Lobbying, NASA, Other

Briefly: debt debate, elan for Elon, hitting the reset button

As the debate grinds on in Washington about a deal to raise the debt ceiling, there have been questions about what will happen should an agreement not be reached by the current deadline of Tuesday. On Friday NASA administrator Charles Bolden sent out message to the agency’s workforce, effectively telling them it will be business as usual this coming week at the space agency. “I am sending this note to remind you that NASA employees should plan to come to work next week, as scheduled, at their normal place and time,” he wrote in the memo, obtained by SpaceRef.

POLITICO examined Friday the lobbying practices of aerospace companies in this new space policy era. Much of the article is less about NASA than about efforts by SpaceX to win business from the Air Force for military launches, arguing that its rockets are just as good as those built by United Launch Alliance but cost much less. SpaceX, the article notes, is on a pace to exceed its 2010 lobbying expenses of $600,000, much more than the $120,000 a year spent by ULA but a small fraction of that spent by ULA’s corporate parents, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

That article leads, though, with the belief that the president and SpaceX founder Elon Musk are good friends—”President Barack Obama’s élan for Elon Musk”, as the article cleverly puts it—based on Musk’s donations to Obama and “multiple personal visits”. Musk, though, quashes any idea the two are close. “People think Obama is my best friend. If he has been my best friend, he sure hasn’t been very good at helping me out,” Musk told POLITICO. “Obama has been doing a good job within the scope of what he can do … but not pushing further. And Congress has done quite a bad job.”

Speaking Friday morning at the NewSpace 2011 Conference at NASA Ames Research Center, Virgin Galactic president and CEO George Whitesides spent most of his time talking about the status of his company and the progress they’re making in developing a suborbital vehicle. However, the former chief of staff to NASA administrator Bolden also touched upon space policy issues for part of his talk. Whitesides noted he had just come from the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and wondered when the space field would be able to host a show of a similar type and scale. “While we cannot be sure that the current national policy will get us to that future, I think we can be reasonably sure the path we were on before would not get us to that future,” he said.

He said that if we had continued down the path of an “Apollo-like” program, there would be little funding available for technological innovations that could lower the cost of space access in general and create an “exothermic reaction” of activity in space. “I really do believe—and I was involved in some of these conversations—that the underlying motivation for these new national policy changes is a desire to go further, and to go sustainably,” he said. “What is motivating, I think, this policy is absolutely not a desire to kill human spaceflight, but it is a desire to essentially press the reset button on human spaceflight, and to try to get it into a pathway that really can fulfill our dreams.” He added it was ironic that some viewed the policy as killing human spaceflight when instead it’s intended “to encourage human spaceflight to thrive, ultimately.”

114 comments to Briefly: debt debate, elan for Elon, hitting the reset button

  • DCSCA

    “SpaceX, the article notes, is on a pace to exceed its 2010 lobbying expenses of $600,000, much more than the $120,000 a year spent by ULA but a small fraction of that spent by ULA’s corporate parents, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.”

    ROFLMAO. The Emperor has no clothes. Exhibit A- a being a fake ‘private’ enterprise, ‘free market’ capitalist at work mining the government for business- a government which has to borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends– to subsidize his hobby on the back of the American taxpayers.

  • amightywind

    “People think Obama is my best friend. If he has been my best friend, he sure hasn’t been very good at helping me out,”

    Et tu, Brute? Musk is a crony of Obama like Jeff Immelt, Eric Schmidt, Jamie Dumon, and other ‘leaders of industry’ who helped to milk the socialist wave of 2008 for all it was worth. 2010 marked the transition to conservative government and traditional NASA. 2012 should seal the deal. Musk is just trying to prevent the inevitable reprisals by seeming reasonable to the GOP.

    And Congress has done quite a bad job.”

    This is sure to please the science committees.

  • Robert G. Oler

    There is no path to the future with an Apollo “like” program that cannot even replicate the glories of the past.

    When NASA spends 15 billion on Ares 1 and Orion and cannot get flying hardware…and 5.5 billion bought the entire Gemini program…the past is not prologue it is the pinnacle

    Robert g. Oler

  • Joe

    “Mark Lewis, the Air Force’s chief scientist from 2004 to 2008, said the military is less inclined than NASA to tap new companies for sensitive missions because reliability is a chief concern. A marginal amount of savings from the rocket itself is instantly wiped out, he notes, if the satellite it’s carrying ends up in the ocean instead of in orbit — like the two climate science satellites that failed to reach orbit on Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rockets in 2009 and again this March.”

    ““It’s very easy to make a PowerPoint presentation of pretty rockets. It’s much harder to build the darn things and make them work reliably,” said Lewis, now the aerospace engineering department chairman at the University of Maryland.”

    Yes, if a ‘Commercial Crew’ launch fails, people just die. No problem, right?

  • Robert G. Oler

    “And Congress has done quite a bad job.”

    yeap no more accurate words have ever been spoken.

    What the support for the SLS is is clearly a jobs program. There are alternative budgets out there that actually use about 1/2 of the money per year allocated to SLS and get us to

    1) use of the space station
    2) some very dynamic space testing of technologies
    3) innovative spurring of the manufactoring base
    4) private sector jobs

    instead of just wasting money…but Congress and the GOP are good at that

    Robert G. Oler

  • He added it was ironic that some viewed the policy as killing human spaceflight when instead it’s intended “to encourage human spaceflight to thrive, ultimately.”

    As noted by the above Cult of Apollo followers, it is they who cry and whine about the end of government funded spaceflight. Historically, the U.S. Government has always kick-started the transportation industry going back to the old Erie Canal days and thus increasing commerce.

    And don’t worry Windy, I’m sure the SLS will provide the Red States jobs for a few years.

  • Elon never saw a tax payer dollar that he didn’t want to get his hands on nor a government program that he didn’t want to be part of:-)

    But you can’t really blame any businessman for wanting to be part of the military industrial complex so that they can get their hands on the tens of billions of dollars of DOD space contracts that are currently dominated by the ULA. But Space X is going to have to demonstrate the reliability of its spacecraft for at least 5 years or more before the DOD will take him seriously over the ULA.

    Plus Boeing with its close business relationship with Bigelow may also limit Space X’s ability to even participate in the commercial space tourism business.

    And if Congress ever comes to their senses and stops wasting $3 billion a year for the ISS program by either decommissioning the structure or by turning it completely over to Russia, Japan, and Europe by 2016 then Elon’s going to be in big trouble.

  • Dex

    Why would ULA spend significant money on Lobbying activities when it believes it has no competition with respect to its government (& primary) customer?

    ULA does not lobby Congress because it does not need to. When the USAF/NRO/NASA want to launch a satellite (or probe), the law forbids them from using a non-US launch provider. This means USAF/NRO/NASA have to go to ULA for their launch needs until technical & political confidence in SpaceX’s Falcon line increases.

    SpaceX must spend more money than ULA on Lobbying for US Government business if it wants USAF/NRO/NASA launches. It has to lobby at multiple levels of government. Why is this a reason to decry their efforts?

    “Free Market” does not exclude having the government as a customer. It implies that the customer (the government & taxpayer) has a choice of providers, that competition be allowed to exist. Lobbying is a form of targeted advertising for companies interested in government business, regardless of who those companies are. SpaceX is advertising its existence to those outside the space community who make the budgetary decisions.

    I doubt ULA have much to worry about with regards to SpaceX infringing on ULA’s business for at least the next 5 years. The USAF/NRO are likely to continue to use ULA as their launch provider over that time. It is the same money being used for very similar end products.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Elon never saw a tax payer dollar that he didn’t want to get his hands on nor a government program that he didn’t want to be part of:-) ..

    that statement is strange. how you can say that and yet defend traditional NASA programs is really really a jump in logic

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “Yes, if a ‘Commercial Crew’ launch fails, people just die. No problem, right?”

    When a commercial automobiles crash and 100 people a day die in the United States, are you writing congress that the government should be doing it and keep commercial automakers out of transportation? Or do you think people just die?

  • DCSCA

    Joe wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    “Yes, if a ‘Commercial Crew’ launch fails, people just die. No problem, right?”

    Rest easy. SpaceX will never launch, orbit and return crews aboard their Falcon/Dragon system. Cargo, yes, people, no. Not because it isn’t feaasible, but because there won’t be any money to make by doing it by the time they’d be ready to start test flights, let along go operational. It’s at least five years off and the ISS is slated for splash per the Russians, who have the plans in hand, in the 2020 time frame. Commercial HSF’s best bet in the near future for success and for making a few bucks is Branson’s sub-orbital jaunts.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Yes, if a ‘Commercial Crew’ launch fails, people just die. No problem, right?

    Wrong. As usual your reliance on assumptions has blinded you to the fact that all of the commercial crew systems plan to have Launch Abort Systems (LAS). You also forget that commercial companies need paying customers, so they work harder at keeping the people that rely on them happy, healthy and alive.

    By contrast, the government run Shuttle did not have a functional crew safety system during launch for last 131 of it’s 135 total flights, and we all know how well that turned out…

  • Rhyolite

    “And Congress has done quite a bad job.”

    Congress has shown no actual interest in HSF or space policy in general beyond the allocation of pork. The are actively impeding the Americas access to space. The only good thing I can say is that their approval ratings suggest that record numbers of them will not be there come the end of 2012.

  • @Robert G. Oler

    “that statement is strange. how you can say that and yet defend traditional NASA programs is really really a jump in logic”

    Its not strange, its true!

    And I’m strongly against continuing the ISS program beyond 2016 and strongly for NASA returning back to its space pioneering roots that disappeared after Nixon decommissioned NASA’s heavy lift capability nearly 40 years ago.

  • Michael from Iowa

    DCSCA wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 5:58 pm
    “Rest easy. SpaceX will never launch, orbit and return crews aboard their Falcon/Dragon system.”

    I swear, you Constellation-nostalgics have been singing the same old song for years now, don’t you guys ever get tired of making these poor predictions?

    “SpaceX will never launch the Falcon 9!”
    “SpaceX will never launch the Dragon capsule into orbit!”
    “SpaceX will never launch a mission to the ISS!”
    “SpaceX will never send a crew into space!”

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    And I’m strongly against continuing the ISS program beyond 2016 and strongly for NASA returning back to its space pioneering roots…

    NASA, and the Congress, feel that the ISS is doing pioneering research in space. Where else are you going to do the same type of research that is needed if we are going to venture further out into space, both in distance and time away?

    Are you assuming that fully functioning space systems will magically appear and be ready to work without ever being tested in space? That our terrestrial engineering capabilities have figured out how to design systems for space that don’t need to be tested except when it’s critical they work?

    Even the military has test facilities in the environments that they need to operate in, like extreme cold (Cold Regions Test Center) and extreme heat (Yuma Proving Ground).

    Pioneering is not just picking up rocks on an airless body in space, it’s figuring out how to live, work and survive in space too. And what better place to do that than in space, in a facility that was designed for that kind of research.

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 6:06 pm
    “Wrong. As usual your reliance on assumptions has blinded you to the fact that all of the commercial crew systems plan to have Launch Abort Systems (LAS). You also forget that commercial companies need paying customers, so they work harder at keeping the people that rely on them happy, healthy and alive.
    By contrast, the government run Shuttle did not have a functional crew safety system during launch for last 131 of it’s 135 total flights, and we all know how well that turned out…”

    Yes Ron, as you have proven on another post that you do not understand anything about aerospace manufacturing standards; now you prove you do not know anything about safety standards either.

    Reliability of the ULA boosters (the EELVs) is calculated at 1 in 50 (and that includes only payload delivery to orbit). The Shuttle reliability, at the time of its retirement, was calculated to be 1 in 90 (and that included return of the Orbiter to wheels stop on the runway). The reliability numbers for any SD Vehicle would be considerably higher (if the delivery of payload to orbit is the end point of the calculation). If the reliability of the new space rockets (and lets be blunt we are – for now at least – talking about the Falcon 9) is believed by the DoD to be so much less than EELVs as to offset the questionably low prices Space X is advertising then no abort system is going to make up the difference.

  • DCSCA

    “And what better place to do that than in space, in a facility that was designed for that kind of research. What better place?????????”

    In the Age of Austerity, see Antarctica for details. Microgravity data exists from: Skylab, Salyut and MIR and can be mined for planning. $100 billion for that boondoggle is a waste. It was planned for splash in 2016 as early as 2 yars ago by NASA. Now the Russians plan Project Bobby Darin to be initated in 2020– ‘splish-splash, ISS’s takin’ a bath, long about 2020′s ’bout right.’

  • DCSCA

    @Michael from Iowa wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Suggest you get a fix on reality. This writer has steadfasty maintained only one of your inexact bullet points:

    “SpaceX will never send a crew into space!” Or to be precise: SpaceX will never launch, orbit and return crews aboard their Falcon/Dragon system.

    Tick-tock, tik-tock. Stop talkin’ start flying and prove us all wrong, Mike.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Good old Elon Musk. Last year they were walking arm in arm on the tour of the Falcon 9. Now that Obama has become radioactive, it’s, “Barack Obama? Never heard of the man.”

    He should learn to make nice with Congress, though. They are the ones whio write the checks.

  • Matt Wiser

    Mark: well said. I guess ol’ Elon has amnesia about his photo-op with POTUS at the Cape last year with Falcon 9…And yes, he does need to get on Congress’ good side-if he wants his company to have Commercial Crew on behalf of NASA.

    Re: the ‘reset’ button: the problem wasn’t the plan, it was in presentation. Charlie Bolden and Dr. Holdren do not make good communicators when they’re on the Hill trying to explain what NASA has in mind. Ed Crawley “made the sale” re: FlexPath for me. Charlie Bolden didn’t. And he’s the one on the Hill trying to explain to skeptical Senators and Congressmen that this plan enhances HSF instead of abandoning it. And he’s not doing a very good job of it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    First you started talking about crew:

    Yes, if a ‘Commercial Crew’ launch fails, people just die. No problem, right?

    That’s what I responded to, in pointing out that commercial crew systems would have Launch Abort Systems that would protect crew, unlike what the Shuttle lacked. Facts Joe.

    Now you’re changing the subject to launches that aren’t manned – make up your mind.

    Regarding that subject though, I don’t see an issue with the DoD waiting until they get a better feel for what the cost benefit ratio is for any new launcher.

    The DoD has invested a lot of money into Atlas V and Delta IV, so there would need to be a significant financial reason to move away from them. Assuming Atlas & Delta continue to be reliable, the only reason to use another launcher would be if the other launcher is also deemed reliable, plus it’s significantly less expensive.

    NASA may have a different calculation that they use under the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II Contract, but there you’ll likely have greater economic pressures at play too, since each NASA program buys the launcher for their own program.

    If you remove the emotion from the discussion, these types of issues become fairly easy to understand.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Now the Russians plan Project Bobby Darin to be initated in 2020

    As usual, your fantasies aren’t connected to reality:

    http://zeenews.india.com/news/space/no-plans-to-sink-international-space-station_723347.html

    I think this statement says it all:

    Neither the Russian Federal Space Agency(Roskosmos) nor other partners in the International Space Station project are planning to sink the ISS station in 2020, a top Russian space official said on Sunday.

  • @Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    “Pioneering is not just picking up rocks on an airless body in space, it’s figuring out how to live, work and survive in space too. And what better place to do that than in space, in a facility that was designed for that kind of research.”

    I’m not against space stations. I’m just against over priced space stations that cost the American tax payers over $3 billion a year, a station that is not even totally owned by the American people and a station that’s not even in the best orbit for launches from American soil. Plus there is no way we’re getting $3 billion a year worth of tremendous science out of the ISS. No way!

    NASA needs to move on to larger and cheaper space stations like Bigelow’s 65 tonne plus BA-2100.

    But I should note that practically our entire civilization is based on extracting and processing materials from rocks. And the same will probably be true on the Moon and beyond. You could probably even argue that rocks have been essential for human survival since the emergence of the Oldowan lithic culture in sub-Saharan Africa 2.6 million years ago.

  • Rhyolite

    “I doubt ULA have much to worry about with regards to SpaceX infringing on ULA’s business for at least the next 5 years. The USAF/NRO are likely to continue to use ULA as their launch provider over that time. It is the same money being used for very similar end products.”

    First, launches tend to be planned years in advance so it will be a few years before SpaceX begins to take over any significant ULA business. But that’s just the nature of the business and no comment on SpaceX

    Second, ULA is not the only launch provider for the DoD. Orbital has owned the lower end of the launch vehicle market for a while and now they are going to have to fight for every launch.

    I see SpaceX replacing Orbital for the smaller payloads – TacSat, ORS, etc. – before working its way up the value chain to billion dollar programs of record.

    Even if SpaceX doesn’t displace ULA starting tomorrow, the tax payer benefits from the competition. ULA can’t simply rest on its monopoly – its going to be looking over its shoulder every time it submits a bid.

  • Das Boese

    DCSCA is probably alluding to this article from RIA Novosti which has been picked up by several other news outlets.

    A careful reading though brings to light that the author infers that the station will be deorbited in 2020 by mashing together unrelated quotes from an interview. The quoted statements themselves do not actually contain anything newsworthy as they merely rehash well-known facts, nor do they imply that a decision to deorbit ISS in 2020 has been made.

    From the article:

    “We will be forced to sink the ISS. We cannot leave it in orbit as it is a very complicated and a heavy object. There must be no space waste from it,”

    Duh.
    Of course it’s well worth to point out that the common portrayal of the station as a monolithic object is inaccurate – a mistake that some posters on this blog frequently fall prey to as well.

    “We have agreed with our partners that the ISS would function roughly until 2020,” he said adding the station’s life was initially estimated at 15 years.

    Duh again. Also not news and it does not mean that ISS will be deorbited in 2020. It means that what happens after 2020 has not been decided.
    The “15 year estimated lifespan” is not a meaningful number for the above mentioned reason of the ISS not being a monolithic structure.

    Asked whether a new space station will be built, Davydov said “there are several possibilities.”

    Some of which include utilization of existing ISS modules and systems.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 10:54 pm
    This statement says it all, much better.

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/28/russia-backtracks-on-international-space-station-sink-date/

    Russia Backtracks on Plan to Sink International Space Station
    A watery fate may have to wait.

    Russia’s space agency backpedaled Thursday from an international outcry over comments by deputy head Vitaly Davydov, who said Russia planned to sink the International Space Station into the Pacific Ocean in 2020.

    “The partners have agreed to continue the ISS operation until 2020. The partners will also approve an extended period of the ISS,” agency press secretary Anna Vedishcheva told Russian news agency Interfax-AVN on Thursday.

    At a 2010 meeting of the international science agencies that run the ship, most agreed that an “extended period” of operation was a common goal. But Vedischeva continued to stress the spacebase’s ultimate fate: a watery grave at the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

    The only way to dispose of the station is to sink it,” Vedishcheva said, a necessary evil required “to avoid the appearance of a large amount of space debris in orbit.”

    She described media reports on the Russian space agency’s comments as “distorted.”

    After sinking hundreds of millions into construction of the space station — billions if you include the cost of the space shuttle flights that carried the ISS modules into orbit — knowledgeable government sources and NASA spokesmen were aghast Wednesday at Davydov’s unilateral declaration of the station’s fate.

    “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Russia come out with a statement that seems to be coming out of their own stovepipes,” one knowledgeable congressional representative told FoxNews.com Wednesday. “I would give it no credence at all.”

    “NASA would have advised us ahead of time if there were any agreement along those lines,” he said.”– source, FoxNews.com

    Distorted, eh. Hmmm. Perhaps it’s yours, and NASA’s (and SpaceX’s) view that’s distorted (a fisheye view from in a fish bowl can do that) , especially after the budget deal this evening and multi-trillion dollars in planned discretionary cuts which will befall the nation as the Age Austerity hit home. Americans arent going to fund this turkey. Neither will Russia nor the other partners as the Age of Austerity engulfs the planet.

    So let’s review: NASA was planning to deep-six the ISS by 2015 all of 24 months ago and now want to try to make use of it through 2028; three days ago Russia announced it had firm deorbiting plans (something you, Ron, insisted never existed to negin with) to deep six the ISS in 2020 and now they have plans to extend operations if partners agree and, of course, pay for it. That’s four different decisions in 24 months– two in the past week. It’s a safe bet there will be more, ultimately resulting in the ISS ending up in the Pacific– chiefly due to high costs with minimal results. That ‘for profit’ capitalism thingy can be an obstacle when it comes to subsidizing a faux destination for commerical space firms going no place fast.

    The fantasies are all yours, fella, as it is clear nobody knows what to do with the 20 year aerospace works project costing in excess of $100 billion and billions more each year to operate. Everybody who has any financial interest is scrambling for a rationale to keep something up and running that produces nothing but costs– and it has been manned for a decade already. And everyone still agrees that it’s ultimate fate is to splish-splash it into the Pacific. Rather, in a much more cost-effective and challenging enterprise, it should have been assembled and anchored to the floor of the Ocean of Storms as a lunar outpost for a base of exploration of the moon and beyond for decades to come. Something Lori Garver opposed when she was pimping for aerospace space contractors in her NSS days. All the more reason for Garver to be jettisoned from NASA, ASAP.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 31st, 2011 at 10:54 pm
    Oh yes, it’s never smart for NASA or members of Congress to insult the folks who you’re buying your rides from– especially when they set the price for the seats and you have nothing else to ride. Tick-tock, tick-tock, fella.

  • The article reports, “During the 2010 election cycle, the SpaceX PAC donated $67,900 to federal candidates, with nearly $4 going to Democrats for every $1 going to Republicans. In contrast, Boeing’s PAC made more than $2.2 million in candidate contributions during the 2010 cycle.”

    Do the math … Boeing alone spent 32 times more during the 2010 election cycle than SpaceX. And that doesn’t include Boeing’s ULA partner, Lockheed-Martin.

    It’s more clear than ever that those who claim SpaceX somehow magically bought its way into COTS and CCDev are just lying.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    As usual, your fantasies aren’t connected to reality …

    MSNBC debunked the troll’s lie last week:

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/07/27/7182599-sink-the-space-station-not-so-fast

    Turns out there were two questions … (1) How long will ISS fly as currently authorized, and (2) When it’s time for the ISS to come down, how will we do it?

    (1) and (2) had nothing to do with each other. (1) will change from 2020 to 2028 once the studies are done. (2) is the same regardless of the termination date.

  • “I’m not against space stations. I’m just against over priced space stations “

    Too bad you’re not against over-priced super HLVs as well.

  • Byeman

    “The reliability numbers for any SD Vehicle would be considerably higher”

    That is unsubstantiated. SLS will be too different from the Shuttle to base its reliability numbers on. Also, Shuttle’s reliability to landing does not equate to EELV to spacecraft deployment.

  • Major Tom

    “Reliability of the ULA boosters (the EELVs) is calculated at 1 in 50″

    No, that’s the demonstrated, not calculated, failure rate. Specifically, Atlas V has launched 26 times and Delta IV has launch 17 times with only one payload that failed to reach orbit between them — a demonstrated failure rate of 1 in 43 between the two families.

    (The calculated failure rate of each EELV is higher, about 1 in 97.)

    “The Shuttle reliability, at the time of its retirement, was calculated to be 1 in 90″

    Which, like the calculated rate for the EELVs above, means little since the demonstrated failure rate of the Shuttle system was 1 in 67.5 missions.

    “The reliability numbers for any SD Vehicle would be considerably higher”

    This is an unsubstantiable and patently false statement.

    “If the reliability of the new space rockets (and lets be blunt we are – for now at least – talking about the Falcon 9) is believed by the DoD to be so much less than EELVs as to offset the questionably low prices Space X is advertising then no abort system is going to make up the difference.”

    Another false statement. DOD is buying Falcon 9s:

    http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,230796,00.html

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • amightywind

    I see SpaceX replacing Orbital for the smaller payloads – TacSat, ORS, etc. – before working its way up the value chain to billion dollar programs of record.

    They don’t have a competing solution for the Taurus II or Pegasus XL. As problematic as Orbital launchers have been, F1 is worse. As for launching the big defense department satellites, it is not clear at all that F9H upper stages have the ISP and restart capability required to fly some of the mission profiles.

    Plus there is no way we’re getting $3 billion a year worth of tremendous science out of the ISS. No way!

    ISS is the greatest ongoing malinvestments in science of all time. It is the ‘high speed rail of space’. If you love big science, for same the money we could have had a network of JWSTs and a supercollider.

  • amightywind

    This caught my eye in the Politico Musk puff piece:

    To a point, they’ve made a successful case. SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., and Orbital Sciences, based in Dulles, Va., are under NASA contract, worth up to $3.5 billion, to lift 40 tons of cargo to the International Space Station over 20 flights.

    A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion. It might even deliver more if NASA launched it unmanned. I thought we were doing Newspace because it is cheap. It pays to be politically connected rather than good.

  • Vladislaw

    The SpaceX contract is for a MINIMUM of 44,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS. The dragon has the ability to bring up a combined pressurized/non pressurized cargo of 13000 pounds. So potentially SpaceX could actually deliver 156,000 pounds of cargo or over 70 metric tons. Another thing not factored in is that Dragon has a down capability of 6600 pounds or over 79000 pounds of down cargo over 12 flights.

    Even if you give the cost of down cargo the same as up cargo NASA is still getting the potential of a hell of lot of cargo for 133mil per flight or 6785.00 dollars per pound of cargo moved. Shuttle was over 20k

  • Alan

    A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.

    That is at “current” flight rates. If you reduce the flight rate then the fixed infrastructure costs get amortized across fewer launches, thus the price would go up. The COTS deliveries are over multiple years.

    Second point. Does UPS or FedEx deliver packages to your residence every day in an 18 wheeler or with a delivery van? Regular deliveries are needed for supplies and experiments. Regular return of experimental results are needed.

    The Russians were able to keep Mir supplied w/o needing anything larger than Soyuz/Progress. Both COTS providers have larger upmass than Soyuz/Progress.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 8:38 am

    A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.

    If all you needed was mass to the ISS, then the Delta IV Heavy could do 40 tons for $900M, whereas the Shuttle program cost $200M/month ($2.4B/year) regardless if it flies.

    The Shuttle also carried ISS supplies in the MPLM, which is now docked at the ISS, and the MPLM only carries 9mt of cargo (10 tons). So now you’re talking about 4 flights, which according to your incorrectly low cost figure, would still cost $2B. The real cost was more like $10B over a four year period, since you have to account for the army of people it took to run the whole program.

    Doesn’t matter though, the Shuttle is now part of history.

  • Major Tom

    “A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.”

    No, the cost of one Shuttle flight is $1.5 billion

    http://www.space.com/11358-nasa-space-shuttle-program-cost-30-years.html

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Moose

    amightywind:

    “Musk is a crony of Obama like Jeff Immelt, Eric Schmidt, Jamie Dumon, and other ‘leaders of industry’ who helped to milk the socialist wave of 2008 for all it was worth.”

    What?

    Ah yes, the socialist wave of 2008. Reminds me of the good old days, the fascist takeover of 2003…

  • Vladislaw

    “A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.”

    If the shuttle workforce cost 200 million per month or 2.4 billion per year, how do you get 2 flights for 1 billion?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 8:11 am

    They don’t have a competing solution for the Taurus II or Pegasus XL. As problematic as Orbital launchers have been, F1 is worse.

    Who said they would compete Falcon 1 against Taurus II or Pegasus XL? I think it’s more likely that Falcon 9 will be the main competitor to Taurus II, and could take away some business from Pegasus.

    The real competitive difference will be price, since Falcon 9 carries about 50% more payload to LEO than Taurus II, but is likely less expensive in $/lb to orbit. A hard combination to beat.

    Regarding your uniformed insinuation about Falcon 1, all that matters is operational flights, not test ones. But that’s OK, you just keep spinning out of control…

  • Byeman

    “A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.”

    Typical disinformation. Spacex and OSC’s contract is for cargo transferred to the ISS and not payload to orbit. The shuttle requires the MPLM to transfer cargo to the ISS and it can only carry 10 tons.

  • amightywind

    Second point. Does UPS or FedEx deliver packages to your residence every day in an 18 wheeler or with a delivery van?

    Seems to me ISS logistics are more like those of ‘Ice Road Truckers’ than FedEx.

    Who said they would compete Falcon 1 against Taurus II or Pegasus XL?

    Silly me for assuming similar rockets would launch satellites of similar size. Boy, that F9 sure is versatile for never having launched a paying payload.

  • Until the American PUBLIC take back control from banksters their own currency in a fair free and open economy no viable private & public space program is possible.

  • Vladislaw

    Let me fix that for you:

    “and other ‘leaders of industry’ who helped to milk the socialist wave” of 2005 and the socialist constellation program for 13 billion taxpayer’s dollars and failed to get a single orbital launch.

  • VirgilSamms

    “No, the cost of one Shuttle flight is $1.5 billion”

    No, the cost of one shuttle flight is zero because there are no more shuttle flights.

    Stop making things up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 8:38 am

    “A space shuttle can deliver 40 tons in 2 flights for about $1 billion.”

    as others have pointed out factually “only in your dreams”. The Falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control…try and do better RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 6:59 am
    =yawn= insulting Russians as ‘trolls’ — Russians who set the price for seats on Soyuz– isn’t very constructive to your desperate position. And of course, without the ISS, commerical space is dead in the water, right next to the gurgling wreckage of the splashed ISS. Scrambling for a rationale to maintain the multi-billion dollar boondoggle slated for splash all of 24 months ago by NASA, then not, them planned again for splash by 2020 by the Russians, then maybe not again is indicative of a level of indecision and a clear indication of a project desperately in search of a reason to exist in the Age of Austerity. Stay tuned, and read the legislation passing Congress and the cuts there in and see how long Americans and their partners are going to pay for a project whjich, having been crewed for a decade already, produces nothing but costs and has yet to deliver any thing remotely approaching a justification for the investment–an investment destined to end up in the Pacific Ocean no less. Tick-tock, tick-tock, fella.

  • amightywind

    as others have pointed out factually “only in your dreams”. The Falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control…try and do better RGO

    The space shuttle’s payload to LEO capacity is 56,300lbs or over 56 tons in 2 flights. Assuming some losses for logistics structures and the inclination of the ISS orbit (thanks Ruskies!) 40 tons of delivered cargo in 2 flights is quite reasonable. Obama shut down the shuttle just as it was becoming economical!

    The F9 second stage had an uncompensated, unintended roll rate of about 4 rpm at the time of engine cutoff, which by definition means it as out of control. Let us hope the craft is better behaved if it ever gets in the vicinity of the ISS.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Silly me for assuming similar rockets would launch satellites of similar size.

    Well yes, silly you, but where did you get the idea that the 1mt to LEO Falcon 1 would be a direct competitor to the 7mt to LEO Taurus II?

    I guess simple math is too hard for you?

  • Justin Kugler

    I’m really looking forward to November.

  • Alan

    Alan wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 9:51 am
    Second point. Does UPS or FedEx deliver packages to your residence every day in an 18 wheeler or with a delivery van?

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 1:08 pm
    Seems to me ISS logistics are more like those of ‘Ice Road Truckers’ than FedEx.

    You’re still unable to actually answer a direct question other than with a snide remark. Does UPS or FedEX always deliver to your house with an 18 wheeler or a delivery van? It’s a matter of economics wrt delivery.

    Windy, you’re all hat, no cattle.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Obama shut down the shuttle just as it was becoming economical!

    LOL. Bush recommended the Shuttle be shut down, Congress agreed, but Obama gets the blame. You are so FUNNY!!

    The Shuttle is history, so you might as well move on to the future.

  • DCSCA

    Justin Kugler wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Yeah, should be a lot of cheap real estate on the market in Clear Lake, Merritt Island and Titusville about then.

  • Egadz

    SpaceX to the rescue!

    Of course the first time Elon blows one up- and it IS gonna happen, that story is going to change big time.

    I too cannot wait till November… 2012 that is. That’s when we vote and press the reset button on the White House and the Senate and perhaps Robert G. too. He’ll then have to go out and get a real job instead of surfing the web and talking for his master Obama.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 4:16 pm
    “. Let us hope the craft is better behaved if it ever gets in the vicinity of the ISS.”

    the Falcon9 second stage will get no where near ISS nice try but F for Effort RGO

  • common sense

    @ Justin Kugler wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    “I’m really looking forward to November.”

    I am not sure I agree with you here. It may be a total mess. I don’t think all the real issues have been properly addressed, only emotional nonsense so far, whatever the subject.

    I suspect these elections will propel us spiraling even further downward on all topics, including the economy. I also suspect those cuts they are all so happy with here only are fairy dust.

    The reform must be much deeper. It is not about cuts but again rather about reform and so far at least I haven’t heard anything along those lines. All I’ve heard are attempts at preserving the existing system.

    I hope I am wrong but I don’t think so. We’ll see.

  • Bennett

    Justin Kugler wrote @ August 1st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Listening to Gwynne Shotwell speak today at the AIAA conference I realized that I really don’t need to “hope” things go well in December.

  • @Rick Boozer

    “Too bad you’re not against over-priced super HLVs as well.”

    Why would I be against something that’s going to give the US complete economic domination of cis-lunar space? The beauty of a shuttle derived SLS is that a large variety of manned and unmanned vehicles can be derived from it– both with heavy lift and sub-heavy lift capacity, with some configurations with SRBs and some configurations with no SRBs at all.

    In the long run, I believe that private industry will probably end up benefiting more from the SLS than the government will. The SLS family of launch vehicles is going to revolutionize space travel, IMO. And the SLS will be the only family of launch vehicles capable of placing Bigelow’s largest space station, the BA 2100 into orbit.

  • Justin Kugler

    Bennett got my meaning. I’m looking forward to the launch of the combined Demo 2/3 flight and the planned berthing in early December.

    We have to learn to stop spending so much money on getting to LEO that there’s nothing left to actually do anything when we get there. That was what killed Constellation and what will likely kill SLS.

  • “Why would I be against something that’s going to give the US complete economic domination of cis-lunar space?”

    Maybe because it won’t give the US complete economic domination of cis-lunar space, but instead keep us in LEO for an extra generation? It’s an utter pipe dream because it completely ignores the fact that Congress will not allocate enough extra money to finish SLS on anything like a realistic schedule. As usual not one mention of how to address that key aspect in your comment. Instead, you guys always say how its going to be so great to have this and that capability after you get the SLS (as if stating possible future operational advantages is the only consideration and that by itself will ensure completion) with NO consideration of how to get beyond the less than adequate budgetary support. Even if you got rid of the ISS and applied that money to SLS, it still would not solve the problem. Things have to be paid for!

    As usual with most pro-SLS dreamers you completely ignore the economic aspect, and you all do it over and over and over again. By doing so you ensure no HLV will ever get us beyond LEO. If we are going to go the super HLV route, compete it (I mean fully compete by specs, not just boosters). I just do not understand why you guys don’t realize that the laws of economics are just as inescapeable as the laws of physics. That applies to anything that is manufactured including launchers and spacecraft. To suggest anything else is complete delusion.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Why would I be against something that’s going to give the US complete economic domination of cis-lunar space?

    How is a government-run, government-funded (our tax dollars) transportation system that launches payloads larger than any company has yet produced, going to give the US “complete economic domination of cis=lunar space”?

    Please provide an explanation of how that is supposed to work, such as where the demand is coming from, and who has the money to spend for the payloads and launches that will support this economic engine you’re describing?

    I’ve provided the same for my economic theories, whether anyone agrees with them or not, so it would be interesting to hear the same from you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 1:40 am
    “Why would I be against something that’s going to give the US complete economic domination of cis-lunar space? ”

    because it wont. There is no way that something so expensive to build and expensive to launch will do anything but what the shuttle did…find make work projects and cost lots and lots of money.

    Robert G. Oler

  • danilov

    It’s hilarious listening to all the Constellation-humpers talking like the only obstacle in the way of space exploration is that the guy in the White House has a D next to his name instead of an R. By that logic, with all the Republican presidents we’ve had in the last 40 years we should have been on Mars by now.

    Congress is the only body with any real decision-making power when it comes to the space program, and newsflash – the decision to cancel Constellation was approved unanimously by the Senate, and by 304 to 118 in the House, which broke down as follows:

    Democrats – 72% for, 25% against, 3% abstained
    Republicans – 66% for, 30% against, 4% abstained

    Yeah, sure looks like they fought the decision tooth and nail.

  • Real Man

    Can you explain to me what a ‘real job’ is? Thanks in advance.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=37871

    as I was explaining to someone about ATK and Utah and red states. They all are opposed to “wasteful government spending” until it is their own, then they have no problems pulling out all the cliches to try and save it.

    what hypocrites RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.hudson-ny.org/2299/nasa-us-national-security

    this is Taylors Weakest piece yet…it really is no bad argument left behind weaved into a sort of goofy tapestry that defies logic. RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    No information on ATK’s long lobbying history in that piece. And it was ATK’s grab for all of the manned launch market that landed us in this mess.

    Perception plays a large role here. What is Rush spewing about space? For example, in Rush World tax hikes on billionaires end up being tax hikes on lower middle class folks. Which are occurring on a state and local level, due to the tax reductions for billionaires. In Rush World, this is clearly Obama’s doing.

    Repeat as necessary until people believe it. AW, you’ve been called on your facts repeatedly by everyone here. We enjoy it because its the ATK line. Too cad you can’t come up with good hooks, like “Hobby rockets”.

    Here’s a hint for Elon. Another way of lobbying is to provide researched information for free. This information has a value of zero, and does not have to be reported. Reporters are now generally unable to dig up their own information any more, due in part to the internet replacing paper sales, and depend on what’s handed to them.

    In short, provide “reporters” with their copy, and you do not have to report it as a contribution.

    Bottom lines: segmented solids are too expensive, and the combustion of the propellants used in very very large solid grains begins to oscillate.

    It “only” took $15 billion to learn that.

  • Alan

    Both statutory texts were carefully crafted and agreed upon after consultation with rocket propulsion experts who unanimously concluded these design specifications were required to ensure a meaningful spaceflight program. These same experts also determined these legal requirements could only be realistically met through the use of solid rocket motors.

    It’s always interesting that the experts are not willing to step forward and publicly defend their positions. IF they want to spend $3B taxpayer dollars, then step forth and defend your design specifications. Cluck Cluck Cluck.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 12:05 am
    You’d be wiser to pay more attention to what people who actually matter have to say- like President Obama as he’s meeting with the STS-135 crew today at the White House after signing the legislation that cust trillions of government spending. No doubt he’ll tell them well done– then personally hand the crew their pink slips.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “this is Taylors Weakest piece yet…it really is no bad argument left behind weaved into a sort of goofy tapestry that defies logic”

    From the link you provided:

    “NASA, by keeping the solid rocket motor industry alive has insured that if the decision were made to build a new type of missile for the US nuclear deterrent force, the Defense Department could do so without having to rebuild the nation’s solid fueled rocket making expertise from nothing.”

    Doesn’t he realize how insane that sounds? The DOD gets almost 800 billion, NASA gets 18 billion and NASA’s role is to spend their limited funds for unkeeping heritage hardware from the 70′s so the DOD doesn’t have to spend a few billion doing it.

    And he sits and wonders what’s wrong with NASA and tries to blame President Obama for that kind of madness in space spending.

  • Egad

    > http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=37871

    Heh. Someone took a Propaganda 101 course. Each paragraph contains “solid rocket” at least once, nine occurrences in a seven-paragraph, 723-word letter.

    Do you think that someone who is very concerned that NASA use solid rockets on the SLS might have helped draft the letter?

  • amightywind

    RGO, Thanks for posting the Dinerman link. I commend you for posting such an effective counterpoint for your NASA cynicism and dishonest newspace advocacy.

  • Alan

    “After speaking with experts in Utah, it is their conclusion that these requirements can only be realistically accomplished by using solid rocket motors.”

    - Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah. Jul 15, 2010

    The quote is from 1:42-1:52 in the video posted by the Senator’s office
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clwpj2g-AmE

    So it appears that the only “rocketry experts” in the US live in Utah. Do these “experts” just happen to work for ATK?

  • Egad

    > this is Taylors Weakest piece yet

    Dinerman has been on a long slide downward for some time. It’s a pity, because I do think some of his points deserve a better airing than they’re currently getting.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    lol really funny RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    The root of the current mess was ATK’s attempt to grab all of the manned launch business with the Ares I.

    DIRECT (The NLS) could have been operational by now, but for ATK’s continued political engineering.

    ATK’s attempt to delay NASA until 2012, in the hopes that Ares 1 and Ares 5 will be revived after those elections, is irritating.

    Their effort to blame their mess on Obama is infuriating.

    Their latest maneuvers, trying to tie SLS architecture to the budget compromise, and now claiming that Ares 1 and Ares 5 are cheaper, is just more of the same.

  • Justin Kugler

    I know “rocket experts” at Marshall that found the only way to get life cycle costs down with existing technology was to use an RP-1-based system, so pardon me if I take Sen. Hatch’s conclusions with a grain of salt.

  • Rhyolite

    “We have to learn to stop spending so much money on getting to LEO that there’s nothing left to actually do anything when we get there. That was what killed Constellation and what will likely kill SLS.”

    You hit the nail on the head.

  • amightywind

    ATK’s attempt to delay NASA until 2012, in the hopes that Ares 1 and Ares 5 will be revived after those elections, is irritating.

    ATK? How about anyone who likes spaceflight. We are actually fortunate that Obama dithered for a year or the damage would have been much worse. That is precisely the newspace opposition strategy. God help us if we lose 2012.

    “After speaking with experts in Utah, it is their conclusion that these requirements can only be realistically accomplished by using solid rocket motors.”

    That’s good enough for me.

  • @Robert G. Oler

    “because it wont. There is no way that something so expensive to build and expensive to launch will do anything but what the shuttle did…find make work projects and cost lots and lots of money.”

    1. It probably won’t be more expensive than operating the shuttle (excluding payloads) if we actually use it.

    2. The shuttle could only launch 25 tonnes into orbit. The SLS should be able to launch at least 60 to 120 tonnes into orbit.

    3. The shuttle couldn’t get you beyond LEO and back, the SLS will

    4. Its the only system that will be able to launch the largest commercial space stations, the BA-2100.

    5. It will be able to launch fuel into orbit a lot cheaper than Space X or any other company will.

    People like you Oler don’t want NASA vendors to build anything. In fact, people like you– if you’re honest– really don’t want a NASA– and see no value in it. But most Americans disagree with you!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    “People like you Oler don’t want NASA vendors to build anything. In fact, people like you– if you’re honest– really don’t want a NASA– and see no value in it.”

    I dont agree with much of what you say SLS will do, and it wont do it cheaply…if (and that is a big if) it can fly at the same cost as the shuttle, it will still be over priced, and more likely its cost will escalate. The system is 1970′s vintage and keeping vehicles like that flying is becoming more and more difficult. There is a reason that the USN retired its Battleships and it wasnt because they had no purpose in modern warfare.

    What I wont let you do however is tell me what “I” am thinking.

    I dont mind NASA “vendors” building something, I just dont see why it has to be in the Apollo model; ie a bloated government bureaucracy dictating a design and little or no input from free enterprise. Whittington etc dont want national health care, but they are happy to have a socialistic type national space program.

    I see no value in NASA HSF in the current model…ie the exploration frame. There just is no value for the cost. RGO

  • Googaw

    Among 18 areas of government funding, space was the #3 most preferred for budget cutting, exceeded only by foreign aid and welfare:

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/the-fine-print-on-the-debt-deal/

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 2nd, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    5. It will be able to launch fuel into orbit a lot cheaper than Space X or any other company will.

    You keep saying this, but you never provide any backup to prove it.

    What are the financial numbers that make you believe that a government-funded, government-run mega rocket will be less expensive than commercial alternatives for getting fuel to orbit?

  • Fred Willett

    @ Marcel’s reasons for SLS.
    1/ “Probably will be more expensive.” Fixed it for you. If you doubt this look at NASA’s Commercial Market Assessment Report Appendix B. It should be compulsory reading for all SLS huggers. NASA worked out what it would cost NASA to build the SpaceX Falcon 9 ($4B) and compared this to the actual audited SpaceX cost to build Falcon 9 ($300M).
    $4B vs. $300M.
    NASA couldn’t understand how SpaceX did it.
    And you think NASA can build SLS on the budget they’ve got from Congress?
    2/ Yes. If it ever gets built. Sorta like Constellation could have.
    3/ Just like Constellation, no?
    4/ George Sowers at ULA has advised Bigelow that they can easily upgrade DeltaIVH to carry the BA 2100 at a fraction of the cost of the SLS. Got any other possible payloads for the SLS? Thought not.
    5/ No. Fuel to orbit requires cheap lift. At one launch a year max the SLS is never going to be cheap. Meanwhile SpaceX is already offering $1,000lb lift to LEO.
    Don’t get me wrong. HLV is something we will need one day. But SLS is not it. I’d rather see NASA toss SLS aside and start doing exploration now with launchers that actually work now rather than wait 10-15 years for a launcher that costs too much and we can’t afford to fly.

  • Dennis Berube

    Theres nothing to left to do in low Earth orbit? If mankind is destined to move out into the solar system, there is plenty to do. Working on both artifical gravity and radiation protection are two important areas for research. Im for private industry getting us to low Earth orbit, but come on, thereis still plenty to do there…

  • Notice that Marcel avoided answering the central issue I posed to him, as pro-SLS people are prone to do. That is:
    “Congress will not allocate enough extra money to finish SLS on anything like a realistic schedule…
    Even if you got rid of the ISS and applied that money to SLS, it still would not solve the problem. Things have to be paid for!”

    Again, as I pointed out,
    “You guys always say how its going to be so great to have this and that capability after you get the SLS (as if stating possible future operational advantages is the only consideration and that by itself will ensure completion) with NO consideration of how to get beyond the less than adequate budgetary support.”
    They never want to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

  • Vladislaw

    I think the federal government should deliver all fuels across the entire nation. Obviously NASA knows more than commercial firms about delivering cargo. So NASA should also be in charge of moving all fuels nationwide. Hell lets have the government take over fedx also. It is obvious NASA has broken the paradigm for delivering cargo, they know the cheapest most efficent way to do all transportation. They should do all cars and trucks too.

  • Justin Kugler

    Read what I wrote again, Dennis. I said there’s no money left to do anything worthwhile in orbit as long as we keep spending so much money on just getting there.

    I’m going to be working on trade studies of artificial gravity applications for my M.S. capstone project, so I agree that there still is plenty of work to do.

  • Vladislaw

    Rick B. wrote:

    “You guys always say how its going to be so great to have this and that capability after you get the SLS (as if stating possible future operational advantages is the only consideration and that by itself will ensure completion) with NO consideration of how to get beyond the less than adequate budgetary support.”

    It reminds of the 60′s early 70′s. Even as Apollo is getting defunded and NASA knew they would not have any money, the Apollo applications were proposing even bigger and grander projects. Like coming to Nixon with a 100 person station as he is not funding already built Saturn V’s for launch.

    No realism with this bunch Rick.

  • Vladislaw wrote:
    “No realism with this bunch Rick.”
    Ain’t that the truth! It appears the rationale of Marcel and other SLS-huggers is: if you pretend the problem doesn’t exist it will go away.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You keep saying this, but you never provide any backup to prove it.

    Furthermore, how is it that Marcel F. Williams knows this will be cheaper while the market presumably doesn’t? Because if it did, then Marcel should be happy to let the market sort it out.

  • Dennis Berube

    Mr. Kugler, that is great you are looking into theprobems of artificial gravity. Certainly a problem that must be confronted and accomplished prior to any real manned deep space exploration. Also of course the radiation problems are important too. I think there are several areas with regards to radiation that are being looked at. The shapes of the ships themselves can direct radiation away from the crew. Plasma fields also are being looked at, along with water jackets. I guess we will get there, but it will take some know how. More than my feable aging brain can muster.

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis, that is why the 2010 budget was a good starting point for the tech research we need going forward.

    For me, it was Project Prometheus, started before the VSE. It recieved 430 million the first year, 100 mil the second and about 90 mil for close out costs in the third. Administrator Griffin closed it down and moved the funds to Ares I program. It was a nuclear power and propulsion program, it was going to be tested on the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) but Griffin that said that was to expensive.

    I would have rather seen 13 billion going towards JIMO than the waste of the Constellation program.

  • I would have rather seen 13 billion going towards JIMO than the waste of the Constellation program.

    That would have been a disastrous use of the money. JIMO was an X-probe, and its probability of success at actually getting to Jupiter and returning data would have been very low. There was a good reason it was canceled. Several, actually.

  • Dennis Berube

    I thought back in the 60s, even when Kennedy was pres. that NASA was working on NERVA which was a nuclear rocket engine. Wasnt it? Said they could reach Mars in something like 27 days? It was dropped too, for whatever reason. Hey maybe you will be the inventor of artificial gravity, like they have on the ENTERPRISE! Someone has to do it! Keep pushing forward, I say, and that is why I see the present space situation as sad, as we are not moving fast enough with the goals.

  • Vladislaw

    Actually JIMO would not have been the test article it would have the promethus-1, So a lot of systems would have been tested in space first before JIMO actually flew. What I mean’t was, I believe more technology would have came out of that investment than came out of Constellation. I think if NASA funding is going to be wasted, it might as well be “wasted” on projects where actual new tech development occurs.

    I agree it was to expensive and should have been cut. Just frustrated over what we got for funding CONstellation.

  • steve kurtz

    Elon is a sole proprietor/millionaire beggin for gov’t monies. At least I can invest in Boeing and L-M as an American citizen.

  • Actually JIMO would not have been the test article it would have the promethus-1, So a lot of systems would have been tested in space first before JIMO actually flew.

    They couldn’t have been tested long enough to give any confidence of mission assurance for JIMO. Also, because they refused to consider orbital assembly, the mission required a heavy lifter.

  • I agree, though, that Prometheus should not have been eliminated.

  • Elon is a sole proprietor/millionaire beggin for gov’t monies

    It’s idiotic to say that he is “begging for government money.” He is not “begging” for anything. He is offering a service to the government, like any other vendor. In return, he wants money. Do you expect him (or Boeing, or ULA) to provide it for free? Would you rather give the money to the Russians? Because that’s the only alternative. Do you think you can buy stock in them?

  • @steve kurtz
    SpaceX will likely IPO in a year or so according to Elon, so the part of your statement about buying stock is only true temporarily. As for Elon being “a sole proprietor/millionaire beggin for gov’t monies.”
    He owns the bulk of SpaceX but he is not a sole proprietor. Also most of SpaceX’s income comes from contracts with other companies, with the NASA income but a small part. Way to twist the facts, dude.

    You can also invest in ULA, which is a part of Commercial Crew, while Boeing is in both Commercial Crew and SLS. I’m for any company that will allow the U.S. to be number one in human spaceflight in the future. SLS is hurting the the chances for that future I want because it is unaffordable. And if you actually knew at least half of what you imagine you do, you would realize that.

  • Coastal Ron

    steve kurtz wrote @ August 3rd, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Elon is a sole proprietor/millionaire beggin for gov’t monies. At least I can invest in Boeing and L-M as an American citizen.

    So it’s OK for publicly traded companies to, as you put it, be “beggin for gov’t monies so long as you benefit personally”?

    Well in that case I guess you’ll be first in line to buy stock when SpaceX has their IPO so you can get the benefit of their “beggin”. Or maybe you should be a politician so you can cut out the middleman… ;-)

  • @Coastal Ron

    “How is a government-run, government-funded (our tax dollars) transportation system that launches payloads larger than any company has yet produced, going to give the US “complete economic domination of cis=lunar space”?

    Please provide an explanation of how that is supposed to work, such as where the demand is coming from, and who has the money to spend for the payloads and launches that will support this economic engine you’re describing?

    I’ve provided the same for my economic theories, whether anyone agrees with them or not, so it would be interesting to hear the same from you.”

    As I have said before, the SLS should be looked at as a large family of super heavy lift and sub-heavy lift configurations. I think that there will be very high demand for the shuttle derived LOX/LH2 core and upper stage by NASA, the DOD, and private industry once the SLS is built and is fully operational.

    Because of the substantial mass shielding requirements (at least several hundred tonnes), crewed trips to the asteroids and to the moons of Mars using the SLS are simply not realistic. So NASA will probably use the SLS for a lunar base program. A lunar base program will probably require at least five or six SLS launches per year of various manned and unmanned configurations both with and without SRBs in order to minimize cost and to enhance safety.

    An SLS configuration with a core stage and upper stage but without the SRBs could probably replace the Delta IV heavy as a much simpler and cheaper vehicle with much more capability. So the SLS will probably have a role for ULA and the DOD as a cheaper replacement for the Delta IV heavy.

    Polls show that at least 7% of the wealthy would be willing to spend their own funds for a trip to a space hotel. There are about 100,000 people on the planet that could afford a $25 million trip to a space hotel which suggest that there are about 7000 people willing to pay the hefty price. Additionally, there are probably billions of people around the world who would probably be willing to risk a dollar or two per year for a chance to fly into space through a lotto system. So space tourism will probably have the highest demand for launch vehicles of any enterprise. However, such a high launch demand will probably reduce the cost of all launch vehicles participating in this enterprise.

    The SLS is the only launch system capable of launching Bigelow’s largest commercial space station, the BA-2100. And Boeing is Bigelow’s principal partner.

    Boeing has already come up with an extremely simple SLS derived crew launch vehicle concept using only the SLS core stage and the MPCV with a stretched SM. But Boeing could also use a man-rated Delta IV upper stage or an ACES 41 upper stage.

    If space tourism is extended all the way to the lunar surface then a simple two stage SLS without SRBs could transport tourist all the way to L1 or to lunar orbit where they would be met by a simple single stage reusable LOX/LH2 lunar shuttle.

    The SLS derived upper stage or the reusable lunar shuttle could be used as lunar space tankers, delivering fuel, air, and water from the Moon to LEO based commercial space stations and space depots. The delta v requirements for a lunar launch to LEO are only 2.74 km/s utilizing aerobraking vs. at least 9.3 km/s of delta-v requirement to launch air, fuel, and water to LEO from Earth.

    But even amongst launch systems designed to transport fuel to orbit for space depots, the SLS would come out the winner. NASA studies suggest that requent SLS launches (6 per year) would reduce the cost per SLS launch to less than $500 million per flight. Being able to launch at least 110 tonnes of fuel per $500 per launch would cost about $4.5 million per tonne. Space X is charging over $130 million to transport 10 tonnes to the ISS, that’s more than $13 million per tonne (three times more).

    Boeing would clearly be the biggest winner out of all of this because they’d probably be chosen to build the SLS and because of their business relationship with Bigelow as far as the space tourism business is concerned.

    Deriving Economically Sustainable Crew Launch Vehicles from the SLS:

    http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/2007/07/deriving-and-economically-sustainable.html

  • Notice Marcel, like any true SLS hugger, is still avoiding the elephant in the room. Congress will not budget enough extra money (and probably NO extra money, especially considering the debt ceiling deal just reached) to finish SLS on anything like a realistic schedule. Even if no cuts occurred the total money projected to be spent on SLS is less than what was spent on Ares I with cost overruns included. If a medium sized launch vehicle could not be completed for that amount of money, how can a super HLV be finished for less? Believing it can is totally Alice in Wonderland where the White Queen could believe up to six impossible things before breakfast.

  • Dennis Berube

    Sounds like NERVA was pretty successful. Maybe we should have stayed that course?????? Interesting reading.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Also, because they refused to consider orbital assembly, the mission required a heavy lifter.

    You mean Delta-IV Heavy (as stated on Wikipedia) or something like Ares? I’d be amazed if the latter were true. The SDLV crowd would have wasted no time pointing at JIMO as a legitimate SDLV payload in that case.

  • The SDLV crowd would have wasted no time pointing at JIMO as a legitimate SDLV payload in that case.

    There was no SDLV crowd to speak of at the time. NASA was desperately trying to avoid having to build a heavy lifter, because they knew they couldn’t afford it (this was prior to Griffin), and no single program could be allowed to justify it, which is one of the reasons that JIMO died, though not the only one.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 3rd, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    So according to what you’re saying, the major customers for the SLS, and it’s expanded family of variations, is:

    - Funding from Congress for a growing lunar city
    - Thousands of tourists paying $25M for a ride somewhere

    Some thoughts.

    As I have said before, the SLS should be looked at as a large family of super heavy lift and sub-heavy lift configurations.

    Congress is only paying for a 70mt version that evolves into a 130mt version. Who is going to pay for this “family” you speak of, and why?

    I think that there will be very high demand for the shuttle derived LOX/LH2 core and upper stage by NASA, the DOD, and private industry once the SLS is built and is fully operational.

    - When is NASA getting funding for the programs that will build the payloads that require the SLS? Is their budget being increased so they can build bigger rockets and bigger mission payloads at the same time?

    - When is the DoD getting funding for the programs that will build the payloads that require the SLS, and why would they dump Delta IV Heavy, which is still relatively new?

    - When is Congress going to change the laws so NASA can start competing in the commercial launch market? As of now NASA can’t “sell” their rockets.

    You talk about what’s possible from a technical standpoint, but not from a realistic one, especially since there are no customers for the capabilities you describe.

    Regarding space tourism:

    Polls show that at least 7% of the wealthy would be willing to spend their own funds for a trip to a space hotel. There are about 100,000 people on the planet that could afford a $25 million trip to a space hotel which suggest that there are about 7000 people willing to pay the hefty price.

    If your market assumptions were true, then Virgin Galactic should have ten’s of thousands of customers plunking down money for a ride. But alas, there is only around 500. Why? People are motivated by specific experiences, so it depends on what is being offered, and what the marketing buzz is around it. It’s not a matter of “if you build it, they will come”, it’s more a matter of who’s selling it and how they position the experience.

    The best person to watch on this will be Robert Bigelow, since outside of Space Adventures (who sells the Soyuz tourist flights) he will have the best idea what the natural market demand is for this. So far he is focused on marketing to countries, not individuals, so that should tell you something.

    Marcel, you have lots of big ideas, but no one opening their wallet to pay for them. In business you can’t imagine that there are paying customers out there, you have to find the specific ones that will pay, and focus on them.

    So far you haven’t been able to show that anyone specifically needs an HLV, nor has the money to pay for one. Congress isn’t funding massive lunar cities, no one is building hotels in space, and the DoD is happy with their new Delta IV Heavy. Where is the need to change any of this?

    As always, it’s not that we can’t do anything we want in space, it’s that we can’t afford it. Focus on making things affordable, and more will happen in space. Until then all you have is a bunch of ideas, just like everyone else.

  • Byeman

    “An SLS configuration with a core stage and upper stage but without the SRBs could probably replace the Delta IV heavy as a much simpler and cheaper vehicle with much more capability. So the SLS will probably have a role for ULA and the DOD as a cheaper replacement for the Delta IV heavy. ”

    Williams, you are completely clueless and just don’t get it.
    SLS is a gov’t developed and operated vehicle. It is not an airliner that can be operated by other companies, especially ULA. ULA exists for one thing and one thing only, to operate EELV’s and EELV’s derivatives.

    NASA is not designing a core only SLS vehicle because it can’t develop vehicles that compete with commercial vehicles nor does NASA have a requirement for it.

    The DOD does not want to have any involvement with NASA managed vehicles.

    Please stop, no matter how many times you post it, your fantasy vehicle will not be built.

  • Martijn Meijering

    An SLS configuration with a core stage and upper stage but without the SRBs could probably replace the Delta IV heavy as a much simpler and cheaper vehicle with much more capability.

    Just out of curiosity, why would it be simpler at all, let alone much simpler? And why would it be cheaper?

  • Vladislaw

    “The best person to watch on this will be Robert Bigelow, since outside of Space Adventures (who sells the Soyuz tourist flights) he will have the best idea what the natural market demand is for this. So far he is focused on marketing to countries, not individuals, so that should tell you something.”

    The last video of Robert Bigelow I watched he made a comment about production and demand, it sounds like he has been talking to a lot more potential customers then what the 7 MOU’s represent. BA plans on building and launching several BA 330′s per year and said there will be no problem filling them. He didn’t mention though any top end type of numbers for the amount of stations he is talking about, but hinted at specialty stations.

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