Congress, NASA, White House

Another round of belt tightening

While work on fiscal year 2012 budgets is slowly making progress in Congress, federal agencies are already working on their planned 2013 budgets, preparing submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Those agencies, including NASA, are now being given guidance from the White House to be ready to trim their budgets. In a memo to agency heads Wednesday, OMB director Jacob Lew said agencies should be ready to cut their budgets by five to ten percent. “Unless your agency has been given explicit direction otherwise by OMB, your overall agency request for 2013 should be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation,” Lew says in the memo. “As discussed at the recent Cabinet meetings, your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.”

In the case of NASA, which received $18.485 billion in 2011, the memo’s guidance would require the space agency to submit a budget no greater that $17.56 billion (a five-percent cut) as well as a version no higher than $16.64 billion (a ten-percent cut). However, House appropriators have approved a budget that would give NASA just $16.8 billion in 2012, which means that, if that spending level holds, the 2013 proposal would represent a much more modest cut over 2012.

Those proposed cuts, Lew said, should be targeted on certain programs rather an across-the-board cuts or other budgetary sleight-of-hand. However, he also said there was an opportunity for agencies to “double down” on specific programs “because they provide the best opportunity to enhance economic growth.” In a separate blog post, Lew said that just because OMB is asking for proposals with five- and ten-percent cuts doesn’t mean the administration will enact them. “We asked agencies to provide these two options so that the President can have the information needed to make the tough choices necessary to meet the hard spending targets put in place by the Budget Control Act and to meet the needs of the Nation,” he wrote.

If this guidance from the White House sounds familiar, it should. Last year then-OMB director Peter Orszag and then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, in a joint memo, asked agencies to propose targeted cuts in agency’s 2012 budget submissions amounting to at least five percent of its budget. As it turns out, the 2012 budget proposal for NASA only partially incorporated any proposed cuts: the administration’s request for 2012, $18.72 billion, was a little more than $700 million, or about four percent, below what the administration had proposed for FY12 in its 2011 budget submission. As noted above, though, at least the House is seeking bigger cuts in 2012—and quite possibly in 2013 as well.

73 comments to Another round of belt tightening

  • NASA Fan

    Here comes the inevitable stretching out of the SLS schedule, planting the seeds for Augustine II to pronounce: “It will take another $40B and 10 more years to complete this project. The money isn’t there. I recommend canceling it President (fill in the blank) and starting anew.”

    Thus, even though we are all very familiar with NASA history and have not forgotten it (lest we repeat it), we are repeating History anyway!

    3 Cheers for a dysfunctional NASA/OMB/WH/Congressional culture!

  • It doesn’t really matter, of course, because Congress determines the budget. The White House simply submits a proposal.

  • amightywind

    Those proposed cuts, Lew said, should be targeted on certain programs rather an across-the-board cuts or other budgetary sleight-of-hand.

    Surprisingly good guidance from the Administration. You know Mr. Lew has seen these budgets ‘gamed’ by the bureaucrats. Bolden, or more likely, Congress, needs to take a hard look at what NASA is doing (and not doing, which is human space flight). They need to eliminate whole line items. Climate research, earth sciences, and ISS funding should be at the top of the list. In doing so we can adequately fund the new generation of spacecraft and boosters.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Purely FWIW – Figures released today show Britain’s public-sector borrowing was down to £20 Million in July 2011, compared to £3.5 Billion for July 2010. Completely setting aside the issue of whether deficit reduction is desirable in a time of a recession-bordering-on-depression, it does show that it is possible to rein in borrowing if you are willing to be vicious enough about budget cuts (and it has been very vicious here in the UK).

    More specifically on the subject of the thread, it is possible that the fiscal worst is now over for NASA. After the one big cut in 2012, they may be able to ride out the rest of the downturn with just flat budgets. That isn’t analloyed good news, but it is less bad than it could be.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 7:21 am
    “It doesn’t really matter, of course, because Congress determines the budget. The White House simply submits a proposal.”

    Not quite that simple. Congress allocates funding in large chunks. It’s the Administration that provides the details in their budget proposal. In no way is the Congressional appropriations legislation anywhere near as detailed as the President’s proposed budget. In writing the checks, Congress is basically agreeing broadly to large things in the proposed budget (though report language, which is not legally binding, can be more specific). The agency incentive here is to slice, rather than kill, because if something isn’t in the Administration budget proposal at all, Congress isn’t going to put it in, and hang dollars on it.

    It also matters quite a lot because this Congress is in no mood to do plus-ups on what the Administration has proposed. That rarely happens anyway and, when it does, it’s usually an unfunded mandate, such that the top-line budget is unaffected.

    This OMB directive is basically a concession by the Administration that they aren’t going to fight for even flat budgets. Same as last year. As noted, the FY12 appropriation-in-making may already set the stage for compliance with the new guidelines.

  • common sense

    @ Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 8:41 am

    “More specifically on the subject of the thread, it is possible that the fiscal worst is now over for NASA. ”

    Call me doom and gloom if you will but I believe this only is the optimistic scenario. Nobody can predict the economy at this point. Investors come and go pretty much every day in any stock market. These “cuts” only are symbolic and do not represent any meaningful reform. Investors may or may not like it. The first time around they did not like it. Why would they like it this time?…

    Oh well…

  • Michael from Iowa

    The maximum Congress is willing to allocate for the SLS as outlined by the NASA Authorization Act of 2011 is $1.6 billion a year.

    Which, coincidentally, is enough by itself to lower NASA’s budget within the range deemed acceptable by Congress without impacting the rest of the space program.

  • MrEarl

    A prudent move by the WH and OMB. Of course the REAL arguments come with which programs to cut or eliminate. But that fight is still a few months away and will follow the same pattern with the same players that take the same sides that has raged across this blog for years.

    What I think we should be debating now, since this is a time of forced austerity, is how NASA could and/or should be consolidated to more efficiently carry out it’s tasks and should NASA have all the tasks that it now handles.
    For one thing, I think anyone would be hard pressed to state with a straight face that NASA NEEDS all the centers that it has now. Could all aeronautics research be consolidated at Langley? What centers can be cut?
    How about missions? Should NASA even be doing research into climate change? Wouldn’t NOAA be a better place to handle that exclusively?
    I’m sure Oler and Windy would have some interesting views on this and I’m sure MT will find some esoteric facts to throw in. And of course there would be Rand’s snarky one or two line comment that really adds nothing to the debate. So let’s see where everyone would trim to save their favorite programs.
    It’s still important to remember that even if all discretionary spending is cut by 10%, that would only be a cut of about $100 billion. A very small dent in a yearly deficit of a trillion and a half bucks.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    For one thing, I think anyone would be hard pressed to state with a straight face that NASA NEEDS all the centers that it has now.

    The centers are the prime reason politicians vote the way they do for NASA related stuff. Take away a center, and you takeaway the need for a committee member, not to mention that much of the budget. That’s just the politics of the situation.

    Just as a thought experiment, what if you could only be on a committee for something that didn’t have a direct payoff to your district? I wonder how that would change funding for a lot of things…

    Should NASA even be doing research into climate change?

    NASA isn’t doing “climate change” research per se, since climate change is just the name for an observed effect. The theory for climate change is based on the accumulation and analysis of years of data from across the Earth, with only a minor amount from NASA.

    NASA, through it’s Earth Sciences section, collects data about what’s going on in and around the Earth. Why is collecting data that can help our daily lives (weather prediction, crop health, etc.) a bad thing?

    Some people say it is better to be ignorant about what is going on with the Earth, but I disagree. Businesses rely more and more on data and data analysis for figuring out the best way to deploy their assets, whether that is water sprinklers or expanding into new lands for new crops.

    Without this basic data we’ll waste far more than the $1.4B that NASA spends in Earth Science. So it sounds like a good investment of taxpayer money to me, and I think you’ll find the same answer from the small and large businesses that are the prime data customers.

    As to the politics of “climate change”, which is based on people’s conclusions about the meaning of the data, that would be off topic. But for me, knowing more about our world is better than knowing less.

  • Any budget cuts for NASA would be bad for the economy and job growth since NASA expenditures create more wealth than they consume. However, since the extreme Right in this country has managed to demonize practically all Federal programs– except for the military– NASA is going to have to decide what its priorities are. That, of course, means that the President and Congress will have to decide what NASA’s priorities are if there are budget cuts.

    But if Washington insist on being penny-wise and pound-foolish with the NASA budget then I think unmanned space programs are likely to bear the brunt of any budget cuts since getting American crew launch vehicles back into space is probably going to be NASA’s priority.

  • Fred Cink

    “…Congress determines the budget. The White House simply submits a proposal.” I am so glad you finally admitted the “Reagan” deficits weren’t his and the “Clinton” surpluses weren’t his. “bout time.

  • MrEarl

    No, no, no, no, no Ron……….. you missed to whole point.
    Granted, centers in a representative’s district tends to garner that rep’s support. The question is, politics aside, does NASA NEED all those centers? I don’t think so. How can we best to consolidate to maximize the efficiency of NASA? The military has the BRAC commissions to assess the basing needs of the military in a non-political way. I think NASA would do well to have a commission like that.
    This is also not an argument for or against climate change or even earth observation. What I’m saying is that those activities would be better performed by NOAA or some other agency specifically charted to do just that type of studies because they are so important. In typical “bureaucratic think” the reasoning is that the more areas you have your hands in the more funds/support you get. All that does is perpetuate often redundant and expensive functions in various agencies.
    Let’s stop thinking like a bureaucrat and think what is best for the US in general and NASA in particular.

  • Byeman

    “Wouldn’t NOAA be a better place to handle that exclusively?”

    No, not exclusively.
    a. weather affects aircraft
    b. Near space affects spacecraft
    c. NASA procure/builds spacecraft and not NOAA
    d. NASA gives NOAA the data.
    e. It is NASA’s charter to observe the earth from spaced

  • rpatituc

    If NASA cuts are required, programs like Earth Science and education should be cut. Unmanned spaceflight, aviation and especially Manned spaceflight, (SLS, MPCV) should definitely not be cut. The whole purpose of NASA should be spaceflight, aviation and exploration.

  • DCSCA

    rpatituc wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    The whole purpose of NASA should be spaceflight, aviation and exploration.

    Not in this era. NASA”s ‘mission’ is to perpetuate itself; survive as a bureaucracy through the Age of Austerity and the bulk of its funding– funding which 43 cents of every dollar spent on it is borrowed– goes to that- not to hardware and flight operations. As far as the general public is concerned, NASA is pretty much out of business now that it isnt flying folks into space anymore. Slide it under the wing of the DoD, label it as essential to national security– or kill it off. It is increasingly irrelevant in this new, austere era.

  • @ rpatituc
    Correction to your comment.

    “If NASA cuts are required, programs like Earth Science and education need not be cut much. Unmanned spaceflight, aviation and especially Manned spaceflight,should definitely not be cut. SLS and MPCV should definitely be cut. The main purpose of NASA should be spaceflight, aviation and exploration.”

    One misconception on your part. Manned spaceflight and exploration does not necessarily equal the Senate Launch System and the More Politically Correct Vehicle. SLS is a sure-fire way for America not to be the leading nation in space in the 21 century.

  • DCSCA

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
    Any budget cuts for NASA would be bad for the economy and job growth since NASA expenditures create more wealth than they consume.

    WE know that. The general public doesn’t. They know space telescope pictures as screensavers, space shuttles destined for museums and moonwalks. They think NASA’s greatest contributions to society has been velcro and Tang, neither of which they invented to begin with. And if you really pressed people, they might acknowledge NASA runs weather satellites. NASA as an independent agency is a sitting duck in the Age of Austerity. It has to be placed under the protective wing of the DoD with the protective umbrella of ‘nat’l security’ to survive long-term through this era or it is doomed to die by a thousand paper cuts in the budget process. Why would any promising, young engineers, scientists or managers aspire to work with a space agency foundering like this. They’re losing another generation– again.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Again… one simple cut is all that’s needed for NASA to satisfy its new budget cap while still maintaining all its other programs (including the JWST) at current funding levels.

    Cut the SLS.

  • amightywind

    SLS is a sure-fire way for America not to be the leading nation in space in the 21 century.

    The US space program has now shown several years of declines. There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony. They have nothing to show for their quixotic new space policy. A vigorous SLS program is the only way for America to reverse the downward trend.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
    “But if Washington insist on being penny-wise and pound-foolish with the NASA budget then I think unmanned space programs are likely to bear the brunt of any budget cuts since getting American crew launch vehicles back into space is probably going to be NASA’s priority.”

    The Space Act would suggest the opposite.

    Most likely, it’ll be a buzz-cut across all NASA accounts. The easiest option is always to “share the pain”. But the large positive slope in Earth Science will probably be flattened.

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    “As far as the general public is concerned, NASA is pretty much out of business now that it isnt flying folks into space anymore.”

    As far as the general public is concerned, NASA is about space exploration and, although it is often forgotten or intentionally ignored, human space exploration doesn’t require human space flight any more.

  • josh

    @hotair

    actually it is nasa that don’t have to show anything regarding launch vehicle development, not just for the past few years but for decades and after tens of billions spent. spacex has two new rockets and a crew capable capsule (that has actually been to orbit) to point to.
    you’re out of your depth and unable to grasp the realities of our time.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony.

    What, like Boeing? Or Orbital Sciences? Or Sierra Nevada Corp? Those companies have been around for decades, so how is their participation in new (and low cost) NASA programs a “hegemony”?

    ATK and Lockheed Martin, who along with Boeing have dominated NASA contracting for decades, they don’t constitute a hegemony? What a laugh!

    Your mighty wind has turned into a wheeze…

  • john

    amightywind wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    “The US space program has now shown several years of declines. There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony. They have nothing to show for their quixotic new space policy. A vigorous SLS program is the only way for America to reverse the downward trend.”

    It’s only a decline if you consider spaceflight activities a zero-sum game. That fact that other countries are beginning to become competitive in space means that there will be far more opportunities for American space industry to sell their wares, especially if ITAR can be reformed to not foolishly limit American commercial space activities.

    Also, I’d like to know exactly what evidence there is for a “newspace hegemony”. Last I checked, the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture ULA is still responsible for launching all US government payloads. The Lockheed Martin built MPCV is still on the books, the traditional aerospace contractor built shuttle derived SLS is still on the books, and one of the two ISS cargo companies is Orbital Sciences (not exactly a newspace company, either).

    You must be incredibly willfully ignorant of the contributions newspace has made to the industry in the last few years. There’s a whole new scientific and tourism based suborbital market that did not exist 15 years ago with advances of Virgin Galactic and other suborbital companies. SpaceX has brought a significant amount of commercial spacecraft launch work to the United States that otherwise would have gone to the Russians or Chinese. (And hopefully SpaceX’s desire to launch US gov’t payload will spur ULA to lower costs.) Although it is still in the future, Bigelow will likely construct the first private space station, SpaceX will be able to deliver people to orbit, likely at a price below the current russian price. (As will Boeing and Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada, with any luck.)

    So tell me, amightywind, how does all this cause a decline in US spaceflight competetiveness? Though I take it from your uncompromising desire for a SLS system, your preferred measure of American space competitiveness is only what a single gov’t agency is up to at any given moment. (As an aside, does the current 38-billion SLS plan meet the criteria to be a “vigorous” progam?)

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    The question is, politics aside, does NASA NEED all those centers?

    Probably more than it has a “NEED” for the SLS. At least with the centers you can point to work they have funded that they are working on. But the SLS, which will receive far more dollars overall than some of the centers total budgets, has no known funded need. None. Zip. Nada.

    I think the real issue is how the centers are staffed, not necessarily whether they should exist. NASA runs most of the centers, but I know some people have advocated that they would be better run if they were turned into Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) like JPL.

    But the bottom line is how do we get politicians to act on behalf of the national needs more than their constituent needs, and that’s not an easy task, especially in this hyper-polarized times.

    This is also not an argument for or against climate change or even earth observation. What I’m saying is that those activities would be better performed by NOAA or some other agency specifically charted to do just that type of studies because they are so important.

    NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and weather is a big part of that. And since NASA has pioneered a lot of the technology for monitoring weather from space, it’s a more natural fit than a non-technical organization like NOAA.

    And again, climate change is not a program, it is a scientific theory that relies on data from many sources. NOAA has it’s needs for data and NASA has it’s needs for data. Some areas may overlap, but some don’t.

    That’s not to say that duplication doesn’t exist, but being under different budgets makes it extremely difficult to separate the two, especially when they collect the same types of data for different reasons. Truly it would take an act of Congress to change that, just like it did for consolidating all of the internal security functions under the Dept. of Homeland Security into one new cabinet level position.

    I don’t think there is enough interest to do that yet, or at least not unless Perry gets elected… ;-)

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “The US space program has now shown several years of declines. There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony. They have nothing to show for their quixotic new space policy. A vigorous SLS program is the only way for America to reverse the downward trend.”

    In 1959 NASA created 7 new astronauts, 45 years later in 2004 they created 11 new astronauts. Now you are saying if NASA creates a giant new rocket that will launch 4-8 people a per year is going to save us?

    The article said that the country seeing the highest improvement in competitiveness was Japan, and how they did is was by their space agency creating more ties with commercial companies, the exact opposite of what you are proposing.

  • Doug Lassiter wrote:

    Not quite that simple. Congress allocates funding in large chunks. It’s the Administration that provides the details in their budget proposal.

    I would disagree, since the Senate space subcommittee conjured up the SLS and the House Appropriations Committee recently voted to cancel the JWST. Congress has shown it’s entirely capable of trashing the administration’s budget proposal just to direct pork to their districts.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 6:53 pm
    “I would disagree, since the Senate space subcommittee conjured up the SLS and the House Appropriations Committee recently voted to cancel the JWST. Congress has shown it’s entirely capable of trashing the administration’s budget proposal just to direct pork to their districts.”

    What I said was that “Congress is basically agreeing broadly to large things in the proposed budget (though report language, which is not legally binding, can be more specific).” SLS appeared in report language in the FY11 appropriations legislation, and carried over into the FY12 NASA budget proposal. That report language, as I said, isn’t legally binding, though agencies ignore it at their peril. That SLS appeared explicitly in the FY12 budget proposal is probably more because NASA was instructed to have it there by the FY10 authorization bill, which IS legally binding. Now that it’s in the NASA FY12 budget proposal, Congress only needs say “yes” to it. So yes, Congress mandated an SLS, but that legal mandate didn’t get conjured up in the funding legislation.

    As to Congress cancelling JWST, I should have said “agreeing or disagreeing broadly”. The cancellation of JWST was, in fact, specified in the report language that accompanied the House CJS bill. That is, the bill funds “Science” at $4,504,000,000. That’s the legally binding part. The report language specifies the sense of the House is that JWST shouldn’t be funded out of that. But that sense of the House is not legally binding. Formally, NASA can still do JWST if it wants to, but it would have to find it’s own funds, and would, as I said, would be inviting congressional wrath.

    So yes, of course, Congress can seriously mess up Administration plans, but it doesn’t do that by creating a brand new budget.

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    In fact, developing a rationale for HSF may very well be the biggest challenge facing the NASA at this point in the 21st Century given the state of the art and cost projections in this era.

    For instance, given the increasing competence and reliability of robotic Martian exploratory probes, sample return missions to come, etc., what’s the point of sending people there at all, unless some as of yet unknown discovery justifies a rationale to mount an expedition. To go just to go- the flags and footprints thing- won’t cut it in this fiscally austere era.

  • red

    “The US space program has now shown several years of declines. There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony.”

    Correction: There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the Ares/Orion/SLS/MPCV hegemony.

  • red

    “If NASA cuts are required, programs like Earth Science and education should be cut. Unmanned spaceflight, aviation and especially Manned spaceflight, (SLS, MPCV) should definitely not be cut. The whole purpose of NASA should be spaceflight, aviation and exploration.”

    Uhhhhhhh, NASA’s Earth Science missions *are* unmanned spaceflight, with an occasional aviation mission (e.g.: UAVs flying instruments) and manned spaceflight mission (e.g.: ISS Earth observations). In other words, it’s exactly what you say you want.

    http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/missions/

    NASA’s Education budget is trivially small compared to its overall budget, and it often supports actual missions in the areas you mentioned.

    SLS should be cut because it wastes the money NASA needs to conduct unmanned spaceflight, aviation, and manned spaceflight. This is no different from what the Ares rockets did to those areas.

    I’ll repeat what Michael from Iowa said, because it gets right down to the point:

    Cut the SLS.

  • rpatituc

    “I’ll repeat what Michael from Iowa said, because it gets right down to the point:

    Cut the SLS.”

    How do we get to Mars without an HLV? An HLV that can lift 200,000lbs into
    low earth orbit, can assemble a Mars spacecraft in a shorter time than using
    smaller launchers. Consider that doing more launches with smaller launchers
    to low earth are more likely to be delayed by bad weather, thus taking longer to
    build a mars spacecraft. The HLV will be designed to lift over 200,000lbs to
    LEO, more than Falcon Heavy.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 8:44 pm
    “In fact, developing a rationale for HSF may very well be the biggest challenge facing the NASA at this point in the 21st Century given the state of the art and cost projections in this era.

    For instance, given the increasing competence and reliability of robotic Martian exploratory probes, sample return missions to come, etc., what’s the point of sending people there at all, unless some as of yet unknown discovery justifies a rationale to mount an expedition. To go just to go- the flags and footprints thing- won’t cut it in this fiscally austere era.”

    I agree completely. While I very much believe in human space flight as a dynamite human adventure, and I believe that an adventurous spirit is good for the nation, it’s just so damned expensive. As much as I hate to say it, I can’t see that adventure being worth what we’re paying for it right now. But that shouldn’t stop us from reaching out for a rationale, which will be about more than discovery.

    I’ve said this before, but the HSF enterprise has to keep itself from crouching behind a word like “exploration”, which simply doesn’t mean what it used to mean, precisely because of our new expertise in telerobotics. Once we stop that crouching, we can try to get honest with ourselves about what HSF is actually for, and what the point is of sending people at all.

  • Coastal Ron

    rpatituc wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    An HLV that can lift 200,000lbs into low earth orbit, can assemble a Mars spacecraft in a shorter time than using smaller launchers.

    You’re making the assumption that a mission to Mars will be something that we will throw up in a hurry and then leave right away. Maybe it will happen that way, but I think not.

    For instance, if we end up building a series of spacecraft that work out the issues of staying alive outside of Earth’s protection, then chances are the final version will be a reusable spaceship (like Nautilus-X) that goes out and does a lot of shakedown and training cruises – just like the Navy does with it’s new ships.

    The spaceship (or likely ships) will likely be built out of modular components (like the ISS) and tested prior to the final outfitting of the Mars expedition. Then all that will be needed is the supplies that are needed to go on the ship. Cargo vessels will have already been sent ahead with most of the Mars mission equipment, so there won’t be that much mass that needs to go on the crew ship – just the supplies they need to survive the trip out (and back if needed).

    Besides, “shorter time” requires design compromises and more money overall, so you need to have a justification for being in such a hurry.

    If there is no reason to hurry, then doing the assembly in the most cost-effective manner is best, since that means you can afford more expedition hardware. This applies to any mission you want to mount, regardless if it’s an asteroid, the Moon, or Mars.

    The HLV will be designed to lift over 200,000lbs to LEO, more than Falcon Heavy.

    Why not build an HLV that will lift 500,000 lbs to LEO and spend even less time getting the mission ready?

    How do you determine the right size?

    You do realize that our current aerospace factories are set up for 15′ diameter construction, and building modules bigger than that requires new tooling, new factories, and new logistic systems to get the oversized modules to the launch site (too big for air, road and rail).

    So the costs you have to take into consideration are not just launch costs, but total overall costs for everything.

  • pathfinder_01

    “How do we get to Mars without an HLV? An HLV that can lift 200,000lbs into
    low earth orbit, can assemble a Mars spacecraft in a shorter time than using
    smaller launchers. Consider that doing more launches with smaller launchers”

    There are no funded mars payloads, so planning a rocket to mars is putting the cart before the horse esp. depending on what technologies are used when/how.

    Anyway Mars DRM 5.0 assumed 3 289ish ton spacecraft pushed by NTR stages that would come out to 6 FH launches per spacecraft and mind you this launch rate could occur over two years if need be(and the human MTV could be built over 4 since the hab and\or lander would proceed it). Also since most of the mass needed to be launched is propellant, other systems could be used as well.

    Even the shuttle could manage 6 launches a year. Heck the ISS has already received 5 cargo flights total(Progress/HTV/ATV ). If this year pans out the ISS will have docked (or birthed with) 9 unmanned flights and 7 manned flights for a total of 16 flights.

    I do buy that at some point it is too many launches and you may need to upgrade, but I don’t think we need 200,000 to LEO HLV that do not share parts or infrastructure with anything else and I do think we need some tech here. At the moment while we can lift a 30MT craft into orbit with current tech, we cannot land a 30MT craft on mars with current techniques (i.e. Viking style landing).

    The problem isn’t getting it into space, it is developing the spacecraft capable of doing what is needed and a HLV does not fix that problem.

  • Fred Willett

    rpatituc wrote

    How do we get to Mars without an HLV? An HLV that can lift 200,000lbs into
    low earth orbit, can assemble a Mars spacecraft in a shorter time than using
    smaller launchers.

    SLS will launch once a year lifting 130t max.
    SpaceX is building Falcon Heavy to launch 10 time a year lifting 500t a year max.
    Tell me which system will support a Mars mission quickest?
    SLS will cost north of $1B a launch.
    Falcon Heavy is priced at $125M a launch.
    Tell me which system will support a Mars mission cheapest?
    SLS isn’t going to be ready to actually fly missions till after 2021.
    Falcon Heavy will be available in 2013.
    Tell me which system will support a Mars mission soonest?
    Why do we want a SLS again? Isn’t it something to do with keeping us trapped in LEO?

  • Major Tom

    “Surprisingly good guidance from the Administration.”

    OMB guidance to departments and agencies on their annual budget submissions always read like this: 5-10% cuts and a preference for terminating low-priority and poor performing programs versus across-the-board cuts. See a description of last year’s guidance here:

    http://www.businessofgovernment.org/blog/ombs-fy-2012-budget-guidance

    “Climate research, earth sciences, and ISS funding should be at the top of the list. In doing so we can adequately fund the new generation of spacecraft and boosters.”

    Even if all three of those line-items were eliminated, the FY10 total ($3.7B) actually falls short of the average amount ($3.8B) needed for SLS/MPCV (and they’ll actually need about twice that — or $7-8B — during peak development years). And NASA would still need to come up with another $0.7-1.6B in cuts to meet the OMB guidance after paying for SLS.

    Your numbers are off by hundreds of millions to a couple billion.

    “The US space program has now shown several years of declines.”:

    No, per the article you linked to, the U.S. space industry has lost ground to foreign competitors, but it is not in “decline”. The competition is catching up.

    “There is no denying this coincides with the rise of the newspace hegemony.”

    No, it coincides with the half decade and $10+ billion wasted on Constellation, along with the ITAR law that was passed before that.

    And what “newspace hegemony”? Last I checked, it’s the established companies — ULA and OSC — that still dominate the US government launch market.

    “They have nothing to show for their quixotic new space policy.”

    What “new space [sic] policy”?

    But in terms of international economic competition, the emergent companies do have much to show, including the largest commercial launch contract ever signed, and making even the Chinese quake in the boots.

    http://investor.iridium.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=479890

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/04/17/1958253/China-Space-Official-Confounded-By-SpaceX-Price

    “A vigorous SLS program is the only way for America to reverse the downward trend.”

    No, it’s a sure way to waste more tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on a launch system that by definition cannot be competitive domestically or abroad.

  • Major Tom

    “What I think we should be debating now, since this is a time of forced austerity, is how NASA could and/or should be consolidated to more efficiently carry out it’s tasks and should NASA have all the tasks that it now handles…”

    I don’t disagree with your overall thesis about the need for a NASA “BRAC”. But I’d warn that a BRAC-like process won’t work politically for a small agency like NASA. A BRAC is designed for big departments like DOD with installations in everyone’s backyard, where congressional leadership gets involved and practically every congressman shares some of the pain. When only a small number of congressmen are affected, they’ll ensure that the BRAC legislation never leaves subcommittee

    “Should NASA even be doing research into climate change? Wouldn’t NOAA be a better place to handle that exclusively?… I’m sure MT will find some esoteric facts to throw in.”

    It’s a well-known fact that NOAA does not perform space-based climate change research or any other form of space-based Earth science research. In fact, NOAA relies on NASA build their weather satellites, forget climate or Earth science research satellites.

    If you moved responsibility for space-based Earth science research to NOAA, you wouldn’t save any money because the NOAA doesn’t have any capability to perform it. To continue doing that research, you’d have to move a significant chunk of NASA employees, facilities, contracts, etc. and the budget that accompanies them over to NOAA. In fact, it would end up costing more because you’d be duplicating the overhead at two agencies. For example, the Earth science half of GSFC would now run by NOAA while the space science half of GSFC would still be run by NASA.

    The only way to save dollars on space-based Earth science research is to reduce or eliminate the research. Just shuffling the space-based Earth science research card from the NASA deck to the NOAA deck won’t create any net savings and will actually cost the nation somewhat more.

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    “I agree completely. While I very much believe in human space flight as a dynamite human adventure, and I believe that an adventurous spirit is good for the nation, it’s just so damned expensive…”

    And yet HSF has been incorporated into the Russian national character since Gagarin- and through some incredible economic upheaval and political transformations. The Chinese appear to be adapting it into their sense of national self as well. Not so with Americans, who have consistently been reactive, not proactive in this field. It may just say more about us than we care to acknowledge in polite circles.

  • Michael from Iowa

    “How do we get to Mars without an HLV?”

    The first step is abandoning the ridiculous notion that we have no choice but to launch the entire craft and payload for a mission on a single behemoth of a rocket.

    The ISS proved beyond any doubt that a massive structure (or ship) can be assembled in a modular fashion over the course of multiple launches.

  • Martijn Meijering

    At the moment while we can lift a 30MT craft into orbit with current tech, we cannot land a 30MT craft on mars with current techniques (i.e. Viking style landing).

    We can actually if we use a combination of propulsive landing, propellant transfer (just noncryogenic propellant, otherwise it does require technology development) and SEP (for the propellant only, otherwise it does require technology development). I’m not saying we should, just pointing out we could.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 12:34 am
    “And yet HSF has been incorporated into the Russian national character since Gagarin- and through some incredible economic upheaval and political transformations. The Chinese appear to be adapting it into their sense of national self as well.”

    As have vodka and little red books. But of course, as Winston Churchill put it, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”

    Now, to the extent that commercial spaceflight succeeds in this country, owing to entrepreneurial spirit, commercial competitiveness, and free capitalism, what a marvelous way to have HSF imbued into our national character or sense of national self.

  • DCSCA

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 10:13 am
    Careful, your national pride is showing. That’s a ‘Cernan intangible’ and not necessarily a function of good business sense or free market capitalism. Believe you’ll find the folks clutching the little red books are actually holding ledger books- and financing capitalism these days– you know, selling the very rope by which we’ll hang them stuff. And potato alcohol, aka ‘vodka’ makes for pretty good rocket propellant, as Von Braun well knew when fueling his German government funded A-4’s bound for Churchill’s London. And, of course, Winnie’s “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else” comment referred to the necessity for a vast government investment in arms top save Britain’s bacon- not the luxury of a manned space program. Unless, of course, there’s competition involved. Americans are supremely reactive, not proactive, in matters space. History has shown ‘free-market’ capitalism has never led the way in this field, but always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. Witness the cash-starved Goddard, or the balking by private enterprise as the space race began, letting the government carry the load of a high risk, low to no financial ROI, socializing the risk on the many. It’s foolish to believe Reaganomics or whatever else is in vogue these days will fuel the human expansion out into the cosmos. And clearly, it won’t be fellows like Musk, who still needs government subsidies to get his toys flying.

  • Das Boese

    There’s only a certain amount of belt tightening possible before you start cutting off circulation to important bits.

    Unless America can overcome the idiotic aversity to eliminating tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and investing that money to get your industrial base back on track, you will never get out of the vicious debt cycle.

  • common sense

    I find it odd that some who advocate an HLV do not seem to see a problem shutting one or more entire NASA centers. So what do we keep? The Space Flight Centers? And they’ll do the research on materials and aerodynamics using their own resources?

    It’d be great that people educate themselves prior to making such idiotic statements. Sorry but shutting down an entire center to preserve the SLS/MPCV is plain idiotic.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 5:11 pm
    “That’s a ‘Cernan intangible’ and not necessarily a function of good business sense or free market capitalism.

    That may be correct. But entrepreneurial spirit, commercial competitiveness, and free capitalism are the storylines that our nation is built on (unlike “exploration” which is an insipid storyline that is built on history that is largely now irrelevant to space), so whether such commercial ventures really make good business sense is probably a sidelight, as far as the public is concerned. If it isn’t good business sense, Elon suffers, not the public, to the extent that Elon isn’t just spending mostly taxpayer money which, so far, he hasn’t been.

    The competitive capitalistic entrepreneur is a folk hero, whether or not he loses his shirt doing it. One is a hero for playing the game, and not necessarily by winning it. Space exploration needs some folk heroes, and the current crop of astronauts, at least, are anything but. Musk is on a trajectory to be such a folk hero for space exploration.

    Americans are supremely reactive, not proactive, in all matters, not just space. In many respects, and especially with regard to federally funded space exploration in this country, it’s kind of astonishing that we’ve gotten as far as we have.

  • In many respects, and especially with regard to federally funded space exploration in this country, it’s kind of astonishing that we’ve gotten as far as we have.

    We’ve only gotten as far as we have (and it’s pitiably far) because we have spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer funds on it. Imagine how much farther we’d have gotten had the development of space actually been the national goal.

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 20th, 2011 at 7:20 pm
    “Musk is on a trajectory to be such a folk hero for space exploration.”

    Sort of like he was for the auto industry, eh? Bet you drive a Tucker, too. “Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA ) lost a bunch of money in the second quarter — despite a big increase in revenues. The Silicon Valley electric-car start-up posted a loss of $0.53 a share on revenues of $58.2 million for the quarter.”- source, http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/08/04/tesla-motors-big-surprise.aspx

    Musk is launched on a trajectory P.T. Barnum would love. Or, if you like, his own words, “More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much”- P.T. Barnum.

    Musk proclaims plans to retire on Mars yet flies nobody; he proclaims his commerical enterprise is the savior of HSF yet desperately lobbys for and accepts government subsidies to sustain operations as financing by private capital markets– as a true ‘hero entrapreneur’ would work– remain wary because of the high risk/low ROI of his venture. And Tesla’s track record does little to strengthen investor confidence in management. When pressed for details or questioned about delays, he responds with press releases, promoting promises of bigger things to come– that’s P.T. Barnum 101. (Falcon Heavy -27 engines– LOL …} yes, there’s “a sucker born every minute,” alright, as often wrongly attributed to Phineas T.

    Perhaps the “capitalistic entrepreneur” you worship is a “hero” in the Hollywood fantasies of Reaganland but not in hard cold reality of international corporate commerce. For space projects of scale, quarterly driven ‘for profit’ firms are simply not capable of securing the large capital investment necessary to guarantee a good ROI within a reasonable time frame given the high risk and limited market parameters. That’s why history has shown, that under various guises and various motivations, chiefly geo-political/military in nature, governments do it– and private capital in invested into oil drilling. Profiteers make for poor rocketeers. And given the state of the technology in this era, will for some time to come.

  • Alan

    rpatituc wrote @ August 19th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    If NASA cuts are required, programs like Earth Science and education should be cut. Unmanned spaceflight, aviation and especially Manned spaceflight, (SLS, MPCV) should definitely not be cut. The whole purpose of NASA should be spaceflight, aviation and exploration.

    But I though one of the arguments made by pro-SLS comments here was that SLS will help motivate STEM education? Pretty hard to do that when you gut the education outreach (not that NASA does a particularly effective job at it currently).

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Sort of like he was for the auto industry, eh? Bet you drive a Tucker, too. “Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA ) lost a bunch of money in the second quarter — despite a big increase in revenues. The Silicon Valley electric-car start-up posted a loss of $0.53 a share on revenues of $58.2 million for the quarter.” “

    You should not have been afraid of posting some more from that link you provided.

    “Tesla has parts-and-technology deals in place with Mercedes maker Daimler and battery supplier Panasonic (NYSE: PC ) , but its deals with Toyota are the ones that have attracted the most attention from investors. Thanks to the Japanese giant, Tesla has a factory, a contract to help develop the electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 SUV, and a very visible patron in Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who famously test-drove a Roadster last year with Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk.

    That RAV4 contract delivered $19 million to Tesla’s bottom line during the quarter, and it’s expected to bring about $100 million after the deal was expanded in July. But on Wednesday, Musk hinted that much more may be on the way: During a call for analysts, Musk said the company was discussing a deal with Toyota that would be “an order of magnitude” larger than the July contract.

    That means billion-with-a-B, the company confirmed after the call. It’s not yet a done deal, and we can only guess at the details, but that kind of contract would transform Tesla from a long-shot start-up carmaker to a serious, credible industry supplier”

    It appears the author of that article’s take away was the exact opposite of what you tried to imply.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 6:37 pm-

    In fact, there’s no ‘implication’ at all- it’s a fact, no profits, and in desperation, he’s trying to partner w/Toyota but the fact remains, no profits and a pattern of seeking financing from government rather than from private capital sources. P.T. Barnum 101.

  • Vladislaw

    He did an IPO, for his past businesses which were both profitable when he sold them, he did an IPO for Tesla which looks like it won’t be long until it is showing profits, and plans on doing one for SpaceX, which is showing a profit, how is that not using the private sector capital sources?

    As far as financing for Tesla, it was a loan and of the 8 billion only 465 in loans were given to Tesla with Ford Motors getting a big chunk.

    “The Department of Energy (DOE) announced June 23 that Tesla was one of three recipients — with Ford and Nissan — of $8 billion in advanced technology loan funds. Tesla will get $465 million to build a manufacturing plant for the new ultra-fast Model S sedan in Southern California, and a second battery plant in the Bay Area.

    The federal fund is designed to further a very worthy cause: ensuring that the U.S. will be competitive in battery technology. It’s quite clear that without federal assistance, we will lose that business to Asia, mostly to China and Korea. And right now it really matters who will capture this market: it is, unquestionably, the future of the auto industry.”

    http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/cars-transportation/tesla-funding-460609#ixzz1ViKDH8dZ

    If Tesla’s batteries are now going to be sold on the global market rather then America importing them from asia then I would think it was a good investment.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    a pattern of seeking financing from government rather than from private capital sources.

    As usual, you write things without looking up the facts. Daimler would disagree with you, as would Panasonic, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and a whole host of VC’s. And then there are the customers that believe enough in Tesla and Musk to order battery components from them.

    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/tesla-motors

    And Tesla isn’t “trying to partner w/Toyota“, they already have:

    http://www.fnno.com/story/news-corner/331-toyota-tesla-motors-confirm-rav4-electric-vehicle-be-built-canada-tm-news-corner

    Galling to you isn’t it? That people smarter than you have looked deep into Musks companies, and not only agreed with what he’s doing, but backed it up by investing and buying.

    You on the other hand, sit in a room with dusty old Apollo books, criticizing others for the things you can’t (or won’t) do.

  • Das Boese

    DCSCA wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    In fact, there’s no ‘implication’ at all- it’s a fact, no profits, and in desperation, he’s trying to partner w/Toyota but the fact remains, no profits and a pattern of seeking financing from government rather than from private capital sources. P.T. Barnum 101.

    Once again, you’re not afraid to flaunt you astounding lack of knowledge on the subject matter.

    It was Toyota who approached Tesla to revive their iconic RAV4 EV. If anything could be construed as a “desperate” move it would be their attempt to win over Daimler AG with an electric smart fortwo prototype. It worked.
    This and the fact that Tesla received four rounds of private investment as well as a successfull IPO directly contradict your claim that Tesla was or is ” seeking financing from government rather than from private capital sources”, meaning you are either ignorant or a hypocrite.

    As far as government financing goes, the loan afforded to Tesla under the ATVM program follows strict requirements. Of the four companies accepted so far, Tesla has received the smallest share of $465million, compared to $528million for Fisker Automotive, $1.6billion for Nissan and $5.9billion awarded to Ford. It should be noted that NIssan and Tesla are currently the only two actually offering an electric car for sale.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    I once asked the mighty windy why he was so anti-SpaceX and he couldn’t provide any sort of reason other than that he just didn’t like them or specifically Musk. Suspect DCSCA is in the same boat. Don’t know why he isn’t supporting a U.S. company that’s bringing business back to the U.S. and along with Musk’s other ventures, providing jobs and incomes for U.S. citizens. Must just have a blind spot.
    After watching and listening to Bloomberg’s program Risk Takers and the one on Elon Musk, must say, I admire the man. When you risk literally every cent you have, then you have the right to be a bit out there.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 8:47 pm
    Tesla doesnt turn a profit and Musk seeks government subsidies to keep his firms afloat- those DoE loans not due for repayment until 2022- assuming Tesla still exists then- if not, taxpayers eat the loss. He seeks government financing denied by the private capital markets due to high risk and poor to low ROI.

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 3:01 am
    He’s the saviouf of HSF, flies nobody and plans to retire on Mars. Haven’t you heard??? Tick-tock, tick-tock…. 27 engines… LOL

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 11:27 pm
    ROFLMAO you don’t know squat. Panasonic’s stock price is at a 30 year low. This writer worked for Matsushita, fool.

  • DCSCA

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 21st, 2011 at 8:47 pm
    he did an IPO for Tesla which looks like it won’t be long until it is showing profits.. in other words, it is NOT showing any profit. End of story.

  • Alan

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 6:32 am

    “he did an IPO for Tesla which looks like it won’t be long until it is showing profits”

    .. in other words, it is NOT showing any profit. End of story.

    And the MSFC has been unable to build a rocket in the last 35+ years, let alone even accurately estimate the cost of building one. End of story.

  • Alan

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 6:24 am

    ROFLMAO you don’t know squat. Panasonic’s stock price is at a 30 year low. This writer worked for Matsushita, fool.

    Which means you’re extremely qualified to comment on the aerospace industry? So who is the fool? Did you get your engineering degree out of the same box of Cracker-Jacks as Windy? Stop being a flaming asshat.

    BTW, you’ve never answered the question why you think the Saturn IB with EIGHT H-1 engines in the first state is good, but the Falcon 9 with NINE Merlin engines in the first stage is “a plumber’s nightmare”?

    Does NINE not fit into your numerological worldview?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Panasonic’s stock price is at a 30 year low. This writer worked for Matsushita

    So part of your anger is your pitiful retirement account?

    Of course Panasonic is investing in Tesla for their large-battery technology, which should eventually boost their stock price. How ironic, huh?

    I do find it interesting that first you lose money on OTRAG, now on Matsushita. You don’t have good investment luck, do you fella?

  • I do find it interesting that first you lose money on OTRAG, now on Matsushita.

    Actually, I think the fool lost his money on Conestoga, not OTRAG. Or at least that was his story.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Actually, I think the fool lost his money on Conestoga, not OTRAG.

    You’re right. My mistake for the citation, his for the investment.

  • DCSCA

    Alan wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 7:24 am
    They built several and reached the moon. Not a profit-driven enterprise. Commerical hasnt. End of story.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    They built several and reached the moon.

    Yes and Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. All ancient history.

    Are any spaceship designers from the Apollo area still active at MSFC? Or Shuttle designers?

    That’s the point that totally went over your head.

    But now there are four (4) commercial companies building reusable LEO spacecraft, whereas the latest version of the NASA MPCV is not reusable. Hmm, I guess all that technical knowledge rests with the commercial aerospace industry now, especially since NASA doesn’t need it.

    2016 will be a lot of crow eating for you…

  • Vladislaw

    “2016 will be a lot of crow eating for you”

    Actually, he is the type that will just move the goal posts and do his tick tocking for a flight to the moon or mars. It really doesn’t matter what SpaceX does, his open hatred of Elon Musk is so twisted that he will just pin his spin to something else.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 6:24 am
    He’s the saviouf of HSF, flies nobody and plans to retire on Mars. Haven’t you heard??? Tick-tock, tick-tock…. 27 engines… LOL

    Well this sure looks like envy to me. Oh well! Nuff said.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “in other words, it is NOT showing any profit. End of story.”

    And if the company does show a profit? What then? We all no you have a sick and twisted hatred for him, so .. what then? He is not selling 1 million units a month?

    When SpaceX launches a crew then what? We know the goal posts always move with you so .. then what? He hasn’t launched to the moon yet, so nothing he has done matters. Yours is a sick game. Your blind hatred has clouded both your eyes and reason. So why not just do a “Musk hasn’t launched anyone to another star system tick tock tick tock” and get it over with. Your hatred and twisted sense of logic dictates you will never stop moving the goal posts so just get it over with and do the last one and be done with it.

  • 2016 will be a lot of crow eating for you…

    Why would a pseudonymous troll ever have to eat crow? No one knows who the creature is to call it on its insane predictions.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 7:12 pm
    More press releases. And BTW, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles. But take pride in Gemini redux. Or N-1 redux. 27 engines LOL Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 23rd, 2011 at 5:04 am

    And BTW, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles.

    See, that’s why people have a hard time taking you seriously, because you make lame arguments.

    Go ask your neighborhood school kids, and they will tell you that the Moon goes in circles around the Earth, just like the ISS.

    And the work we’re doing on the ISS doesn’t depend on being in LEO, it could be a L1, but logistically it’s much less expensive to have it only 200 miles away in LEO. But since you think money grows on trees, or magically appears in the hands of politicians, doing things in a sustainable way doesn’t sound like much fun. I’m glad you have no say in our space program…

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 12:55 am
    DCSCA wrote @ August 23rd, 2011 at 5:04 am

    “And BTW, LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles.” Go ask your neighborhood school kids, and they will tell you that the Moon goes in circles around the Earth, just like the ISS.

    And, like you, they’d be wrong. The ISS is in LEO, 300 miles up… the moon is 240,000 miles out- hardly LEO– Low Earth Orbit.

  • DCSCA

    @Alan wrote @ August 22nd, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Suggest you review the development of the H-1 and how the cluster design for Saturn, derived from Redstone and Jupiter components, fit nicely with the economics and engineering of the time. Musk is no Von Braun.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 4:19 pm & 4:22 pm

    And, like you, they’d be wrong.

    That the Moon circles the Earth? You and Windy spinning out of control again…

    The ISS is in LEO, 300 miles up… the moon is 240,000 miles out- hardly LEO– Low Earth Orbit.

    I know you have trouble with reading comprehension, but I never mentioned how high the orbit of the ISS and Moon were, just that both circled the Earth “endlessly” – do you have imaginary friends too? ;-)

    Musk is no Von Braun.

    And von Braun was no Elon Musk – how many startups did he take through IPO? Of course you’re no von Braun either, so you’re hardly one to make comparisons. How many rockets have you designed and flown?

    Of course if you were Elon Musk, you would have received the following recognitions:

    - One of Forbes 2011 “America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under”

    – Recognized as a Living Legend in Aviation in 2010 by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft). Other awardees include Buzz Aldrin and Richard Branson.

    – National Space Society’s Von Braun Trophy in 2008/2009, given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space. Prior recipients include Burt Rutan and Steve Squyres.

    – Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.

    I hope these don’t add to your feelings of insignificance…

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