Congress, Lobbying, NASA

SLS: Senators’ Letters about SLS

Earlier this month came word that a draft letter was circulating on Capitol Hill, reportedly linked to Utah’s congressional delegation, calling on the administration to publish its design for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift launch vehicle and ensure it makes use of solid rocket motors. The advocacy group Tea Party in Space (TPIS) recently obtained a signed copy of the letter, featuring the signatures of five senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and four Republicans, most notably Orrin Hatch of Utah. TPIS minced no words in its reaction to the letter: “TPIS calls on these five senators to renounce this letter and apologize to Administrator Bolden and the hard working men and women at NASA.”

While five western senators signed one letter about the SLS, five southern senators have put their names to another letter critical of the administration’s work on SLS. The letter to President Obama, dated Monday and signed by Republican senators from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, called on the White House to “immediately provide the Section 309 report to Congress”, a reference to the provision of the 2010 NASA authorization act that called on NASA to provide Congress with a report the reference vehicle designs for the SLS and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) within 90 days of the bill’s enactment. The letter notes that the final report is now nearly 200 days overdue. “We believe the time has come to deliver the report to Congress.”

That letter is also critical of elements of NASA’s 2011 operating plan, which includes spending money allocated for SLS on facility work at the Kennedy Space Center that the senators believe should not be charged exclusively to SLS. “The misallocation of SLS funds and the lack of synchronization between rocket and spacecraft development at NASA seem to suggest that this Administration has no intention of properly using appropriated funds,” the letter concludes, asking for NASA to resubmit an operating plan “to ensure that the funds appropriated for SLS are used to develop the 130 metric ton heavy lift vehicle required in both the authorization and appropriations acts.”

139 comments to SLS: Senators’ Letters about SLS

  • ““The misallocation of SLS funds and the lack of synchronization between rocket and spacecraft development at NASA seem to suggest that this Administration has no intention of properly using appropriated funds,” “

    The whole SLS project is “misallocation” of funds and a tax payer rip off.

  • Spaces

    The work at KSC is to support SLS, period.
    Nice try.

  • amightywind

    TPIS is clearly a tiny newspace cabal hiding behind the mantle of the Tea Party. They are more Wikileaks than advocacy group, and deserve our scorn. NASA’s malevolent dithering on the SLS program is doing unnecessary additional damage to America’s aerospace industry. I applaud the Senators for forcing Bolden’s hand.

  • Major Tom

    The Administration’s response to the letter is worth repeating:

    “Space exploration remains a commitment of this Administration, but as we take a critical eye to every aspect of the Federal budget, we must ensure that every dollar spent in this area is used effectively and efficiently. We are working with NASA now to better understand the costs of this approach to ensure that a final plan is practicable and sustainable over the long term. At a time when we’re working to find savings across the Federal government, it would be reckless to make a final determination before the results of NASA’s independent cost assessment are in. This is the best approach for American taxpayers and the future of America’s space exploration.”

  • Spaces wrote:

    The work at KSC is to support SLS, period.
    Nice try.

    Um, no.

    NASA has been very clear that its vision for KSC in the post-Shuttle era is to be the world’s pre-eminent spaceport for both government and commercial launches. The whole point of spending millions of dollars to convert KSC into a 21st Century Space Launch Complex is to assure that any launcher — government or commercial — can use LC-39B, the VAB and OPFs, and other facilities.

    The senators want to kill this idea, because they want to preserve the space-industrial complex. “Commercial” means they no longer control the flow of taxpayer dollars to their districts. “Commercial” means they no longer control pork.

    SLS = pork, hence they’re opposed to any spending that’s not on SLS.

  • amightywind

    The whole SLS project is “misallocation” of funds and a tax payer rip off.

    That said while the ISS whirls around overhead at $5 billion per year.

  • Mark Whittington

    One of the oldest bureaucratic dodges in the book is to try to kill a project by studying it to death. NASA does not really want SLS because it is not serious about space exploration. Congress really needs to call the space agency on this.

    As for the so-called “Tea Party in Space” it seems to be a handful of people with a website who are shilling for Obamaspace under the guise of being part of the Tea Party. That is an even older, albeit more sophesticated political dodge, called “false flag.”

  • Vladislaw

    “NASA does not really want SLS because” it costs to much and they can get SpaceX to do it for 3 billion and save 35 billion in pork expenses.

  • SLS needs to die. And support for fuel depots are growing. Keep watching.

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 9:13 am

    That said while the ISS whirls around overhead at $5 billion per year.

    Contrary to SLS it’s a fully operational facility with a defined mission, serving specific goals. And of course it doesn’t cost $5billion a year, whatever dark place you pulled that number from.

  • Das Boese

    Mark Whittington wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    NASA does not really want SLS because it is not serious about space exploration

    Fixed that for you.

  • Vladislaw

    Speaking of using one of oldest dodges in the book, Mark Whittington wrote the book on using them.

    He doesn’t attack the message, he goes after the messenger using the phrase “the so-called” tea party. Gosh most would think that is a fallacy of logic, but then logic isn’t his strong suit. He is also one of the biggest fear mongers always tossing out that evil “subsidies” word.. gosh that will sure scare those readers that have no clue about the space sector all they have to hear is that Mark says they are taking those evil subsidies. Even though they are not even subsidies… that doesn’t stop him from incorrectly using that fear word.

    I was surprised that Mark wasn’t fear mongering that the chinese are going to take over the space camp like the moon.

    Chinese taikonauts’ sons are Space Camp trainees

  • amightywind

    And support for fuel depots are growing

    The Pentagon and even some commercial providers have interest in in-flight refueling. But this involves storable propellants for station keeping purposes. Fueling a large empty transfer stage with pressurized cryogenic propellants is a ridiculous idea.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark Whittington wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    One of the oldest bureaucratic dodges in the book is to try to kill a project by studying it to death.

    The other way is to underfund something and then have to kill it off later. The SLS fits this bill since Congress was planning to spend far less than the $38B it’s estimated it truly needs. I can see the Congressional hearings now:

    Congress: Mr. Administrator, why did you start spending money on a program that didn’t have enough allocated funds to complete?

    NASA Administrator: Because Congress told us too.

    In any case, there is still no funded or projected need for the SLS. The money should be spent on mission payloads that can be launched on existing rockets – you know, actually doing something in space.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Good Morning, AW –

    “TPIS is clearly a tiny newspace cabal hiding behind the mantle of the Tea Party. They are more Wikileaks than advocacy group, and deserve our scorn. NASA’s malevolent dithering on the SLS program is doing unnecessary additional damage to America’s aerospace industry. I applaud the Senators for forcing Bolden’s hand.”

    RGO, would you explain to AW how the combustion oscillations in the 5 seg make it nearly impossible to implement a launch abort system for the Ares 1, er, Liberty?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    “One of the oldest bureaucratic dodges in the book is to try to kill a project by studying it to death. ” First thing you have gotten correct in space policy in over a decade. Congratulations. Try and build on it.

    Sir Humphrey would be pleased. As I predicted oh what a year plus ago, the trick on killing SLS or any shuttle system is to simply wait out the “death panels” of people being laid off and companies going away and let the infrastructure melt to the ground, like the wicked witch in the rain…and then ZOUNDS “it is to expensive and will take to long”.

    This is the game practiced by the winners in American history over the losers since the founding of The Republic. It is not efficient; but killing government programs that dont work is not an efficient task in a government where “pork” is a key ingredient of federalism. The trick is not to be sad about it…it is simply to understand it and as Mark Reiff use to say “Karate them” (or something like that) to ones advantage.

    “NASA does not really want SLS because it is not serious about space exploration.”

    Ah well at least you got one thing correct. this is simply wrong. Internal NASA wants an SLS. It is the typical project for them…they can study it, keep people employed, dally around with endless systems to make the thing more complex, keep people employed, do nice viewgraphs, keep people employed and never really have to fly while keeping people employed until most of the people who started the project as leaders, have retired, all while keeping people employed.

    Who doesn’t want it is Charlie Bolden. Why? well your notion is he doesnt want to “go someplace” …but you are the kind of person who loves big government programs that merely “keep people employed”…Charlie wants to do, what he did with MAW 3 ….leave a functioning organization behind him, not the slotheful turd bucket that he got hold of.

    Just think Mark, the agency you supported in The Weekly STandard Article you asked to be a part of…is unfolding and coming into its own. RGO

  • Space Cadet

    Mark Whittington wrote: “As for the so-called “Tea Party in Space” it seems to be a handful of people with a website who are shilling for Obamaspace under the guise of being part of the Tea Party. That is an even older, albeit more sophesticated political dodge, called “false flag.””

    Bizarre. TPIS here is holding true to the free-market ideals of Republican party, supporting free-market competition and opposing pork and against the government distorting the market by legislating a monopoly for the benefit of a Senator. This is just the opposite of a “false flag”; TPIS is being true to the principles of their party even in the face of powerful people who are hypocritically putting their own self interest ahead of the principles of their party.

  • The Obama administration really never wanted a HLV. That’s why they originally wanted to study the HLV problem to death for about 5 years! The fact that there have been thousands of HLV studies over the past 20 years didn’t seem to interest the administration.

    Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business since they believe that those funds could be better spent on social programs. So they’re perfectly willing to completely turn over the New Frontier to the corporations.

  • Rhyolite

    “NASA does not really want SLS because it is not serious about space exploration.”

    NASA does not really want SLS because it is a white elephant and an expensive impediment to to actual exploration.

  • Bennett

    As I noted on Clark’s site, in the next to last paragraph of the letter to the President, Shelby claims that spending a few hundred million on CCDev (rather than adding it to the SLS pile) is going to keep America from putting astronauts into space until 2020.

    Who here thinks Boeing/ULA will have the Atlas V-CST100 flying by 2015?

    I’m willing to bet a lot of money at any odds that Boeing/ULA can and will do this. Plus, there is a very good chance that other CCDev participants will be flying crew by 2015 as well.

  • amightywind

    RGO, would you explain to AW how the combustion oscillations in the 5 seg make it nearly impossible to implement a launch abort system for the Ares 1, er, Liberty?

    I assume that a Direct-like configuration will be used as the initial carrier for Orion.

  • Spaces

    Sorry, let me clarify.
    The money being spent at KSC is not facility work in that it is merely a new staircase, new paint, etc… and doesn’t support a program.
    The facility work I am referring too is the pad work, firing room work, crawler upgrades, ground support equipment work… All of which are technical modifications to support SLS (and yes it COULD be used for commercial one day).
    Until a commercial company comes in and signs a contract to use it though I think it would still be SLS funds to build/design it.

  • Vladislaw

    Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business”

    You are correct, they don’t want a federal agency in “business” they want NASA to be a customer of American spaceflight businesses to launch American astronauts. You are finally getting a handle on it.

  • common sense

    @ Spaces wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    “Sorry, let me clarify.
    The money being spent at KSC is not facility work in that it is merely a new staircase, new paint, etc… and doesn’t support a program.
    The facility work I am referring too is the pad work, firing room work, crawler upgrades, ground support equipment work… ”

    Since we got a launch tower for what $1/2B, I guess it’s probably what we’ll get for $38B. Boy a real good deal! I hope we can use the Ares 1 tower for SLS or it is going to be a real expensive tower.

    Maybe we could get an association with Pisa where there is another famous tower. Well okay been there for a while already and I am pretty sure they make money with their tower. Their tower is leaning though. Can we get Ares 1 tower to lean too?

    Anywho.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “I assume that a Direct-like configuration will be used as the initial carrier for Orion.”

    There is no Orion, there is not even an MPCV. Maybe we can put a Dragon on top of it? Arrghh Come to think of it there is no SLS, nor a DIRECT-like anything.

    Ah reality, still a difficult thing to deal with.

  • amightywind

    will be used

    Are you able to grasp the future tense? I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.

  • vulture4

    Unfortunately in reality the VAB, MLPs and crawlers are not viable in the 21st century. No sane engineer would ever in a million years use a crawler to move hundreds of tons back and forth over the same route; rails accomplish the task at every other launch site in the world at a fraction of the cost. The VAB is very expensive to maintain and most new vehicles are horizontally integrated. SLS and Orion are also part of the past, too expensive for any realistic mission.

    NASA needs to help ULA and SpaceX do the minimum they need to to load crew at Cx 40 and 41 without a flock of arbitrary NASA requirements.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    “Are you able to grasp the future tense?”

    Since I am advocating for tech development and not for a 1970 unaffordable launch system I guess I can and probably better than you ;)

    “I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.”

    Ah finally some progress in your rhetoric! “Un-American lines”. Ain’t half bad. I’d like to see that used in Congress though, I mean seriously.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.

    Yet it represents the best of America – entrepreneurial spirit, American built and operated, world-class manufacturing that can’t be duplicated by the Chinese. Hmm, maybe you’re Chinese?

  • @Marcel
    “Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business since they believe that those funds could be better spent on social programs. So they’re perfectly willing to completely turn over the New Frontier to the corporations.”

    Your comments are sounding more and more like the nonsensical rants of ablastofhotair.

  • Spaces wrote:

    Until a commercial company comes in and signs a contract to use it though I think it would still be SLS funds to build/design it.

    Well, we’ve had stories here in the local papers about Boeing negotiating to lease OPF-3, and Sierra Nevada has already signed an agreeement to lease unspecified facilities, so I’d say we’re well on our away.

    I believe it’s been reported that SpaceX has had informal talks with NASA about leasing the VAB and 39B for the Falcon Heavy, since LC-40 is way too small for such a thing.

    common sense wrote:

    I hope we can use the Ares 1 tower for SLS or it is going to be a real expensive tower.

    Since Congress dictated that SLS must be built out of existing Shuttle technology, my guess is the SLS will be adapted to use the Ares 1 MLP, or vice versa. I think I read somewhere that the Ares 1 MLP isn’t officially “finished,” it was simply stopped at a certain point pending a future design.

    vulture4 wrote:

    Unfortunately in reality the VAB, MLPs and crawlers are not viable in the 21st century. No sane engineer would ever in a million years use a crawler to move hundreds of tons back and forth over the same route; rails accomplish the task at every other launch site in the world at a fraction of the cost.

    Actually, it’s the opposite.

    Just read a book called Gateway to the Moon on the design of the VAB and LC-39. The original concept was a barge. That was dropped in favor of rail because the latter was considered to be cheaper. Rail was dropped in favor of the crawler because that was considered to be much cheaper than rail.

    Besides, we already have it, so they’re not going to spend a lot of money building something new.

  • North American

    I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American

    They look distinctly South African to me as well.

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.

    *supressing laughter*
    I, too, am upset that reentry aerodynamics precluded a more patriotic shape for the spacecraft.

    Perhaps SpaceX could paint it in a “stars and stripes” motive? Would that make it acceptably American for you?

  • North American

    Besides, we already have it, so they’re not going to spend a lot of money building something new

    My understanding is that the existing crawlers and crawlerways are unable to handle the weight of those five segment boosters required for Senator Nelson’s ‘Monster Rocket’, and that they will have no choice but to entirely rebuild them, lest the Frankenstein monster sink into the quicksand.

    What we have here is a NASA horror movie running on for seven years now.

  • Major Tom

    “That said while the ISS whirls around overhead at $5 billion per year.”

    You’re off by more than a factor of two. The FY11 budget for ISS is only $2.3 billion, including O&M, research, and commercial crew/cargo.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_FY12Budget_Estimates_Overview.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Fueling a large empty transfer stage with pressurized cryogenic propellants is a ridiculous idea.”

    Not according to the folks with the most experience in transfer stages and pressurized cryogenic propellants:

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/APracticalAffordableCryogenicPropellantDepotBasedonULAsFlightExperience20087644.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.”

    [rolling eyes]

    Sigh…

  • Vladislaw

    wind wrote:

    “Fueling a large empty transfer stage with pressurized cryogenic propellants is a ridiculous idea.”

    Here is an article explaining this ridiculous idea:

    Orbital Propellant Depots: Building the Interplanetary Highway

    There are some good links on the subject at the bottom.

  • Major Tom

    “One of the oldest bureaucratic dodges in the book is to try to kill a project by studying it to death.”

    Obtaining an independent cost estimate is not “studying it to death”. An independent cost estimate is actually required by NASA program/project management guidelines. (Guidelines that were not followed by ESAS.)

    http://ceh.nasa.gov/webhelpfiles/Cost_Estimating_Products.htm

    NASA is just doing its job. Don’t make stuff up.

    “NASA does not really want SLS because it is not serious about space exploration.”

    SLS costs $38 billion, doesn’t fly operationally until the 2020s, and has no exploration payloads.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-next-moonshot-20110805,0,4257663.story

    On the contrary, if the agency were serious about exploration, it would never have sent its SLS report forward to the White House and would be asking Congress for redirection.

    “That is an even older, albeit more sophesticated political dodge, called ‘false flag.'”

    Even if your weird conspiracy theory were true, the term “false flag” refers to various 20th century military operations, not political chincanery.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “The Obama administration really never wanted a HLV. That’s why they originally wanted to study the HLV problem to death for about 5 years! The fact that there have been thousands of HLV studies over the past 20 years didn’t seem to interest the administration.”

    All those studies, from ALS to NLS to ESAS/Constellation and now to SLS, show that a large, 70’s-era, Shuttle-derived HLLV costs tens of billions of dollars and takes many years to develop, resulting in an unaffordable, untimely, and useless albatross around NASA’s neck. The Administration, including folks like Holdren with multiple advance aerospace engineering degrees, understood and knew this, and that’s why they advocate spending a handful of years developing a new, lower-cost technical base before locking in future exploration lift capabilities.

    “Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business since they believe that those funds could be better spent on social programs. So they’re perfectly willing to completely turn over the New Frontier to the corporations.”

    This is one confused and convoluted conspiracy theory. So the Administration is so left-wing that they think $10 billion annually from civil human space flight will make a useful dent in mandatory spending measured in the trillions of dollars. Yet, at the same time, they’re so right wing that they’re going to turn over all the resources of the solar system to corporate interests.

    Right…

    And since when is LEO transport a “New Frontier”?

    Oy vey…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Are you able to grasp the future tense? I don’t like the Dragon. Somehow its lines are un-American.

    It looks distinctly Kenyan actually :p

  • Alex

    Well, at least the Senators’ letter got the metric tonne thing right. I think. Maybe?

  • North American wrote:

    My understanding is that the existing crawlers and crawlerways are unable to handle the weight of those five segment boosters required for Senator Nelson’s ‘Monster Rocket’, and that they will have no choice but to entirely rebuild them, lest the Frankenstein monster sink into the quicksand.

    Source? Link?

    Since the SLS design hasn’t even been released, we don’t know its actual weight. There is some speculation that the boosters will be liquid, so they can be fueled at the pad.

  • DCSCA

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
    You gotta chuckle at these desperate commercial space dweebs.They cling to Dragon but as configured today it remains an incapable of sustaining human life for orbital HSF operations (but safe for cheese) and looking further out, the total number of engines on the first stage of the proposed ‘Falcon Heavy’ is 27, just three engines shy of thirty engines of the ill-fated,explosively doomed Soviet N1 rocket.

  • common sense

    @ Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    “Since Congress dictated that SLS must be built out of existing Shuttle technology, my guess is the SLS will be adapted to use the Ares 1 MLP, or vice versa.”

    I love it when Congress talks dirty. I want more of it. It hurts. But yes it feels good. So good. More please.

    ;) Just in case…

    “I think I read somewhere that the Ares 1 MLP isn’t officially “finished,” it was simply stopped at a certain point pending a future design.”

    Well my parallel with Pisa (not pizza for those out there who wonder) is not far off by so much then. MLP is becoming a relic ahead of its time. $1/2B invested to build a relic. Actually considering the architecture maybe it will rival the Eiffel tower. Our space program, specifically HSF, has become the handler of relics which include a 1970 technology rocket and an unfinished wire tower. Great! Who said that in the US we don’t like history? Who? We actually build historical artifact. They just need a nice patina to look the real deal.

    Oh well…

  • @ Major Tom

    “All those studies, from ALS to NLS to ESAS/Constellation and now to SLS, show that a large, 70′s-era, Shuttle-derived HLLV costs tens of billions of dollars and takes many years to develop, resulting in an unaffordable, untimely, and useless albatross around NASA’s neck. The Administration, including folks like Holdren with multiple advance aerospace engineering degrees, understood and knew this, and that’s why they advocate spending a handful of years developing a new, lower-cost technical base before locking in future exploration lift capabilities.

    “This is one confused and convoluted conspiracy theory. So the Administration is so left-wing that they think $10 billion annually from civil human space flight will make a useful dent in mandatory spending measured in the trillions of dollars. Yet, at the same time, they’re so right wing that they’re going to turn over all the resources of the solar system to corporate interests.”

    And since when is LEO transport a “New Frontier”? ”
    ******

    What conspiracy? The Obama campaign in 2008 actually proposed delaying the Constellation program for 5 years so that those funds could be used for social programs. Apparently he was serious!

    And there has always been a wing of the Democratic party that has viewed manned space travel as a waste of tax payer dollars. The fact that these folks don’t mind turning over the New Frontier to the corporations is because they view the whole manned space enterprise as a huge waste of time. So they could care less if private companies wasted there money on such foolishness as long as the tax payers don’t have to.

    And you have to get to LEO first before you get– beyond LEO:-)

    Marcel F. Williams

  • E.P. Grondine

    RGO – Would you PLEASE explain to AW and Mark why combustion oscillations make the implementation of a large abort system for the Ares1/ Liberty nearly impossible? I used PLEASE this time, and will even ask pretty PLEASE if that’s what you demand.

    As far as your other analysis goes, it looks to me like Obama had the idea of implementing DIRECT with Gration. When that got blocked by ATK he went with Dr. Aldrin’s all liquid with flyback. When that got blocked by ATK, the agreement was for DIRECT, only to have ATK add in its 5 segs again at the last minute.

    So, while I have my own ideas about what should be our immediate goals in space (CAPS on the Moon, and the ability to get a large payload to the next piece of s*** from space headed our way), and they are way different than Obama’s, I don’t think that you are being accurate or fair in ascribing the intentional planned death of SDLV to Obama and his advisors, any more than others are being fair and accurate in claiming that Obama and his advisors pulled the DPT manned Mars path out of their b***s.

    Major Tom, if RGO is not so inclined, would you set out the launch abort detector problems with the ATK 5 segs?

    North American?

  • Bennett

    “its lines are un-American”

    Rather have the Liberty Rocket, whose lines are Franco-American?

    P.S. Chuckled at the “South African” comment…

  • Major Tom

    “What conspiracy? The Obama campaign in 2008 actually proposed delaying the Constellation program for 5 years so that those funds could be used for social programs.”

    No, a staffer on the campaign proposed spending Constellation funding on education programs, which is discretionary spending measured in the tens of billions of dollars, not mandatory spending measured in the trillions of dollars.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “And there has always been a wing of the Democratic party that has viewed manned space travel as a waste of tax payer dollars. The fact that these folks don’t mind turning over the New Frontier to the corporations is because they view the whole manned space enterprise as a huge waste of time. So they could care less if private companies wasted there money on such foolishness as long as the tax payers don’t have to.”

    Evidence?

    Quote? Link? Reference?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “And you have to get to LEO first before you get– beyond LEO”

    No, physically you don’t have to attain low-Earth orbit before going farther. Apollo lunar missions certainly did not.

    And even if you did, you don’t have to do it with the same vehicle. LEO-capable launchers can transfer capsules, crew, propellant, cargo, etc. to deep space vehicles parked in LEO.

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Landon

    “its lines are un-American”

    There ain’t nuthin’ more American than watching a rocket launch by a company owned by a South African while drinking German beer from the back of a Japanese pickup while taking pictures with your Chinese camera and dressed in your Packistani undies, South Korean Sneakers and and jeans Hencho en Mexico. God bless America. ;)

  • DCSCA

    amightywind wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
    “I don’t like the bottom lines on commerical Dragon. Somehow its un-profitable.” There, fixed that for you.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom, if RGO is not so inclined, would you set out the launch abort detector problems with the ATK 5 segs? ”

    The SRB launch abort issue is not with any “detectors”, and it’s not specific to the five-segment SRBs. The problem is escaping either the radiant heat from the burning SRB propellant (if they deflagrate after the abort) or the high-thrust, unthrottleable SRBs (if the remain intact after the abort). In the former case, the radiant heat will melt a capsule’s parachute, virtually guaranteeing that the crew will suffer a fatal fall after any abort in the first minute after launch. In the latter case, creating an abort motor for a launch escape system that can reliably pull a capsule away from one or more thrusting SRBs without creating unmanageable mass is difficult to say the least and drove NASA to pursue at least three different, complex, and expensive launch escape systems for Orion that I’m aware of (LAS, MLAS, and a hydrazine alternative). These issues are both likely fatal weaknesses for any launch stack that involves SRBs (four- or five-segment) and crew, whether single-stick, sidemount, or inline. Shuttle never had to deal with these SRB abort issues because unlike Orion/MPCV, Shuttle never had an in-flight abort system. For more info, see:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31792

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

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2007/12/mlas-the-alternative-orion-launch-abort-system-gains-momentum/

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2007/10/saving-spaceship-orion-zero-base-vehicle-task-complete/

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    Minor Tom wrote:

    The problem is escaping either the radiant heat from the burning SRB propellant

    The Orion Launch Abort System was successfully tested and meets the requirements of an abort from a 5 segment SRB first stage throughout its operation, including those you list in your dime store analysis.

  • common sense wrote:

    MLP is becoming a relic ahead of its time. $1/2B invested to build a relic. Actually considering the architecture maybe it will rival the Eiffel tower. Our space program, specifically HSF, has become the handler of relics which include a 1970 technology rocket and an unfinished wire tower.

    Well, I’m not writing it off. Falcon Heavy may find a use for it, or they may be launching Atlas V’s from LC-39B that fly crew vehicles. There are even rumors that X-37B might fly from LC-39B, using an OPF for storage.

    Lots of scenarios in the air, which unlike the last 30 years is a good thing.

    Gateway to the Moon is an excellent book for understanding how and why KSC was built, especially early abandoned concepts such as the barge system and the Nuclear Assembly Building. The early designs featured six high bays in the VAB and five launch pads at LC-39. The Von Braun certainly had an appetite, but Congress brought them down to Earth, metaphorically and literally.

  • Spaces

    Here’s an interesting question I wonder if anyone can answer.

    The NASA administration has said SLS will cost 38 billion
    That number is now being double checked by a third party.
    Let’s say they come back and say that the number is accurate.
    Then what?

    Does NASA say thanks and then announce SLS formally?

    What if it comes in low at 25 billion or high at 50 billion?
    Is NASA just going to push forward no matter what the figure comes back at but just change the time frames for launches?

    Does NASA have a figure in their head that if it comes in at X billion or below we go forward but over X billion we go back to Congress?

    I’m just trying to figure out what the next steps will be once the figures come back whether they are low, high, or the same as NASA’s figures.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 8:13 am

    The Orion Launch Abort System was successfully tested and meets the requirements of an abort from a 5 segment SRB first stage throughout its operation, including those you list in your dime store analysis.

    The Air Force, which I guess you think does dime store analysis, didn’t agree:

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/06/article-says-air-force-doubts-orion-can-escape-a-disaster.html

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    the total number of engines on the first stage of the proposed ‘Falcon Heavy’ is 27, just three engines shy of thirty engines of the ill-fated,explosively doomed Soviet N1 rocket.

    Previously you advocated for mandatory Apollo history courses for all current aerospace workers, and now you want everyone to use numerology (i.e. the branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers) for safety analysis.

    What a wonderful world you live in – anyone else there?

  • Call me Ishmael

    Major Tom wrote:

    No, physically you don’t have to attain low-Earth orbit before going farther. Apollo lunar missions certainly did not.

    Actually, they did. “Go for TLI” was a separate burn of the S IV-B.

    But no, it isn’t necessary.

  • John Malkin

    Of course if SpaceX fails to get clients for its F9 derived Falcon Heavy, it will cost the American tax payer nothing to develop. Unless you count the COTS money used in part to develop the F9. So if SLS has no “clients” i.e. NASA payloads, it will cost the American tax payer a great deal of money to develop and sit waiting. Can someone remind me the advantages of SD hardware and contracts?

    SpaceX is targeting less than 2 hours from hanger to launch for F9 that is innovation. Image they can do it for FH. This reduces man hours which reduces cost.

  • Major Tom

    “The Orion Launch Abort System was successfully tested”

    A pad abort. No one has tested whether Orion can escape the radiant heat of a deflagrating SRB or whether its parachutes can survive the radiant heat of a deflagrating SRB. No one has tested whether Orion can escape an intact SRB that is thrusting in its direction after an abort event in flight.

    I’d also note that even if the LAS does enable Orion to escape these events without pulping the crew, the crew needs more than the LAS to reach safety. And those other elements of Orion’s launch escape system have suffered from test failures:

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

    “and meets the requirements of an abort from a 5 segment SRB first stage”

    An SRB in what conditions and/or thrusting in what directions?

    “throughout its operation”

    We’re not talking about “operation”. We’re talking about deflagrating SRBs and/or abort events that end controlled SRB operation.

    “including those you list in your dime store analysis.”

    Call it what you want, but my post is backed up by independent Air Force analysis, which in turn is based on actual events involving much smaller Titan solid boosters. When it comes to safety, I’ll take that more seriously than a company press release, any day.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No, physically you don’t have to attain low-Earth orbit before going farther.

    True.

    Apollo lunar missions certainly did not.

    I think only Ranger and / or Surveyor didn’t.

  • Dennis

    What is the worry about Orion escaping an Ares-1 launch failure. I thought Ares-1 was not going to be built! Just maybe it will fly on Delta or Atlas. If it is launched aboard the SLS, should it get built, the lower side mount SRBs shouldnt be a problem.

  • Dennis

    I truly hope that up and coming Falcon/Dragon COTS flight to the ISS goes perfectly. A failure here, would probably doom the next flight for sometime to come. Look here recently both Russia and China have experience failure to deliver sats. to orbit. The space race is still not like getting into ones family car, now is it?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 11:54 am
    Indeed, suggest you brush up on the signoficance of Apollo 8 and learn why a 27 engine first stage heavy lift LV, a la N1, is courting disaster– especially if you’re going to try to pass yourself off as, “an aerospace worker” although in the case of Falcon Heavy, more likely a plumber. Project Monkeywrench awaits… tick-tock, tick-tock.

    @John Malkin wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 1:27 pm
    “Of course if SpaceX fails to get clients for its F9 derived Falcon Heavy, it will cost the American tax payer nothing to develop.”

    Inaccurate. See Falcon Heavy facilities in work on site at Vandenberg AFB for details– Vandenberg is an American taxpayer funded and operated DoD facility. And, of course, the launch pad refurbishments at Canaveral AFB for SpaceX were funded in part by taxpayers as well.

  • Vladislaw

    “Does NASA have a figure in their head that if it comes in at X billion or below we go forward but over X billion we go back to Congress?”

    First, you have to understand, it is not about building something to completion and actually flying it. As far as the funding train, that part of the equation doesn’t really matter.

    What some members of congress are worried about is WORKING on the SLS, not flying the SLS. We know this because they are not funding any 130 ton payloads. As long as they can get funding for 4-5 years they will be happy to kick the can down the road.

    If another President cancels the SLS in 4-5 years then they simply wash, rinse and repeat. New program name, “new” big rocket, new funding stream, everyone keeps their job, contractors get their cost plus contracts, workers give their votes to the member of congress that “saved” their job, contractors give their campaign contributions to those members that steered the contracts to them and everything is happy in spaceland.

  • DCSCA

    @Major Tom wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 11:56 pm
    “What conspiracy? The Obama campaign in 2008 actually proposed delaying the Constellation program for 5 years so that those funds could be used for social programs.”

    Strike 1: “No.”

    Uh, yes, his campaign did. “Don’t make stuff up.” Indeed.

    “And there has always been a wing of the Democratic party that has viewed manned space travel as a waste of tax payer dollars. The fact that these folks don’t mind turning over the New Frontier to the corporations is because they view the whole manned space enterprise as a huge waste of time. So they could care less if private companies wasted there money on such foolishness as long as the tax payers don’t have to.”

    Strike 2: Evidence?

    Start w/Walter Mondale, D, Minnesota, for details. =sigh= “Don’t make stuff up.” Indeed.

    “And you have to get to LEO first before you get– beyond LEO”

    Strike 3: “No, physically you don’t have to attain low-Earth orbit before going farther. Apollo lunar missions certainly did not.”

    In fact, they did. See all Apollo lunar mission flight plan profiles- S-IVB TLI burns from Earth orbit for translunar insertion.

    You’re out.

  • Coastal Ron

    John Malkin wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Unless you count the COTS money used in part to develop the F9.

    Just to clarify, if you look at the COTS contract no milestones are related to the development of the Falcon 9. They are related to Dragon development for cargo.

    Regarding Falcon Heavy, remember that except for the cross-feed system used for the higher capacity Falcon Heavy versions, the rest of Falcon Heavy is common with Falcon 9. That means that they need to maintain little Falcon Heavy overhead or inventory if sales are slow or non-existent.

    The SLS, as you rightly point out, requires a large overhead regardless if it flies, and will be a large financial drag on NASA even if it does fly.

  • Vladislaw

    “A failure here, would probably doom the next flight for sometime to come.”

    It would really depend on what caused the LOM. They are combining the last two demonstration flights. If this one failed it would simply be called Demo 2 and Space would probably have to do the Demo 3 flight before the actual first cargo flight.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Dennis,

    The question is, will the Ares-I LAS tower be used? An extreme rocket (Ares-I) begat an extreme LAS with extreme performance, perhaps even lethally extreme in the form of “the cure kills too”. It all plays towards whether MPCV/SLS is as simple and cheap as the Congressional staffers think. There are very real questions about just how much Shuttle and the CxP hardware developed to date is really reusable for SLS. The fact that NASA is looking at the less-powerful MLAS again may be suggestive that, without the need for something that could attempt to escape an aborting Ares-I, NASA is not keen about using something so potentially dangerous. The OSC-designed Ares-I LAS tower may join its booster in the can and MLAS may yet take its place as the default Orion LAS system.

    Side note: The independent analysis of NASA’s figures in their “21 years for full-scale SLS service” study came back this week. So far, not a peep out of E-Street or the OMB about publishing the figures. Take that as proof of whatever you like.

  • I truly hope that up and coming Falcon/Dragon COTS flight to the ISS goes perfectly. A failure here, would probably doom the next flight for sometime to come.

    Nonsense. It’s a test flight. Sometimes test flights fail. That’s why you do them, to find problems. If it fails, they’ll do another one.

  • Spaces wrote:

    The NASA administration has said SLS will cost 38 billion
    That number is now being double checked by a third party.
    Let’s say they come back and say that the number is accurate.
    Then what?

    Most online punditry seems to think the independent number will come back much higher.

    In any case, I believe the administration’s strategy here is to get a number they can bring back to Congress and then challenge that body to actually fund it. They didn’t properly fund Constellation, and as we all know Shuttle’s cost was lots more than promised many years ago.

    If SLS comes back at, say, $50 billion, the administration can challenge Congress to commit that money. They won’t, of course, so at that point the administration has an argument to use once the budget-paring begins.

    The administration is all for deep space exploration, but not a rocket design dictated by porking members of Congress.

    What *should* happen is that the administration is allowed to develop a 21st century approach, e.g. link modules in LEO and then go out into the solar system, using fuel depots along the way. But the porkers are opposed because that doesn’t preserve existing jobs in their districts.

    So the independent review will expose Congress for what it is on this issue — as if we didn’t already know.

  • Major Tom

    “I’m just trying to figure out what the next steps will be once the figures come back whether they are low, high, or the same as NASA’s figures.”

    It’s not up to NASA. It’s up to the White House.

    In the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, the White House agreed to an SLS that delivered an operational capability by 2016 for about $12 billion. An SLS that isn’t operational until 2021 for $38 billion obviously does meet the terms of that agreement. It will be up to the President, his west wing advisors, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy whether they want to sign the nation up to that kind of a launch vehicle on that kind of timeline in this budget environment or whether they think NASA’s limited resources can be better spent on different vehicles or projects.

    The independent cost estimate may moderate this one way or the other, but there’s no chance it’s going to show that SLS fits within the budget and schedule parameters of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

    If the White House chooses not to pursue SLS, they’ll have to decide on an alternate plan for the FY 2011 funding that is suppossed to go to SLS and send to Congress an amendment to the final FY 2011 continuing resolution reflecting that plan. They’ll also have to amend their FY 2012 budget request for NASA to reflect that plan.

    Hope this helps.

    FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    A failure here, would probably doom the next flight for sometime to come.

    Postpone, but not “doom”, whatever that means. They already have the Dragon that would follow this upcoming flight in production, as well as more Dragon and Falcon 9’s, so there is no shortage of units they could use to re-try.

    The space race is still not like getting into ones family car, now is it?

    Tell that to the 33,000 people that died in car crashes last year, most of them within a few miles of home. Stuff happens – you either learn to deal with it, or you cower at home (which could burn down and kill you too).

  • Major Tom

    “If it is launched aboard the SLS, should it get built, the lower side mount SRBs shouldnt be a problem.”

    No, SRBs pose the same problem to crews and to capsule aborts involving parachutes regardless of the launch configuration or the number of SRB segments. The problems are: 1) SRBs can’t shut down and continue thrusting if they remain intact after an abort, and 2) SRB propellant continues to burn and radiate tremendous amounts of heat if the SRB deflagrates (falls apart) after an abort. It doesn’t matter much whether your capsule starts off a little to the side of the SRB stack or not. After an abort, you still have SRBs moving at high thrust in your general direction and/or burning SRB propellant fragments radiating enough heat to melt your parachutes.

    Designing a reliable launch escape system that can overcome these conditions without pulping the crew or making the entire stack too inefficient is an enormous engineering challenge. Shuttle never had to address these conditions because it didn’t have an in-flight abort system, and launch vehicles with liquid propellant engines (or small enough solid propellant engines) don’t create these conditions in the first place.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    CMI: “Actually, they did. ‘Go for TLI’ was a separate burn of the S IV-B.”

    MM: “I think only Ranger and / or Surveyor didn’t.”

    You guys are right. I was thinking in less specific terms of EOR versus LOR.

    FWIW…

  • Obama had a chance to veto the NASA Authorization Act in 2010, he didn’t. He instead signed the Act which had previously passed the Senate unanimously and by over 2/3 in House thereby making it the law of the land.

    So somebody within the executive chain of command is breaking the law at this point. Or put another way somebody is violating their oath to the Constitution. Whether you believe that the 2010 Authorization Act was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not relevant, it is the law as defined by the Constitution and by oath everyone in the chain of command is duty bound to adhere to it to the best of their ability and understanding.

    Now if you think 2010 Authorization Act is ‘bad’ (and there have been tons of bad laws over the years) then by all means exercise your rights to free speech and get yourself elected to Congress or the Presidency or influence/convince those who are to change it. Knock yourself out.

    In sum the Congress is dealing with an executive branch that at some point in the chain of command doesn’t mind breaking the law (i.e. thanks for the money Congress now go to hell with how you want us to spend it). The only question is what Congress plans to do about it, if anything?

    Maybe zeroing out funding to key pet projects of the President might get his attention? After all why should Congress fund his stuff when he won’t release funding for their stuff?

    You know come to think of it we should have some mechanism of compromise in which elected representatives agree to the authorization and funding of various national activities. That once said compromise is agreed to by all that everyone can be confident that ‘both’ the money and execution will play out pretty close to what was agreed upon.

    Oh wait we already have that in place, its called Constitution.

  • I’ve been doing some reading today on the general subject of the crawlerway and various comments.

    Regarding rocks vs. barge vs. rail, read this excerpt from Moonport. Rail was considered the poorest choice of the three. To quote the engineering technobabble:

    As a result of the nonhomogeneity of the foundation materials, differential settlement is inevitable along any long embankment. The effect of such settlement would be most detrimental to any system using rails or concrete slabs.

    On the subject of crawlerway capacity, Google has a cache of the minutes from a July 2010 meeting which seems to conclude that the crawlerway can handle up to 30 million pounds.

    The heaviest load it handled during Apollo/Shuttle was about 18 million pounds, and Ares V was estimated to come in around 25 million pounds.

    If those of you who are more knowledgeable on such matters could look at that cache link and comment, it would be appreciated.

  • vulture4

    One cannot be required by law to do the impossible. Congress dictated the construction, performance and price of the SLS. It is not possible to follow the law because Congress did not provide the necessary funding. Therefore NASA must return to Congress and ask for resolution. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the project will be dropped.

    Steven C. Smith wrote:
    “Rail was dropped in favor of the crawler because that was considered to be much cheaper than rail”

    How did they come to that conclusion?

  • Spaces

    The 38 billion over 10 years is 3.8 billion a year for NASA. That seems reasonable to me for what HSF budget has been for the last few years at least. Even if you had a 16 billion $ a year budget that is less than 25% for SLS, that still leaves 75% left for commercial, aeronatics, education, science.
    I just don’t think it will really take 10 years for those goals but that’s just my opinion…

    Let’s not forget the article said between 29 and 38 billion so the 38 number everyone is using is on the high side.

    And 29 billion over 10 years is 2.9 billion a year
    Weren’t shuttle and Constellation eating up like 5 billion a year at least?

    2.9 – 3.8 billion a year I would think would get the OK to move forward.

  • Alex

    Chris Bergin over at NSF claims that Bolden got the Booz-Allen independent cost analysis four-five days ago.

    Very curious to see what it says, obviously. My hope is that it actually tracks with NASA’s numbers. I don’t hope this because I support SLS, but simply because it would show that this Bolden-led NASA has gotten better at costings. A small, but important victory, I think.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    So somebody within the executive chain of command is breaking the law at this point. Or put another way somebody is violating their oath to the Constitution.

    Congress can take legal actions if they think the alleged “inaction” rises to that level, but I doubt they will, especially since the leaked information on the SLS costs shows that they will just be embarrassed rather than vindicated on the law they passed.

    What is Congress going to do? Make it a law that estimates from NASA and outside experts must conform to Congressional estimates? ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    suggest you brush up on the signoficance of Apollo 8…

    I suggest you wake up and realize that minor accomplishments from 40+ years ago don’t matter to the vast number of people today.

    And contrary to what you say (which is pretty wacky), a detailed knowledge of Apollo history is not a requirement for getting a job – unless you’re one of the few Apollo historians left in the world.

    …and learn why a 27 engine first stage heavy lift LV, a la N1, is courting disaster

    You can’t even explain it, so why should anyone believe there is a problem.

    You appear to be drifting further and further away from reality…

  • Michael from Iowa

    @Spaces

    Well, for starters, $29-38b is almost certainly a low estimate. In reality it’s probably closer to $40-50b

    But the thing you have to remember is that while the shuttle program cost about $5b a year, that actually included several launches, and all the maintenance and construction between flights.

    This $29-38b estimated by the report is mostly the cost of developing the SLS, it doesn’t include the cost of regular operations once the damned thing is finished. Actual SLS/MPVC mission are probably going to be nearer $750m a launch if not $1b.

    Development estimates for the SLS are already several times greater than what was allocated by Congress. With NASA’s budget already likely to be cut by as much as $3-5b as a result of the debt negotiations, development of the SLS could eat up a fourth of NASA’s entire budget or more for the next decade if it continues, forcing the shutdown and cancellation of dozens of science missions and tech programs.

    By comparison, for about a fifth of the estimated spending it would take to even get SLS flying in a decade, we could probably fund the development of half a dozen commercial launch vehicles and/or spacecraft.

  • Major Tom

    SM: “That once said compromise is agreed to by all that everyone can be confident that ‘both’ the money and execution will play out pretty close to what was agreed upon.”

    This is the problem. SLS isn’t playing out anywhere “close to what was agreed upon”. Per the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, SLS was suppossed to be operational by 2016 for something less than $12 billion. It’s coming in at $38 billion sometime after 2020. And that’s before the ICE comes in.

    The deal is broken and the Executive Branch has a duty to the taxpayers, to other NASA programs, and to good government/management in general to revisit the plan and agreement, especially in this budget environment.

    And even if the deal wasn’t broken, the reality is an authorization act (like the 2010 NASA Authorization Act) only sets ceilings on funding. It doesn’t bind the appropriators to pass appropriations bills that match the spending levels in the authorization act, nor does it bind the Administration to propose appropriations or sign appropriations bills that match the spending levels in the authorization act.

    No one gets fined or goes to jail for what’s in authorization acts.

    Ss: “The 38 billion over 10 years is 3.8 billion a year for NASA.”

    It won’t be. The budget for a properly phased development program resembles a Bell Curve. (Look up the Apollo budget.) In the peak years, SLS should hit $7-8 billion annually.

    And if you don’t properly phase the program, it will wind up costing much, much more than $38 billion as various standing armies are kept waiting around for the critical path developments to finish. This was one of the drivers of the high cost of ISS development and deployment.

    FWIW…

  • Egad

    > One cannot be required by law to do the impossible.

    Why not? Of course, doing it is a different matter.

    It might be an amusing historical exercise to locate examples of laws that mandated things that are flat out, no question about it, really impossible. I suspect that there are quite a few.

  • Vladislaw

    “2.9 – 3.8 billion a year I would think would get the OK to move forward.”

    2.9 – 3.8 billion for ONE year, I would think would get the OK to move foreward. If we are willing to spend 38 billion lets open it up to competition and fund 4-5 companies and do fly offs.

  • Vulture 4 “One cannot be required by law to do the impossible. Congress dictated the construction, performance and price of the SLS. It is not possible to follow the law because Congress did not provide the necessary funding.”

    Wrong, the Law has ‘nothing’ to do with whether it’s possible or not.

    Exhibit A Obamacare, heck this may not even be Constitutional in the end. I’m starting to see a pattern here.

    What the law says is that you will spend this much money over these years ‘attempting’ to achieve objective X. Is objective X achievable for Y dollars in Z amount of time? Who knows? Sure didn’t stop MSL or JWST or frankly any other federal program yet.

    History has shown only very few programs achieve X, Y and Z at the same time. Some achieve none. All were lawful projects none the less up and until they are modified or canceled almost always due to consultation from experts within NASA and the Executive and Legislative branches as progress was made and problems encountered.

    So the justification for breaking the law could be applied to anything the Executive branch doesn’t want to do. That is why the President has veto power that can be used against things from Congress that have only marginal support. If on the other hand there is super majority support within Congress (i.e. 2/3 States, 2/3 of the People) than it really doesn’t matter what the President wants, a super majority of our collective representatives have spoken and have overruled the President. If you don’t like it there is an election every so often to make a change.

    So the premise used to justify breaking the law is logically flawed. If the law said that NASA should ‘attempt’ to cover the Moon with yogurt using a $100 dollars in five days we would still have to make an attempt to do just that. Now my guess is that they would fail and any representative that supported such an endeavor would have a lot of explaining to do come the next election cycle. But that is the way the system works. The President doesn’t have the choice of which law he chooses to follow or judges to be feasible or not. This isn’t an ala carte buffet.

  • Major Tom: “This is the problem. SLS isn’t playing out anywhere “close to what was agreed upon”. Per the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, SLS was suppossed to be operational by 2016 for something less than $12 billion. It’s coming in at $38 billion sometime after 2020. And that’s before the ICE comes in.”

    So let me understand this, all the executive branch needs to do in order to kill a law they signed but don’t like is to perform some study that says oops sorry Congress can’t be done after all, oh well better luck next time? I don’t seem to remember reading that procedure within the Constitution, can you point it out to me?

    Look the President had his chance to veto this act, instead he signed it. Now if he really thought it wasn’t even remotely possible that was the time for him to make his stand. He didn’t, it is now the law and somebody within the chain of command is breaking that law.

    See here is the really funny part, those documents Congress is so keen on getting, well they have seen them ‘unofficially’ already. Long story short there is an approach that fits the budget and the law all at the same time, go and chew on that for a minute. I’ll give you one guess as to what that looks like.

    What so funny is whether its Griffin or Lori our plan is still “defying the laws of physics”, different cabal, radically different agendas (Steroid NASA vs End NASA) same BS argument though.

  • Doug Lassiter

    .. and it’s official. There goes about $1-2B from NASA FY13 budget proposal right there. Well, unless NASA gets some special budgetary reprieve.

    http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=48572

  • @Egad
    “It might be an amusing historical exercise to locate examples of laws that mandated things that are flat out, no question about it, really impossible. I suspect that there are quite a few.”

    Here’s one for you. The Indiana lower legislative house passed a bill that became known as the “Pi Bill”. But it didn’t pass the Senate. Quote from Wikipedia article:
    “Despite that name, the main result claimed by the bill is a method to square the circle, rather than to establish a certain value for π, although the bill does contain text that appears to dictate various incorrect values of π, such as 3.2.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill

    BTW, the geometric method of “Squaring the Circle” had already been mathematically proven to be impossible because pi is a transcendental number.

    It was only slightly more stupid than mandating SLS be built with insufficient funds, especially when more economic alternative HLVs could be done. But unlike the pi bill, SLS was unfortunately put into an otherwise decent law that actually passed.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Thanks for your comments on solid rocket abort systems so far. While solid engines certainly have their uses, those uses appear largely to be either military, or unmanned.

    One key problem here no one has commented on here yet is the sensor/computer system for setting off the abort system.

    With the 5 seg solid’s thrust oscillations, I simply don’t see how it can be done.

    As far as using the 5 seg solids on the SLS, solely for the launch of unmanned components, another problem may be the launch of large nuclear reactors for manned Mars flight.

    (I myself think that non-nuclear architectures would be best for manned Mars flight, and can be developed, but a very large number of people don’t think so.)

    It appears to me that little though has been given to abort systems for nuclear payloads other than to armor them. For the larger nuclear payloads, I don’t think that would work.

    This lack of launch abort systems for solids looks to me like a show stopper for the manned Liberty/SLS architecture.

  • Oops! Forgot the other lousy part of that bill. The metaphosis of Orion into the MPCV – “More Politically Correct Vehicle” ;)

  • Tom

    This seems to be the way things have shaped up.
    Congress want NASA to build a great launch vehicle and have its own spacecraft. That’s what NASA has always done and what Congress is comfortable with. They agree with Commercial crew and cargo as a complement to NASA’s mission of human exploration. For them (and about 90% of the American people) NASA without a spacecraft of its own is unthinkable. That’s a very good thing and something we should foster.

    What Lori and Charlie see is a NASA no longer able to build a great launch vehicle or effectively run a very large program. As proof of that they cite the problems with Ares I and CxP. Ares I was solving it’s technical issues, and it would have worked but the management problems were fundamental. On that part Lori and Charlie are 100% correct. A fact that begs correction at the center level. From HQ POV, the major players tapped to run SLS are they same that ran Ares I. They expects the same outcome. Some give SLS about 18 months before it is closed. Someone else just might be flying by then.

    So the primary reason for the fight from Lori and Charlie is to change the destiny of US (and ESA/JAXA) human space flight. They also want NASA to become the NACA of today. Technology, research and unmanned planetary missions. Also, Human spaceflight to support the existing investment (ISS), but no new missions until a commercial reason to go exists.

    That’s part is a mistake. Human expeditions to the planets will spur a great amount of commercial activity.

    So we have Lori and Charlie wanting human spaceflight, but run by commercial firms and not trusting the some NASA managers. Congress wants the NASA of old (that no longer exist) and the engineer, technicians, contractors and scientist who build rockets are left in the cold.

    In the end the USAF may end up running SLS as they want the rocket (so do others in Gov). That could be a success.

  • adastramike

    I agree with the minority here on the need for an HLV of some type (not sure about which configuration is best — so I’m not stuck on one approach vs. another). However, one problem I see with the current SLS is that they plan on man-rating it for a 2021 crewed lunar flyby. While I support a crewed lunar flyby (unfortunately we have to rebuild some of the exploration capabilities of the past), I don’t think launching a crewed Orion is the best use of SLS. One of the good things (dare I say it in this forum) about the Constellation architecture was that cargo launch would be separated from crew launch. That was supposed to be a lesson, if I recall correctly, from the shuttle program where a winged vehicle unified both crew and cargo delivery — resulting in two disasters due to the side-mounted placement of the Orbiter wtihout a crew escape system. Now the leaked SLS mission details are saying we can have a cargo SLS ready in 2017 and a crewed SLS mission 4 years later. I think it’s a mistake and considerably adds to the expense of SLS to human-rate it. It just seems like overkill to launch Orion. If that is true, SLS should be limited to a cargo-only vehicle, with a separate vehicle launching Orion. That could be the Atlas-V that Boeing plans to use for it’s CST-100 or the Delta-IV Heavy planned for Orion’s OFT-1 flight in 2013. The SLS can then launch a propellant depot or an earth departure stage or a lunar lander, etc., for mating to an already-launched Orion (w/ empty transfer stage for the depot option) waiting in LEO. I think that could enable a lunar flyby mission as early as 2017, assuming development of the Earth departure stage began soon (say next year).

    Obviously for SLS to become truly useful as an HLV it has to launch on more missions, several times per year or at least once per year after it’s cargo version comes online. However, that implies heavy payloads that are going somewhere on a series of sustained missions all stepping-stones towards a Mars landing mission in the 2030s. In my view, such a series of missions could be to establish a base at the lunar South Pole, or a series of asteroid missions with successively longer flight times to better mimic the trip to Mars (similar to the capability build-up flights of the Mercury/Gemini programs). So part of the money that would otherwise be spent on human-rating the SLS could be directed toward building the heavy payloads that could be launched in SLS cargo flights. Going with this architecture, we’d fly a single BEO mission each year starting in the 2020s, each successively testing key elements of a mission to Mars. Is anyone aware of such missions in NASA’s design reference missions to Mars?

    Obviously without huge funding ramp-ups, to enable a trip to Mars we’d likely need to start preparations at least 10-years before the missions began. That’s 2020 if we aim for 2030 for the first flight toward Mars. I think a 5-year head start would be too short and incur unnecessary additional risk (eliminating important flight tests).

    Perhaps there are architectures where such preparatory missions for Mars are launched on already-available cargo launch vehicles — though undoubtedly they would have to be robotic assembly missions without an HLV. However an HLV would truly simplify BEO missions by not requiring such on-orbit assembly. So in my view, regardless if SLS gets built or not, or what form of HLV gets built, it should be kept cargo-only (leave the crew launches to commercial companies — since this seems to be the near-term trend, unless it becomes defunded — or leave crew-launches to human-rated EELVs, AND then fund a series of payloads for once-per-year missions in the 2020s in preparation for Mars in the 2030s…That should be the HSF roadmap for the next 15-years: define payloads and missions to test key technologies and capabilities needed for flight to Mars. Then define the vehicles that can achieve those missions within a realistic or worst-case funding profile. So one aspect of the current SLS strategy that I think is backwards is the definition of a vehicle first with Congress then asking for the WH and NASA to define missions. NASA should first define the missions and payloads for beyond LEO exploration, and then define the vehicles needed.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    CR, just a minor pick but I think the central core of the stage one FH is stretched unlike the 2 outer cores which are pretty much standard F9. The other difference for the central core would be significant strengthening to take the additional weight / stresses of the 2 outer cores.
    In the scheme of things, not much really to go from a leo capability of around 10 tonnes to 50 tonnes (rounding) a five fold increase. In terms of price, from say max $60 million to $125 million, slight more than double. Bargain if you can utilise anything over twice the standard F9 capability. Multi-satellite launches should take care of that along with Bigelow BA330 modules, etc.

    Off topic but nice to see SpaceX with a NASA launch date even if all phases of the flight (combine 2 /3 plus ORBCOMM sats) aren’t yet approved. November 30th. Also only 1500 employees. What a team! Great leadership!

  • john

    Landon wrote:

    “No, physically you don’t have to attain low-Earth orbit before going farther. Apollo lunar missions certainly did not.”

    They would orbit around 200 mi. and then… and only when they were pointed
    in the correct direction, would do what they called… an insertion burn.

    Don’t make stuff up?

  • Das Boese

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    CR, just a minor pick but I think the central core of the stage one FH is stretched unlike the 2 outer cores which are pretty much standard F9.

    Where did you get that idea from? In all the pictures I’ve seen, the central core is exactly the same as a regular Falcon 9.

    In the pictures the extra length on the core vehicle is the 2nd stage and interstage.

    The other difference for the central core would be significant strengthening to take the additional weight / stresses of the 2 outer cores.

    Maybe, maybe not. Remember the F9 1st stage was designed with recoverability in mind, as such it’s quite possible that the existing safety margin is big enough to accomodate side boosters without extra stengthening.
    The most challenging thing will probably be the propellant cross-feed, but it’s pretty doable. The space shuttle has been using a form of cross-feed for 30 years you know.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    If the law said that NASA should ‘attempt’ to cover the Moon with yogurt using a $100 dollars in five days we would still have to make an attempt to do just that.

    So if your standard is that they need to make an attempt, isn’t getting cost estimates part of the attempt?

    Do you know anyone in business or government that starts a multi-year, multi-billion dollar programs without some sort of financial plan in place before they start spending significant amounts of money?

    That seems to be the issue here really. SLS proponents want SLS contracts placed as fast as possible, regardless the financial considerations. SLS opponents would rather the program be cancelled before any money is wasted.

    NASA government officials and various government agencies that are legally bound to follow the law are stuck in the middle, in that regardless their feelings on the merit of the SLS, they still have a legal responsibility to spend taxpayer money responsibly.

    Exhibit A Obamacare, heck this may not even be Constitutional in the end.

    But until the courts come to a final decision, it is the law of the land. Passed by majorities of both houses of Congress, and signed by the President. Just like SLS. A little consistency here please.

    The President doesn’t have the choice of which law he chooses to follow or judges to be feasible or not.

    Bush 43 would disagree. He supposedly issued signing statements over 750 times, negating duly passed laws that he signed.

    But in our system of government, if the legislative branch disagrees with the executive branch, or vice versa, then the arbitrator is the judicial branch. Congress knows this, and if they really felt like the Obama administration was breaking the law, not only would there be hearings galore, but they would be hauling them in front of judges. So far they’re not, so I think it’s far too early in the process to declare something is wrong.

  • Coastal Ron

    Tom wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Congress want NASA to build a great launch vehicle and have its own spacecraft.

    If that were true, then they would have directed NASA to build the SLS without defining so many design restrictions. However the Senators that put all those design restrictions in place stated why they designed it that way – jobs. They don’t want “a great launch vehicle”, they want a great JOBS program.

    NASA without a spacecraft of its own is unthinkable.

    It’s amazing how unimaginative SLS backers are. You keep forgetting that NASA already buys rockets and spacecraft from the commercial aerospace industry, so all they need to do is place an order with any of the commercial crew suppliers to buy one of their rocket and crew vehicles, just the crew vehicle, or pay a service provider to provide the transport service for them. Just like the rest of the government does for their transportation needs.

    What’s the difference between the SLS and buying a commercial launcher for the MPCV? Instead of being the designer and contracting agency responsible for overseeing all aspects of the design, development, production and operations, for commercial products they issue a contract and wait to receive their rocket. Same end result – something puts the MPCV into orbit – but NASA saves a whole lot of time and money by buying (i.e. owning) an existing rocket instead of building and operating their own.

    Is this a hard concept for you to understand?

    Ares I was solving it’s technical issues…

    Maybe you haven’t realized this yet, but we can pretty much do whatever we want within the laws of physic given enough time and money. Ares I could have been made to work given enough time and money, but it wasn’t worth it. At the very least it duplicated Delta IV Heavy, which means it wasted $35B and years of time.

    If we’re ever going to get out beyond LEO and stay there exploring, we have to learn how to spend money wisely. We can use Delta IV Heavy to put 1,000,000 lbs of mass into LEO for $9B – add another $5B for the MPCV, and another $5B for other mission hardware, and we could be spending a lot of time beyond LEO doing exploration for far less than what the SLS will cost without a funded payload.

    Until a long line of funded payloads are identified for a SLS-sized launcher, it’s pretty stupid to spend money on it. Especially when we could be using that same money to build and launch exploration hardware on existing launchers. You want to talk, or do you want to do?

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Nonsense. It’s a test flight. Sometimes test flights fail. That’s why you do them, to find problems. If it fails, they’ll do another one.

    Quaint. Except an operational system is what has been contracted for- not a series of test flights wasting time on the government dime.

  • Das Boese

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    One key problem here no one has commented on here yet is the sensor/computer system for setting off the abort system.

    With the 5 seg solid’s thrust oscillations, I simply don’t see how it can be done.

    I don’t see why it could not be done, honestly. If you have good data (that’s what ground tests are for), I’d say it’s just bog standard fault sensing and signal analysis to detect combustion irregularities.

    As far as using the 5 seg solids on the SLS, solely for the launch of unmanned components, another problem may be the launch of large nuclear reactors for manned Mars flight.

    It’s a complete non-issue compared to the myriad other, actual issues faced by STS-derived systems.

    It appears to me that little though has been given to abort systems for nuclear payloads other than to armor them. For the larger nuclear payloads, I don’t think that would work.

    You’re mistaken.
    Launching nuclear fuel or even a fully fueled reactor is not terribly dangerous, provided it has not yet run. Most of the nasty stuff that you need to worry about in a nuclear accident is fission products. The biggest hurdle, aside from cost and geopolitical implications, is that aerospace engineers are terribly, terribly reluctant to launch untested hardware.

    I’d like to add that using nuclear propulsion as a justification for SLS is complete crackpot fantasy.

    This lack of launch abort systems for solids looks to me like a show stopper for the manned Liberty/SLS architecture.

    Nobody really cares for that, the biggest show stopper is and will continue to be the unsustainable cost and lack of need.

  • Coastal Ron

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    CR, just a minor pick but I think the central core of the stage one FH is stretched unlike the 2 outer cores which are pretty much standard F9.

    The central core has the 2nd stage on it (and an inter-stage), so that’s why it looks stretched. The two Falcon 9 boosters just have aerodynamic caps on them. You can see it here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Falcon_9.svg

    The other difference for the central core would be significant strengthening to take the additional weight / stresses of the 2 outer cores.

    If you look on the Falcon Heavy page of the SpaceX website, they say:

    SpaceX has already designed the Falcon 9 first stage to support the additional loads of this configuration, and with common structures and engines for both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, development and operation of the Falcon Heavy will be highly cost-effective.

    I would imagine that for the Falcon Heavy versions that use the cross-feed, the engine thrust structure will be different to accommodate the cross-feed equipment, but otherwise the engines and 1st stages will be the same. That would provide a lot of production and operations flexibility for them, which is reflected in their pricing.

    My $0.02

  • DCSCA

    So the primary reason for the fight from Lori and Charlie is to change the destiny of US (and ESA/JAXA) human space flight.
    “Lori” is a lobbyist, wholly unqualified to ‘chage the destiny of human space flight…” and Bolden is a classic example of the Peter Principle at work. If the fate of human space flight is seen in their hands, we be goin’ no place fast.

  • Major Tom

    “So let me understand this, all the executive branch needs to do in order to kill a law they signed but don’t like”

    How do you know that the White House didn’t like the Act at the time it was signed?

    Evidence? Quote? Link? Reference?

    “is to perform some study that says oops sorry Congress can’t be done after all, oh well better luck next time?”

    No, I’m saying the White House now has new information from NASA that breaks the deal struck in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. That deal was based on certain conditions being met and those conditions are not being met.

    “somebody within the chain of command is breaking that law.”

    No one is breaking any law. The Act said design SLS according to these requirements “if practicable”. NASA has shown that it’s not “practicable”.

    “there is an approach that fits the budget and the law all at the same time”

    There’s no evidence outside the efforts of the DIRECT team, as well-meaning as those may have been, that DIRECT fits the budget or meets the requirements of the law.

    If certain Senate staff were confident that DIRECT could have done the job, then they should have just legislated DIRECT. They didn’t.

    “our plan is still ‘defying the laws of physics'”

    Griffin said that DIRECT defies the laws of physics. Not meeting a budget or a set of requirements is not the same thing as defying the laws of physics.

    “End NASA”

    No one is talking about ending NASA. Don’t make things up.

  • Alan

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 1:53 am

    The two Falcon 9 boosters just have aerodynamic caps on them.

    I would expect to see them add parachutes and recovery systems into the caps with the initial FH launch since Elon Musk has mentioned that a first stage recovery is personally important to him for getting datapoints on both reuseability of the stage and Merlin engine post-flight analysis.

  • Vladislaw

    ” In my view, such a series of missions could be to establish a base at the lunar South Pole, “

    I think it would be pretty safe to say, if a lunar base is established you can kiss any mars trip goodbye. Once we get bogged down trying to build a base there would be no money for even the tech development for a mars mission. If people think the 100 billion spent on the ISS was a sticker shock, building a lunar base using “traditional” NASA aquistion strategies will be in the same range. Especially if the launch costs are more than shuttle launch costs.

  • Das Boese

    Alan wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    I would expect to see them add parachutes and recovery systems into the caps with the initial FH launch since Elon Musk has mentioned that a first stage recovery is personally important to him for getting datapoints on both reuseability of the stage and Merlin engine post-flight analysis.

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    I was totally boggled why nobody asked this back at the FH press conference.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Except an operational system is what has been contracted for- not a series of test flights wasting time on the government dime.

    Right as usual, which means you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The upcoming SpaceX flight is part of the COTS program, which has no contractual requirement for cargo, so it’s not “an operational system”. If they complete all the COTS requirements, and are allowed to start CRS deliveries, THEN they will be operational. Learn to read.

    SpaceX plans to deliver a small symbolic amount of cargo, but NASA is not paying them for delivering cargo, they are paying them to perform COTS milestones. The last milestones SpaceX will be completing with a combined C2/C3 mission are:

    18 Demo 2 Readiness Review
    19 Demo 2 Mission
    20 Cargo Integration Demonstration
    21 Demo 3 Readiness Review
    22 Demo 3 Mission

    SpaceX receives $5M from NASA for successfully completely each of those milestones. The entire COTS contract for SpaceX was $278 for the original contract, and $118M for additional milestones that were added, for a total of $396M.

    So for less than $400M, NASA gets a commercial cargo system that can deliver cargo to the ISS, or any other facility in LEO, at a rate far less than it cost for the Shuttle, or even what it’s ISS partners can do.

    And when Orbital gets their system operational, we’ll have a redundant American cargo system that can support activities in LEO, which is the staging area for all points beyond.

    The total amount paid to SpaceX and Orbital on the COTS program will be $684M, which is less than half the price of one Shuttle flight. That’s how we’re going to afford to do stuff in space, by lowering the costs it takes to access space, not by building mega-rockets that have no current need.

  • Alan

    Das Boese wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Alan wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    “I would expect to see them add parachutes and recovery systems into the caps with the initial FH launch since Elon Musk has mentioned that a first stage recovery is personally important to him for getting datapoints on both reuseability of the stage and Merlin engine post-flight analysis.”

    Yeah, that makes sense.
    I was totally boggled why nobody asked this back at the FH press conference.

    I think we’ll see a significantly greater chance of side booster recovery since they will be cut loose at a lower altitude and velocity. I also expect they will program in to leave some LOX/RP in the tanks for the first stage “turn-n-burn” maneuver that Elon Musk mentioned in order to shed some velocity.

    Now if they just put some stubby wings and flight surfaces on the boosters they would have an even better chance of recovery and one cool bit of engineering. Can you say fly-close (instead of fly-back) booster?

    The question is going to be when they stage the center tank – it might be too high for recovery.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ August 18th, 2011 at 6:08 pm
    “So the premise used to justify breaking the law is logically flawed. If the law said that NASA should ‘attempt’ to cover the Moon with yogurt using a $100 dollars in five days we would still have to make an attempt to do just that.”

    You have been listening to “51D” to much, and he is feeding every one babble….which I guess you have bought.

    The Executive is wide interpretation as to how to implement “the laws” of Congress…and Congress really only has one recourse “tighten up the law” and try again.

    When TR wanted to do an around the world cruise with “his” fleet, The Congress specifically passed a law stopping it, they even passed the authorization act forbidding any funds from being used for that purpose. They were not tight enough. TR as CinC sent the fleet to Hong Kong stopping at every port he had wanted to stop at…and as he put it (roughly) “Lets see if Congress wants to bring the fleet home”…they did of course and TR as CinC told them which direction to go.

    You and others in the DIRECT fan club have really no clue how our government works. If The Congress had wanted DIRECT or even an SLS, they would have authorized the funds to actually “build” something…the notion here (which 51D never addresses) is “The B-1 law”…Congress (or the California Congressional delegation) wanted to keep the B-1’s flying and the infrastructure intact so “Maybe a new President would have a different idea”…and they did and so did the new POTUS.

    Congress could have done that with SLS or DIRECT…Nelson wanted to do it; that was his babble for a bit about a demonstration rocket and he tried to get the money for it…But he couldnt do that…there was no support for that.

    So he and others got what they could kind of I think in the hope that some official studies might come back saying SLS or whatever you want to call it was possible…but of course they did not count on Charlie Bolden.

    As I have said here on several occassions Charlie knows how to kill programs. And while it might “shock” you that he is doing it successfully; he is doing it how programs are always killed…

    But your Claude Rains act…is amusing. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Alan wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I think we’ll see a significantly greater chance of side booster recovery since they will be cut loose at a lower altitude and velocity.

    I’m glad you pointed this out, since I had forgotten about the booster caps covering the parachutes. I wonder if this will be one of their objectives for the Falcon Heavy test – it would make sense, since chances are they will be flying light anyways, so why not test recovery ideas.

  • amightywind

    I also expect they will program in to leave some LOX/RP in the tanks for the first stage “turn-n-burn” maneuver that Elon Musk mentioned in order to shed some velocity.

    Do you know what you are saying? You are suggesting the the F9H drop the outboards while they are thrusting, or having them restart. Then they are supposed to throttle up again to a tiny fractional thrust level and guide tail first under aerodynamic loads so they can decelerate. Newspace is never lacking for imagination (or more likely hallucinogenics). But they completely lack any engineering sense.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 11:28 am
    =yawn= more press release fodder. Yet nobody flies. Nothing flies. Waste, waste, waste of borrowed $$. You do realize those contractual ‘projections’ are pre-Age of Austerity– and just 24 months ago the ISS was scheduled for splash in 2016. So they’re already years behind and demonstratively not cost-effective, or reliable at meeting schedules. Now, with luck, the ISS might survive to 2020, if the money hold out. Which it won’t. But it is amusing having you defend borrowing 42 cents of every dollar to fund experimental test flights to a doomed LEO platform rather thsn purchase seats or haul cargo on a reliable, proven, operational system. Waste, waste, waste. A system to a doomed space platform no less. Once again, you fail to comprehend we are in the Age of Austerity and those contractual projections are essentially invalid in this new era. The objective is to keep crews going up to the doomed ISS, not subsidize Master Musk’s hobby rockets through experimentation. America cannot afford this anymore and the costs must rightly be shouldered by the private sector, not we, the taxpayers. But if you want to tout wasting increasingly scarce subsidies on Master Musk’s experimental ‘test flights’ while a reliable operational system already exists – aka Soyuz– go for it. It’ll be a hard sell telling Granny she gets no SS COLA but Musk gets subsidies to experiment. Yeah, that’ll go over well with voters. Killing off this expensive, LEO foolishness is getting easier and easier. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Dennis

    I wonder who will get to Mars first, Russia and Europe or SpaceX? Maybe we will see a new space race after all.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Waste, waste, waste of borrowed $$.

    And yet you advocate for a lunar return program so they can set up new golf courses on the Moon. I guess it’s only waste if it isn’t for YOUR program.

    Watch out fella, your greed is showing… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I wonder who will get to Mars first, Russia and Europe or SpaceX? Maybe we will see a new space race after all.

    Russia doesn’t have the money to even build a Soyuz replacement, and Europe as a whole is in a deep financial crisis, so I wouldn’t count on them. China is doing a very slow and incremental space program, so I don’t see them leading the pack anytime soon.

    SpaceX has focused on building low cost transportation, so whoever can afford to build the exploration side of things will at least know they don’t have to build new rockets. That may make it a lot sooner, but I think we’re quite a ways off from sending people BEO, except for short trips to asteroids. Ask again in 2020.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Master Musk’s hobby rockets

    http://twitpic.com/68g8qt

    Yep, it looks like a bunch of weekend hobbyists work here… ;-)

    Your grasp of the English language is about the same as your grasp of the aerospace and financial worlds.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Another day moves from dawn to dusk;
    And still no manned flights flown by Musk;
    The Dragon is a hanger queen;
    With no crewed flights as yet seen.

    Tick-tock, tick-tock…

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    Golf on the moon? It has been done but, of course, funny you’d zero in on a luxury exercise- a favorite of the private sector elite- rather than an investment in a work station. A lunar ‘WPA’ project would people to work in this era, wouldn’t it. Whaddya gonna do if President Obama selects the space agency as a works project for job creation… mostly likely, sign up for a job, of course. LOL

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I guess we’ll have to add bad poetry to your list of failings. And you obviously don’t know aviation, as your vernacular is inaccurate. What a surprise…

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 9:44 pm
    You? Add? Your scores on history and the economics of political reality don’t tally well. Excuse the typo- ‘hangar’-on. BTW, tick-tock, tick-tock.. time is-a-‘Dragon’ on…

  • E.P. Grondine

    RGO –

    Bolden comes in a distant second to Griffin when it comes to killing programs

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    You are suggesting the the F9H drop the outboards while they are thrusting, or having them restart. Then they are supposed to throttle up again to a tiny fractional thrust level and guide tail first under aerodynamic loads so they can decelerate.

    Sound about right. And it doesn’t cost them much to try, so why not? It’s not like this is a new concept, it’s just that they have the ability to try it where others didn’t.

    Are you saying that ideas that have never been proven should never be tried? Weird.

  • tom

    For Costal Ron.

    Great in terms of what it can lift.
    Yes SLS by design. It was necessary because of Mr. Bolden.
    SLS is a launch vehicle. Orion is a spacecraft. NASA needs its own SPACECRAFT.

    Ares I was solving its technical issues within the years and dollars allotted. Not the extreme you post.

    Payloads and funded but not discussed.
    Larger payloads will come when the capability to lift them arrives.

    Your argument is false. Like saying the railroads should not have been funded100+ years ago because the traffic was not preexisting.

    You read the posts of others thru a filter clouded by a lack of experience and understanding of the subject at hand.

  • tom

    “Bolden comes in a distant second to Griffin when it comes to killing programs”

    what programs did Griffin cancel?

  • tom

    Also all of CxP was about 3.1 billion a year. From 2006-2010 it runs about 11.5 Billion spent (termination costs and a money not spent in 2011 are not included. This is far from the 38 billion some of you talk about.

  • Ares I was solving its technical issues within the years and dollars allotted.

    Nonsense.

    As for the rest of your comment, “tom”, you write meaningless gibberish.

  • Das Boese

    tom wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Great in terms of what it can lift.
    Yes SLS by design. It was necessary because of Mr. Bolden.
    SLS is a launch vehicle. Orion is a spacecraft. NASA needs its own SPACECRAFT.

    To do what?
    If the answer is “LEO/ISS access” then Orion is a piss-poor choice because it’s too expensive and redundant with commercial systems.

    If your answer is “exploration”, then Orion is also a piss-poor choice because it’s unsuitable for anything except a short trip to the Moon.

    Needless to say that even in case NASA gets stuck with Orion for exploration, SLS is not needed.

    Ares I was solving its technical issues within the years and dollars allotted. Not the extreme you post.

    The Augustine Report and NASA itself disagree with you.

    Payloads and funded but not discussed.
    Larger payloads will come when the capability to lift them arrives.

    Do you have any idea just how long it takes to develop spacecraft or components? Especially large ones for manned spaceflight?
    You’re looking at a decade at least, and that’s if you’re incredibly lucky with consistent funding and don’t run into any major problems, which never happens.

    If SLS were truly to arrive on schedule in 2017 development of payloads would have needed to start four years ago to have even a remote chance of making that deadline.
    Even if it were to slip to 2020 or later NASA would have to start developing payloads right now, which is of course not going to happen because there is no money, it’s all going into SLS and Orion!

    There is only one word for that: Insanity.

    Your argument is false. Like saying the railroads should not have been funded100+ years ago because the traffic was not preexisting.

    You’re not making any sense.

    You read the posts of others thru a filter clouded by a lack of experience and understanding of the subject at hand.

    Look in the mirror, dude.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Your argument is false. Like saying the railroads should not have been funded100+ years ago because the traffic was not preexisting.

    Railroads are just one of many fungible forms of transportation. In the 1800’s you could travel from coast to coast by either ship or wagon, and there was already a large demand for transportation when trains started becoming an alternative. Trains were a transportation breakthrough that people understood could also open the vast middle areas of the U.S. as well as decrease travel time between the coasts, so funding them made sense.

    In a much smaller way commercial crew has the potential to allow new areas of demand to be established, with the first being Bigelow’s space habitat business. That won’t happen with only the Soyuz, and it won’t happen at all with any NASA transportation. So if you want an increasing amount of people in space, then commercial crew is likely to be the only way to do that.

    Larger payloads will come when the capability to lift them arrives.

    The old “if you build it, they will come” theory? Try using that as a business plan and get funding.

    At least for commercial crew there is already a source of demand (the ISS), and Bigelow has stated he will be a future customer. That is a quantifiable demand, even though there is risk regarding how much and how long it will last, and many companies have shown that they are willing to risk money to pursue the market. The same can’t be said for SLS-sized payloads.

    No one has been able to show that there is pent up demand for a SLS-sized capacity rocket. In fact there is plenty of evidence to show that the current large rockets (Proton, Ariane 5 and Delta IV Heavy) are underutilized for single large payloads. The Atlas V Heavy, which carries 28% more than DIV-H, has been an order option for a number of years now, but no one has needed one, even though it could be ready within 3 years.

    So who will use the SLS? Not commercial companies, since they have shown no desire to build SLS-sized products. Not the military, since they don’t trust NASA as a launch provider, and they already have launchers that take care of their needs (and Falcon Heavy will be another option soon).

    So who? Where will the money come from? And is there a need for SLS-sized payloads to launch twice or more per year for decades?

    These are the questions that SLS supports can’t seem to answer. Can you?

  • Vladislaw

    tom wrote:

    “what programs did Griffin cancel?”

    The VSE called for commercial crew and cargo to the ISS.

    The COTS program had 4 parts, the 4th part being COTS-D, Giffin didn’t fund part 4 but used that for Constellation.

    The promethus project was closed out and funds moved.

    The jupiter icey moons was deemed to expensive and not funded under Griffin.

    Maybe he didn’t shut down programs but he definately moved funds away from other projects to Constellation.

    I believe it was Major Tom that had listed changes under Griffin.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “No one has been able to show …”

    I find it always seems that people that do not support the status quo are always posting links to support their positions but you never seem to see the coresponding links from the other side.

    Where are the links that show NASA is less expensive?
    Where are the links that show NASA is faster?
    Where are the links that show fuel depots are impossible?
    Where are ….

  • DCSCA

    “The old “if you build it, they will come” theory? Try using that as a business plan and get funding.” Which is precisely what Musk is saying and the banks are saying back to him– hence he’s begging for government subsidies.

    Branson is where commercial HSF has a chance of taking root in this immediate future.

  • Vladislaw

    tom wrote:

    “Ares I was solving its technical issues within the years and dollars allotted. Not the extreme you post.”

    Why go with a design that has those unique technical issues to begin with?

    Why not go with a standard launch vehicle design like the government had already partly funded like the Atlas V and the Delta IV? Hell why not just build so you can use them in the first place and save ALL those funds for payloads.

    Reading the Vision for Space Exploration NASA was supposed launch Ares I by 2014 and to land on the moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020.

    The Augustine panel said it would be 2017-2018 and would take another 3 billion a year for Ares I. The ISS would be deorbited at the end of 2015. Where was the Orion going to go once in LEO? The Ares V was going to take until 2028 and into the 2030’s for the EDS and Altair lander.

    So we would launch the Orion from 2017-2018 until the 2030’s with no space station? Congress would have loved funding those launches.

    “Larger payloads will come when the capability to lift them arrives.”

    so we spend billions for designing, developing, testing and finally launching a HLV with the orion capsule to LEO, then we start funding payloads. How long does the average NASA payload take to get ready to launch? How many years?

    So what does the rocket and the launch operations workers do while you now design, develop, test an EDS?

    So what does the rocket and the launch operations workers do while you now design, develop, test a lander?

  • Vladislaw

    My apologies it should read:

    Reading the Vision for Space Exploration NASA was supposed launch the CEV by 2014 and to land on the moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020.

  • Matt Wiser

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 17th, 2011 at 12:13 pm
    The Obama administration really never wanted a HLV. That’s why they originally wanted to study the HLV problem to death for about 5 years! The fact that there have been thousands of HLV studies over the past 20 years didn’t seem to interest the administration.

    Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business since they believe that those funds could be better spent on social programs. So they’re perfectly willing to completely turn over the New Frontier to the corporations.

    Agreed, Marcel. Remember the Washington Post article from 23 Nov 07? Candidate Hillary Clinton came out in favor of Constellation without any reservation, while Obama had to be drug into doing so. Why? Because he originally wanted to delay CxP by 5 years to “fund education programs.” Kinda like what Mondale wanted to do when he was a Senator and was against both Apollo and Shuttle.

    It took Congressional Action after that disaster known as FY 11 to force the Administration to admit that HLV was needed: after all, its own Augustine Panel says in its report that HLV is needed. Bolden himself wants it, but does the White House? Congress sure thinks one is needed-and had to drag it out of the Administration. And the Administration still doesn’t get the message.

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 5:07 am
    So the primary reason for the fight from Lori and Charlie is to change the destiny of US (and ESA/JAXA) human space flight.
    “Lori” is a lobbyist, wholly unqualified to ‘chage the destiny of human space flight…” and Bolden is a classic example of the Peter Principle at work. If the fate of human space flight is seen in their hands, we be goin’ no place fast.

    Concur.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It took Congressional Action after that disaster known as FY 11 to force the Administration to admit that HLV was needed: after all, its own Augustine Panel says in its report that HLV is needed.

    No, it took congressional action to force the Obama administration to accept what they knew wasn’t needed: an HLV to do exploration. They knew exploration wasn’t necessary and they may have known an HLV isn’t necessary to do exploration.

    What we’re seeing here is the power of money and of lies: $3.5B/yr will buy you a lot of lies. Anyone who claims an HLV is necessary for exploration is either ignorant or a liar, or both. Simple rocket equation level analysis suffices to establish that beyond all doubt.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Which is precisely what Musk is saying and the banks are saying back to him– hence he’s begging for government subsidies.

    You keep promoting this canard, but no one believes you. And why should they, since you offer no proof.

    SpaceX has been profitable for years, and with $3B in customer backlog has no funding issues.

    hence he’s begging for government subsidies

    Here’s you chance. Just point us to a link that shows SpaceX is looking for subsidies. Just one.

    So far the only money they receive from the government is for work performed (i.e. contracts). No subsidies. I know English is a hard language for you, but just keep a dictionary next to the keyboard – that should help.

    Branson is where commercial HSF has a chance of taking root in this immediate future.

    Virgin Galactic, which is an entertainment company that takes you to the edge of space for a few minutes, only has 430 people signed up for $200,000 rides, which equals $86M in potential revenue.

    http://www.virgingalactic.com/booking/

    I wish Virgin Galactic well, and maybe some day I’ll book a trip since I seem to make better stock choices than you do. But to compare sub-orbital to orbital, and a company with 3% the customer backlog of another, is really just ignorant.

    But coming from you, that’s not unexpected… ;-)

  • Just point us to a link that shows SpaceX is looking for subsidies. Just one.

    Yes, and he’s not “begging” for anything. Except in DCSCA’s fantasy world.

  • @Matt Wiser
    “Holdren and Obama really don’t want the Federal government in the manned spaceflight business “

    The above is the only part of your sentence that was correct. They want NASA doing manned space flight. They don’t want NASA interfering with the manned spaceflight business. NASA’s focus should be exploratory manned spaceflight BEO. And though it may or may not require an HLV, it definitely does not specifically require SLS.

  • Matt Wiser

    Rick: to you, the HSF business is the commercial side. To others, such as myself, HSF business means everything related to HSF. Oh, as far as SLS is concerned: try telling that to Congress. Especially as we’re getting close to an election year…..

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 23rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Rick: to you, the HSF business is the commercial side.

    Read what he said. He said “NASA’s focus should be exploratory manned spaceflight BEO.” He did not say that HSF should be commercial only. Sheesh.

    Oh, as far as SLS is concerned: try telling that to Congress.

    Again with the reading comprehension problems. Rick said the SLS is not necessary from a technical standpoint for NASA BEO exploration.

    So far all Congress has said is that they want to spend money on building the SLS, but they haven’t said they will spend money to build anything that USES the SLS. Big difference Matt.

    And still the physics of the situation don’t change – you don’t need an HLV in order to do BEO exploration. Existing launchers can carry the same elements to space that were used by the Apollo program (CM and Lander), so there are no roadblocks to redoing Apollo right now without an HLV if we so desired.

    But Congress as a whole doesn’t care to redo Apollo, or really care much for any destination to invest a lot of money. About the only thing they are happy supporting right now is the ISS, and if you remember back, that narrowly avoided being cancelled too. There are no sacred cows.

    Especially as we’re getting close to an election year.

    Remember what happened after the election year before last – Congress cancelled Constellation. And so far the House is recommending the cancellation of the JWST just prior to the next election, so don’t think that Congress as a whole won’t pull the plug on something that only a few in Congress are pushing.

    And since there are few people currently employed by SLS contracts, it’ll hardly affect anyones districts. Could be a tough year for SLS proponents…

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>