NASA, Other

Polls suggest support for space exploration but not bigger budgets

The end of the shuttle program, in addition to prompting its share of political reactions, was also a cue for pollsters, who used the occasion to seek out the public’s views on a variety of space issues. The responses suggest the public, while generally supporting NASA, is reluctant to let the shuttle go and also not eager to give the agency more money.

On the shuttle, Rasmussen Reports poll from mid-July found that 50% of respondents concluded the shuttle program was worth the expense to taxpayers, versus 27% who didn’t think it had been worth it. A CNN/ORC poll last week also found that half of respondents thought the end of the shuttle program would be “bad” for the US, versus a third who thought it would have no effect and 16% who thought it would be good. An Investor’s Business Daily (IBD)/TIPP poll from last week also found that 56% opposed ending the shuttle.

There’s still interest in human spaceflight and space exploration in the post-shuttle era, though. The Rasmussen poll found that 74% thought it to be at least somewhat important for the US to have a human spaceflight program (73% also supported robotic space exploration), while the IBD/TIPP poll found that 65% thought the US should have a “leading” or “active” role in space exploration. The IBD/TIPP poll, though, noted that 72% didn’t believe the current administration has a “clear plan for space exploration”. The CNN/ORC poll reported that 64% of respondents believe it’s very or fairly important for the US to be ahead of other countries in space exploration, and 75% thought the US should develop its own crewed spacecraft.

Those programs, though, will likely to have to be done with NASA budgets no greater than today’s. The IBD/TIPP poll reported that only 10% of respondents want to increase NASA’s budget; 49% want to keep it at current levels while 28% want to cut it (and an additional 8% want to see the budget cut entirely.) The Rasmussen results were only a little better for NASA advocates: it found 18% who wanted to increase spending on space exploration, versus 40% who want to keep it at current levels and 30% who want to spend less.

There’s also some support for increased reliance on the private sector to support human spaceflight and exploration. The CNN/ORC poll noted that 54% thought that the US should rely more on private companies for human spaceflight, versus 38% who preferred the government. The IBD/TIPP poll found that 59% agreed that “the U.S. could get into space faster, better and more effectively if ‘we get the space program out of Washington and cut out the bureaucracy.’” The Rasmussen poll reported that 38% thought the government should fund “the space program” (without being more specific), while 33% thought that should be the responsibility of the private sector.

As always, there are caveats with these polls: how the survey instrument (questionnaire) is worded can have a major effect on responses. And the language can also be imprecise: when people say, for example, that the private sector should fund the space program, are they referring to everything NASA does or the more visible elements, like human spaceflight? Combined, though, they suggest the public wants the US to remain a leader in space exploration, including human spaceflight; they’re just not willing to spend more money to do so.

119 comments to Polls suggest support for space exploration but not bigger budgets

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Pretty much nothing has changed then: “We want the Starship Enterprise but we want someone else to pay for it!”

    I wonder if the pollsters mentioned the actual fraction of the Federal budget actually goes to NASA? Most people seem to think it has a budget that rivals Social Security and DoD (which it doesn’t by about two orders of magnitude). I think if more people knew that FY2012 will likely only give the agency $16B, the numbers about budget boosts might change radically.

  • Googaw

    In summary, 36% want to cut the NASA budget and only 10% want to raise it. Much more negative than you’ll get if you ask about most other specific government programs. Given the budget constraints that are going to fall out of the current debt ceiling “crisis”, even programs with strong public support are going to be cut. Budgets with NASA’s negatives are going to be atom-bombed.

    It’s also interesting that robotic missions generate as much public support as the far more expensive HSF. “No bucks, no Buck Rogers” clearly trumps “no Buck Rogers, no bucks.”

  • tom

    Proof the average American is well above average.

  • …they suggest the public wants the US to remain a leader in space exploration, including human spaceflight; they’re just not willing to spend more money to do so.

    Nor should they have to. NASA could do far more with less, if Congress would quit telling them how to do the job and in which zip codes.

  • Mark Whittington

    There is anothe problem with such polls: how much do the respondants think NASA spends per year? There is some evidence that people exagurate that figure and would be astonished how small it actually is.

  • VirgilSamms

    “In summary, 36% want to cut the NASA budget and only 10% want to raise it. Much more negative than you’ll get if you ask about most other specific government programs.”

    Few of those people polled have the faintest idea how monstrous the DOD budget is. 105 billion this year just for weapons research. Not buying anything.

    This is the military industrial POLITICAL complex that NASA is excluded from because they cannot generate the immense profits the classified military programs can.

    Space flight is hard money- it has work. Cold war toys are easy- no one even has to know if they work or not. If you doubt that you might consider all those scuds we shot down with out patriot missiles in the first gulf war. And how many combat missions the B-1 has flown and how many have been shot down by flocks of birds. They are headed for the boneyard just like the Shuttle. They were even built with some under the table shuttle development money.

    That is where our space program went. Vast treasure spent on fighting illiterate tribesman in countries with no indoor plumbing.

    The whining of private space that there is no money is pathetic.

  • These poll results suggest to me that the American public would support space exploration supported with advertising dollars.

    Also as for this . . .

    59% agreed that “the U.S. could get into space faster, better and more effectively if ‘we get the space program out of Washington and cut out the bureaucracy.’”

    I observe that CCDev, COTS and similar programs do NOT get the space program out of Washington but rather such programs insert Washington into a number of otherwise promising NewSpace ventures.

  • SpaceColonizer

    These polls are meaningless simply because the majority of people being polled don’t even know what’s going on with the space program. They’re making judgements with regards to the budget, but have no idea how large/small that budget it or how it is being spent. To some of the ones 40 years old or younger, the Shuttle is the only space program they’ve ever known and have a hard time grasping a space program without it.

    This decade is going to fundamentally change the space program for the better. No longer will the only people going to space be super elite, best of the best, right stuff government employees.

  • This is the military industrial POLITICAL complex that NASA is excluded from because they cannot generate the immense profits the classified military programs can.

    What a stupid comment.

  • Dex

    @ Ben Russell-Gough
    The comparison also has to be made in terms of what $16 Billion is in the Federal Budget. Most citizens lack an understanding of just how little money $16 Billion is in terms of the Federal budget. They hear the word Billion and think “That is a lot of money!”

  • VirgilSamms

    “This decade is going to fundamentally change the space program for the better.”

    It’s possible. If they manage to get a real HLV flying (not the faux hobby “heavy”) and get DOD funding for a moonbase we would be on our way.

    LEO is a dead end. The ISS should be renamed the Albatross and deorbited. The people floating around inside it taking a radiation bath will like the moon alot more.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    This is the military industrial POLITICAL complex that NASA is excluded from because they cannot generate the immense profits the classified military programs can.

    Two things Gary/Virgil:

    1. It’s not a binary choice between buying military hardware versus buying space hardware. NASA is 0.5% of the National Budget, so doubling it will have no great effect on our debt. And reducing military spending doesn’t mean that NASA gets a raise. There is no National Imperative to increase NASA’s budget.

    2. In general, government contractors get the same profit from the DoD and from NASA, so money is money. Contractors care more about the amount being spent than which agency or department is spending it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    “There is anothe problem with such polls: how much do the respondants think NASA spends per year? ”

    that is a completely irrelevant statistic. But NASA has spent a lot. The “Dollars” taken to build, design, and fly the space shuttle would have bought the nation over 40 yes that is FORTY nuclear aircraft carriers.

    In FACT the nation was spending more on flying the shuttle then it was in replacing the mainstay of its surface fleet…

    People like you so easily dismiss bad spending you like. For instance NASA spent 14 billion or so on Cx…and got nothing. 14 billion has bought the research on the new CVN and the first of her class.

    In the scheme of things Mark which money was better spent? The 14 billion that got us Ares 1X and a suborbital demonstration or the 14 billion that will get us a new class of CVN?

    Robert G. Oler

  • VirgilSamms

    “People like you so easily dismiss bad spending you like.”

    And people “like you” so easily dismiss spending unbelievable, truly unbelievable amounts of tax dollars on weapons made to fight a war that will never happen and used for totally inappropriate operations. Bombing weddings and blowing bystanders apart with helicopter cannon is what our expensive weapons are largely accomplishing. Counter Insurgency operations always fail unless you put the population in concentration camps. The British invented the term.

    Shuttle dollars might have bought 40 carriers, but that is a small fraction of what it costs to operate one- and the fleets of supersonic jet fighters required. So your little rant is a deception. Don’t make things up Oler.

    I will restate; 105 billion dollars for weapons research alone. Not buying anything, not supporting any operations, not refurbishing or replacing existing equipment. Just devising more products to sell to the military. And I can tell you from MY experience, that most of those products are far more overpriced than the space shuttle.

  • These polls are meaningless simply because the majority of people being polled don’t even know what’s going on with the space program.

    Although one might find reasons for taking polls with a grain of salt, this isn’t one of those reasons. We must assume that the sample is a relatively representative cross-section of the population if the poll is done scientifically. So, they would be as about as informed as the average person. You gotta go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had.

  • The poll results indicate that a change is required in the way NASA works. They can no longer expect budget increases year-over-year, and they didn’t have enough money to do what they are tasked to do the way NASA normally does things. NASA has to eliminate much of the paperwork overhead and much of the hands-on operational overhead.

    NASA isn’t alone in this need to change. Nearly all government departments are going to have to streamline and each lay off thousands. That’s the reality of the next few years as a best-case scenario. Without that essential adjustment, the US credit rating will fall from AAA and trigger a worldwide depression.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “These polls are meaningless simply because the majority of people being polled don’t even know what’s going on with the space program.”

    This is true, but they’re also meaningless because the public has little or no leverage on congressional decisions about space. Aside from a couple of NASA center and major contractor districts, for whom the public leverage on Congress about space is still arguable, legislators aren’t looking to appease their constituents about this stuff. It’s a minor national issue, and not a political hot potato. There are many far more important issues that will determine whether a legislator gets votes from his or her constituents.

    To the extent that the polling is about “exploration” it gets pretty silly really. “Exploration” is ill defined, but by definition is a good thing. Like “freedom” and “strength”. Should we spend more money on my freedom and strength? Well, gosh, my freedom and strength are doing pretty well, thank you. The public feels that not doing it is getting caught with your pants down. But once you check the box, there isn’t any need to check a bigger box. Such polls are baloney.

    I’d like to see polls that ask the pubic “Should our nation make more investments in the colonization of outer space?” Or “Are you satisfied with our efforts to send people to develop resources in the solar system?” Or maybe “Is our space program doing enough to create and preserve jobs?” Those are the balls that human space flight advocates are carrying these days. Asking whether we should be doing space exploration better than other countries is just a matter of spin. Cogent metrics for who’s doing it best are few and far between.

  • DCSCA

    Rasmussen polls tend to skew conservative which is why they’re a favorite of Fox News.

    “But NASA has spent a lot. The “Dollars” taken to build, design, and fly the space shuttle [your numbers beging when, 1972, '79, '81?] would have bought the nation over 40 yes that is FORTY nuclear aircraft carriers.”

    Which would be a waste. The nation doesnt need 40 aircraft carriers. The military has enough toys already. In 1996 dollars the average cost of a Nimitz class carrier was about $6 billion and operating costs about $300 million/year- source- FoAS. A space shutle orbiter (Endeavour, for example) cost approx. $1.7 billion. In 2011 dollars, operating the shuttle fleet cost NASA roughly $4 billion annually.

  • DCSCA

    @VirgilSamms wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
    “The whining of private space that there is no money is pathetic.”

    Very much so. It’s pathetic they cannot convince private capital to invest because of the high risk and low ROI from a limited market. It’s called free market capitalism. So they go to the government seeking subsidies to socialize the risk on the many to benefit a few.

  • amightywind

    For instance NASA spent 14 billion or so on Cx…and got nothing.

    That would be like arguing that America got nothing out of Apollo if it had been had canceled it in 1967. We are nearing the end of the third year of the Obama era. NASA has spent over $20 billion, and NASA is undeniably Tango Uniform…

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    bogus argument. The national needs do not negate the cost comparison.

    The nation spent 14 billion on Cx which is about what has been spent on the R&D for the next gen CVN and building the first boat.

    There was no comparable work product from Cx. none

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    nope. Apollo in 67 was close to flying Cx was still as far from flying as it had been under development, and needed tens of billions of more dollars.

    Most of what has been spent at NASA on humanspaceflight has been spent on projects that were either underway (shuttle/station) or the stupid heavy lift.

    Try harder to justify bad spending RGO

  • That would be like arguing that America got nothing out of Apollo if it had been had canceled it in 1967.

    It might be, if the first manned flight wasn’t likely to occur until 1975.

    It’s pathetic they cannot convince private capital to invest because of the high risk and low ROI from a limited market.

    Private capital has been investing. Most of the funding for SpaceX has been private investment. Are you completely clueless? Why do you keep repeating nonsense?

  • Rasmussen polls tend to skew conservative which is why they’re a favorite of Fox News.

    Rasmussen polls tend to skew to likely voters, which is why they are both accurate, and useful.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    That would be like arguing that America got nothing out of Apollo if it had been had canceled it in 1967.

    Not quite. By the end of 1967, the Apollo Command and Service Module had already flown a sub-orbital test, and a complete Saturn V and Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) stack had flown in an “all-up test” (unmanned). They had produced real flight hardware and even tested it.

    No Ares I flight hardware was ever tested, and when was Ares V likely to do a flight test? 2030?

    Griffin’s Safe, Simple, Soon for Ares I turned into Redesign, Over-spend, Over-schedule, and caused the Orion capsule to keep being redesigned and de-scoped.

    The Constellation program will be famous for years to come not for what it accomplished, but for what it spent and didn’t accomplish. We as a Nation can’t afford space programs like that.

  • Michael from Iowa

    I’d be interested to see a poll which also asked Americans how much they think NASA actually gets each year. I remember a poll a few years ago found that the average American thought NASA was getting something like 10% of the entire US budget, I imagine that perception hasn’t changed much this decade if people still think cutting NASA’s budget would a) still leave them with enough to keep science and spaceflight programs going and b) have any impact on the current financial problems of the US.

  • E.P. Grondine

    The communication problem is well illustrated by this poll.

    The President announced a manned mission to an asteroid as the immediate goal. There were people, mainly NASA’s strongest supporter, who wanted either the Moon or Mars and could not accept that.

    As far as the Press went, they did not know where the goal came from, and were unable to do the easy research to find out. That is in part due to their ineptness, and in part due to the fact that their specific audiences (Moon or Mars space enthusiasts) did not want to hear it.

    We know that the fragments of comet 73P or its dust load are due in 2022. Assume for a moment that the President wants the resources to deal with this without generating any panic, and without alienating NASA’s core supporters, the manned Mars flight enthusiasts.

    What does he do?

    Announce a manned visit to an asteroid, testing flight systems for manned Mars flight, just as was proposed over a decade earlier.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 6:20 pm
    “Rasmussen polls tend to skew to likely voters, which is why they are both accurate, and useful.” Quite an extrapolation to deduce poll participants are ‘likely voters’ from a poll on the space program. Inherently biased polls such as Rasmussen’s are always useful to conservatives, Fox News viewers and shills with misleading and deceptive messaging practices.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 6:08 pm
    Nonsense. The bogus arguement is all yours. “40 aircraft carriers…” Good grief.

  • DCSCA

    Michael from Iowa wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 6:37 pm
    I’d be interested to see a poll which also asked Americans how much they think NASA actually gets each year. Yes, that’s an interesting take on it. Anectdotally speaking, there does seem to be a pattern of perception w/t general public on the costs of space which may be the fault of NASA’s HSF appearing to be a ‘glamorous’ if not luxurious expense given its high media profile over the decades. Sort of like foreign aid. If Americans were as keenly aware of the costs of purchasing, operating and maintaining aircraft carriers, Fort Hood; an elaborate embassy in Iraq or the $2 billion/week for Afghanistan they might see it in a better perspective. Instead, they’re busy clipping coupons trying to save pennies on soda at Walmart in these tough times.

  • NASA Fan

    Another poll that shows how uninformed Joe Six Pack is.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 6:22 pm
    “We as a Nation can’t afford space programs like that.”

    Nonsense, Putting aside Constellation was not ‘perfect’ and Ares was a lousy rocket design IMO, in fact, yes, we can afford government operated and managed civilian space programs of scale ‘like that’ – especially if we stop wasting $2 billion a WEEK in Afghanistan.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    It’s pretty clear to most people that the U.S. Congress has much bigger issues on its plate than NASA. The debt levels defy belief and Congress doesn’t seem to see a way forward. Simply looks like the system is broken. Vested interests rule even in the face of disaster.
    Bit like certain people in NASA. They can’t see beyond traditional methods of contracting even when there are examples elsewhere of successful alternatives. CCDev is in danger of developing into a Cx-type fiasco and the gap for U.S. HSF will simply grow. Sad to see this happen. For a while there, it seemed NASA really could change but perhaps not?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Michael from Iowa wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 6:37 pm
    “I remember a poll a few years ago found that the average American thought NASA was getting something like 10% of the entire US budget”

    Yes, in which case it is remarkable that the average American seems to care so little about NASA when it comes to federal budget deliberations. You’d think something that they thought sucked up 10% of the federal budget would be a target of intense deliberation. Of course, national defense is also not deliberated in proportion to its relative importance in the federal budget. One has to wonder if NASA funding is considered by the public to be “off the table” in the same way as defense spending is often thought to be. Perhaps because it is thought to be a defense-like expenditure.

    Now, in fact, NASA does account for about 3-4% of federal non-defense discretionary spending. So it’s not a totally insignificant amount of what our government actually has to play with.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    in fact, yes, we can afford government operated and managed civilian space programs of scale ‘like that’ – especially if we stop wasting $2 billion a WEEK in Afghanistan.

    What you and others fail to recognize is that it’s not a binary choice. Spending less on war does not equate to spending more on NASA. It never has.

    We’ve always had the ability to spend more on NASA, but the government (Presidents and Congress) have not seen the need. If they wanted to they could shift the funds from the National Park Service or National Institutes of Health, or any number of agencies and departments. There are plenty of choices to choose from, so that has not been the issue.

    There is no nationally recognized need to spend more on NASA, and that is playing out in the politics of the day in the proposed House budget, which whacks 10% out of NASA’s budget.

    Change the perception or find a need and that might change. Until then, get ready to downsize.

    And it’s for that reason that I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space. We have to more with less, otherwise we’re not going anywhere.

  • This thread is hilarious. While commercial crew and COTS are delivering on a schedule much better than anything NASA has done in the past 30+ years, NASA wants to kill the golden goose.

    What was really shocking to me, and some staffers last week was the realization that SLS cannot fly astronauts until 2020 at the earliest. We need to finish CCDev2 and the follow on programs under SAAs. They are affordable.

    Yes COTS has had delays but CCDev has not. The delays in COTS are nothing like the delays of Constellation and Ares and don’t cost ANYTHING near what CxP did. When looked at objectively the better value is with commercial crew.

    Senators Nelson and Hutchison will be exposed. Its really bad.

    Why fund SLS at the expense of commercial crew when it will only extend the gap and force America to rely on Russia? Senators?

    The American people have it right. They want the private sector to do this with limited government oversight. NASA needs to set real requirements which SAAs are perfectly capable of doing and let American exceptionalism take over.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • tom

    Great new the Ares I 1st stage completed PDR with flying colors and the 2 hot fires worked 100%. Now we have a human rated sold fuel 1stage (that will now fly with a French build upper stage) ready for manufacturing. Sept 30th ends the CxP 1st Stage contract with NASA . But ATK will put the design to good use. Commercial space all the way, right?

  • Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    “Quite an extrapolation to deduce poll participants are ‘likely voters’ from a poll on the space program.”

    Decades ago I worked on national telephone surveys just like this one. The ‘likely voters’ are usually separated from the ‘unlikely voters’ in the first four or five questions of the survey long before the participant even has any idea what the survey will be about. So, as usual, Mr. Simberg is right.

  • The only poll that matters is the vote in Congress, and clearly Congress isn’t interested in supporting human space flight beyond jobs programs for their own districts.

  • Andrew Gasser wrote:

    Senators Nelson and Hutchison will be exposed. Its really bad.

    This assumes the voters are paying attention. They’re not. And I believe Hutchison has already announced she won’t run for re-election.

    In Florida, one of the big GOP contenders for Nelson’s seat, Mike Haridopolos, just dropped out before the race even began. The sentiment seems to be that Haridopolos doesn’t think he can beat Nelson.

    We’re stuck with SLS. The only way we’ll be rid of it is when it hits the wall just like Constellation.

  • amightywind

    While commercial crew and COTS are delivering on a schedule much better than anything NASA has done in the past 30+ years, NASA wants to kill the golden goose.

    A breathtakingly stupid statement! Think of the fantastic shuttle and planetary missions accomplished in the past 30 years and compare them to the modest commercial ISS resupply mission, which is years over schedule and $100′s millions over budget. Even if it were wildly successful, COTS is a petty solution to a petty mission. Yippee!

    Since we are on the topic of surveys, AW reports that the NASA brass is encouraging the remaining employees to ‘embrace change’. How inspiring. I would love to get a survey of what NASA employees think of the current leadership.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 7:50 am

    wait until the budget “deals” work themselves out…we have not even seen the most entertaining shoes drop there yet. RGO

  • @ablastofhotair
    “A breathtakingly stupid statement! Think of the fantastic shuttle and planetary missions accomplished in the past 30 years and compare them to the modest commercial ISS resupply mission, which is years over schedule and $100′s millions over budget.”

    “$100s millions over budget”? Lying doesn’t make you look any smarter and is beyond “breathtakingly stupid”. Your use of the latter phrase is the ultimate irony. The modest time behind schedule of COTS is nothing compared to slippage already experienced by Cx when it was cancelled and a definite trifle compared to Ares I. You are completely delusional. How can you possibly think anyone can take anything you say seriously?

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Now we have a human rated sold fuel 1stage

    What makes it “human rated”? Can you cite the “human rating” spec that it meets? Or are you just assuming since the 4-segment SRM was part of a “human rated” system, that the 5-segement would also?

    But ATK will put the design to good use. Commercial space all the way, right?

    Well, that’s assuming they can use government property (i.e. Ares I stuff) for the Liberty. Also they need to find a buyer that needs that size launcher for the price they’re going to charge.

    But considering that they are far more expensive than their med-heavy crew competitors (Atlas V and Falcon 9), it’s unlikely that they will get any crew contracts. And considering that the cargo market is under-capacity, why would anyone give them a chance if they cost far more than the competition?

    It’s hard to see what advantages the Liberty brings to the market that the market is missing.

  • Great new the Ares I 1st stage completed PDR with flying colors

    Hilarious. Yes, it came through PDR with such flying colors that NASA had to come up with a new rainblow of hues to describe all of the RIDS.

    From what planet are you posting this?

  • Alan

    amightywind wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 8:16 am

    A breathtakingly stupid statement! Think of the fantastic shuttle and planetary missions accomplished in the past 30 years and compare them to the modest commercial ISS resupply mission, which is years over schedule and $100′s millions over budget.

    Coming from someone who claims they have an engineering degree from Cornell that is a breathtakingly stupid and ignorant statement. How do you go over budget on a fixed-price Space Act Agreement, with milestone-based payments?

    Where are these mythical $100′s millions over budget? I’d like to see proof.

    DUH, if you don’t meet a milestone you don’t get paid!

    DUH, If you are late in meeting a milestone you don’t get paid until you meet it!

    You seem to have problems with understanding basic contract concepts.

  • Vladislaw

    Let’s see, NASA employees have never had to worry about getting fired, no matter what happens, loss of a probe? No problem, we will give you another project. A project is billions over budget and years behind schedule? No problem, congress will cancel it and we will start a new project for you. Now after a 30 year shuttle run they are finding that those jobs are just like jobs in the private sector and you actually may get laid off. The only difference is in the private sector you do not get a 7 year warning you might be losing your job. If they have not been salting away 5-10% of their salary leading up to this then it is to bad.

  • Dennis Berube

    When will the government stop the overcost that is present with regards to military projects? Id rather have the JW telescope than another aircraft carrier! Id rather have a manned lunar base or a trip out to Mars, than another fighter jet! Why does war have to be more important? Lets cut the over cost runs within the military.

  • Gary Anderson

    As a Republican I can only say, the SLS game is in our court. In addition to Senator Nelson (D) and Hutchison (R) that Mr. Gasser named, I would add Senator Shelby (R), Senator Hatch (R), Reps Hall (R) & Olson (R).

    The freshman oriented Tea Partiers, 50+ strong in the Republican aisle need to find a way to sideline these named individuals. I have no quarrels with those I’ve named, they have their own constituencies to deal with and are doing what they feel is best for their districts. However, the new representatives can make real change as a group if they can make existing committee ‘power’ assignments irrevelent.

    The first success will be to quiet and incapacitate one of their own, what’s her name in Florida… Adam’s?. Let her trumpet her district as the others do, but make it inconsequential in the end game.

    Democrats? If you have any desire for O’Bama’s 1st budget, you better get on the bandwagon and help on your side, sideline those on the existing oversight committees not named above, because funny thing, O’Bama’s first budget in many ways, runs in tandom with…. Oh wow… TPIS platform. Hmmmm (Tea Party in Space) Go figure! Commercial Space is the way forward for a Strong United States Space program.

    (Explore deep space from LEO launching point!)
    As I’ve said before… I’ll throw a bone to old space. ULA with DreamChaser riding on top to the ISS or ‘Nautilus I, II, III, & IV’, with a stop at a fuel depot, before hitting the button punching Vasmir into overdrive.

    :) Enjoy your work week.

    Gary Anderson
    way up in Worcester, Massachusetts
    (Remember people went ‘west’ first. F-Troop followed later.)

  • Aggelos

    ” Id rather have the JW telescope than another aircraft carrier! Id rather have a manned lunar base or a trip out to Mars, than another fighter jet! Why does war have to be more important? Lets cut the over cost runs within the military.”

    I wish that too..

    If all the money for rockets death and destruction went to space exploration, humanity will had a mon base already and we will travel to Mars

  • What makes it “human rated”? Can you cite the “human rating” spec that it meets? Or are you just assuming since the 4-segment SRM was part of a “human rated” system, that the 5-segement would also?

    Shuttle was not human rated.

  • amightywind

    As a Republican I can only say…

    That would be a Republican from Massachusetts, which explains your rather quixotic, RINO views. The purge was not complete last year, I see. Who else would suggest that we ‘incapacitate’ a loyal GOP NASA reformer, who won their seat from the Bolsheviks?

    …with a stop at a fuel depot, before hitting the button punching Vasmir into overdrive.

    Would that be after you drove your electric Government Motors car to the windmill electrical charging station?

  • DCSCA

    @Ron wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 2:02 am
    More extrapolation on your part. And anecdotal as well. You have no basis to compare your polling methodogy from decades ago, in the pre-cellphone, pre-internet, rotary phone era no less- to the polling methods and procedures of today. The metrics don’t match up which makes data collection for a comparason all the more skewed– and Rassmussen polls skew conservative BTW. You and the shill remain wrong, as usual. Not that it matters.

  • DCSCA

    “Spending less on war does not equate to spending more on NASA.”

    In fact it does – and has. See the Vietnam war era for details and used as rationales for budget cuts to the agency in that period as war costs ballooned– along w/a lot of other things. And, of course, space exploration is a luxury item, easy to cut anyway. Good grief.

  • VirgilSamms

    “But considering that they are far more expensive than their med-heavy crew competitors (Atlas V and Falcon 9), it’s unlikely that they will get any crew contracts.”

    The Liberty is very likely to fly astronauts. The Europeans are in and serious about this. Ariane V has put about half the working sats in orbit and the 5 segment derived from the 4 segment is ready to go.

    The flight heritage of these components and the international participation will decide the matter. Boeing and the Euro’s will be pushing the President hard enough to say “sorry” to SpaceX. Better sell your stock off before the announcement next month.

  • VirgilSamms

    “So they go to the government seeking subsidies to socialize the risk on the many to benefit a few.”

    Very Nice. Sometimes you and Windy make way too much sense. If we put our differences aside soon we would be invincible.

    On second thought we would have to throw Windy to the sharks sooner or later.

  • vulture4

    AMW: “I would love to get a survey of what NASA employees think of the current leadership.”

    V4: No mystery there. NASA employees (with some exceptions) blame everything on the current leadership.

  • Gary Anderson

    footnote: s/b tandem
    O’bama’s 1st (NASA) budget
    Dislikes reading mistakes after posting.

  • The Liberty is very likely to fly astronauts.

    It is lunacy to think that the Liberty will ever fly at all.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    The Europeans are in and serious about this. Ariane V has put about half the working sats…

    And if they seriously wanted a launcher for European needs, then they would just use Ariane V. Nothing new to build, and all the jobs stay in Europe. Remember Ariane V was originally planned to carry humans, so modifying it will take far less money and work than building the brand new Liberty rocket.

    Boeing and the Euro’s will be pushing the President hard enough to say “sorry” to SpaceX.

    The Boeing CST-100 is designed to fit on Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9, so why would Boeing waste money on a larger launcher? Oh, and Boeing makes money on every Atlas V and Delta IV launch, so why would they give their money to someone else?

    You keep making stuff up Gary/Virgil, but you don’t seem to think things through.

    Better sell your stock [in SpaceX] off before the announcement next month.

    Another clueless statement – SpaceX is privately held. I do plan to buy their stock after the IPO, and I’m pretty sure somewhere in my investment portfolio I have Boeing stock (NYSE: BA), so it looks like I’ll be well diversified for the commercial crew market.

  • Gary Anderson wrote:

    The first success will be to quiet and incapacitate one of their own, what’s her name in Florida… Adam’s?. Let her trumpet her district as the others do, but make it inconsequential in the end game.

    There are two. Sandy Adams has KSC and Titusville. Bill Posey has Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the cities of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, etc.

    Both are scheduled to address the National Space Club Florida chapter on August 9. If I didn’t have to work, I’d bring some of their more loopy statements, e.g. Adams claiming U.S. astronauts are being forced to fly on Chinese rockets, and publicly embarrass them.

    Adams and Posey have been fierce advocates for protecting the space worker unions and the status quo. They’ve done nothing to help the Space Coast and other blame Obama for a decision made in January 2004 by the Bush administration.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    In fact it does – and has.

    If it’s a fact, then show it. But it’s even easier to figure out than that.

    Go ask your Congressional Rep. if they will be giving the money we save from bringing the troops home to NASA. Go on, we’ll wait…. see, see how hard they laughed at you?

    NASA money is not tied to any agency but NASA, and as the House of Representatives has shown, reducing military spending does not result in an increase in NASA’s budget.

    I guess we need to add civics and history to your list of classes you need to take, along with the finance ones. You better plan on staying in school for a while… ;-)

  • vulture4

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    It is lunacy to think that the Liberty will ever fly at all.

    Agree and add the SLS/Orion to the list, but only after a few billion more wasted. Constellation was never a “transition” from Shuttle. Augustine bears some blame, but Wayne Hale very clearly stated in 2008 that the Shuttle program could not be extended.
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=28974

    Now everyone blames Obama for shutting down the Shuttle. They should be looking in the mirror.

  • Robert G. Oler

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    “The Liberty is very likely to fly astronauts”

    sure…yikes RGO

  • VirgilSamms

    “Yes, it came through PDR with such flying colors that NASA had to come up with a new rainblow of hues to describe all of the RIDS.
    From what planet are you posting this?”

    From Wiki:
    “According to NASA, analysis of the data and telemetry from the Ares I-X flight showed that vibrations from thrust oscillation were within the normal range for a Space Shuttle flight.[16]”

    It was a test flight, generated data, and it went fine.
    Stop making things up Rand.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Lemme fix that for ya-

    “It is lunacy to think that the SpaceX’s Dragon will ever fly astronauts at all.”
    Lunacy… a derivative from the term luna no less, which is as close as commercial HSF will ever get to it. Tick-tock, tick-tock, fella. How many people has commercial space successfully launched orbited and returned safely to date as of July 25, 2011– surprise, the same number as Liberty- NONE.

  • tom

    In order more or less:

    Right. The Shuttle was not human rated. No such thing back then. We used redundancy and reliability.

    The Ares I 1st Stage PDR meets the original and versioned Human rating standard. Well done.

    The design is complete. Testing is complete. Go build it for flight!

    ½ of Ares I is done.

    Liberty will have a French upper stage in place of the one NASA developed and fly with US avionics! Anyone gets to buy a ride for the S/C. I would rather fly on a booster with proven systems/stages and a grand paper trail.

    Current law requires NASA to make the launch pad/facilities available to anyone with a proven need. Just like they would SpaceX.

    Liberty is commercial space flight, just not SpaceX

    Reading the threads I have to ask, how many of you ever worked in the space program? Ever developed a spacecraft or launch vehicle? What have you published? Some of you are very well informed; some not so much.

    In 2013 the adults take back the US Space Program. We’re going to Mars, one way or another.

    Cheers!

  • Bennett

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Ah, a lucid moment.

    Actually, high five to you for expressing something that I’ve thought about on several occasions over the last 15 years.

    In my dream world we cut the military budget by 50% and hire all of the layoffs @$25/hr to work on fixing the roads and bridges. But any of our soldiers who want to go into a medical or technical field would get their tuition and books paid for through a federal grant system.

    It would be money well spent.

  • DCSCA

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 1:28 pm
    “Pretty much nothing has changed then: “We want the Starship Enterprise but we want someone else to pay for it!”

    The way things are going in Washington, we might just get it the way Star Fleet buys everything anyway… credits.

  • Jeff:

    Thanks for this summary and for what I consider fairly well-ballanced coverage of the issues.

    Sounds like moderately good news for everyone, except for the 8% who do not want us to have a space program at all.

    If only the other 92% of us could come up with some type of working compromise that will give NASA MSF, science missions, and commercial interests key parts of what they need, we could make significant headway on a multitude of fronts, rather than wasting so much time on unnecessary bickering and infighting…

    If William Shakespeare were still alive, I suspect that he might view the current conflicts in the same league as the War of the Roses in terms of scheming, ambition, and tragedy…

  • Commercial Space is space program chaos!! NOTHING good will emerge out of all this! So freaking what, if the space entrepreneurs manage an ISS manned resupply mission?! Did they have to be granted an exclusive monopoly over America’s space future, in order to acheive this?! Did the government really have to be eked out of the game entirely, just so these hobby rocketeers could bloom & ply their trade?! It doesn’t make an ounce of sense. The government is still needed, as it and only it, can be relied upon to deliver the big grandiose, deep-space-bound stuff. Commercial Space is a lousy excuse for a space program! Pure anarchic capitalism will NOT give this country a new deep space capability!

  • Vladislaw

    “Did they have to be granted an exclusive monopoly over America’s space future, in order to acheive this?! “

    Did you forget your meds this morning? Commercial space has multiple suppliers so if one fails another can still field a launch. NASA has been the monopoly for 40 years. If NASA fails to launch, the entire Nation’s space access ability is gone. Obviously you must love the idea that America’s space access is held hostage by one federal government agency’s monopoly.

  • tom wrote:

    In 2013 the adults take back the US Space Program. We’re going to Mars, one way or another.

    And that’s your brain on drugs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom wrote @ July 25th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    “Right. The Shuttle was not human rated. No such thing back then. We used redundancy and reliability.”

    you obviously do not have a clue how to “human rate” something RGO

  • Justin Kugler

    With all due respect, Chris, you’re shouting at the wind. How can you say “nothing good will emerge out of all this” when NASA’s own analysis shows that the new contracting paradigm is an order of magnitude less expensive?

    NASA’s plan is now and always has been to turn over LEO services to companies that can get the job done cheaper, so the agency can focus its limited resources on technology development and exploration BEO.

  • It was a test flight, generated data, and it went fine.

    Test flights (especially test flights of mock ups that have little heritage to the actual system) have nothing to do with PDRs.

  • Dennis Berube

    DCSCA I was in Vietnam, and during that time we were landing men on the Moon. Is the space program a luxury, or a necessity? That depends on who you talk to. Even if no more money goes into the space effort, the military should still be cut also. My point was, I would rather see our economy based in postitive actions rather than war and killing actions. Space offers the postive side of the coin. Ever think what will happen should science find life on Mars. Not life transported there by our spacecraft, but real Martian microbes. Certainly then, more money will move in that direction, as even public interest would skyrocket.

  • “Pure anarchic capitalism will NOT give this country a new deep space capability!”

    Chris:

    I tend to agree. The choice is not between government financed space exploration or commercial development. It is between goverment financed space exploration or government financed space development.

    If there was a real, substantial commercial demand for space services beyond GEO then there could be a real prospect that private investors would be stepping up to the plate without the need for handouts from the Obama WH. I think that there is at least a 50% chance that something might materialize before the end of this century…

    But until then, BEO space will be powered by Uncle Sam and China. Between the two, China will win out because of their dramatically lower manufacturing costs, allowing them to pass us up over the long haul.

  • E.P. Grondine

    tom –

    If Liberty is going to succeed in the commercial market, ATK will have to offer prices lower than those it quoted to NASA.

    And if Liberty does succeed, will ATK repay any of the development costs, the way the auto companies paid back their bridge loans?

    Will ATK offer DoD and NASA lower launch costs, thus trying to “pay back the development costs”, while undercutting their competition?

    Has anyone done any calculation of Arianespace’s overall market benefits from Liberty?

    Or do we just take the deal at face value?

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ July 24th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I observe that CCDev, COTS and similar programs do NOT get the space program out of Washington but rather such programs insert Washington into a number of otherwise promising NewSpace ventures.

    CCDev and COTS/CRS do start the process of removing Washington from the day to day decisions needed to supply a government outpost with goods and services.

    The last Shuttle flight is the most obvious example, since NASA had to go to Congress to get funds specifically to send supplies to the ISS. With commercial contracts, the money comes out of already allocated budget line items, and Congress doesn’t get involved.

    The ultimate goal in my mind is to add commercial cargo and crew services to the GSA Schedule, and then anyone in the U.S. Government can utilize their services. This removes Congress from the decision loop, since as long as Congress is involved in choosing hardware it will always be a mess.

    The other aspect of this is non-government demand, such as Bigelow space habitats, which will be out of the direct budget purview of Congress. That type of space use is what is going to drive our expansion into space, not NASA directly.

  • John Malkin

    Why did they decide to do a “test” flight with a four segment booster instead of waiting for one of the two five segment booster to be ready which they ground tested? I get the second stage wasn’t ready because they were waiting for the engine but why use a four segment. Where they trying to save money or just get Ares I-X off the ground before the program was cancelled? I think the answer is, the five segment would need a lot of work to integrate into Ares I-X which means the four segment wasn’t a real test.

  • Vladislaw

    Nelson Bridwell wrote:

    “But until then, BEO space will be powered by Uncle Sam and China. Between the two, China will win out because of their dramatically lower manufacturing costs, allowing them to pass us up over the long haul.”

    I would not pin your long term hopes on China being the boogie man to spur American governmental investment in BEO. They are at around 80% of GDP for debt ratio. They will be faced with the same situation we are.

    China’s ticking debt bomb

    “China’s remarkable economic rebound after the global economic crisis in 2008-2009 has been a source of envy and puzzlement for the rest of the world. Instead of recession, the Chinese economy has recorded double-digit growth, and is actually showing signs of overheating – a sharp contrast with the stagnation in most Western countries.

    How did the Chinese do it? Perhaps advocates of ‘Chinese exceptionalism’ are right after all: Beijing has found a secret formula of economic success that has eluded the West.

    Part of the answer to this mystery was given in late June by the Chinese government. It turns out that Beijing has managed to keep its economy growing during the global slump by resorting to massive bank lending to local governments, which then went on an infrastructure spending binge that’s certain to haunt the country for years to come.”

  • @ Nelson Bridwell July 26th, 2011 at 12:17 pm
    In regard to your statement of China’s “dramatically lower manufacturing costs” giving them an advantage the U.S. can’t match. According to the Chinese, their costs can’t go low enough to be competive against SpaceX. See:
    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/asd/2011/04/15/11.xml&headline=China%20Great%20Wall%20Confounded%20By%20SpaceX%20Prices

    SpaceX’s vertical supply manufacturing techniques and lack of outside hardware suppliers versus a government collossus with a large spread out work force (that is contained not only in the government, but also myriad contractors and suppliers) makes a difference. It makes no difference whether that government collossus is the Chinese national space industrial complex or NASA. Even though individually the Chinese workers are paid less, their numbers in the manufacturing process are enough to cause an uneconomic reality.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Between the two, China will win out because of their dramatically lower manufacturing costs, allowing them to pass us up over the long haul.

    If everyone built rockets, satellites and spacecraft by using cheap labor then that might be true, but it’s not. And that’s why China understands that they might not be able to meet or beat the prices that SpaceX is offering.

    Here’s an article that talks about the how different products have different advantages in different countries:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/business/37956/?p1=BI

    And here is a one sentence summary that gives you a hint:

    In composite automotive parts, material costs dominate, and there China lost its advantages.

    The other point to understand is that just like Japan lost it’s labor cost advantages as it’s middle class expanded, so too will China’s.

    I’m not worried.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    “If there was a real, substantial commercial demand for space services beyond GEO then there could be a real prospect that private investors would be stepping up to the plate without the need for handouts from the Obama WH. ”

    you are at least entertaining. You neither believe that there is a commercial value to be found in human spaceflight but you are convinced that government should invest billions in doing it; for reasons you dont seem to be able to articulate as you support one failed government effort after the next.

    Now you have China winning in a high tech industry…

    I realize that the right wing of the GOP sees things darkly but do you see any real future? RGO

  • VirgilSamms

    From the Aviation Week article:

    “the Chinese officials say they find the published prices on the SpaceX website very low for the services offered, and concede they could not match them with the Long March series of launch vehicles ”

    The prices are way too low. SpaceX is a space shuttle redux promising prices far too low.

    Long March uses hypergolic propellants- which have many advantages over cryogenic and kerosene fuels but are expensive and extremely toxic.

    They can put up boosters and then rendezvous with them weeks or months later- like our Agena was used with the Gemini. Do not think they are choosing hypergolics for any ease of manufacture (though they are cheaper than liquid oxygen and other fueled engines). They are going places the hobby rocket cannot make any money going.

  • VirgilSamms

    “And if Liberty does succeed, will ATK repay any of the development costs, the way the auto companies paid back their bridge loans?’

    Your vendetta against ATK is once again clouding your judgement.

    ATK did not get any bailouts. And as for paying back development costs, SpaceX key technologies and additional research in NASA labs were provide gratis by the U.S. taxpayer.

    The segmented SRB’s were used in the shuttle program due to political maneuvering- no doubt about that. But it is time to understand there is no replacement for these boosters and to move on.

    If Aerojet decided to put it’s 260 inch monolithic solid back in production I would say to heck with ATK- but that is not going to happen. Nothing else on earth puts out 3.6 million pounds of thrust or will for the foreseeable future. We have to work with what we have and considering your appreciation of the impact threat I do not understand your attitude about ATK. What is with that?

  • Vladislaw

    “The new generation of Long March rocket family, Long March 5, and its derivations Long March 6, Long March 7 will use LOX and kerosene as core stage and liquid booster propellant, while LOX and LH2 in upper stages.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March_Rocket

    “Long March 5 (LM-5, CZ-5, or Changzheng 5) is a Chinese next-generation heavy lift launch system that is currently under development by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). Currently, six CZ-5 vehicle configurations[1] are planned for different missions, with a maximum payload capacity of 25,000 kg to LEO and 14,000 kg to GTO. The Long March 5 will have the second largest “carrying capacity factor” of any rocket after Boeing’s Delta IV Heavy.[2] The CZ-5 rocket is due to be first launched in 2014 from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March_5

    They are moving away from hypergolics with their new heavy lift.

  • tom

    ATK was paid to develop the Ares I 1st stage. They don’t have to pay back anyone or cut a deal. NASA is walking away from it. A very bad space policy decision. Any US company can have the technology, but you have to build it in the US and everything is subject to ITAR. It would cost too much for just about anyone else to take the design and run with it. ATK makes out. Orion may even end up flying on Liberty! Assembled in the NASA VAB on a NASA launch pad leased to a commercial company. Using all that excellent shuttle infrastructure!

    Arianespace makes out very well on this deal and the Liberty upper stage will pay for the development of next generation heavy lifter in the service of ESA. Ariane V is old and in need of an upgrade (as a side note JWST was to fly on an Ariane V, but the booster would not be in production by the time JWST was ready to fly). Commercial space policy as I understand it, if you show up @ KSC with a human rated launch vehicle and spacecraft, NASA must buy seats!

    One more US Space policy goof up!

  • tom

    Also. If you look @ the original schedule, Space X should have completed all 3 test flights by now. They are behind schedule.

    They still want to be paid for all 3 test flights but only fly 2. They owe the taxpayers a launch vehicle and spacecraft. NASA should demand the set as the 1st full up cargo mission and for free. It’s a good business commercial space thing to do.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    tom wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Liberty is simply a paper exercise. It was simply an attempt to extract further NASA funds during the CCDev2 round. ATK won’t fund it themselves and neither will Ariennespace. Please point to any funding at all for this proposal in any budget whatsoever. It’s dead, get over it.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    NASA is walking away from it. A very bad space policy decision.

    All NASA has said is that they are going to put the boosters out for bid. Are you assuming that ATK will not be able to compete? Gee, that’s a vote of confidence for them…

    Arianespace makes out very well on this deal…

    Only if ATK is footing the bill to make the Vulcain 2 modifications, in which case that’s even more money that ATK needs to make from their customers.

    By the way, how will the Liberty compete price-wise? For commercial crew rockets, Falcon 9 goes for $59M, and Atlas V 402 for somewhere around $100M. How much for the Liberty?

  • pathfinder_01

    “They can put up boosters and then rendezvous with them weeks or months later- like our Agena was used with the Gemini. Do not think they are choosing hypergolics for any ease of manufacture (though they are cheaper than liquid oxygen and other fueled engines). They are going places the hobby rocket cannot make any money going.”

    Virgil, kerosene stores well in LEO (won’t Freeze or boil off), LOX likewise and both have better ISP than hypergolic. About the only downside to is that kerosene engines can coke up so that might limit your restart ability and the kerosene tends to settle into its components(but a good stir could fix that) but if you just wanted to do a single TLI Apollo Style you could do it just as well with LOX/Kerosene as you would hypergolic. In theory it would mass less. Check out the Russian Block D upper stage.

    Anyway while I am not a huge fan but you could keep a LOX/Kerosene upper stage in orbit for weeks. LOX is a mild cryogen.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 6:25 pm
    ‘And as for paying back development costs, SpaceX key technologies and additional research in NASA labs were provide gratis by the U.S. taxpayer. ‘

    What!!! For the benefit of the uninformed on this site, kindly point out any reputable source to support this assertion since I know of none.

  • DCSCA

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 12:13 pm
    Depends on your POV, Dennis. At the time it was clearly another battlefront in the Cold War and the economy was booming– along w/t war. Nam all but save Bell Helicopter and made a fortune for Dow and Dupont as well. If memory serves, my reference as an example for the ‘excuses’ for cutbacks at NASA surfaced when a CBS News piecve questioned the rationale for multiple saturn launch pads and the planned reduction in frequency for lunar flights as 69 came to a close. The war costs were cited among the causes. Bear in mind the ar ran on another 6 years after Apollo 11 landed. It’s easy to second guess with 20/20 hindsight but the state of the economy then compared to America’s economy today along with competing national priorities place space in 2011 very far down the list compared to its place on the national agenda in the 1960s.

  • Dennis Berube

    I thought I read that the first two stages of the Falcon rocket are at the cape. Dragon has not arrived as yet. The work is slow going..

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi VS –

    It is tough to keep one’s perspective after having watched ATK’s political maneuvering all these years, and then going back and researching their earlier activities clean back to the early 1960′s.

    Recently: Their grab for all manned launch… Their campaign against DIRECT… Add in their engineering failures… Finally, as von Braun pointed out, solids lack abort modes.

    I suppose I do have to recuse myself as being unable to take an unbiased view on price, performance, and safety.

    But then is it bias, or simply experience?

    I am pretty sure that our good engineers will come up with a good heavy, or at least a medium-heavy, depending on budgets, by 2020 or so, to deal with any threat if 73P’s disintegration does not continue.

    Then there is still the problem of the dust load…

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    They still want to be paid for all 3 test flights but only fly 2.

    The three flights were to provide NASA with increasingly greater confidence that SpaceX would be able to safely meet up with the ISS. If SpaceX is able to address NASA’s concerns, then why wouldn’t NASA want the schedule to move along quicker? And so far, tentatively, NASA is saying yes, but is under no obligation to.

    Keep in mind though that SpaceX and NASA know that if SpaceX doesn’t meet the milestones laid out in the test flight, then SpaceX doesn’t get paid, and they will have to try again. That’s the beauty of milestone contracts, in that you only get paid for accomplishments, not for trying.

    And as long as SpaceX accomplishes the tasks laid out in the original three test flights, but only do it in two, why not pay them? It’s payment for milestones, not flights, that is important. Get some perspective here.

  • The work is slow going..

    The work remains on schedule. The December date has been planned for many months, and it hasn’t slipped. On the other hand, Ares/Orion was several years late, and slipping more than a year per year, while costing billions.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 27th, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I thought I read that the first two stages of the Falcon rocket are at the cape. Dragon has not arrived as yet. The work is slow going..

    The next flight isn’t until November, so why should the Dragon capsule be sitting around at the launch site for a couple of months? They are still preparing it for the flight at the L.A. factory, and it only takes a couple of days to get it to the launch facility, so there is no reason for it to be in Florida until just before they start processing the whole rocket for assembly.

    Don’t be such a worry wart.

  • John Malkin

    tom wrote @ July 26th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    They still want to be paid for all 3 test flights but only fly 2. They owe the taxpayers a launch vehicle and spacecraft. NASA should demand the set as the 1st full up cargo mission and for free. It’s a good business commercial space thing to do

    NASA didn’t pay SpaceX to develop the rocket they paid them to meet milestones so NASA doesn’t “own” the rockets. This is the big difference in development over traditional and faster/cheaper. SpaceX would need to pick up the difference if they had issues. (Yes, they could go back to NASA if they needed but no guarantee and NASA did boot a commercial provider that didn’t meet milestones) Also SpaceX and Orbital have matched plus the tax payer money. So SpaceX won’t “owe” the tax payer a rocket. As far as I can remember no commercial vendor has footed 50% or more of development cost in any program. This is an impressive NASA program imagine if the drug companies would foot 50% to develop cures…

    We should build on success not failure that would be the prudent thing to do.

  • Vladislaw

    “ATK did not get any bailouts”

    No they just got a cost plus contract for a rocket that still has never flown. tick tock tick tock

  • John Malkin

    NASA does “own” the burnt out carcasses of Ares I-X and the DM test motors since the tax payer paid nearly 100% of the cost if I’m not mistaken…

  • VirgilSamms

    “you could keep a LOX/Kerosene upper stage in orbit for weeks. LOX is a mild cryogen.”

    Uh-huh. Never been done. Cryogenics, even LOX, boil off due to a host of effects, and re-liquification equipment and of course the insulation measures all add up to more weight and performance loss which have always made hypergolics the better solution.

    Which is why high pressure oxygen is stored in tanks on the ISS, and was stored in supercritical form in pressure bottles on Apollo.

    It is nice to wish for things to be but sometimes reality makes it highly unlikely.

  • Martijn Meijering

    They can put up boosters and then rendezvous with them weeks or months later- like our Agena was used with the Gemini. Do not think they are choosing hypergolics for any ease of manufacture (though they are cheaper than liquid oxygen and other fueled engines). They are going places the hobby rocket cannot make any money going.

    As usual, you’ve got it backwards. If you use hypergolics, then you can transfer them in orbit so you don’t need a large rocket. You could fill your transfer stage using several Falcon launches. This works even better in combination with cryogenic upper stages and EOR to take payloads from LEO to L1/L2, from where hypergolics do not impose a prohibitive performance penalty anymore. Cryogenic depots would work better still, but we don’t have those yet.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Virgil, kerosene stores well in LEO (won’t Freeze or boil off), LOX likewise

    Without extra effort kerosene will freeze in LEO (just like hypergolics) and LOX will boil off (just like LH2). According to papers on the ULA website you can keep an EELV upper stage in LEO for a couple of days with relatively minor modifications. The early depot plans would include storage in LEO for about a month, which is a serious limitation. Storage at L1/L2 is much easier, which is why the plan is to transfer the LOX/LH2 as soon as possible.

  • VirgilSamms

    “They are moving away from hypergolics with their new heavy lift.”

    They have the hypergolics for BEO Vlad. If you wanted more experience with the hardware required to reach the final goal, you would work on that first. The Chinese are not worried about contracts and going cheap, they are focused on getting out there. They think different, which has advantages and disadvantages.

    In this case they have alot of advantages. They are going places. This does not make them boogeymen or superior in any way, it just makes them more sure to succeed.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ July 27th, 2011 at 11:15 am
    Inaccurate. Ever the shill.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 27th, 2011 at 11:16 am
    =yawn= Tick-tock, tick-tock. One of the basic performance requirements investors review in ‘free enterprise’ for profit business ventures is how well- or how poorly- managment plans and maintains schedules and meet deadlines. SpaceX has slipped schedule.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Ares/Orion was several years late, and slipping more than a year per year, while costing billions.”

    I was underfunded year after year and this imposed huge penalties on the final tally. It was and is in the form of liberty a nearly perfect design for a crew launch vehicle.

    The hobby rocket is the anti-thesis of practical design with an ineffective escape system, expendable clusters of low power engines, and inferior upper stage propellants.

    You get what you pay for- there is no cheap.

  • Dennis Berube

    Coastal Ron, Im certainly no worry wart. Im hoping that Musk is successful. How many here wouldbuy stock in his company should it be offered soon?

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 27th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I was underfunded year after year and this imposed huge penalties on the final tally.

    Here is the family history of the Ares I rocket, which never flew:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ares_I_Evolution.jpg

    This is the reason why Ares I went so far over budget, and one of the major causes of that was the inflexibility of the SRM. Notice how they couldn’t decide on how many SRM segments they needed, or how big the 2nd stage needed to be. So much for Griffin’s Safe, Simple and Soon.

    It was and is in the form of liberty a nearly perfect design for a crew launch vehicle.

    It’s kind of hard to assert that something is the perfect design when no one is willing to sign up to use it. Let us know if that changes, but until then, and until they commit to actually building it, it’s a paper rocket.

    In the meantime SpaceX has broken ground on their launchpad for Falcon Heavy, and has announced a price for the initial launches. And since the majority of the Falcon Heavy hardware has flown successfully as the Falcon 9, it’s real hardware.

    We’ll see who gets to space first.

  • Coastal Ron

    VirgilSamms wrote @ July 27th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    The hobby rocket

    As Inigo Montoya would say: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Gary/Virgil, we only talk about commercial aerospace companies here, so head on over to the Estes rocket forum if you want to talk about hobby rockets.

    What a maroon.

  • Major Tom

    “I [sic] was underfunded year after year and this imposed huge penalties on the final tally.”

    Wrong. The program was overfunded to the tune of $2.4 billion (or 17%) more than what was promised in the FY05 VSE budget:

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=34154

    “It was and is in the form of liberty…”

    Liberty repeats the mistake of the original, 4-segment Ares I design and its SSME-powered upper-stage. Griffin and Horowitz wasted a year finding out the hard way that hydrogen engines designed for ground starts make for very poor upper-stage engines. Astrium is about to learn the same lesson.

    “… a nearly perfect design for a crew launch vehicle.”

    There’s nothing “perfect” about a design that:

    – Nearly guarantees crew death in the first minute of an abort.

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

    – Relies on a “recoverable” first-stage that is actually unrecoverable to meet its reliability and cost goals.

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

    “The hobby rocket is the anti-thesis of practical design with an ineffective escape system,”

    Like the Orion escape system?

    http://www.universetoday.com/17118/nasa-releases-images-and-video-of-orion-failed-parachute-test/

    “expendable clusters of low power engines and inferior upper stage propellants.”

    There is an existing, man-rated launch vehicle that employs five “engine clusters” on its first-stage with four nozzles each — or 20 thrust chambers — and an RP-1 powered upper stage. It’s called Soyuz. With 1,700 successful launches under its belt, it’s hardly “impractical”.

    “You get what you pay for- there is no cheap.”

    There is much cheaper than Ares I. Two EELV families with 40-odd successful launches under their belt were developed for about a fifth of the taxpayer dollars expended on Ares I.

    FWIW…

  • niki

    One point I wanted to make. The reasons (primary) we flew Ares I-X was to (yes), fly something to gain support and most important to prove the Atlas V avionics could fly the shape (and it did). The Atlas V avionics/software was the fall back when the NASA MSFC developed Avionics and software effort would failed (and it was well on it’s way to doing so).

  • Martijn Meijering

    They have the hypergolics for BEO Vlad.

    Doubtful. They probably have the hypergolics because like the Russians they use them for ICBMs and want to have commonality. The decisive property is that hypergolics are earth storable, not that they are space storable, although they’re that too of course and although that is a nice side-effect. But be that as it may, given that they intend to use hypergolics, they don’t need an HLV to go beyond LEO. Just as NASA doesn’t need an HLV to go beyond LEO. Not even if they want to do it as soon as possible and don’t want to wait for cryogenic depots, because as you yourself have now stated too, they could use hypergolics for that.

    You’ve shot yourself in the foot with your argument.

  • Vladislaw

    As Gary has pointed out, it is impossible to explore without a super heavy lift. China does not have a Saturn V class heavy lift so it will be impossible for China to beat us to the moon. Only a heavy lift can explore, Gary has said so many times. It’s how we did it will Apollo and so it is impossible to do it any other way.

    “I want to do Apollo again”

  • VirgilSamms

    “You’ve shot yourself in the foot with your argument.”

    Give me a break. They won’t be setting up any bases on the moon or going anywhere else with this method. They are exploring. We are ahead of them right now with our heavy lift infrastructure and hardware.

    Anything to shout down the person telling the truth.

  • Vladislaw wrote:

    China does not have a Saturn V class heavy lift so it will be impossible for China to beat us to the moon.

    It’s impossible for China to beat us to the Moon unless they use a Wayback Machine to land before July 20, 1969.

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