Congress, NASA

Rohrabacher calls for “emergency” funding for CCDev in light of Progress failure

Earlier today a Soyuz rocket carrying a Progress spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the 44th such cargo spacecraft launched by Russia in the ISS era. Unlike the previous 43, though, this one failed to reach orbit: an apparent failure in the Soyuz’s third stage caused the loss of the Progress as it plummeted back to Earth in a sparsely-populated region of Siberia. On board the Progress were 2.9 tons worth of food, water, and other supplies: nothing whose loss would cause immediate problems for station operations, given the existing store of supplies on the station. However, the Soyuz rocket will be grounded for some time—weeks, possibly months, depending on the nature of the failure and the corrective action required—which could delay other Progress missions and crew rotations, and possible reduce the station’s crew size temporarily from six to three.

The failure is a reminder that the Soyuz is the only way for crews to get to and from the ISS. (Even if the shuttle was still flying, the Soyuz is still the only existing vehicle that can serve as a “lifeboat” for station crews, so an extended hiatus in Soyuz launches would still pose a problem for ISS operations.) One member of Congress has seized on this dependence as evidence that the US should be doing more to develop alternate crew transportation systems. In a press release below (not yet posted on his web site), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) says NASA should propose an “emergency transfer of funding” from other programs, including the Space Launch System, to accelerate the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program (emphasis below in original):

“Today, Russia’s Soyuz launch vehicle failed to boost the Progress M-12M cargo ship into orbit to deliver needed supplies to the International Space Station. This failure should be a cause of grave concern, and a moment of reexamination of America’s space strategy,” said Rohrabacher.

“Today’s Russian rocket failure will interrupt ISS cargo deliveries, and could threaten crew transportation as well. NASA needs to conduct an investigation before another Soyuz spacecraft with new ISS crew members can be launched, and it is unknown how long such an investigation will take.”

“I hope this is a minor problem with a quick and simple fix,” said Rohrabacher. “But this episode underscores America’s need for reliable launch systems of its own to carry cargo and crew into space. The only way to achieve this goal is to place more emphasis on commercial cargo and crew systems currently being developed by American companies.

“We need to get on with the task of building affordable launch systems to meet our nation’s needs for access to low Earth orbit, instead of promoting grandiose concepts which keep us vulnerable in the short and medium terms. The most responsible course of action for the United States is to dramatically accelerate the commercial crew systems already under development.

“I am calling on General Bolden, the NASA Administrator, to propose an emergency transfer of funding from unobligated balances in other programs, including the Space Launch System, to NASA’s commercial crew initiative. Funding should be used to speed up the efforts of the four current industry partners to develop their systems and potentially expand the recent awards to include the best applicants for launch vehicle development.

“NASA could potentially transfer several hundred million dollars from this long term development concept, since the SLS project has not even started, to the more urgently needed systems that can launch astronauts to ISS, reliably and affordably. This transfer will boost the development of American controlled technology and greatly reduce our dependence on the Russians.”

Rep. Rohrabacher is a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

76 comments to Rohrabacher calls for “emergency” funding for CCDev in light of Progress failure

  • Coastal Ron

    Now that is a smart politician. Never let a crisis go to waste when you can use it to attack your opponents and increase support for a good program.

    Kind of a double whammy for SLS too. It will be fun to see if it works.

  • pathfinder_01

    A great idea. The faster we get CCREW and CCargo up the better.

  • josh

    would be great if this works. rohrabacher is one of the few sensible politicians left in congress.

  • Vladislaw

    Everyone should be facebooking/tweeting this and ask people to call their congressional representatives to push it.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    “Now that is a smart politician.”

    1. No, that’s a panicky ultra-conservative Republican congressman, weaned in the Reagan administration on free market, supply side economics no less, going against the very core values of his party, the Reagan legacy, and the voters who put him in office, by wanting to ripoff taxpayers and waste government funding, of which 43 cents of every dollar is borrowed, on a private enterprise which contributed to his campaign and which cannot access adequate funding from wary private capital markets due to the high risk/low-to-no ROI of the venture.

    2. Progress did not fail- reports indicate the booster malfunctioned, not the spacecraft.

    3. ’44 flights in the ISS era’ is a misleading stat BTW. Progress has flown well over 100 flights since 1978 in earlier configurations to MIR and to Salyut and now the ISS. It remains a time-tested, reliable system.

    Congressman Rohrabacher: “Funding should be used to speed up the efforts of the four current industry partners to develop their systems and potentially expand the recent awards to include the best applicants for launch vehicle development.”

    In a word- NO! Reagan is rolling over in his tomb. The place for private enterprised, ‘for profit’ firms to source funding for investment is from private capital markets, NOT the government– a government teetering on the edge of financial disaster.

  • NASA Fan

    SLS is the new slush fund whipping boy at NASA and the ink isn’t even dry on the power point slides!

    I’m so glad we all remember our history, so we don’t repeat it!

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wroye “Now that is a smart politician. Never let a crisis go to waste when you can use it to attack your opponents and increase support for a good program.”

    Plus, everything he wrote is 100% true.

  • While I agree with Dana in sentiment, there are a few problems with his proposal.

    The Progress 44 launch affects supplies on the Russian side of the ISS. Thanks to the STS-135 flight added by the Obama administration, the U.S. side is stocked through 2012, by which time commercial cargo will be flying. So unless the Russians are interested in using SpaceX or Orbital, it’s a non-issue.

    The larger matter is the cause of the Progress 44 loss. If it’s a system shared by Soyuz, then it’s going to be a while before we can do crew rotations again.

    The other problem is that no one on the House space subcommittee listens to Dana. They’re only interested in pork, not what’s best for human space flight.

  • Das Boese

    Indeed a curious and somewhat worrying turn of events, hopefully it will be seen as a wake-up call to face the reality of US (and international) human spaceflight. In Germany we have a saying, “Erstens kommt es anders und zweitens als man denkt”, it roughly translates to “first of all, things go different and second than you think.”

    Who knows, Dragon C2 might end up doing some actual cargo delivery.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    The Progress 44 launch affects supplies on the Russian side of the ISS.

    Since the Progress and the Soyuz use the same type of upper stage it does affect crew too, though it would have been a stronger argument if the Soyuz had failed.

    the U.S. side is stocked through 2012, by which time commercial cargo will be flying.

    Someone had a audio clip from Mike Suffredini (ISS PM) today, and I thought he said that they were OK into spring. I think the calculations that have been used for the U.S. side being OK through 2012 having assumed that all the ISS partner deliveries happened as planned. This changes that a little.

    The other problem is that no one on the House space subcommittee listens to Dana. They’re only interested in pork, not what’s best for human space flight.

    Agreed, although he seems to be playing this up to Congress in general, as well as the public, so we’ll see what happens. I give it a low chance of happening, but you never know how the political winds will change. Maybe Bachmann will latch onto it…

  • Fred Willett

    The failure of the Russian vehicle is a temporary issue. They will fix it and move on. There is still ATV and HTV. But it does highlight the weakness of the current ISS crew transport situation.
    A second crew supplier is essential (and a third).
    This is what CCdev is all about.
    COTS is progressing and will be on line by next year.
    That will give multiple cargo supply links for ISS. ATV, HTV, Russian and 2 Americian.
    Redundant crew for ISS is needed urgently.
    This is why CCdev needs to be funded fully and $850M for 2 crew vehicles is cheap.
    It is much more important than SLS.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    He’s a conservative Republican and ‘everything he wrote’ is 100% off the GOP reservation.

  • tom

    spaceflight is hard. Move on.

  • Egad

    > In Germany we have a saying, “Erstens kommt es anders und zweitens als man denkt”, it roughly translates to “first of all, things go different and second than you think.”

    If I might engage in a bit of litcrit, “first of all, things go different and second of all they come earlier than you think.”

    To paraphrase, “Erstens kommt es anders und zweitens [früher] als man denkt”

  • Major Tom

    Good opinion piece on the Progress loss at Space News:

    “As a good partner, the United States must:

    Support its Russian partner in any way it can in recovering from this accident.

    Get its commercial cargo delivery capability up and running as soon and as safely as possible to relieve some of the pressure on the Russians in that area.

    Stop screwing around with its next-generation human spaceflight program. Congress needs to fund commercial crew to the level requested by the administration of President Barack Obama. Legislators must let go of their dangerous delusion that throwing billions of dollars at heavy lift and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle while starving commercial crew is a sound idea. It will not shorten the human spaceflight gap. All it will do it put greater pressure on the Russians and leave station crews with no redundant access to orbit. And that’s not good for anyone.

    We owe this to our brave astronauts and cosmonauts who risk their lives pushing back the boundaries of space. We owe this to our Russian partners who helped to save the space station from cancellation in the 1990s and who kept it operating after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.”

    http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/110824-blog-progress-failure-russian-problems.html

    FWIW…

  • Justin Kugler

    Maybe it’s time to “go off the reservation,” then, if the GOP is now opposed to a government agency procuring needed services and capabilities at lower cost than it can produce via internal means.

  • kop

    DCSCA is so wrong about conservative Republicans and Reagan that I am embarassed for him if he is serious

  • Michael from Iowa

    Fantastic news! Hopefully this is the last push needed to get Congress behind new, affordable commercial launch vehicles and spacecraft.

  • For those who missed it, YouTube has the video of this afternoon’s NASA press conference discussing the ramifications to the U.S. program of the Progress 44 loss.

  • Major Tom quoted:

    Support its Russian partner in any way it can in recovering from this accident.

    I’ve yet to see anyone recall that the Russians bailed us out in 2003-2005 after the Columbia accident. And let’s not forget that in January 2004 the Bush administration began negotiating a deal with Russia to fly U.S. astronauts on Soyuz for regular ISS crew rotations because Soyuz was considered to be safer.

    NASA has a lot more blood on its hands than Roscosmos. Critics of Russia’s space program should remember that.

  • One of the primary reasons the Augustine Commission argued for a commercial crew program was so that NASA could focus its resources on beyond LEO missions. But in reality, more than $3 billion a year of NASA’s extremely limited manned spaceflight resources have been utilized to support LEO programs like the ISS and commercial crew.

    I’m all for increasing funding for commercial crew development as long as it doesn’t take funds away from NASA’s primary focus on manned beyond LEO missions which will require the development of the SLS and MPCV and eventually an Extraterrestrial Landing Vehicle.

    End the $3 billion a year ISS program and commercial crew would have plenty of funding. Then private space companies could focus on space tourism and commercial satellite launching.

    I’m still curious why so little funding is coming in for commercial crew development from private investors who are currently sitting on trillions of investment dollars. Maybe that’s because commercial crew advocates have focused too much on trying to integrate themselves into tax payer funded government programs (during a time when politicians are trying to dramatically cut government spending) instead of focusing on making the business case for commercial space stations and space tourism.

  • Rhyolite

    Good for Dana. Let’s get the focus back on space access rather than pork launchers.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Egad: So, Murphy has some German ancestry, too?

  • DCSCA

    “I’m still curious why so little funding is coming in for commercial crew development from private investors who are currently sitting on trillions of investment dollars.”

    High risk, low-to-no-ROI within a reasonable number of quarters in a limited market. Better places to invest for high ROI than space.

  • Vladislaw

    “End the $3 billion a year ISS program”

    That is not ending, we have International treaty obligations. You might as well just say “have the Fed print 3 billion”. Ending the ISS ain’t happenin’.

    Why not instead, work out how commercial space can be utilized to augment NASA funding.

    What part of NASA BEO planning could take advantage of lower commercial space access costs?

    If NASA went to a space based, reusable, ‘gas n’ go’ ship, like say Nautilus X, that started doing spiral missions, GEO, EML1/2, Lunar orbit, ESL1/2, et cetera. Wouldn’t that put NASA on a more progressive space exploration strategy?

    Creating a fiercely competitive launch enviroment for fuel launches will not only lower costs, but innovations will be incorporated a lot faster than NASA can ever achieve. Once you saddle yourself with huge development and operations costs it does not leave anything for doing innovations. Doing this a total win win for both NASA, Aerospace firms and the taxpayer.

    If NASA provides traffic to Lunar orbit, it could induce Bigelow Aerospace, or another player to place a station there. Once that happens it could easily open up commercial transport from lunar orbit to the lunar surface.

    Once you have a infrastructure like that It will simplify the ability for NASA researchers to hit the lunar surface.

    You simply refuse to use a very simple multiplier effect. NASA’s budget, if it heads anywhere, will be south. Once you add the global capital markets you can start augmenting what NASA spends.

  • Matt Wiser

    And Zero political chance of it happening. If he was chair of the committee, he’d be in a position to advance his case. But since he’s not, but is a senior member, it’s a moot point. Even those of us skeptical of Commercial Crew and cargo admit it’s coming. The sooner that gets going, the sooner NASA resources can be used on BEO activities.

  • common sense

    @ Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    “I’m still curious why so little funding is coming in for commercial crew development from private investors who are currently sitting on trillions of investment dollars.”

    In your reality while investors are sitting in trillions of dollars they should fund private space. Yet at the same time those investors are not funding pretty much anything. So why private space? Do you realize how tiny private space for any investors at this time? Do you realize their are other MAJOR challenges in the field of energy to cite one that are far more important than private space?

    No one is investing so to speak because the market is in shambles because our economies (plural!) are in shambles because of the short term visions of most political class here and else where.

    Private space???? Come on! Make an effort. Yet some private companies are funded by investors. Run a search and you will see. Maybe. If you open your eyes.

  • Mark Whittington

    Dana is being rather transparent. There is no evidence that a few hundred million to commercial crew is going to advance the program even by a single day. A similar launch failure for the Dragon/Falcon would kill it.

    His real agenda is trying to kill off SLS and hence the space exploration program. Ironically he is violating every free market principle that he pretends to expouse by demanding subsidies for commercial crew.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Marcel F. Williams

    But we don’t NEED SLS for BEO!!! Cancel SLS. Use some of money to boost commercial programs and save JWST. Use rest to fund space technology research/Development/demonstrations programs. After CCDev, commercial fund can use it’s funds to encourage larger payload capacities, or space station, or fuel depots. Build a Nautilus-X and send that around Moon, to NEOs and eventually Mars. And NASA should always to the best of it’s ability use commercially competed launch services for the launching of astronauts and cargo. I think I’ve made my point. Stop feeding that pig because it’s time to eat it!

  • Bennett

    Marcel wrote I’m still curious why so little funding is coming in for commercial crew development from private investors who are currently sitting on trillions of investment dollars. Maybe that’s because commercial crew advocates have focused too much on trying to integrate themselves into tax payer funded government programs

    You and the DCSCA troll are a piece of work. Go away already, and leave the discussion of real HSF scenarios to adults who live in the real world, not some SHLV/Lightsail alternate universe.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    One of the primary reasons the Augustine Commission argued for a commercial crew program…

    Augustine said this on page 90 of their final report:

    In summary, the Committee found more potential contribution to the evaluation of Integrated Options due to the development of a commercial crew service to low-Earth orbit than in the continued development of the Ares I.

    You can fantasize all you want about what they might have said, but why don’t you just read what they said and quote the passages that you want to discuss.

  • Byeman

    “NASA’s primary focus on manned beyond LEO”

    False statement. That is not NASA’s primary focus.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    You’ve never made the case, and neither has anyone else for that matter, as to why these vehicles are needed in the first place. There’s no funded payloads in any plan, and MPCV is hardly a BEO vehicle.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Good for Dana… however, there are a few metrics in play here

    First; it doesnt matter if the shuttle were or were not flying
    Second; the issue is the Soyuz’s not the Progresses. At some point (memory says 200-210 days) the Soyuz’s time out and the Russians dont like to leave them on orbit longer then that.
    Three…Ivan will fix the rocket. It clearly is not a design flaw…either some part gobered or there was something amiss in the building (maybe to much Vodka that day)…they will be flying again soon.

    Four…the notion of speeding things up is a good idea…but we need to “speed up” a crewed DRagon or Boeing or Dream chaser. RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    Dana is really really good on space, but I don’t think SpaceX is exactly crying out for extra cash right now. BLM, now that’s a different story.

    Before ATK got in under W. with Griffin, there was the possibility of affordable heavy launcher (NLS/DIRECT) and a manned vehicle that could be launched by different launchers. Griffin ended that.

    Funny how things work. If Hatch and Reid could only agree as easily on taxes and spending as they do on solid rockets, then the country would be in far far better shape.

    (I’d like to add that Obama, as the President, probably wants the Nevada storage site in operation instead of having nuke waste piling up in less than adequate “temporary” storage at plants scattered around the country. And I’m pretty sure Obama has deep differences with Pelosi on some very key issues as well. With that kind of line, the Quarteback gets clobbered, and his team loses.)

    (It also looks to me like Obama also expected a clean game, or at least hoped to set the environment for a clean game.)

    Technically, I have a guess as to how old reliable failed, but we’ll have to wait to learn what really happened.

  • DCSCA

    Rohrabacher calls for “emergency” funding for CCDev in light of Progress failure

    Emergency funding? Apparently he doesn’t understand what a true emergency is. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) voted against raising the debt ceiling limit for the United States of America cleanly but DID support the Budget Control Act of 2011 which raised the debt ceiling in increments and created a ‘super committee’ to find cuts in the budget or other methods to lower the deficit. That was less than three weeks ago.

    Now he wants to spend again.

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued the following statement on the bipartisan passage of the debt ceiling bill in the House of Representatives:

    “Our country is in financial peril,” said Rohrabacher. “We needed to avert a crisis and that’s what this vote was all about.”

    “Unfortunately, this was not comprehensive fiscal reform that will change the way Congress does business,” continued Rohrabacher. “ In order to achieve something that substantial, Republicans would need the support of the presidency and the Senate, both of which are now under the control of Democrats who want to continue down the road of out of control spending, irresponsible budgeting and unsustainable accumulation of debt. [Yet he wants to spend more!!!!]

    “The level of deficit spending under President Obama over the past two and a half years is dangerous and unacceptable. Running $1.5 trillion deficits per year over the past three years has increased our nation’s debt by nearly $5 trillion. If we continue down this reckless path, the value of the dollar will collapse and our economy fall into a devastating crisis. [Yet he wants to spend MORE!!!!]

    “While this particular plan is not a road map to long term fiscal sanity, it is a step in the right direction and will keep our economy from irreparable harm. This is the best Republicans could do with control of only one ½ of 1/3 of the government.

    “In the short term, this will end the impending crisis to save our credibility throughout the world which is an accomplishment in itself; in the long term, we need a new President, a new Senate and diligence by the American people to save our country from financial ruin.” source- http://www.americandailyherald.com/20110803682/letter-from-congress/rep-rohrabacher-statement-on-the-debt-ceiling-vote

    twitter.com/DanaRohrabacher/status/75704949446684673 – “Just voted NO on raising the debt ceiling.”

  • tomtom

    NASA have blogged the problem with management itself.
    http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/mattatnasa/posts/post_1314035416289.html

    The mistake was the decision of a shuttle retirement without an existing replacement.

  • Rorhrabacher isn’t proposing spending more. He is proposing ending SLS and using a fraction of the freed-up funds for commercial crew.

  • Vladislaw

    He wants to spend already allocated funding from one program to another.

  • Dennis

    I think to many people take the space endeavor as hum drum everyday activity. They for the most part forget that this is a difficult thing to achieve. Give the Russians a break, their Semyorka booster and Progress spacecraft have a tremendous record. Even with the most advance tech. the gremlins will at some point get into the works. They will figure it out and go back. Other countries supply the ISS with even larger payloads, so this is far from over. If this event pushes our government to speed the production of our own spacecraft systems, be them commercial and or Orion, so be it. Lets move on..

  • Das Boese

    Mark Whittington wrote @ August 24th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Dana is being rather transparent. There is no evidence that a few hundred million to commercial crew is going to advance the program even by a single day.

    And you’re being rather obtuse. Commercial crew is currently on trickle funding which brings with it a great deal of uncertainty for the participating companies, which in turn means slow development. Funding the program in full would remove that uncertainty because it’d allow NASA to make real commitments and set real goals.

    A similar launch failure for the Dragon/Falcon would kill it.

    Nonsense, the whole point of commercial crew is to not depend on a single provider.

    His real agenda is trying to kill off SLS and hence the space exploration program.

    SLS isn’t exploration, it’s jobs and pork that is preventing any actual attempt at exploration, manned or unmanned.

    Ironically he is violating every free market principle that he pretends to expouse by demanding subsidies for commercial crew.

    There you go again, not knowing the difference between subsidies and contractually agreed payment.

  • Das Boese

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Technically, I have a guess as to how old reliable failed, but we’ll have to wait to learn what really happened.

    Please, indulge us! Was it thrust oscillations? Or was it hit by a comet?

  • Alan

    DCSCA wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Yet you want to flush 38B$ down a hole for a Rocket to Nowhere with No Payloads, i.e. the Senate Launch System.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The mistake was the decision of a shuttle retirement without an existing replacement.

    Perhaps, but you could also say that the mistake was to exclude the established aerospace companies from COTS as well as underfunding it.

  • amightywind

    Actually, this might be a good time to end the fantasy and pointless duplication of ‘crony space’. All the weight behind one arrow! And that arrow is SLS.

  • Michael from Iowa

    @amightwind
    “All the weight behind one arrow! And that arrow is SLS.”

    And if the SLS winds up being a complete failure? What then?
    If ten years from now (after most of the commercial, tech, and unmanned programs at NASA are burned to keep the SLS program running as NASA’s budget dwindles) the SLS ends up being a complete failure and is cancelled by some future administration, what then?

  • Martijn Meijering

    All the weight behind one arrow! And that arrow is SLS.

    The lesson from this incident (and of the loss of Columbia) is not to put all your eggs in one basket…

  • josh

    That’s not an “if” but a “when”.

  • Alan

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Actually, this might be a good time to end the fantasy and pointless duplication of ‘crony space’. All the weight behind one arrow! And that arrow is SLS.

    Such an SLS fanboi. I would rather see the funding going to:

    (a) accelerate the milestones for the four funded CCDev2 participants with some additional funding, but require a ratio of private capital match

    (b) matching funds for ULA’s unfunded CCDev2 SAA for Atlas V – precluded on additional private matching

    (c) partial funding of crew access structures for SLC-41 & SLC-40

    (d) put some money with ULA for a Delta IV Super heavy/Atlas V Heavy demonstration flight and a Falcon Heavy demonstration flight.

    (e) Offer a NASA prize challenge, say 75M$, for the first 4-person, commercial circumlunar trip launched from US territory. An extra $25M for a successful selenocentric orbit. An extra $50M for a manned Lunar landing (with at least 3 persons). Ability to have re-useable spacecraft (Lander and Crew Vehicle) to repeat the given milestone within 45 days garners double the milestone award – $50M bonus for repeated manned lunar landings within 45 days. All prize awards contingent on safe return of crews.

    All of this would be less than the cost of one year of the SLS budget.

  • Alan

    That means if there are two manned lunar landings (including the first circumlunar and selenocentric orbits) within 45 days of each other using re-useable equipment will garner the winner $350M.

    That’s a helluva big carrot.

  • Coastal Ron

    tomtom wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 3:07 am

    The mistake was the decision of a shuttle retirement without an existing replacement.

    I think you might be confused as to what the Shuttle was, and what the real problem is.

    The Shuttle was a short duration LEO spaceship. It was great for hauling things up to LEO and doing things to them/with them, and it made building the ISS much easier.

    However the Shuttle could never keep the ISS staffed for more than two weeks at a time, since people at the ISS needed a way to escape in case of emergency. Because of that the Clinton and Bush administrations had us rely on the Russian Soyuz for accessing and occupying the ISS. All NASA attempts to build our own crew or rescue vehicles were cancelled well before they could be demonstrated.

    So the issue before us crew-wise is how do we supplement or replace the Soyuz, not the Shuttle. And since as far back as Reagan, the law of the land has been to use commercial services as much as possible. This law has been ignored, even for the most recent where the law states that the MPCV is only a backup to Commercial Crew, not the primary.

    The Shuttle also wasn’t needed for supplying the ISS, since we already have three active cargo systems (Progress, ATV and HTV) and two more that could be in service within a year (Dragon and Cygnus).

    The Shuttle, if it would have kept flying, would not have had anything worthwhile to do, and at $200M/month to operate, would have been a huge waste of money.

    If you were to take that $200M/month and put it into funding Commercial Crew, we could have four crew systems up and flying by 2016 – far more than we need, and $200M/month is far more than they need in order to develop and prove out their systems.

  • common sense

    @ Alan wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I like your ideas.

    I think your lunar expedition prizes should (I don’t know for sure, are they?) reflect the price asked by Space Adventures http://www.spaceadventures.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Lunar.welcome

    It would make the prize competitive within the market. I think.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “However the Shuttle could never keep the ISS staffed for more than two weeks at a time, since people at the ISS needed a way to escape in case of emergency. Because of that the Clinton and Bush administrations had us rely on the Russian Soyuz for accessing and occupying the ISS. All NASA attempts to build our own crew or rescue vehicles were cancelled well before they could be demonstrated.”
    Hi CR –

    Good points,
    But WHO was it that killed those NASA attempts at building manned spacecraft that could be launched by other launchers?
    And WHEN did that occur?
    And HOW MANY times?
    When you’re got that figured out…

    Hi DB,
    Its another thing you would not understand.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    But WHO was it that killed those NASA attempts at building manned spacecraft that could be launched by other launchers?

    Unless they are someone impeding the future of manned spacecraft, I don’t really care what the history was, since space is an interest of mine and not a job.

    I would rather spend my time getting the CCDev participants funded, since they represent todays needs, not last decades.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Alan

    Love your ideas. We need to have more milestone based awards. Would love to see such a competition for space stations and centrifuge modules for crew to experiance simulated gravity. Space station competition awards based on volume and crew capacity. Centrifuges based on diameter, rpm, floor space, and energy efficiency, with increasing bonuses for achieving moon gravity, Mars gravity, and Earth gravity. And those can be combined, meeting certain qualifications.

  • amightywind

    Why does this site continue to amplify the singular ravings of Rohrabacher, while suppressing the views the vast majority of the GOP? It is the same thing Obama did in promoting Buzz Aldrin’s newspace views over those of all other lunar astronauts. It is disturbing when this site manufactures news favorable to its views.

  • Byeman

    “vast majority of the GOP”

    Proof please.

  • Matt Wiser

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 9:20 pm
    Why does this site continue to amplify the singular ravings of Rohrabacher, while suppressing the views the vast majority of the GOP? It is the same thing Obama did in promoting Buzz Aldrin’s newspace views over those of all other lunar astronauts. It is disturbing when this site manufactures news favorable to its views.

    That’s a very good question. It seems that here, if you’re not for NewSpace or whatever the term has been since that piece of crap known as FY 11 came out, you’re a heretic or worse. Not to mention that most of the members of the relevant House and Senate Committees are lukewarm (a few), skeptical (most of ‘em), or downright hostile (the rest) to what Rep. Rohrabacher would like to do-and the Administration, for that matter.

  • DocM

    @Almightywind(bag)

    Remember the movie “My Own Private Idaho?” I think you’re living in “Almightywind’s own private GOP.”

    I don’t think you have the first clue about how the majority of the majority of the GOP feels about space policy, much less the Tea Party types who in my experience support commercial cargo/crew and smarter development, meaning a COTS-like heavy lift competition vs. SLS and other such pork projects.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It seems that here, if you’re not for NewSpace or whatever the term has been since that piece of crap known as FY 11 came out, you’re a heretic or worse.

    No that’s just when you are closed-minded or intellectually dishonest and sometimes even plain dishonest.

  • common sense

    @ Matt Wiser wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 2:36 am

    “It seems that here, if you’re not for NewSpace or whatever the term has been since that piece of crap known as FY 11 came out, you’re a heretic or worse. ”

    Are you now going to ask for civility like Mellberg?

    “Not to mention that most of the members of the relevant House and Senate Committees are lukewarm (a few), skeptical (most of ‘em), or downright hostile (the rest) to what Rep. Rohrabacher would like to do-and the Administration, for that matter.”

    So what? 87% of the people disapprove of Congress. Congress is becoming more and more irrelevant. So do you think you belong to the majority?
    http://news.yahoo.com/ap-gfk-poll-87-us-disapprove-congress-195659914.html

  • mr. mark

    DCSCA- Ronald Reagon would be rolling over in his grave about this. (public/private partnerships) Well DCSCA, I advice you read this. Here is just a snippet.

    “The modern era of public-private partnerships began during the Reagan Administration of the
    1980’s. President Reagan took an ideological cue from Britain’s Prime Minister Thatcher and
    made the discussion of privatization a legitimate part of public policy decision making”.

    http://www.ncppp.org/resources/papers/seader_usexperience.pdf

    This is the reality, not the revisionist dribble put out by today’s politicians trying to take advantage the Reagan legacy.

  • not the revisionist dribble

    “dribble”?

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  • DCSCA

    @mr. mark wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:45 am

    You don’t know your Reagan very well nor Thatcherism either, and FYI, this writer was a resident of Britain for many years and Maggie was our MP out in Finchley before her PM days so we know the wreckage her policies incurred in Britain all too well. RR was steadfastly opposed to this and his experimentation with it- the naive attept to privatize government gencies like NASA met literally w/disasterous results. But if you want to blame Thatcher for Reagan policies, good luck- but they have RR’s name on them here in the US of A and his policy wreck NASA– and the end game of Reaganomics you’rel iving through now.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    this writer was a resident of Britain for many years and Maggie was our MP

    So you weren’t a U.S. citizen at that point in your life, you were a citizen of the UK?

    Just wondering, since if I, a U.S. citizen, lived in Britain I would say “Maggie was their MP”.

  • vulture4

    “However the Shuttle could never keep the ISS staffed for more than two weeks at a time, since people at the ISS needed a way to escape in case of emergency.”

    Interestingly, this was never a requirement for Station until the early 90′s; the whole Space Transportation System concept was designed without it. We have no immediate return capability for personnel wintering at the South Pole and on similar remote expeditions, nor would people on the way to Mars. Although there have been a handful of precautionary returns of crew from Salyut or Mir, these have never been on an emergency basis.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 9:39 pm
    Don’t be daft. MT represented our locale. Sober up.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    MT represented our locale.

    I guess you’re not a real writer, since a real American would never have said that Thatcher was their PM. I would have said “while I was living in Britain, Thatcher was the PM”. But I would never say the ruler of another country was my ruler.

    You may have felt subjugated by her, but then again you are easily confused… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Interestingly, this was never a requirement for Station until the early 90′s; the whole Space Transportation System concept was designed without it.

    I can’t speak to the rationale some may have had when they were conceptualizing building space stations back in the 70′s and 80′s. All I know is that the rule has been to have an emergency escape system for the ISS, and right now that is Soyuz.

    We have no immediate return capability for personnel wintering at the South Pole

    True, but we also have decades of experience in building and operating in that harsh environment, as well as a large station and community to absorb localized failures. They have also assembled a large stockpile of repair material, and the conditions are far more habitable for doing major repairs than in space.

    nor would people on the way to Mars

    Why do so many people assume we’re going to Mars in small ships traveling individually, like the Apollo Moon missions?

    I think we’ll travel to Mars in large ships in a convoy, with both multiple manned ships and multiple unmanned support ships – not unlike the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Maybe they won’t travel side by side, but I would have them close enough to provide support if needed.

    In that configuration, you would have vehicles that could act as shuttles to move people and material between ships, and they could act as temporary escape vehicles. The expedition would still have to continue on to Mars, but at least they would have backups in case of emergencies.

    People have to start thinking more like Star Trek instead of Apollo. This is the 21st Century already…

  • Martijn Meijering

    I guess you’re not a real writer, since a real American would never have said that Thatcher was their PM.

    His use of the word “daft” was a nice touch though. ;-)

  • pathfinder_01

    “Interestingly, this was never a requirement for Station until the early 90′s; the whole Space Transportation System concept was designed without it. We have no immediate return capability for personnel wintering at the South Pole and on similar remote expeditions, nor would people on the way to Mars. Although there have been a handful of precautionary returns of crew from Salyut or Mir, these have never been on an emergency basis.”

    A lot of station concepts used a dedicated lifeboat based on an Apollo Capsule. As for the south pole, only a skelton crew is left behind in winter(for the most part). Most polar researchers are there during the summer only. You can in theory return crew in winter it is just that the bad weather pretty much prevents it.

    It is not wise to staff a station with no way of being able to leave. STS was designed more to be a construction craft(there were plans not just to build space stations, but all sorts of space based stuff like prop depots, solar power stations, lunar/mars spacecraft). STS for lifeboat duty would have been expensive overkill.

  • ok then

    He’s right. SLS is not suited for, priced for, or sized for ISS resupply. If the gap is the concern then CC, not SLS, is the cure.

    SLS may be needed for beyond LEO but not ISS.

  • Das Boese

    ok then wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    SLS may be needed for beyond LEO but not ISS.

    It’s not needed for beyond LEO, either.
    ISS showed us that we can build large complicated spacecraft from pieces that fit on existing medium-heavy lift rockets. Since any exploration mission hoping of going further than the Moon is gonna need multiple launches anyway, why bother with a monster rocket that sucks up money and has no other use when you can use existing launchers and spend thet money on the actual spacecraft and on related projects such as robotic precursor missions and propellant depots.

  • Das Boese

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 10:52 am

    The originally intended “lifeboat” for ISS was the X-38. Canceled without replacement in 2002.

  • Hank Tye

    “The failure is a reminder that the Soyuz is the only way for crews to get to and from the ISS.” Rohrabacher, who has private backers in his district, is not going to influence anyone in Congress or anyone that isn’t Boeing. He has no power, and the only reason why his statement is getting as much attention is because of the crash.

    The crash, lets talk about this for a moment. The Progress crashed, not the Soyuz. Although very similar, the boosters are of different design, and since it was the booster that failed, there shouldn’t be cause for concern.

    And then there is the “commercial acceleration” that is being flaunted around as a solution to the Progress crash. There is not going to be acceleration of anything. The reason for this lies in the party politics that is currently taking hold on Capital Hill. Even if money is diverted from “less” important programs, like the “SLS”, which Rohrabacher has a personal bias to dislike, it won’t speed up development of a launch vehicle because the private industry does not know how to effectively build anything space related. Money does not make a launch vehicle, it takes effective government management and time to build such a thing.

    At that, it isn’t necessary to build another vehicle. Russia is reliable. The Soyuz, which wasn’t the vehicle that crashed, has a perfect record, and there has never been a death related to it. The Shuttle was flawed, over- budgeted, and suffered from partisan politics. The deal with the Russians has allowed a new era of cooperation between our two countries that has never been seen before. We can rely on the Russians because they will fix the problem with the Progress. We have already conducted joint inspections on the crash, of which we assessed the problem. Russia will have a safer Soyuz ready to fly before the ISS becomes a burden, that’s a fact. The worst thing to do at this moment would be to build another launch vehicle, private or government built. Such an act would surely prove a swipe at Russia, who has generously offered us a seat upon its space launcher. Building a vehicle is a recipe for disaster in U.S.-Russian cooperation in space, and would surely do far more damage to the ISS then us abandoning it temporarily.

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>