Congress, NASA

A (partial) SLS competition in the works?

Reports on Thursday indicated that NASA has settled on a design for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster that would be largely shuttle-derived, but would offer some room for competition. According to Aviation Week and NASASpaceFlight.com, the SLS design will be only slightly different from the reference design released in an interim report to Congress in January, using a core stage based on the shuttle’s external tank and fitted with Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs), later transitioning to the RS-25E expendable variant. The upper stage would use the J-2X engine slated to begin test firings this month at the Stennis Space Center.

That reference design had originally called for the use of five-segment solid rocket boosters. While the reports indicated that SRBs will be used for initial launches, there will be a competition between SRBs and a liquid-propellant booster built by Teledyne Brown and powered by a variant of Aerojet’s AJ-26 engine (itself based on Russian NK-33 engines), at least for the “evolved” beyond Earth orbit SLS version. That approach would at least partially address calls for an open SLS competition made earlier this week by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), which came on the heels of a similar letter by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), especially since Teledyne Brown is based in Alabama and Aerojet is headquartered in California.

According to NASASpaceFlight.com, a formal announcement of the SLS plan would come on July 8, the same day as the last shuttle mission is scheduled to launch. That could address some concerns about the lack of details about the follow-on to the shuttle. The NASASpaceFlight.com article cites an “impassioned” speech by shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach after a recent countdown simulation where he was critical of the lack of information regarding what happens after the shuttle. “The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said. “I’m embarrassed that we don’t have better guidance out of Washington DC.”

166 comments to A (partial) SLS competition in the works?

  • Mark R, Whittington

    That certainly throws light on how Shelby was persuaded to go along with the idea of a “competition” for the strap-on boosters. Both ATK and the Teledyne/Aerojet partnership, which have facilities in Huntsville, get to wet their beaks. It us how sauages and rockets get made, apparently.

  • What comes after Shuttle?!

    International Space Station.

    Commercial Crew and Cargo.

    Senate Launch System.

    Why do some people keep pretending nothing will be happening? I think it’s just because they can’t let go of the status quo.

  • 101

    ESAS “Cargo Launch Vehicle” (CaLV) AKA Augustine 5C AKA First mission 2022 and only after a budget increase

  • red

    It us how sauages and rockets get made, apparently.

    Or, it’s how $25B powerpoints of rockets are made. It’s the famous “crony socialism” we hear so much about.

    Let’s hope the competition isn’t just limited to 2 politically selected contenders.

    So … if for the sake of argument we assume that it isn’t viable to do the honest and sensible thing, and compete the whole SLS if we are forced to have one in the first place (e.g.: because of political constraints), what would be the next highest priority item to compete on the SLS? Consider things like development cost, operational cost, schedule, shared costs with existing or potential rockets, potential other dual use (e.g.: depot hardware, etc).

    Similar ideas for competing parts of MPCV would also fit here.

  • Major Tom

    “It us how sauages and rockets get made, apparently.”

    An SLS that is this compromised and complex is unlikely to ever “get made”. To appease different constituencies, the vehicle design and its budget now have to accommodate four (maybe five) different engine types. That’s crazy. Saturn V only employed two different engine types. This SLS plan is now more complex than Ares V, and that design wasn’t executable in any useful timeframe under the old budget.

    I’m repeating myself from the prior thread, but they just need to compete the entire SLS.

    ULA can deliver a 75-ton EELV Phase 2 for something over $2.3 billion (call it $2.5 billion).

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/EELVPhase2_2010.pdf

    SpaceX can deliver a 150-ton Falcon derivative for $2.5 billion:

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

    Either of these options is much simpler and will only use one to two different engine types.

    That’s two viable competitors from established launch companies, each of which costs a fraction of the nearly $7 billion SLS budget (FY11-13) in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. NASA could have two, operationally redundant, and competing HLLVs and still have $2 billion left over through FY13 for other human space exploration hardware development. (You know, the payloads that are suppossed reason for the existence of the SLS.) Or NASA could just pick one option and have $5 billion left over through FY13 for other human space exploration hardware development.

    But no, to appease various rocket engine constituencies, we’re planning to blow $7 billion through FY13 on an unaffordable and unexecutable, four- to five-engined SDLV that will still need at least another $7 billion to complete development by the congressionally mandated 2016 goal. Several rocket engine manufacturers will be fat and happy, but we won’t have an operational HLLV or any budget leftover to put payloads on top of it.

    Here’s hoping OMB and the White House reject this plan.

    Sigh…

  • amightywind

    The opponents of Ares 4.5 have effectively thrown sand in the gears of this nascent program with the help of Shelby. It is hard to justify spending billions on new booster development, particularly since Aerojet’s AJ-26 is so troubled, and ATK’s SRBs are ready for delivery.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R, Whittington wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    “. It us how sauages (sic) and rockets get made, apparently.”

    LOL, Mark you have not gotten a major thing correct in over a decade and you dont have it correct here. Are you enjoying watching yet another bush program die after screwing the country?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    “The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said.

    …………………..

    yet another NASA idiot who has risen to some level of authority.

    The “bad planning” came out of Hanley’s office which couldnt after spending 12 billion dollars get a thing flying. Leinback ought to go on the unemployment line and find out how hard he would have to work at a real job.

    Not one that is technowelfare where he and his team have not had to produce a single thing of value in relation to the cost that they have for The Republic.

    Robert G. Oler

  • what would be the next highest priority item to compete on the SLS?

    How to actually perform its mission (whatever it is, other than job preservation), to determine whether it is needed at all.

  • amightywind

    How to actually perform its mission (whatever it is, other than job preservation), to determine whether it is needed at all.

    Why don’t you bring that healthy skepticism to the utterly pointless ISS and its equally pointless resupply mission?

  • John Malkin

    Major Tom wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I’m repeating myself from the prior thread, but they just need to compete the entire SLS.

    ULA can deliver a 75-ton EELV Phase 2 for something over $2.3 billion (call it $2.5 billion).

    Is NASA acting as the prime contractor in the development of the Ares I, Ares V and now SLS as compared to development of Atlas, Delta and other rockets? It just seems these NASA rockets and Shuttle were very piecemeal in design.

  • Is NASA acting as the prime contractor in the development of the Ares I, Ares V and now SLS as compared to development of Atlas, Delta and other rockets?

    It is attempting to. It is likely to continue to fail. The Shuttle’s prime contractor was Rockwell International and the station’s (once they gave up on the disastrous work-package scheme) was Boeing.

  • Dennis Berube

    Although an orbiting outpost could have been built for less (Mir as an example), I think having an orbiting foothold is important. Until something like perhaps Bigelows station can take its place, ISS hasand can be used to push the boundaries of science to the limits. Personally I am not sad to see the shuttle go as I think after the Apollo flights a greater effort should have been made at moving out into the solar system. A 20 man lunar base as a starter would be the way to go! Having a permanence on another celestrial body would be of great benefit for mankind! As to bidding for contracts with regards to NASA, I thought everyone here was rooting for SpaceX??????

  • MrEarl

    According to Nasaspaceflight.com, Boeing will be the prime contractor for this SLS.
    For better or worse, this is what NASA will be spending a large portion of their budget on for the next few years. It seems petty and childish to me to hope for the failure of this project so you can have bragging and “I told you so” rights on a couple of internet blogs.
    The focus now should be to find ways to best put this capability to use whether with HSF or the huge cargo carring ability of this launcher.
    For human space flight, the ability to be flexable in our approch by using our capabilities to take advantage of opprotunities as they present themselves is essential. But there must be a real plan or path for us to follow that will expand the human presence into the solar system. In my view, “Flexable Path” as explained by the current adminiostration, does not come close to doing that. In fact, it replaces a plan that did just that.

  • If you configure the shuttle derived LOX/LH2 core booster like the Delta IV heavy (three core boosters plus an upper stage) then you don’t need SRBs or hydrocarbon strap-ons. In 2006, Boeing proposed a Delta Super Heavy with three 8 meter in diameter LOX/LH2 core vehicles plus an upper stage that could lift 146 metric tonnes into low Earth orbit.

    The shuttle derived 8.4 meter core vehicles could probably lift even more payload into orbit if configured like the Delta Super Heavy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:56 am nope…failure is a good thing sometimes, and in the case of a SDV HLV failure is a good thing. And telling people who get things wrong that “I told you you were wrong” is well satisfying at times. RGO

  • MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    = = = According to Nasaspaceflight.com, Boeing will be the prime contractor for this SLS. * * * The focus now should be to find ways to best put this capability to use whether with HSF or the huge cargo carrying ability of this launcher. = = =

    I propose SLS be used to deploy LEO and EML fuel depots with the intention of facilitating lunar surface access for as many private and national participants as possible. Deploy EML Gateway depots to support robust and diverse lunar exploration, including prototype lunar fuel ISRU.

    I see this as a variation of Jeff Greason’s top level strategic vision.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    As to bidding for contracts with regards to NASA, I thought everyone here was rooting for SpaceX?

    I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space.

    SpaceX has been doing that, so I do root for them, and competition in general lowers costs too (as well as increasing innovation).

    The SLS won’t lower the cost to access space, since it requires $Billions of upfront tax dollars to get to the first flight, and Congress has provided ZERO funds to build the payloads and missions that can only be flown on the SLS. Where are the savings?

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    It seems petty and childish to me to hope for the failure of this project so you can have bragging and “I told you so” rights on a couple of internet blogs.

    In case you hadn’t noticed yet, the U.S. is a little short on money. If Congress were able to identify a funding stream for the use of the SLS, I might be more inclined to support it. But they haven’t, and in fact the likely trend is that money will be cut from the NASA budget, so what would be the use of building a mega-rocket if you don’t have the funding to use it? Answer me that Einstein?

    But there must be a real plan or path for us to follow that will expand the human presence into the solar system.

    I kind of view thinking like this as a comparison between the Soviet model of a planned economy, and Capitalism (i.e. the U.S. model).

    - The Soviet model set a goal, and marched towards it regardless whether conditions changed – and we all know how that worked out.

    - Capitalism tends to work better even though it is less organized, because it focuses on what works, and is more nimble in changing to market conditions.

    So it is with “space”. We need capabilities more than we need destinations, and that’s what the current Administration wants to focus on (me too).

    In my view, “Flexable Path” as explained by the current adminiostration, does not come close to doing that.

    Maybe you need to reread the Augustine report to see what “Flexible Path” really means. And except for that silly 2020 return to Moon date, the current play mirrors the VSE pretty closely.

    In fact, it replaces a plan that did just that.

    You keep forgetting that Congress agreed that the previous plan (aka Constellation) was a fiscal nightmare, and they shut it down. Let’s not take any inspiration from that mistake.

  • amightywind

    The shuttle derived 8.4 meter core vehicles could probably lift even more payload into orbit if configured like the Delta Super Heavy.

    Such a modest vehicle would only be 90′ wide and sport 15 SSMEs, and I’m not ever sure it could get off the ground. I would rather see a single 8.4m core surrounded by 6 ATK SRBs, kinda like a big Delta II.

    Someone needs to clue you folks in. Mental masturbation is not a space program! The problem with US space at the moment is the sheer number of poets, politicians, and Internet entrepreneurs who fancy themselves rocket designers.

  • James C

    Might as well invite PWR to the party. The F-1A would get you to SRB thrust with only 2 engines.

  • Manny Bergstrom

    “we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said.

    NASA is supposed to be the US government’s expert on civil space and so I would put the main blame on NASA in Washington. This something that goes back several years. A Shuttle derived heavy lift should have been in hand for a more reasonable price, and commonality could have kept Shuttle flying as required until a replacement were available, and could have kept the largest number of current/past people working without interruption. Who should have been the proponents: the people who know the Shuttle system the best. We’ve heard basically nothing from Gerstenmaier and his friends. Now they talk about a Shuttle derived booster and it will take rehiring those who are available, retraining, restarting assembly lines, far more expense, and we still have a significant gap.

    I am happy that Mr. Leinbach, a high ranking NASA senior executive, has finally spoken up about the poor, really nonexistent leadership coming from NASA Headquarters. The entire lot of them, including Bolden Garver and Gerstenmaier, should be fired. They’ve caused the US, the human space program, and many of our friends and neighbors irreparable harm.

  • amightywind

    You keep forgetting that Congress agreed that the previous plan (aka Constellation) was a fiscal nightmare

    Fiscal nightmare? Let me remind you that in the last 3 years while NASA has had an increasing budget we have done exactly squat in Constellation’s place. The money is still being gleefully spent on hippy camp outs in Antarctica. The opportunity cost of leadership dithering over an HSF program has been over $10 billion in that time.

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, SpaceX is not doing it YET!!! If MAY, but until one of their rockets lift off carrying either supplies andnot just a chunk of cheese, it still hasnt done a thing with regards to aiding our ailing space program. I truly hope that Musk can carry out what he says, but we have to wait and see. Obviously Delta, and Atlas are not going to lower cost that much with regards to carring cargo and or people. How much is a seat aboard Boeings CST-100 aboard a Delta going to cost????????????????

  • Ex Facto

    I am happy that Mr. Leinbach, a high ranking NASA senior executive, has finally spoken up about the poor, really nonexistent leadership coming from NASA Headquarters. The entire lot of them, including Bolden Garver and Gerstenmaier, should be fired. They’ve caused the US, the human space program, and many of our friends and neighbors irreparable harm.

    I know of fourteen ex-astronauts that might disagree with your assessment.

    If they were still alive, of course.

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    The debate has raged for 2 years, the compromises have been made and like I said, for better or worse, this is NASA’s direction for LV development. As for money, it’s going to be spent on the SLS so it’s best to make the investment successful rather than wasteful of limited resources.
    Later you mischaracterize what space exploration is.
    “I kind of view thinking like this as a comparison between the Soviet model of a planned economy, and Capitalism (i.e. the U.S. model).
    - The Soviet model set a goal, and marched towards it regardless whether conditions changed – and we all know how that worked out.
    - Capitalism tends to work better even though it is less organized, because it focuses on what works, and is more nimble in changing to market conditions.
    So it is with “space”. We need capabilities more than we need destinations, and that’s what the current Administration wants to focus on (me too).”
    It really has nothing in common with economics, rather it’s more like project management. A project needs hard, realistic goals, timelines and resource estimates to be successful. Without that you don’t know which capabilities are best to expend your limited resources on. Successful capitalism is the story of successful project management. “Flexable Path” provides none of these. I think you should read the Augustine report. It replaces a plan to reach Mars via return to the moon with nothing more than a list of nice places to visit and technologies that it may be cool to develop.
    Another thing you need to realize is the distinction between the VSE and Constellation.
    The Vision for Space Exploration was a plan to expand the human presence into our solar system and Constellation was concocted by Griffin to achieve that. While Constellation was poorly managed and fiscally irresponsible the VSE still presents a very reasonable plan to extend the human presence into our solar system.

  • The debate has raged for 2 years, the compromises have been made and like I said, for better or worse, this is NASA’s direction for LV development.

    It is this year. Just wait until the real money crunch hits in the next Congress. Or even FY 2013.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m repeating myself from the prior thread, but they just need to compete the entire SLS.

    No, they should procure launch services fairly, competitively and redundantly instead of relying on a single source launcher that will not help reduce launch costs and will get in the way of alternatives that would.

  • common sense

    ““The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said. “I’m embarrassed that we don’t have better guidance out of Washington DC.””

    Funny how it is always some one else’s fault when something fails. I am not sure the kind of leadership that is being craved here.

    This WH and NASA leadership proposed a plan to help reboot NASA after the abismal Constellation.

    Congress thought they would carry on with those rockets to nowhere thingies. In the end no rocket and no MPCV will be built following Congress’ wishes.

    So the executive branch did provide leadership and direction. The legislative branch mingled with it to the point of near failure for both plans.

    What is it that Leinbach actually wants? A free check to go build something? To preserve his job? What is it? Maybe he should try and tell us. And be he reminded that Congress signs the check, not the WH. So if he has someone to blame maybe, just maybe, he ought to point the finger in the correct direction.

    Whatever.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Let me remind you that in the last 3 years while NASA has had an increasing budget we have done exactly squat in Constellation’s place.

    I know this is a little over your head, but the last vestiges of Constellation were only eliminated from the budget recently (Shelby’s fault), and NASA only announced the end of the program this month. It takes a while to undo a colossal failure like Constellation, and unfortunately it still has zombie bits and pieces that are dying a slow but inevitable death (SLS for sure).

    Meanwhile the COTS program has continued to rack up successful milestone completions, and CCDev not only completed round 1 of their tasks, but NASA awarded round 2.

    Luckily the real world doesn’t live in your alternate reality… ;-)

  • MrEarl

    So Rand, we should hope for failure and that the money we spend in FY’11 and ’12 gets waisted rather than deal with and make adjustments for a constrained budget in later years?

  • Coastal Ron

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

    Dennis, I’m going to change your sentence by one word, and you’ll see what the true problem is:

    NASA is not doing it YET!!! If MAY, but until one of their rockets lift off carrying either supplies andnot just a chunk of cheese, it still hasnt done a thing with regards to aiding our ailing space program.

    Commercial space, which includes SpaceX, has been constantly making progress these past years, and will be doing even more if commercial crew continues to be funded.

    What has NASA done absent the ISS and Shuttle for human spaceflight? Constellation was cancelled because they spent too much and did too little, and that pattern is getting ready to be repeated with the SLS.

    There is no funding for using the SLS, so I don’t know why we are building it? “Build it and money will magically appear in the budget” is more an article of faith than a realistic HSF plan.

  • DCSCA

    “Reports on Thursday indicated that NASA has settled on a design for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster that would be largely shuttle-derived, but would offer some room for competition.”

    Another Rube Goldberg rocket. A SLS based on shuttle-derived technology is another expensive ticket to no place. Management and planning practices from the three decades of LEO operations have been less than stellar in reliabilty, costs and safety. The quicker NASA is purged of shuttle era managment and planning who excel at going in circles, the better.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    this is NASA’s direction for LV development.

    I agree with Rand – I think 2013 is when the real budget crunch will hit NASA, and a government-built launcher that has no funded payloads or missions will be high on the list to cancel.

    As for money, it’s going to be spent on the SLS so it’s best to make the investment successful rather than wasteful of limited resources.

    Oh I think the whole darn SLS should be put out for bidding, so I’m definitely in favor of limiting the damage from this brand new train wreck.

    It really has nothing in common with economics, rather it’s more like project management.

    Space is not a “project” or a “program”, it is a vast place. In order to have a “project”, you have to have goals, and the SLS doesn’t have any.

    What are the published goals for the SLS beyond payload to orbit? Who is the customer? What are the payloads? What is the problem that it solves?

    Until someone can answer these convincingly, the SLS will continue to be deemed as a jobs program, not a true need.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    “So Rand, we should hope for failure and that the money we spend in FY’11 and ’12 gets waisted rather than deal with and make adjustments for a constrained budget in later years?”

    Ah come on. No one hopes for failure. We obviously know it will fail, it is a major difference. The money will be wasted because eventually it is not enough money no matter what you might think to build an SLS and an MPCV. Further there is no money for any mission of any kind associated with these systems. None. Zip. Nada.

    A failure it already is to the trained eye. That is all.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    …the VSE still presents a very reasonable plan to extend the human presence into our solar system.

    And except for the silly 2020 Moon date, the proposed budgets by the current administration support the VSE very closely. Go look at the four “Goals and Objectives” of the VSE if you don’t believe me:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration2.pdf

    Where is the current administration NOT supporting the VSE?

  • Manny Bergstrom

    I know of fourteen ex-astronauts that might disagree with your assessment.

    If they were still alive, of course.

    Huh?

    Disagree that the high ranking senior executive Leinbach spoke up and called NASA Headquarters leadership lacking? Or unhappy at the thought of losing the people who have shown no leadership?

  • John Malkin

    This is about Ares I:

    NASA Administrator Mike Griffin told a Senate panel Wednesday that development of Orion crew spacecraft and the Ares launch vehicle will be delayed four to six months, pushing the first operational flight of the new system into 2015.

    Griffin said the slip is unavoidable in the face of a flat 2007 budget that denies NASA’s exploration program about half of the more than $900 million increase it was seeking

    Jeff Hanley, who heads NASA’s Constellation Office, told reporters this morning that he was optimistic about making a 2015 goal to have Ares I ready to loft crews to the International Space Station “but something could pop up … We call those risks,” he said.

    Hanley said the key goals going forward with Ares I would be to gain as much information from Ares I-X as possibly and use that to refine computer models – or guesswork.

    “History would suggest that we probably won’t make 2015,” Hanley said. “This is a discovery process.”

  • Martijn Meijering

    And except for the silly 2020 Moon date, the proposed budgets by the current administration support the VSE very closely.

    The 2020 date isn’t inherently silly at all, it’s choosing to use an SDLV that makes it silly.

  • So Rand, we should hope for failure and that the money we spend in FY’11 and ’12 gets waisted rather than deal with and make adjustments for a constrained budget in later years?

    There is no need to “hope for” failure — failure is as inevitable with this project as it was with Ares, perhaps even more so. Apparently the best we can hope for is for it to happen as soon as possible, to minimize the amount of time and money wasted on it. We wasted five years and over ten billion on Constellation. Let’s hope the cycle is a lot shorter this time. Given the current and coming fiscal state, it likely will be.

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    While Flexable Path and the VSE may share the four goals and objectives, I don’t think that’s entirely right but for sake of argument I’ll accept your premis for now, the key difference between the two are that the VSE sets out a plan to achive them while Flexable Path does not.
    “Space is not a “project” or a “program”, it is a vast place. In order to have a “project”, you have to have goals, and the SLS doesn’t have any.”
    Here again you mis-understand the differrence between the VSE and the projects needed to implement it. The VSE has the goals and that is a progressive expansion of the human race into our solar system. The SLS project is just one peice needed to achieve those goals. Along with that we need Orion crew vehical project, a lander project and so on.

    So if I understand your argument, you agree that Flexable Path has no real concreate goals and what is needed is a set of concreate goals, like the VSE?

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron you seem to forget all that NASA has done. The miracles of modern space science are numerous, to many to list here. As to this idea of a rocket to nowhere, how can anyone seriously thinking of a run at either an asteroid or Mars, say such a thing. Sure smaller rockets could assemble a vehicle in orbit, but there too is more cost with a greater number of launches, and greater odds of experiencing a failure. Im not against SpaceX by any means and truly hope for their success. I would like to follow Musk in his idea of retiring on Mars, but I doubt it will happen. NASA has certainly launched more than cheese to space, and as I have said above, until SpaceX does it, it doesnt much help the situation, now does it. Promises, promises dont make a space program. How many of our politicians lie to us on a continual basis? I truly hope the Falcon Heavy delivers, but how many can Musk build a year? If we have to continually wait for the product, it doesnt help much either.

  • America’s spaceflight future looks a brighter than it has since Columbia was lost. This is due to NASA and political leadership.

    We have 2 low cost launchers in end stage dev for cargo (and crew not far behind) – 2012 /2014?
    We have a 130 T Heavy Lift architecture decided on and practical steps being taken – 2016/7?
    We have a 70T Medium heavy in the offing at a good price – 2014/5?
    We have Orion & Dragon also well along in development-2013/2015?
    We have traditional Atlas and Delta Rockets – NOW for a price

    We have the ISS well stocked for another decade aloft
    We have Bigelow’s inflatable habitat modules also well along in dev

    And perhaps most positively, the pricing of contracts is under scrutiny for cost savings!

    In two years, maybe three, the USA should be having significant launch capability across a range of payload sizes and costs. Could we have more capability cheaper, maybe?

    Fro now; pick your destination and launch vehicle from what is likely to be available in the next 7 years. It may have seemed haphazard in planning and implementation but there are real results being achieved and it will only get better (unless you get a layoff notice from NASA).

  • Dennis Berube

    As to the waste concerning Constellation. It seems that NASA is attempting to salvage some of it back via the development of the new crewed vehcle, which is patterned after Orion. Also the heavy lift is apparently on a parallel with the larger Ares to some degree, utilizing some of the shuttle hardware. The money afforded jobs and paid wages, so even if there are design changes I dont see it as a total waste. I keep hearing NASA is a jobs program, well if they put out bids for their hardware, that is money still going toward jobs no matter how you loook at it, which is only directed at other possible candidate companies. The only difference is the hope to get the job done for less. Im for free competition, if it can be delivered, but with regards to the space program, it has been shown time and again, it ain’t easy getting to space!

  • MrEarl

    CS:
    While I think that you route for your cause, I also believe that meny on this blog route for failure, sort of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    If Orion and SLS are failures mankind will not be exploring past LEO for a very long time. ( No, a Souiz slingshot of a couple of tourists around the moon is NOT space exploration ).

  • common sense

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    “And except for the silly 2020 Moon date, the proposed budgets by the current administration support the VSE very closely.

    The 2020 date isn’t inherently silly at all, it’s choosing to use an SDLV that makes it silly.”

    No. All the dates in the VSE were silly. They were based upon a best case scenario, regardless of the LV. But I would say this. The VSE was devised at a time when O’Keefe was in charge and he proposed to address it with the spiral approach, which is “Flexible Path” with another name. I do not know how much input O’Keefe had into the VSE but the dates were probably more feasible following his plan. They changed the approach without changing the timeline. It is utterly silly.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @common sense:

    Yes, I was assuming use of spiral development. Are you saying 15 years isn’t enough for a capsule and a lander given the budgets that the Shuttle and Constellation have had?

  • Ex Facto

    Disagree that the high ranking senior executive Leinbach spoke up and called NASA Headquarters leadership lacking? Or unhappy at the thought of losing the people who have shown no leadership?

    No, I was referring to your claim that the current NASA leadership has grievously injured your friends and neighbors by terminating Constellation, more greivously than the previous NASA leadership who has killed fourteen astronauts with the space shuttle. At least they had the foresight to gracefully end the shuttle program, but I admit it is regrettable that they replaced it with failure, while remarking that the failure of Constellation and the anticipated failure of SLS at least hasn’t killed or injured anyone

    yet.

    The shuttle operations team and managers appear to have very short memories, and little or no understanding of the costs of their program.

  • If Orion and SLS are failures mankind will not be exploring past LEO for a very long time

    Utter nonsense. Orion and SLS are neither necessary or sufficient conditions for exploring past LEO. Money wasted on them is money that could be much better used for more effective projects toward that end.

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    “Yes, I was assuming use of spiral development. Are you saying 15 years isn’t enough for a capsule and a lander given the budgets that the Shuttle and Constellation have had?”

    I can only correctly speak of what I know really well: CEV.

    The dates for the CEV called for flights of the LAS in Sep 08 somehow to end GWB WH with great fanfarre. Noone knew how to build a proper LAS, and no, it is not a rocket ontop a capsule. There are dynamics and aerothermal issues that are not well understood, I believe to this day. The Sep 08 date was chosen because people thought it simply was such a rocket atop a capsule. That is one example.

    The capsule itself as a standalone is “easy” to build. It is the system of systems that is complicated. The environments that your vehicle has to go through on ascent primarily depends on the LV trajectory of course, all the aborts only are initial conditions problems. Think of it this way, aborts have to be studied for at least: On-pad, max-Q (transonic usually and a real, real, pain), max-Mach, max-Q-alpha, max-heat prior to LAS jettison. Of course a major limitation is to make the crew well… survive! Not to launch a LAS+capsule. This on its own is very difficult.

    Now the initial CEV date was 2012, NASA was pushing 2011. Whatever, I can tell you that NASA was told there was no way to make it 2012 at least after Griffin came on board. And that had little to do with the LV. It was just not possible. System engineering was not that good then and the dates were mostly coming out of a hat. To their defense, when was the last time any one had built a crewed reentry vehicle?… People had to learn everything. Every one had to learn everything, NASA and contractors. So again the dates were very very optimistic. The idea was it was a simple thing to do. Well, no it was not.

    As for the lander… I cannot tell since the requirements were hmm volatile. Difficult to design a lander for anything when the LV does not even exist. The CEV did not even exist! And the LV let me remind you was the driver. They were going to concurrently design the lander and Ares V. Whatever. I do not know of any real work put for a lander using the EELVs back then.

    Finally it is not only about time, but time and cash, time and workforce and cash. People were being trained as they designed the vehicles and had little cash for said training, and little time as well.

    I saw a lot of “know-it-all” people for whom it was going to be a walk in the park. Well… It wasn’t and it ain’t.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    The only bigger waste of capital investment, public or private, is in orbital commercial HSF circles, where LEO operations are going no place fast. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Just like the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich, who has a ‘friend’ in lobbyist Bob Walker and his group who seek to tap the treasury to subsidize, aka socialize, their private space ventures because private capital markets continue to balk. Newtie boasted of saving shuttle and of the need to inspire students at the GOP debate yet told a group of Georgia students in February, 1995 that NASA should have been disbanded after Apollo. Yet commerical HSF has been decidely uninspiring over the same period when America’s economy was in much better shape. His mindless chatter of space stations and moonbases financed by private enterprise was silly– and embarrassing.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The capsule itself as a standalone is “easy” to build. It is the system of systems that is complicated.

    So how far would you estimate Dragon and CST-100 are along that path?

    I do not know of any real work put for a lander using the EELVs back then.

    That of course was a major flaw. But now you are talking about why Constellation could never make the 2020 date, not about why spiral development focussed on just the spacecraft using existing launchers couldn’t make it. I see the progress on Dragon, the Apollo example and Shuttle/Constellation budgets and I have to wonder why you couldn’t build a capsule and lander in fifteen years. Seems like a fairly unambitious target.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    So if I understand your argument, you agree that Flexable Path has no real concreate goals and what is needed is a set of concreate goals, like the VSE?

    At this point in our capabilities, we need more capabilities, not more destination goals (what I see you meaning by “concrete goals”).

    We (the U.S.) can’t even get crew to LEO on our own right now, so I see that as a capability that needs to be put in place, since operating in LEO is a basic function for our expansion into space. However, this strategic capability is being pooh-poohed so that we can build a rocket that doesn’t even have a funded payload or mission. Priorities are not in their right place.

    If you put basic capabilities in place, like crew transportation to LEO, fuel depots, space-only spacecraft, every place becomes a lot easier to reach – that is what I like about Flexible Path, is that it doesn’t lock you into ONE location, it allows you to go EVERYWHERE.

    I prefer not to have my choices limited.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Coastal Ron you seem to forget all that NASA has done.

    Chances are I know more about what NASA has done than you, but what NASA has done in the past has nothing to do with the future.

    The miracles of modern space science are numerous, to many to list here.

    The “miracles” that modern space science brought us back in the 60′s & 70′s have been supplanted by the “miracles” of the military and commercial markets today. Apple drives far more innovation these days than NASA.

    If we have to continually wait for the product, it doesnt help much either.

    It’s not just you Dennis, that have an “expectation” problem, but a lot of people.

    The space industry operates on a scale of years and decades, not months, so what seems glacial to you is pretty fast for aerospace. Look how long it’s taking to get new airliners going these days, and Boeing and Airbus are very experienced companies.

    You also seem obsessed with SpaceX, so I’ll address their schedule. They just flew two successful Falcon 9 launches in the past 12 months, and they have two or more planned for the next 12 months. They’ve already flown one Dragon successfully, and they have two or more planned to fly in the next 12 months. Sounds like a lot of activity to me.

    What does NASA have planned after Atlantis? When will they fly a NASA rocket or NASA spacecraft? 2014? 2016? 2020? Sounds like a lot of waiting.

    In the meantime multiple commercial companies will be launching dozens rockets, and possibly two ore more different types of reusable spacecraft. I’m way more excited and confident in the likelihood of commercial companies succeeding than NASA.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I keep hearing NASA is a jobs program

    The SLS is perceived as a jobs program because it does not address a funded need. Where in the budget is the payload that Congress thinks NASA will launch with the SLS?

    Complex payloads and missions take many years to develop, so if Congress wants the SLS to fly by 2016, there will be no meaningful payloads for it to launch.

    That’s why the SLS is a jobs program – it creates jobs, but it doesn’t do anything else.

  • Ryan Crierie

    I think we’re in for another round of PONR (Politics of NASA Rockets) in a three or four years, when the programmatic realities of trying to restart RS-25 production after several years of a “cold line”, along with trying to integrate RS-68 parts into the SSME to create the expendable RS-25E sink in..

  • @amightywind wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    “Such a modest vehicle would only be 90′ wide and sport 15 SSMEs, and I’m not ever sure it could get off the ground. I would rather see a single 8.4m core surrounded by 6 ATK SRBs, kinda like a big Delta II.”

    As I said, before, it would be similar to Boeing’s 2006 Delta heavy concept which uses 12 RS-68 engines (4 for each core vehicle). 5 RS-25E engines for each core vehicle should be plenty since they are less than half the weight of the RS-68 engines and are more fuel efficient despite their lower thrust. That’s why it would require five SSME.

    Four 5-segment SRBs surrounding a stretched 8.4 diameter core vehicle and and upper stage might push the HLV close to lifting 200 metric tonnes into LEO.

  • @Coastal Ron

    “Complex payloads and missions take many years to develop, so if Congress wants the SLS to fly by 2016, there will be no meaningful payloads for it to launch.

    That’s why the SLS is a jobs program – it creates jobs, but it doesn’t do anything else.”

    By 2017, the SLS will probably be the only vehicle on Earth that can place the 65 tonne Bigelow BA-2100 space stations into orbit. And a single SLS launch should also be able to supply such stations with air, food, water, and other supplies for at least a year.

    And if NASA is serious about developing space fuel depots, then the SLS should be able to place large amounts of LOX/LH2 fuel into orbit cheaper than any other rocket. That means that NASA and private launch companies that utilize LOX/LH2 vehicles that can be refueled in orbit would have easy access to the Lagrange points and lunar orbit.

    But to make full use the the SLS by 2020, we’re going to have to fund the development of a single stage extraterrestrial landing vehicle (ELV) for the lunar surface, the moons of Mars, the largest asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, etc.), and maybe even for manned and unmanned landings at the poles of Mercury and maybe even on the Jovian moon of Callisto.

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    “So how far would you estimate Dragon and CST-100 are along that path?”

    I don’t know much of the CST-100, too early to tell. However I trust Boeing has all the talent and resources if the execs want to do it. They also know how to make it right.

    Dragon has the great advantage that the rockets are being developed either before it or concurrently. In essence what was actually attempted by Constellation. There is one major difference though and it is cost. They have the luxury to get things wrong and do it again and again until it works. Constellation could not afford it. And NASA still can’t. Dragon is already flying and serves as a flying prototype for the crewed Dragon. If you eliminate all the nonsense we read, you’ll see that SpaceX does a lot of things right, e.g. flight testing hardware. What it does wrong no one ever talks about since they don’t know. And those who know won’t talk…

    “That of course was a major flaw. But now you are talking about why Constellation could never make the 2020 date, not about why spiral development focussed on just the spacecraft using existing launchers couldn’t make it. I see the progress on Dragon, the Apollo example and Shuttle/Constellation budgets and I have to wonder why you couldn’t build a capsule and lander in fifteen years. Seems like a fairly unambitious target.”

    It has nothing to do with the technical challenge. There is a technical challenge but there is an organizational challenge and that is where NASA fails. They have to, I repeat, they have to give work to all centers. They have to distribute and collect data to and from all centers. There is no sense of integration at NASA. If you look at the major defense contractors you’ll see that “Integration” is a big deal since they mostly do not build anything themselves anymore. For example: Northrop Grumman had the Integrated Systems sector in charge of the CEV. It is a big deal. What NG had demonstrated is the integration of a major weapon system, the B-2. It was a real strength under O’Keefe. When Griffin basically said that NASA would drive the whole design, and not the contractor, he forfeited that strength. Still the timeline was crazy but no one will ever tell how much under O’Keefe would have been achieved. Most likely a lot more. Again the contractors would have been in charge of the integration, they are experts at that. They would have used the NASA centers via SAA and use the strengths of each center thereby distributing the work. Griffin wanted NASA to be in charge and NASA does not, still, have the expertise for such a major endeavor. This is one of the reason why SLS and MPCV will fail yet again. For NASA to achieve what a defense contractor such as LMT can do well… NASA must become a contractor. NASA is not built to do any of this work. Nothing.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Dennis Berube:

    “As to this idea of a rocket to nowhere, how can anyone seriously thinking of a run at either an asteroid or Mars, say such a thing.”

    If there’s no money to develop the spacecraft to Mars or the Asteroids to put on this rocket, then yeah, it’s pretty easy to say that. When the Saturns were being developed, we pretty much knew what was going to be their payloads, and they were in the developmental pipeline as well.

    Or is this a ‘If you build it (SLS), they (missions for it) will come’ kind of faith?

    Which actually might have some validity, if the developmental *and* operational costs of SLS were seriously low. They won’t be.Given a low-cost HLV, a commercial market *might* be found, and NASA *might* find an application for it as well. (and might afford to, not having to pay for its development)

    But *only* NASA (and reluctantly, in this case) might make use of a launcher that is both expensive *and* heavy-lift.

    “Sure smaller rockets could assemble a vehicle in orbit, but there too is more cost with a greater number of launches…”

    Look up ‘economies of scale.’ Using a larger number of smaller launchers (especially as they already exist and are in production for other users) will cost less per launch. SLS doesn’t exist yet, and may only fly once or twice a year (again, assuming missions worthy of its capacity), with all that implies with unit cost and maintaining launch crew proficiency (and salary for those months in-between)…

    “…and greater odds of experiencing a failure.”

    So if a failure happens, it’s better to lose a big piece of your mission hardware, than a small one? And that also assumes an equal probability of a catastrophic failure for each system. We can say something about EELV reliability at this point. At this time, we have no flight history for SLS, we can say nothing about its reliability.

    “The only difference is the hope to get the job done for less.”

    That is in fact, the point. And one way t do that is without the massive overhead of NASA launcher projects.

  • Four 5-segment SRBs surrounding a stretched 8.4 diameter core vehicle and and upper stage might push the HLV close to lifting 200 metric tonnes into LEO.

    Yes, too bad no one sane would think it worth the money.

  • The TEA Party is firmly behind this bi-partisan push for competition. More senators need to join Senators Boxer, Feinstein, and Shelby.

    My only complaint is why stop at the boosters?

    Wait, that’s right. It’s an 11 billion dollar pork program. We can build a heavy for less. But even if we build the HLV, there are not any payloads to launch within the foreseeable future.

    MPCV can launch on an EELV.

    NASA should re-bid the SLS. It is the fiscally responsible thing to do. We cannot afford more waste in NASA.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew L. Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • And if NASA is serious about developing space fuel depots, then the SLS should be able to place large amounts of LOX/LH2 fuel into orbit cheaper than any other rocket.

    One can only believe that if they are completely ignorant of the economics of space launch.

  • Rhyolite

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    “By 2017, the SLS will probably be the only vehicle on Earth that can place the 65 tonne Bigelow BA-2100 space stations into orbit. And a single SLS launch should also be able to supply such stations with air, food, water, and other supplies for at least a year.”

    Would you want to go the grocery store once a year? Bigelow is planning to run a hotel for paying guests. I suspect he would rather have frequent deliveries of fresh food.

  • Martijn Meijering

    But to make full use the the SLS by 2020, we’re going to have to fund the development of a single stage extraterrestrial landing vehicle (ELV) for the lunar surface, the moons of Mars, the largest asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, etc.), and maybe even for manned and unmanned landings at the poles of Mercury and maybe even on the Jovian moon of Callisto.

    And the fact that you say this without blinking illustrates the intense idiocy of your dreams.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Dragon has the great advantage that the rockets are being developed either before it or concurrently.

    Huh? I’d say that CST-100 has the advantage that it can fly not on one, but on two proven launchers (maybe even three if you count Ariane 5) and on one that is being proven as we speak. Or is that what you meant to say?

    It has nothing to do with the technical challenge. There is a technical challenge but there is an organizational challenge and that is where NASA fails.

    OK, on that I agree, it seems unlikely NASA itself could do it that way. I’ve read that O’Keefe and Steidle dreamed of turning NASA into a procurement and mission execution agency, perhaps with some R&D too. But hypothetically, if an evolutionary exploration program with mostly external (and competitive) hardware development had been followed, do you agree that they could have built a lander and a capsule within 15 years? If so, that would be a good argument for trying to realise O’Keefe and Steidle’s alleged dreams.

  • Martijn Meijering

    By 2017, the SLS will probably be the only vehicle on Earth that can place the 65 tonne Bigelow BA-2100 space stations into orbit.

    Only if it flies and if BA-2100 does so too, both of which are doubtful. But that ignores the main point: Bigelow is only offering BA-2100 as a fig leaf for NASA, so it will have an excuse to build a huge rocket. The whole point of inflatables is that you don’t need a large rocket to deploy large volumes of habitable space. BA-330 would fit easily on an EELV.

    And a single SLS launch should also be able to supply such stations with air, food, water, and other supplies for at least a year.

    Which means there isn’t enough traffic for an SLS. And of course there isn’t because ULA and SpaceX have massive overcapacity as it is.

    But of course you know all this and yet you persist in knowingly peddling falsehoods, which is why no one here takes you seriously.

  • Das Boese

    Not to mention that if NASA were to launch BA-2100 on SLS they will have to do it for free, and if they want to supply it, they will also have to do so for free, because there is no way in hell Bigelow would ever be able to afford it. Of course, NASA could spend even more money that they don’t have and buy the station from Bigelow, except that is ridiculous because they already have a space station which is more capable and versatile.

    BA-2100 does not exist, nor does anything else that would require a SHLV, no matter if it uses SRBs, liquid boosters or magical pixie dust. No. Payload.
    Insanity.

  • common sense

    @ Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 5:34 am

    “Huh? I’d say that CST-100 has the advantage that it can fly not on one, but on two proven launchers (maybe even three if you count Ariane 5) and on one that is being proven as we speak. Or is that what you meant to say?”

    Unlike the EELVs the F9 rocket was developed with crew in mind. So and since it is a system of systems, the F9/Dragon pair has an advantage over CST-100. BUT I am not saying that CST-100 is a bad idea, only it is way behind Dragon at this time. CST-100 MUST rely on the evolution of EELVs to fly, not so Dragon. Do you see what I mean now? I am comparing Dragon with CST-100, not saying CST-100 is bad or anything like that. CST-100 MUST assume little difference for a crew EELV and a cargo EELV, which is reasonable but not guaranteed.

    As for 15 years… I do not know. If you assume the job started in 2004 that would assume a lander by 2019 and that I seriously doubt would have happeend. Too many unknowns. But who knows? For sure Ares I/V killed it, no chance it would have happened.

    Every one knew it.

  • common sense

    BTW the EELVs/Ariane are “proven” launchers but not for crew and I am not talking about human rating stuff.

    FWIW…

  • Scott Bass

    You know most of us here are old enough to understand cycles, although it’s true that the budget is a mess right now we have all lived through similar situations, perhaps bot as bad and surely not as hammered by doom Sayers and the media but one thing is for sure, when the economy does rebound slot of this debt will disappear and we will end up in surplus again, NASA still will not get all the money it wants but they will also still move forward just like always

  • Dennis Berube

    With NASA on the verge of announcing its new rocket design well gents it looks like the solid boosters are going to fly on NASAs new Heavy lift.

  • kayawanee

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    MPCV can launch on an EELV.

    That’s true, but could it be a manned launch? My understanding is that the current payload limits for both Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V are about 50, 000 lbs, roughly the weight of the MPVC. However, to launch with a crew, you would need to include a Launch Abort System, which could add 10-15 thousand lbs more.

    For that, you would need the upgraded Atlas V Heavy. I think it uses the same first stage, but with two more identical first stages strapped on.

    See the Atlas V product card here:
    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/product_cards/AV_product_card.pdf

    Development costs would be limited, however, at least one, and maybe two test flights would be necessary to prove out the system. Based on Atlas launch costs of about $450 mil in the past, your looking at about $1Billion for development and test.

    Of course, these costs are still light years better than either Ares I or the SLS.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I think the other posters already pointed out the flaws in what you wrote, and I’ll just add the following – you wrote:

    By 2017, the SLS will probably be the only vehicle on Earth…

    And if NASA is serious about developing space fuel depots…

    But to make full use the the SLS by 2020

    Each of these things are what you say are an absolute necessity for the SLS to be used, right?

    Where is the money for them?

    When will Congress add them to NASA’s budget?

    How long will it take them to be developed, built, tested, and ready for launch?

    When will Bigelow, who hasn’t even sold, launched or operated a BA-330 module, get a firm order for a BA-2100? And who needs a space module 6X bigger than a BA-330?

    I guess you don’t realize it but you keep proving our point about the SLS being a jobs program – there is no known or funded need for the SLS. None. Nada. ZERO.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Unlike the EELVs the F9 rocket was developed with crew in mind.

    But unlike Falcon 9 the EELVs have a long track record and the required modifications are believed to be relatively minor. Especially if you keep the capsule small.

    As for 15 years… I do not know. If you assume the job started in 2004 that would assume a lander by 2019 and that I seriously doubt would have happeend. Too many unknowns.

    Because of politics, right? But what I’m getting at is that politics aside it should be possible to develop a capsule and lander within fifteen years on the budget NASA’s been getting. Not the most advanced lander imaginable, but a robust and reliable one that would get the job done.
    That tells you something about how broken NASA is.

  • vulture4

    The Columbia Accident Investigation Board recommended that any successor program to the Shuttle be designed strictly for human flight to LEO. Any attempt to design the next human spacecraft for a more ambitious mission, they predicted, would surely end in failure. This cautionary note was clearly ignored by the Bush administration. With the clarity of hindsight we should note that in this prediction, at least, the CAIB hit the nail on the head.

  • CST-100 MUST rely on the evolution of EELVs to fly, not so Dragon.

    CST-100 is designed to fly on a Falcon 9 as well.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    “You know most of us here are old enough to understand cycles, although it’s true that the budget is a mess right now we have all lived through similar situations,”

    not really unless you are very old…then you will have lived through the run up to what is now called the Depression.

    we are going through a cycle, but it is one of those long term things where the two foundations of The Republics economy; stable economic policy by the government and the foundations of the politics of The Republic simultaneously quit working. Nothing like this has happened since WW2.

    The fundamentals of the economy are broke. The manufactoring base, the key to the engine of the middle class is disapearing. It is not just “jobs that make things”; it is jobs that actually do things that have value in what is done. This is happening through two mechanisms. First corporations are exporting those jobs to other places and people who will do them for far less and second the US is using tax policy to sustain those corporations ie money is flowing from the middle class (and the future) to the most wealthy.

    Our politics is broken as well. We have groups who are now simply mouthing rhetoric for policy and they are controlling the political cycle. If low tax rates for “the wealthy” would have created enough jobs to get us out of this mess, well we never would have gotten into it…andthere are equal (but at least right now) rhetoric coming from the political left.

    Our space policy shows that. Go see the debate about a heavy lift…and really it is about 1) political rhetoric (the Chinese will take over space…) and 2) keeping large corporations in business doing things which have no real value for the cost.

    I think (oddly enough) we are coming out of the cycle where the people of The Republic are satisfied for “CSA” (chicken excrement answers) to those problems but I am not for sure, so far that we have the leaders who can provide real answers.

    Things wont get better for a very long time; they will probably get much worse RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    “NASA should re-bid the SLS.:”

    that is where the entire notion is going unless the entire thing dies RGO

  • @Robert G. Oler
    “Our space policy shows that. Go see the debate about a heavy lift…and really it is about 1) political rhetoric (the Chinese will take over space…) and 2) keeping large corporations in business doing things which have no real value for the cost. “

    I wrote an article a few weeks ago for Yahoo! News about those very points: http://yhoo.it/lWUoOI

  • vulture4

    “The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said.

    I’m glad he said it. Mike is the Shuttle launch director and has done the difficult job of maintaining both safety and productivity for the past several years, including much of the recovery after the loss of Columbia. To my knowledge he had virtually nothing to do with Constellation except as it used his launch pad for the pointless Ares 1-X. He understands NASA’s ignorance of the reasons the Shuttle is expensive, and the reasons we ultimately need fully reusable launch systems for human spaceflight to be even distantly affordable. Given the chance, with the help of a lot of good USA engineers and techs, he could have kept the Shuttle flying safely for another ten years while new systems were brought up to speed. As it is, may of the hard-earned lessons of the last 30 years will now be forgotten.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Given the chance, with the help of a lot of good USA engineers and techs, he could have kept the Shuttle flying safely for another ten years while new systems were brought up to speed. As it is, may of the hard-earned lessons of the last 30 years will now be forgotten.

    A replacement should have been operational by now, and could have been in the late nineties or earlier. The “good USA engineers and techs” have been an obstacle to that all that time. Good riddance to them, even though it might hurt the few good ones among them.

    The main hard-earned lesson of the past thirty years is that Shuttle was a mistake and that it is the kind of mistake that is hard to correct because there are so many vested interests and because space itself doesn’t matter to either the majority of decision makers or the special interests, while pork does matter to the special interests but not to the majority who consequently aren’t willing to fight the pork.

    You are absolutely right that we need RLVs and poster “common sense” is absolutely right that NASA is incapable of developing a lander within any reasonable timeframe. I extrapolate from there that they would also be incapable of developing an RLV in any reasonable timeframe. Not because of the size of the technical challenge (though there’s enough of a challenge there), but because of the size of the economic, organisational and political challenges.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    alright to link on my facebook page? Nice article RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 5:21 pm
    ” Given the chance, with the help of a lot of good USA engineers and techs, he could have kept the Shuttle flying safely for another ten years while new systems were brought up to speed. ”

    anything can be done for money…and when no one cares how much money we spend then anything can be done.

    there are so many issues here with this speech, like should a federal government employee be giving such a speech…even one who is about to walk out the door…to the notion of the fact that the failures on a shuttle replacement were completely NASA’s. They were not Washington’s they were NASA’s.;

    12 billion dollars…there should have been something flyable RGO

  • Fred Willett

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 17th, 2011 at 9:18 pm
    “By 2017, the SLS will probably be the only vehicle on Earth that can place the 65 tonne Bigelow BA-2100 space stations into orbit. ”

    In his ISDC keynote Mr Bigelow mentioned that the DIVH could be evolved to 70t and would be able to lift the BA2100 which comes in at 63t (65t with some water shielding).
    A raptor added to a FH would also be around 70t to LEO.
    For cargo, if you think volume is necessary a FH could lift 53t for $80-125M or 159t for just $300-$375M in 3 launches compared to the expected SLS launch price of $700M – $1.5B (depending on launch rate.)
    Even if the SLS does get built there is not going to be any sort of commercial market for it. It’s too expensive.
    And as there is no funding for NASA payloads…
    And as the economy is going to contract NASA budgets….
    That is why I, and many others see SLS as a problem. It is going to consume the budget that would let us actually do stuff in space.
    Doing something – anything – 20t at a time is far better than waiting 10 years for a 130t LV that is most likely never going to be completed.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “And if NASA is serious about developing space fuel depots”

    If NASA were serious about propellant depots they wouldn’t be trying / pretending to develop an SLS.

  • “alright to link on my facebook page? Nice article RGO,”
    Sure Robert. Go ahead.

  • Scott Bass

    Well thought out Robert, I certainly can’t argue with the logic that things may get worse before they get better….. I watched someone talk about the housing crisis part of it the other day and they basically said that crisis won’t be over til the government let’s it continue to find it’s bottom…..ie let it completely go and let it run back up naturally…… I had this same kind of debate 2.5 years ago, There is a train of thought that too many mistakes were made and a depression is still coming, the world is just trying to buy a soft landing but they are fooling themselves and just delaying a serious recovery, economically we are already a one world order, it will be a global depression not just a U.S. One…….. I can’t say how true this will turn out to be but it does make sense that in life you sometimes have to hit bottom before you can even start climbing out

  • common sense

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    “But unlike Falcon 9 the EELVs have a long track record and the required modifications are believed to be relatively minor. Especially if you keep the capsule small.”

    We will see about the capsule size. Size is not all that matters. I am not disputing the EELVs track record. I always said that had we followed the O’Keefe plan we would have a substantially different CEV flying atop one of them. I am saying that once you modify the LV the track record only is reference. You need to validate all the new systems and it does not mean all will work as intended. So the F9, designed for crew already, has a longer track record than the EELVs. See what I mean?

    “Because of politics, right? …
    That tells you something about how broken NASA is.”

    No not just politics. Again system engineering, workforce knowledge and training and integration. NASA is not designed to do this job, in essence that is. It’s not really “broken”, it’s just not its job to design and build LVs and RVs so you need to change NASA if this is what you want them to do.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ June 18th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    “CST-100 is designed to fly on a Falcon 9 as well.”

    I was trying to address the CST-100/EELV combo. Not the F9 combo. Also I believe the correct phrasing is CST-100 is being designed. As far as I know the design is not finished… The interfacing between EELVs and F9 might not be that trivial. The escape system will require some adjustments. If the get commonality great but it won’t be that easy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    our economy right now is like a fat person who has had a pretty good but not fatal heart attack…instead of making significant lifestyle changes the person is trying to use drugs to cure problems…and in the end all the medications are doing is masking the symptoms until the ticker just cannot tick anymore.

    The medication in this case is “money lots of US money” being printed borrowed or whatever and pumped into organizations which 1) no longer work 2) are no longer relevant to our economy or 3) are designed to prop up the elite in The Republic…which have failed the nation.

    Those are actually not my 3 points, they are Phil Gramm describing the spending that went on before the depression…and yet they fit our current situation so well.

    All the trends were there before Bush the last; but under Bush they simply got out of control as the country 1) went on a spending spree, 2) cut revenue to very low levels and 3) adopted a very low regulation stance…

    Cx is/was such spending. When one gets right down to it, the entire notion of Cx was (or is) ephemeral. There is nothing other then the jobs it creates (GOP loves spending which creates jobs but only in certain areas of the economy) that one gets from the spending. Most of us the vast majority of the nation would have gotten nothing other then a lot of pictures from a lunar landing…there was no hint that anyone other then NASA people were going there…and no real hint of what we got our money for..

    Whittington and other right wingers are always beating up on “high speed rail” which I dont understand because it would even if it never made money serve more people then Cx would have, and cost not much more. In fact it might have changed in certain areas the entire notion of our society for the better. Cx was never going to do that.

    SLS is about the same.

    My rep Pete Olson is always beating up on Obama spending. But Pete likes a lot of spending. He is all for keeping the troops in Afland, all for the second engine for the F-35…all for every dime at JSC…Pete has never met a military project he didnt fall in love with.

    Until we can get that notion under control (that “My spending regardless of what it does is good”) and get it under control that people who make a lot of money owe a lot in taxes so we dont redistribute the wealth of The Republic to them (and that includes space contractors)…well we are going to have that major heart attack.

    The last 10 years have been a disaster in terms of monetary policy…but only because our political engines have almost stopped working.

    Things are going to get better…but we are in for times like we have never seen before *(unless you are very very aged) RGO

  • DCSCA

    12 billion dollars…there should have been something flyable RGO

    Who says, you? In 1980 dollars, they’d invested just over $14 billion by the July, ’80 time frame and shuttle was then two years behind its initially scheduled launch date. Comparatively speaking, adjusted for inflation, $12 billion in 2011 dollars isn’t that much. In fact, the folks sho ‘should have been flying’ by now are the commercial HSF crowd, who have yet to successfuly launch, orbit and safely return anybody while government funded and managed HSF operations have been flying people into and bacxk from space for half a century. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Wonder if Boeing will/would develop a craft maximizing headcount capacity for the SLS? Bigelow might have hotel modules ready for LEO by the time SLS is operational. How cheap can the economy class ticket get?

  • Scott Bass

    It kinda sounds like you would prefer to just let things fail….. It is hard to fault our leaders for doing everything at their disposal to prevent a depression……. But I am increasingly thinking that a great equalization in the so called world economy would actually revitalize our own economy in a decade or two….. Kind of a reset….you may be working for 2.00 an hour but bread might be a .25 again, 20000 dollar houses and 5000 dollar cars, how many jobs would come back to the U.S. In that type of scenario

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    12 billion dollars…there should have been something flyable RGO

    you replied:
    Who says, you? In 1980 dollars, they’d invested just over $14 billion by the July, ’80 time frame and shuttle was then two years behind its initially scheduled launch date. Comparatively speaking, adjusted for inflation, $12 billion in 2011 dollars isn’t that much. …

    Sure it is, it is a lot.

    The FORD CVN (CVNX) has consumed 14 billion dollars. 9 billion of it is research on the ship class, and the ship class is a measured improvement over what it will replace 5 billion is for the ship.

    12 billion is more then has been spent on the two EELV’s and Falcon 1 and Falcon 9. If Musk had spent 12 billion dollar he would have had the Falcon 20 or whatever the next gen is going to be called.

    As you point out they have on Cx almost spent as much as they did on the shuttle, which developed the orbiter, and the ET/Boost phase, including the SSME. Cx had to develop almost nothing comparable.

    If you want to justify the waste, you will have to have better facts. Gemini did the entire program on 5.5 billion…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    “It kinda sounds like you would prefer to just let things fail….. It is hard to fault our leaders for doing everything at their disposal to prevent a depression…”

    my point is that I DONT THINK our leaders are doing everything in their “disposal” to prevent a depression. There is a certain amount of failure needed when the economy breaks, to flush out the failed companies and failed notions of how to do business.

    That is true in space politics and policy as well. The notion that NASA and NASA jobs (including contractors) need to be saved is the same notion that says we have to save oh pick one of hte banks we bailed out. At the very least the people who got us into this mess should suffer and the institutions and programs that got us here should be left on the side of the road as well..

    But no, the TARP even Obama’s bailout (stimulus) and yes spending at NASA is designed to maintain failing institutions with no hint of forcing them to reform.

    Failure has to occur to allow success to triumph. RGO

  • vulture4

    Reliability is not a constant. One needs to look at what problems were encountered, how they were fixed, how quality is maintained. Google “Space Launch Vehicle Reliability” by Chen. The Delta IV upper stage had two consecutive failures (back when it was flying as the Delta III) and the first Delta IV Heavy had both strap-ons fail simultaneously due to an unanticipated error in the fuel flow sensor. All these problems seem to have been corrected. The Delta upper stage has a static load factor of 1.25; this will apparently have to be upped to the arbitrary standard of 1.4 which dates from the precomputer era and was really intended to cover errors in design analysis in manned vehicles that would carry people on their first flight. This is absurd, since the stresses on the Delta have already been measured in actual flight..

    The Atlas is a relatively evolutionary design; my concern is the uncertainty of Russian quality control and the fact that the SRBs cannot be shut down. It’s pretty silly to require a launch abort system but allow a rocket you cannot control. I have also seen an SRB of this type explode without a clear explanation. Rare, but it is questionable a LAS would work in that situation and it means you have to use vehicle destruct for range safety rather than the much safer alternative of thrust termination.

    I think that predicting reliability on the basis of design alone is pure fantasy and even with one or two flights it is very uncertain. The Falcon 9 apparently had some control problems on the first flight which have apparently been corrected. However the Falcon has the simplest design and SpaceX has fewer interfaces, both physical and organizational, where errors creep in. After the Falcon has a dozen unmanned flights under its belt I would rate it the safest of the group.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    In 1980 dollars, they’d invested just over $14 billion by the July, ’80 time frame and shuttle was then two years behind its initially scheduled launch date. Comparatively speaking, adjusted for inflation, $12 billion in 2011 dollars isn’t that much.

    You blew the point you were trying to make, since $14B in 1980 dollars is equal to $37B in 2010 dollars. That would be 3X more money than Constellation consumed.

    In fact, the folks sho ‘should have been flying’ by now are the commercial HSF crowd

    You keep saying this idiotic thing, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    How was the “commercial HSF crowd” supposed to compete with the government-funded Shuttle?

    What destinations were they supposed to fly to?

    Go take a class in Business 101 so you can at least pretend to understand supply & demand market concepts.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    12 billion dollars…there should have been something flyable RGO

    Agreed RGO. That was spent on one vehicle and nothing of value flew. Scaled did more with $20 or so million and that technology development is likely leading to a sustainable business. What’s NASA got to show for their money – nothing period.

    Tick-tock, tick – tock NASA.

    Pot, kettle, black !!

  • DocM

    Constellation Lite.

    Over-complicated evolution with the only near-term goal launching Orion…oopsie….MPCV to some undefined destination and no long term goal other than it’s BEO – maybe – and with a launch rate virtually guaranteed to make it unaffordable on a $$/kg basis.

    As for an 8.4 meter core (and presumably fairing), is there anything other than BA-2100 that would need something that wide, or are we buying a semi when we need a delivery van?

    != impressed.

  • amightywind

    Kind of a reset….you may be working for 2.00 an hour but bread might be a .25 again, 20000 dollar houses and 5000 dollar cars, how many jobs would come back to the U.S. In that type of scenario

    It is very telling how readily the left embraces apocalypse is a domestic policy solution, and even in space policy. As a group they do not merit the political power they inherited by default in the financial crisis. Wouldn’t it be better and easier to cut government spending by 10%, and slash mandates on healthcare and business? Then we might then have a normal recovery.

  • Alan

    Someone needs to clue you folks in. Mental masturbation is not a space program! The problem with US space at the moment is the sheer number of poets, politicians, and Internet entrepreneurs who fancy themselves rocket designers.

    … and Cornell Aerospace Engineering graduates who think they know everything in rocketry because they have a piece of paper from an “ivy league” school in “aerospace” engineering. Might as well received it out of a box of crackerjacks.

  • amightywind

    Might as well received it out of a box of crackerjacks.

    How insulting! I learned everything I know about *rocketry* from an Estes catalog in the 1970′s.

  • kayawanee

    vulture4 wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    The Atlas is a relatively evolutionary design; my concern is the uncertainty of Russian quality control and the fact that the SRBs cannot be shut down. It’s pretty silly to require a launch abort system but allow a rocket you cannot control. I have also seen an SRB of this type explode without a clear explanation.

    I don’t know enough about Russian QC standards to comment on them, so I won’t. As to the second issue, as I pointed out earlier, in order to use the Atlas V to lift the Orion spacecraft with a Launch escape system, you would probably need an Atlas V Heavy. I don’t think that uses any solid rocket boosters. Instead, two liquid boosters, identical to the current first stage core, are strapped on (for a total of three). It’s similar to the Delta IV Heavy configuration. Again, here’s the product card for it.

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/product_cards/AV_product_card.pdf

    Does anybody know if this configuration requires any SRB’s?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 20th, 2011 at 8:21 am
    .” Wouldn’t it be better and easier to cut government spending by 10%, and slash mandates on healthcare and business? Then we might then have a normal recovery.”

    no it would not for two reasons

    First what you suggest would not even come close to fixing the problem that the American economy has. Second it would change dramatically the kind of nation we are, it would turn us from a country bound to the promise of the DOI to a dog eat dog kind of environment where the rich and powerful prey on the weaker folks.

    It would also reward the slothful. One can easily see this in space policy. NASA and its favorite contractors have spent 12 billion dollars, twice what the entire Gemini program took…and have nothing to show for it.

    Why should they be rewarded? RGO

  • Scott Bass

    Someones been watching too much fox news ;)

  • I learned everything I know about *rocketry* from an Estes catalog in the 1970′s.

    We can easily believe that.

  • John Malkin

    amightywind wrote @ June 20th, 2011 at 8:21 am
    .” Wouldn’t it be better and easier to cut government spending by 10%, and slash mandates on healthcare and business? Then we might then have a normal recovery.”

    Is 10% enough? Is that from discretionary or non-discretionary?

    Discretionary spending in FY 2010 was $1.3 trillion, or 38% of total spending. More than half ($815 billion) was security spending, which includes the Department of Defense, overseas contingency programs and Homeland Security.

    http://useconomy.about.com/od/usfederalbudget/p/Discretionary.htm

    Is 10% even close to being enough? The GOP oversimplifies the budget problem in the name of rhetoric. Even the “Tea Party” members knows this fact. Our problem isn’t just discretionary spending but the non-discretionary which takes more than rhetoric to solve. Unfortunately it seems to me our government is more reactive than proactive. SLS will be drawn out until it’s bitter end. Hopefully some good will come from it.

    NASA is discretionary which I think is one of the many issues but make it non-discretionary wouldn’t fix it. This is the reason NASA always gets beat-up by the big bully congress looking for lunch money from the little geek NASA. My hope is that COTS and CCDev will overshadow all this craziness and get past the old status quo. I have hope because COTS and CCDev are both successful NASA programs so far.

  • amightywind

    Is 10% enough? Is that from discretionary or non-discretionary?

    Compared to where we are? The market would do hand springs. Rest assured, I am just as ready to slash grandma’s social security as I am to end ethanol subsidies. The first time I have even been accused of being easy on spending.

    Bolden is talking up
    international cooperation again. Wasn’t it just our policy to build the post shuttle launch system exclusively in the US? These policy changes are giving me whiplash. What is so surprising is that Bolden makes these silly comments knowing has has no support in congress. On a related note, AW is increasingly becoming a shill for newspace. Maybe it is more fun to write about. Time for me to boycott.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Wonder if Boeing will/would develop a craft maximizing headcount capacity for the SLS? Bigelow might have hotel modules ready for LEO by the time SLS is operational. How cheap can the economy class ticket get?”

    sftommy, Boeing can’t develop a craft for SLS to do what you want. SLS is or will be a NASA owned rocket. NASA will decide who, what, and where it goes and taking tourist into space isn’t NASA’s job. In fact NASA is barred by law from selling tickets into space. Only NASA astronauts and those approved by NASA will ride SLS no matter how much money you have or how important you think your research is. It would be like the NAVY using the USS Ronald Reagan for tourist trips. Sure after it is decommissioned a company could in theory offer tourist trips on the ship, but the NAVY cannot.

    Boeing however could develop a craft for its Delta IV heavy rocket. The Delta rocket is owned by Boeing not by NASA or any part of the US government. Boeing could partner with Space X and do something with the Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy is owned by Space X.

  • John Malkin

    “I learned everything I know about *rocketry* from an Estes catalog in the 1970′s.”

    Did you buy one? jk kinda

    I learned BASIC from a TRS-80 manual without writing a single line of code because I couldn’t afford a computer but I eventually did buy a computer and earned college money writing programs to pay for an engineering degree from a non-ivy league university.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So the F9, designed for crew already, has a longer track record than the EELVs. See what I mean?

    I see what you mean and I agree to a point, but it seems to me that the EELVs’ advantage of having a proven track record but not an EDS (being worked on as we speak, and the main thing that’s missing to make it “man-rated”) is greater than that of having a rocket that is designed to carry humans but hasn’t established a track record yet. I thing ULA is closer (technically speaking, not contract-wise) to having a launcher you could confidently launch humans on than SpaceX is.

    It’s not really “broken”, it’s just not its job to design and build LVs and RVs so you need to change NASA if this is what you want them to do.

    Or you could get them out of the launch and crew return business altogether and let them focus on developing deep-space spacecraft such as landers or true spaceships like Nautilus. Would you be opposed to this or do you think it would run into the same organisational limitations?

  • The Delta rocket is owned by Boeing not by NASA or any part of the US government.

    No, the Delta and Atlas are both now owned by the United Launch Alliance, which is jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

  • pathfinder_01

    The Delta rocket is owned by Boeing not by NASA or any part of the US government.

    No, the Delta and Atlas are both now owned by the United Launch Alliance, which is jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

    I thought ULA just builds and launches them….i.e. the company still owns them.

  • ULA owns the manufacturing facilities, the launch facilities, and the intellectual property, i.e., everything. Boeing owns them only through its shared ownership of ULA.

  • common sense

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 20th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    ” it seems to me that the EELVs’ advantage of having a proven track record but not an EDS (being worked on as we speak, and the main thing that’s missing to make it “man-rated”) is greater than that of having a rocket that is designed to carry humans but hasn’t established a track record yet. I thing ULA is closer (technically speaking, not contract-wise) to having a launcher you could confidently launch humans on than SpaceX is.”

    Well. We’ll find out soon enough I guess. I don’t think there is a straight answer to that just now though. Competition is good and that is what matters.

    “Or you could get them out of the launch and crew return business altogether and let them focus on developing deep-space spacecraft such as landers or true spaceships like Nautilus.”

    Agreed. I see no problem with that, only huge savings. I was just trying to address your 15 year comment and assumed you meant NASA would, or not, develop LVs and RVs and landers within 15 years. My answer to that point was again “possible but unlikely” because of all the problems I pointed out.

    “Would you be opposed to this or do you think it would run into the same organisational limitations?”

    Very good question. I think NASA will renew as some for of NACA if it survives and is meaningful. Whether they will “design” vehicles deep space or otherwise remains to be seen…

  • Martijn Meijering

    ULA owns the manufacturing facilities, the launch facilities, and the intellectual property, i.e., everything.

    I’ve heard Boeing and LM retain the rights to use the IP as it was before the creation of ULA.

  • Two articles ran here in the Space Coast on this thread’s topic while I was out of town over the weekend.

    Orlando Sentinel “NASA’S path to the future is ‘clear,’ panel says”

    Florida Today “Frank DiBello: Florida’s Future in Space”

    The latter editorial the Space Florida president had an interesting passage:

    It is incumbent upon our elected representatives to ensure Florida remains at the forefront of national debate when it comes to commercial space, and our state’s political leadership must lead with commitment and one voice.

    I took that as a subtle swipe at Reps. Posey and Adams, who have shown little enthusiasm for commercial space. What does come out of their PR machine is typically insults towards Obama and efforts to preserve their districts’ government pork.

    As for the “one voice,” that might refer to the partisan divide. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, was at the Orlando space forum. Posey and Adams, who are Republicans, were not. Read into that what you will.

  • Byeman

    LM still owns the intellectual property of Atlas and Boeing owns the Delta.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 20th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
    “I learned everything I know about *rocketry* from an Estes catalog in the 1970′s. We can easily believe that.”

    We? You mean you. Worse, still, is that a commercial space lobbyist comprehends the reference. But then, Vern Estes was operating a xommercial space firm. And at least with his products, lofting living payloads was possible. Tick-tock, tick, tock. .

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 10:47 pm
    “In 1980 dollars, they’d invested just over $14 billion by the July, ’80 time frame and shuttle was then two years behind its initially scheduled launch date. Comparatively speaking, adjusted for inflation, $12 billion in 2011 dollars isn’t that much.” You blew the point you were trying to make, since $14B in 1980 dollars is equal to $37B in 2010 dollars.

    Uh, no, you blew it. THe $14 billion figure was in 1980 dollars for a project then funded from ’72 to ’80. $12 billion in today’s dollars is not that much to expect flight ready hardware and in 1980 dollars it’s not much at all.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 19th, 2011 at 8:03 pm
    No it’s not. Not over several years. And, of course, the DoD spends $12 billion on Afghanistan in about 60 days.

  • Vladislaw

    “$12 billion in today’s dollars is not that much to expect flight ready hardware ”

    SpaceX, Orbital, Boeing, Lockheed all produced flight ready hardware for a lot less than 12 billion. So in today’s dollars, 12 billion is still one hell of chunk of change to not get any flight hardware.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 5:19 am
    you wrote:

    “No it’s not. Not over several years.”

    says who you? The facts dont. Over the same amount of time for about 14 billion the USN got the research done on the new CVN class, and built one.

    NASA was only trying to “morph” hardware hardware that was flying and couldnt do it.

    ” And, of course, the DoD spends $12 billion on Afghanistan in about 60 days” and while I oppose the Afland effort, the DoD gets far more “bang” for their buck then NASA DOES.

    dont be goofy RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 5:12 am
    “. $12 billion in today’s dollars is not that much to expect flight ready hardware ”

    LOL which must explain the angst you have at SPaceX ….on about 1/10th of 12 billion SpaceX has delivered flight hardware. Tick tock tick tock

    RGO

  • Major Tom

    “$12 billion in today’s dollars is not that much to expect flight ready hardware…”

    The hell it’s not.

    Both EELV families were developed for only $5 billion in taxpayer and industry investment. By EELV standards, Constellation should have developed and flown four different launch vehicle families before it was cancelled (and had $2 billion left to spare).

    The Gemini Program cost $5.4 billion in today’s dollars. By Gemini standards, Constellation should have developed two different launch vehicles and two different human capsules and flown 20 times before it was cancelled.

    The Mercury Program cost $2.9 billion in today’s dollars. By Mercury standards, Constellation should have developed three different launch vehicles and three different human capsules and flown 18 times before it was cancelled.

    Falcon 9 was developed for less than $300 million in taxpayer investment. By COTS standards, Constellation should have developed and flown more than 40 different launch vehicles before it was cancelled.

    Lawdy, what a waste…

  • Major Tom

    “Bolden is talking up international cooperation again. Wasn’t it just our policy to build the post shuttle launch system exclusively in the US?”

    No. It was Griffin’s personal mandate for Constellation transportation systems, but it’s never been part of any national space policy document (under Bush II or otherwise).

    “These policy changes are giving me whiplash.”

    That’s what happens when you’re ignorant and think that an administrator’s programmatic and contracting preferences are national policy.

    “What is so surprising is that Bolden makes these silly comments knowing has has no support in congress.”

    No NASA authorization or appropriation has required Constellation or any other post-Shuttle system to be all-American. In fact, before Griffin, O’Keefe/Steidle planned to use the JSF/British model for including international industry partners in CEV development.

    “On a related note, AW is increasingly becoming a shill for newspace. Maybe it is more fun to write about. Time for me to boycott.”

    Yes, anytime anyone says or writes anything you don’t agree with you should stuff plugs in your ears and blindfold your eyes. Given where you’re starting from, a little more ignorance on top of the mountains you’re sitting on won’t hurt. It’s much easier to whistle past those graveyards, play in the candy-coated fairylands of your imagination, and act deaf, dumb, and blind than deal with reality.

    Oy vey…

  • Major Tom

    “If Orion and SLS are failures mankind will not be exploring past LEO for a very long time.”

    This statement is blatantly false. By definition, practically all existing human space exploration architectures do not incorporate SLS, and there are many that do not use an HLLV of any flavor at all. Here’s two examples:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/09/ula-claim-gap-reducing-solution-via-eelv-exploration-master-plan/

    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/F9Prop.Depot.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • amightywind

    “The end of the shuttle program is a tough thing to swallow and we’re all victims of poor policy out of Washington DC, both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government,” Leinbach said. “I’m embarrassed that we don’t have better guidance out of Washington DC.”

    Mike Leinbach is old school. He calls them as he sees them. The nobles in Versailles (Garver, Bolden) have brought NASA to the brink. They must now be accountable for the results. We need a loyal American to bring it back. Leinbach would make an excellent administrator.

  • Major Tom

    “Mike Leinbach is old school. He calls them as he sees them… We need a loyal American… Leinbach would make an excellent administrator.”

    Leinbach is a good guy, but he runs a firing room, fer crissakes. He’s loyal to the people in his firing room. The purpose of national space policy and the goals of the national space agency are not to keep a firing room fully employed.

    Cripes…

  • DCSCA

    @Major Tom wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 10:06 am
    “$12 billion in today’s dollars is not that much to expect flight ready hardware…”

    The hell it’s not.

    In fact, it’s not. Over a number of years and the development curve, it’s quite modest. The DoD spends $12 billion in Afghanistan in less than 60 days.

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 10:06 am
    You’d do well to overlay budgets on a calendar and with respective contractors- particularly w/respect to Mercury and Gemini analogies, fella. BTW, the jump from Mercury to Gemini by M/D wasn’t that big a stretch as they had staff, facilities in place and ready. Apollo was omitted from your rant and if you do the conversion it was quite costly in today’s dollars. $12 billion over several years is not that much given the developments costs of space projects of scale. Going cheap gets you no place fast. Witness SpaceX, which has flown NOBODY. But it has orbited a wheel of cheese. Goof grief.

  • DCSCA

    “…the DoD gets far more “bang” for their buck then NASA DOES.”

    ROFLMAO utter nonsense, especially when it cost $1million per soldier deployed and the nation gets nothing productive in return for the investment/expenditure- unless your a DoD contractor.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    especially when it cost $1million per soldier deployed and the nation gets nothing productive in return for the investment/expenditure

    The lesson here is the same one for those that want the U.S. to commit to setting up ISRU or outposts on the Moon, or anything far from established logistical supply points – it’s expensive.

    That’s also why the military is putting great efforts into lowering the need for fuel at FOB’s (forward operating bases), like the one my nephew was just stationed at.

    The same can be said for logistics in space, where if you don’t focus on lowering the costs, you’ll never be able to do much with NASA’s meager budget.

    The SLS does nothing to lower costs, and it’s sole purported purpose is to increase mass into space, even though it has no known customer or need.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    $12 billion over several years is not that much given the developments costs of space projects of scale.

    We already know that you’re not someone that’s responsible for spending or investing money, so I for one am not surprised by your ignorance about the buying power $12B represents.

    Let’s just say that in the hands of an organization that knows few limits (i.e. NASA), that $12B becomes easily wasted.

    The Constellation program was only working on two end products, and Griffin crowed about how easy it was going to be since they were reusing Apollo technology for Orion and Shuttle technology for Ares I.

    However, if Ares I was so easy, then why did it have a family tree that looked like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ares_I_Evolution.jpg

    Instead we can see what competition in the commercial market does. Just as the most recent example, SpaceX will have built their Falcon Heavy, which can lift twice as much as Ares I, for far less than $1B (and cost the taxpayer $0).

    Here’s another way to look at the disparity:

    Cost for NASA to build a Heavy-lift rocket (Ares I) = $1B

    Cost for NASA to build a Super Heavy rocket (SLS) = $20B+
    Cost for SpaceX to build a Super Heavy rocket (Falcon XX) = ~$3B

    No matter how you try to political-spin it, something is horribly wrong with NASA’s ability to design and manage large programs, especially when they are building something that the commercial marketplace already has the skills in place to do.

    Congress needs to recognize this, and instead of building their own transportation system, instead they should contract out for the transportation when they need it. So far nothing that Congress has funded needs anything bigger than Delta IV Heavy, so that should be a HUGE savings for the American Taxpayer.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    The ‘lesson’ is investment in space R&D has a payoff for the nation; expenditures on aimless wars do not.

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 7:08 pm
    Nonsense- and we all know you survive as a government contractor, so government expenditures of borrows funds- 42 cents of every dollar now- work to benefit a few like you, not the many, which is a hilarious position to be in for a ‘private enterprised’ Newspace advocate. Been a long time since you’ve had to kack it in the private sector, fella.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    You’re wasting your time chattering on about Ares. This writer’s position has been consistent- it was a lousy rocket design to build a 30 year program around. But $12 billion invested in a fledgling R&D program over– what, eight years– ain’t that much in the pool of government expenditures. Look at the DoD budget- $800 billion/year alone. Good grief, big numbers scare little’ol NewSpace folks. Maybe that’s why as of June, 2011, commerical HSF has not successfully launched, orbited and safely returned anybody… meanwhile, NASA has been flying humans into and back from space for 50 years. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I wrote:
    “…the DoD gets far more “bang” for their buck then NASA DOES.”

    You replied.
    ROFLMAO utter nonsense, especially when it cost $1million per soldier deployed.

    That is a pretty cheap price…if the folks on ISS were 1 million per “person” then the issues that we endlessly discuss would not be all the important.

    You are hopelessly out classed when talking “money” RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Bad proofreading on my part – this section should have read.

    Here’s another way to look at the disparity:

    Cost for NASA to build a Heavy-lift rocket (Ares I) = $1B

  • Major Tom

    “You’d do well to overlay budgets on a calendar and with respective contractors”

    This statement is gibberish. The discussion has nothing to do with “calendar” and “contractors”. Total costs are total costs.

    “BTW, the jump from Mercury to Gemini by M/D wasn’t that big a stretch as they had staff, facilities in place and ready.”

    The same is true of any Shuttle-derived vehicle. But Ares I, Ares V, and now SLS cost many, many times what Gemini cost.

    “Apollo was omitted from your rant and if you do the conversion it was quite costly in today’s dollars.”

    Apollo cost something north of $100 billion, and NASA still spends over $100 billion per decade on human space flight. The nation should still be getting Apollo returns and more. The agency is still getting those kinds of resources for human space flight, on top of 40 years of technology advances.

    “$12 billion over several years is not that much given the developments costs of space projects of scale.”

    Repeating this statement ad nauseum without any figures, facts, or references doesn’t make it any less false. I’ll repeat:

    Both EELV families were developed for only $5 billion in taxpayer and industry investment. By EELV standards, Constellation should have developed and flown four different launch vehicle families before it was cancelled (and had $2 billion left to spare).

    The Gemini Program cost $5.4 billion in today’s dollars. By Gemini standards, Constellation should have developed two different launch vehicles and two different human capsules and flown 20 times before it was cancelled.

    The Mercury Program cost $2.9 billion in today’s dollars. By Mercury standards, Constellation should have developed three different launch vehicles and three different human capsules and flown 18 times before it was cancelled.

    “Witness SpaceX…”

    Falcon 9 was developed and flown twice for less than $300 million in taxpayer investment. By COTS standards, Constellation should have developed and flown more than 40 different launch vehicles before it was cancelled.

    “, which has flown NOBODY. But it has orbited a wheel of cheese.”

    Repeating this statement ad nauseum doesn’t changes the fact that Constellation orbited nothing, nada, zero, zilch. (Hell, Constellation didn’t even break the Karman line.)

    And it doesn’t change the fact that NASA has had to reset after Constellation’s failure and that MPCV, SLS, or any SDLV are at least more than half a decade from doing launching anything, nevertheless flying astronauts.

    In the meantime, vehicles like Falcons and EELVs are actually flying, making progress, and putting objects into space and recovering them. They’re years and years ahead of MPCV/SLS in the race to fly astronauts.

    Call us when you have a new system that can orbit cheese and bring it back to Earth. Until then, you don’t have a viable path to flying astronauts. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

    “Goof grief.”

    “Goof” is the right word for your posts.

    Sigh…

  • amightywind

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    If you configure the shuttle derived LOX/LH2 core booster like the Delta IV heavy (three core boosters plus an upper stage) then you don’t need SRBs or hydrocarbon strap-ons.

    I came across this. I like it. It is certainly a respectable alternative to “the stick.”

    My apologies.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    we all know you survive as a government contractor

    Not surprisingly, you’re wrong.

    Though the first part of my career in manufacturing was with DoD contractors, including some of the biggest, I left that marketspace for commercial and consumer products back in 1995. The biggest problem I didn’t like was waiting for new contracts every October – those in the business know what I’m talking about.

    The ‘lesson’ is investment in space R&D has a payoff for the nation; expenditures on aimless wars do not.

    If you don’t think that wars have an economic component to them, then you’re pretty ignorant. Whether that’s good or bad (wars, not your ignorance) is best argued somewhere else.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    This writer’s position has been consistent…

    Yes, I do recall that you claimed to not like Constellation, but that’s part of the question I have for you – are you FOR anything? Specifically for something?

    Or are you just one of those “nattering nabobs of negativism”?

    Most of the time you just sound like a two year old that loves to say the word “no”… ;-)

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    You recall poorly. Ares was the focus of opposition, not Constellation as a whole. And, of course, commercial space is attempting to establish a false equivalancy with the 50 year success of government managed and funded HSF. You also have a typo- not ‘no’ but ‘GO!’ Go fly some one. Half a century of human spaceflight and not a single private firm has launched, orbited and returned anybody. Not “no,’ fella, but “GO!” Put someone up, or shut up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    “– ain’t that much in the pool of government expenditures. ”

    LOL really the last refuge of a losing argument…goofy RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 5:17 pm
    There’s nothing to argue- it’s a fact. $12 billion over 8 YEARS invested in a domestic R&D project is paltry compared to $12 billion wasted over eight WEEKS in an aimless war.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 12:24 am

    “You are hopelessly out classed when talking “money”” – Indeed, you are. Big dollar projects scare commercial space shills of your caliber. and, of course, space exploitation is not space exploration. $1 million/soldier– personnel BTW which have a high risk of loss- is a collossal waste. So too, is the ISS, a position on which this writer has been consistent foe years. False equavalencies are a characteristic of commercial space advocates, who have yet to successfully launch, orbit and return anybody safely to earth.

    “The same can be said for logistics in space, where if you don’t focus on lowering the costs, you’ll never be able to do much with NASA’s meager budget.”

    @Major Tom wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 1:39 am
    “Call us when you have a new system that can orbit cheese and bring it back to Earth. Until then, you don’t have a viable path to flying astronauts.”

    Ring, ring- It’s mid-2011. Has commercial space launched, orbited and returned anybody yet? No. Okay. NASA has been flying astronauts into space for 50 years; by shuttle for three decades and it’s ending; Soyuz is flying just fine – now for over 40 years. Shenzhou now works. too. so getting astronauts up, around and down is not a problem in 2011. But then, you want to reinvent the wheel. Speaking of which, a reminder that the only thing SpaceX has launched and orbited and returned safely is that wheel of cheese– and per NBC News, it will be for some time to come– 4 to 5 years. And that eats at you- doesn’t it. Of course, the bigger question is why fly astronauts in the first place- a rationale NASA finally has to confront and work on, but then space exploitation is not space exploration. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Put somebody up or shut-up.

    “You’d do well to overlay budgets on a calendar and with respective contractors” This statement is gibberish. The discussion has nothing to do with “calendar” and “contractors”. Total costs are total costs.” Nonsense- in the context of your own examples, budget/calendar constraints were critical. Gemini, or Mercury Mark II, was much easier to ramp up for M/D with the Mercury facilities, personnel and operations in place than to start fresh with a new contractor given the ‘moon race’ at the time. Same constraints faced NASA with N/A after the Apollo fire. A little late to change contractors in ’67 to make the moon by ‘the end of the decade.’ Good grief, wise up.

  • DCSCA

    “The same can be said for logistics in space, where if you don’t focus on lowering the costs, you’ll never be able to do much with NASA’s meager budget.” This is the crux of it all. build a cheaper rocket and the space world will beat a path to your door. Master Musk should be building a $1 million rocket– a goal worthy of a fella who wants to ‘retire’ on Mars.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Ares was the focus of opposition, not Constellation as a whole.

    You still dodge the question – what are you for?

    Go fly some one.

    I don’t think anyone really listens to what you think should happen, mainly because you’re always changing your goals. Last year it was commercial launching a rocket, now you have this fixation on commercial flying crew.

    Commercial firms will be flying lots of payloads far before NASA does (as ULA already does). As long as they are ready to take over crew transportation duty from the Russians in 2016, that’s all that matters. But part of that depends on NASA and Congress, since Congress could do something stupid like trying to rely on the MPCV for crew duties.

    Oh, and tick tock, tick tock until you change your goals again… ;-)

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 7:48 pm
    Uh, no, commercial space is the group changing ‘goals’– and trying to establish equivalency w/o flying a soul. The primary goal being launching, orbiting and returning a crew safely to Earth– which would put commercial HSF capability close to NASA’s, circa 1965, and that’s without the global infractructure. You have a very poor memory. Stay away from precision instruments and space hardware. “Commercial firms will be flying…” ahhh, here we go again, more press releases from SpaceX shills. Ariane has been flying commerical payloads since 1980. It all comes back to the same thing- go launch someone orbit them and return them safely, just like the CCCP did w/Gagarin and NASA did w/Glenn wayyyyyyyyy back in 1961/62. Establishing credibility is your biggest and immediate hurdle. That’s why the next logical step will most likely be Branson lofting paying passengers on Shepard-styled suborbital flights. Which means Barney Fife, Aunt Bee and you can earn a set of astronaut wings.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    This is the crux of it all. build a cheaper rocket and the space world will beat a path to your door.

    Which is what SpaceX has done. They have turned $200M in investment into $2B+ of customer orders because they reduce launch costs by 50%.

    Master Musk should be building a $1 million rocket– a goal worthy of a fella who wants to ‘retire’ on Mars.

    There you go again, moving the goal posts – can’t you be consistent about anything? Tick tock, tick tock until you change your goals again…

    But this continues to show that you have the attention span of a two year old. SpaceX lowers launch costs by 50% with Falcon 9, and you think only a 60X reduction in cost will suffice. What an idiot.

    Falcon Heavy is 33% the price of Delta IV Heavy, and it carries twice the payload – that would be a 6X reduction in $/lb from Delta IV Heavy. Payload customers are happy if their costs continue to drop, so your fake metrics for success are pretty silly.

    Stick with debating who canceled Apollo.

  • Major Tom

    “NASA has been flying astronauts into space for 50 years; by shuttle for three decades and it’s ending;”

    Exactly. And the Ares/Orion projects that were suppossed to replace Shuttle failed without reaching orbit, were terminated, and are starting over from square one with SLS/MPCV. After more than a half-decade and $10 billion worth of development down the drain, they’re still at the starting line.

    Their backup in COTS and CCDev, however, has succeeded in launching twice, getting a capsule to orbit and back, and is steadily making progress towards the finish line.

    Given the track record, you’d have to be an idiot to bet on the former over the latter.

    “But then, you want to reinvent the wheel.”

    The wheel needs reinvention. SSMEs routinely leak gaseous hydrogen and ETs routinely suffer from structural flaws, leading to multi-week and multi-month delays than a multi-launch campaign for an exploration mission could not tolerate (on top of the obvious safety issues). And for this crappy operational performance, we have to cough up $1.2-1.5 billion per launch, versus tens of millions for a Falcon 9 launch or something north of $100 million for an EELV launch.

    “Speaking of which, a reminder that the only thing SpaceX has launched and orbited and returned safely is that wheel of cheese”

    And Ares/Orion and SLS/MPCV havn’t even done that. They’re years behind Falcon (and Atlas and Delta) in launching anything (forget anyone). You have to launch something before you can launch someone.

    “– and per NBC News, it will be for some time to come– 4 to 5 years. And that eats at you- doesn’t it”

    No, it doesn’t. These launch vehicles will have years of launches behind them, establishing a long reliability record before they launch their first astronaut. SLS won’t, if it ever flies. The former gives me comfort. The latter does not.

    “Tick-tock, tick-tock. Put somebody up or shut-up.”

    Tick-tock, tick-tock. Put something, anything, up, or shut-up.

    Until you have a Shuttle replacement that can do so, you have no business talking about crew transport.

    Oy vey…

  • nobucksnobuckrogers

    You guys are quoting the wrong figures.

    @DCSCA “Who says, you? In 1980 dollars, they’d invested just over $14 billion by the July, ’80 time frame and shuttle was then two years behind its initially scheduled launch date. Comparatively speaking, adjusted for inflation, $12 billion in 2011 dollars isn’t that much.”

    @Coastal Ron “You blew the point you were trying to make, since $14B in 1980 dollars is equal to $37B in 2010 dollars. That would be 3X more money than Constellation consumed.”

    @Robert G. Oler: “If you want to justify the waste, you will have to have better facts. Gemini did the entire program on 5.5 billion …”

    @Major Tom. “The Mercury Program cost $2.9 billion in today’s dollars.”

    All these quoted numbers do not hold up under scientific scrutiny.

    Why?

    If you normalize expenditures over time into a single economic base year’s currency, you have to use the proper inflation factors, reflecting the respective industry!

    Many people do harm to the cost engineer profession by using consumer price index (CPI), or, even worse, GDP deflator for normalizing space system cost into constant dollars.

    Using these is no good, as the basket of goods in the space industry is way different from the everyday consumer goods market!

    Take the words from the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which wrote in 1988: “Historically, space system prices have inflated at rates between one and two times the GNP [today, we’d say GDP …] inflation rate.” (see: Launch Options for the Future: Buyer’s Guide. OTA-ISC-383, p. 95).

    This is 100% true. Therefore, proper space systems cost estimators will always use dedicated inflation tables, like NASA’s NEW START Inflation Index, or the TRANSCOST Aerospace Workyear Index.

    So, the correct figures should be:

    From 1970 to 1980, NASA spent $9.887 B (as spent) for the Shuttle – “as spent” meaning that all budget figures for consecutive years are simply added up, without adjusting for inflation. Look it up in the NASA budget history under nasa.gov.

    So, converted into FY1980 dollars, that equals $12.5 B, not $14 B. I cannot see where the “14” comes from.

    For today’s values, it translates into a whopping $40.6 B in FY2011 dollars, using NASA’s inflation tables. See? That is inflation at work. Still remember the 1970s and their two-digit inflation rates?

    Of much more interest is the figure you get for the aforementioned Shuttle spending until 1980, if you “de-inflate” it back into 1971 dollars, as all the early Shuttle estimates were always given in FY1971 economic values.

    Taken that way round, the Shuttle until the end of FY1980 racked up total spending of $5.99 B (in FY1971 dollars). Remember, the original Shuttle estimate was given as $5.5 B, also in FY1971 dollars. So, that is BARELY a 10% overrun!

    Not bad. Not bad at all for an all-new system, as the STS was in its time, including SSME, ET and SRBs!

    Therefore, it is nothing more than a shithouse parole to blame the Shuttle program in general for cost overruns. Actually, the R&D part they got pretty much in order, except the schedule. Such a low cost-overrun still stands as a feat which will be hard to match, by whichever system coming after the Shuttle.

    Where the Shuttle turned into a nightmare was operations cost, because, believe it or not, the early planners were so blinded by the envisioned high annual launch rates that a simple economic concept like annual fixed cost (the “standing army”) never crossed their mind when they were crunching numbers on the average cost per flight (the now-notorious $10.45 million, in FY1971 dollars). Too bad, but hindsight is always 20/20 vision.

    Before I forget, in FY2011 dollar values,

    - Gemini cost $10.6 B,
    - Mercury cost $3.2 B,

    based on published NASA budgets and NASA’s own inflation rate tables.

    It can all be found on nasa.gov. Now, you do the math.

  • a reminder that the only thing SpaceX has launched and orbited and returned safely is that wheel of cheese– and per NBC News, it will be for some time to come– 4 to 5 years.

    What kind of idiot would imagine that NBC News has any idea what’s going on?

    But this continues to show that you have the attention span of a two year old.

    That’s an insult to two year olds.

  • Dennis Berube

    It looks presently like the SLS plans NASA is going to bring before Congress here in the near future, still calls for the use of those hot 5 seg. SRBs. I guess ATK doesnt havent have to worry quite yet! They told NASA they can back whatever NASA needs for future missions. I think we will see them being used yet again!

  • DCSCA

    @nobucksnobuckrogers wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:11 am
    You’ll find the 1980 $14 billion figure is accurate (it’s part of the title of the broadcast as well) and from an hour long CBS Reports doc with NASA and gov’t contractors broadcast in July, 1980. Transcripts are available and nobody disputed the figure. =sigh=

  • DCSCA

    “SpaceX can deliver a 150-ton Falcon derivative for $2.5 billion”

    Another press release. In fact, it HAS deliver a wheel of cheese, the hard way.

  • It looks presently like the SLS plans NASA is going to bring before Congress here in the near future, still calls for the use of those hot 5 seg. SRBs.

    Not that there is anything “hot” about them, but that plan isn’t likely to survive more than one more budget cycle. It’s unaffordable.

  • Major Tom

    “‘@Major Tom. “The Mercury Program cost $2.9 billion in today’s dollars.’

    All these quoted numbers do not hold up under scientific scrutiny.”

    Your post is gibberish, almost entirely deals with Shuttle figures I never quoted, claims “NASA’s own inflation rate tables” without providing any reference or link to them, and despite all that, only produces a $0.3 billion difference from my quoted figure for the Mercury Program.

    Pointless…

  • Major Tom

    “Another press release. In fact, it HAS deliver a wheel of cheese, the hard way.”

    You have to launch something before you can launch someone.

    Tick-tock, tick-tock. Put something, anything, up, or shut-up.

    Sigh…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Another press release [regarding SpaceX Falcon Heavy].

    As usual, you have trouble understanding the meaning of what people say.

    A good example of a press release is the ATK/Astrium Liberty launcher, which has gone nowhere since it was “announced”.

    In comparison, SpaceX has already flight tested (twice) the central core of their Falcon Heavy.

    SpaceX also already has their Falcon Heavy launch pad at Vandenberg AFB approved for construction. This also demonstrates how they plan years in advance, since getting the construction approvals takes years of work (environmental reports take time).

    And SpaceX is already in negotiations with potential customers.

    No, SpaceX wasn’t telling the world what they would LIKE to do, they were telling the world what they ARE doing. Big difference.

    Too bad you don’t have the ability to understand the difference.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:27 am
    “a reminder that the only thing SpaceX has launched and orbited and returned safely is that wheel of cheese– and per NBC News, it will be for some time to come– 4 to 5 years. What kind of idiot would imagine that NBC News has any idea what’s going on?”

    Apparently the fine folks at SpaceX, who granted the interview backgrounder for NBC in the first place. Try to keep up.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Apparently the fine folks at SpaceX, who granted the interview backgrounder for NBC in the first place. Try to keep up.

    The big question is why you rely on only one news source, and only one news article?

    Musk has already stated the same information publicly, many times, over a fairly long period of time. Why has it taken you so long to “discover” that SpaceX plans to use their CRS flights to prove out Falcon 9 and Dragon before flying crew?

    Why are you so far behind on news for a company that you hate so much? Weird.

  • Apparently the fine folks at SpaceX, who granted the interview backgrounder for NBC in the first place.

    And therefore, you think that NBC told SpaceX’s story, like a stenographer?

    Wow. You’re even more naive than I thought.

    Of course, we can’t discount the notion that you didn’t even understand the story…

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 9:17 am

    “Over the same amount of time for about 14 billion the USN got the research done on the new CVN class, and built one.
    One?? On top o what- 14 or 15– and that doesn’t inclusde annual operating costs of $5-$7 billion per carrier.

    @Rand Shillberg wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:09 pm
    If you’re going to play in the media you best start learning something about it. Don’t talk to reporters on the record if you don’t expect them to report what you say. SpaceX execs granted NBC News backgrounders and the facts speak for themselves- as does the fact that you can’t spin them in your favor. “Of course, we can’t discount the notion that you didn’t even understand the story…”

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 9:10 pm
    The only person who mentioned relying on ‘one news source’– is you.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 27th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    The only person who mentioned relying on ‘one news source’– is you.

    Well gee, do I get brownie points for being the first to point it out? You only quote one news source, whose information is way behind what SpaceX has announced publicly, so it’s pretty obvious you lack a wide perspective.

    Those of us that actually follow space related activity use a multitude of news sources, and don’t limit ourselves to one point of view.

    It’s OK if you don’t get it – I know this stuff is hard for you. You can go back to watching “Destination Moon” and reading your Apollo history books… ;-)

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