Congress, NASA

Hutchison: Progress failure underscores need for SLS

Yesterday Rep. Dana Rohrabacher reacted to the loss of a Progress cargo spacecraft by requesting an “emergency transfer of funding” to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program to provide the US with its own means to access the station. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also issued a statement in response to the launch failure, and like Rep. Rohrabacher said the failure made it clear the US needed more options for accessing the ISS. However, she called for a different means to provide those options.

“As we have already seen with the multi-year delay with commercial providers of cargo to the space station, the country would greatly benefit from the timely implementation of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and development of the Space Launch System (SLS) as a back-up system,” Hutchison said in the statement, which was more about the SLS and the summary of the independent cost assessment of the program than it was about the Progress failure.

Hutchison argued that the assessment prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton supports her view that there are no obstacles to proceed with the development of the SLS. “This additional independent cost assessment confirms what NASA officials have known for months: The NASA approach to human space flight is sound, achievable, and can be initiated within our currently constrained fiscal limitations,” she said. Focusing on the report’s conclusion that NASA’s cost estimates are reasonable in the near term (rather than its concerns that long-term projections of cost savings may be “optimistic”), she added, “In other words, there is no cost-estimate-related basis for continuing to delay the commitment to proceed with the SLS development plans that were required by the Congress to have been delivered in the Section 309 Report that was due on January 10th.”

She reiterated comments in her statement last week that NASA release its SLS design as soon as possible because she believes doing so will prevent further job losses. “We strongly encourage NASA to immediately announce this week – not next month – the design for their next launch vehicle, which will halt the further loss of skilled aerospace workers now poised to be laid off from the NASA manned spaceflight program.”

90 comments to Hutchison: Progress failure underscores need for SLS

  • Focusing on the report’s conclusion that NASA’s cost estimates are reasonable in the near term (rather than its concerns that long-term projections of cost savings may be “optimistic”), she added, “In other words, there is no cost-estimate-related basis for continuing to delay the commitment to proceed with the SLS development plans that were required by the Congress to have been delivered in the Section 309 Report that was due on January 10th.”
    Hutchinson is delusional. The Booz-Allen report says that NASA’s cost estimates (not the budget Congress is giving them to actually build hardware) are reasonable for 3-5 years, but are probably too low after that period. The cost estimate for SLS was a ludicrous $38 billion dollars that Congress will NEVER budget!

  • Oops! Sorry I typoed the good Senator’s name! :)

  • Das Boese

    Hutchison: Progress failure underscores need for SLS

    Hutchison: Reality failure underscores need for reading comprehension.

  • Two big crashes this week — Progress 44 and Senator Hutchison’s credibility.

    The Booz Allen clearly supports NASA’s contention that its cost estimates for the next 3-5 years are more than what Congress has budgeted, and beyond that the analysis concluded it will probably cost a lot more.

    It’s a good thing Hutchison has announced she won’t run for re-election next year. She’s a disgrace to the people of Texas.

  • P.S. Not to mention that SLS has nothing to do with ISS. It was intended for deep space exploration, not supply runs to the ISS.

  • NASA Fan

    Next Press Release from KBH:

    The earthquake that rocked the east coast, and was felt as far west as Houston Texas, proves that this nation needs the SLS. The USGS data collected on the earthquake proves NASA’s cost estimates for the next 3 years are reasonable to proceed with the SLS Development!

  • mike shupp

    Perhaps Senator Hutchison wishes to be considered for NASA Admin, should Republicans take the White House next year? It’s not as if there’d be many other applicants, after all.

  • Das Boese

    mike shupp wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Perhaps Senator Hutchison wishes to be considered for NASA Admin, should Republicans take the White House next year? It’s not as if there’d be many other applicants, after all.

    Judging from the currently popular Republican presidential hopefuls, it won’t matter who you put in charge of NASA because your country will be fucked.
    Except maybe that Huntsman dude who seems at least somewhat grounded in reality, but from what I’ve read his chances at getting the nomination are dim.

  • Egad

    Is there any indication of how much of this and similar statements represents Hutchison’s own thinking vs that of staff, lobbyists, etc.? Or, put another way, does she understand what’s being said in her name?

  • amightywind

    Judging from the currently popular Republican presidential hopefuls, it won’t matter who you put in charge of NASA because your country will be fucked.

    Can we please dispense with the profanity? You barbarians said the same things about Reagan and GDub. We did care then either.

    Russia space technology is in clear and rapid decline. Earlier this we they lost an expensive communications satellite to another Breeze-M upper stage failure. Now a Progress has failed to make orbit. Relying on the Russians for ISS access has has always been an insane policy. On the bright side, Russia ineptitude should accelerate the end of the program. SLS nee Constellation must be put on the fast track!

  • Egad wrote:

    Is there any indication of how much of this and similar statements represents Hutchison’s own thinking vs that of staff, lobbyists, etc.? Or, put another way, does she understand what’s being said in her name?

    She is responsible for whatever is published in her name. Obama is constantly criticized for a position paper written in 2008 by a staffer suggesting Constellation funding be postponed for five years to fund education spending increases. Hutchison is therefore responsible for what is published by her staff.

  • Justin Kugler

    Egad,
    I got a form letter from her office earlier this week with almost identical language in response to my own complaints about the cost and lack of rationale from SLS. She knows what’s being said in her name.

  • Michael from Iowa

    I’ve usually been a big supporter of Hutchinson, she’s one of the few friends NASA has in Congress (lord knows that list has been getting shorter and shorter every year), but I can’t imagine what in the world she’s thinking.

    NASA’s own low-ball cost estimate is nearly three times the cap set be Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, and its timetable is (optimistically) two maybe three flights in the next 15 years.

    That’s not sound, that’s not fiscally sustainable, and that certainly doesn’t help us deliver cargo and crew to the ISS in the near term if the Soyuz ends up being grounded for a few months.

  • Aremis Asling

    That any member of congress is demanding that we push forward with a design that stands no chance of being adequately funded is not suprising. That congresspeople are putting out statements on studies or papers that completely ignore all of the assumptions and most of the fundamental conclusions of said study/paper is not surprising. That we’re marching down a seemingly inevitable path to blowing another few tens of billions of dollars and 5-10 years on a rocket that already seems doomed to never leave the launch pad is also not surprising.

    What’s surprising is that anyone here is surprised.

  • Egad

    > She is responsible for whatever is published in her name.

    No argument there, but that wasn’t my question.

  • josh

    “You barbarians said the same things about Reagan and GDub.”

    And we were absolutely right. The (financial) decline of the us started with Reagan and accelerated under Bush. Look at the debt data and you’ll clearly see who is responsible for the mess you’re in.

  • Aremis Asling

    Constellation was a joke and a waste of money. That congress put so many demands on SLS that it was almost inevitably going to be Constellation mk II just proved the point. At least we were smart enough to have someone check the numbers this time before we initiated the program…. Of course we’ll do it anyway.

    I can’t wait for the mock shock from the chattering class (of which I include myself) when President Joe Shmoe in 2012, 2016, or 2020 points out that we can’t afford to build it more or less fly it.

    I can only hope congress/the president/the American people figure it out and decide to build a rocket we can afford instead of a jobs for jobs sake program we can’t. Either that or commercial steps up. Because right now, we’re not actually giving up leadership in space beyond a few out years. But if it takes us until 2016 or 2020 figure out that SLS is a very expensive way to stay on the ground and commercial hasn’t filled the gap in the mean time, we definitely will have lost ground.

  • Coastal Ron

    What’s next?

    Congress passes a law stipulating that NASA has $16B and 5 years to build the SLS with Congressionally mandated restrictions. NASA looks at the requirements, looks at the restrictions, looks at the allotted near-term budget, and states that it will cost more than double what Congress wants, and take far more time. And their independent outside auditor thinks that NASA is still using optimistic estimates, so the price could be even higher and the date further out.

    Over at the DoD, if a contractor were to report that their cost growth had exceeded the original estimate by 25% or more, it would automatically call for the termination of the program. What about for other government agencies?

    Does Bolden now request to appear before the relevant Congressional committees to report that what the law calls out for regarding the SLS cannot be done within the allotted funds? That would be quite the spectacle, with him bringing in not only his internal estimate experts, but also the Booz Allen representative.

    Notably missing I’m sure would be the “experts” that the Senate relied upon for the original $16B estimate. Maybe Booz Allen should go over their estimate methodology and report back.

    Anyone know what the precedent is for this kind of situation?

  • A tweet from Jon Goff:

    “Hubble scientists think they’ve discovered a fact sufficiently distant that KBH won’t use it as a justification for starting SLS *right now*.”

  • By the way, KBH satisfied my prediction in record time:

    “It will be interesting to see how those in Congress who have been demanding that NASA build a heavy-lift vehicle for which there is no mission with insufficient funding, while starving Commercial Crew, will respond. Judging by history, it will be with non sequiturs, and bashing of American enterprise by supposed conservatives and Republicans, such as Senator Shelby of Alabama (the senator from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center), Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas (the senator from Johnson Space Center), and Orrin Hatch of Utah (the senator from ATK, manufacturer of the giant Shuttle solid boosters that the Congress insists be used in the new launcher), or Science Committee Chairman (from Johnson Space Center) Ralph Hall.”

    The first non-sequitur appeared within minutes, apparently.

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is a statement which is typical of the pro SLS/Direct groupies, if you want some notion of the DIRECT groupies go see the posts a few threads back from Stephen M the DIRECT “Evangelist”….

    Neither being able to fly the shuttle or SLS or even DIRECT would make a bit of difference right now. What we need is an alternate ACRV to the Soyuz and that is going to take some time and naturally some negotiations among the various partners…simply because the Russians without their “payment” probably would have a harder time staying ISS partners.

    KBH’s comments are typical of the nonesense that Jeff B (aka 51D) and others put out; heat and no light, and will be promptly ignored by everyone. it is what it is

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 8:53 am

    “. Relying on the Russians for ISS access has has always been an insane policy”

    That is one reason that we “thinking people” have the viewpoint we have about “W’s” space policy and politics. He was the one that forced us to rely on the Russians for ISS access.

    it is like the economy one of W’s UXB that is slowly going off RGO

  • The reason NASA is looked at critically is two fold:

    1) Fiscal Responsibility. If you look at the two biggest programs in the last 20 years, they are both insanely over budget and behind schedule.

    Exhibit A: JWST – now 8 to 14 years behind schedule and abot 700 percent above the re-baselined budget of $1.6 Billion. It is not that I take pleasure in railing against JWST. It is just a poorly run program and a black hole for money. I am sorry but it needs to die.

    I would like to say that when I do speak about JWST I always remind the people that the money we save from canceling JWST needs to be dumped right back into SMD, specifically, astrophysics. I realize a lot of you think that if we kill JWST you will not get the money. I want you all to know we hear you and we are working on a remedy to quell your fears and concerns.

    Exhibit B: Constellation and SLS. Lets face it. SLS is nothing more than Constellation under a new name. We already blew somewhere between $11 and $13 billion on Constellation and now we are going to drop at least another $38 billion into SLS? That is what the upper chamber wants.

    We are fighting like hell against this. And frankly, when you look at MSFC unblemished record of failure over the past 20 plus years of trying to develop systems, well, they get defensive. Just look at this:

    http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/brevard_news/082211-senators-340m-for-ksc-a-misallocation

    MSFC is failing and blaming KSC. The news media is starting to see what is happening. A few powerful members of congress are treating the NASA budget like their personal slush fund. It is shameful.

    I think the good people down at KSC get it. I am wondering if JSC and the LockMart folks building MPCV see it too. I hope so. This diatribe by Senator Hutchison is nothing new. I wish she was as fiscally responsible, limited in government, and for the free markets with space as much as she is with everything else. The same case could be made for the people who signed the Hatch and Shelby letters.

    It is really sad. It just goes to show you that the TEA Party in Space is truly non-partisan.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • common sense

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 10:57 am

    “What’s next?

    Congress passes a law stipulating that NASA has $16B and 5 years to build the SLS with Congressionally mandated restrictions. ”

    Nope. Congresses passes a law that $38B = $16B !!! Duh and that they meant 5 dog-years to build the SLS ~ 35 man years. Double duh!

  • @common sense

    Actually the $38 billion figure is the worse case estimate for MPCV and the maximum heavy lift (130 tons) SLS configuration: LOX/LH2 core vehicle plus upper stage and two 5-segment SRBs. The 2016 (now 2017) SLS only requires 70 tons of payload capability which can be done without the 5-segment SRBs and upper stage.

    However, $3.8 billion a year over the course of 10 years is still a lot cheaper than the $5.4 billion a year that was originally going to be dedicated towards the Ares I program.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    Anyone know what the precedent is for this kind of situation?

    There isn’t much Bolden and NASA can do. If Congress orders them to build SLS for $1.95, then they salute, start the program and run out of money. That’s how SLS will play out, the same as Constellation.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “However, $3.8 billion a year over the course of 10 years is still a lot cheaper than the $5.4 billion a year that was originally going to be dedicated towards the Ares I program.”

    Unfortunately development projects rarely if ever run on a flat straight line budget. It is usually a bell curve. Lower amounts at the start and finish with a bulge in the middle. What this means is there will be years that more funding will be required. Since the funding is not there, NASA will have to stretch it out, which raises the costs.

    Now you will see other programs getting the funding removed and added to SLS to make up for the funding shortfalls and try to keep the program on schedule, but by then congress will be up in arms because of cost overruns and schedule delays and the program will be canceled.

  • Egad

    > The 2016 (now 2017) SLS only requires 70 tons of payload capability which can be done without the 5-segment SRBs…

    I suspect such a configuration, while it might be able to fly in a technical sense, certainly wouldn’t fly politically. Unless Utah gets defenestrated, which currently seems, if possible, quite unlikely.

  • common sense

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “There isn’t much Bolden and NASA can do. If Congress orders them to build SLS for $1.95, then they salute, start the program and run out of money. That’s how SLS will play out, the same as Constellation.”

    Hmm are you sure about that? We have separation of powers in the US. I do not think Congress can tell the WH what do just like that…

    Now of course they may go the Congress way but it will be just another wasted budget and Congress will, I am sure, take responsibility for it. Right Ms. Hutchison?

  • Michael from Iowa

    @Marcel

    The $38 billion figure is optimistic. If SLS goes forward it’ll probably be nearer $45-50 billion.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    There isn’t much Bolden and NASA can do.

    Well they could certainly request to meet with their respective Congressional committees to present what they know.

    I know it’s hard to separate politics from what makes sense, but if the program is going to far exceed what the law spells out for the budget, I would think it’s a legal responsibility for NASA (i.e. Bolden) to make sure that Congress is officially aware of that fact. Isn’t that what oversight committees are for?

    Now they may tell him to proceed, but that puts the monkey on their back for future problems. Of course Hutchison will be long gone and probably getting lobbying fees from SLS contractors by that time, but someone has to be responsible for telling NASA & the Administration that they are to ignore the law as stated, and proceed regardless.

    In fact, if I was in Bolden’s position, I would take every legal and ethical step I could to not only make sure that Congress acknowledges that the budget is inadequate, but that they take responsibility for increasing the budget to meet NASA’s estimates and direct NASA to proceed. This could just be an official statement from the committees to that fact, but it puts the onus on them, not NASA, for exceeding the $16B budget.

    This is really weird behavior by the Senate NASA committee, but it’s interesting, have we heard anything from the House committee besides Rohrabacher? You would think they would be more sensitive to increasing the budget for any program these days, much less one that is really being pushed by the Senate.

    I guess we’ll see what happens when Congress comes back from fundraising… I mean vacation. ;-)

  • @Michae from Iowa

    The lowest rumored estimate was $29 billion with the highest estimate at $38 billion.

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-08-05/news/os-nasa-next-moonshot-20110805_1_constellation-moon-program-nasa-supporters-internal-nasa-documents

    But even $50 billion in development cost over ten years would still only about $5 billion a year on average. President Obama inherited an $8.4 billion a year manned spacefight budget when the total NASA budget in 2009 was only $17.7 billion. The current NASA budget is about $18.7 billion. During the Apollo development era, NASA’s total budget (in today’s dollars) ranged from $21 billion a year to as high as $33.5 billion.

    Fortunately, NASA can get things done a lot more cheaply today than back during the 1960s– if allowed to do so.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Actually the $38 billion figure is the worse case estimate for MPCV and the maximum heavy lift (130 tons) SLS configuration

    You know, when we say you have a reading comprehension problem, we’re being honest with you. The report doesn’t say that NASA has OVERSTATED it’s budget estimates, the report said:

    All three Program estimates assume large, unsubstantiated, future cost efficiencies leading to the impression that they are optimistic.

    NASA’s estimates are more like a “best case” than what you interpret as a “worst case”.

    No wonder people have a hard time believing what you say…

  • E.P. Grondine

    I suppose we’ll hear a call for concentrated funding of Ares 1, er, Liberty next.

    Anyone care to guess how ATK would do under Romney?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    “UXB” = “UneXploded Bomb” – great phrase

  • tom

    “However, $3.8 billion a year over the course of 10 years is still a lot cheaper than the $5.4 billion a year that was originally going to be dedicated towards the Ares I program.”

    That was for Ares I + Ares V + Orion + the Lunar Lander + Earth Departure Stage + facilities @ SSC, KSC, MSFC and Glenn + manufacturing +infrastructure +a new launch tower +new lunar spacesuits + Orion recovery operations + a lot of tech development. Also 4 Ares I test flights (including Ares I-X) and 2 Ares IV and 1 full up Ares V test flights.
    Not to bad for the money and you get the moon and a path to Mars

  • Egadz

    It’s fun to click between the two different pieces posted here. Just how entrenched the herd of followers here have become is quite funny. It boils down to the following group-think: SLS = BAD “Commercial” = GOOD and anyone who does not see it that way, such as saying me need BOTH to get anything done, and makes the mistake of saying so = NUTS.

    You’d think that you people were cheering for your favored football team instead of considering the future of the nation and the losses of countless jobs. Amazingly myopic.

    Lucky for the future that NOTHING said here will make a single shread of differance in anything- it’s simply a big cyber circle-jerk. I hope you’re having fun. Please, don’t let me stop you.

  • Alex

    Andrew Gasser: What is the Tea Party in Space’s position on Orion MPCV? Just curious.

  • Coastal Ron

    Egadz wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    You’d think that you people were cheering for your favored football team instead of considering the future of the nation and the losses of countless jobs.

    If by “the future of the nation” you mean the future of NASA and spaceflight, then I see that and jobs as two separate issues.

    Jobs – I do think there is a place for taxpayer money to be spent on stimulating employment during a recession. But not just any jobs, and not just any projects – they need to be something that has lasting value or is otherwise deemed to be needed right now. The SLS doesn’t qualify for either, yet some in Congress want to use it as a jobs program. If they would call it that, then maybe there would be less direct complaints about it, but they claim it’s needed somehow, even though they won’t fund a need.

    Future of NASA – This gets back to the question of “what NASA does”. If you think NASA should be in charge of all U.S. spaceflight, and no commercial spaceflight should be supported, then I disagree. If you think NASA should be a self-contained organization, and not rely on American industry to support it’s needs, then I disagree.

    Lucky for the future that NOTHING said here will make a single shread of differance in anything

    Being aware of what the issues are have made me more involved, and my House and Senate reps have heard from me a lot more than they did before I became involved with this blog (Thanks Jeff!). Does that make a difference? If our reps listen to their constituents, then it does. If our reps don’t listen, then you’re right.

    The other point is that I am a more fully informed taxpayer now, and I understand where my tax money is going, both good and bad. Also, I have a much better idea about what I want from NASA and our government regarding the direction we should be following.

    So I would say overall that these discussions do matter, and though we are not voting directly on these issues, it does make for a more informed electorate. And that is always good.

    My $0.02

  • Egadz wrote:

    It boils down to the following group-think: SLS = BAD “Commercial” = GOOD and anyone who does not see it that way, such as saying me need BOTH to get anything done, and makes the mistake of saying so = NUTS.

    Um, no.

    I can’t speak for the others, but I see it this way.

    Commercial space evolved out of the Bush administration’s Vision for Space Exploration. That idea was to build Constellation, while contracting out ISS cargo deliveries to the private sector. Once Constellation hit the wall, the Obama administration essentially applied the idea to commercial crew. The VSE intended to fund Constellation by decommissioning the ISS in 2015. The Obama administration saved ISS by cancelling Constellation, starting commercial crew, and using the overall savings to extend the ISS.

    Everyone here wants a robust human spaceflight program. The problem is Congress won’t fund one. There’s only so much money to go around. So it boils down to priorities.

    Some here aren’t willing to grasp the basic concept that there’s only so much money. They think all Obama has to do is give another JFK-like speech and the members of Congress will decide to hike NASA’s budget from $18 billion to $150 billion per year. It’s not going to happen. As we saw in July, the House Appropriations Committee (dominated by Republicans) voted to whack NASA’s FY12 budget by 10% and cancel the James Webb Space Telescope. If they wanted NASA to have more money, they have the power to do so. They choose otherwise.

    A human spaceflight program beyond Earth orbit is *very* expensive. The Apollo program in the mid-1960s approached nearly 5% of the federal budget. Today NASA is about 0.4% of the federal budget. There is no way Congress is going to give NASA 5% of the federal budget again.

    So government-funded human space flight has to live within very modest means. Those of us supporting commercial space do so because we see it as a way out of the box. If we grow a commercial space program, one day it will no longer be reliant upon government funding, e.g. a Boeing CST-100 flight atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V to a Bigelow Aerospace space station. In the meantime, even if the government partially subsidizes commercial space, it’s an investment in that direction similar to how the U.S. Post Office grew the commercial airline industry in the 1920s by paying private pilots to fly air mail. It was a lot cheaper than the government building its own unwieldly fleet of planes to deliver air mail, and commercial space is much cheaper than another boondoggle Constellation-like program.

    Many of us are critical of SLS because it has no destination, it has no program, it just exists because certain members of Congress want to perpetuate jobs in their districts. They freely admit that in press releases and interviews. They want it built, but not one of them can tell you when or where it will fly. Despite claims to the contrary, it’s not designed or intended to fly to the ISS.

    Some people see SLS as the resurrection of their Moon program fantasies. They’re entitled to their opinion. But in my opinion SLS will never fly, just as Constellation never did, because SLS really isn’t about a mission. It’s a jobs program. And that’s why we’re critical of it.

  • tom

    The plan was never to decommission ISS in 2015. STS money was going to pay for a big part of CxP after FY2011. Griffin never budget for ISS past 2015 because they (he) would be long from office by then. It would be up the next admn to plam/budget for that. It was one of the worst lies every put out that Griffin wanted to end ISS. I know, I asked the man.

  • Alex wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Andrew Gasser: What is the Tea Party in Space’s position on Orion MPCV? Just curious.

    Thank you for the question Alex. The short answer is we like what the JSC-LockMart team are doing with MPCV. They are on budget and on schedule. NASA and JSC are allowing LockMart to do their jobs with MPCV as best as I can tell.

    LockMart has been very responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars. Naturally, we love fiscal responsibility! We also like the free market work done by LockMart. I would point to them canceling a ground test article. LockMart also put some of their own skin in the game with purchasing a Delta IV Heavy. We really like this.

    By doing this LockMart is giving KSC a chance to integrate and launch a mission before SLS. Moreover, JSC will get a chance to control a mission before SLS. This is that limited government approach that most tea party members can appreciate.

    Simply put, we feel that between our CCDev Partners, ULA, and MPCV, we will have an American HSF ride into space before 2016 and if you want to sip the “juice” much sooner.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Andrew Gasser:

    You are defending a separate government-only capsule that gets much more funding than its competitors combined. You are merely calling for competition of SLS components instead of calling a spade a spade and pointing out it is a useless rocket to nowhere. At the same time you are much more critical of JWST, which, while totally out of control, would at least be useful, unlike SLS / MPCV.

    That seems completely incompatible with TEA Party principles.

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    “Actually the $38 billion figure is the worse case estimate for MPCV and the maximum heavy lift (130 tons) SLS configuration”

    You know, when we say you have a reading comprehension problem, we’re being honest with you. The report doesn’t say that NASA has OVERSTATED it’s budget estimates, the report said:

    All three Program estimates assume large, unsubstantiated, future cost efficiencies leading to the impression that they are optimistic.”

    NASA’s estimates are more like a “best case” than what you interpret as a “worst case”.

    No wonder people have a hard time believing what you say…

    *******

    I think you’ve been drinking the anti-government extremist kool-aid again:-)

    President Obama inherited an $8.4 billion a year manned space program. That’s $84 billion over a ten year period: plenty enough to support the development of a new SLS and MPCV system at $38 billion, $48 billion, or even $58 billion. And Congress was ready to increase the manned spaceflight budget by another $3 billion annually if they felt that they had a President that supported an aggressive manned cis-lunar program!

    Instead, the President gave us a continuation of the expensive ISS program as a — corporate welfare make-work program– for the emerging private spaceflight companies, while arrogantly and falsely claiming that no one in America really has any interest in returning to the Moon!

    NASA is a great government program– especially when its allowed to use manned spaceflight as a tool for pioneering the solar system. And it cost less than 0.6% of every tax payer dollar spent while also producing more wealth for the American economy than it consumes.

    The ultimate irony is that the commercial crew companies would not even exist if it weren’t for NASA! They should be thankful– and not trying to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!

  • @Stephen C. Smith

    “Some people see SLS as the resurrection of their Moon program fantasies. They’re entitled to their opinion. But in my opinion SLS will never fly, just as Constellation never did, because SLS really isn’t about a mission. It’s a jobs program. And that’s why we’re critical of it.”

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. But returning to the Moon is substantially cheaper than trying to visit an asteroid or land on Mars. And I guarantee you that its not going to cost 5% of the Federal budget ($170 billion a year) or even $17 billion a year to return to the Moon:-) Less than $8 billion a year should be more than enough!

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Griffin never budget for ISS past 2015 because they (he) would be long from office by then.

    If that’s what Griffin told you, then it’s either one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard, a lie, or he was just trying to get you to leave him alone.

    If that kind of planning were the norm at NASA, then why did Griffin budget for Constellation, knowing that “(he) would be long from office by then“?

    And his former employees sure were under the impression that the ISS would be deorbited in 2016. Michael Suffredini, who was approved by Griffin as the ISS PM, testified in front of the Augustine Commission that:

    In the first quarter of 2016, we’ll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft

    Of course Suffredini also said:

    My opinion is it would be a travesty to de-orbit this thing,” he said. “If we get rid of this darned thing in 2015, we’re going to cede our leadership in human exploration.

    Here’s the article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/12/AR2009071201977_2.html?sid=ST2009071300824

    And the article nicely refutes what you think you heard:

    This, at least, is NASA’s plan, pending a change in policy. There’s no long-term funding on the books for international space station operations beyond 2015.

    Maybe your meds are off?

  • tom wrote:

    The plan was never to decommission ISS in 2015. STS money was going to pay for a big part of CxP after FY2011. Griffin never budget for ISS past 2015 because they (he) would be long from office by then. It would be up the next admn to plam/budget for that. It was one of the worst lies every put out that Griffin wanted to end ISS. I know, I asked the man.

    Um, no.

    I suggest you read this article:

    After Bush Cancelled the Space Shuttle

    In particular, look at the chart presented by Griffin’s predecessor, Sean O’Keefe. This was on January 28, 2004, two weeks after VSE was announced. It is very clear that it was the administration’s intent to phase out the ISS because the funding for both the ISS and ISS transport starts going down in FY10.

    Sure, any future Congress could have changed that. As I’ve written many times, it’s up to Congress, not the White House. But the “Vision Sand Chart” as it’s known makes it clear the administration’s proposal was to end ISS funding by 2015. That wasn’t Griffin, that wasn’t O’Keefe, that was the Bush administration’s policy decision.

  • vulture4

    tom wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    “The plan was never to decommission ISS in 2015.”
    Then could you explain the budget line for ISS:

    http://launiusr.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/01-14-04-budget-chart-med.jpg

    If you know Mike Griffin, why not invite him to join us on this blog for a little friendly conversation? surely he would want to stay in touch with the space enthusiast community.

  • DCSCA

    amightywind wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 8:53 am
    “You barbarians said the same things about Reagan and GDub. We did care then either.”

    Windy, hose two dweebs initiated the debt and decline of the USA and Reagan’s simplistic push to privatize NASA was literally a disaster and ruined a once stellar R&D organization. Sober up, Windy.

    “Russia space technology is in clear and rapid decline.”

    ROFLMAO yeah, it’s been all down hill for the Ruskies since October 4, 1957. Black coffee, Windy.

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    @Andrew Gasser:

    You are defending a separate government-only capsule that gets much more funding than its competitors combined. You are merely calling for competition of SLS components instead of calling a spade a spade and pointing out it is a useless rocket to nowhere. At the same time you are much more critical of JWST, which, while totally out of control, would at least be useful, unlike SLS / MPCV.

    That seems completely incompatible with TEA Party principles.

    Fiscal responsibility: Is it fiscally responsible for the United States of America to develop a capsule to carry astronauts beyond low earth orbit? I submit yes. While $1.2 billion a year is a large number, unlike JWST, the Lockheed Martin JSC team are on budget and on schedule.

    Also, MPCV has a test flight in 2013/2014 which is bought and paid for by Lockheed Martin. If you think JWST is going to launch in 2018 I have some ocean beach front property in Montana I would like to sell you. If you think SLS is “only” going to cost $38 billion I would like to talk about a bridge I would like to sell you too.

    It is important to remember that, sadly, MPCV is not a Space Act Agreement but the traditional model. I would love to see this as an SAA. Additionally the prime contractor has done a lot to remove excess costs. Some of which you may know and some of which you may not. They have done a good job and shouldn’t be punished because Constellation couldn’t get its act together.

    Limited Government: Is there a government roll in American Exploration and Settlement in Space? I submit yes. While our commercial crew partners prove themselves, it is in the best interest for the government to have a space vehicle. As per the law, MPCV is the back up to CCDEV. With that said, NASA has given its requirements and now Lockheed Martin is executing their plan.

    There is a partnership between the government (NASA) and the private sector sector (Lockheed Martin) that is actually making MPCV a success and not a black hole (JWST and SLS are black holes). From everything that I have seen I do not see a JWST or SLS situation with MPCV.

    A common misconception with the Tea Party is that we think the government should be out of everything. That is not true. That is a libertarian view and not a tea party view.

    Free Markets: Does MPCV engage the free market? I submit no. When Orion was canceled Lockheed Martin retained the data to Orion and they were given a new contract. Orion was never a problem in CxP, it was Ares I and Ares V.

    So I will concede that MPCV does not engage the free market like I would like but that is why we have CCDev. Now, why is CCDev so low?

    Has the MPCV budget raided CCDev or has SLS? I submit SLS. I agree with you we could be doing a better job. However, I am not about to completely terminate a program that is working in NASA and is within its means. If MPCV was over budget and behind schedule I would argue with you on your point.

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/ssc/Orion/Toolkit/SteppingStones.pdf

    According to Lockheed Martin they can do missions like Apollo VIII and to L2 without SLS. Our CCDev partners cannot do the missions in Lockheed’s presentation. I can make an argument that MPCV provides the United States with a unique capability at a moderate price that our CCDev partners cannot provide at this time.

    It is our position that MPCV is a good deal for the American Taxpayer if we fly it on EELV. I have every belief we will.

    Finally, I think if your review our history you will see we have been quite critical of SLS. We would like it competed. We think it would be great for the private sector to partner with NASA in a limited government approach to develop a SHLV. However, if that doesn’t happen, then yes, it should be canceled.

    We have called SLS a bail out earmark. We have called SLS the product of cronie capitalism. I have to question if you have read anything on our website where we are quite clear of our objectives. I mean the front page is all about wasteful spending on SLS.

    I do not think it is fair to lump MPCV with SLS or compare it to JWST. JWST is NEVER going to happen. Every couple years the launch is delayed longer and costs an extra couple billion. The price of JWST has gone up $2 billion between May and August alone.

    Sorry to disappoint. Can’t win em all. I did visit Rob Bishop’s office and tried tho!

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • Alan

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 5:29 pm


    Q: What is the Tea Party in Space’s position on Orion MPCV? Just curious.

    A: The short answer is we like what the JSC-LockMart team are doing with MPCV. They are on budget and on schedule. NASA and JSC are allowing LockMart to do their jobs with MPCV as best as I can tell.

    LockMart has been very responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars.

    You have got to be kidding. Are you serious? Have you looked at value for the funds spent to date? How many Billions have they spent on Orion/MPCV compared to say, Boeing with the CST-100. It is a pork-fest as bad as the SLS.

    Pork for me, but not for thee.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Egadz wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    ” It boils down to the following group-think: SLS = BAD “Commercial” = GOOD and anyone who does not see it that way, such as saying me need BOTH to get anything done, and makes the mistake of saying so = NUTS.

    You’d think that you people were cheering for your favored football team instead of considering the future of the nation and the losses of countless jobs.”

    All that shows is that you are not reading all that hard. I am probably one of the few diehard federalist here. I LIKE a strong federal government and believe that there are some things that only the federal government can do…but yet I recognize that in a society with a free enterprise system when the government WANTS to do something unique and rather special, then it needs to enlist the FE system, not use it as a subservient tool.

    I am curious how you defend SLS. It seems to have no real mission and the only real important part of it, is that it keep the same people employeed that the shuttle system did.

    I would be curious what you think its mission is?

    Finally I dont care about the job losses. There are people all over the country who are losing their jobs and those jobs had something to do with private industry …not simply employeed because the Federal government is spending money.

    I dont mind the Federal government spending money and think that we are under taxed as a nation particularly the uber rich. But I dont like the federal government simply wasting money RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    According to Lockheed Martin they can do missions like Apollo VIII and to L2 without SLS.

    No doubt the Orion was whipsawed by the constant changes Ares I was going through, and it didn’t help that it had to be designed to carry that massive LAS tower too.

    However the MPCV, like the Orion before it, are NASA vehicles, not Lockheed Martin. I don’t know if you were implying that, and if not, no worries. I point that out because LM is just the builder, and of course they would love for NASA to order lots of them.

    Kinda the same situation with ordering the Delta IV Heavy (have they put a deposit down?), is that they want to kick that puppy as far down the road as possible so it’s unlikely it gets cancelled. They’ve become enlightened regarding cost because they know it could still be cancelled, which is like a drunk slowing down after they almost crash their car…

    From a use standpoint, I think the MPCV will end up becoming a glorified lifeboat for larger spaceships like the Nautilus-X. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll stuff a bunch of people into an MPCV and send them on a six-month trip, since they will atrophy due to lack of adequate exercise room.

    It’s for that reason that I don’t see dumping $4B into finishing the MPCV as a worthwhile long-term investment. Each one can only be used once, and modified commercial capsules can probably serve the lifeboat duty just as good and for far less. Oh, and they are reusable.

    I don’t know if you’ve looked at the Nautilus-X proposal, but that would be a true spaceship, being able to be resupplied and go on missions up to 24 months long. And the projected cost? $7 billion.

    So for $4B we could have a non-reusable 4-person capsule, or for twice that amount we could have a 6-person reusable spaceship that can test out technology and techniques for long duration trips.

    However the President wants the MPCV, and so does Congress, and compared to the SLS this is a small issue, but I just wanted you to understand why I (and likely many others) are not enthusiastic about the MPCV.

    My $0.02

  • tom

    What a lack of understanding!
    Never said the media got it right. Context, context, context!

    Let’s do this by the numbers.

    If the congress did not fund ISS US operations after FY2015 our use would stop. BUT the US can not deorbit ISS. With what? USPM was cancelled. A docked space shuttle? No way. Never handle the loads and they are gone. Orion? Sure. A dedicated mission. Going to fund that? The ATV can’t do it. JAXA can’t do it. SpaceX can’t do it. Even more from the space policy side, the Russians, ESA, JAXA etc would have to agree. Why would they? Free space station (note the only thing we could do is mess with US segment power (some is done by softswitches). That is the extent of our control without access (people on orbit). It takes the Russian to deorbit ISS. Do you think the Russian would do that? If congress did not fund US ISS operations past FY2015 we would be abandoning the US segment. That’s all.

    Why would Griffin deal with you folks? You add what? Insults, understanding maybe 1-2 charts deep? Get out of your room, kiss a girl and work in the space program.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Andrew Gasser

    My major concern with canceling JWST is that if we allow it to die then we’ll just end up starting another space telescope project and I’m afraid that would end up costing more in the end and simply delay the new science further. Yes, I love Kepler too… I’m a volunteer planet hunter. But JWST will detect planets too by infrared, and not just in situations where the orbits intersects with our point of view. The planets JWST will find will be close ones, helping us understand our galactic neighborhood and maybe even find a “Goldilocks” planet not too far away. Hubble went over budget too…. WORTH IT!

    And on the MPCV, just because they have stayed on cost and on schedule doesn’t change the fact that it’s a bad contract format that could easily bite us in the ass later on. Worst of all, it’s redundant and significantly more costly than the alternatives (Dragon, CST-100, and Dream Chaser). The current MPCV contract should be closed out and if LM wants to complete in CCDev3, good for them.

    You get upset when things go over budget, I get upset when things are useless. And I agree with Neil de Grasse Tyson on this, it should be somewhat expected that we wouldn’t estimate the costs very well for something on a scale that we’ve never done before (JWST). I’m more pissed about the things we’ve done for decades getting more and more expensive because we keep giving the same greedy assholes blank checks.

  • NASA Fan

    Next Press Release from KBH:

    The hurricane that is approaching the east coast, and will no doubt impact the entire nation, including Houston Texas, proves that this nation needs the SLS. The NOAA data collected on the hurricane proves NASA’s cost estimates for the next 3 years are reasonable to proceed with the SLS Development!

  • Martijn Meijering

    Is it fiscally responsible for the United States of America to develop a capsule to carry astronauts beyond low earth orbit? I submit yes.

    And I agree (assuming you have a manned space program to begin with, which needs some justification), but that doesn’t mean MPCV specifically is justified. Dragon too could serve for missions beyond LEO and CST-100 could be the basis of a beyond LEO capsule too. MPCV gets many times more funding than CCDev without adding a unique capability that couldn’t be sourced differently. In addition the vehicle will only be available (and affordable) to NASA.

    I’ll grant you that MPCV isn’t as bad as SLS, but that’s not saying much. It is still far too expensive (and large), even if LM do meet their schedule. They are executing the wrong program well, whereas JWST is executing the right program badly. Both are bad and both are very expensive, but JWST done badly is still better than MPCV done well.

    As per the law, MPCV is the back up to CCDEV. With that said, NASA has given its requirements and now Lockheed Martin is executing their plan.

    Yes and you can’t blame LM, but in this case the law is wrong.

    MPCV isn’t the backup to CCDev in any meaningful way. It’s an out and out lie. Not on your part obviously, but on the part of the porkers. Nevertheless you should be calling them on it. MPCV isn’t the backup to CCDev, it’s its greatest threat. There’s a backup involved alright, but only in the sense that LEO missions are a backup plan for MPCV if beyond LEO missions don’t materialise, as seems likely when you blow most of the budget on SLS / MPCV. And in that case they will crowd out CCDev.

    If the law is wrong, you need to change it. And if you associate yourself with the TEA party, you should fight it with all your might.

    However, I am not about to completely terminate a program that is working in NASA and is within its means.

    Why not if it is useless? A bridge to nowhere that’s on schedule and on budget is still a waste of taxpayers’ money.

    And if cancellation costs or the realities of maintaining JSC are the issue, then MPCV could be redirected in a very useful direction instead. If you take the MPCV service module and the MPCV avionics you could turn it into a refuelable 21st century beyond LEO analog of Agena. That would allow you to involve propellant transfer right away, it would do away with the “need” for SLS, it would allow you to do exploration sooner. And you could still spend $3.5B a year on launches, only this time you would do it competitively.

    That has to be good news for Boeing, LM, PWR and Aerojet. It would also encourage new entrants.

    We think it would be great for the private sector to partner with NASA in a limited government approach to develop a SHLV. However, if that doesn’t happen, then yes, it should be canceled.

    No, it should be cancelled regardless. As I said, a bridge to nowhere is still a bridge to nowhere if it is built on schedule and on budget, both of which seems doubtful by the way. It is a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money and competing some components is no more than a fig leaf. You are lending legitimacy to SLS (and using the TEA party name doing so) when you should be fighting hard for its cancellation.

    Actually, SLS is worse than a bridge to nowhere, because it cuts off a potential source of funding for commercial RLVs, which would open up space. It is actively harmful, even if it is on time and on schedule, even if its components are competed and even if – magically – payloads were found for it.

    Sorry to disappoint. Can’t win em all.

    But your message has to be consistent with your name. Your message doesn’t fit the bill. It would if you called yourselves the Blue Dogs in Space. It’s misleading.

    The TEA party won its greatest victory in the budget battle not by asking for modest changes, but by fighting hard for radical changes. You may have to compromise later, but you don’t start out with a compromise.

    Cancelling JWST is perfectly consistent with TEA party principles, so no complaints there, but if anything has to be saved as a compromise, JWST should be it. Of course that can only happen if there is a purge of at least the top two levels of management, since there have to be consequences to gross mismanagement.

    MPCV can be preserved if it is redirected in a fruitful direction, or accepted with gnashing teeth if it can’t be stopped.

    SLS is an utter disaster, even if competed and it should be fought tooth and nail. Of the three projects it is the greatest affront to the US taxpayer and the greatest threat to commercial development of space.

    Competing components should only be supported as a way to sow division among the porkers if it is deemed it will increase the possibility of cancellation, not because it would lead to a slightly less disastrous vehicle. An SRB-based SLS that is cancelled many billions from now is still preferable to an LRB SLS that flies for another thirty years like the Shuttle did. It is the single biggest obstacle to establishing a free market space launch sector.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Finally, I think if your review our history you will see we have been quite critical of SLS. We would like it competed.

    Actually from where I’m sitting it looks as if you are fighting hard to channel anger against SLS into mere criticism of its mismanagement, something that could be fixed by competing some components. In that case you are fighting for SLS, not against it and trying to talk TEA party activists into supporting it. I hope I’m wrong about that.

  • vulture4

    Who is going to pay for a mission to L2 or around the moon? Tourists? Scientists? They would pay quite a bit, but not $1 billion. And neither will the taxpayers. It’s like trying to cross the Atlantic in a balloon. You might be able to do it at great cost, but what would it prove? In an era when government funding is being slashed, there is simply no feasible mission for Orion/MPCV. NASA needs to get back to developing, or promoting, the enabling technologies that may eventually make human spaceflight not just possible, but practical.

    A large percentage of NASA personnel simply aren’t prepared to admit that the failure of Constellation might be due to their own inadequate vision. They are convinced that the only reason they aren’t on the way to Mars is that Obama is determined to shut down the space program. At the same time they vote for anyone who will promise them tax cuts.

    The atmosphere remains politicized. And despite the recommendations of both the Challenger and Columbia investigations for better communication, it is hard to find anyone within NASA willing to openly discuss the real issues.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 25th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    If the congress did not fund ISS US operations after FY2015 our use would stop. BUT the US can not deorbit ISS. With what?

    It’s academic now, since Congress has funded the ISS through at least 2020, but NASA does have a plan in case a disaster strikes the ISS. And it uses either a modified ATV or modified Progress.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/578543main_asap_eol_plan_2010_101020.pdf

    Even more from the space policy side, the Russians, ESA, JAXA etc would have to agree.

    I think you’re making the mistake in thinking that a bad idea (defunding the ISS after 2015) was going to be implemented well. Bush/Griffin pretty much said “hey, we’ll defund it, you figure out all the rest”, and then bailed. Definitely a lack of leadership.

    And yes, our ISS partners were not consulted on the future defunding, and since they have voted to fund the ISS through at least 2020 also, they likely would have kicked and screamed about dumping their large investment after so short of time.

    But it was a financial consideration that Bush/Griffin made, not a science one, to end the ISS since Constellation was going to need even more money after 2015 to start development of the Ares V, EDS and lunar lander, and the ISS was deemed the budget that was going to get raided.

    Luckily all the ISS partners agree that the ISS is a huge asset, and they plan on using it to it’s fullest extent now that it’s complete. Now we just need to finish the logistics system to support it (COTS/CRS and CCDev), and we’ll be set for not only the ISS, but any other LEO destinations (Bigelow, etc.).

  • Dennis

    Now I dont know about what Ive been reading, but, according to some sources, even on these sights, the Orion is being built and tested, even as we speak. Also, whatever is happening behing the scenes, ATK is apparenty pushing on with its Liberty project. Now how all of this is going to work out, seems to be a mystery. Commercial, still must prove itself, and I mean with more than one flight. If SpaceX succeeds this coming November, in supplying the ISS, then things will be different, but if it fails, then certainly our government will be lowering the programs that support commercial.

  • common sense

    @ Dennis wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    “Now how all of this is going to work out, seems to be a mystery.”

    Well. It’s called competition. The best wins. The others possibly get to try again or fold and get to do something else. We all love commercial competition. Here we have it mixed with political competition even though it is probably impossible to actually separate the two in any market (of this magnitude). I think it’s fun. Better than the usual anyway.

  • I’ve got a post up about Senator Hutchison’s latest non sequitur over at Open Market, along with a new space policy teddy bears video.

  • Michael from Iowa

    @Dennis – If small spaceflight companies should have to “prove themselves” shouldn’t the same apply to larger companies like LockMart and ATK?

  • Das Boese

    Dennis wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Now I dont know about what Ive been reading,

    That’s bad.

    but, according to some sources, even on these sights, the Orion is being built and tested, even as we speak.

    And? That doesn’t address the viablity issues for its intended roles, wether it will ever fly or do so with humans on board.

    Also, whatever is happening behing the scenes, ATK is apparenty pushing on with its Liberty project.

    Pushing powerpoint slides for their shareholders, maybe. So far all we have of Liberty is a press release from ATK saying that they have talked to Astrium. However Astrium themselves have remained silent on the matter, as have SNECMA who actually manufacture the engine, or ESA which oversees Vulcain development.

    Now how all of this is going to work out, seems to be a mystery.

    Not really, the path forward is pretty clear, cancel or compete SLS and fund commercial crew, otherwise NASA is doomed to repeat the Constellation failure, which it won’t survive.

    Commercial, still must prove itself, and I mean with more than one flight.

    And a government-only rocket doesn’t? The commercial sector is leaps and bounds ahead in any case.

    If SpaceX succeeds this coming November, in supplying the ISS, then things will be different, but if it fails, then certainly our government will be lowering the programs that support commercial.

    The upcoming Dragon launch is a test flight, not a supply mission.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve got a post up about Senator Hutchison’s latest non sequitur over at Open Market, along with a new space policy teddy bears video.

    I think the teddy bears would have gotten the point across without the tired Russian jokes and cheap potshots at Europe, but suit yourself :P

  • cheap potshots at Europe

    If you’re German, I predict that you’ll be back to the Deutschemark within a year. And you can thank the Finns. ;-)

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    If you’re German, I predict that you’ll be back to the Deutschemark within a year.

    Challenge accepted.

  • Vladislaw

    “ATK is apparenty pushing on with its Liberty project.”

    If you look at the Ariene website there isn’t any mention of liberty. ATK has not pushed it on their website either. They must have decided to add stealth capabilities to the liberty because it is so very hard to find anything new about it since feb 8th.

  • Frank Glover

    @Marcel F. Williams

    “The ultimate irony is that the commercial crew companies would not even exist if it weren’t for NASA! They should be thankful– and not trying to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!”

    This is not about killing the goose, it’s more nearly about excising a tumor (e.g. SLS, induced by an attempt to force it to lay more golden eggs in specific states/districts) before the goose’s body essentially kills itself…

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Also, whatever is happening behing the scenes, ATK is apparenty pushing on with its Liberty project.

    That would be rather silly if they did, since no one wants to buy one.

    For crew it’s too big for CCDev participants, and too small for the MPCV.

    For cargo it offers nothing that other companies don’t already offer, including Ariane 5, while the list of risks associated with it include being the first large SRM only rocket, and ATK not having any direct launch management experience.

    What are the business reasons (price, features, etc.) that anyone would want to risk money on one? Think for yourself Dennis – don’t listen to advertisements.

  • tom

    “Three vehicles needed (1 ATV + 2 Progress)

    More difficult phasing and setup due to low-thrust mid-rings

    ATV availability past Vehicle #5 uncertain”

    ATV can not do it alone. Progress is always in the pciture. The Russians, ESA and JAXA would never give up on ISS.
    So why is Blodin going to throw ISS away in 2020? she could have about 5-10 years of life left. See how that argument is false. Boldin will not be nasa admin in 2020. The next guys can do the rest of the planning. Just like it was for Griffin.

  • So why is Blodin going to throw ISS away in 2020?

    I don’t know who “Blodin” is (you can’t even spell the man’s name properly?), but no one is planning to “throw ISS away in 2020.” Why should we take moronic anonymous commenters who claim to be NASA employees like you seriously? You make real NASA employees look very bad.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    So why is Blodin going to throw ISS away in 2020?

    Who’s “Blodin”?

    If you mean “Bolden”, then he isn’t, and he has never said he wanted to.

    Where do you get these silly notions?

    The next guys can do the rest of the [ISS] planning. Just like it was for Griffin.

    Apparently you don’t know how to read budget proposals.

    Griffin’s budgets zero’d out the ISS and shifted the funding over to Constellation. The only way the ISS could have been continued would have been with a $3B/year increase in NASA’s budget or a decrease in Constellation funding and activity – neither would have happened.

    Why are you trying to rewrite history?

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Cancelling JWST is perfectly consistent with TEA party principles, so no complaints there, but if anything has to be saved as a compromise, JWST should be it. Of course that can only happen if there is a purge of at least the top two levels of management, since there have to be consequences to gross mismanagement.”

    So you’re going to attack Administrator Bolden for Ed Weiler’s “mistakes”, which Weiler made under Griffin?

    Grffin is already gone, and I can back you in calling for Weiler’s “relief”.
    You’re going to have to get it by Mikulski, whose state handles the ground segment.

    Funny thing is, none of the space “enthusiasts” bring up how much the Mars rover is over budget as well.

    Grffin’s already gone, but he and ATK are trying to keep their 5 segs going. This is so far beyond the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about that it makes most long time analysts want to scream, or get drunk, or retire and get drunk, or do anything to look the other way.

    Any guess how well ATK would do under Romney?

    What part of “ATK’s 5 segs can’t work very well” do you not understand?

  • Das Boese

    tom wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    ATV can not do it alone. Progress is always in the pciture. The Russians, ESA and JAXA would never give up on ISS.
    So why is Blodin going to throw ISS away in 2020? she could have about 5-10 years of life left. See how that argument is false. Boldin will not be nasa admin in 2020. The next guys can do the rest of the planning. Just like it was for Griffin.

    Nobody is going to “throw away” ISS in 2020, there aren’t any plans yet as to what happens after that. Mr. Bolden hasn’t said anything to that effect, so I’m not sure where you got that from. It could be extended to 2027 if it’s structurally sound, it could be deorbited, it could be dismantled and some modules used as the core for the next station. We don’t know. You’re getting angry over nothing.

  • tom

    Griffin said many times (listen to his words) he never planned to end ISS in 2015 for CxP. CxP was going to do just fine with or original 2.3 Billion + about 3 from STS once the shuttle was concluded. It’s a big lie that he planned to end ISS. Just as it would be to say Bolden (try posting from your iphone) plans to end ISS after 2020 (I see no budget numbers for ISS 10 years out… or money for commercial crew. Why is Bolden unwilling to fund commercial crew after 2013?? See my point. Some staffers on the hill read what you write and a few in NASA. Most laugh. The tone and tenor of your remarks do not help commercial space/new space etc. it just makes new space look like a fringe effort with a limited effect. ISS systems have a design life (including ground test time) of 15 years. FGB/SM and Node 1 will be @ design limits in 2015. Let see what came be done to patch/clean and reconfigure. It not the structure that is the issue, it’s the subsystems that degrade. You can’t take ISS apart! The CBM bolts are driven one way and the unbolt commands and software no longer exist (testing in 1998 showed the unbolt command/motors stripped the bolts). I’m not angry. I just hate to see a good chance to influence people wasted. Some of you have no idea how much effort goes into building ISS/CxP/STS etc….. Because we make it look easy.

    Come to Huntsville, take one of Griffins classes @ UAH, or to an AIAA lecture. He talks all the time and will take questions. You people speak about someone you have never met.

  • So you’re going to attack Administrator Bolden for Ed Weiler’s “mistakes”, which Weiler made under Griffin?

    Bolden has had multiple opportunities since to prevent any more such “mistakes” by Weiler (and Scolese), but hasn’t availed himself of them.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Griffin said many times (listen to his words) he never planned to end ISS in 2015 for CxP.

    Well then that’s one more lie we can lay at his feet. But in fact he did plan to end the ISS, and here is the NASA chart that shows it (thanks Stephen):

    http://history.nasa.gov/sepbudgetchart.pdf

    Why is Bolden unwilling to fund commercial crew after 2013?

    Tom, do you have a reading comprehension problem? Here is the FY2012 NASA proposed budget:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_NASAFY12_Budget_Estimates-Overview-508.pdf

    Notice that Commercial Spaceflight has been proposed for $850M/year, and that the current budget horizon is through FY2016.

    I’m not angry. I just hate to see a good chance to influence people wasted.

    Spreading misinformation is not a good way to help the ISS. And why are you ignorant about these facts? Or are you just spreading FUD?

  • Vladislaw

    NASA made the Constellation plan look easy?

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 10:56 am

    “Bolden has had multiple opportunities since to prevent any more such “mistakes” by Weiler (and Scolese), but hasn’t availed himself of them.”

    This is government and politics. Not the private industry. Changes are happening but at a slower pace. I have no opinion about either but look at the new exploration directorate for example. Who is in charge? Why? For how long? Once shuttle is all but gone… I suspect that they will transition smoothly but in the end they will if necessary. AND then who can better replace them? If no one can then they will stay for a while longer. Unless our friend EP wants the job…

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ August 26th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    You’ve already established on this forum that hardware has more value than the crews that ride it so any perspective you have on HSF is quite devalued.

  • tom

    that chart from many years ago shows ISS funding concluding in 2017. Got one that shows 2018? 2020? just not 2015..

  • You’ve already established on this forum that hardware has more value than the crews that ride it so any perspective you have on HSF is quite devalued.

    Only to moral midgets.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    that chart from many years ago shows ISS funding concluding in 2017. Got one that shows 2018? 2020? just not 2015.

    Go look at the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2010“.

    Here is an article that confirms that the bill extends the life of the ISS through at least 2020.

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/10/12/president-obama-signs-nasa-space-exploration-act-law/

    In the bill, Congress also directs NASA to do a study into what it would take to extend it’s life even more.

    The GAO has even had time to evaluate NASA’s planning for the extension out to 2020, and here is their report, which says NASA is doing a good job:

    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-519R

    Just out of curiosity, are you incapable of doing internet searches like this yourself? Here, I’ll help you. Just Google:

    “International Space Station 2020 extension”

    Now stop saying ignorant things.

  • tom

    “Vladislaw wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    NASA made the Constellation plan look easy?”

    We solved Thrust Oscillation from the 1st stage (the LOX damper is genus) , developed a good 5 segment SRB, made a rather good upper stage, developing a J2-X engine that can fly for the next 100 years, used common systems /manufacturing between Ares I and V to cut cost and bring in reliability. We had the Ares I-Y flight (full up – none functioning J-2X) ready for 2013 and a follow on Ares I-Y prime (full up, Production Orion/ working J2-X) set for about 6-9 months later. We would be flying people by 2015. In terms of unique cost Ares I was less than 1 billion from being operational.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No, you didn’t develop a 5 segment SRB, there was no upper stage, the J2-X is far from finished, today is 2011 not 2013 so you have nothing ready. All promises and powerpoints. Meanwhile, SpaceX has developed and launched two types of launch vehicles, has built two launch sites and has launched and recovered a capsule and all this for an amount of money that’s a rounding error compared to what was spent on Constellation. It also has a healthy slate of clients. You and your friends however have accomplished nothing but an admiral’s test of a redundant and completely uneconomical rocket and you are absolutely right to be worried about your jobs.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    We solved Thrust Oscillation from the 1st stage (the LOX damper is genus)

    How?

    And just so everyone remembers, the thrust oscillations were still present in the SRM, but non-value added mass was added to the rocket to mitigate the effects of the vibration so that it wouldn’t damage the payload and crew.

    And when I say non-value added mass, that means that the vibration isolation structures were so heavy that they subtracted from the payload capability of the rocket, making it less efficient.

    One has to wonder why anyone would think that an SRM-only rocket makes sense. It certainly doesn’t from a capability standpoint, nor a cost one. What else is there besides political?

    In terms of unique cost Ares I was less than 1 billion from being operational.

    No. What you’re describing would be like a Ponzi scheme.

    The entire cost of the Ares I was unique to Ares I. It was the follow-on Ares V that would have realized savings from reusing Ares I systems. That being the case, Ares I still had about $20B left to go.

  • Man, “tom” doesn’t just drink that Constellation koolaid, he marinates in it.

  • Vladislaw

    Tom wrote:

    “We solved Thrust Oscillation from the 1st stage (the LOX damper is genus) , developed a good 5 segment SRB, made a rather good upper stage, developing a J2-X engine that can fly for the next 100 years, used common systems /manufacturing between Ares I and V to cut cost and bring in reliability.”

    No tom, you are absolutely wrong on all counts.

    A project is made to look easy when it comes in on schedule or faster and on budget or less. Constellation failed on ALL counts.

    President Bush said in the VSE that we would land on the moon as soon as 2015 and no later than 2020. We would also launch to LEO by 2014. We would move to new systems requiring less personal like fuel depots and would build no new launchers.

    Constellation made everything harder than it should be and escalated costs and it never came close to being made to look easy. It was a nightmare.

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