a small aluminum can. Oh the glory.

    The SLS isn’t even defined, so it’s hard to see how anyone can say when even a first flight could occur, must less be “operational”. And who knows when, or if, it will ever be rated for humans to fly on it.

    But let’s pretend that both the MPCV and the SLS could be ready to go in 2016 – then what? There are no missions funded for them, so while you could stick a 20t capsule on top of a 130t capable rocket, beyond validating the configuration the SLS is still a rocket with no meaningful payload.

    No budget for an EDS. No budget for expandable living quarters for the MPCV so it could test out Zubrin-type long duration flying. And certainly no funding for a lunar mission.

    When will payloads & missions designed for the SLS be ready? Heck, I’ll make it easier – when will Congress fund said programs?

    Well Nelson?

  • Blackjax

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 7th, 2011 at 6:33 pm
    “Commercial crew has a foot in the door, and if they do not mess up (one major challenge will be the limited market size) they might own LEO within 10 years, but they really don’t have the capability or political backing to be able to leave earth orbit.”

    You seem to be overlooking the obvious place this capability will be coming from (pay close attention to the parts about propulsion modules and radiation shielding)

    http://moonandback.com/2011/06/03/robert-bigelows-keynote-address-at-the-2011-isdc-governors-gala/

    …and assuming that this *must* happen via NASA rather than from a more likely source (which doesn’t care about political backing). Bigelow might not mount such a mission on a lark, but he sure as hell would if there was deamnd from tourists and/or sovereign clients.

    http://www.spaceadventures.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Lunar.welcome

    There is even an outside chance that they might be able to arrange a landing…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2FpFZXWrvs

    Once you’ve done it once, all the hardware design and planning is done so you can do it again. You may even be able to reuse much of the hardware because I doubt he’d do it such they you throw much away each time. As far as I know, Apollo didn’t reuse much across missions (which contributed to high costs), I suspect private missions would maximize reuse leading to lower costs for followon missions if they can just somehow make the first one happen.

  • John

    NASA is a shell of its former self. ATK is NASA today, so any program concepts and hardware requirements have to be sanctioned by ATK. That’s the main reason why America does not have a crew vehicle and why the deal was cut with the Russians up through 2016.

  • pathfinder_01

    “If CCDev2 is successful, and commercial crew happens in a reasonable timeframe, at reasonable cost, then the commercial school of thought will gain greater credibility. But the current scatterbrain direction of the newspace efforts suggest that SLS and MPCV could become operational about the same time as commercial crew to ISS.”

    I would rather doubt that. Commercail crew plans to use Atlas and Falcon 9 as boosters both are exsiting boosters. SLS is yet to be built. Orion is a little ahead of the CST-100 but behind Dragon. If Dragon had had a life support system the crew would have lived on the first flight and there are commercially available life-support systems now thanks to CCDEV1.

    Orion at best plans a unmanned test flight in 2013. CST100, and others plan both unmanned test flights and first manned flights in 2014 and 2015. Orion has to wait for SLS to be ready and that puts it at 2016(and even worse as NASA does not think it can be ready by then). Orion has a big political delay (can’t use Delta for crew)…CCDEV does not.

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