NASA, Other

Albrecht’s policy prescription for NASA

In this week’s issue of The Space Review, I reviewed the new book Falling Back to Earth by Mark Albrecht, who was the executive secretary of the National Space Council during the George H.W. Bush administration and, later, president of International Launch Services. Much of the book, as I note in the review, talks about his time on the space council, including development of the Space Exploration Initiative and clashes with NASA regarding implementing SEI. Albrecht is pessimistic about the future of human spaceflight, citing the failures of SEI and the Vision for Space Exploration, saying “it is hard to imagine” another president making a major push in this area.

At the end of the book, though, Albrecht does state that “changes are urgently needed at NASA” for there to be any hope of reviving human space exploration, reforms that are not themselves sufficient but “necessary preconditions for success” of any new exploration initiative. At the heart of these proposed changes is a greater reliance on public-private partnerships “that recognize that the center of technical development and manufacturing excellence has shifted to the private sector.” (This approach sounds similar to NASA’s COTS and CCDev efforts, although he doesn’t explicitly mention either.) He also endorses greater participation by international entities “based purely on financial and technical capability” as opposed to policy considerations.

Separately, he calls for a radical restructuring of NASA as it relies more on these partnerships. The agency, he argues, should be focused on space science and human space exploration; other efforts, including aeronautics and Earth sciences, should be transferred to other agencies. He advocatesfor closing unneeded NASA centers through a BRAC-like process. Congress should support this by resisting earmarks for local center projects, and also through supporting “permissive statutory contexts for aggressive public-private initiatives.”

NASA, he argues in the book’s conclusion, can again achieve the heights it experienced early in its history, “but to do so will require a sober self-assessment, a desire to change, and a willingness to let go of what has long brought institutional comfort at the expense of national achievement.” Whether his proposed reforms can achieve those changes, or are even feasible, is an open question.

165 comments to Albrecht’s policy prescription for NASA

  • GClark

    Count me among those who have thought for some time now that transferring Earth Sciences to NOAA would be a good idea.

    I do realise that the budget would go with it, thus it would amount to a de facto NASA budget cut. It just makes sense to me to have all the weather/environmental (including LandSat) programs in one place.

    JMNSHO.

  • amightywind

    At the heart of these proposed changes is a greater reliance on public-private partnerships…

    Of course it is! There is no future without Newspace. So we’ve been told and told and told, but we’re not sure why. Public-private partnerships are just a euphemism for crony capitalism and malinvestment in the Age of Obama. Jeff Immelt talks about it all the time. Why not? It has lined GE’s pockets. Fortunately the idea is rapidly going out of style and Newspace knows it. How is it working in the car industry, the green energy industry, healthcare?
    Instead, why don’t we do the simple, obvious thing. Build large reliable rockets out of the world class shuttle components we have with designs we have, and put Newspace out of its misery.

  • Major Tom

    “Build large reliable rockets out of the world class shuttle components…”

    “Reliable rockets” and “Shuttle components” is an oxymoron.

    The SSMEs, ETs, and associated fuel lines regularly leak gaseous hydrogen and force multi-week and -month delays.

    This happened in 2010:

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

    In 2009:

    space-travel.com/reports/US_space_shuttle_launch_delayed_over_hydrogen_leak_999.html

    In 2007:

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

    In 2002:

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

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

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

    In 1995:

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

    And in 1990 (STS-35).

    On top of these gaseous hydrogen leaks, the ETs repeatedly suffer from structural cracking, forcing more multi-week and -month delays.

    It happened in 2010:

    spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts133/101115crack/

    In 2005:

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

    And in 1991 (STS-39).

    It’s a testament to the Shuttle workforce that this technical base has not led to more mission accidents and loss of crew. But given the risks that these components carry, the enormous standing army required to avoid these risks, and the long delays they induce, the last thing you want to do is carry Shuttle components forward into a new launch system. This is especially true of a launch system like SLS that is suppossed to support the sensitive timing of multi-launch exploration campaigns.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “The agency, he argues, should be focused on space science and human space exploration; other efforts, including aeronautics and Earth sciences, should be transferred to other agencies.”

    My space cadet instincts support a NASA focused wholly on space science and exploration, too. But it’s highly questionable whether regulatory and operational agencies like the FAA and NOAA could successfully take on aeronautical and space-based earth observing R&D. FAA is already conflicted enough in its regulatory and advocacy roles for the air transport industry. Adding an airframe (not just air system) R&D role would worsen an already bad situation. NOAA already relies on NASA to manage its operational spacecraft build contracts. If NOAA can’t manage incremental GOES and POES builds by itself, it’s hard to see NOAA managing experimental instrument and new spacecraft developments.

    It’s even more questionable whether the NASA institution supporting these roles could be rationally divvied up between the three agencies. GSFC supports Earth science, space physics, and astrophysics. Does GSFC wind up with two administrators, one from NOAA running the Earth science half while NASA still runs the space physics and astrophysics half? Similarly, ARC, GRC, and LaRC support more than subsonic aeronautics research. Does FAA extricate the subsonic research while NASA still runs the supersonic and hypersonic research? What about the small satellite work at ARC or the power systems work at GRC or the reentry work at LaRC?

    Again, I like the concept of focusing NASA on space science and exploration. But it’s a suggestion that gets repeated ad nauseum without any serious examination of the intricacies and tradeoffs involved. Unless and until someone performs that analysis in detail and develops options and a recommended way forward, it’s not a suggestion that can be taken seriously.

    I also question whether it’s the real problem. Divorcing NASA from aeronautics or Earth science is not going to resolve massive JWST overruns or make the human space flight program less beholden to Shuttle workforce interests. It’s an organizational distraction from, not a remedy to, the major problems facing NASA.

    “He advocates for closing unneeded NASA centers through a BRAC-like process. Congress should support this by resisting earmarks for local center projects, and also through supporting ‘permissive statutory contexts for aggressive public-private initiatives.’”

    Again, my instincts would support a NASA BRAC, but it’s not politically viable.

    There are only ten NASA field centers, and a BRAC would close only one or two at most. Unlike a military BRAC, where there are so many installations that practically everyone in Congress shares in the pain, a NASA BRAC would be stopped cold by the one or two targeted delegations.

    Maybe a NASA BRAC would make sense in the context of a larger R&D BRAC that included other national labs (e.g., like those at DOE). But absent that bigger context, it’s politically a non-starter.

    Albrecht’s other suggestions regarding greater private/public partnering is a more politically realistic path to fixing NASA institutional issues. In addition to for-profit companies, that can include partnering with universities and nonprofits, UARC conversions, and FFRDC conversions.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Until space advocates and policy folks (and NASA) recognize that it is not 1960 and Apollo is never coming back…the future is quite bad. RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    Major Tom wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 9:50 am
    “My space cadet instincts support a NASA focused wholly on space science and exploration, too. But it’s highly questionable whether regulatory and operational agencies like the FAA and NOAA could successfully take on aeronautical and space-based earth observing R&D.”

    Well put. Related arguments (e.g. the latest diatribe by Harrison Schmitt on the formation of an NSEA) have had NASA throwing most science overboard, with the possible exception of lunar and planetary science. Space astrophysics and heliophysics would get handed off to NSF, which is an agency that has zero, I mean ZERO, expertise in space architectures, operations, management, and aerospace industry contract oversight. In fact, NSF is an agency that is seriously challenged with running large development projects in general. That’s not intended as criticism of NSF, but just a reminder that all agencies aren’t organized in the same way. Just imagine what NSF might have done with JWST.

    I too would like to see a space exploration agency with more focus on space exploration, but the arguments presented thus far to do that have been very simplistic and somewhat naive.

  • “Albrecht is credited in government with reform of NASA and implementation of the ‘faster, cheaper, better’ approach to space development”

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

    NASA Responds to the Columbia Accident Report: Farewell to Faster – Better – Cheaper

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=864

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    Build large reliable rockets out of the world class shuttle components we have with designs we have

    NASA has spent the last six years and $15.8 billion trying to do just that and failed.

    For 500 million taxpayer dollars in public/private partnership funding (Boeing’s EELV), USAF got a new American-made engine (RS-68), a new launch-vehicle manufacturing plant (Decatur, AL), two new launch vehicles (Delta IV Medium and Delta IV Heavy), and two new launch facilities (at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg).

    For an additional 500 million taxpayer dollars in public/private partnership funding (Lockheed’s EELV), USAF got a new launch vehicle (Atlas V) and a new launch facility (at Cape Canaveral).

    For 278 million taxpayer dollars in public/private partnership funding (COTS), NASA got a new launch vehicle (Falcon 9), a new launch facility (at Cape Canaveral), and a new unmanned re-usable space capsule (Dragon).

    For 15.8 billion taxpayer dollars in traditional funding, NASA got a single flight of a single sounding rocket (Ares 1X) that couldn’t even make it halfway to sub-orbital space (48 km).

    Given the above facts, no sane person who wants to accomplish anything more than a jobs program would prefer the traditional contracting approach to the public/private partnership approach.

    Mike

  • Russell

    That’s a good idea, and has been around at least since 2003ish. When I was at NASA, I saw a proposal for this float through but I don’t know if anything came of it. The team that developed the idea made some good arguments for its creation, looking at it from a macroeconomic lens as well as digging into it from the political, operations and technology sides.

    I did a bit of digging, and it looks like they’re still around at http://dserweb.echoechoplus.com.

  • kayawanee

    Michael Kent wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    For 15.8 billion taxpayer dollars in traditional funding, NASA got a single flight of a single sounding rocket (Ares 1X) that couldn’t even make it halfway to sub-orbital space (48 km).

    Yes, but we also got wonderful new NASA web pages and CGI animation. Don’t you think that’s worth a few measly billion dollars? =)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    “NASA Responds to the Columbia Accident Report: Farewell to Faster – Better – Cheaper

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=864

    of course. Sadly it illustrates how out of touch the agency and its management is.

    Nothing in either the Columbia incident or the Mars probe that slid into the atmosphere was a result of “better cheaper faster”. A basic tenet of engineering, taught at the near grade school level is that everyone doing computations should be working in the same units…and when observed data does not match predicted results, particularly in something that is as “routine” as celestial mechanics….then we all need to start looking for the trouble source.

    That explains the Mars orbiter.

    Columbia? What to say that has not already been said. When parts are falling off the vehicle and damaging the crucial systems (like reentry tiles) 1) the entire notion of flying period should be examined and 2) if one is going to fly one should look for damage very carefully and 3) if one is going to look for damage then well actually look, particularly when things actually hit the crucial systems.

    The USN has actually put better cheaper faster to affect in designing the new Ford CVN. They expect people to do their jobs and when they dont, they are fired. It is that simple.

    Where is LInda H now? RGO

  • amightywind

    NASA has spent the last six years and $15.8 billion trying to do just that and failed.

    No. We spent six years spending $15.8 billion *while* building out the ISS and flying the shuttle. Constellation could not be a priority for NASA. Then Obama pulled the plug just as NASA was breaking free from ISS. Not a good faith judgement or result. Let us do as Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan and execute the program with bipartisan support, Constellation!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Egad wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    > Where is LInda H now? RGO

    Right now? Unknown, but see

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/214601main_Ham2-26-08.pdf
    http://www.ask.com/wiki/Linda_Ham

    from one of the links…

    “Linda Ham returned to the Johnson Space Center where she recently held the job as technical director for the Constellation Program Office where she was involved in the major decisions involving the Ares, Orion and Altair vehicles”

    and it is hard to imagine why things spun out of control…”nothing we can do about it right?”

    RGO

  • William Mellberg

    Major Tom wrote:

    “My space cadet instincts support a NASA focused wholly on space science and exploration, too. But it’s highly questionable whether regulatory and operational agencies like the FAA and NOAA could successfully take on aeronautical and space-based earth observing R&D. FAA is already conflicted enough in its regulatory and advocacy roles for the air transport industry. Adding an airframe (not just air system) R&D role would worsen an already bad situation.”

    That is why Harrison Schmitt’s proposal for a new, deep space exploration agency also calls for the re-establishment of the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA). Dr. Schmitt’s plan would also logically reassign several of NASA’s other functions to appropriate bodies within the government or the private sector.

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “(e.g. the latest diatribe by Harrison Schmitt on the formation of an NSEA)”

    Why would you describe a serious proposal from a distinguished American (Apollo 17 moonwalker, U.S. Senator, scientist, university professor, businessman) a diatribe?

    Here is Dr. Schmitt’s statement:

    http://americasuncommonsense.com/blog/category/science-engineering/space-policy/4-new-proposal-for-nasa/

    Note, in particular, his proposed NSEA Charter:

    “Provide the People of the United States of America, as national security and economic interests demand, with the necessary infrastructure, entrepreneurial partnerships, and human and robotic operational capability to settle the Moon, utilize lunar resources, scientifically explore and settle Mars and other deep space destinations, and, if necessary, divert significant Earth-impacting objects.”

    That isn’t a diatribe. It’s a specific set of goals that would refocus America’s space program on exploration and development.

  • Vladislaw

    On page 13 through 25 from: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/214601main_Ham2-26-08.pdf

    That part is named “CxP’s Technology Development Priorities” . I wonder how many items on those pages actually were developed in the last 6-7 years?

    I did searches on a few of them but couldn’t find anything related to those technology items.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    No. We spent six years spending $15.8 billion *while* building out the ISS and flying the shuttle.

    Weasel all you want Windy, but professional engineers and managers, including your beloved Michael Griffin, could not get more than a turkey to fly (i.e. Ares I-X) while enjoying a vast largess of taxpayer money.

    Throw enough money at anything and you can get it to work, even safely. But the question at hand is how do you stretch the public’s money to do the most public good. Constellation, and it’s zombie offspring SLS are not the answer, since they do too little while requiring too much scarce taxpayer funding.

    We need to be exploring ways to spend less money while achieving the same goals, not new ways to spend MORE money.

    Along those lines, and back to the discussion in general, would making more of the NASA centers into Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) like JPL be an improvement?

    Or taking the MSFC engine test facility and contracting out the operation of it to industry – sort of like the Michoud facility was run under Lockheed Martin for the Shuttle External Tank (ET).

    In any case, I see that at least two major things need to happen:

    1. Legacy cost structures must be removed periodically to make way for lower cost ways of doing things. The goal is to spend the least amount possible to achieve a goal, not to reuse things “because we’ve always done it that way.

    2. Facilities don’t exist to employee people, they exist to perform a job. If there is no job, then the staffing should reflect that. As long as politicians have a say in the staffing levels of NASA facilities within their districts, NASA will always be horribly inefficient.

  • Major Tom

    “No. We spent six years spending $15.8 billion *while* building out the ISS and flying the shuttle. Constellation could not be a priority for NASA.”

    This is idiotic. The U.S. Air Force partnered with industry to build two modern launch vehicle families for less than a third of that amount, while doing everything else that the operational Air Force of the world’s remaining superpower has to do. By this logic, nothing would ever get done on the military side of space.

    Moreover, ISS and STS were built and flown by an entirely different NASA mission directorate (space operations) with its own budget. Constellation was fumbled by the leadership of the exploration systems mission directorate (there’s a reason they called it the Scotty Rocket), which had its own budget and had no responsibility for ISS or STS.

    “Then Obama pulled the plug…”

    What choice did the Administration have? The American people had sunk nearly $16 billion according to your numbers for two bad parachute tests and little else. And NASA’s own projections were showing that Constellation wouldn’t make good on returning to the Moon until the mid-2030s, if ever, after many more tens of billions of dollars.

    “Let us do as Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan and execute the program with bipartisan support, Constellation!”

    Constellation lost its support, bipartisan or otherwise, last year. The 2010 NASA Authorization Act terminated Constellation, on a 2/3 bipartisan vote in the House.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “That is why Harrison Schmitt’s proposal for a new, deep space exploration agency also calls for the re-establishment of the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA).”

    I don’t know if Schmitt actually proposed this or if someone is speaking for him, but it’s a goofy proposal. The NACA model originated in the era of biplanes. It’s not capable of supporting R&D in an aeronautics sector that is orders of magnitude larger and more complex. It would be like running today’s Army using a WWI-era organizational model.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    Thanks for the link Rand on the Space Guard

    A couple points, I wonder how it would fly in this environment to create a new government agency. Although it is a lot of shuffling the deck chairs it could be attacked as more big government.

    I had written a bit on this only called it a lunar patrol, everything out to ESL1 and 2. With NASA doing exploration beyond that.

    The second item is something I don’t really agree with:

    “yet other activities, such as space tourism, media production, and advertising, may be undertaken entirely by private actors with no government encouragement.”

    Globally, before the meltdown, tourism was the number one economic activity of the planet. From local communities to major cities and states up to the federal government, promoting tourism is never a bad idea. If America can grab the global sector of human access and destinations it would be in the interest of our economic development of that industry to promote and grow it when we can.

  • DCSCA

    “Albrecht is pessimistic about the future of human spaceflight.”

    The PRC is not. Space exploitation is not space exploration, Mark.

    Appears he’s fishing for the administrator’s gig. Review Albrecht’s pedigree and you’ll discover it is boilerplate GOP so this thinly veiled pitch to push privatization on NASA is right in step with GOP ideology for all things government.

  • Doug Lassiter

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    “Why would you describe a serious proposal from a distinguished American (Apollo 17 moonwalker, U.S. Senator, scientist, university professor, businessman) a diatribe?”

    Well, simply because that’s what it is. It’s a very strong worded attack on the structure of the agency. Distinguished Americans commonly issue diatribes, which don’t really have to make them any less distinguished. But he wrote a lot more than the paragraph you chose to quote.

    Speaking of which, his list of goals you quote are introduced by the phrase “Provide the People of the United States of America, as national security and economic interests demand …”. Settling the Moon and utilizing lunar resources don’t obviously serve these demands. Nor does scientifically exploring and settling Mars and other deep space destinations. Diverting significant Earth-impacting objects is a no-brainer, except no one has ever established that human space flight is needed to do it.

    But what we were uncomfortable with is the artificial separation that he proposes, of expertise in space science from expertise in space architecture development.

  • William Mellberg

    Major Tom wrote:

    “I don’t know if Schmitt actually proposed this or if someone is speaking for him, but it’s a goofy proposal. The NACA model originated in the era of biplanes. It’s not capable of supporting R&D in an aeronautics sector that is orders of magnitude larger and more complex. It would be like running today’s Army using a WWI-era organizational model.”

    I can assure you that Harrison Schmitt conceived and wrote the proposal and the statement himself. They are his words, and it is a serious plan.

    I might add that NACA gave us the X-1, the X-15 and Whitcomb’s area rule. As an aside, my friend Jim Floyd started his career doping the fabric on biplanes at Avro. He ended it designing supersonic transports as head of Hawker Siddeley’s Advanced Projects Group (and as the UK government’s design consultant for Concorde).

    It’s called experience.

  • William Mellberg

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “Settling the Moon and utilizing lunar resources don’t obviously serve these demands. Nor does scientifically exploring and settling Mars and other deep space destinations. Diverting significant Earth-impacting objects is a no-brainer, except no one has ever established that human space flight is needed to do it.”

    A lot of things are not obvious. That’s why humans explore. Many people thought the Great American Desert was a wasteland … until it was more fully explored and developed. The “Desert” became America’s Breadbasket.

    I must agree with you, however, about Earth-impacting objects. I do not see an obvious need for humans to be involved in the task of diverting them. But Dr. Schmitt’s proposal makes it clear that NSEA would be involved with both human AND robotic missions into deep space.

  • Doug Lassiter

    The idea of moving NASA aeronautics into a separate agency is probably worth some thought. I don’t much care if it is modeled on NACA, except perhaps inheriting the name. NASA space activities are, in my mind at least, quite separable — technologically, managerially, and fiscally, from NASA aeronautical capabilities, though issues of human safety are certainly common to both. So in principle, an aeronautics agency could largely be created by just cutting the Aeronautics Directorate out of NASA. That’s VERY different than creating a new space science agency out of whole cloth that is independent of space transportation architecture, or handing those space science activities to an existing agency that is culturally incapable of doing them.

  • common sense

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 11:54 am

    [Major Tom wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 9:50 am
    “My space cadet instincts support a NASA focused wholly on space science and exploration, too. But it’s highly questionable whether regulatory and operational agencies like the FAA and NOAA could successfully take on aeronautical and space-based earth observing R&D.”]

    “I too would like to see a space exploration agency with more focus on space exploration, but the arguments presented thus far to do that have been very simplistic and somewhat naive.”

    NASA is not an “exploration” agency, never really was. So it cannot be about separating an exploration agency anew from NASA and renaming it. Those people mistake space-ops with space exploration. They are not the same thing, far from it.

    NASA is not capable, by design, of a huge integrated project such as Constellation. It is not their job. It’s not even their intended job, cf. Space Act.

    If people want an exploration agency then they’ll have to build one from scratch. NASA requires a major reorg which I believe has already started. The question is where to fit HSF? HSF at NASA today is a relic of the Cold War: Apollo, Shuttle and ISS are all Cold War programs. There is no Cold War to speak of, so? The end result is that HSF at NASA will soon cease to exist as it was. NASA will procure vehicles for missions specific to its charter, for crew and non-crew.

    If and when the time comes there might be a new exploration agency that will have nothing to do with NASA. In the mean time NASA will be restructured to more closely fit its charter.

    My prediction…

  • pathfinder_01

    “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.”

    Dude, people are not cheap. Troops need access to food, water, healthcare, weapons and equipment in order to fight effectively and last time I checked most places you would go to war would not be full of those items. It is not surprising that troops cost a lot. Like space travel you have to transport tons of equipment thousands of miles and again that is not cheap.

    NASA on the other hand is wasteful with what it has been given. For $12 billion you should have been able to field a working system esp. if it chooses not to develop Ares 1 and used existing rockets (Delta/Atlas). Right now it is wasting money on SLS when what is needed for BEO exploration is payloads not rockets. ULA offered to man rate Delta for 1.5 billion that would buy you access to the ISS with Orion.

    Right now NASA is attempting to do the private sector’s job of designing, building, and operating rockets. All the money that goes into this is money that could have bought more cost effective systems(EELV based). Money that could have been used to develop what is needed for long term space flight(better life-support/radiation protection/propulsion systems). NASA is acting like it is 1960 when the private sector and is about to be burned with the reality of the 21st century.

  • Doug Lassiter

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 6:18 pm
    “A lot of things are not obvious. That’s why humans explore.”

    That’s a common argument, but no responsible policy for a hugely expensive endeavor can be based on serendipity. Even for basic science, there are always pointers that can be used to argue value. I guess if it’s cheap to do, serendipity is fine. Human space exploration is NOT cheap. It’s especially not clear, in this context, what launching humans has to do with this kind of space exploration (except for species expansion).

    I do think that sending humans to visit a NEO would be pretty cool. But the arguments that such visits result in information that would advance our global security are pretty hand-waving.

  • pathfinder_01

    Nelson the reason why people don’t go to the moon is two fold.

    The only way to the moon is through NASA and NASA is incapable of doing a lunar mission cheap enough to gain support. Commercail can address both of thoose given enough time.

  • When the government asked NASA to put a man into space, they did! When the government asked NASA to put a man on the Moon, they did! When then government asked NASA to build a reusable space plane, they did! When the government asked NASA to build space stations, they did!

    But its kind of difficult to blame NASA for not building a Moon base or traveling to Mars when the government either forbid them to do so or was not willing to authorize or prioritize the full amount of money needed for them to do so!

    Now some claim to want NASA to focus only on beyond LEO missions. Yet they burden NASA with a $3 billion a year ISS program which they plan to extend to 2020 and beyond while also forcing NASA to hand over nearly another billion to the emerging private spaceflight companies. Kind of hard for NASA to develop a beyond LEO program when half of its manned spaceflight budget is focused on LEO on steroids programs.

  • pathfinder_01

    Marcel in the days of Apollo NASA’s budget was double what it is now. BEO exploration is unaffordable unless you are willing to seattle for 3 guys on the moon once or twice a year at current budgets. CXP couldn’t even afford a moon base.

  • Fred Willett

    Amightywind wrote
    “There is no future without Newspace. So we’ve been told and told and told, but we’re not sure why.”
    Read this and you might begin to understand.
    This is from the NASA’s Commercial Market Assessment report
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/543572main_Section%20403%28b%29%20Commercial%20Market%20Assessment%20Report%20Final.pdf
    “For the Falcon 9 analysis, NASA used NAFCOM to predict the development cost for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle using two methodologies:
    1) Cost to develop Falcon 9 using traditional NASA approach, and
    2) Cost using a more commercial development approach.
    Under methodology #1, the cost model predicted that the Falcon 9 would cost $4.0 billion based on a traditional approach. Under methodology #2, NAFCOM predicted $1.7 billion when the inputs were adjusted to a more commercial development approach. Thus, the predicted the cost to develop the Falcon 9 if done by NASA would have been between $1.7 billion and $4.0 billion.
    SpaceX has publicly indicated that the development cost for Falcon 9 launch vehicle was approximately $300 million. Additionally, approximately $90 million was spent developing the Falcon 1 launch vehicle which did contribute to some extent to the Falcon 9, for a total of $390 million. NASA has verified these costs.”
    If that doesn’t convince you this post from SpaceXULA on NASAspaceflight ought. Again talking about SpaceX.
    “If that is total money spent, that’s an amazing amount of stuff built for only $350 Million.
    -Vandenburg LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready.
    -Kwajalein LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready.
    -Slick 40 LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready
    -2 production facilities in California, 1 in El Segundo, 1 in Hawthorne.
    -1 former Beal Aerospace Testing facility refurbished, and utilized.
    -2 known Falcon 1 Test Articles 5 flight articles
    -3 known Falcon 9 Test Articles 1 flight article
    -2 known Merlin 1A test articles, 2 known flight articles
    -1 known Merlin 1B test article (uncompleted)
    -11 known Merlin 1C test articles (might have overlapped), 30 flight articles
    -1 known Merlin 1Vac test article, 2 flight articles
    -1 known Kestrel test article, 5 flight articles
    -Unknown numbers of Draco flight and test articles
    -2 internally developed Avionics sets, 1 set of ISS comunication equipment, and who know what else internally developed.
    -3 known Dragon test articles, 1 known flight article (COTS F1 dragon complete besides NASA testing).
    All that +labor, +leases, +normal costs of business? for $350 Million? It boggles the mind. ”
    So you’re right. There is no future without newspace.

  • William Mellberg

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “The idea of moving NASA aeronautics into a separate agency is probably worth some thought.”

    I have a friend at Dryden Flight Research Center who is already wearing his NACA lapel pin. My own opinion (purely my own) is that the first ‘A’ in NASA has too often received the short end of the budget stick. Which is why Schmitt’s proposal to recreate NACA (i.e., as an independent agency focused on aeronautics) makes a lot of sense from my perspective.

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “I do think that sending humans to visit a NEO would be pretty cool.”

    One problem with a NEO mission is that it would be a one-shot deal. The asteroid would whiz by Earth, and that would be it. As Harrison Schmitt wrote in his new Space Policy booklet:

    “The President suggests going to an asteroid. As important as asteroid diversion from collision with the Earth someday may be, just going there hardly stimulates scientific discovery anything like a permanent American settlement on the Moon. Other means exist, robots and meteorites, for example, to obtain most or all of the scientific value from a human mission to an asteroid. In any event, returning to the Moon inherently creates capabilities for reaching asteroids to study or divert them, as the case may be.”

    Common Sense wrote:

    “If people want an exploration agency then they’ll have to build one from scratch.”

    Which is precisely why Dr. Schmitt released his recent proposal.

    Common Sense also wrote:

    “The end result is that HSF at NASA will soon cease to exist as it was. NASA will procure vehicles for missions specific to its charter, for crew and non-crew.”

    Recognizing that reality, Dr. Schmitt’s proposal would cede Low Earth Orbit to the private sector while pursuing the exploration of space (and the identification of space resources) through a new, dedicated agency. Incidentally, Dr. Schmitt taught a class for many years at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) called “Resources from Space.” As he has suggested, the National Space Exploration Administration would welcome entrepreneurial partnerships in the development of hardware, infrastructure and resource utilization.

  • Space Cadet

    Robert Oler wrote:
    “Nothing in either the Columbia incident or the Mars probe that slid into the atmosphere was a result of “better cheaper faster”. A basic tenet of engineering, taught at the near grade school level is that everyone doing computations should be working in the same units…and when observed data does not match predicted results, particularly in something that is as “routine” as celestial mechanics….then we all need to start looking for the trouble source.”

    Mistakes, including very simple ones, are made all the time on both successful and unsuccessful programs. The difference is that underfunded programs have insufficient time, resources, people, to review, to test, to double check, to verify, and so mistakes are not detected before they cause a failure. That’s the difference between the failed ’98 missions and the successful ones that followed. When FCB was abandoned, NASA went back to allocating the resources to review, screen, repeat the calculation, repeat the analysis, verify, & validate. MER was more expensive than the missions that failed, but MER succeeded.

    The one good result of FCB is that NASA moved away from a tendency to pursue a small number of very large missions to a more balanced array of small, medium, and large missions. They don’t all have to be “Flagships” anymore.

  • vulture4

    If Albrecht were willing to admit that his two major ideas, SEI and VSA, were complete failures because they produced no practical benefits for America, he would be more credible. Instead he blames others for being unwilling to spend even more.

    Industry was NACA’s customer, today the relationship is reversed. In the NACA days, to quote Hansen, “Every project, whether theoretical or applied, was intended to be of practical value for aeronautics.” Practical benefits for industry from government research and development? What a modern idea!

  • Doug Lassiter

    common sense wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 6:45 pm
    “NASA is not an “exploration” agency, never really was. So it cannot be about separating an exploration agency anew from NASA and renaming it. Those people mistake space-ops with space exploration. They are not the same thing, far from it.”

    That would surprise a lot of people, especially those at NASA. But I think you’re probably right. I think your point is that creating an exploration agency is not as simple as having NASA give the heave-ho to those activities that are not seen as exploration, and renaming the agency. What’s left won’t do it. Now I say that not being wholly certain what human space exploration really means. I don’t think anyone is. Putting feet on faraway rocks, I guess? The secret ingredient that an agency needs to do exploration is a good understanding of what it is. NASA clearly doesn’t have that understanding.

    I think NASA is quite capable of huge integrated projects. At least it was when it did Apollo, and Shuttle, and now ISS. It may not do those projects particularly cost effectively, but it got them done. But huge integrated projects don’t make exploration. It takes something else.

  • Major Tom

    “I can assure you that Harrison Schmitt conceived and wrote the proposal and the statement himself. They are his words, and it is a serious plan.”

    Really?

    The Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources is allowed to publish his personal political opinions and distribute them on the internet? Political appointees usually serve at the pleasure of their elected official and do not publically express personal views while in office. Does the Office of the Governor of New Mexico know about this website?

    Is the Governor of New Mexico actually comfortable with one of her secretaries stating in writing that “The current New Mexico Congressional delegation… have served neither New Mexico nor the United States well”?

    A former Apollo astronaut is really writing incendiary statements like NASA “Ames Research Center should be auctioned to the highest domestic bidder”?

    A former Apollo astronaut is really okay with “his words” and “his serious plan” for NASA being either #46 or #4 in one or more confused lists of op-eds?

    This website appears to be an unofficial and unendorsed reproduction of old mimeographed op-eds, only some of which may actually be attributable to Schmitt, apparently created out of some strange sense of Apollo hero worship. It’s doubtful that Schmitt is aware of or comfortable with a lot of what’s on this website, and even if he is, it’s almost certain that the Office of the Governor of New Mexico would want this website taken down as long as Schmitt serves that office.

    “I might add that NACA gave us the X-1, the X-15 and Whitcomb’s area rule.”

    NACA was a good organizational model when aeronautics research still consisted of firsts and basic research breakthroughs. I think it would be a good model for space transportation R&D today, which is at a similar stage of development.

    But the days of the first supersonic flight are decades in the past. NACA is not a good model for keeping a very mature industry ahead of its equally mature European competition, especially when that competition is being waged on airspace systems, aircraft efficiency, and regulatory fronts — not on the basis of who can fly fastest and highest.

    “As an aside, my friend Jim Floyd started his career doping the fabric on biplanes at Avro. He ended it designing supersonic transports as head of Hawker Siddeley’s Advanced Projects Group (and as the UK government’s design consultant for Concorde).”

    Good for him. But Hawker Siddeley was not the same organization as Avro. The former absorbed the latter. Other than vaguely proving my point with a foreign aircraft firm analogy, what does that have to do with how U.S. aeronautics R&D efforts should be organized and managed?

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “NASA space activities are, in my mind at least, quite separable — technologically, managerially, and fiscally, from NASA aeronautical capabilities…”

    They’re not easily separable. Many of the same wind tunnels and computational facilities are used by both. It doesn’t matter whether you’re coming from space, an aircraft carrier, or Heathrow, if you’re transiting the same atmospheric regimes and speeds, you’ll use the same facilities and expertise.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Now some claim to want NASA to focus only on beyond LEO missions. Yet they burden NASA with a $3 billion a year ISS program which they plan to extend to 2020 and beyond while also forcing NASA to hand over nearly another billion to the emerging private spaceflight companies. Kind of hard for NASA to develop a beyond LEO program when half of its manned spaceflight budget is focused on LEO on steroids programs.”

    NASA’s “manned spaceflight budget” is $10B/yr, not $8B/yr. Even if half was going to LEO activities, that’s $5B/yr or $50B per decade. That’s nearly half of the Apollo budget, and it’s been more than four decades since Apollo. With today’s technical base, there’s no good reason beyond pork barrel politics for NASA not to get beyond LEO in a decade (or two at most) with that level of budget available.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    When the government asked NASA to put a man into space…

    You make it seem like NASA is this singular entity that operates without help from the outside world – they don’t. For the vehicles you mention, they were all built by the aerospace industry and NASA was the customer.

    NASA doesn’t even have that many wrench-turners (i.e. people that build things), so technically they don’t even really build the vehicles that they “operate”, and they don’t even operate the Shuttle (USA does all the processing).

    Yet they burden NASA with a $3 billion a year ISS program which they plan to extend to 2020 and beyond…

    How do you learn to live and work in space without living and working in space? How do you test out space hardware without a place in space to test it?

    We just spent $100B putting the largest space station ever built in space, and it’s in really good shape, so why not use it to retire risk for building the systems we need for further expansion into space?

    If you can’t see the value in something like that, then I don’t see how you think we’ll expand into space.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    NASA was asked to build a follow-on replacement for the Shuttle. They spent over $12 billion and failed. End of story. Building ISS and continuing to operate Shuttle had nothing to do with that failure nor did lack of funding. They simply couldn’t build to budget and schedule and probably are now incapable of it due to their ongoing overhead which they refuse to do anything serious about cutting together with political interference, i.e. jobs program requirements. quod erat demonstrandum (QED)

  • Very correct! The ISS was and still is a hugely big mistake! Continuing it until 2020 is a gigantic error! All this LEO on steroids program: Flexible Path/Obamaspace, is going to get us flying fast in more circles; and the funny thing about going around in circles, is that you always come right back to where you started, without accomplishing anything tangible at all! I still believe in Project Constellation, and harbor hopes that a future President will see the wisdom in reviving it. Screw commercial space! Screw privatized LEO space stations! We want to see REAL space exploration! May the next President of the U.S. open up the new Antarctica & the next great frontier: the Moon!

  • DCSCA

    @pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    “Dude,” people are very cheap if you are paying the right price- ask the PRC.

  • More on Albrecht’s Better-Cheaper-Faster:

    NASA Advisors Explain Mars Mission Failures to a Concerned Congress

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=115

    At the core of the Committee’s concerns was the failure of the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) mission because of simple metric Vs English units conversions and its subsequent crash on Mars; the loss of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) apparently due to one bad line of software and its crash on Mars; and the disappearance of the twin DS-2 probes which were simply not ready for launch in the first place.

    “They cited insufficient program reserves, lack of communication between NASA headquarters, JPL, and Lockheed Martin; no clear central focal point at NASA for Mars exploration; lack of mentoring of younger employees by older ones; the lack of sufficient personnel to perform needed tasks, and an unclear interpretation of what the agency’s “Faster-Better-Cheaper” motto meant when it came time to actually building spacecraft.

    There were also serious flaws in the testing done before the Mars Polar Lander and DS-2 probes were launched. Under questioning from Rep. Sensenbrenner, Casani admitted that no systems-wide, top-down test had been done on the MPL spacecraft prior to launch. When asked why this was not done, he said that he did not know why – but in hindsight, it should have been done.

    Rep. Green picked up on this issue and asked how a shortage of money could have caused the metric mix up. Casani responded that it wasn’t the money but rather not having enough people cross checking things so as to catch things such as this before they become problems. There is some linkage between money and people, of course, since smaller budgets cause the number of staff to be limited.

    Rep. Smith asked who’s idea it was in the first place to leave the telemetry subsystem off of the MPL. Casani replied that this was a joint JPL/Lockheed martin decision but that it was not so much a decision to leave the telemetry system off as it was a decision not to put one on in the first place. The logic being that that system did not directly contribute to the success of that mission. In hindsight Casani agreed that such a capability should be included so as to allow NASA to learn from its mistakes and make I more likely that future missions would not suffer the same fate.”

  • Dennis Berube

    People, lets not forget that the ISS is the biggest project mankind has ever undertaken. It was no easy feat. With it we are learning to live in space. It was originally conceived as a jumping off point back out into deep space, and could still be. It is our first real foothold in space, and though costly, it should not be abandoned andjust allowed to drop into the ocean. If NASA and its partners no longer want it, allow commercial to takeit over, or at least sell it on E Bay, pun intended. It is a valuable workshop, and if we can find cheaper ways to get to it, that will be all the better. Lets not make more mistakes by abandoning our foothold on LEO, but instead lets utilize this outpost as a steping stone to the solar systm.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space Cadet wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    “Mistakes, including very simple ones, are made all the time on both successful and unsuccessful programs. The difference is that underfunded programs have insufficient time, resources, people, to review, to test, to double check, to verify, and so mistakes are not detected before they cause a failure. ”

    Mistakes, including very simple ones, are made all the time during the flights of very complex and very simple airplanes, what keeps airplanes from crashing is that the pilot(s) recognize that if they dont do fundamental checking and fundamental operations procedures then they cause a catastrophe.

    NASA has become fat and not very disciplined. What caused the units failure is a failure to follow basic engineering tenets that are followed rourtinly every day by even home constructors. There is no explanation for not having a “Units page” on every document and then (zounds) people reading the entire document. Likewise the failure to observe that expected results in trajectory burns was not occurring and asking “why” is yet another goof ball notion.

    What NASA operates under a LOT is the “Monkey theory”…if we have XXXX or XXXXX number of Monkeys on the keyboard someone will come up with (whatever document one wants)…This is why hundreds attend flight readiness meetings or they all sit around as mid course burns are taking place and even the tracking people are saying “this isnt what we were expecting”… “Dont worry someone else will catch it”.

    Many years ago I was getting my multi engine rating in a old PIper Apache. My instructor was (as I had for everything but the ATP) an American Airlines Captain (and a Naval Aviator). We were going over the TANK LOM at Dallas Love when I got around to running the checklist (as profile). I said “Gear Down three greens” and just as I was about to say “Flaps” oh Whetstone said “REally is the gear down” and I “really looked”…ie I turned my head and pointed at the lights. (they were down)

    He smiled and said “go ahead and do the approach”. As we taxied in I ask him what that was about and his reply is applicable here:

    “If you had really looked, really had mentally checked that the gear was where it was, you would not have done it when I asked, I see people (he was a 707 captain) checking the gear all the way down the glideslope…even some go over the threshold and say “down three greens”…check it at the correct place, really check it and unless you move it, it wont move. There are pilots who have landed gear up, those who dont follow checklist and will, and then there are the rest of us who use checklist correctly, we are the professionals.”.

    Bad habits, habits made by people who dont really have a clue what they are doing is why NASA requires hundreds to do the job of ten…they are always checking…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 5:38 am

    More on Albrecht’s Better-Cheaper-Faster:

    NASA Advisors Explain Mars Mission Failures to a Concerned Congress

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=115

    At the core of the Committee’s concerns was the failure of the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) mission because of simple metric Vs English units conversions and its subsequent crash on Mars; the loss of the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) apparently due to one bad line of software and its crash on Mars;…

    what “we need more money” on the units problem is…is “we are depending on random chance” theory RGO

  • common sense

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 12:03 am

    “That would surprise a lot of people, especially those at NASA. But I think you’re probably right.”

    Space Act… You know, laws and charters and this kind of things…

    “I think your point is that creating an exploration agency is not as simple as having NASA give the heave-ho to those activities that are not seen as exploration, and renaming the agency. What’s left won’t do it.”

    NASA is not a deep space exploration agency for humans. It is not. Now if you say that NASA is an “exploration” agency as much as NSF is then I might agree. What is exploration? Indeed.

    “Now I say that not being wholly certain what human space exploration really means. I don’t think anyone is. Putting feet on faraway rocks, I guess? The secret ingredient that an agency needs to do exploration is a good understanding of what it is. NASA clearly doesn’t have that understanding.”

    NASA does not since it is not the purpose of NASA to run human space exploration, once again. Their charter is much broader than just that.

    “I think NASA is quite capable of huge integrated projects. At least it was when it did Apollo, and Shuttle, and now ISS. It may not do those projects particularly cost effectively, but it got them done. But huge integrated projects don’t make exploration. It takes something else.”

    No current NASA is NOT capable of that. Those projects you mention are decades old. Look at the new mega projects and their success, or failure…

  • common sense

    “Recognizing that reality, Dr. Schmitt’s proposal would cede Low Earth Orbit to the private sector while pursuing the exploration of space (and the identification of space resources) through a new, dedicated agency.”

    See it is not about “ceding” anything, the language is not appropriate. No one I know who loves space flight loves NASA. They inspired us to reach seemingly unreachable goals. This being said, NASA 2011 is far different from NASA 1969. It’s not necessarily NASA’s doing. The relationship between NASA, Congress and industry is now totally inefficient. This is why the private sector today can help NASA reach its goals. First for ISS and LEO access. Second and if all goes right possibly deep(er) space. It is about synergy. It is not about splitting agengy(ies) and ceding ground. This is something you need hard to understand, you are creating the dichotomy not the private sector. You still live in 1969 you MUST come back to the future. And in this future of 1969 NASA will not set foot on the Moon. At least not in this future.

  • Doug Lassiter

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 9:27 pm
    “One problem with a NEO mission is that it would be a one-shot deal. The asteroid would whiz by Earth, and that would be it.”

    Precisely. Not only a one-shot deal, but that asteroid that humans would investigate is almost certainly NOT the asteroid that is going to someday threaten the planet. Unless one makes the astonishingly naive assumption that the one we visit is representative of the one that’s going to hit us, such a visit hardly offers any protection. So in that respect, I agree with Schmitt.

    But then he goes on to state that returning to the Moon inherently creates capabilities for reaching asteroids to study or divert them. That might be true, but ignores the fact that we already have capabilities to do those things. We don’t need the Moon to divert asteroids. Not by a long shot.

  • “I still believe in Project Constellation, and harbor hopes that a future President will see the wisdom in reviving it.”

    Although I may feel the same way, the unfortunate reality is that in space it takes years to get anthing started. There isn’t any space organization that can turn on a dime. Look how long it has taken Virgin Galactic to get to where they are, and they are still drop-testing with engines…

    It is bad enough that there has been a long history of cancelled NASA programs. We have a working ISS, so we need to make the most of it, even though it is less than ideal.

    If we don’t then there will be no shortage of politicians who will get up on the podium and ask why we are wasthing hundreds of billions on space.

  • …It is the classic case of needing to be very careful about what you wish for. Some day you might find yourself stuck with it.

  • John Malkin

    Chris Castro wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 3:19 am
    Very correct! The ISS was and still is a hugely big mistake! Continuing it until 2020 is a gigantic error!

    Unfortunately it is the “most” successful HSF program NASA has had since Shuttle. BTW The ISS couldn’t have been finished without our international partners of which own a large part of it. COTS is the second but it’s really a HSF “support” program. CCDev is a HSF program. Based on the record of the last 10 years, I bet CCDev will be more successful than the Orion MPCV on cost and capabilities. Bolden’s people might make SLS program into a silk purse but it will take a couple of years otherwise I bet it will have the same fate as Constellation.

    Also I hope people don’t think NASA will have more money for HSF if they take aeronautics out of NASA budget because Congress will remove at least that amount from their budget.

  • vulture4

    Chris Castro wrote: “Screw commercial space! Screw privatized LEO space stations! We want to see REAL space exploration!”

    If you have the money to pay for a space spectacular yourself, by all means have at it. But if you want tax dollars, I’m afraid you are out of luck. American taxpayers, particularly the ones with money, want tax cuts.

    Consequently, we need a harsh dose of realism. We don’t need and cannot afford more presidential space fantasies. NASA must provide practical benefits for America. If we are to have human spaceflight at all, the challenge is not to make it more exciting. Our real challenge is to make it safe, economical, productive and routine.

    Want excitement? Go to a movie!

  • @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 1:03 am

    “You make it seem like NASA is this singular entity that operates without help from the outside world – they don’t. For the vehicles you mention, they were all built by the aerospace industry and NASA was the customer.”

    NASA doesn’t even have that many wrench-turners (i.e. people that build things), so technically they don’t even really build the vehicles that they “operate”, and they don’t even operate the Shuttle (USA does all the processing).”

    No, its you guys who make it seem like NASA builds spacecraft without private contractors! And its you guys who continue to trash NASA vendors like Boeing and Lockheed because you’re so in love with an amateur rocket company called Space X!

    “How do you learn to live and work in space without living and working in space? How do you test out space hardware without a place in space to test it?”

    Living at the ISS doesn’t help you to live on the Moon or Mars.

    We already know that a microgravity environment is inherently deleterious to human health. What we don’t know is if hypogravity environments like on the surface of the Moon or Mars are inherently deleterious to human health. And we’re not going to find that out until we have permanent bases on these worlds.

    Plus the ISS is not even large enough to accommodate an internal centrifuge that might be the answer to the deleterious effects of a microgravity environment.

    “We just spent $100B putting the largest space station ever built in space, and it’s in really good shape, so why not use it to retire risk for building the systems we need for further expansion into space?”

    We can place a space station with twice the volume of the ISS at a fraction of the cost in the right orbit for US launches when our HLV is ready. And it won’t be limited to just 6 people. Bigelow’s BA-2100 will be able to accommodate up to 16 people.

    If you want to continue the ISS program simply for diplomatic reasons, then we should do it for no more than $1 billion a year. But $3 billion a year is way too much for the US to be spending on a space station that isn’t even exclusively owned by us. And there is no way we’re getting $3 billion a year worth of tremendous science out of the ISS. No way!!!!!!!

  • @John Malkin

    Congress wisely supported the building of the SLS because they knew that NASA was doomed as an institution if NASA spent nearly $200 billion over the next ten years with absolutely nothing to show for it!

    Of course, most Libertarians actually want to cripple NASA and all other government programs, instead of reforming them, in order perpetuate their crazy laissez faire capitalist extremist philosophy. But all they’re doing is helping to create a right wing plutocracy (government by the rich, for the rich, and of the rich) that is gradually impoverishing more and more Americans.

  • Dennis Berube

    If Bigelows station is the answer, then how come no one is offering to put it into space? Lets get it done and flying. ISS is flying, so too wll Orion and the HLV, quite probably with those hot SRBs!

  • Attempts to quantify the science return from the ISS are important, but focusing solely on that return misses two other points. The ISS, however it may have been victimized and rerouted by politics and budgets (not adding the centrifuge is inexcusable), is still an important milestone on the road to future exploration. First, it made a coalition of unprecedented size and breadth work successfully on a space project, with agreements and decisions that will be the foundation for future projects, Second, the only way to learn how to build and maintain a huge, complex strutcture in space is to DO IT. The knowledge, missteps, redesigns, improvisations, and lessons learned in building and operating the ISS will pay dividends in space exploration and colonization for generations.

  • And its you guys who continue to trash NASA vendors like Boeing and Lockheed because you’re so in love with an amateur rocket company called Space X!

    Adding exclamation points to nutty comments doesn’t make them sane.

    We don’t “love” SpaceX (which, by the way, it’s equally nutty to call “amateur” — they are professionals with billions in backlog for satellite delivery). We are in love with competition that makes space affordable, something that SLS will never do. We are all in favor of Boeing’s Commercial Crew activities, as far as I know. It would be nice if you would comment on things we actually say and believe, instead of what you fantasize that we say and believe.

    If Bigelows station is the answer, then how come no one is offering to put it into space?

    Why would someone else have to “offer to put it into space”? Bigelow will have it delivered to space just as soon as he has a way to get passengers to and from it. There is no point to launching it until then, and that’s still two or three years off under the Commercial Crew program.

  • Doug Lassiter

    common sense wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 10:27 a
    “Space Act… You know, laws and charters and this kind of things…”

    Yes, I’m very familiar with the Space Act. In fact, I think I brought the idea to this forum a year or two ago that human space flight was not, in fact, prescribed for the agency by that Act. That precipitated a long argument about what federal legislation defined the agency. Was the Space Act just a founding document, or a binding document?

    I think it was Dan Goldin who enthusiastically characterized NASA as the “exploration agency”. It has been pointed out that the word “exploration” appears around a thousand times in the NASA budget proposal. Everything NASA does is predicated on that word … which they don’t really ever try to define.

    NASA desperately wants to be an exploration agency. NASA scientists certainly see themselves as explorers because they discover new things. NASA astronauts certainly see themselves as explorers because they go where most people haven’t gone. Many would say that NASA astronauts aren’t explorers because they don’t lately go places that no one has ever gone. I’m sure there are places on Earth that, should I choose to go there, I would be more of an explorer, by this definition, than our current astronauts.

    ISS is “decades old”, and therefore is not an example of how the current agency can do large projects? Well, ISS was just completed, so while pieces of it might be decades old (small pieces), most of it is not. For many reasons, space exploration (however one defines it) is a decadal proposition. I actually know of no other civil agency that is more capable of developing tens of billion dollar technology.

    NASA actually gets big technology projects done. But what it isn’t very good at is developing sound rationale for big technology projects. Rationale that makes the country want to spend more money on those big technology projects. Some would say that NASA’s PR machine is incompetent. I think the problem goes far, far deeper than that.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 10:03 am
    “Until space advocates and policy folks (and NASA) recognize that it is not 1960 and Apollo is never coming back…the future is quite bad. RGO”

    The future is, in fact, quite good and promising– especially with looming competition from the PRC. Nobody expects ‘Apollo’ to come back; they do expect a ‘return to the moon’ as inevitable. Whether it is American led is another matter. But to expect policymakers to reject the success of Apollo in future planning is absurd. Especially when no other nation or private firm has yet to replicate the Apollo achievement. U.S. space activities have chiefly been reactive, not proactive, which is characteristic of an enterprise driven by geopolitical and military rationales, not by quarterly profits. A quick review of the 80-plus year history of modern rocketry should remind you that governments, in various guises, have led the way in this field whereas the private sector, at least in the West, has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. The future awaits– and for private enterprised space firms, tick-tock, tick-tock… time marches on, and they still have not successfully launched, orbited and returned anybody safely.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 21st, 2011 at 11:10 am

    ROFLMAO dining on humble pie. Consolidating space operations- NASA, et al, under a DoD mantre of some sort, ‘Coast Guard’ or whatever, has been a consistent position of this writer, accelorated by the pressures of the current economic climate. Your persistent, rants in oposition of even considering such, were wrong, as usual.

  • DCSCA

    @common sense wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 11:20 am
    “This being said, NASA 2011 is far different from NASA 1969.”

    Duh. Such is the LEO legacy initiated by the Nixon administration worsened by the ‘privatization’ mantre of the Reagan years. Stream line the agency, clear out the aging, LEO shuttle bureaucracy and repopulate it w/young, clear minded engineers and NASA will be just fine. But as of today, it needs a big house cleaning and over the next few years that may just happen.

  • NASA, et al, under a DoD mantre of some sort, ‘Coast Guard’ or whatever,

    No, “this idiot writer” pseudonamed “DCSCA” has been saying that “NASA would be tucked under the protective wing of the DoD.” That remains nutty.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    “We don’t “love” SpaceX (which, by the way, it’s equally nutty to call “amateur” — they are professionals with billions in backlog for satellite delivery).” Then you must adore, Arianespace, which has been operating since 1980.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr. Berube

    If Bigelows station is the answer, then how come no one is offering to put it into space? Lets get it done and flying. ISS is flying, so too wll Orion and the HLV, quite probably with those hot SRBs!

    Because they’ve already purchased a launcher (see SpaceX manifest – 2014)

    Also, do you ridiculous you sound when you say “those hot SRBs”?

  • Then you must adore, Arianespace, which has been operating since 1980.

    What a monumentally stupid comment.

    What does my correcting terminology of “professional” versus “amateur” have to do with whether or not I should “love” or “adore” any particular entity? Have you ever taken a course in logic? Do you ever think before you post?

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Humble pie is now being served to you. Tuck in. Or perhaps you didn’t read the article you cite. Because it’s a pretty good one:

    ” …this mix of military and civil characteristics may be particularly appropriate for space missions….”

    “So, for instance, some proposals call for the creation of a Space Corps that would relate to the Air Force [DoD, fella] in much the same way that the Marine Corps relates to the Navy [both DoD, fella]: autonomous, but under the control of the Secretary of the Navy, and relying on the Navy for various functions such as legal and medical services. Other proposals would adopt the model of the historical Army Air Corps [<- War Department, later known as DoD] or the later U.S. Army Air Forces, making space a quasi-autonomous service within the parent service.
    There is another proposal, however, that would restructure not just military but also civilian space activities. This proposal would create a U.S. Space Guard on the model of the U.S. Coast Guard, charged with carrying out a variety of infrastructure, support, constabulary, and regulatory tasks. The Space Guard would assume some functions now performed by the Air Force, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."

    Your personal attacks aside, in fact, Rand, it's an interesting proposal. Coffee or tea is available with your humble pie BTW. And FYI, "[t]he five uniformed services that make up the Armed Forces are defined in 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(4):The term "armed forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard." And, "[i]n times of war, the Coast Guard or individual components of it can operate as a service of the Department of the Navy." The USN <[DoD fella.] Oops. And in case yuo forgot, the U.S. is currently conducting three 'wars' now. The modern 'Coast Guard' was placed under the domain of Homeland Security after the department was formed but it can be activated in wartime conditions "under the wing" as it were, of the DoD, fella. The DoD involvement in ramping up a 'Space Guard'- USAF/USN is quite necessary as layed out in this piece as well. So my consistent proposal remains quite valid and, unlike your foolish, reactive premises, open to compromise:

    "The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President at any time or Congress during time of war." And, of course, keep in mind, America is conducting three "wars" at this time.

    The piece you cite makes this crushing statement to profiteers playing at rocketeers, seeking government subsidies under the pretense of commercial space advocates:

    "Within this mix, we can assume that government will be a substantial actor, and that it will continue to pursue longstanding governmental interests like national defense and the projection of power."Yes, eat hearty on that humble pie, Rand. Your ranting is wrong, again.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 5:28 pm
    Easy to see why a shill for SpaceX ignores 30 year successes like Ariane and, of course, you’ve endorsed my base premise of an ‘under wing/DoD’ shift in the guise of a ‘Space Guard.’ So “do you ever think before you post’ befits you. Seconds and thirds on that humble pie are available.

    .

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    NASA desperately wants to be an exploration agency. NASA scientists certainly see themselves as explorers because they discover new things.

    Let’s keep in mind that NASA’s self-described mission statement is to “pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

    Exploration is part of that, but only 38% of the total NASA budget.

    Some would say that NASA’s PR machine is incompetent. I think the problem goes far, far deeper than that.

    I think PR is what is done to communicate with the public, and though I think they could do it better, I don’t see that as the big problem since the public has rarely risen up to support future space projects.

    I think the big problem is that politicians see NASA’s budget in provincial terms, in that they are more concerned about what NASA can do for their districts than what NASA can do for it various real responsibilities. This is how I view what happened with the Space Launch System (SLS), since it doesn’t have a defined or funded need.

    The Constellation program was maybe a noble effort at the beginning, since it was supposed to be fulfilling the part of the VSE that dealt with returning to the Moon by 2020. But that failed because of the lack of a rigorous review and recommendation program for the hardware elements. Instead we had Michael Griffin designating his favorites without outside validation. Add on top of that poor program management and oversight, and it quickly became a financial nightmare.

    As long as politicians view NASA as a funding stream for their districts, then it will continue to lack sharp and cohesive focus. That’s part of the reason why I like the idea of commercial entities taking over more of the routine tasks NASA has done, since that is one more level removed from the politicians, and we get more for our money.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    “The future is, in fact, quite good and promising– especially with looming competition from the PRC. Nobody expects ‘Apollo’ to come back; they do expect a ‘return to the moon’ as inevitable. Whether it is American led is another matter. But to expect policymakers to reject the success of Apollo in future planning is absurd. Especially when no other nation or private firm has yet to replicate the Apollo achievement. ”

    not sure why I need to respond when you contradict you’re own logic.

    The “success” of Apollo is nothing that was not well understood at the time. A well focused agreed to goal with government centralized planning WORKS.

    The right wing nuts of the GOP have a hard time with that one. But in its crawl from 13 small states on a sea coast to a superpower where the major progress has been made is when the federal government did what it did under Apollo (and WW2 and building the interstate highway system etc)…

    But the reason for APollo has vanished and there is no hint that it is going to return, nor that any other country has found a reason to spend billions to send people to the Moon to plant flags and sing songs. YOu might think that the PRC is going to do that, but there is little evidence for that, but the right wing fears.

    and thats not evidence. They like to think it is, but 2 trillion dollars later (Iraq and Afland) and 4 trillion later (all the bank bailouts) we should stop listening to them,,,and you RGO

  • Coffee or tea is available with your humble pie BTW.M

    No humble pie needed. I have been advocating a Space Guard for years. It bears no resemblance to the unthinking idiocy that you’ve been advocating.

  • John Malkin

    @Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I’ll give a big Chicago pizza party if SLS makes it to orbit. It’s Congress that dooms it or rather the House and Senate space committees with the help of the appropriations committees .

    I like Boeing a lot because they are seriously trying to reduce cost and I like all the CCDev2 winners but some will fall short, welcome to capitalism. SpaceX amateur, really? That’s just rhetoric. Next you’ll tell me that Virgin Galactic is amateur. I want NASA to succeed. Show me the money or make it affordable, those are the only options for US HSF.

    I’m not Libertarian. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

  • Also, DCSCidiot, the author of that Space Guard piece is a strong advocate of commercial space, and sees the Space Guard as a key means of enabling and nurturing it.

  • John Malkin

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Very nice post.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 6:21 pm
    “Exploration is part of that, but only 38% of the total NASA budget.”

    I think we’re mostly in agreement, but I have to point out that NASA space scientists use the word “exploration” liberally in describing what they do. Of course, ESMD has tried to hijack the word for themselves, and many space advocates have followed that lead. That hijacking has largely been institutionally successful. Trying to dehijack the word, NASA spends a lot more than 38% of the budget in what many of it’s workers refer to as “exploration”. Just sayin’. That’s why I say that NASA desperately want to be thought of as doing exploration. Just back to the question — what’s “exploration”?

    Exactly right about NASA’s problem being that it is viewed by Congress in a provincial way. But why is that happening? Because at least with regard to HSF, NASA has never developed a credible rationale for why it is doing what it is doing. Provincial perspectives naturally flow in to fill the rationale gap.

    I think you’re saying that NASA can’t come up with compelling rationale for HSF because Congress won’t let it. But I look at it the other way. I see Congress coming up with dollars-for-my-district as a rationale for NASA because NASA can’t come up with anything more convincing.

    That’s the problem. It’s not that NASA PR doesn’t know how to say it, but that NASA just doesn’t know what to say.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Living at the ISS doesn’t help you to live on the Moon or Mars.”

    Wrong here. The ISS helps by getting actual in space experience without being so far away(the moon) that repairs are expensive or so far away that your technology can not fail at all(Mars).

    If the ISS had been a Mars bound craft the crew would have died. Systems that should have lasted longer failed before their expected lifetimes. The ISS’s hard drives failed (and had to be replaced with solid state memory devices). The ISS’s light bulbs didn’t last as long as planned. The assembly was more complicated than it looked(in fact if they had not tried it out on a previous shuttle flight they would have assembled the trust completely by hand like a tinker toy). Learning how to build and maintain stuff in space is something basic to what is needed to do it elsewhere. Can you imagine tinker toying your lunar base? A tinker toy trust is volumetrically more efficient than preassembling it, but until someone did said work in space did they realize that doing it that way was too hard.

    You can resupply the ISS with Taurus II, Falcon 9, Soyuz, Ariane 5, and H-11B.

    A lunar base will be dependant esp. one that is US only will be dependant on SLS if the shuttle is a guide and NASA does not reform. Imagine what will happen if SLS explodes or Orion suffers a fatal malfunction while you are building your lunar base. Unlike the ISS, there will be no other way to get to it.

    When Columbia failed the ISS could still be manned(in a reduced form) thanks to Soyuz and others. If the ISS were 100% dependant on the shuttle it would have had to be unmanned for 2 years after Columbia and another year after it was clear the Columbia fixes didn’t work as well as needed. Like the ISS it will take years to build since the only system that will build it will be SLS(and limited by it’s launch rate). Every SLS delay will impact it. This is the reason why people like me favor commercial so that there are multiple ways to build, crew and supply your destination.

  • Major Tom

    “The future is, in fact, quite good and promising– especially with looming competition from the PRC.”

    Unlikely given slowing growth and hundreds of billions of dollars of bad real estate and business loans in China’s economy, broke local governments, rising protests, and huge imbalances between the interior and coastal populations:

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-21/news/29683571_1_credit-suisse-head-of-china-research-chinese-central-bank

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/43321347/China_s_Great_Suppression_Will_Fail_Analyst

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/43074584/China_Economic_Facade_Starts_to_Show_Cracks_Chanos

    FWIW…

  • @John Malkin wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    “I’ll give a big Chicago pizza party if SLS makes it to orbit. It’s Congress that dooms it or rather the House and Senate space committees with the help of the appropriations committees .”

    Boeing strongly campaigned for the HLV and will probably get the contract to build the core LOX/LH2 for the SLS. Boeing didn’t have any problems building the LOX/LH2 core vehicles for the Delta IV rocket so I see no logical reason why they should have any problem placing RS-25E rocket engines beneath a shuttle derived in-line LOX/LH2 rocket. Building the core LOX/LH2 booster should be pretty simple– unless you think Boeing can’t build rockets anymore.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 8:10 pm
    No you havent. You’ve been advocating SpaceX and, of course, a lobbying group of ultra-conservative wackos desperate to access government funding for commercial space firms because the private sector turns them down. More pie?

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 8:12 pm
    My, we are defensive, aren’t we. So? That doesn’t negate the concept but it’s no surprise you’re shilling for a ‘commerical space’ author as well. Your pie is getting cold. Von Braun worked for Hitler but that didn’t prevent adaptation of his engineering ideas and skills to put Americans on the moon. Space exploitation is not space exploration but learning that is difficult for you. Bennett’s article makes the not-so-pleasant point for commercial space advocates hungry to access government subsidies: “Within this mix, we can assume that government will be a substantial actor, and that it will continue to pursue longstanding governmental interests like national defense and the projection of power.” Not exactly a favorable assessment for commerical space prospects. Have another piece of humble pie, there, fella. Free refills on the coffee.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 8:06 pm
    “The “success” of Apollo is nothing that was not well understood at the time.” Hmmm. The people who did it were no where near as certain at the time of its success in the time frame on hand as you seem to be, but then, you are babbling w/hindsight. We’re talking modern spaceflight and you’re discussing the 1770′s and the 13 colonies. And, of course, the PRC’s plans are well documented. It’s pretty easy to look it up and when they do a circumlunar flight, it’ll be a another nail in the coffin of the ‘American century.’ “Denial” is a river in Egypt, too. No doubt your Sputnik moment will be a pleasant one.

  • common sense

    @ Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    “Was the Space Act just a founding document, or a binding document?”

    I can’t tell but for sure it needs to be revisited. A 1958 Act, essentially, defining NASA? Anyway.

    “I think it was Dan Goldin who enthusiastically characterized NASA as the “exploration agency”. It has been pointed out that the word “exploration” appears around a thousand times in the NASA budget proposal. Everything NASA does is predicated on that word … which they don’t really ever try to define.”

    They don’t define because it belongs to the intangible, y’know?

    “NASA desperately wants to be an exploration agency. NASA scientists certainly see themselves as explorers because they discover new things. NASA astronauts certainly see themselves as explorers because they go where most people haven’t gone. Many would say that NASA astronauts aren’t explorers because they don’t lately go places that no one has ever gone. I’m sure there are places on Earth that, should I choose to go there, I would be more of an explorer, by this definition, than our current astronauts.”

    Well as a scientist I am an explorer too. But as you said earlier that is not the HSF definition of explorer. Indiana Jones is an explorer closer to that of NASA HSF.

    “ISS is “decades old”, and therefore is not an example of how the current agency can do large projects? Well, ISS was just completed, so while pieces of it might be decades old (small pieces), most of it is not.”

    ISS was just completed but not its design and integration overall. Constellation just showed how they could not do it and btw inquire and you will see that a lot of the ISS managers were in charge of Constellation, so?

    “For many reasons, space exploration (however one defines it) is a decadal proposition. I actually know of no other civil agency that is more capable of developing tens of billion dollar technology.”

    Hmm, that is one of the reason why we need commercial space to make the cycle shorter. How about DOE? They cannot work multibillion dollar programs? Successfully?

    “NASA actually gets big technology projects done. But what it isn’t very good at is developing sound rationale for big technology projects. Rationale that makes the country want to spend more money on those big technology projects. Some would say that NASA’s PR machine is incompetent. I think the problem goes far, far deeper than that.”

    No, both are broken. What kind of PR would you expect out of Ares IX, say? Okay Times made it, actually Ares I, Invention of the Year. It probably changed the lives of so many that I am sure you can ask anyone on the street and they will tell you it was Invention of the Year, right?

    Nah. NASA cannot do any of that today. Period. Watch for the reorg coming…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Living at the ISS doesn’t help you to live on the Moon or Mars.

    and

    Matt Bille wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    ” First, it made a coalition of unprecedented size and breadth work successfully on a space project, with agreements and decisions that will be the foundation for future projects, Second, the only way to learn how to build and maintain a huge, complex strutcture in space is to DO IT. ”

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Just as I am uncomfortable defending Lori Garver (even when she is correct) I find it equally uncomfortable defending ISS, because I stopped supporting the program during Bush the first term…but…we have it now and the analysis of how to go forward should be what is NOW AND HERE not what we wish had happened.

    ISS for all its flaws (and there are a lot) is a valuable step on the way to living and working on other worlds or more correctly it is a valuable step in learning how to work in an environment that while there are changes in gravity is for the most part completely different then anyplace on earth in mostly all the same ways…gravity and environment etc while different on the Moon and free space are more alike when compared together with an earth land based environment.

    If we cannot figure out how to keep people ECONOMICALLY in Low Earth orbit it is folly to imagine we are somehow going to figure out how to do that on the Moon or Mars or anywhere else. Space is a place and that place is more similar then dissimilar no matter where we are going to go in it (at least for the near term) once you get into LEO.

    People like Spudis et al are caught up on places in space (for Spudis its the Moon) as if they are some magic talisman which changes dramatically the equation of going there for the better. The Moon is not Hawaii…get there and you can survive just as well as when you left California with the same tools that you had in LA…leave earth and no matter where you go you need about the same tools.

    Having said that, ISS is no example of how to run a project. MOST if not all of the international involvement was done for two reasons 1) to keep the project politically viable here at home and 2) because NASA and its flunkly contractors had priced itself out of the market in terms of actually building things. The compromises made for #1 have probably doomed the project to perpetual medocrity in terms of doing anything of value for the cost and until #2 is fixed there is really no reason to try any larger space efforts.

    There are all the reasons in the world to assume (because it was happening with Cx) that NASA would frack up a lunar return more then it fracked up the space station. I dont recall how many billions (and it was billions) NASA spent on the “prop node” before we just gave up and for a few hundred million bought Russian. We simply had to give up on a lunar mission because NASA priced it out of the market.

    ISS in the long run will probably be known for two things good. First it enabled commercial resupply which is probably essential for a brand new commercial market and Second it taught?is teaching lessons about how to build things that hopefully the efficiencies of a true free enterprise system can hopefully put to use in doing “semi private” space stations. There are other possible ways ISS can pull its mass in value but the politics of it will probably prevent these.

    If we dont make something useful of LEO, we wont go anywhere else in the solar system. The current cost are just to high RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I think you’re saying that NASA can’t come up with compelling rationale for HSF because Congress won’t let it.

    No, I do think that NASA has plenty of bright people that can suggest places to go and things to do. However they can only do that within an allowed budget, and within the parameters of that budget.

    Typically the big HSF programs have been pushed by administrations – Kennedy the Moon, Nixon the Shuttle, and Clinton the ISS. I never had the sense that Bush 43 pushed much for Constellation, but nevertheless he kept it in the budget.

    NASA PR supported these programs, but they were not advocating for them in the halls of Congress before their administration’s did.

    I see Congress coming up with dollars-for-my-district as a rationale for NASA because NASA can’t come up with anything more convincing.

    Administrations, in conjunction with their NASA and other appointees, do submit plans for what they would like to do with the NASA budget. With the Obama administration, they proposed canceling Constellation, converting Orion into the MPCV, delaying for 5 years a decision on a Super-Heavy LV, a big push to get commercial cargo and crew going, technology development to support future HSF missions, and more.

    But the system is “the President proposes, and Congress disposes”, so regardless what the President wants, Congress can put together laws and appropriations that better fit what they would rather have. The President could veto the laws, but typically they are rolled in with lots of other things, and keeping in mind reality, space is not that big an issue for Presidents to spend much political capital on.

    Except for the SLS, this last NASA Budget Act & Appropriations represented a big win for the administration, so sometimes you have to settle for 80% of what you want.

    Absent some sort of National Imperative to change the status quo and help focus everyone onto “The Plan” (whatever that may be), I don’t see this current tug of war between Administration wishes and Congressional desires changing.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 22nd, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Boeing may be able to build rockets but NASA can’t manage to time or budget and moreover can’t manage cost-plus contracts. If the job’s not competitively tendered with fixed price milestones then say goodbye to any chance of building and flying anything. I’m willing to bet Cx all over again although I think the s*** will hit the fan before the spend gets anywhere near the Cx figure this time around.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Boeing strongly campaigned for the HLV and will probably get the contract to build the core LOX/LH2 for the SLS. Boeing didn’t have any problems building the LOX/LH2 core vehicles for the Delta IV rocket so I see no logical reason why they should have any problem placing RS-25E rocket engines beneath a shuttle derived in-line LOX/LH2 rocket. Building the core LOX/LH2 booster should be pretty simple– unless you think Boeing can’t build rockets anymore.”

    Boeing is not the prime contracter for SLS. If NASA follows CXP, Marshall will be(i.e. NASA will be handling the design….and Boeing et. al will be sub contracters).

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 12:58 am

    I wrote:
    “The “success” of Apollo is nothing that was not well understood at the time.”

    You replied:
    ” The people who did it were no where near as certain at the time of its success in the time frame on hand as you seem to be, ”

    sure they were.

    That generation had used the federal government to do incredible things on time and more or less for the cost estimated for at 20 some odd years by the time Kennedy made the public commitment.

    The largest such case before was of course Manhattan. Which is a text book case of how to run a large centrally controlled government program to achieve a determined technical outcome…and do it in a certain time frame. The only difference between Manhattan and Apollo was that everyone knew what Apollo was doing, only a few key people knew where all the puzzles of the “gadget” were heading. The Senior Test Pilot of the Beeson (the B-29) had no clue why the USAAC kept insisting that the plane have X nm of range, carry Y bombload and do it by a certain time.

    The US Federal government (before the right wing of the GOP came forward) use to be very very good at doing technical issues and doing them fairly close to budget.

    Kennedy didnt just pick a goal in the dark, he looked at it pretty carefully and Webb gave him a number in terms of dollars that was pretty close. And that was actually a tough technical project; NASA since shuttle has been unable to estimate the cost of building a new toilet.

    Except for the fact that I am use to the right wing being being this inept I am curious as to why you push out goofy things that are obviously wrong…RGO

  • DCSCidiot wrote:

    “Within this mix, we can assume that government will be a substantial actor, and that it will continue to pursue longstanding governmental interests like national defense and the projection of power.” Not exactly a favorable assessment for commerical space prospects.

    The second sentence in no way follows logically from the first. In fact, it is completely unrelated. But then, logic has never been your strong suit.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 2:21 am
    “They don’t define [exploration] because it belongs to the intangible, y’know? ”

    The intangible as a solid basis for national policy? Snicker. The OMB assesses performance against the intangible? Big snicker. No, exploration is just a code word for something unspecified that is somehow, by definition, a good thing.

    “But as you said earlier that is not the HSF definition of explorer. Indiana Jones is an explorer closer to that of NASA HSF. ”

    Ah, that’s it! The definition of human space exploration! Do stuff like Indiana Jones. Now, why don’t they just say that in the budget proposal??

    “How about DOE? They cannot work multibillion dollar programs? Successfully?”

    No one is arguing that NASA can’t work multibillion dollar programs successfully. I carefully said “tens of billions”. A different class. Tell me a civil technology development (R&D) program — the equivalent of a NASA “mission”, that cost tens of billions of dollars. I don’t think I can come up with a DOE development program that cost anywhere near what Shuttle or ISS did. One can argue about the meaning of the word “successfully”. On the one hand, if it works, it’s successful. On the other hand, if in order to do that it costs vastly more than it should have, then it isn’t.

    “I do think that NASA has plenty of bright people that can suggest places to go and things to do. However they can only do that within an allowed budget, and within the parameters of that budget.”

    As I said, because Congress won’t let it. But really, what NASA hasn’t come up with, and the Administration largely hasn’t taken the leadership in doing, is providing a reason to go to these destinations and doing things there. Going to the Moon and raking up water there is a destination, and a thing to do there. But why? Oh, to make it easier to go to other destinations where we can rake up something else! Must be something worth raking up on Mars. Circular logic.

    “Administrations, in conjunction with their NASA and other appointees, do submit plans for what they would like to do with the NASA budget. With the Obama administration, they proposed canceling Constellation, converting Orion into the MPCV, delaying for 5 years a decision on a Super-Heavy LV, a big push to get commercial cargo and crew going, technology development to support future HSF missions, and more.”

    Yes, Administrations do submit plans. What you’re talking about here are implementation plans. I’m talking about rationale. We’ve had few Administrations that have ever come up with really compelling rationale. The rationale for the Moon landing was clearly that of soft power. With regard to human space flight, most Administrations hide behind soft words like “exploration” and “inspiration” and, i doing so, fail to achieve any sense of real rationale with measurable consequences. VSE came close to providing real rationale. While Obama’s implementation plan is arguably sensible, it has little basis in compelling rationale. That being the case, Congress is happy to step in and make the rationale all about jobs. Jobs are, in the eye of the voting public, a powerful rationale.

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I think you were responding to “common sense” on some of the posts, and not me. No worries.

    But in response to something I wrote, you responded:

    But really, what NASA hasn’t come up with, and the Administration largely hasn’t taken the leadership in doing, is providing a reason to go to these destinations and doing things there.

    I agree, but it really goes out to everyone – why spend all this money on putting people into space?

    For Kennedy it was part of the Cold War, so it was deemed a National Imperative (beat the USSR). The Shuttle was created in the shadow of Apollo, and the desire was to create a low cost way to access space (a failed experiment). The ISS is a research outpost analogous to our work in the Antarctic, but with an eye towards preparing us to expand to BEO locations.

    Now I guess you could rationalize our “investment” in space so far as helping to establish a robust satellite business that has provided a large base of tax revenue from communications and entertainment. Also part of the money we spent was for pure research, which seems to be supported by the public.

    I’m talking about rationale.

    Yep. It is certainly something that is a debatable subject – how much do we spend on “space”, and what are our goals? Unless there is another National Imperative, then I don’t see an all-encompassing “plan” emerging. Until then, I’m quite happy with continuing the efforts that support what has become to known as the “Flexible Path”.

    That being the case, Congress is happy to step in and make the rationale all about jobs. Jobs are, in the eye of the voting public, a powerful rationale.

    If the public voted on this specific issue (as opposed to representatives who do the voting), then maybe you could make that argument. However I think the reality is that the Congressional fiefdoms controlling NASA are more focused on jobs in their specific districts than jobs in other districts. Because of that, I don’t think the part of Congress focused on NASA is acting absent a plan, I think they are more focused on supporting their NASA-specific constituents.

    A case in point is the SLS, which is being pushed fiercely by the NASA Congressional committees, even though they have done nothing to provide funding to actually use it, and the only rationale is “we think we need it”. Despite “common wisdom”, so far the only detailed studies NASA has produced (HEFT and Nautilus-X) can be done using existing or near-term commercial launch vehicles – there is no independently validated rationale for building the SLS at this time. None. Zero. Nada.

    So if Congress is building the SLS to generate jobs, is that a valid rationale?

    For the SLS, I say no, mainly because the result of building the SLS does not produce self-sustaining jobs in the future.

    My $0.02

  • Vladislaw

    GAS STATIONS TO THE STARS:
    or at least the ort cloud

    When will people wake up? We don’t need big. The argument over how big of launch vehicles is the wrong arguement. The only real arguement we should be having is where do we place the gas stations. Land travel, sea travel or air travel is no longer even bothered about distance. It isn’t even a question anymore on planet earth. We go where we want when we want to ANY destination on the planet by any means of terrestrial transportation because of one fact. And SIZE is not a variable in the equation. We go were we want with all our forms of transportation because ALL of forms of transportation have the fuel stops needed to push on to the next leg of the journey.

    It just amazes me that people do not even blink at the thought of traveling, by automobile, 3000 miles across America because we have a network of fuel stops. These same people then want to propose the exact opposite system for space when the distances are magnitudes greater AND propose that it both more economical and saner to bring all our fuel with you at the start of the journey! ( that exclamation mark was for Rand.. smiles)

    Can you even imagine what our networks of transportation would look like on the planet if that was the philosophy we used? Every trip by land, sea and air carried all the fuel they would need for a round trip?

    Even the most basic primative form of transportation we had at the founding of America, the horse, had it’s “gas” stations, in the form of livery stables and blacksmith shops scattered across the eastern seaboard. No one said we can not “explore” past the eastern mountain ranges because we needed bigger horses. It was more a question of economies of scale and we would just need to use more of the “little” horses to carry more of what we needed. It was all about logistics and the logistics of long distance travel by any means of terrestrial transportation systems is the fuel stops.

    Let’s stop beating that dead horse of bigger rockets and start working on the bigger question of where should we start building the gas stations we need to make the question of distance and destinations moot.

  • DCSCA

    If we dont make something useful of LEO, we wont go anywhere else in the solar system. <- Nonsense. LEO is fine for space exploitation and that areana of commerce has taken root but probing further out is space exploration. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    “Space exploitation is not space exploration.” correct and space exploration deeper then earth orbit will not happen with humans until exploitation of near earth space using humans has come up with something that makes the whole thing have value for cost.

    The days of “exploration because we explore” are over at least for humans and have been for sometime. RGO

  • William Mellberg

    Major Tom wrote:

    “The Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources is allowed to publish his personal political opinions and distribute them on the internet? Political appointees usually serve at the pleasure of their elected official and do not publically express personal views while in office. Does the Office of the Governor of New Mexico know about this website?”

    Your point is a valid one. But Dr. Schmitt withdrew his nomination. He was never confirmed to the post.

    The website was launched about a year ago, prior to his nomination. Each of the essays on the website was originally issued as a press release. After the series had grown into several dozen commentaries, Dr. Schmitt decided to post them online at his own website. The essay collection is ongoing, as are his regular ‘Postscripts.’ I would remind you that Dr. Schmitt was Senator Schmitt (R-NM) from 1977-1983. His interest in politics, as in space, remains keen.

    “A former Apollo astronaut is really writing incendiary statements like NASA ‘Ames Research Center should be auctioned to the highest domestic bidder’?”

    That isn’t incendiary. It’s simply Dr. Schmitt’s opinion that the Ames Research Center would not fit into his proposed space exploration agency. He further believes that the private sector might have an interest in Ames if NASA were to be dismantled per his proposal. I would also remind you that Dr. Schmitt was Chair of the NASA Advisory Council from 2005-2008.

    “This website appears to be an unofficial and unendorsed reproduction of old mimeographed op-eds, only some of which may actually be attributable to Schmitt, apparently created out of some strange sense of Apollo hero worship. It’s doubtful that Schmitt is aware of or comfortable with a lot of what’s on this website, and even if he is, it’s almost certain that the Office of the Governor of New Mexico would want this website taken down as long as Schmitt serves that office.”

    The website is quite official. As stated in Dr. Schmitt’s new booklet, “Space Policy and the Constitution” (which can be downloaded from the website):

    “These essays were originally issued as Press Releases seriatim on the dates indicated at the beginning of each piece. Some have since been revised in light of subsequent events. The five essays here were extracted from America’s Uncommon Sense: The Founders’ View Today, an ongoing collection of the author’s reflections on current political events and the U.S. Constitution. The compendium can be downloaded in whole or in parts in PDF and Kindle formats or read online at:

    http://americasuncommonsense.com/blog/downloads/

    You will note that there are links throughout Dr. Schmitt’s PDF booklet to his ‘AUS’ website.

    “Hawker Siddeley was not the same organization as Avro. The former absorbed the latter. Other than vaguely proving my point with a foreign aircraft firm analogy, what does that have to do with how U.S. aeronautics R&D efforts should be organized and managed?”

    My point was about experience. Jim Floyd was selected as the British government’s consultant on Concorde because he had a lifetime of experience in designing and building airplanes from biplanes to SSTs. (He designed a Mach 1.15 transport 40 years ahead of Boeing’s Sonic Cruiser.) In between, Dr. Floyd helped turn the ill-fated Manchester into the legendary Lancaster, designed the world’s second jet transport (North America’s first) and led the team that created the fabulous Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow. Two dozen of his top engineers joined NASA’s Space Task Group following the cancellation of the Arrow, making major contributions to America’s space program. They included people like Owen Maynard and James Chamberlin. I might add that Floyd and his team worked with Hugh Dryden and NACA during the design and development phase of the Arrow. That, too, was my point … a recreated NACA would serve the advancement of aeronautics.

    Sorry about the delay in responding to your comments. I was without power for the past two days owing to a very bad storm that went through Chicago on Tuesday. Apart from trying to conduct business without power, I’ve also been responsible for getting my 91-year old father through the blackout. Fortunately, power was finally restored this afternoon. But life without electricity was a challenge!

  • pathfinder_01

    Vladislaw, I agree with your point. You see there is what is called the Apollo Cargo Cult, which think s that nothing worthwhile can be done in space without a really big HLV and the bigger the better. They don’t care about how economical the HLV is(on earth for instance cargo planes are built from the same models as passenger planes for the most part(military ones that excepted)).

    They don’t think that you could use propellant depots in many ways. They don’t think that tech development is important (everything is solved by a bigger rocket and bigger spacecraft). They view Apollo as the only legitimate way to do BEO exploration. Well Hannibal once marched elephants over the Alps, I don’t think that most people would consider his method to be the best way to transport elephants into Italy.

    Anyway LEO atm is possible the best place followed by l1/l2 for propellant(depending on type). If you wanted to repeat Apollo you would need a 30MT CM, 14MT LM, and about 75MT worth of propellant and engines to push that towards the moon. This in turn causes you to need a 119MT rocket.

    If you use a prop depot you could launch 75MT worth of propellant in 3 flights. Two Delta IV heavies and one Atlas. You can then launch the LM before the crew and the CM for two more flights(one Atlas and one Delta IV heavy). Total five flights that can be spread over a two year period. Atlas alone has launched four times last year and Delta three. ULA offered 300 million a launch for Delta IV heavy for Orion back in 2008. That would come to 1.5 billion roughly (probably less because some of the flights are Atlas).

    And if new cheaper/better systems come online you can use them immediately. You could use FH for instance to fill propellant or launch a LM before putting people onboard. With SLS you are pretty much stuck with its high fixed costs forever (2-3 billion a year wither you use it or not). IF you develop an electric propusion tug able to carry about 10MT of propellant to L1/L2 then the 75MT needed to push CM+ Fully fueled lander drops. If small reusable rockets arise you can use them too. You are no longer locked into one system optimized for one destination. If you can get about 30-40MT at L1/l2 it becomes possible to return your spacecraft to LEO.

    Even if you do not choose to return to LEO something like Dreamchaser Xl or something reusable will give great savings over throwing $800 million worth of Orion away every flight.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    “I think you were responding to “common sense” on some of the posts, and not me. No worries.”

    My apologies. You’re correct.

    “However I think the reality is that the Congressional fiefdoms controlling NASA are more focused on jobs in their specific districts than jobs in other districts. ”

    That’s pretty much what I was saying. The rationale is in the jobs saved and or created in their own district. That is, fundamentally, a much stronger rationale for the voting public than any contemporary human space flight rationale that NASA or the White House has come up with.

    If it comes down to “jobs” = votes, and money in the pockets of my constituents, or “exploration” = goodness knows what, guess which one is going to win. Members of Congress aren’t that dumb.

    That may be a fair point about SLS not being job driven because it doesn’t guarantee jobs in the future. It’s a launcher, one project, not a grand goal that could embrace many projects. The way Congress may see it, however, is that although it is a launcher with no established need, you can bet that once it is developed, any “need” that can lead to jobs is easily patched together (in the name of exploration!) On the other hand, the quiet assumption may be that SLS will take so long to build that even its development will guarantee jobs for a long long time. That’s what was going to happen with Constellation.

  • William Mellberg

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “Ah, that’s it! The definition of human space exploration! Do stuff like Indiana Jones. Now, why don’t they just say that in the budget proposal??”

    On a serious note …

    I have always been a strong proponent of both robotic exploration and human exploration in space. Humans can do some tasks better than robots. The Apollo astronauts, for example, were able to identify and collect hundreds of rock and soil samples in a fraction of the time that robots would have required. Likewise, the Space Shuttle astronauts were able to service and repair the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as assemble the International Space Station. Doing some of those tasks robotically would have been more difficult, if not impossible. So humans bring something more than the “Gee, whiz!” factor to the equation.

    But the downside of human exploration is the added cost — especially in deep space. The challenge, of course, is to identify those tasks that can best be done (and ought to be done) by humans.

    That said, the “Gee, whiz!” factor in human spaceflight inspires the public (i.e., the taxpayers who are asked to underwrite the cost of exploration). But NASA’s robotic explorers have produced their share of “Gee, whiz!” moments, too.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 3:32 pm
    The days of “exploration because we explore” are over at least for humans and have been for sometime. RGO

    Utter nonsense. Only for the dead.

  • DCSCA

    “value for cost.”

    ROFLMAO your measures of ‘value’ are warped. ‘Value’ is not exclusively calibrated by levels of commerce. Reaganomics is not going to move the human species out into the cosmo and, of course, as history has repeatedly shown over the 80-plus years of modern rocketry, it has been governments, in various guises for geo-political and military motivations, which as moved the technology forward, not ‘for profit’ enterprise. Musketeers are profiteers, not rocketeers, who follow along, cashing in where they can. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    On the other hand, the quiet assumption may be that SLS will take so long to build that even its development will guarantee jobs for a long long time. That’s what was going to happen with Constellation.

    For the SLS I think you’re right (i.e. guaranteed jobs).

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Musketeers are profiteers, not rocketeers, who follow along, cashing in where they can. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

    Except for topics relating to ancient history (like Apollo), you tend to talk in marketing slogans that lack any depth of detail.

    Care to write a persuasive paragraph on each claim? Or are you going to continue to be a shallow contributor?

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Please provide some arguments supporting your statement as I can’t find any evidence of funded programs specifically addressing HSF exploration in any country.

  • Care to write a persuasive paragraph on each claim? Or are you going to continue to be a shallow contributor?

    Not just shallow, but completely bereft of facts or logic. As I said, to compare this creature to a two-year old is to slander two-year olds.

  • someguy

    “Space exploitation is not space exploration.”

    Yes, but if you cannot exploit something within a reasonable number of years (<10), at a reasonable scale, and the cost of exploration is so high, then it becomes silly at some point.

    Even the "great age of exploration" that everyone in the space world crows about who want to spend a lot of public money on space was only sustained for as long as it was because the things found while exploring could be economically exploited in short order and within reasonable economic limits.

    Even Lewis & Clark only made sense, because people could follow (pretty much the next year if they wanted to) and expect to economically gain within a reasonable time limit .

    And yes, everything pretty much is about economic return of some form, if you want to continue to spend multi-hundreds of billions of dollars of public money on it. If the European countries could not colonize and gain land, and also resources from that land back to the home country, do you really think exploration of the New World would have happened on the scale that it did?

    If all that would have happened is that the home country would have constantly bled money trying to explore, with nothing in return, they would have given it up.

    It's in the nation's interest to spend limited amounts to learn about things for general scientific advancement. So, limited numbers of robotic missions that don't consume many billions of dollars each make some sense.

    But large fractions of a trillion dollars devoted to one single project where in the best case low tens of people would go somewhere over a span of decades is not anywhere near limited amounts.

    Until it can be reasonably expected that we can get something economic in return at some kind of industrial scale within a reasonable number of years, it is silly to spend huge amounts of money going "places".

    Yes, we have ISS, so we have legacy international commitments to meet. But, besides that government-operated HSF is not really ready to return anything remotely resembling a reasonable ROI for the amounts that keep getting thrown around ($100 billion here, $100 billion there, etc).

    So, that means what makes the most sense is to spin it off into industry through meeting our international commitments (COTS/CCDev) and let industry take over that part of it. Once it has been found how to get something from space in a reasonable manner, then we can talk about exploring, because then it will actually be worth it.

    Otherwise, we already have robots exploring and not consuming large fractions of a trillion dollars each, so "exploration for its own sake" is already taken care of. (To be clear, this does not justify egregious overruns like on JWST.)

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I wrote:
    “value for cost.”

    you replied
    ROFLMAO your measures of ‘value’ are warped. ‘Value’ is not exclusively calibrated by levels of commerce. …………

    not exclusively and I never said exclusively, that is you’re word…but when billions are being spent, there has to be some level of commerce that justifies the effort…or it will not long endure as Apollo showed RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 6:21 pm
    “Humans can do some tasks better than robots. The Apollo astronauts, for example, were able to identify and collect hundreds of rock and soil samples in a fraction of the time that robots would have required. Likewise, the Space Shuttle astronauts were able to service and repair the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as assemble the International Space Station. Doing some of those tasks robotically would have been more difficult, if not impossible.”

    The lessons here aren’t being interpreted correctly.

    (1) The Apollo era was an era in which telerobotics was in its infancy. You’re exactly right about one thing. In 1969, astronauts were vastly more capable of selecting samples than were available robots. But now, with high resolution, high bandwidth imagers and dexterous precision manipulators, along with a relatively modest comm latency (unlike for the MERs), a telerobot could now do this job on the Moon quite well, for a much longer time period (it could operate for at least two weeks straight), at many different sites, and at a much lower cost than with people. That telerobotic capability is only going to get a lot better. I believe the lunar science community largely agrees that, these days, for sample collecting, telerobotics is the way to go, though perhaps best controlled from a local surface hab.

    (2) HST was going to be a big challenge to be serviced robotically, BECAUSE IT WASN’T DESIGNED TO BE SERVICED ROBOTICALLY. Human space flight advocates always seem to forget about that. There are relatively simple design strategies that would have made it robotically serviceable (locating pins, captive screws, and topologically sensible cabling strategies in particular), but those were never used. It was always just assumed that people would be there. In fact, even as HST is now, a large contingent of Goddard engineers were convinced they could do it robotically, and had some well evolved design concepts to do it.

    That being said, I think the “gee whiz” of both human and robotic space flight is indeed a great thing. Now we just have to translate that “gee whiz” into something of measurable value. No, I don’t think “inspiration” really means anything here. I agree completely that the challenge is to decide what tasks really need people to do them.

  • Bennett

    Or are you going to continue to be a shallow contributor?

    If history is any indication, then yes. He has his notepad file of oft repeated tag lines, and little else.

    Feeding the troll gets you trollish comments. It’s better not to go there.

  • DCSCA

    @someguy wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 pm
    Ten years? That’s hilarious. Given the several hundred thousand years of human evolution, space exploration is in its infancy on the human time scale. Modern rocketry is all of 80-plus years old and human exploration of the space frontier- manned and unmanned, has barely begun. And you want it to turn a profit in less than a decade. LOL Reaganomics is not going to move the species out into the cosmos. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

    “And yes, everything pretty much is about economic return of some form, if you want to continue to spend multi-hundreds of billions of dollars of public money on it.” That depends on how you define economic return. Direct or indirect– or how you value knowledge, or profits, of the famed “Cernan intangables.’ The folly of privatizing, for profit thinking that poisoned NASA in the early 80s was literally and figuratively a disaster. Apollo was not initiated as an ‘economic enterprise’ but a geopolitcal battle front in the Cold War. Any byproduct in the form of economic benefits to universities, workforces, centers and thie cities and contractors, were secondary and not the primary motivation. It wasn’t initiated to make a buck. But both shuttle and Apollo produced indirect ‘economic returns’ to support industries, spinoffs and so on. Governments, in various guises, have always led the way in this field- primarily for geopolitical or military motivations, not for profit. Private enterprise has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. Which is what commercial space is doing. Which is fine, as long as they are financed by private capital markets and not government subsidies. But private firms are not going to lead the way in space exploration. Their desperate pitch now is to syphon off dwindling resources from the treasury to subsidize their firms because the private capital markets balk at the high risk and low ROI. That’s why governments do space projects of scale in the first place, and will for some time to come.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 10:23 pm
    “…it will not long endure as Apollo showed”

    Apollo was never planned to be a long term project and, as you know, shuttle has been operating for 30 years with budgeted planning beginning even earlier, in 1972. That’s a pretty good run. With respect to Apollo. as Dave Scott has said, it had pretty much reached the point where they’d pushed the limits of the existing hardware as it wound down. The waste was the cancellation of the last three flights as all the hardware had been bought and paid for and all that was needed was operational funding.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 23rd, 2011 at 8:44 pm
    @Marketing slogans like Albrecht’s “Faster, Better, Cheaper” … you know, the slogan Dan Goldin liked to repeat over and over for years… not much “depth and detail” there. LOL

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ June 24th, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Feeding the troll gets you trollish comments. It’s better not to go there.

    Every so often I like to give them a chance to see if they have evolved enough to have an intelligent conversation.

    Unfortunately I’m usually disappointed, as is the case with DCSCA – all hat, no cattle…

  • Obama does NOT care one iota about the space program, and he never did! Another Obama term in office will result in the eradication of all beyond earth orbit ambitions. All Flexible Path gets you is more, more, & more LEO!!! More going around in circles, to the ISS or the ISS-2, singing campfire songs! THIS is the vision in the crystal ball, if Flexible Path succeeds in suffocating America’s formerly grandiose ambitions in deep space. Please, Mr. President, NO MORE LOW EARTH ORBIT! We need to return to the Moon, and expand the scope of what was done in the far past. Just as surveyers and prospectors followed the successful return of Lewis & Clark back East, on further treks out West. Another round of manned Lunar exploration will be very necessary.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ June 25th, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Obama does NOT care one iota about the space program, and he never did!

    Chris, no President has the enthusiasm for space that you think is necessary, so change your expectations. And if Obama were actually anti-space, then he wouldn’t have tried to increase NASA’s budget, but instead tried to decrease it. But just because he doesn’t adhere to your vision of what NASA should be doing (which many people don’t anyways), it doesn’t make him anti-space. I have been a huge space/aerospace supporter since the mid-70′s, and I like what Obama is trying to do.

    Another Obama term in office will result in the eradication of all beyond earth orbit ambitions.

    You lack evidence to state that, and in fact I see evidence to the contrary.

    All Flexible Path gets you is more, more, & more LEO!

    You don’t have a clue what Flexible Path is. You really don’t. Go read the Augustine Committee Final Report:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf

    On page 15 it says:

    There is a third possible path for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, which the Committee calls the Flexible Path.

    “A third possible path for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit”. So right there you are proved wrong.

    And if you have trouble with reading comprehension, then just listen to Jeff Gleason as he gives a short explanation of why Flexible Path is a good idea:

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

    Report back after you have educated yourself, and tell us what you have tried to learn.

  • It is great that so many people feel so strongly about space exploration. Far better than total apathy, in my book.

    Although it can at times be helpful to make parallels with Columbus, Lewis and Clark, the transcontinental railroad, gas stations, or airlines, analogies and analogs alone do not suffice.

    The engineering, economics, and politics of manned space exploration and expansion is sufficiently complex that it requires detailed analysis. Enthuiastic hand-waving is not sufficient.

    I am personally skeptical of proposals for LEO fuel depots, but if it can be shown with realistic, conservative numbers that it would have clear, significant advantages then I think it would require serivous consideration.

    There are some who are opposed to a NASA-developed HLV, and sincerely believe that serious BEO space exploration can be accomplished more effectively and economically with just Falcon-9 class launchers. If a clear, detailed case can be made why it would be more effective, faster, cheaper, and safer to assemble a Mars mission from hundreds of launches to LEO rather than using a half-dozen HLVs, then I think they could have a valid case.

    In life, gut feelings are often right. But in any complex engineering undertaking, gut feelings alone are not sufficient to validate an idea. Sometimes “bad” ideas, such as expendable launchers, turn out to be better than “good” ideas, such as fully-reusable spacecraft.

  • @Coastal Ron,…..Flexible Path & the evil omen Augustine Commission were the death knell of the great American second round of Lunar exploration. The Augustine commissioners wanted to halt future manned Lunar exploration. They came up with all these flimsy “other destinations” in deep space, just to avoid sending our astronauts back to the Moon. THEY HAD AN ANTI-MOON BIAS FROM THE GET-GO. Regardless of what tiny after-thought anecdotes they may have included in their Report-booklet, the Augustine people urgently wanted to forestall & stop Project Constellation from getting underway. They wanted NO heavy-lift rocket, because of the manned Lunar implications, and instead preached at the pulpit that low or low-medium lift rockets would suffice for manned deep space use. The Augustine Group also wanted NO part in the building of a new manned lander-craft, for use at strong gravity wells, because again, a complex engineering vessel like a lander had basically one intermediate goal in mind: the Moon. Asteroids & the Martian moons have negligible and next-to-nothing gravity fields. So by avoiding the construction of a Lunar-capable lander, further manned Moon landings would be prevented and derailed. Without something like the Altair-class L-SAM vehicle, all American astronauts can do in the future is rendezvous with lagrange points & virtually-zero-gravity bodies such as NEO’s. Norm Augustine and his sorry league of merry men did their infamous hatchet job on what was formerly grandiose national space ambitions, and reduced the country to doing nothing but Low Earth Orbit for the next 15 or 20 years.

  • Vladislaw

    “and sincerely believe that serious BEO space exploration can be accomplished more effectively and economically with just Falcon-9 class launchers”

    No one is saying “just” falcon 9, what people ARE saying is let’s use what we have. There is plenty of launch capability with Atlas, Delta, Falcon 9, and up coming launchers Tarus and Falcon Heavy. Plus if you add in the internationals and Russia, India, Japan, EU there is no shortage of current launchers, all we are saying is, instead of blowing another 10-20 billion instead spend those billions on actual launch hardware and get it launched.

    “I am personally skeptical of proposals for LEO fuel depots,”

    If we can not operate fuel handing services in LEO good luck with the funding to get it to work a quarter of a million miles away. We are not going anywhere, long term, until we come to terms fuel/gas handling in space. Cheaper to get it to work 200 miles away then 230,000 miles away.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ June 26th, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Flexible Path & the evil omen Augustine Commission were the death knell of the great American second round of Lunar exploration.

    No, the program that was supposed to lead us back to the Moon was way over-budget and vastly behind schedule. Are you saying that Congress didn’t recognize a vast conspiracy against you? ;-)

    Chris, you are way too focused on the Moon, and in a way that borders on psychosis.

    I want to go to the Moon, and everywhere else in space, but you don’t see me getting upset about the Constellation program being cancelled by Congress. Heck, I applauded them, since I don’t see going back to the Moon as a justification for spending vast amounts of my tax money. Lesser amounts may be OK, but even then I don’t see the rush.

    Other than knowledge, what is the rush to go back to the Moon? Why is it worth $200B?

    You’re the one that has to justify the use of so much taxpayer money – going to the Moon is not in the Constitution.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 25th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    There are some who are opposed to a NASA-developed HLV, and sincerely believe that serious BEO space exploration can be accomplished more effectively and economically with just Falcon-9 class launchers.

    Nelson, Nelson. You were doing so well trying to sound reasonable, and then you showed your old biases again. How? You completely mischaracterized the issue.

    The issue is not “Falcon-9 class launchers” vs a NASA-developed HLV. The issue is whether existing Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles like Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5 and Proton, and near-term ones like Falcon Heavy and Angara, can fulfill our needs.

    The first question that has to be asked is “What Is The Need?”

    So far NASA nor Congress has identified a need for the SLS. None. So if you want to talk about a “NASA-developed HLV”, then you have to justify it. What are the programs, how much mass is needed, how long do the programs run, when will they be funded?

    At this point there are too many unanswered questions to commit $Billions of taxpayer money.

    If you look at what NASA has been studying, the only two studies far enough along to define launch mass needs are HEFT and Nautilus-X, and both can be taken care of by using existing or near-term commercial launchers. But neither have been funded by Congress, so it’s a moot point anyways.

    We don’t lack the ability to put mass into space. What we lack is a reason to build a government-funded, government-run Super-Heavy rocket.

    That’s not a gut feeling. That’s a fact.

  • I am personally skeptical of proposals for LEO fuel depots, but if it can be shown with realistic, conservative numbers that it would have clear, significant advantages then I think it would require serivous consideration.

    That has already been done. What hasn’t been done is showing that there is a realistic argument, particularly politically, for a NASA-developed heavy lifter.

  • Regardless of what tiny after-thought anecdotes they may have included in their Report-booklet, the Augustine people urgently wanted to forestall & stop Project Constellation from getting underway. They wanted NO heavy-lift rocket, because of the manned Lunar implications, and instead preached at the pulpit that low or low-medium lift rockets would suffice for manned deep space use.

    Why don’t you go actually read the Augustine Report for comprehension, instead of continually shouting (with all the caps and exclamation marks) and spouting monstrous levels of ignorance in public? Or if reading is too hard for you, take Ron’s suggestion, and go watch Jeff Greason’s talk?

  • “That has already been done.”

    I don’t think that it has been done well enough.

    There are many people who know what they are talking about, such as Robert Zurbin and Wayne Hale, who do not see the practical utility of LEO fuel depots.

    If I wanted to get an endorsement from the space community, I would invite experts, both enthuiasts and doubters, together to make realistic estimates, both engineering and financial, of exactly how it would work for LEO and BEO missions.

    I would then make sure that the results are published and widely covered in the media. Especially the engineering media. A few hypothetical CGI pictures and a squad of pretty cheerleaders with pom-poms shouting “Go SpaceX!” is not sufficient.

    One of the real weaknesses of the fuel depot argument is that it looks too much like an excuse for buying more Falcon 9 launches. Proponenets are quick to apply the more superficial arguments (not paying for HLV development), but I have never heard even one of them cite the detailed ramifications such as costs, time, and reliability.

    There is not anything inherently political about fuel depots. If you can show that it has significant advantages, and that these outweight the disadvantages, I think most people will agree, or at least will consider the proposal a credible alternative.

    After the Shuttle and the ISS I would have hoped that we have learned that we need more than arm-waving and enthuiasm when we make major space policy comittments that we will need to live with for decades.

  • “…all we are saying is, instead of blowing another 10-20 billion instead spend those billions on actual launch hardware and get it launched.”

    I partially agree with the spirit of what you say. NASA should not be wasting billions on hypothetical mission studies and “interesting” research projects, and get on with actually going BEO to explore the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.

    It needs to select realistic destinations (sorry, not interstellar flight), and looking at it’s realistic budget over the next decades, come up with a strategy and a timeline.

    If Doug Cook is right that we need 600mT in LEO orbit for a Mars mission then that is going to take >60 (10.5mT) Falcon 9 launches, and a lot of time, and a lot of expense. A fuel depot does not solve that problem because you still need far too many launches to get the fuel into LEO.

    That is why I buy the HLV argument. For 5 years and $10B+ we will have something that will make space far more accessible. If someone can provide us with equivalent HLV capability sooner, and for less, taking into account other factors such launch infrastructure, etc, I would be very willing to listen…

  • I would then make sure that the results are published and widely covered in the media. Especially the engineering media. A few hypothetical CGI pictures and a squad of pretty cheerleaders with pom-poms shouting “Go SpaceX!” is not sufficient.

    Why do you engage in these idiotic straw men? Besides the obvious, I mean.

    Oh, that’s right, because you have no arguments against our actual arguments.

    One of the real weaknesses of the fuel depot argument is that it looks too much like an excuse for buying more Falcon 9 launches.

    It only looks like that to clueless people who have read nothing on the subject, and ignore criticism even when corrected on the matter. In fact, if you had a clue, you would know that SpaceX has little interest in propellant depots, and that Elon wants to build a very large rocket.

    I have never heard even one of them cite the detailed ramifications such as costs, time, and reliability.

    This is only because every time someone does so, you stick your fingers in your ears.

  • That is why I buy the HLV argument. For 5 years and $10B+ we will have something that will make space far more accessible.

    Except when it doesn’t. If you need an HLV, then you need two of them, unless you don’t think it’s important to do what you claim that it does. HLVs don’t make space accessible. Affordable launch does.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 26th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I would be very willing to listen.

    Obviously not, since you continue to use false comparisons, even though it has been pointed out to you numerous times.

    Regarding “Falcon 9″, the choice has never been Falcon 9 vs a NASA SHLV (i.e. SLS). The choice is all of the existing and near-term launch vehicles vs a NASA HSLV.

    For instance, why don’t you want to consider Delta IV Heavy or Ariane 5? We can build another ISS (which weighs 1M lbs) using just them.

    And regarding fuel depots, none other than Boeing and Lockheed Martin has proposed using fuel depots for exploration, and they released a detailed study back in 2009 showing in detail how they would work. All using existing launch vehicles. The study can be found on the ULA website:

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

    That is why I buy the HLV argument. For 5 years and $10B+ we will have something that will make space far more accessible.

    Space is already accessible, and we’re not limited by a lack of lift capacity, so let’s not waste $10B+ on an unneeded rocket, and use it for payloads that can be launched on existing heavy-lift rockets.

    What payloads are being funded that require the SLS? None.

    The big question is when will Congress be providing funds for SLS payloads? There is not enough money in the NASA budget to support building the SLS, and building a stream of payloads to use it. So what will the SLS do when/if it gets built? Consume lots of NASA’s budget, that’s a given, but what else will the SLS do?

    That’s why I DON’T buy the HLV argument.

  • Major Tom

    “If Doug Cook is right that we need 600mT in LEO orbit for a Mars mission”

    If you want to do it the hard and stupid way, Cook is right. But if you want to be smart and invest in key technologies that can reduce the mass of a human Mars mission by a factor of 12, Cook is wrong:

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/braun_tech_impact.jpg

    “then that is going to take >60 (10.5mT) Falcon 9 launches, and a lot of time, and a lot of expense.”

    If the Mars mission mass was really that high, you’d be an idiot to use a Falcon 9 at 10mT and 60 launches and not a Falcon Heavy at 53mT and 12 launches.

    http://www.spacex.com/falcon_heavy.php

    “A fuel depot does not solve that problem because you still need far too many launches to get the fuel into LEO.”

    You need a fuel depot no matter what. There is no such thing as a 600mT launch vehicle. Even at 70-120mT, SLS will require 5-9 launches to field your hypothetical 600mT Mars mission.

    This was the stupidity of Griffin, Ares V, and Constellation. An HLLV is not on the critical path to Mars. In-space propellant storage and management is.

    “For 5 years and $10B+ we will have something that will make space far more accessible. If someone can provide us with equivalent HLV capability sooner, and for less, taking into account other factors such launch infrastructure, etc, I would be very willing to listen…”

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

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

    SpaceX can deliver a 150-ton Falcon derivative for $2.5B.

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

    That’s two viable competitors from established launch companies, each of which costs a fraction of your hypothetical $10 billion budget. (The SLS development budget is actually about $14 billion through 2016.) Instead of blowing $10 billion on SLS, NASA could but two, operationally redundant, and competing HLLVs and still have $5 billion left over for other human space exploration hardware development. Costs could double on both of these options, and NASA would still wind up with two HLLVs within your $10 billion budget.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson wrote:

    “If Doug Cook is right that we need 600mT in LEO orbit for a Mars mission then that is going to take >60 (10.5mT) Falcon 9 launches, and a lot of time, and a lot of expense.”

    4 FH launches
    4 Delta IV-H launches
    4 Atlas V-H launches
    4 ariene IV launches
    5 F9 launches
    5 Tarus launches

    I like that a lot more than 60 f9 launches and they could all be launched in a single year.

    You could even toss in some of the Russian and Japanese launchers. Like we have been trying to say, getting 600tons to orbit in a year isn’t the problem, the big pole in the tent is no in-space, space-based hardware like depots, tugs, EDS’s, Habitat sections, power modules, propulsion modules (EDS’s) et cetera.

    You create a big competitive marketplace for launch firms and innovations are incorporated a lot faster.

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson, just like a gas/fuel distributor buys loads of gas from different sources for different prices and then sells at the pump for an average price, it would be the same in space.

    NASA would issue a contract to buy X tons of fuel and oxidizer per year at X/ton. The fuel station would then contract from all launch companies and pay them various amounts per ton and sell to NASA at the average price. Everyone can be launching fuel as long as there is a market for it.

    NASA contracts for a space-based reusable EDS and habitat and they can start doing LEO2GEO, LEO to EML1, et cetera. Forget the landing for now. First get the “gas n’ go” systems in place first. Spiral out and build up the go anywhere ‘in space’. So many talk about “space exploration” but they really do not want to explore “space”. They want to TRAVEL THROUGH space, as fast as they can, to land in another gravity well. That is not space exploration that is exploration of other orbital bodies in space.

    I would like to see us spiral out to Demios – Phobos – Mar’s Orbit developing the gas and go technologies we need to achieve this aspect of exploration. It’s like having the ability to drive your pickup to any new fishing lake you want to. Later you come back towing your boat and launch it and explore the new lake. Let’s get the pickup first and start looking at different lakes and worry about bringing the boat in a decade or two.

  • none other than Boeing and Lockheed Martin has proposed using fuel depots for exploration, and they released a detailed study back in 2009 showing in detail how they would work. All using existing launch vehicles. The study can be found on the ULA website

    Actually, that’s not Boeing and Lockmart. It’s ULA.

  • 4 FH launches
    4 Delta IV-H launches
    4 Atlas V-H launches
    4 ariene IV launches
    5 F9 launches
    5 Tarus launches

    Interesting proposal.

    Looking at logistics, reliability, the US economy, and international politics, the more realistic option would be:

    5 HLV launches.

  • “Regarding “Falcon 9″, the choice has never been Falcon 9 vs a NASA SHLV (i.e. SLS). The choice is all of the existing and near-term launch vehicles vs a NASA HSLV.”

    What I find interesting is that not so long ago, before Musk officially announced the Falon Heavy design, what I heard from so many enthuists in this forum is that we don’t need large boosters at all. That a Falcon 9 alone would be more than sufficient, and that economies of scale from a high production rate would make it more cost-competitive than any other option.

    Yet, when Musk announced the Falcon Heavy, which should be able to put 5X more mass into LEO, his cost estimates showed that the larger booster did in fact have a significantly lower cost per pound than the Falcon 9.

    And if tomorrow Musk announced the development of a 150mT HLV (which I think he would love to be able to do), it would all of a sudden be OK, and in fact, a no-brainer to use real HLVs.

    In fact, I suspect that many would say that “the choice has never been Falcon Heavy vs a NASA SHLV”.

    I am not complaining. I am just pointing out a drift in what I think is the right direction ;-)

  • And if tomorrow Musk announced the development of a 150mT HLV (which I think he would love to be able to do), it would all of a sudden be OK, and in fact, a no-brainer to use real HLVs.

    Of course it would, if Musk is willing to pay for them. Our objections are to the waste of taxpayer dollars on an overpriced NASA system.

    I see you have no response to my point about the need for redundant HLVs.

  • Thanks for the link!

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

    Their key assertion is:
    “This strategy leads to high infrastructure utilization, economic production rates, high demonstrated reliability and the lowest possible costs.”

    I would love to see numbers to back up this claim. This sounds very similar to the low-cost EELV argument, which never materialized. In fact, ULA is currently one of the most expensive ways ($/lb) to put anything into LEO.

    Another major downside to this approach is that it is logistically much more complex and appears potentially much more failure-prone than an HLV.

  • This sounds very similar to the low-cost EELV argument, which never materialized.

    It never materialized because their flight rate is too low. What does that say about an HLV?

  • Another major downside to this approach is that it is logistically much more complex and appears potentially much more failure-prone than an HLV.

    It only appears that way to people who don’t understand it. If you lose an HLV launch, you lose everything on that launch — the whole mission. What’s the big deal if a propellant launch fails?

  • The approach that I favor is to use current (RS-25E, RS-68, SRB) technlogies to build an HLV for BEO missions.

    If those did not already exist, then I would seriously look at using multiple Falcon Heavy launches for at least some portion of BEO missions.

    If that did not exist, then I would invest in development of needed HLV engine technologies.

    Only if there was a major engineering hurdle to large HLVs would I consider staging large BEO missions from many small launches.

    I suspect that an orbital fuel depot, like the ISS, could be expensive to assemble and operate. In addition to boil-off, you would need to periodically burn fuel in order to fight orbital decay.

  • “It only appears that way to people who don’t understand it. If you lose an HLV launch, you lose everything on that launch — the whole mission. What’s the big deal if a propellant launch fails?”

    True. You have a lower cost of failure with more launches, but a greater risk of failures.

    With more launches you will probably also have a somewhat less reliable spacecraft than a larger module you can perform a more integrated test of on the ground… The ISS runs into lots of problems but manages to limp along very well because it has redundant US/Russian systems.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Only if there was a major engineering hurdle to large HLVs would I consider staging large BEO missions from many small launches.

    Then you forego the opportunity to let the market develop RLVs soon, which would be a vastly cheaper to launch propellant and crew. So much cheaper that it would make significant commercial manned spaceflight a reality. You would forego the opportunity because without the enormous demand for launch services generated by an exploration program the business case for such vehicles will not close, which mean the private sector will not invest in them.

    Ask yourself, which would you rather have, an HLV or the possibility to launch payloads for $100-$500/kg? You can do exploration either way. You cannot do commercial manned spaceflight either way, you really need the RLVs for that. The opportunities opened up by RLVs are a superset of the opportunities opened up with HLVs.

    I suspect that an orbital fuel depot, like the ISS, could be expensive to assemble and operate.

    You don’t need a dedicated depot (although that would certainly be nice), a refuelable spacecraft would do.

    In addition to boil-off, you would need to periodically burn fuel in order to fight orbital decay.

    Not a decisive argument and it doesn’t apply to storable propellant or Lagrange orbits anyway.

  • Major Tom

    “I would love to see numbers to back up this claim.”

    On high infrastructure utilization and economic proudction rates, the EELV infrastructure is designed produce 30-40 cores a year. With a triple-core, 70-ton Phase II vehicle and your hypothetical 600mT Mars mission, that would be 27 cores a year. That, combined with the ongoing EELV manifest, would fully and economically utilize the EELV infrastructure without the cost of adding new manufacturing capability.

    On high demonstrated reliability, there have already been 42 EELV launches, only one of which failed to reach orbit (the maiden flight of the Delta IV Heavy). By the time SLS has its first launch in 2016 or later, the EELV fleet will probably have over 100 launches under its belt.

    On lowest possible costs, the ULA workforce is about 3,700, while the USA workforce is about 8,000 (and that doesn’t include P&WR, ATK, other Shuttle/SLS contractors, and NASA civil servants). With less than half the mouths to feed, an EELV-derived HLLV is going to be at least half the cost of the Shuttle-derived SLS.

    “In fact, ULA is currently one of the most expensive ways ($/lb) to put anything into LEO.”

    It’s not nearly as expensive as Shuttle systems, which are the _most_ expensive way to pay anything into LEO.

    “Another major downside to this approach is that it is logistically much more complex…”

    An EELV is less logistically complex than the SLS. For example, SLS will use 4-5 different rocket engines over its lifetime, while an EELV uses two.

    “and appears potentially much more failure-prone than an HLV.

    See above regarding launch history.

    FWIW…

  • “I see you have no response to my point about the need for redundant HLVs.”

    Assuming that you and Major Tom are one and the same:

    “Instead of blowing $10 billion on SLS, NASA could but two, operationally redundant, and competing HLLVs and still have $5 billion left over for other human space exploration hardware development.”

    Yes, if Musk can come up with a 150 mT HLV in 5 years for $2.5B, I think it is worthy of serious consideration. My reservations (tempered by his Falcon 9 success) are that he tends to make wildy optimistic promises (a man on Mars in 10 years), takes years longer than promised, and in this case would depend upon a totally new engine that has never been tested, and does not even exist.

  • And Musk saying that he personally guarantees a 150mT HLV for $2.5B is not sufficient. What kind of collateral can someone like him offer, after all. Some shares in Tesla? Some PayPall stock???

  • Major Tom

    “The approach that I favor is to use current (RS-25E, RS-68, SRB) technlogies to build an HLV for BEO missions.”

    RS-25E doesn’t exist. And it does the same job as RS-68. There’s no need to go to the cost of developing it.

    And there’s no need for SRBs. Simple add RS-68 boosters. You’ll reduce the number of different types of engines in the vehicle and its complexity and cost substantially.

    No one else uses RS-25Es or SRBs. By going to with RS-68s, you’ll share costs with other customers, as well.

    “Only if there was a major engineering hurdle to large HLVs…”

    The problem is not engineering. It’s cost and sustainability. Saturn V is the only HLLV to ever enter operation and its costs weren’t sustainable for more than a handful of lunar missions. The Energia stack never got past its test flights because of costs. Every other HLLV, from N-1 to ALS/NLS to Ares V, has never gotten off the design board due to costs. There’s no evidence that SLS will be any different this time around.

    “I suspect that an orbital fuel depot, like the ISS, could be expensive to assemble and operate. In addition to boil-off, you would need to periodically burn fuel in order to fight orbital decay.”

    Fuel is cheap. HLLVs are not.

    “You have a lower cost of failure with more launches, but a greater risk of failures.”

    No, statistically, you’re more likely to have failures using an HLLV than has a few launches on its record than with a smaller LV that has tens or hundreds of launches to its credit. For example, Soyuz hasn’t had a crew fatality since 1971 yet that launch vehicle has been used about 1,700 times.

    “With more launches you will probably also have a somewhat less reliable spacecraft than a larger module you can perform a more integrated test of on the ground…”

    This statement makes no sense. Size doesn’t determine integrated testing. Multiple ISS modules were integrated and tested together on the ground. And given the size limitations of test facilities (vacuum, rad, vibe, etc.), it’s easier to test smaller elements.

    FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 27th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    And Musk saying that he personally guarantees a 150mT HLV for $2.5B is not sufficient. What kind of collateral can someone like him offer, after all.

    It’s called a fixed-price contract.

    NASA is essentially an open checkbook, since when they run over budget (like on Ares I) Congress just allocates more money for them. Because of that, NASA has no incentives to stick to a budget.

    Not that Congress will allow NASA to put a Super-Heavy LV out for bid – they lose control of where the money will go (which states jobs are supported), which is the whole point for building the SLS right now.

  • Assuming that you and Major Tom are one and the same

    That would be a monumentally stupid assumption. And a slander (implying that I have a sock puppet). But par for the course, considering the source.

  • I suspect that an orbital fuel depot, like the ISS, could be expensive to assemble and operate.

    Such a suspicion can only be based on a fundamental ignorance of the requirements of the ISS versus a propellant depot.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 27th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    What I find interesting is that not so long ago, before Musk officially announced the Falon Heavy design, what I heard from so many enthuists in this forum is that we don’t need large boosters at all.

    No, what you heard is that we don’t need government-built, government-run rockets. Existing rockets provide more than enough lift capacity for the foreseeable future.

    And as the need for more lift capacity becomes apparent, the market will adjust, just like it is doing now. Delta IV Heavy is getting upgraded engines soon for more capacity, Ariane 5 is looking at boosting capacity, Angara is scheduled to come online in 2013, and SpaceX is building Falcon Heavy. We don’t lack lift capacity, we lack funded payloads.

    Yet, when Musk announced the Falcon Heavy, which should be able to put 5X more mass into LEO, his cost estimates showed that the larger booster did in fact have a significantly lower cost per pound than the Falcon 9.

    Too bad you cherry pick your information. SpaceX bundling together three existing rocket booster cores to make a bigger launch vehicle is far different than using already expensive Shuttle legacy rocket components and then making them even more expensive.

    Using the SLS will be at least 8X more expensive per pound than using Falcon Heavy if you need to put 5M lbs of mass into LEO. Why would you want to use the SLS? Where is the logic in paying more?

    In any case, what most of us have always advocated is using existing launch vehicles, since there are no funded or planned payloads that require anything bigger. Prove us wrong if you can.

  • Major Tom

    “Assuming that you and Major Tom are one and the same:”

    We’re not. Don’t be an idiot.

    “My reservations (tempered by his Falcon 9 success) are that he tends to make wildy optimistic promises (a man on Mars in 10 years), takes years longer than promised…”

    Anyone with half a brain would take the promises of a company that got a new launch vehicle (Falcon 9) and capsule (Dragon) fielded a couple years late for a $3-400 million in taxpayer dollars over a government-led effort that spent over $10 billion in taxpayer dollars over a half decade with no operational launch vehicle (Ares I) or capsule (Orion) and was tens of billions of dollars over budget ($40 billion at termination) and many years behind schedule (2017 at earliest before termination).

    Duh…

    “and in this case would depend upon a totally new engine that has never been tested, and does not even exist.”

    Anyone with half a brain would take an HLLV that requires one new engine over an SLS that requires four new engines (RS-25E, J-2X, five-segment SRB, and an NK-33 derivative).

    Double (quadruple) duh…

    “And Musk saying that he personally guarantees a 150mT HLV for $2.5B is not sufficient. What kind of collateral can someone like him offer, after all.”

    Anyone with half a brain would take that bet. $2.5 billion is less than 18% of the $14 billion SLS development budget through 2016. It’s a smart bet to take — the taxpayer could save $11.5 billion or we space cadets could have $11.5 billion leftover for actual space exploration hardware development. (You know, the non-existent payloads that SLS is suppossed to launch.)

    Moreover, it doesn’t have to be a bet. SpaceX developed Falcon 9 and Dragon under a COTS Space Act Agreement where if they didn’t meet milestones, they did not get paid. Commercial HLLVs could be developed under the same terms.

    And for another $2.5 billion, we could have a backup in ULA’s 70-ton EELV Phase 2 launcher. That would still leave $9 billion in the SLS budget for the taxpayer or actual space exploration hardware development.

    Even if both of these commercial HLLVs doubled in cost (to $5 billion each or $10 billion total), we’d still have $4 billion left in the SLS budget for the taxpayer or actual space exploration hardware development.

    You have to be an utter, absolute idiot to prefer one $14 billion SLS that requires four new engine developments over two HLLVs at $2.5 billion each that require one or two new engine developments.

    Cripes…

  • pathfinder_01

    “I would love to see numbers to back up this claim. This sounds very similar to the low-cost EELV argument, which never materialized. In fact, ULA is currently one of the most expensive ways ($/lb) to put anything into LEO.”

    The NASA space shuttle is the most expensive way to put anything in orbit, yet you think you can take its parts and its workforce and make something cheap? It takes 10,000+ to make the shuttle and CXP would have only reduced it to about 8,000. It takes 3,000 to make both Delta and Atlas!

    “Another major downside to this approach is that it is logistically much more complex and appears potentially much more failure-prone than an HLV.”

    The ISS is planned to have 5 unmanned spaceflight dockings this year plus 7 manned flights for a total of 12 dockings this year and if space X goes to the ISS this year it will be 13. If the ISS can have 12 dockings a year, why can’t a prop depot?

    12 flights of 25 tons each could put up 300MT half of what is needed for a 600MT mars craft. Given the fact that it is a two year window to mars you could indeed put up 600MT worth of mass if you wanted to in time for a mars trip if you started assembly 3 years before the window opened.

    A 70MT SDLV launhing at the same rate as the shuttle(4 flights a year) would only put up 280 a year and would need just as much time but delays would be much more pernicious since it is a single system(see the ISS and the 2 and 1 year shuttle standowns).
    With 12 flights spread over different systems all my eggs not in one basket and none of the flights I mentioned are from Atlas, Delta, or Taurus.

  • “You have to be an utter, absolute idiot to prefer one $14 billion SLS that requires four new engine developments over two HLLVs at $2.5 billion each that require one or two new engine developments.”

    The J-2X engine is ready for test, now:

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Rocketdyne_J_2X_Engine_Ready_for_Test_999.html

    The ATK 5-segment SRB has already been tested multiple times:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbIjG82UpOs

    NASA has a stockpile of SSME RS-25s, which have flown hundreds of times, that it can use while the modifications for the RS-25 are being tested.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80EHCY6y9fY

    Where are those videos of the SpaceX Merlin 2 test flights? Test fires? Metal?

    Thus far, all Musk has are some powerpoints:

    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2010/SpaceX_Propulsion.pdf

  • pathfinder_01

    NASA has a stockpile of SSME RS-25s, which have flown hundreds of times, that it can use while the modifications for the RS-25 are being tested.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80EHCY6y9fY
    err not quite. The shuttles main engines while reusable are not reusable to that extent. Here is a better guide: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/06/sls-decision-nasa-two-phase-approach/

    There are 3 sets of engines left over from the shuttle plus an addition 4th set. Total number of useable engines is 12. There are SLS plans that use 5 SSME engines at a time so you could only launch 2 times before you run out of engines. 3 times if you only use 4 engines in your HLV.
    It takes 2 years to make an SSME and the production rate is unknown. I suspect that this engine was not designed for quick and easy construction.

  • pathfinder_01

    “The ATK 5-segment SRB has already been tested multiple times:”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbIjG82UpOs

    Which one? The one they planned to upgrade the shuttle with or the one they planned to use on Ares 1? You do know that the SRB will have to be changed in terms of propellant geometry and burn time for the HLV?

  • pathfinder_01

    “The J-2X engine is ready for test, now:

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Rocketdyne_J_2X_Engine_Ready_for_Test_999.html

    Yes it is in testing, but when will it be in production?

  • pathfinder_01

    “Where are those videos of the SpaceX Merlin 2 test flights? Test fires? Metal?
    Thus far, all Musk has are some powerpoints:
    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2010/SpaceX_Propulsion.pdf”

    Why does he need the Merlin 2? Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy both use the same engine upgraded Merlin 1. He might need the Merlin 2 latter, but unlike SLS it doesn’t need the RS25E or the J2 NOW!

  • If all those engines are developed, why does it cost fourteen billion to develop the vehicle? And why don’t you care how much things cost?

  • “And why don’t you care how much things cost?”

    Because it was “cost” that drove the decision to kill the Saturn V. And where do you think those concerns arose? The Soviets. They could not beat us to the Moon, so they used misleading costs figures to convince foolish Americans the we could not afford our BEO manned space program.

    I don’t mind spending the money. What I mind is the cancellation of programs every time that anyone has a bright idea, or every time that someone new steps into the oval office.

    If Musk had the Merline 2 and an 150 mT HLV tested and ready to go on the launch pad now, rather than a pocket full of promises, I would say, forget SLS, use what works, and instead pump billions into landers, robotic precursors, lunar electric rovers, ISRU, etc…

    But right now SLS is a whole lot more real than a Merlin 2 or Falcon XX.

  • Major Tom

    “The J-2X engine is ready for test”

    J-2X has only completed gas generator tests, hasn’t done a hot-firing, and has much more testing and development left after that. J-2X was the long pole in the tent for Ares I and wasn’t likely to be ready until 2017 according to independent GAO reports.

    “The ATK 5-segment SRB has already been tested multiple times”

    No, it hasn’t. Your link is to a test of a 5-segment, PBAN steel-case SRB (the same casing as the existing 4-segment SRBs). The SLS will employ 5-segment, HTPB composite-case SRBs that have never been built or tested before.

    “NASA has a stockpile of SSME RS-25″

    NASA is only going to have about 15 Block II SSMEs after STS. That’s only enough for 3-5 missions — not even enough for your hypothetical 600mT Mars mission.

    No one has built or tested an expendable SSME (RS-25E). The existing RS-25s are arguably the most expensive and sensitive rocket engines ever built. It’s far from clear whether making them expendable will result in cost-effective or reliable engines.

    On top of all these three new engine developments, SLS is also going to use a derivative of the Russian NK-33 engine in a new thrust class that has yet to be designed, built, or tested.

    Even if you consider J-2X, RS-25E, and the composite 5-segment SRB to be partial developments, you’d still have to be an idiot to take these three partial engine developments and an additional new engine development (NK-33) for SLS over one new engine development for a Falcon HLLV.

    Taking on all this additional cost, complexity, and integration risk is nutty. We don’t design any other vehicle in any other mode of transportation with four different types of engines. Unless you’re trying to preserve the votes associated with the jobs for all these different production lines, there’s no reason for any launch vehicle to have that many different engine types either.

    “Where are those videos of the SpaceX Merlin 2 test flights? Test fires? Metal?”

    None of the SLS engines have had test flights or test fires either. And only the J-2X has any “metal”. But there’s four of them, instead of one for the Falcon-derived HLLV.

    And if you buy the Falcon-derived HLLV at $2.5B, you can still afford a second EELV-derived HLLV and have billions left over for actual exploration hardware.

    C’mon, think…

  • pathfinder_01

    “Because it was “cost” that drove the decision to kill the Saturn V. And where do you think those concerns arose? The Soviets. They could not beat us to the Moon, so they used misleading costs figures to convince foolish Americans the we could not afford our BEO manned space program.”

    It is called reality and if the program costs more than its budget it will not be done and if it is too costly it can slow down to the point where it makes no sense at all(CXP). NASA budget declined and today is is about half what is was in the 60ies. The space program was going to have to adapt as it is adapting today. The reason why the space program lost funding is because:

    1. The soviets didn’t land on the moon also. Once we landed on the moon our ego problems were fixed and we showed the world the greatness of out technology. There was no force to compel us to keep doing it.It is rather like winning against an opponent would you keep trying to win again and again or would you choose a different game?

    2. A war called Vietnam was draining the budget big time.

    3. The great society. Like it or hate it people would rather spend to help the poor in our own country than send 3 guys on the moon to goof off for 2-3 days. Heck if I had my way I would rather spend 1 billion to extend the red line so the person who takes care of my grandma can get to work easier via public transit than NASA and I love the space program.

    “I don’t mind spending the money. What I mind is the cancellation of programs every time that anyone has a bright idea, or every time that someone new steps into the oval office.”

    Millions of tax payers do mind spending the money and I would say they out number the space geeks. The reason why program are canceled is becuase they go over budget or stretch to crazy timeless. NASA is bad at estimating how much and how long it will take to do something.

    “Musk had the Merline 2 and an 150 MT HLV tested and ready to go on the launch pad now, rather than a pocket full of promises, I would say, forget SLS, use what works, and instead pump billions into landers, robotic precursors, lunar electric rovers, ISRU, etc…”

    You don’t need a 150MT LV to go to the moon be it Space x, NASA, or ULA. Just a willingness to work with what we have rather than spend all the money on the launcher. That is the missing ingredient. NASA was designed around building the shuttle but builing the shuttle left little left over for anything else(hence we have the ISS in the 2000′s not the 1980ies).

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ June 27th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    But right now SLS is a whole lot more real than a Merlin 2 or Falcon XX.

    The SLS, which hasn’t even been defined enough to tell Congress, is still far more “real” than any of it’s mythical payloads.

    What funded programs are slated to use the SLS? None.

    A bottle rocket could handle that, and save the U.S. Taxpayer $Billions.

  • pathfinder_01

    Here is a bit of history that does not use any HLV or even prop depot. Just the shuttle and Delta IV heavy to get to L2.

    http://history.nasa.gov/DPT/Architectures/Moon%20-%20L1-Moon%20Exploration%20Architecture%20DPT%20Jun_00.pdf

    Yes it did depend on aerobraking to get back to the ISS or remain in orbit long enough for the shuttle to pick it up, but in theory you could do the same thing with Orion or Dragon now if you skip the aerobraking and directly return. Something like Dream Chaser XL: http://www.iloa.org/spdv_study4.html . Could also work.

    Development of either long term storage of lox/loh or use of lox/methane would help greatly as you would reduce the mass of your craft.

  • I don’t mind spending the money.

    That is obvious with every moronic post you make. The problem is, it’s not your money.

    You can argue for idiotic and unaffordable architectures all you like, and if you have tens of billions of dollars to waste, you could waste them to your heart’s delight.

    But it’s our money, not yours, and we aren’t going to pay much attention to idiots who “don’t mind spending the money.”

  • pathfinder_01

    Anyway here is how it could work.

    Flight 1. launch the LTV to the ISS unmanned. Without the LAS Orion could be lofted by the cheaper Atlas launcher(est. launch cost about 200 million). No time constraint here, it just has to arrive before the crew and it could even carry supplies to the ISS too.

    Flight 2. Launch the lunar crew to the ISS with the normal ISS rotation crew. The commercial crew craft all hold 7. Assuming 1 pilot(and in theory he could be a part of either crew), that leaves 6 slots open for crew. That would yield either 3 crew to the ISS and 3 crew to L1/l2 or 4 crew to the ISS and 2 to L1/L2. As this flight would take place no matter what there wouldn’t be an expense to the lunar program. It would be shared between both ISS and this program. Assume about 200 million for this mission split between the ISS and the lunar program so 100 million.

    Flight 3 Launch an EDS stage via Delta IV heavy, current cost about 400 million, but in 2008 ULA offered 300 million a pop if NASA would commit to buying nine for Orion. Economies of scale are your friend. The launch window opens every ten days from the ISS so in theory you could have multiple chances to do it.

    So far we have spent 700 million about the cost of a shuttle launch and we have a BEO mission of sorts.

    Now you do need a space station at L1/L2 and you can put one there beforehand. Something like sundancer could work as it only masses 8MT however :

    http://www.futureinspaceoperations.com/papers/HumanOps_Beyond_LEO_11_2010.pdf

    Thinks you could put a 16MT one there with just two launches of Delta IV heavy. A Cygnus could hold enough supply for a crew of 4 to last 180 days and could be throw there by an Atlas rocket. Cygnus and Dragon resupply craft could share costs with the ISS/Commercial versions. Unlike Apollo, this space station would be used over many missions and for many years. Resupply probably would cost about 200-300 million via Cygnus. I might not have a 4-5 billion space shuttle sized budget, but I do have BEO missions for about 1 billion a year and any reduction in launch cost means I can do more with the same amount of money! I don’t need budget increases to get to the next step(like many NASA programs).

    If you would like a lunar landing, your probably need some propellant transfer or you need a slightly larger rocket say a Delta Phase I or an FH. They could throw a lunar lander to l1/l2(or even your spacecraft directly).Gravy well do suck in that they really increase your mass requirements, but again it is manageable.

    With these elements you now can work on your technology.

    For instance if you use a Dream Chaser XL, you wont be disposing of an Orion at $800 million a pop. That means that a small budget increase can do much more(i can buy other hardware vs. be stuck in a replace cycle).

    If I use SEP, I can greatly increase the amount of cargo I can take to and from the moon. If my SEP can make multiple trip through the van allen belt, I can use a Taurus II or a Falcon nine to resupply my station(this would be a great savings). Even better if I can mover my lunar lander or some of it’s propellant this way.

    Just as I can depart from the ISS, I could also depart from a Prop depot. If I can share the flight with paying tourist, I can offset some of the cost of the launch. The prop depot in LEO would allow me to carry much more mass to the moon without the high fixed costs of an specialized lunar HLV. FH, Delta phase I, Atlas phase 1 small enough that it can share parts and pads with its smaller versions.

  • “On top of all these three new engine developments, SLS is also going to use a derivative of the Russian NK-33 engine in a new thrust class that has yet to be designed, built, or tested.”

    AeroJet would like to replace the SRBs with AJ-26s, but that isn’t going to happen… Not a refurbished 1960s leftover from the failed Soviet Moon program.

  • Major Tom

    “AeroJet would like to replace the SRBs with AJ-26s, but that isn’t going to happen… Not a refurbished 1960s leftover from the failed Soviet Moon program.”

    It may or may not happen, but the SLS program is going to spend billions of dollars on it, per AW:

    “The competition would pit that solid-fuel booster against a new liquid-fuel booster powered by an engine to be developed by Aerojet in Sacramento, Calif., and manufactured by Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Ala.

    According to Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet vice president for space programs, the new engine would be a U.S.-built version of the Russian-based AJ-26 engine that Aerojet is preparing as the main-stage engine for the Orbital Sciences Corp. Taurus II commercial cargo booster for International Space Station resupply. Built from surplus Soviet-era NK-33 engines, the AJ-26 generates about 340,000 lb. of thrust at sea level.

    The new engine — now designated only the -500 — would generate 500,000 lb. of thrust at sea level and be built in expanded Teledyne Brown facilities in Huntsville under a joint venture announced June 3.

    ‘The combination of Aerojet’s leadership in engine design and production and Teledyne’s experience with complex engineered systems and advanced manufacturing creates a strong, unchallengeable offering to customers,’ Teledyne Brown President Rex Geveden, a former director of nearby MSFC, said at the time…

    Bolden’s decision was foreshadowed by public letters sent to him by Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein of California, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) urging him to compete SLS propulsion.

    ‘It was never our intent to foreclose the possibility of utilizing competition, where appropriate,’ Shelby wrote to Bolden on June 10, referring to the NASA reauthorization language. ‘ … I have seen no evidence that foregoing competition for the booster system will speed development of SLS or, conversely, that introducing competition will slow the program down.’”

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awx/2011/06/16/awx_06_16_2011_p0-337088.xml&headline=NASA%20To%20Compete%20Space%20Launch%20System%20Boosters&channel=space

    It’s yet another, unnecessary engine development intended to retain jobs, not get a new HLLV to the pad as efficiently and quickly as possible.

    FWIW…

  • Robert Clark

    There is a solution that would provide both a 100+ mT payload launcher AND an independent manned launcher at the same time and at a cost for both at that of only a 70 mT launcher, or even less.
    See the details here:

    Some proposals for low cost heavy lift launchers.
    http://www.orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?p=270195&postcount=9

    Bob Clark

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert Clark wrote @ June 28th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    There is a solution that would provide both a 100+ mT payload launcher AND an independent manned launcher at the same time and at a cost for both at that of only a 70 mT launcher, or even less.

    You seem confused what the issue is.

    The issue isn’t whether we can build a 70mt, 100mt or even 130mt launcher. The question is do we need to?

    Why do we need a launcher bigger than any payloads currently funded?

    If bigger payloads are coming, wouldn’t it make sense to wait until the need is identified, and then decide if we need 20, 50, 70, 100, 130 or 150mt ability?

    The whole idea behind the SLS is that there will be a long line of mega-sized payloads that require a 130mt launcher, and that the need will stretch out over decades.

    When will Congress identify the budget for this long list of payloads? Where will it fit in the NASA budget? There are too many unanswered questions to commit $Billions of taxpayer money.

    We don’t lack launchers – we lack funded payloads.

  • pathfinder_01

    Here is an intresting idea before CXP became the defacto method see page 33 for a peek into the future: http://exploration.nasa.gov/documents/reports/cer_midterm/Boeing.pdf

  • “We aren’t going to pay much attention to idiots who “don’t mind spending the money.”

    That is probably a wise move. Let’s just ignore each other…

    (No reply necessary…)

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