NASA

The roles of NASA and the private sector in space

At some point a “prepared for delivery” version of NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver’s speech Thursday might show up on the NASA web site, but it will likely be different from the speech she actually gave to kick off the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2011 Conference at NASA Ames Research Center in California. Garver instead scanned through the agenda of the three-day conference, using the topics of sessions ranging from orbital and suborbital commercial spaceflight to public-private partnerships to discuss a number of relevant issues, including the roles of the public and private sectors in space going forward.

“The whole basis and underpinning of what we are trying to do in this administration is to return NASA to that more classical role of our 1958 Space Act of investing in technologies that will then help create new markets, so that the private sector can come in, benefit from this technology investment, and then we move on to do the next hard thing,” she said, summarizing the agency’s approach of working with companies and catalyzing private sector activity in space. “We’re not here to compete with the private sector—in fact, that’s not legal,” she added.

“That’s not our only job,” she noted. “Our job is also to expand farther.” One thing that is not NASA’s goal, though, she said, is to create a spacefaring civilization, a long-held goal of many space advocates in the conference audience—and of Garver herself, she noted, when she was the executive director of the National Space Society. “Go back to the Space Act. That’s not it. We’re here to push the envelope and learn new things.” It’s up to the private sector, she said, to follow that lead. “Your role of helping there to be folks who follow is what’s really going to get” civilization moving off-world.

In her speech she touched upon a number of areas where NASA was taking this role of developing technologies and leading expansion into the solar system while working with the private sector, from its support for commercial and orbital spaceflight to a planned human mission to a near Earth asteroid in the middle of the next decade. On that last point, she emphasized that such a mission was a natural steppingstone towards further exploration, and a not another destination-driven goal that has been tried in the past unsuccessfully. “Destination-driven budgets are, we know, problematic,” she said. “We’ve been trying to relive Apollo since the 1960s, but not successfully. Presidents make big statements, set goals and dates, and we don’t meet them. So that is not what this is.” She mentioned in passing that she had recently met with an unnamed company that claimed that it had a way of achieving that asteroid mission goal as soon as 2019.

She also said that low cost reliable access to space was a key goal of the current administration, one that it was willing to pursue despite the criticism that erupted last year with the announcement that NASA would cancel Constellation. “We’ve invested a lot of political capital on this, folks,” she said. “The President of the United States has decided that this is an area for NASA to develop that is meaningful, that will open up space for all humanity.”

“Does anyone think that the president has gained a lot of political ground over this shift at NASA?” she asked. “Probably it would have been the politically conservative thing to do to stick to the plan, not cancel existing contracts, even though those contracts were leading human spaceflight off a cliff.”

During the brief Q&A session that followed her speech, someone asked Garver what the audience should to to help. She suggested helping communicate the broader message to the public. “We get into these debates in Washington about how a rocket’s built or exactly what configuration this architecture will have. Is that the important thing? You guys know the important thing, which is that we do this in a way that doesn’t take all of our NASA budget, so that we can go further.”

89 comments to The roles of NASA and the private sector in space

  • William Mellberg

    Lori Garver said:

    “We’ve invested a lot of political capital on this, folks. The President of the United States has decided that this is an area for NASA to develop that is meaningful, that will open up space for all humanity. Does anyone think that the president has gained a lot of political ground over this shift at NASA?”

    Actually, he might have gained political favor with his base. The Left has opposed human spaceflight for decades. I remember passing protestors at the Apollo 17 launch who were carrying signs saying, “Spend tax dollars on the poor, not on the Moon.”

    As Space Shuttle commander and former KSC Director Bob Crippen recently suggested, the Obama space policy is really about “redistributing” NASA’s human spaceflight budget to social programs — a cause the Left has championed for many years.

    Crippen might have a point there.

  • Interesting article. What is Lori’s deal? I’ve never seen NASA more divided. It’s like she has an agenda to further, and Bolden is just sitting on the sideline saying, “Yes Maam.”

  • The key inflection point will be finding revenue streams NOT dependent on federal tax dollars.

    Perhaps NASA can facilitate reaching that point, perhaps not. We will see.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 9:16 am

    “As Space Shuttle commander and former KSC Director Bob Crippen recently suggested, the Obama space policy is really about “redistributing” NASA’s human spaceflight budget to social programs — a cause the Left has championed for many years.

    Crippen might have a point there.”

    the problem with your “might” is that the folks who are cutting the NASA budget and in large measure hurting human spaceflight are the folks on the GOP side.

    The issue really is coming down, stripped of all the utter bull about American exceptionalism…is what do you want? Fixed price pay for service efforts that are the centerpiece of national space policy in a country that never had a national airline…

    or do you want cost plus contracts managed by a government agency that has proved inept at the financial end of human spaceflight (just to keep the focus on cost) over the last 30 years?

    There has never been a solid answer from any of the people who support the latter…as to why Gemini the entire program in an era when human spaceflight was relatively new and the technology still quite fragile…cost 5 billion or so FOR THE ENTIRE PROGRAM…and Cx couldnt get something into orbit for more then twice that…

    If you cannot answer that question, and Crippen cannot, Bob has been asked that question and he just stutters like he is drunk…then you cannot make the claim that Obama is somehow trying to shelf human spaceflight.

    What people like Bob have done (and we have a few folks here like that and of course the DIRECT group is full of them) is conveniently side stepped the failures of Cx…and then morphed int heir political ideology which is an irrational hatred of Obama…into some myth that has no real evidence for it.

    If the Senate and House committees that are pushing SLS want human spaceflight to continue, and that were the only pivot point…then they could have it tomorrow by taking the billions that are going nowhere with SLS and pushing it out to get vehicles flying on existing launch vehicles.

    In a country that did Gemini in what a couple of years, we could put together something(s) multiple things that were flight ready for the dollars spent on SLS for just a couple of years…

    But that is not the issue with SLS. Go to Pete Olsons facebook page or go listen to the babble from the DIRECT people on nASA spaceflight.com…it is all about the jobs.

    And that is nothing but government technowelfare which the GOP claims it does not like masquerading as something else.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Garver’s position on “destination driven budgets” is an interesting one, albeit contradicted by the fact that the NASA she is apparently running has a destination driven budget, which is to say an asteroid by 2025. By not having a destination, one does not have a metric for success and thus one does not have to be actually accountable. That is a perfect situation for President Obama. One can spend money, but not be expected to accomplish anything.

    On the other hand, I would like to know if this magical company that claims it can actually put people on or at least next to an asteroid by 2019 actuallt exists and what is the basis for that claim.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jeff (or anyone)

    ““The whole basis and underpinning of what we are trying to do in this administration is to return NASA to that more classical role of our 1958 Space Act of investing in technologies that will then help create new markets, so that the private sector can come in, benefit from this technology investment, and then we move on to do the next hard thing,” she said, ”

    I am sorry I’ve been very busy the last few days and have just scanned the posted thread…

    Did Garver actually say this…or were these just prepared remarks?

    they are good words and more importantly they are a good course of action.

    In a country whose economy is based on free enterprise…the notion of having a soviet style on demand human spaceflight program; where there is really nothing of free enterprise in the entire affair..is in my view ludicrous.

    What Garver has either spoken or written about IS A GOAL WORTH HAVING and IT IS A GOAL WHICH WILL SURVIVE VARIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS AND HELP THE REPUBLIC…far more then goals which are “places”.

    I am certainly one who has been critical of Garver in the past…but this is a good effort

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “As Space Shuttle commander and former KSC Director Bob Crippen recently suggested, the Obama space policy is really about “redistributing” NASA’s human spaceflight budget to social programs — a cause the Left has championed for many years.

    Crippen might have a point there.”

    If Crip actually said this (quote?, link?), the evidence doesn’t support it. The President’s FY12 budget maintained funding for ISS, SLS, MPCV, and commercial crew. It’s the Republican-led House appropriations committee that has cut SLS and MPCV by almost one-quarter and commercial crew by more than double in their FY12 appropriations mark.

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Jeff Foust

    Did Garver actually say this…or were these just prepared remarks?

    That’s a direct quote from her speech, as delivered.

  • Gonzo

    While the NASA work is far more important for humanity than these shortsighted entitlement programs, neither is the role of government. On the one hand, I’m very saddened to see US spaceflight halted by political maneuvering, commercial, and eventually individual spaceflight is the future humanity needs, both to solve problems with our current population growth, and to protect its existence over the long haul. The future can never be the exclusive domain of governments.

    But neither can the redistribution of wealth. The government, while “of the people”, is not the collective best. It is the chosen representative of the people. We have a glorified used car salesman in power, and that’s who social programs are geared at letting decide who deserves money and authority. Aid works best as a charitable endeavor, not as a mandate forced upon people who may or may not agree with its use.

  • Dennis Berube

    I just wonder how quickly the Orion could be built and launched on a Delta IV, if the money for the SLS were put in that direction? If Delta or Atlas can do the job, with or at least until the Falcon heavy is available, why not? NASA at that point would have no rocket of their own, but instead have the spacecraft for deep space, and be flying it, sooner rather than later.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    ” By not having a destination, one does not have a metric for success and thus one does not have to be actually accountable. ”

    that is a very one dimensional statement and shows how little you understand about space politics and policy.

    Go back and read (or rather hear) JFK’s Rice speech where he talks about the goal of the lunar landing as what you are describing. The canard of people like you, who argue as you do is that the lunar landing goal stood ALONE which it did not and it was that additional “goal” (of confronting the Soviets) that gave the entire lunar effort its meaning.

    If you cannot understand that then you cannot understand Apollo and while every other effort since Apollo has failed.

    Garver’s goal has a metric and that is to enable HSF to return things to the American economy…much as human travel in airplanes did the same thing in the early part of the last century.

    I dont understand your instance on a flags and footprints goal…it is something new with the Bush administration’s policies. In The Weekly STandard piece which you ASKED to have your name on after doing nothing to write it…you endorse a “non” specific “place” goal policy.

    For you to now endorse flags and footprints seems bizzare. Garver’s words have far more thought behind them then yours do.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Joshua

    I suspect legacy contractors imagine their stock prices falling when they think of having to compete with companies that don’t have subcontractors spread all over the congressional map, working sans cost-plus profit engines… er… safety nets.

    Why are entitlements for The Old Way to Space, Inc. somehow better, more justifiable, more patriotic, more economically sensible, than social or military entitlements? Are cost-plus space contractors and their NASA team-mates agenda-free, pure as the driven snow, and only interested in taking America and humanity ad astra?

    A friend of mine recently told her children that America would not be sending people into space again until we have a new president. She did not know who actually canceled shuttle ( or when, or why ), how troubled Constellation was regarding schedule, budget and engineering issues, or that American companies would likely be sending people into space in a few years, far sooner than Ares, SLS or the congressional wishful thinkers.

    I know it’s uncomfortable for old contractors, to see newer companies, who are by the way, finding private sector revenue streams, participating in COTS and CC-DEV. Well, the wheel-wrights of old had to start learning some auto mechanics, and the livery stables had to learn how to garage and fuel up horseless carriages. Maybe it’s time for the companies that built amazing but expensive space vehicles in the past, begin to take a new approach.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    By not having a destination, one does not have a metric for success and thus one does not have to be actually accountable.

    What’s more important when you’re fixing your car:

    A. What time next week you’ll drive to the market?
    B. When the car will be fixed so you can go to the market anytime?

    The schedule drivers for capability driven exploration are the individual capabilities themselves, so it’s a misnomer to think there isn’t constant pressure applied. Go ask Orbital Sciences or SpaceX if they don’t feel pressure to complete the COTS program.

    To me goal oriented architectures like Apollo and Constellation are too focused on the end goal, and not on leaving sustainable infrastructures behind. Constellation, like Apollo, would have met the goal of getting someone onto the surface of the Moon, but you really couldn’t have used that same architecture to do anything else.

    The capability approach provides smaller goals that can be used for multiple destinations, and in the case of CRS and CCDev, they are also used in sustaining operations in LEO, so the support infrastructure is spread across far more users (lower operating costs). They are also more flexible budget-wise, since lower budget levels still leave you with capabilities you can use, whereas Constellation would have have spent $100B before the first person set foot on the Moon.

    It’s the classic project triangle, Good, Fast, Cheap – pick two. The destination approach gets you Good & Fast, but the capability approach gets you Good & Cheap, which in this budget environment means you may not get anything done if you spend too much.

  • Moose

    As a few have said on this thread so far, it is Congressional Republicans who are attempting to scale down NASA’s budget, not the Obama administration.

    Therefore, these shameless arguments that Obama is practicing his “redistribution of wealth” campaign in the Space Program are absolutely moot.

    William Melberg:
    “As Space Shuttle commander and former KSC Director Bob Crippen recently suggested, the Obama space policy is really about “redistributing” NASA’s human spaceflight budget to social programs — a cause the Left has championed for many years.
    Crippen might have a point there.”

    No,pe he doesn’t have a point there. That is blatantly idiotic, and if that is indeed what he said, he clearly has no idea what he’s talking about.

  • @Coastal Ron
    “What’s more important when you’re fixing your car:

    A. What time next week you’ll drive to the market?
    B. When the car will be fixed so you can go to the market anytime?

    Great analogy!

  • MDC

    Given that Obama has actually maintained NASA’s spending levels, and is currently negotiating to slash social programs, it sounds to me — and I hate to say it — like Bob Crippen is an ignorant right-wing tool under the influence of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    It’s fascinating to see so many self-styled libertarians and free marketeers who can’t process the current administration’s move to privatize human spaceflight. They fall back on “national greatness” arguments (or this “redistribution of wealth” thing, which I haven’t heard before). What they’re really upset about is that the gravy train to the usual fat-cat contractors (who in some cases are signing their paychecks) is getting cut off.

    Their worldview is a toxic mix of shallow ideology, flagrant hypocrisy, and paranoid conspiracy theories. Their mewling is best ignored.

  • amightywind

    We’ve invested a lot of political capital on this, folks

    No need to pour over more of Garver’s newspace rhetoric. The political battle for NASA is lost. Garver/Obama policies have been rejected in unprecedented and historical fashion by bipartisan consensus in congress. She no longer makes policy. She merely hobbles the policies of those in congress who do. The damage to NASA persists of course, waiting for new leadership. It is very interesting that Obama has shown no capacity to change policy for his own good. He was supposed to be smarter than that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    “The political battle for NASA is lost. Garver/Obama policies have been rejected in unprecedented and historical fashion by bipartisan consensus in congress. ”

    the falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control, fell into the ocean…etc etc.

    as for bipartisan…LOL just like the GOP budget in the House is bipartisan…goofy wind. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Garver/Obama policies have been rejected in unprecedented and historical fashion by bipartisan consensus in congress.

    Yep, a bipartisan Congress canceling Constellation really showed Obama how much they hated his space policy… ;-)

    As usual, your rhetoric isn’t reflected in reality.

  • Gary Warburton

    This was a good speech by Lori Garver. It shows she understands the goals of new space advocates of bringing down costs and striving for innovations to make space cheaper. Nothing will ever change when you have the billion dollar SLS`s using 1970 technogies with simple minded destinations as a driver for achieving space. It`s time to get out of the past and this silly idea that politicians can design rockets with no real mission in mind that is designed by a scientist. It is time for commercial space to take over, motivated by new visions of innovations that could really make a big difference.
    When I look around at rightwing extremist who are more motivated by greed, self-grandeur and contraryness than any real motivation to make things better, I`m reminded of George Orwell`s Ministry of Truth that dispenses lies instead of truths in the book, “1984.”

  • VirgilSamms

    “Yep, a bipartisan Congress canceling Constellation really showed Obama how much they hated his space policy… ;-)
    As usual, your rhetoric isn’t reflected in reality.”

    Stop making things up.

    http://www.universetoday.com/61315/3-welds-to-go-for-1st-orion-pathfinder-vehicle/

    Meanwhile, in the face of a rising chorus of harsh bipartisan Congressional criticism of the cancellation of Project Constellation and America’s Orion Crew Vehicle, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden continues to insist at multiple venues that, “There is no Plan B for Space Exploration. I strongly support the priorities and the direction for NASA that the President has put forward. I did not ask anybody for an alternative to the President’s plan and budget”.

    And plan A was cooked up by this real boss- that fool who thinks he is going to retire on Mars.

  • Alex

    “It’s the Republican-led House appropriations committee that has cut SLS and MPCV by almost one-quarter and commercial crew by more than double in their FY12 appropriations mark.”

    Is this right, as far as SLS/Orion cuts go?

    I was under the impression the approp cmte mark-up funded SLS/MPCV slightly over the Pres’s FY12 request, but 1/4 under *the 2010 Authorization*.

    Of course, the FY12 request is itself 1/4 under the 2010 Authorization, so aren’t the Pres and the Cmte on the same page, as far as SLS/MPCV funding goes?

  • VirgilSamms

    “Nothing will ever change when you have the billion dollar SLS`s using 1970 technogies with simple minded destinations as a driver for achieving space.”

    That is newspeak indeed.
    Private Space is the one using old technology and while “simple minded” sounds stupid, the opposite is actually true. A destination is required- going around in endless circles is no destination at all.

  • VirgilSamms

    “Their worldview is a toxic mix of shallow ideology, flagrant hypocrisy, and paranoid conspiracy theories. Their mewling is best ignored.”

    And more newspeak.

    Private space is siphoning human space flight tax dollars and converting it into profit by going cheap. The only problem is, there is no cheap.

    Space flight is inherently expensive.

  • amightywind

    Yep, a bipartisan Congress canceling Constellation really showed Obama how much they hated his space policy…

    And yet the mission and hardware have been reconstituted in everything but name. If it makes you feel good I’ll go along. But we need better names than SLS and MPCV. I have suggested ‘Project Aquarius’ which should appeal more to the 60′s radicals who control our government. I do think it is a mistake for congress to put the same politicos who killed Constellation in charge of designing it.

  • DCSCA

    Garver’s opposition to destination-driven space projects is no surprise. She is a procuror; a lobbyist by trade, no more, no less. Exhibit A: the boondoggle ISS she pimped for over several administrations goes no place except in circles and ultimately into the Pacific and was nothing more than a two-decade aerospace works program. Cost- $100+ billion and destined for splash by 2020. Garver doesn’t care what we build, as long as there are contracts to be won. She is very bad for NASA and poison for manned spaceflight. The quicker she is jettisoned from the agency, the better.

    @William Mellberg wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 9:16 am
    “The Left has opposed human spaceflight for decades.”

    Don’t be daft. Check the Congressional Record and you’ll discover that conservatives have steadfastly opposed HSF funding from the Kennedy’s Apollo days onward. It’s all there. Sure, there have been a few anomalies- like NY’s ‘Steady Eddie’ Koch– or Mondale, but the best ‘friends’ HSF have had have been progressives. They’re not named ‘the Eisenhower Space Center/Houston’ or ‘the Nixon Space Center/Florida’ ‘ya know.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 11:37 am
    “Garver’s goal has a metric and that is to enable HSF to return things to the American economy…much as human travel in airplanes did the same thing in the early part of the last century.”

    Nonsense. If you want to cling to that ancient analogy, then Garver would actually be a lobbyist for piston-driven engine builders, not human travel in aeroplanes. She wouldn’t care if they go into passenger planes or fighter aircraft…. or Everglade float boats for that matter. As long as there are contracts to be won for her lobby, she is for it.

  • DCSCA

    @Gary Warburton wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
    “This was a good speech by Lori Garver. It shows she understands the goals of new space advocates of bringing down costs and striving for innovations to make space cheaper.”

    It was babble by a shill. Nobody has stopped ‘NewSpace’ from doing that except the parameters of the very market it wants to service. Garver’s a lobbyist. She understands NewSpace because she’s a lobbyist by trade, no more, no less.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 10:31 am
    “In a country whose economy is based on free enterprise…the notion of having a soviet style on demand human spaceflight program; where there is really nothing of free enterprise in the entire affair..is in my view ludicrous.”

    Except, of course, you fail to recognize that the “country whose economy is based on free enterprise’ has NEVER demonstrated the initiative to lead in this field and has been habitually reactive, not pro-active, because of the high risk/low ROI for ‘free enterprised’ firms. They balked at investing in Goddard’s time and as the space race began, they recoiled as well when Sputnik was lofted. They let government do it. They have always been a follow along, cashing in where they could, letting the government carry the load, socializing the risk on the many. That’s why governments do it and will continue to do it for decades to come. To expect profit-driven ‘free enterprise’ to lead the way in this field, as the 80-plus year history of modern rocketry has shown– is indeed, a view that is ‘ludicrous.’

  • Tu8ca

    The shuttle embodied a breathtaking number of technological advances. CxP negligible, when compared to the shuttle.

    I’d hate to see NASA send the next three decades buying shuttle parts.

    “…so that the private sector can come in, benefit from this technology investment, and then we move on to do the next hard thing,”

    It’s time for NASA to do the next hard thing, not engage in the type of corporate welfare that amightywind is so fond of

  • BD

    Garver and other left-wingextremies seem to think that NASA CS’s do all the work. The contractor base does the work of NASA! “Private-sector” has been at work for decades and are the various and sundry contractors who work for commercial/space/defense companies under NASA-let contracts day-in and day-out. The President is supposed to set the vision to inspire and the agency with its contractor workforce move forward to carry-out this inspiration. Unfortunately, their is no inspiration in this Presidency and the Administration pants for more instead of standing up for what NASA does best. But, what else would one expect from the liberal left?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    And yet the mission and hardware have been reconstituted in everything but name.

    Oh? Where is the EDS and the lander? And of course there is no Ares 1 replacement, as ATK hasn’t been able to attract any potential users to it’s Franco-American Liberty rocket.

    That leaves a de-rated capsule (MPCV) and a de-rated HLV (SLS). If that’s your idea of being “reconstituted in everything but name”, then the Constellation program was way over-hyped.

    I do think it is a mistake for congress to put the same politicos who killed Constellation in charge of designing it.

    And of course you mean Senators Nelson and Shelby, and on that I would agree… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    BD wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    instead of standing up for what NASA does best.

    Some in Congress think that what NASA does best is running a transportation company. Is that what you think too?

    But of course NASA never really operated the Shuttle program, since that was contracted out the United Space Alliance at a price of $100M/month.

    What is it that you think NASA does best? What specifically should NASA employees, not NASA contractors, be doing?

    And what is it that commercial space should do?

  • Russell Snow

    As a Space Cadet and a conservative, I am in the uncomfortable position of supporting Obama’s policy as best I understand it. When I find myself agreeing with Obama I have to ask why. Is it the stopped clock being right twice a day? Does he see things the way I do? Or could there be another motive. Let us say that Obama really wants to kill HSF to spend money on his other priorities. I find it hard to believe he prefers private enterprise doing ANYTHING instead of government. He has shown no privatizing zeal in any other sphere, like health care or education. So if he thinks it is a forgone conclusion that privatization is ineffective, then he is counting on it to fail so he can say, well we tried but we cannot afford to start over because my cronies over here need that cash. My fear is that this is Lucy and the football. And if it does succeed he gets credit for being a visionary. No downside.

  • DCSCA

    @Russell Snow wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 6:08 pm
    As a Space Cadet and a conservative… <- then you've been at odd with yourself for a long time. Conservatives have been historcally opposed to the expensive proposition that is HSF. chiefly because space exploration is not space exploitation.

  • Russell Snow

    No, I am not at odds with myself. I view the NACA style of govt spending as a “post roads” type of thing. But is Obama really sincere in the privatization of space? He has no sympathy with it anywhere else.

  • But is Obama really sincere in the privatization of space? He has no sympathy with it anywhere else.

    He’s happy to let space be private, because it’s not important to him. Hope that he never starts to think it’s important, because then he will insist that the government be firmly in charge.

  • DCSCA

    @Russell Snow wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 7:08 pm
    NACA-styled administrative and operational procedures have been out of date- and existence for over 50 years– along with the Edsel.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    “He’s happy to let space be private.” Except it isn’t. See the U.S. DoD and various space programs of other sovereign nations for details.

  • Gary Warburton

    Rand I don`t think he is either but then has there ever been a president who was interested in space? Some think Kennedy was but I think not. He was just fighting the cold war. I think the best you can hope for is a strong science advisor and a president who listens to him. The trouble with the left is they are too willing to compromise hence our SLS. I would rather Obama stuck to his guns. But do you know anyone who believes entirely in his party`s speil. You for instance, I think find it hard to stomach Posey and Hutchison just as I find Nelson pain in the butt.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Russell Snow wrote @ July 29th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    ” But is Obama really sincere in the privatization of space? He has no sympathy with it anywhere else.”

    the issue in the notion of privatized/government regulated or government controlled with private participation is a simple one…which benefits The Republic best.

    The model of “government controlled with private participation” is actually a fairly good one in certain venues. The government builds and operates (with private participation) the air traffic control system. It builds and operates (with private participation) the federal highway system…I think that the federal government should take over operation of the power grid and yes health care.

    The problem is that that model does not function well in some things…and that has been demonstrated in human spaceflight.

    I have no doubt that Obama believes (as much as any President since Kennedy) what he is doing in human spaceflight is a good thing…so do I RGO

  • Russell Snow

    RGO, God help us if the Feds take over the power grid. We are pretty screwed now with Obamacare. Different argument, different day. My main question is about Obama’s motivation. Is he doing this because he thinks privatization really will succeed, or because he assumes it won’t. I don’t know and don’t really care except in one regard, if SpaceX gears up to do all these things, will NASA pull the funding because success wasn’t the goal in the first place?

  • Matt Wiser

    That “unnamed company” may be Lockheed-Martin: they’ve had a proposal for a 2019 NEO mission called PLYMOUTH ROCK for some time now.

  • Martijn Meijering

    to return NASA to that more classical role of our 1958 Space Act of investing in technologies that will then help create new markets, so that the private sector can come in, benefit from this technology investment, and then we move on to do the next hard thing

    I find this a very disappointing vision and I expect little from it. I don’t think an R&D industrial political complex is a good idea and I don’t think it would be capable of opening up new markets. It would be a lot better than a Shuttle/SDLV political industrial complex of course and some good could come of it, mainly indirectly through funding for startups working on opening up space. But that could be done much more cheaply with targeted funding.

    Destination-driven budgets are, we know, problematic

    I disagree. The problem was overreach, lack of competition, no effort to maximise commercial synergy (or even to minimise it) and zip-code engineering, not destination-driven budgets. And recall that the capability-driven SLI didn’t go anywhere either.

    What we need is a holistic program that chooses a sequence of intermediate destinations and goals in quick succession, with those destinations and goals chosen to maximise synergy with commercial development of space in general and low cost and reliable access to space in particular. Demand-pull from target-driven exploration missions (both manned and unmanned) is the key concept here, not government launchers and not government R&D programs.

    low cost reliable access to space was a key goal of the current administration

    That should be the #1 goal and it’s good she says it is at least one of several key goals. But it doesn’t show in NASA’s actions, nor did it even in Obama’s original budget request.

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell Snow wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I don’t know and don’t really care except in one regard, if SpaceX gears up to do all these things, will NASA pull the funding because success wasn’t the goal in the first place?

    The President proposes, but the Congress disposes.

    NASA doesn’t get to pick and choose what gets funded. The SLS program is a prime example of that, and so it is with Commercial Crew.

    Right now Congress is the one holding back Commercial Crew, not the President or NASA. And conversely, if NASA wanted to defund Commercial Crew at some point, Congress can keep on funding it regardless. Ask Cheney what his opinion of the V-22 program is (hint: he tried and failed to cancel it). The President is supposed to provide direction, and Congress either goes along with that direction or picks their own.

    I’m not a mind reader, so I can only go by people’s actions, and so far this Administration is supporting commercial efforts, which I support too. Let’s strike while the iron is hot, since the further we get the more likely it is to succeed.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 2:22 am

    That “unnamed company” may be Lockheed-Martin: they’ve had a proposal for a 2019 NEO mission called PLYMOUTH ROCK for some time now.

    That would make sense. The challenge will be how much they want to do it, since the budget is very constrained.

    Matt, would you be willing for Congress to stretch the operational date of the SLS in order to do a LM asteroid mission with an unmanned MPCV on a Delta IV Heavy?

  • Matt Wiser

    If it’s a human flight, as L-M has proposed, then that’s a trade I’d be willing to swallow. Then Mr.Obama, along with Bolden, Garver, etc., get their precious NEO mission out of the way, and then we can get on track for lunar return. For this mission to get Congressional support, it would have to be a Human mission.

    This is L-M’s mission proposal: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/ssc/Orion/Toolkit/OrionAsteroidMissionBrief.pdf

    And a more detailed study:

    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/meetings/sbag2/presentations/PlymouthRockasteroidmission.pdf

  • Alex

    Are there any studies floating around about launching Orion unmanned to the ISS or LEO, then launching an EDS or off-the-shelf US to dock with it, and then transferring crew to this “stack” from commercial, ISS, or Soyuz?

    This seems like it could be the easiest, cheapest, most international friendly way to get out of LEO and do some basic, flexible path missions.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You could do this with Dragon too.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And with no more than storable propellant transfer at L1/L2 you could do serious lunar missions too.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Then Mr.Obama, along with Bolden, Garver, etc., get their precious NEO mission out of the way, and then we can get on track for lunar return.

    You keep forgetting that they won’t be in office then. Obama at the very latest would hand over the Whitehouse in January of 2017, so who knows what a President Paul or ??? will want to spend money on.

    Be careful what you wish for… ;-)

  • common sense

    @Russell Snow wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    “RGO, God help us if the Feds take over the power grid. We are pretty screwed now with Obamacare. Different argument, different day. My main question is about Obama’s motivation. Is he doing this because he thinks privatization really will succeed, or because he assumes it won’t. I don’t know and don’t really care except in one regard, if SpaceX gears up to do all these things, will NASA pull the funding because success wasn’t the goal in the first place?”

    Boy, don’t you have a tortuous mind! You don’t know and don’t care yet you demand an explanation? If you don’t know and don’t care why are you posting here? Why do you have to be one dimensional thinking? In your mind it is all “private” or (exclusive or) all “government”?

    What this WH is offering is that the private sector run by small businesses and fair competition in a capitalist market is the way to go. And had you seen Ms. Garver you’d know she means business. Unlike the people who keep questioning her who have done what in life for NASA? For exploration?

    Had you heard the panel of the Center Directors and Deputy Directors you’d know that NASA’s budget is facing a cliff. You would know that it is time to stop this bickering nonsense and get together to save NASA HSF and possibly NASA. Note that NASA HSF includes, I repeat, includes private space. It is not equal to private space. Well at least it was not equal until the abominable failure of Constellation and of our economy. An economy run by who exactly? Today it is all we have, commercial space. SLS/MPCV is a joke. An expensive joke.

    People need to wake up of their trance. Stop being hypnotized by the lights of the incoming train wreck or it’ll be too late soon.

    Oh and yeah by the way, NASA does not pull the funding, Congress does.

  • Matt Wiser

    Paul won’t be President: he’s too old anyway, and this will be his last hurrah. His son, might run, but after Mr. Obama, we’ll be in the mood to have a former Governor (of whatever party) as POTUS-as long as that Governor is not (a) from Texas, and (b) named Bush (I’m referring to Jeb-the ex-governor of Florida-who would be a strong space supporter, though).

    Ron, did you read the L-M documents? The second one gives a lot of rationale for this as a demonstrator for both Lunar and Mars missions. And it’s doable within a few years, but the decision needs to be made soon.

  • Matt Wiser

    While you could do it with Dragon, that’s a hot potato on the Hill. Not until they get this Debt Celing mess sorted out (and they will-because there’s no choice), and then Congress takes off for their summer recess (another reason to get it done). Once that’s settled, Rep. Hall (Chair, House Sci/Tech Committee) needs to hold the hearings that he’s said he wants to have about commercial crew and have Musk testify. If Mr. Musk indicates that he wants Dragon as an option for NASA on BEO……he may have slit his own throat, because NASA is committed to L-M and MPCV/Orion. He needs to knock off that “retiring on Mars” nonsense and focus on the Commercial Cargo and Crew ops he’s on tap for.

  • JohnDoe11

    This article from Politico on Friday adds some good insight on the issue of private firms providing services:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0711/60259.html

  • Martijn Meijering

    While you could do it with Dragon, that’s a hot potato on the Hill.

    That’s SLS/MPCV speak for “I’ve run out of arguments”.

  • “he’s said he wants to have about commercial crew and have Musk testify.”

    Ooh boy, I was hoping they woud try that ploy. I will have some popcorn out watching that attempted grilling. It will not go in the direction Mr. Hall wants. :)

  • P.S. As for the Debt Ceiling problem. I agree that will be solved at or just before the deadline, if not by a compomise bill, then from an unexpected (by some) direction.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Ron, did you read the L-M documents?

    Not from your link, but I have in the past.

    The second one gives a lot of rationale for this as a demonstrator for both Lunar and Mars missions. And it’s doable within a few years, but the decision needs to be made soon.

    As always Matt, it’s never been about whether we can do something, it’s whether we can afford to do something.

    My whole objection to the SLS has always been about cost. It will cost taxpayers $Billions, and we don’t even know if we can afford to use it. Congress doesn’t even know if we can afford to use it, and hasn’t even started funding missions for it yet.

    The MPCV was wanted by NASA and Congress, so it looks like it will survive, and yes it certainly looks like you could use it to do an asteroid mission. But if it has to wait for the SLS, then who knows when that mission could start. If they put it on a Delta IV Heavy, maybe it could happen this decade, but now you have to figure out how to get the astronauts to space – human rate the Delta IV Heavy ($1.3B), or send them up on commercial crew vehicles (~$400M) and transfer them over at the ISS?

    See, it all boils down to money, not what is possible. So figure out the money part, and then your choices for doing anything become a lot clearer.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 30th, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    While you could do it with Dragon, that’s a hot potato on the Hill.

    I doubt that. What are they saying? Uh oh, SpaceX can do the same mission as NASA for 10X less money? Oh my goodness, we can’t let THAT happen!

    If Mr. Musk indicates that he wants Dragon as an option for NASA on BEO……he may have slit his own throat, because NASA is committed to L-M and MPCV/Orion.

    I don’t think you understand how federal procurement works. Anyone can say they want to sell to the government, but unless the government wants to buy something, tough luck.

    You don’t think that ATK, Boeing and Lockheed Martin aren’t always trying to sell the government something “they need” but that the government doesn’t?

    But let’s take the flip side. Is it against the law to tell the government that you have a less expensive way to do something? Should you be jailed for that? Isn’t that just an indication of what’s wrong with politics? That it’s who you know not what you know? Is that what you’re supporting Matt, back room politics?

    He needs to knock off that “retiring on Mars” nonsense and focus on the Commercial Cargo and Crew ops he’s on tap for.

    Yes it’s quite clear that the only “vision” Congress wants to hear is their own, not the President’s, and not a successful businessman’s.

    If you only reach for the low bar, you’ll never reach the high bar…

  • CY

    I actually am in agreement (somewhat) with Garver, the problem with the course the current Administration has set is the speed at which they want to go. The abrupt disruption they have caused to the management and workforce at NASA has me wondering what other agenda they have (or is being pushed on them by the bureaucrats at OMB) that they are not telling us.

    The only other comment I have, is: This is 2011, not 1958, I am wondering if the U.S. should take a look at the charter for NASA and maybe think about bringing it in alignment with what the U.S. needs are.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron, there’s nothing wrong with Musk offering Dragon to NASA for BEO missions-DOD gets proposals all the time-both solicited and otherwise. The problem for Musk is twofold: 1) until he actually flies a human Dragon mission, he’s still a “rocket boy.” As the commercial space symposium said last year, “stop talking and start flying”-their words, not mine; and 2) he’s got to convince those on the Hill-both in the House as well as the Senate, that he’s not trying to muscle in on NASA’s turf re: BEO exploration, and that commercial crew/cargo services enable NASA to focus on exploration. Hearing that from Musk (along with poor Charlie Bolden) makes the commercial crew argument go further.

    As for PLYMOUTH ROCK, I’d human-rate Delta IV Heavy or Atlas V for this, send the EDS and hab module up, do EOR, and go. No refueling, just wait for the departure window to open, and go. If the return flight trajectory enables it, have a Venus flyby on the way home-two firsts on the same mission. If SLS is available, use it, by all means, but at least we’d get the NEO mission out of the way and have some deep-space flight experience and have some research data on radiation and biomedical issues, asteroid samples, lots of imagery, and so on. Then we can get rolling on lunar return. Flying to an asteroid is nice, but if you want to operate on a planetary surface in a space environment, you’ll have to go back to the Moon to get ready for Mars.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt wrote:

    “If the return flight trajectory enables it, have a Venus flyby on the way home-two firsts on the same mission.”

    In one of Administrator Bolden’s first speeches, he talked about a study done by NASA on engaging the public more. He revealed how that study showed Americans, as far as spaceflight, tune in for firsts then move on.

    The American public, is what it is.

    I am not for flag and footprints type of firsts where it is not bringing commercial along, or is not trying for sustainabilty. Bolden outlined a more spiral type approach. The first EM L1/L2 mission, first ES L1/L2 mission, first asteroid mission, first venus flyby, first moon of mars mission.

    It would provide a lot of firsts to engage the public and it would develop a little, test a little, fly a little as we spiraled out into deeper space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    1) until he actually flies a human Dragon mission, he’s still a “rocket boy.”

    Is “rocket boy” a derogatory term? What does it mean? Could it mean an entrepreneur who spends his own money to create a rocket company that now has $3B in customer backorders? Maybe you’re just misinterpreting what people are saying…

    2) he’s got to convince those on the Hill-both in the House as well as the Senate, that he’s not trying to muscle in on NASA’s turf re: BEO exploration

    Why does he have to “convince” them? When has Musk said that he wants to take over NASA’s BEO mission? When has Musk said that he wants to build and operate science missions to asteroids or the lunar surface for public knowledge?

    You’re making that up Matt.

    Even if that were true, what is wrong with a private company telling the government that they can do a job for far less than the government? Isn’t that what Republicans are all about, letting the private sector do the jobs that it costs government too much to do?

    In any case, if you actually listen to what Musk and SpaceX have said, and if you look at what they are actually building, they want to be a delivery company, not an exploration one. They will get you where you want to go, whether that’s LEO or potentially the surface of Mars. What you do there is up to you. How in any way does that compete with NASA’s core mission?

    Nice mission proposal, although isn’t Venus a little out of the way? And if you’re flying by Venus, why would you want to stop there and go sit on the Moon? Why wouldn’t you keep pushing out further and further into the Solar System? Sure some people want to go back to the Moon, but some people want to push out into the Solar System. Why not do both?

  • DCSCA

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    “1) until he actually flies a human Dragon mission, he’s still a “rocket boy.””

    Precisely. Because that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it… especially to a fella boasting of plans to ‘retire on Mars.’

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron, I’m not dissing Musk or Space X in any way, but the “rocket boy” tag is the way he is perceived on The Hill. Until Chairman Hall holds the hearings that he has indicated he wants to re: commercial crew, and has Musk testify (which Hall has said he wants to have happen), Musk will be perceived as an amateur hobbyist and treated as such. (that “retiring on Mars” crap he spouted didn’t help his case at all, either) Not to mention doing more than flying a boilerplate Dragon and bringing it back. When he demonstrates capability-not proof of concept, Musk will silence the doubters-not before. And I would be among those saying “Well done.”

    The Venus flyby may be possible if the return trajectory from the target asteroid allows it. The Apollo Applications Program (stupid to walk away from that-but that’s another discussion for another time) had such a proposal for a manned Venus flyby.

    Ron, I’d rather do both. But where we differ is where we ought to be going first. IF the money allowed, I’d have lunar return and THEN push farther out. I’m realistic enough to know that’s not in the cards, and that FlexPath is where we’re headed. But that doesn’t change the fact that until NASA actually says where we’re going besides the vague promises of NEO and Mars, there will be those who are skeptical of the current path-and I’m a reluctant supporter of FlexPath because that’s the only way forward for the moment.

  • pathfinder_01

    “I am not for flag and footprints type of firsts where it is not bringing commercial along, or is not trying for sustainabilty. Bolden outlined a more spiral type approach. The first EM L1/L2 mission, first ES L1/L2 mission, first asteroid mission, first venus flyby, first moon of mars mission. ‘

    I agree here. Moon first think that private industry can instantly be ready to bridge the gap to lunar capability. They can not. Sure SLS could land NASA astronaunts on the moon, but lunar hotels/private manned lunar research…nope… never will it do so. I mean it is a high barrier of entery when private space must purchase larger rockets(that have few other uses) and build landers(that have no other users) to send anything to the moon. It would be like asking a 19th century rail road company to haul as much as a modren feight trains. They could not and the cost of upgrading rails, bridges, more steam locomotives all at once would be prohibative.

    EML1/L2 has the avangtage that current EELV and near term commercail rockets could support supply such an mission. And with near term technology(SEP) you could supply the mission with smaller rockets).

  • Das Boese

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 10:48 am”

    Is “rocket boy” a derogatory term? What does it mean?

    Perhaps it’s his secret superhero identity ?
    After all, Iron Man is already taken…

    On a different note, I have to disagree that Elon/SpaceX see themselves as just a transportation company and exploration isn’t within their scope… remember the full name of the company: Space Exploration Technologies
    The notion of them wanting to “compete with NASA on exploration” is silly, though. The name of the company is the product/service they want to sell to NASA and others. Sell, not operate.

  • Coastal Ron

    Das Boese wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 7:57 am

    remember the full name of the company…

    Using that standard, what is Apple? A fruit company? I think the “Exploration” in their name is providing the transportation for the exploration, but in general you can’t get too hung up on company names, since the business plan could have changed after they started the company.

    For instance Musk originally wanted to be sending science packages to Mars, but he could find transportation that fit his budget, and so SpaceX was born out of that need. Likely he’ll spin off a different company if he wants to go back to science-oriented missions.

    In any case, Musk has said they are a transportation company, and so far all of their products and services have been focused on transporting payloads, cargo and people to destinations in space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Ron, I’m not dissing Musk or Space X in any way

    Yes Matt, you are.

    Now you’re saying that in order for Musk to stop being perceived as “an amateur hobbyist“, he must appear in front of Congress. Is that the standard all “amateur hobbyist” are held too?

    At what point does someone that has invested millions of their own money, created a profitable company, employs 1,500 people, and has a customer backlog of $3B, stop becoming in your words “a hobbyist”? Are the 1,500 employees that work at SpaceX hobbyist too?

    Do you even know what the word “hobbyist” means?

    hobbyist |ˈhäbēist|
    noun
    a person who pursues a particular hobby : a computer hobbyist.

    and

    hobby 1 |ˈhäbē|
    noun ( pl. -bies)
    1 an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure

    SpaceX is a business, Musk is the CEO, and you sir have been purposefully insulting him.

    Now that happens all the time, and it’s a free world Matt, but just don’t play innocent here.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Not to mention doing more than flying a boilerplate Dragon and bringing it back.

    By definition, a “boilerplate Dragon” is what flew on the first Falcon 9 flight.

    The second Falcon 9 Flight carried a functional Dragon spacecraft that demonstrated all phases of launch, maneuvering in space, and return to Earth. That flight also met the definition of the COTS Demo 1 Mission, so NASA viewed the flight as functional too.

    When he demonstrates capability-not proof of concept, Musk will silence the doubters-not before.

    So having not one, but two successful Falcon 9 launches is proof of concept, and did not demonstrate capability? Launching and recovering a functional Dragon spacecraft did not demonstrate capability?

    Matt, I’m a great believer in standards. But I have a hard time finding any consistency in the tasks you say SpaceX must follow in order to remove your “hobbyist” moniker.

    You just seem to be making up reasons why SpaceX should be treated differently than everyone else. That’s sad Matt, really sad.

  • VirgilSamms

    “SpaceX is a business, Musk is the CEO, and you sir have been purposefully insulting him.”

    Hilarious righteous indignation. Puh-lease.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: Two test flights do not acapability make. When they demonstrate cargo delivery, and then have crewed test flights, then they have capability to offer NASA and other prospective customers. Not before.

    And what Musk needs to do is knock off this “retiring on Mars” crap. Can he offer NASA and other customers cheap, reliable, safe access to LEO? It looks like he can, and he ought to stick to it for the time being. What he ought to do is concentrate on that, and leave exploration to NASA. Now, if NASA issues RFPs for an intermediate rocket in between EELVs and SLS (I know that’s heresy to a lot of folks here, but SLS is where NASA’s going at the moment), and Musk offers Falcon 9 Heavy in response, he’s entirely welcome to do so. There will be tons of money to be made in the exploitation of space, but exploration? That’s NASA and other Space Agencies’ responsiblity.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    When they demonstrate cargo delivery, and then have crewed test flights, then they have capability to offer NASA and other prospective customers. Not before.

    Well Matt, this is what you said originally:

    When he demonstrates capability-not proof of concept

    Now I don’t know what universe you come from, but two Falcon 9 launches that use production hardware are not “proof of concept”. The Dragon capsule on flight #2, which was fully functional, was not “proof of concept”.

    When you light the rocket engines and perform a full profile mission to space and back, that is demonstrating capability – they are capable of launching payloads to LEO, and they are capable of launching capsules having them return safely to Earth. Capability demonstrated.

    But I think the real issue here is that you have special goal posts for what it takes for SpaceX and Musk to succeed (and no one else), the latest being:

    - Only Congress can tell Musk that he’s not a “hobbyist”

    - Only after doing what no other commercial company has done will they be considered to have demonstrated “capability”, and not just “proof of concept”.

    And you still have this silly idea that SpaceX is trying to become a science operations company so that they can somehow “compete with NASA” for science mission funding from Congress.

    If you would only open your ears, you would hear that Musk has said SpaceX is a transportation company. And if you opened your eyes you would see that they only build products to move payloads, cargo and people into and through space.

    Bush/Griffin awarded SpaceX a contract to move cargo for NASA, and NASA has added SpaceX to their approved vendor list under the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II Contract (payload missions). NASA has also awarded SpaceX a contract that could lead to a contract for transporting people, so where is SpaceX competing with NASA? NASA needs companies like SpaceX to do their routine transportation work. You are weird Matt.

    but SLS is where NASA’s going at the moment

    Keep in mind that it was the Senate that wanted the SLS, and they even stated it was to “preserve jobs”, so until you can point to Congressional funding for SLS payloads, it’s a rocket without a mission and ripe for cancellation in the next Congress.

    Oh, and keep in mind that by 2016 SpaceX will have demonstrated the full slate of all their transportation services (Falcon 9, Dragon crew and Falcon Heavy), which will still be years before the SLS will fly what should be (according to you) a “proof of concept” flight.

    Unless of course you’re moving the goal posts again… ;-)

  • And what Musk needs to do is knock off this “retiring on Mars” crap.

    Why? Too visionary for you?

    There will be tons of money to be made in the exploitation of space, but exploration? That’s NASA and other Space Agencies’ responsiblity.

    What a ridiculous comment. What other space agencies? Where is it written that exploration is NASA’s responsibility, and that it has a monopoly on it? Or that only governments are allowed to do it?

    If people like you had been in charge a couple hundred years ago, we’d have never explored or settled the west, until the National Western Exploration Agency had been established.

  • Matt Wiser

    I have never been a Space X fanboy, nor am I a commercial space zealot. Do I believe the Commercial sector can deliver on what they’re saying they can do? Yes. But they have to PROVE IT. Shooting a boilerplate Dragon into orbit is the first step. But, Space X has to show they can deliver cargo-and in some cases, such as experiment packages that need to come back, return it to Earth. The same applies to Sierra Nevada, Orbital Science, Boeing, etc. As the Commercial Space crowd said at last year’s symposium, “We need to stop talking and start flying.” Musk needs to prove to NASA’s satisfaction (and Congress’) that they can do the jobs they’re being contracted to do. And the same goes for all the other potential commercial space providers.

    And yes, Commercial LEO enables NASA to use its resources to go BEO. And personally, I’d rather have NASA designing, building, and flying those exploration systems. Said it before and I’ll repeat, but if NASA issues RFPs for improved exploration vehicles, everyone would be invited-the Boeings, Lockheed-Martins, Northrop-Grummans, etc, along with the new companies. As long as those vehicles meet NASA’s specifications, that’s fine with me. But here’s where I draw the line: this is exploration, not exploitation. NASA goes first. NOT a commercial contractor.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As long as those vehicles meet NASA’s specifications, that’s fine with me. But here’s where I draw the line: this is exploration, not exploitation. NASA goes first.

    Then they don’t need to operate and design their own launch vehicles or crew capsules. That’s much more important than how spacecraft are procured. Fair, competitive and redundant procurement of launch services is crucial for commercial development of space, similar procurement of crew transportation would be valuable, while such procurement of exploration craft would be merely nice to have, at least at this stage.

    NOT a commercial contractor.

    Are you saying (potential) contractors should be banned from trying to do their own exploration missions? I’m thinking of SpaceX and Bigelow specifically. And what about doing exploration work for foreign governments?

  • Shooting a boilerplate Dragon into orbit is the first step.

    Why do you continue to lie about this? They didn’t launch a “boilerplate” Dragon into orbit. They launched a fully functional Dragon into orbit, and returned it.

    And personally, I’d rather have NASA designing, building, and flying those exploration systems.

    Yes, we get that. But you never explain why, exactly. Why is it so important to you that NASA does those things? It should be more important to you that they happen, and at the most affordable price to the taxpayer, but somehow it isn’t. So apparently while you’re adamant about not being a “SpaceX fanboy” (who is?) you’re happy to admit to being a NASA fanboi, though you have no coherent explanation as to why.

    But here’s where I draw the line: this is exploration, not exploitation. NASA goes first. NOT a commercial contractor.

    What in the world does that mean? Do you have no response to my comment about opening up the west? Do you think that commercial contractors should be forbidden by law from exploring? Do you think…at all?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Why is it so important to you that NASA does those things?

    A good question, but would you agree competitive procurement is much less important for spacecraft / surface structures than for launch services?

  • A good question, but would you agree competitive procurement is much less important for spacecraft / surface structures than for launch services?

    Not without giving it a lot of thought. Why do you think that’s the case?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Because high launch prices are the only stumbling block to commercial development of space, not high spacecraft prices, provided the spacecraft are reusable.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 3rd, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Musk needs to prove to NASA’s satisfaction (and Congress’) that they can do the jobs they’re being contracted to do. And the same goes for all the other potential commercial space providers.

    The difference between you and Musk is that Musk has actually been doing Pay-for-Performance contracts for a long time (COTS and CCDev), but you see them as something novel to keep commercial aerospace away from NASA. Weird.

    What’s also funny is that you advocating for this (i.e. doing the work before getting paid) makes you an Elon Musk fanboy, since he has been advocating for NASA to do more of it for a long time. He’ll also advocate it to Congress if they ever allow him to testify. I’m sure he’s glad he can rely on your support… ;-)

    Said it before and I’ll repeat, but if NASA issues RFPs for improved exploration vehicles, everyone would be invited-the Boeings, Lockheed-Martins, Northrop-Grummans, etc, along with the new companies.

    Now you’re a government contracting expert? Matt, you are in way over your head. It’s obvious that you have certain biases against commercial aerospace, especially SpaceX (as many have pointed out).

    But as I point out to others who take unfairly biased views of commercial aerospace, it doesn’t matter what you think, since the progress commercial aerospace is making, and the budget issues NASA is getting ready to face, will force NASA to rely on commercial aerospace more and more if they want to do anything more in space.

    And isn’t that really what you want anyways, for us to do more?

  • Matt Wiser

    Yes, goshdarnit, I want to do more. But, and here’s where I draw the line. Commercial to LEO. NASA and other agencies for BEO. For the time being. And no, I am NOT a SpaceX fanboy, nor do I worship Lord Musk.

    Commercial LEO means NASA BEO. Cut and dry, that is it. Boeing, Orbital, Sierra Nevada, and even SpaceX can support NASA’s exploration activities (assuming that on-orbit refueling works-but we’ll have to wait until the technology demonstrator flies to see if that is feasible), but as far as flying the actual missions to the Moon, NEOs, L-Points, Mars, that’s NASA’s ball game, not Musk nor any other commercial provider.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 4th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    But, and here’s where I draw the line.

    Why draw the line Matt? That’s what we’re trying to find out from you, why it makes such a big difference to you?

    I guess if you had your way that the Google Lunar X PRIZE would be illegal?

    Why does it matter if it’s an agency of the U.S. Government that does something or that it’s a private individual or company?

    What’s the big deal?

  • And no, I am NOT a SpaceX fanboy, nor do I worship Lord Musk.

    If you don’t worship him, why do you call him “Lord Musk”? I think that he’s doing useful things, but I don’t call him that. He’s just a visionary entrepreneur, not an aristocrat or a god. I think that it’s hilariously ironic that the only people who call him “Lord Musk” are the people who pretend they don’t worship him (as opposed to the rest of us, who really don’t worship him).

    …as far as flying the actual missions to the Moon, NEOs, L-Points, Mars, that’s NASA’s ball game, not Musk nor any other commercial provider.

    You keep saying this, but never provide an explanation as to why it’s not nutty, or how we would have opened up the west with such a bizarre attitude.

  • Matt Wiser

    NASA explores. Commercial exploits. Simple as that. And yes, I would be a lot more comfortable with Commercial Crew if Boeing was leading on this: they’ve been around the block a long time, they know what they’re doing, and have both the individual experience and the institutional experience to get things done. Space X, while they have some great people working for them, doesn’t have the latter.

    And in case you haven’t heard….Boeing selected Atlas V for their commercial crew launcher. And they’re looking for crew to fly the test missions.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44021510/ns/technology_and_science-space/&sa=U&ei=zUY7TtWbLKfhiALnpMDcCw&ved=0CEIQqQIwAw&sig2=zAqYblwt-OXz96qmpmOKLQ&usg=AFQjCNG4FI0aLXrD8Vv8vD_PA4eFMn7pUA

    And before STS-134, there was a presser where the commercial prospects were outlining their plans for Commercial Crew to the media, Boeing’s rep stated that NASA astronauts would be likely flying at least one test mission, if not more, and that even if a flight had one or two company crew, there would also likely be one or two NASA astronauts aboard.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 4th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    NASA explores. Commercial exploits.

    You’ve said that before. The real question is why?

    Why the bright dividing line for commercial?

    What happens if commercial companies (or individuals) start doing space exploration, which they surely will at some point. Will that be against your law? Should they be prevented from doing exploration on their own? Again, why?

    And yes, I would be a lot more comfortable with Commercial Crew if Boeing was leading on this

    How could Boeing lead? You mean that a company that had a faster plan to develop a crew system should be stopped until companies with slower plans catch up? Is that fair? How could you justify that on a legal basis?

    And isn’t it NASA that is leading this, so you would think that NASA is applying the same rules to all the companies. That’s what I expect, and Bolden has stated that too. If NASA is happy, why shouldn’t you be? SpaceX has been doing all the right things so far, getting paid for accomplishing them, and is leading the way. What’s wrong?

    Space X, while they have some great people working for them, doesn’t have the latter

    You say this, but have you actually compared the personnel that are working on capsules at both Boeing and SpaceX? I think this is more a wish of yours than reality, although it fits into your dislike for anything SpaceX.

    And in case you haven’t heard…

    The big surprise would have been if Boeing DIDN’T choose Atlas V, but we threw a party anyways since it shows the progress commercial crew is making – didn’t you get the invite? ;-)

    Maybe you thought that this was bad news somehow? Weird.

    Boeing’s rep stated that NASA astronauts would be likely flying at least one test mission, if not more, and that even if a flight had one or two company crew, there would also likely be one or two NASA astronauts aboard.

    Boeing will do the test flights with company personnel, and then leave it up to the customer as to whether they want to use their own crew or use Boeing crew.

    I’ve always thought it would work this way for all the commercial crew providers, since customers will likely buy a whole flight, and they may want to maximize the amount of people that can deliver to space. I don’t think it makes a difference to the crew service providers, since NASA crew will be trained by the providers, and NASA will have to pay for the training. Extra revenue sources! ;-)

    Just as a note Matt. You keep thinking that competition in the commercial crew arena is bad, but most of us see it as a sign of strength, since no one wants another monopoly on U.S. spaceflight like what NASA has had. We want to see as many competitors as the market can support.

    So Boeing announcing that they are using the rocket that everyone expected them to use was really only bad news to the clueless that thought that they might use the ATK/Astrium Liberty instead. Hopefully that was the last nail in the head for that zombie rocket…

    Don’t forget to answer the first question.

  • NASA explores. Commercial exploits. Simple as that.

    So simple it’s simple minded. And you still don’t have an actual explanation. You just continue to restate your religious beliefs.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt wrote:

    “as far as flying the actual missions to the Moon, NEOs, L-Points, Mars, that’s NASA’s ball game, not Musk nor any other commercial provider”

    What if a couple billionaires pooled some money and bought a trip to the moon or an L-point, should a law be passed preventing them from doing that?

    Space Adventures will be announcing a lunar flyby by the end of this year, should the federal government take this to the U.N. and ban any privately financed trips?

  • Clay Comstock

    With NASA IN Russia, are the US going to the private sector or arm forces Spaces for space engines? Just because NASA is in Russia doesn’t mean the US CAN’T go into space.
    Clay

  • Clay Comstock

    I agree you space is to explore. We should fine an organization that will explore. NASA is in Russia, we half deal with this ourselves.
    PS
    Unless the US can’t afford this.

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