NASA

Griffin’s skepticism, Bolden’s optimism

The current and former administrators of NASA were both in Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday, with widely varying assessments of the agency’s human spaceflight programs. Appearing on a panel hosted by Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle on Friday afternoon, former NASA administrator Mike Griffin claimed that the current White House “has done everything it could to oppose human spaceflight”, in the words of the Huntsville Times. Griffin said that NASA should not expect to be given the go-ahead to work on a heavy-lift vehicle until after the Obama Administration leaves office, meaning that supporters of that vehicle in industry need to “continue with the building blocks so that when someone does say, ‘I want the United States to be on the frontier,’ we’re not starting from scratch.”

Current NASA administrator Charles Bolden spoke at a separate event in Huntsville on Friday night and had a brighter assessment of the future. “Despite what you may have heard,” Bolden said, according to a separate Huntsville Times article, “human spaceflight is not ending.” Bolden, who turned 65 last week, added that he believes “humans will walk on another planet in his lifetime.” As President Obama said in his Kennedy Space Center speech last year that he expected a human landing on Mars after a Mars orbital mission in the mid-2030s, it appears Bolden plans to be around well into his 90s.

152 comments to Griffin’s skepticism, Bolden’s optimism

  • If Michael Griffin had any credibility left before that tantrum, he has none now.

  • Mark Whittington

    Griffin, sadly, is quite correct, as usual. The administration is foot dragging on SLS because it is not serious about space exploration,

  • vulture4

    Surprisingly, even on the Alabama website where the article appears half the comments are going against Griffin. (The other half are racial slurs directed at Obama.)

    Conversely, within NASA there is total denial that there is anything wrong with Constellation/SLS/MPCV that a new president and a new NASA administrator would not fix. The assumption is almost universal that a Republican administration would write NASA a blank check for Constellation. What little discussion takes place is in private and highly politicized.

    There is a total disconnect between NASA and the space advocacy community. I have an idea. Everyone call someone at NASA and ask them to join the _real_ debate here at spacepolitics.com.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “… done everything it could to oppose human space flight”

    • Investment in, and partnership with commercial space
    • Investment in grand challenges to facilitate operations in space
    • preservation of ISS, to understand effects of long durations in space
    and develop technologies for space construction

    What Mike is saying, of course, is that Obama has done everything he could to avoid “Apollo on steroids”. He’s right. Of course, as measured by the last administration and Congress, “Apollo on steroids” was actually just something that one pretended one was doing, since the money to do it properly was never really there. Mike’s frontier, one gathers, is something that can adequately reside in his own imagination.

    Watching a former NASA administrator try to remain relevant to national needs in space sure isn’t pretty.

  • common sense

    Well some people need to stay in the spotlight no matter what it takes.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Just a note on the last paragraph. The current plan (such as it is) calls for the first human BEO mission of the MPCV program to take place in 2021 at the very latest (worst-case scenario). Admittedly, that is just a trans-lunar flyby but it is still a BEO mission for all of its simplicity.

    So, he is actually talking about a mission (although a fairly unispiring one) before he hits 80.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I stopped paying attention to Mike G as a serious person after his goofy appearance on MTP many years ago…but if there was any indication of how out of touch he is then this line (from Jeff’s post) is illustrative

    “meaning that supporters of that vehicle in industry need to “continue with the building blocks so that when someone does say, ‘I want the United States to be on the frontier,’ we’re not starting from scratch.”

    The folks (companies) who want to build a heavy lift only support building a heavy lift as long as the checks from the federal government are coming in. Neither Boeing, ATK or anyone else is willing to invest a dime of their own money that IS NOT recoverable from the federal government.

    In addition what Mike is doing is the same thing that the other ex Bush toadys are doing in the era of anew administration. Mike never addresses HIS personal failures of leadership. He never explains how his agency spent 12-15 billion and got nothing in the Cx program…or why he couldnt put together from available parts (something he once embraced) a shuttle replacement.

    Instead what he does is create a mythical reality and then beat up on the current administration’s positions and results in contrast to that mythical reality. This is now a standard GOP/right wing (sorry Rand)/Tea party tactic…and what Mike and other NASA toady’s are trying to do is to impress partisan politics onto the program.

    The reality of course is that we are where we are because the current administration had to pick up from the complete failure of the last administrations policies and politics. The Bush administrations space policy was a political and policy failure. Until its defenders acknowledge that then their comments on the current policies and politics should be treated as absurd.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kirby Runyon

    As little as I respect Bolden as an agency leader (he’s just an Obama puppy dog), I still have to agree with him–except the great strides in exploration will be from NASA being a customer–not a contract holder–of SpaceX and possibly some of the other private sector human spaceflight folks.

  • Its easy to be optimistic about the future by simply dreaming about it. NASA has been dreaming about going to Mars since the end of the Apollo era nearly 40 years ago.

    But in order to get humans to Mars, you’ve got to start building some of the space architecture that’s going to be required in order to get there. The building the SLS will be the first major step towards returning men to the Moon– and both should play a major role in getting humans to Mars.

  • NASA Fan

    Obama’s decision to keep the ISS going is an easy decision to make. i.e. keep spending $2B per year. No brainer.

    There also is no risk in Obama cancelling Cx. Not enough money makes it easy to decide what to do. Kill it.

    Re invent HSF as a technology adventure for the foreseeable future. There is then no schedule to meet or budget to overrun – at least a budget overrun that anyone will notice (like JWST, MSL etc.). Again, a no risk choice.

    Obama isn’t going to use any political capital on HSF other than to simply minimize the negative impact of his ‘risk free’ policies. And besides, as many on this blog have pointed out, there is no real reason for HSF; Obama knows this, but doesn’t want to go down in history as the President who ‘quit on HSF’. That would look bad. And politicians above all else, do not want to look bad.

    IMHO of course.

  • Coastal Ron

    Griffin: “…meaning that supporters of that vehicle in industry need to “continue with the building blocks

    What does that mean? That they should fund the projects themselves?

    PWR should keep funding the J-2X engine without NASA funds? Boeing should keep building 1st stage sections at Michoud without funding?

    Oh, no wait! Maybe Griffin is telling them to build the SLS as a commercial product (i.e. no NASA funding), and then just sell the complete rocket later? That’s BRILLIANT!!!

    Uh, someone just emailed me and said that no, Griffin doesn’t believe that NASA should rely on commercial launchers to take care of NASA’s transportation needs, and what he really meant is that these companies should “continue with the building blocks” of more pork funding.

    Never mind.

  • Michael from Iowa

    @Mark
    They’re ‘foot dragging’ on SLS because it’s a waste of NASA’s time and dwindling budget, and everyone except a few congressmen vying for pork and the fanatics still desperately holding onto the illusion that it somehow means the continuation of the Constellation program seem to get it.

    Congress set a cap of $1.6 billion per year for SLS, now we find out it’s going to be nearer to $4 billion. With NASA already poised to lose anywhere from 5-10% of its budget that leaves only three options for the SLS:

    1) Continue the program at the level set by the budget cap, which will probably extend the timetable for completion well into the 2020s.

    2) Increase SLS funding to required levels, which given the inevitable cuts that will be imposed on NASA means the cancellation of dozens of unmanned programs, maybe even the shutdown of entire departments.

    3) Scrap the SLS.

    Take your pick but make no mistake – these are the only options where the SLS is concerned.

  • North American

    5) Build a reasonable 5.5 meter reusable SLS using a single SSME, four steering, roll control and OMS engines, and twin AJ-500 powered boosters, evolve3able up to eight boosters and as many Aerojet SRMs as are needed.

    That’s the plan, because an 8.4 meter SLS with disposable SSMEs is lunacy.

    One word young man : Rockwell.

  • Vladislaw

    Mark “the pathological liar” Whittington wrote:

    “Griffin, sadly, is quite correct, as usual. The administration is foot dragging on SLS because it is not serious about space exploration,”

    Do you EVER say anything that is logically correct?

    Just another in a long list of your use of fallacies in logic. You are offering a false choice. There can be 101 reasons to be against the SLS that have nothing to do with being serious about space exploration.

    How about that SLS is not about space exploration but a pork train.

    Why don’t you take a few college courses on logic so at the very least you can form a logical statement.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Admittedly, that is just a trans-lunar flyby but it is still a BEO mission for all of its simplicity.

    Pet peeve: that’s not Beyond Earth Orbit, But Beyond Low Earth Orbit.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    “Griffin, sadly, is quite correct, as usual. The administration is foot dragging on SLS because it is not serious about space exploration,”

    and you are all for SLS because there is not a single Bush era big government space program/effort you dont like.

    It is a Bush era argument to link SLS with being the totality of space “exploration”

    We are exploring space. Dig out of Fox News and read about Dawn at Vesta and New Horizons going to Pluto and Juno to Jupiter and …..SLS will explore “building” for over a decade and cost over 40 billion dollars on top of the 15 billion already spent.

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    NASA Fan wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Obama isn’t going to use any political capital on HSF

    As a comparison, can you show how much political capital that Bush 43 used for Constellation?

    I’ll save you the trouble – none. He announced it and then ignored it.

    People keep waiting for another Kennedy-type speech to “crystallize the nation” into backing a new grand space program, but even in Kennedy’s day the space program did not have that much support before and after the Apollo 11 moment.

    You all need to realize that space is just another place to explore, conquer, inhabit and exploit. NASA can help us get out there, but it’s meager budget cannot do it alone. That’s why what it does best is on the point-edge of exploration, not the routine activities such as running a transportation service.

    That’s why I view people that want the SLS as anti-exploration, since every dollar that is spent on hardware that doesn’t stay in space is a waste.

    SLS supporters can’t even point to a program the SLS is supposed to support, only vague promises of “if you build it, programs requiring lots of quarter-million mass payloads will suddenly be funded“. Lunacy, pure lunacy.

    Shut down the SLS, shift over the funding to building MPCV, Nautilus-X, HEFT or whatever NASA wants to do mission-wise, and launch everything on existing rockets. We’ll be in space sooner, and doing far more in space on NASA’s meager budget than the we would if we end up spending a decade building a useless mega-rocket.

  • DCSCA

    Griffin’s churlish commentary only reaffirms his lingering bitterness over the rejection of his management skills — and his Ares rocket. It was a lousy design and the fatal flaw in Constellation. Rather than blaming the Obama administration for cratering HSF, he should blame himself for a poor management design and absurdly expensive cost overruns in an era of mounting deficits. And the childish, egocentric bickering between Griffin, Garver and administration policy doesn’t enhance his stature as a spaceflight visionary. Griffin is no Von Braun– although he thinks he is in his own mind. The best contribution Griffin can make to HSF today is stay away from it– as he represents an expensive failure of NASA leadership from the past.

  • vulture4 wrote:

    Conversely, within NASA there is total denial that there is anything wrong with Constellation/SLS/MPCV that a new president and a new NASA administrator would not fix.

    I still encounter people around KSC who claim Constellation is “on hold.” That’s an exact quote.

    NASA Fan wrote:

    Obama’s decision to keep the ISS going is an easy decision to make. i.e. keep spending $2B per year. No brainer.

    As previously documented, the prior administration’s plan was to defund and decommission the ISS in 2015 to pay for Constellation. The Obama administration saved ISS by ending Constellation.

    I think by 2020 we’ll realize just how smart a decision this was. I came across an Astrogenetix 6 1/2 minute video yesterday that clearly and logically explains the potential the ISS has for curing major diseases.

    Click here to watch on YouTube.

    All Constellation was going to do is get us more Moon rocks by 2030. ISS may have already given us a salmonella vaccine, and now Astrogenetix is working on a MRSA vaccine. And they’re just getting started. Imagine what we’ll have discovered by 2020.

    In the long run, the ISS will do far more for humanity than Apollo or Shuttle, in my opinion.

  • Ben Joshua

    Thank you, Michael from Iowa and Coastal Ron, for bringing stark reality to bear on a story about dueling administrators, which is really about entrenchment of the status quo.

    In the face of a protracted structural recession, and with more affordable LEO transport apparent in the wings, parochial congress-people who can’t design their way out of a paper bag, true believers in the blank check approach as the only option, bureaucrats trapped in the NASA bubble and traditional NASA contractors continue to assert their power. They rally support among those who are fearful of losing their employment. They promote astonishingly bad ideas. They wonder why the taxpaying public ain’t yahoo behind those bad ideas.

    In the coming years, as more affordable LEO transport is progressively, and with some luck (double standards may apply here), successfully demonstrated, SLS and its kind will will look more dinosaurish and less cutting edge, even to the news media, which loves those pretty graphics and video simulacra.

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    “Watching a former NASA administrator try to remain relevant to national needs in space sure isn’t pretty.”

    That’s really the crux of it, isn’t it.

    Few ex-NASA administrators come to mind as an aerospace industry sages– ‘go to’ guys for wisdom in the national discourse on policy after leaving the post. Perhaps Tom Paine carried that flame the best in his post-Apollo days. Webb quietly retired. Frosch… Fletcher… all went quietly as well. Truly’s dismissal was abrupt. Occasionally O’Keefe bubbles up when bean-counting surfaces as a priority.

    Griffin is seeking vindication for his reputation. In spite of Ares being a lousy design, if he’d brought it in on or ahead of schedule and at or under budget, the current HSF mess wouldn’t really be an issue.

  • DCSCA

    @Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    “Its easy to be optimistic about the future by simply dreaming about it. NASA has been dreaming about going to Mars since the end of the Apollo era nearly 40 years ago.”

    Longer. Hugh Dryden was talking publicly about it in early 1964, when budgets were ballooning.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    “The Bush administrations space policy was a political and policy failure.”

    The policy initiative was a good one but Bush failed to fight for adequate funding- no surprise there. Although the caveat to Dubya’s flame out was Griffin’s Ares- the weakest element of Constellation. Was reviewing media reports from ’04 when VSE was announced. Speculation noted it may have been just election year fodder and a ‘feel good’ proposal to help divert attention from an Iraq war gone sour. Aldrin supported it as did miser O’Keefe. But the Bush administration failed to fight for funding with two deficit-funded wars going on. And Griffin’s poor management during his tenure didn’t help. Like father, like son. Same budgeting flaw killed Pappy Bush’s 1989 moon initiative- a failure to fight for funding w/Congress.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    “I still encounter people around KSC who claim Constellation is “on hold.” That’s an exact quote.”

    They’re tredding water and a change in administrations might just prove them correct in the mid-term. From a long-term persepective, it probably is. Ares aside, Constellation is Pappy Bush’s 1989 proposal redux and it will keep resurfacing as the way it will be done. And although both Bush initiatives foundered from underfunding, in the wake of the CAIB findings in conjunction with what was revealed by the Rogers Commission report, they did finally force the key question to the surface- the need for NASA- and the United States, to develop and present a sound rationale for American participation in human spaceflight.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    “You all need to realize that space is just another place to explore, conquer, inhabit and exploit.”

    1. We already inhabit space and have begun to explore it.
    2. Exploit? You’re talking like that fish in the bowl again. You got it backwards. You mean adapt. Conquer? That’s God’s work. For human beings at this point in their evolutionary march, not so much.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    “The policy initiative was a good one but Bush failed to fight for adequate funding- ”

    you can believe what you want to believe but in my view which I expressed here at the time, the initiative was like almost everything Bush did…an attempt to recreate some venue from the cold war and drape it in whatever was going on today…and suffered from not a lot of “think through” (one of Bush’s idiotic phrases).

    On the face of it going to the Moon and trying to use its resources sounds great and it certainly excited a lot of people here.

    But the notion is as goofy for our time as the Vikings thinking of settling North America or trying in the 1920′s to force serious transatlantic flying.

    The technology nor the markets nor really the industrial infrastructure were (and are) there…and the government agency that was tasked with doing the program was and is filled with second rate idiots in terms of management….when Bush announced his vision; the NASA management had just killed 7 astronauts through incompetence.

    But just as Bush thought by invading Iraq he was going to replay FDR in Europe (or Reagan by downing the Soviet Union and best of all he got to play with the military)…he thought with VSE he was going to restart the grand era in NASA’s past; the race to the Moon and be JFK. Problem is that the task was both to big at any amount of money for the thuds who run the agency today…and really it was simply to big.

    After spending hundreds of billions Bush’s plan envisioned using lunar resources that would now cost many many many times more then bringing the same resources from Earth. This simple fact matters nothing to the right wing trogs who think of America as a sort of pimple faced teenager beating up on anyone who they dont like…but it is the fact that kills VSE.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    “But in order to get humans to Mars, you’ve got to start building some of the space architecture that’s going to be required in order to get there. ”

    and one more time…why? RGO

  • josh

    griffin: wost.administrator.ever.

    anyway, what i find amusing is that most of the windy-types around here actually believe that obama won’t be reelected and that the next president will somehow make all their troubles go away. ofc the reality is that obama will be in office till 2016 and even if the us were stupid enough to elect someone else that someone would not build sls either. reality is a bitch.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 4:08 pm
    “I still encounter people around KSC who claim Constellation is “on hold.” That’s an exact quote.”

    NASA and its contractors are an excellent example of the “welfare” mentality that the right wing is always thinking and talking about.

    “We need to get back to exploring” is code for “we need our federal subsidy so we can be independent right wing thinkers” RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 6:46 pm
    “and one more time…why?”

    Agreed. The central question has finally been flushed to the surface, post the Rogers Commission & the CAIB. What is the rationale for American participation in HSF?

    The Russians have incorported it into their national character. The PRC appears to be doing so as well, even if it is a loss leader to foster positive perceptions in geopolitics. American HSF policy, historically reactive, not proactive, has yet to establish a rationale for HSF beyond the geo/political motives. If the quarterly driven, profiteering nature of ‘free market’ American capitalism is the critical, if not deciding factor, Americans will never lead in this field, but always follow along, cashing in where they can. Reaganomics, supply-side economics or whatever it is labelled for an era, is not going to lead the way out into the cosmos in this era.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    He thought with VSE he was going to restart the grand era in NASA’s past; the race to the Moon and be JFK. Problem is that the task was both to big at any amount of money for the thuds who run the agency today…and really it was simply to big.

    Who knows what Dubya’s thinking really was. It would be helpful if someone wrote an insider story of how that policy decision evolved.

    We tend to forget the context. CAIB had issued its report with recommendations in August 2003, if memory serves. The administration had to respond. They could choose to ignore it, to implement all of it, or pick-and-choose.

    Ignoring it was out of the question. Unlike the Challenger board, CAIB pulled no punches and it made clear that Shuttle was “a complex and risky” system. Although CAIB didn’t specifically recommend it, reading between the lines it was fairly clear they thought it was time to phase out Shuttle.

    But we needed Shuttle to complete ISS. So the core question in my mind is, what was the internal debate within the administration and NASA about the future of ISS? It was about one-third completed, and we had agreements to honor with our ISS partners, so we couldn’t just walk away.

    And yet when Sean O’Keefe presented the Vision Sand Chart two weeks after Bush’s VSE speech, it’s clear that the administration chose to phase out the ISS by 2015, lowering the funding for both ISS operations and transport every year starting in 2010. So their strategy seemed to be to finish it, and then abandon it five years later in favor for funding VSE which evolved into Constellation.

    It just doesn’t make much sense. Did the administration object to a multinational partnership, preferring to go it alone with VSE? Did they not like ISS because of scientific research (since the Bush administration was generally hostile to science)?

    This piece of the puzzle has always been missing in my mind. Hopefully one day it comes to light.

  • amightywind

    Griffin’s reading is correct. I hope he returns to the Administrator post after 2012. Obama and Bolden are now using cynical passive aggressive tactics to sabotage the will of congress. One assumes, after they have stalled long enough, they can claim ‘the congressional plan isn’t working.” This is leadership unbefitting of America.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    “.. he thought with VSE he was going to restart the grand era in NASA’s past; the race to the Moon and be JFK. Problem is that the task was both to big at any amount of money for the thuds who run the agency today…and really it was simply to big.”

    Nah. You give him too much credit. He reviewed what Pappy did and coughed up a redux in the wake of the CAIB report then pressed on w/his own priorities at the time, which NASA was decidely not as his lack of follow-through in battling for funding funding showed. Like father, like son.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    “We tend to forget the context. CAIB had issued its report with recommendations in August 2003, if memory serves.”

    We?? Speak for yourself. Sorry for the typo.

  • It would be helpful if someone wrote an insider story of how that policy decision evolved.

    That book was written at the time, by Keith Cowing and Frank Seitzen.

  • vulture4

    Stephen C. Smith wrote “reading between the lines it was fairly clear they thought it was time to phase out Shuttle.”

    They also said the Shuttle could continue to fly safely until a US replacement was operational, and that the replacement should be designed solely for the mission of access to LEO. The CAIB report actually said that any attempt to design a replacement for a more ambitious mission would fail.

    I do not agree with everything the CAIB said. They were just people, like us, making the best guesses they could. But on that point they were right on target, and Bush completely ignored the warning.

    As I understand it, although O’Keefe was administrator, Griffin came up with the entire Constellation/VSE theme and sold it to Bush because it eliminated international cooperation and because it would prove he was “bold”. Despite being a juvenile fantasy, it proved an intoxicating vision not just to Bush but to a large percentage of the NASA bureaucracy and even many of the contractors who would lose their jobs because of it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 7:14 pm
    “What is the rationale for American participation in HSF? The Russians have incorported it into their national character. The PRC appears to be doing so as well, even if it is a loss leader to foster positive perceptions in geopolitics.”

    I’ll say it again. Commercial space may be the answer here. Commercial enterprise and entrepreneurship is fundamental to our national character. Having it leading and doing human spaceflight raises that national character to a new level. It’s something that Russia and China can’t touch, and expresses a kind of soft power that makes for a positive perception in geopolitics. What if commercial human space flight becomes routine, and aside from more difficult expeditions to deep space, sets a new standard for achievement. Can’t our nation take great pride in that? Commercial space flight is no less our nation than NASA.

    The last fifty years have proven that our federal government has the smarts to do human space flight. Mike wanted to do it over again. Maybe the next fifty will be about whether our economy has the smarts to do it too. How’s that for rationale for American participation in HSF?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Some parts of the late Arbusto administration are easy to understand (I suffered through his time as Gov…so its a little easier for us locals…)

    “So their strategy seemed to be to finish it, and then abandon it five years later in favor for funding VSE which evolved into Constellation.”

    A reality in the Bush administration was pushing reality out so far as to never have to face reality. In that manner a lot assumptions about things in the future were made to make things work…assumptions which really had no chance of happening. Hence just as it was only going to take six months to work things out in Iraq and the country could be garrissoned with 25K or so troops…it was easy to say “we will can ISS in 2015″ knowing good and well that the administration would be out of power in that time frame so some one else would have to make the big decisions.

    Another Arbusto reality is that everything Clinton did was bad. ISS even though it started under Ronaldus the Great is a Clinton product. Bush the first and Reagan floundered on their portion of ISS it was never close to deployment…

    As Howard Dean would say “What I want to know” is how come Griffin abandoned his EELV strategery and moved toward Ares/Cx as the method of “lift”?

    My guess and it jibes with what I have been told by a classmate who use to be the Chief of Staff for what was then Texas Senior Senator…and is now a lobbiest on K street (Rich and mark W have meet him in his office)…is that Tom DeLay and some other GOP toadys told Griffin and their friends in the Arbusto administration that there was no real support for “The Vision” if the same folks who were getting federal checks under the shuttle…didnt keep getting federal checks.

    And the checks needed to be about the same size as they were under the shuttle program.

    I was up in DC recently and had a chance to talk to someone who would know (but who I cannot use his/her name) and am told that this is exactly what happened.

    Which of course makes the support of Cx or SLS by people like Wind and Whittington even more amusing. Hope you are well

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    it is a good book…I suspect that one from a “inner ring” political insight might be necessary to figure out the depth of the last administrations ineptness RGO

  • tom

    prior to the election Obama said he would have to delay human spaceflight by about 5 years. 2 more to go.

  • DCSCA

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    “I’ll say it again. Commercial space may be the answer here.”

    Not for space projects of scale in this era. Space exploitation is not space exploration and leadership in space exploration doesn’t fit with the profit motive of the capitalist model. History has shown it never has never been the motivator to lead the way and always been a follow-along, cashing in where it could. It never will lead the way in this era with the profit motive as incentive given the state of the art. That’s why governments do it.

    “Commercial enterprise and entrepreneurship is fundamental to our national character.”

    But it is not a fundamental requirement for HSF operations as history has demonstrated. We arent demanding that the science community turn a profit on their robotic probes or, for that matter, work done on the ISS. Where’s the profit from Spirit, Opportunity, Hubble– or the proposed JWST? For the most part, they’re considered loss leaders at barely accepted cost (aside from the ISS) in the name of expanding a knowledge base in the name of “exploration.” The objective of a commercial firm is to make a profit- not explore. Again, space exploitation is not space exploration.

    The very best American, nay commercial interests, could hope for from commercial HSF is some kind of pathetic, LEO operation akin to Gemini redux which is a half century step backwards- and that would benefit a few, not the many, and socializing the risk on the backs of taxpayers given commericals pleas for government subsidies, denied by private capital markets.

    LEO is a ticket to no place- going in circles and that’s all, at best, commerical space can propose in this era- and most of that remains a paper space effort.

    @amightywind wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    “Griffin’s reading is correct…”

    Windy, the only thing Griffin read correctly was the official government notice of his termination as NASA administrator.

    @vulture4 wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    “I do not agree with everything the CAIB said”

    The Rogers Commission and the CAIB report revealed similar patterns of poor performance which appear systemic over a 20 year period. You may be experienced the old adage, “fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me…. fool me three times… etc., etc.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 8:27 pm
    “decidely not as his lack of follow-through in battling for funding funding showed. Like father, like son.”

    see I dont think that these “vision” programs can be funded.

    There is probably a Cotton Bowl (is it still called that?) sized group of people who think that the rise and fall of The Republic is geared to some “vision” of American astronauts singing songs and playing golf or making goofy statements on the Moon or Mars or any place really in the solar system.

    Had Bush not lied to the American people and told them wht the dollar cost was going to be to go to Iraq and well stay there (as we are) the American people would have said (except for a few die hards…see Mark Whittington) “are you nuts”…and Bush and company can lie about those cost…

    But the problem with “space visions” is that the lying ends early these days. When the station was announced (and it was in its massive “dual keel” form) Ed Boland said that if it could be built for 8 billion dollars he would eat his hat…He was in no danger of having to do that…because the 8 billion was a “buy in” number and quickly took off toward 100 or 200 or whatever it has become.

    Since then NASA has proved singularly in capable of really lying all that well any more. They try and low ball but it never seems to work any more…that is why Charlie is pushing out the 40-50 billion number. He KNOWs that it cannot be built for 16 or whatever the current Senate fiction is…and he doesnt want to be left holding the bag when the music stops.

    Whenever some plan to go “off planet” is announced by NASA or one of the traditional contractors it doesnt take many days before the cost just get out of control…and people look at two guys in an Orion doing not much at an asteroid and say “are you nuts” and interest fades.

    There was no way either “Poppy” or Arbusto could have gotten the funding needed to have seen their “visions” into any hardware…no one is going to pony up hundreds of billions for such projects anymore…that is why I find support in the space “community” so tone deaf.

    Robert G. Oler

  • As I understand it, although O’Keefe was administrator, Griffin came up with the entire Constellation/VSE theme and sold it to Bush because it eliminated international cooperation and because it would prove he was “bold”. Despite being a juvenile fantasy, it proved an intoxicating vision not just to Bush but to a large percentage of the NASA bureaucracy and even many of the contractors who would lose their jobs because of it.

    Whence comes the basis for this nonsense? Can you provide a credible source?

  • Sometimes I think that amightywind isn’t a troll but a performance artist, coming up with a logical position and then expressing the exact opposite of that position here.

  • DCSCA

    @Mark Whittington wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    “Griffin, sadly, is quite correct, as usual.”

    The only thing Griffin was correct about was comprehending the letter notifying him he was no longer NASA administrator.

  • Rand Simberg wrote:

    That book was written at the time, by Keith Cowing and Frank Seitzen.

    It would have been nice if you provided the title. :-)

    I presume you mean New Moon Rising. I found it on Amazon.com. The few reviews suggest it’s highly partisan and supportive of the Bush administration.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m just curious what you and others thought about the book before I spend money on it.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    I was up in DC recently and had a chance to talk to someone who would know (but who I cannot use his/her name) and am told that this is exactly what happened.

    Sounds the same as the Faustian bargain Obama made to save ISS and get commercial space by letting the Congressional porkers create the Senate Launch System. Thanks.

  • tom

    I wonder. When Gen. Bolden was on active duty, did he screw with his Marines like he does his NASA contractors?

  • Martijn Meijering

    but to a large percentage of the NASA bureaucracy and even many of the contractors who would lose their jobs because of it.

    They didn’t exactly lose their jobs because of it. It delayed the loss of their jobs for a couple of years with the tantalising prospect of even longer employment had Constellation “succeeded”. It’s perfectly understandable why they liked it.

  • KS

    vulture4 @ August 27th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    There were no “racial slurs” directed at Obama on the AL website. Get real, as if Obama is so exampt from criticism that one’s only motivation in doing so could be aversion to black skin and African ancestry. The only reference that could possibly be referred to as “racist” was someone quoting a poster’s entry from another story – presumably to discredit him/her.

    I guess Obama would call Griffin a “typical white person?”

    Don’t make stuff up.

    (Sorry for using your copyrighted phrase, Major Tom. A check for $0.40 is in the mail.)

  • E.P. Grondine

    Griffin equates ATK’s 5 segs with heavy lift.

    No one here talks about Griffin’s Mars Architecture.

  • Michael from Iowa

    @tom
    The Obama administration proposed a five year delay for human spaceflight in original 2010 proposal under the assumption that that NASA would spend those five years focusing on new technology and designing a BEO spacecraft.

    Instead, thanks to Congress’ SLS mandate we’ve spent the last nearly two years doing nothing. Now on top of everything else Congress also wants to cut NASA’s budget by as much as $2-3 billion, including a 70% cut to NASA’s technology programs.

    Hopefully the upcoming SpaceX and OSC tests will finally knock some sense into Congress, but I’m not optimistic.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 8:39 am

    “I wonder. When Gen. Bolden was on active duty, did he screw with his Marines like he does his NASA contractors?”

    Marines are not NASA contractors and NASA contractors do not get the same treatment as Marines..,…by another Marine.

    Actually in my view Charlie has bent over backwards to make the best of a bad situation with both NASA civil servants and the “contractors”. There was nothing to do after Griffin failed at Constellation. Griffin spent 12-15 billion mostly at the contractors and mostly through no fault of the individual workers, but because of a goofy system administered by goofs at NASA…got nothing.

    That was it. The system struggled for a bunch of years, had nothing to show for it; and like any other non performing industry the contractors needed to be cut. A blind person could have seen this coming…and since most NASA contractors are GOP right wingers…it is important to remember the notion that every individual is ultimately responsible for themselves.

    Charlie is trying to fix an industry (the NASA contractors) and an agency (NASA) that is terminally screwed up. While SpaceX has been puttering along on hundreds of millions; you folks had a couple of billion a year and are no where.

    Charlie took the 3MAW and turned it into a tiger.

    In these hard times just remember the GOP/Tea party mantra of individual responsibility, self sufficiency and if you forget then just slide over to Sarah Palin’s facebook page. The woman who has socialized health care for her and her family is always preaching it to others. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 6:24 am
    “I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m just curious what you and others thought about the book before I spend money on it.”

    find it at the half price bookstore…It is a OK read but half price is always good…I try and read lots of things; I found Palin’s latest book on the dollar shelf and gave it a whirl…RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 10:01 pm
    “I’ll say it again. Commercial space may be the answer here.”

    DCSCA wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 11:51 pm
    “Not for space projects of scale in this era. Space exploitation is not space exploration and leadership in space exploration doesn’t fit with the profit motive of the capitalist model. History has shown it never has never been the motivator to lead the way and always been a follow-along, cashing in where it could. It never will lead the way in this era with the profit motive as incentive given the state of the art. That’s why governments do it.”

    Granted that space exploitation isn’t necessarily space exploration. But no one has ever provided a compelling definition of the latter. Space tourists certainly see the trips they pay for as space exploration, though it’s exploration of a personal nature. What’s the metric by which you’re judging how well we do exploration? You really need such a metric to establish our leadership in it. By the number of places we go where we’ve never been before? By the extent to which we justify our efforts on the basis of curiosity or adventurousness rather than profit? How do I know when I’ve done exploration? When do I get to check that box? If you’re going to tell the public that SpaceX isn’t doing exploration, you’ll need to be more specific about what exploration is.

    Using the historical definition of exploration, visits to new lands, once done, largely ceased in favor of exploitation. It could well be that, given that simple definition of space exploration, until we’re able to send humans to Mars, space exploration is all done. Time to move on to exploitation which is what commercial is trying to do.

  • common sense

    @ tom wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 8:39 am

    “I wonder. When Gen. Bolden was on active duty, did he screw with his Marines like he does his NASA contractors?”

    Why don’t you go ask him this exact question to his face? He may give you a Buzz Aldrin answer though. It’d be fun.

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    “No one here talks about Griffin’s Mars Architecture.”

    sorry I still break out laughing over his Lunar one RGO

  • vulture4

    KS wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 9:59 am
    There were no “racial slurs” directed at Obama on the AL website.
    Don’t make stuff up.

    There were only a handful, and I sincerely apologize for the exaggeration.
    But if you go to the comment page http://blog.al.com/space-news/2011/08/former_nasa_boss_mike_griffin/5465/comments-3.html
    and look for the words “Kenya” and “White-People” you will see a couple of the comments that irritated me. If you don’t think these are offensive we have very different perspectives.

  • tom

    You are dead wrong. I was at the all hands meeting @ MSFC in 2009 when Charlie and Lori told us “most of you will be gone by next year”. The Aerospace industry works very well. Thank you. Most of NASA works very well. Aerospace contractors build most of our spacecraft, and all our launch vehicles not NASA folks. Charlie is trying to change an industry by killing off a capability. Its incompetent, arrogant and short sided. Nonperforming? Are you kidding. Charlie took a 50 year investment and threw it away. Lori is the one with access to Obama, not Charlie. She’s running the game. Finaly, you sir do not understand the nature of a US Marine.

  • The few reviews suggest it’s highly partisan and supportive of the Bush administration.

    It is supportive of the Bush administration’s space policy (prior to Griffin), as I am generally in support of the Obama administration’s space policy. Would you characterize my support as “partisan? It’s kind of stupid on the part of those who accuse it of being “partisan” given that Keith is a Democrat. It is based on first-hand interviews with the people who formulated the policy. I’m not sure what else you would want.

  • I will say that the book was poorly edited, at least in the first edition, but it still provides valuable insight into the thinking of O’Keefe and White House staff in formulating the plan. I wonder if Cheney’s book will discuss the topic at all?

  • vulture4

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 27th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    ‘Griffin came up with the entire Constellation/VSE theme” Whence comes the basis for this nonsense? Can you provide a credible source?

    Griffin is listed as the “co-team leader” in the list of authors for the first publication to have a drawing of the Ares I. http://www.planetary.org/programs/projects/aim_for_mars/study-report.pdf and he referred interviewers to this report as representing his plans for spaceflight. He was not the only author, but he appears to have been the principal implementor.

    I would be curious as to your impression of the cost and reliability estimates given in the Exploration Systems Architecture Study, particularly the source material which seems hard to find. Costs for the competing architectures included modifying LC-39 for the Atlas and Delta (and apparently modifying the Delta for vertical integration at the VAB) rather than man-rating their existing pads. Cost of the Atlas was increased because Russian-manufactured engines were rejected. Was the assumption correct? If so, what about Soyuz? CCDev? LOC risk for the Delta was based on the reliability of the Titan IV because they are so similar (although the Titan has SRBs and the Delta IVH does not) while reliability of the Ares was based on that of the Shuttle SRBs, but not including Challenger, because it was so dissimilar, and counting every Shuttle launch as two successful launches.

    In short, the ESAS describes an extremely complex but ostensibly totally unbiased and objective tradeoff between dozens of alternatives (with hundreds of possible permutations) which unerringly, though often by the thinnest of margins, finds the safest and least expensive solution is, in all essential characteristics, exactly the same complex system proposed just over a year earlier by Mr. Griffin, now NASA Administrator. Coincidence?

  • You did read this review by our host, right? And while he is critical, he certainly didn’t seem to find it “partisan.”

  • Frank Glover

    @ josh”:

    “anyway, what i find amusing is that most of the windy-types around here actually believe that obama won’t be reelected…”

    Well, that is a reasonable possibility, but if it doesn’t happen, it won’t be for space-related reasons.

    “…and that the next president will somehow make all their troubles go away”

    Of all the candidates, only Gingrich has a pro-space track record, and he’d more likely be in support of commercial space.

    ALL of them, however, explicitly speak of serious overall budget-cutting, differing only in their definition of ‘serious.’ I take them at their collective word on that.

    Given that, how anyone can hope that a new President would give Son of Constellation a blank check, is utterly beyond me.

  • amightywind

    Sometimes I think that amightywind isn’t a troll but a performance artist, coming up with a logical position and then expressing the exact opposite of that position here.

    If you are seduced by Bolden’s pablum amid the scorched ruins of America’s space program, what can I say? You will buy the farm with Obama and be defending him all the way down. You won’t be alone among the misguided on this forum. The current Machiavellian NASA leadership is not suited to manage the SLS project. So what are they there for? To provide cover for Elon Musk?

    Hopefully the upcoming SpaceX and OSC tests will finally knock some sense into Congress, but I’m not optimistic.

    Nor should you be. The daggers are clearly drawn in congress.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    You are dead wrong.

    Who is “you”? When posting in forums, it helps if you reference who you are directing a comment at. If you’re posting from a smartphone, do what others do and use something like “@ tom”.

    I was at the all hands meeting @ MSFC in 2009 when Charlie and Lori told us “most of you will be gone by next year”.

    Shuttle worker, eh? Thanks for your service, and I hope you had a nice party to celebrate the end of the program. I also hope you kept your job skills and education up so that you’ll be competitive on the open job market. Good luck.

    Charlie is trying to change an industry by killing off a capability.

    Uh huh. Sure. Adding multiple low-cost transportation systems for LEO is killing off a capability? Is this backwards day?

    Charlie took a 50 year investment and threw it away.

    Bush announced the end of the Shuttle program, Congress agreed, and no one before the Obama Administration took office did anything to stop it. So why are you mad with Bolden? The Shuttle production lines were shut down before he even took office. Weird.

  • Griffin is listed as the “co-team leader” in the list of authors for the first publication to have a drawing of the Ares I. http://www.planetary.org/programs/projects/aim_for_mars/study-report.pdf and he referred interviewers to this report as representing his plans for spaceflight. He was not the only author, but he appears to have been the principal implementor.

    No one disputes that Griffin came up with Constellation. Your post implied that he was involved with developing the VSE itself. But his plans completely ignored the original VSE and particularly the recommendations of the Aldridge Commission.

  • …sold it to Bush because it eliminated international cooperation and because it would prove he was “bold”. Despite being a juvenile fantasy, it proved an intoxicating vision not just to Bush but to a large percentage of the NASA bureaucracy and even many of the contractors who would lose their jobs because of it.

    Actually, this is really the part that I meant was nonsense. There is no evidence that he “sold” Constellation to Bush, or that Bush ever cared about what the launch architecture looked like, though if he had, he probably would have been concerned that it so completely ignored the recommendations of the Aldridge Commission, which specifically stated that there should be international involvement, as well as commercial. It was the White House that was pushing COTS, not Griffin. But Bush himself was essentially uninvolved once he hired Griffin, as far as I know. He was concerned with much more important things than space policy.

    I understand, though, that this fantasy fits in with the general hate-Bush narrative.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    The daggers are clearly drawn in congress.

    They are always drawn – that’s how they cut up their pork. ;-)

    Now the few that care in Congress are trying to defend their SLS pork from outsiders, but they will fail with the rest of Congress since there’s no need for the SLS, and Congress has refused to fund any payloads for it.

  • amightywind

    Should be interesting to hear Bolden’s spin on this. For those of us eying greedily the funding that the ISS consumes, this is the best possible news. It was an incredible blunder not to have redundant access to space, a policy that this administration embraced.

  • vulture4

    In a recent blog entry Wayne Hale says that it would not have been feasible to restart Shuttle production in 2008. (“After the barn burned down”)

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    “I was at the all hands meeting @ MSFC in 2009 when Charlie and Lori told us “most of you will be gone by next year”.

    that was a statement of fact, a fact that should have been known in 2009 for about oh 4 or 5 years.

    “The Aerospace industry works very well. Thank you. Most of NASA works very well.”

    It doesnt actually, in fact it works rather poorly, particularly at NASA. How do you explain the 15 billion to build Cx that got nothing flying and the 15 billion to build the new cruiser carrying heavier then aircraft nuclear (the Ford CVN) …9 billion for the R&D the rest for the first boat.

    You folks at NASA have built a sort of myth about how difficult space, particularly human spaceflight is to glorify your own incompetence.

    “Charlie is trying to change an industry by killing off a capability.”

    That is a true statement, the reality is also that the capability he is killing off is valuless. Useless in the face of modern realities.
    I
    ” Charlie took a 50 year investment and threw it away.”

    not losing much…killing it off is the best ROI that we could have.

    ” Lori is the one with access to Obama, not Charlie.” Lori no more has access to Obama then you or I do. At least you end on the most goofy statement of your post. Grow up, NASA has to change or it dies. Sorry the days of 1000 people to do what 10 should do is over RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    ” The daggers are clearly drawn in congress.” LOL

    events are moving right in commercial lifts favor Watch…you will be wrong and I will be correct….when dealing with right wing nuts, I always am RGO

  • vulture4

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    You did read this review by our host, right? And while he is critical, he certainly didn’t seem to find it “partisan.”

    I have not read the book, but most of the reviewers at amazon.com found it to be extremely partisan. http://www.amazon.com/New-Moon-Rising-Americas-Remaking/dp/1894959124

    Unlike “New Moon Rising”, the ESAS was professionally produced, but careful reading of it and the LSAS (and I read them in detail) revealed that many of the precise figures were arrived at by the approved NASA procedure of writing down three estimates and then choosing one by intuition. In other words they are WAGs printed to three decimal places. Even this would be forgivable if they were unbiased WAGs, but wherever there was uncertainty it was unerringly resolved in Mr. Griffin’s favor.

  • adastramike

    Since so many folks here think ESAS was a disaster in implementing the VSE, what are some ideas as to a viable lunar architecture or Mars architecture?

    I know some will say an HLV is just not needed. However, I think any realistic architecture will include an HLV…Even Leroy Chiao as part of the Augustine committee said that beyond LEO missions will require an HLV. And even the Obama adminstration, if we want to take them at their word, acknowledged the need for an HLV (albiet delaying the design selection by 5 years).

    So what’s confusing is why they are now stalling on implementing an HLV. Is it because they don’t want to develop it now? Is it because they are trying to play politics with Congress? I mean, we will need one to launch a mission toward an asteroid (ex. the HLV launches the EDS, then docks with Orion launched on a human-rated EELV) or to Mars or the Moon.

    An please don’t include “Commercial” in the beyond LEO picture. Sure commercial firms will build the hardware according to NASA’s requirements, so that doesn’t count. And if funding is limited now, there surely won’t be any funding for a beyond LEO commercial crew effort — where we fund several companies to build beyond LEO hardware to have redundancy. The need for that simply does not exist (unless of course we had something like a lunar base).

    And it’s possible Griffin is right (I’ll give him some credit since he does have 6 degrees — perhaps he was constrained by Congressional whims at the time the ESAS architecture was selected) that the WH is attempting to delay the HLV for political, not technical or even financial, reasons. The ISS cost us $100 billion and we balk over projects that may cost $38B? For that amount of money we could have built a Moon base — vastly more inspiring and relevant to long-term HSF than the floating ISS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    well some of them were pretty racist…but typical right wing (sorry Rand) RGO

  • Alan

    “I was at the all hands meeting @ MSFC in 2009 when Charlie and Lori told us “most of you will be gone by next year”.”

    Shuttle worker, eh? Thanks for your service, and I hope you had a nice party to celebrate the end of the program. I also hope you kept your job skills and education up so that you’ll be competitive on the open job market. Good luck.

    Let’s not forget the FIVE YEAR WARNING that the job was going away…

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    “Granted that space exploitation isn’t necessarily space exploration. But no one has ever provided a compelling definition of the latter. Space tourists certainly see the trips they pay for as space exploration, though it’s exploration of a personal nature.”

    Tourism is a leisure activity- a form of entertainment, not exploration, and, you’ll find, ‘tourism’ is a relatively new human activity; a subset bred from the recent increase in leisure time for humans.

    The science community seems to have satisfied, or at least quieted for a time, most harsh criticism of flying costly robotic missions in the name of ‘exploration’ by rationalizing the expense for their probes as far less against the costs of manned efforts. Of course, we could save even more money by not flying any at all and let the private sector do it to make a buck. Nobody is demanding Hubble, or Spirit, or Opportunity, or the JWST, etc., return a profit. Communications satellites make a buck- why not the JWST.

    In this current climate, TeaParty types could pressure conservatives to insist space science missions return a profit to the treasury for the investment or cut them off and make them start paying their own way into the cosmos– and they’d get support for it. And so another step in the great march backwards can be taken.

    “Using the historical definition of exploration, visits to new lands, once done, largely ceased in favor of exploitation.”

    When is it ever ‘done’ for space… you really have it backwards. The fish in the bowl gazing out again at the room and seeking to rationally adapt that room to its waterfilled world bit. Rather, it is more a matter of adapting the human experience into the space around us. In other words, it’s not what role space plays for profiting life on Earth, but what role life from Earth plays in adapting to a move out into space. Supply-side economics ain’t it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “I wonder if Cheney’s book will discuss the topic at all?” Maybe old Mike will be one of the “heads that explode” after Dickles book comes out RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Frank Glover wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    “Of all the candidates, only Gingrich has a pro-space track record…”

    Not really. See below:

    “GINGRICH CRITICIZES NASA

    House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should have been disbanded after the Apollo moon program ended in the 1970′s. In a lecture at Reinhardt College in this town in northern Georgia, Mr. Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, said that he generally favored Government support for science and technology but that NASA had become increasingly bureaucratic. Mr. Gingrich, however, did not say whether he believed NASA should be disbanded now. Source- NY Times February 6, 1995″

  • Dennis

    Lets see what happens with the up coming Dragon flight, and if it is successful, maybe we will have a space program!

  • Martijn Meijering

    I know some will say an HLV is just not needed. However, I think any realistic architecture will include an HLV…

    Based on what? I think it is almost self-evident it need not. A simple rocket equation level analysis suffices to establish that beyond any reasonable doubt.

  • Page 1 article in this morning’s Florida Today about the upcoming SpaceX flight to ISS and its implications given the recent Progress failure.

    And recommended reading … New Scientist on the potential the commercial sector sees in ISS. The article notes that Bigelow is in negotiations to attach two modules to ISS — one for NASA, one for JAXA.

  • Alan wrote:

    Let’s not forget the FIVE YEAR WARNING that the job was going away…

    Here in the Space Coast, I constantly run into people who’ve written an alternative universe narrative. It goes something like this:

    * Shuttle is perfect, never killed anyone, and could fly cheaply forever.

    * The evil Barack Obama cancelled the Space Shuttle on January 20, 2009 to punish (fill in the blank) for voting against him.

    * Constellation is “on hold.”

    * U.S. astronauts never flew on Russian rockets until Obama became President.

    * Obama sold NASA to the Chinese.

    * Obama is going to turn KSC into a federal prison / landfill / mosque / (fill in the blank).

    * SpaceX is going to kill people, unlike NASA which never killed people.

    * And of course the latest, which is that the Russians are going to splash the ISS in 2020 and it’s all Obama’s fault.

    I run into tourists all the time who tell me some yokel told them Obama is shutting down NASA so they better go visit KSC before it’s plowed under. They’re shocked when I tell them what’s really going on. I suspect they wonder why the yokels lied to them.

  • amightywind

    events are moving right in commercial lifts favor Watch…you will be wrong and I will be correct….when dealing with right wing nuts, I always am RGO

    What happens to the SpaceX flight in December if ISS is abandoned? It is obviously postponed. What are the chances that once it is abandoned the ISS is never reoccupied? Possible. I’d say the Progress failure dealt newspace a serious blow. It doesn’t take a sage to see 2 steps ahead, wingnut or not.

    House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should have been disbanded

    He is no longer a serious candidate for President and his erratic behavior makes him less an influence on the party. He should retire quietly.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 1:27 am
    “Tourism is a leisure activity- a form of entertainment, not exploration, and, you’ll find, ‘tourism’ is a relatively new human activity; a subset bred from the recent increase in leisure time for humans.”

    In fact, tourism is something bred less from increased leisure time, and more from decreased opportunities for new exploration. If there isn’t much new for people to send others out to explore, then at least let me explore personally what others have already explored. But you’re telling me what you think exploration isn’t. Not what it is. Keep trying.

    “Nobody is demanding Hubble, or Spirit, or Opportunity, or the JWST, etc., return a profit. Communications satellites make a buck- why not the JWST.”

    There is indeed that expectation. We do space science because we believe that the science done serves the national need. Whether it’s because of insights into high energy physics or atmospheric radiative transfer. We do it because there is a profit to be gained from this knowledge, but we admit that it’s a little hard to measure that profit in dollars in the short term. We do it because it makes us smarter, and smarter is better. Speaking of which, how about schools? Where’s the profit they produce? What percentage am I getting back from my property tax this year? How about DOD? Where’s the profit they produce? I’m shoveling money at them like crazy. Like for science, the profit for those things is in the potential, looking out for, and being ready to respond to surprises and opportunities. The mechanism for that profit is well established, even if the return on investment is tricky to quantify. It isn’t so well established for human space flight.

    “In this current climate, TeaParty types could pressure conservatives to insist space science missions return a profit to the treasury for the investment or cut them off and make them start paying their own way into the cosmos– and they’d get support for it. And so another step in the great march backwards can be taken.”

    To the extent that our nation sees space science as serving a national need, our nation pays for it. You do, and I do. It’s not about “them” paying their own way, it’s about “us”. If space science is really seen as not providing real return for our nation, we shouldn’t be doing it. As above, I’m supposing that you’d propose we let the DOD and the schools pay for themselves? Neat trick, if you could pull it off.

    “When is it ever ‘done’ for space… you really have it backwards. The fish in the bowl gazing out again at the room and seeking to rationally adapt that room to its waterfilled world bit. Rather, it is more a matter of adapting the human experience into the space around us.”

    The fish are happy in their water-filed world. You have some prejudice against water? “Adapting the human experience into the vacuum around us”? Fine. Tell me why. Where’s the profit in doing that adaptation?

    Again, commercial space is something that is a new challenge to who we are, and how we see ourselves. The next human on the Moon will be less of a hero to humanity than the human who uses his or her freedom, creativity, ingenuity, leadership, and entrepreneurship to build innovative vehicles to get us inexpensively out into space, helping to break down a real barrier. Probably at some very significant fiscal danger to his or herself. Sure, once they do it, they can sell it, and make a profit. More power to them.

  • ThatNASAEngineer@KSC

    OK, let’s just come out and phrase these notions from our former Administrator (and Cook et al) with some simple specifics. “Support” means nothing without saying straight out what it is you propose. What our former Administrator is fantasizing about is that a Whitehouse that “supports” Human Space Flight would either (1) increase NASA’s budget overnight by about $4 Billion to $5 Billion dollars per year, or about 25%, or alternately (2) de-orbit the International Space Station immediately, not even waiting till 2015 or 2020. The later would free up the same amount.

    This is revisionist whining at best, with delusions to boot. The total NASA budget at the top-line has not seen any significant change since the new Administration. That’s “support” in these times.

    And the shifting within HSF priorities is a simple matter of fact around the need to support the ISS with US Cargo and Crew now, at the soonest. This was something Constellation was supposed to do by 2012, but which Orion Ares I somehow managed to misspend over till it was looking like 2015 for their first cargo flight, and crew after that in 2016.

    Any forward outlooks that are less than previous growth plans are comparisons to older out-year fantasies that anyone with an awareness years ago of budget pressures ahead easily saw as such.

    So…does “support” sound as realistic or likely to change with a new administration when phrased in specifics this way? HSF Support = Up NASA’s Budget by 25% OR de-orbit the ISS? Delusional.

    More delusions: The agency will get ahead once the people who currently hold $3 billion a year of the agency’s budget – in SLS, MPCV and Space Flight Support stop whining about how that’s barely enough to make it worth their while to get up and go have a meeting. That’s specifically – ATK, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Rocketdyne, Pratt & Whitney, SSC, MSFC, KSC and JSC.

  • I have not read the book, but most of the reviewers at amazon.com found it to be extremely partisan.

    Reviewers at Amazon are often loons in that regard. I read the book, Jeff read the book, despite it’s other flaws, neither of us found it “partisan.” As I said, it’s nutty to think that Keith Cowing, a Democrat, would write a “partisan” book that praised the Bush administration. Keith is a Democrat (AFAIK) and Frank is a Republican (again, AFAIK).

  • Robert G. Oler

    adastramike wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    “So what’s confusing is why they are now stalling on implementing an HLV.”

    it is not so confusing. Any rocket; no matter if it can put 1 pound or 140,000 lbs in orbit that is unaffordable is no good deal at all.

    A SD HLV has nothing going for it.

    it should have low development cost…apparently not. For 40 some odd billion (and I bet that is low) one should be able to well….they developed the Ford “Cruiser carrying heavier then air craft” (ie the carrier) for 9 billion in R&D and 5-6 for the first one. It is a knock off of the Nimitz class but with significant changes. One has to wonder why the SD HLV cannot be R&D for that. particularly since Cx spent oh 10 billion or so.

    it wont be cheap to operate…it apparently will be as expensive perhaps more then the shuttle/orbiter stack particularly if development cost are added in. The shuttle system (and a SD HLV will retain this) is “people happy”…they have people monitoring people who monitor those people.

    Whats to recommend it? RGO

  • Michael from Iowa

    @adastramike
    While the administration acknowledge the need for an HLV, it was with the understanding that it would be an HLV that:

    a. we could actually afford to actually develop and fly
    b. would serve an actual purpose

    With even NASA’s most optimistic estimates for developing the SLS at nearly three times the cap set by Congress in 2010, and the flight cost of the SLS/MPVC launch system potentially as high as $1 billion per launch – this is a vehicle we cannot afford to develop, fly, or build any actual payloads for… not without shutting down every other program operated by NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “As President Obama said in his Kennedy Space Center speech last year that he expected a human landing on Mars after a Mars orbital mission in the mid-2030s, it appears Bolden plans to be around well into his 90s.”

    aside from the fact that Charlie is a Marine and they believe that as long as the Corps lives, they live forever…90 is not all that far out of reach…RGO

  • vulture4

    Unfortunately NASA is attempting to delay the Dragon flight on the grounds that at least a month of NASA paperwork reviews and assessments are needed after SpaceX is ready to launch. It would be nice if there was some evidence that these assessments actually improve safety. At the same time there is even talk of demanning ISS due to the Progress loss.

    SpaceX could very well lose a vehicle. They know that, and if it happens the program should not be delayed any longer than it takes to find out what happened and fix the hardware. We need to limit risk, but we also need to reduce cost and move forward. It is worth it to take the risk as long as people are not yet onboard. The more unmanned flights they can complete, the safer the system will be when they start carrying passengers. Flight experience makes a difference in real safety. The sad fact is that paperwork reviews do not.

  • Coastal Ron

    adastramike wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Good questions, and I hope you get a lot of good discussion on it. I’ll start out with just a short response with more to follow:

    Even Leroy Chiao as part of the Augustine committee said that beyond LEO missions will require an HLV.

    A lot of people “think” we will need an HLV, but no one knows when or how big. Everyone thought back in the 60′s that we’d have rotating space stations and lots of international bases on the Moon (ala 2001), but reality turned out to be different for many reasons, the biggest of which was money I think.

    And even the Obama administration… acknowledged the need for an HLV (albiet delaying the design selection by 5 years).

    Again, without specific needs, the Obama administration didn’t know what size HLV was going to be needed.

    Solve the need question, and you help solve the what size and when question.

    Part of the need question though gets back to how do you get from here to there. We don’t need an HLV today, so we can use the same techniques we used to build the 919,960 lb ISS.

    As we go along, and it becomes apparent that the rockets at our disposal (Delta, Atlas, Ariane, Falcon, etc.) cannot keep up with our mass needs in space, then that is a great time to look at large rockets. But some enterprising company, whether it be ULA, SpaceX, or someone new, may see that constraint and address the problem. But only at that point should the U.S. Government step in and say “no one else can take care of our needs, and we deem it a National Priority to have our own HLV”.

    We haven’t reached that point, and based on the NASA budget forecast, I don’t know if we ever will in my lifetime.

    When do you think we will, and why?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Alan wrote @ August 28th, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    The shuttle folks griping about losing their jobs remind me of one of the favorite pictures I have up at my facebook page…its a tea party rally where the woman is holding up a sign that says “Dont cut medicare to pay for socialized medicine”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 8:06 am

    “What happens to the SpaceX flight in December if ISS is abandoned”

    we might as well speculate on what will happen to every high wing Cessna single that is in flight if gravity fails. They depend on gravity to feed the fuel from the wings to the engine.

    If anything the failure of Progress will cause “new space” to accelerate. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Tourism is a leisure activity- a form of entertainment, not exploration, and, you’ll find, ‘tourism’ is a relatively new human activity; a subset bred from the recent increase in leisure time for humans.”

    If by “relatively new” you mean about 4000 – 4500 years and the development of writing then you are correct it is new. You can find tour guides in sumerian cuniform writings on clay tablets.

    People went to visit the trilithons at Baalbek, the pyramids of egypt and many other “wonders of the ancient world” from the time we have had writing to report the trips.

  • Vladislaw

    Explore means to search or travel for the purpose of discovery. I do not find government or NASA in the definition in a dictionary. Personal discovery, corporate discovery or government discovery. It is all exploration when you are on a trip of discovery, the level is unimportant the discovery is.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Everyone thought back in the 60′s that we’d have rotating space stations and lots of international bases on the Moon (ala 2001), but reality turned out to be different for many reasons, the biggest of which was money I think.”

    I have a different take on that. For me it has never been about money, but the policies relating to the money. If Nixon would have called for commercial rides to skylab and NASA just by rides on a per seat basis we would not be where we are today. There are many policies that could be inacted that would bring increased private investment into the space sector.

    Zero G – Zero Tax
    Space prizes
    Cost plus, fixed fee versus Fixed price and milestones.

    Just a few things that would have increased private investment into the space sector and create mulitplier effects.

  • Matt Wiser

    I suggest you take a look at this Op-Ed from the Huntsville Times. One of the few daily newspapers that covers space on a regular basis: the rest are the Houston Chronicle (naturally), Florida Today , and the Orlando Sentinel (ditto for both).

    http://blog.al.com/times-views/2011/08/nasa_needs_the_go-ahead_for_a.html

    I agree with the sentiments expressed in the piece completely.

    Ron: it still takes 5-7 years to develop a HLV once EELVs no longer have the “oomph” to do the job. Try convincing Congress of your suggestion right now: it’d be DOA in Committee.

  • amightywind

    I can’t believe more isn’t being said on this forum about the emergency situation developing on the space station. Your discussions have grown so parochial. Newspace now hangs on the thread of competent Russian engineering failure analysis and mitigation, a tenuous thread indeed…

  • @vulture4: “It is worth it to take the risk as long as people are not yet onboard.”

    Why not also when people are aboard?

  • E.P. Grondine

    There was supposed to be a test of an ATK 5 seg today.

    I’ve asked this before to be greeted with silence:
    Anyone care to guess how ATK would do under Romney?
    ATK’s plan from the start has been delay, until they could get a new President. This explains Griffin’s actions quite well also.

    We could have had NLS (DIRECT) from the start, but ATK wanted the manned launch market.

    It wasn’t beauty that killed NASA, it was greed.

    My G*d but this sucks.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Sorry about that. The test is next Monday:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=34419

    But then, why wait to be depressed by this then when you can be depressed by it right now?

    My G*d but this sucks.

  • Dennis

    What does space science give us back in the way of profits? I am surprized anyone really must ask that question. It may not be direct money returns, but instead it is knowledge, that many times spills over into economic and monetary returns. It is an indirect process, with the idea that as we learn we progress through technology. Technology can then give us monetary returns up front. So would JWST in the long run give us monetary profit? Not knowing exactly what will be learned from its use, we cannot exactly say. I do think however our learning curve from the use of this instrument, if launched, will give us many returns over time. I would rather the politicians get pay cuts and we get the JWST.

  • common sense

    @ Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “I suggest you take a look at this Op-Ed from the Huntsville Times. ”

    So? What’s new? I suggest you take a look at this letter from Buzz Aldrin:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30605

    I fully… err mostly agree with the sentiments expressed in the letter.

    Arghh I just realized I have my own opinion and that I differ with Buzz Aldrin on the heavy lift and Orion. Well okay I don’t agree, entirely that is, with a former Apollo astronaut who belonged to first crew on the Moon! I hope he won’t hold it against me though.

    On the other hand I worked on the “space program” for a number of years but I guess it does not make me an expert. Nah. Experts sit in Congress committees of course.

    Oh well…

  • common sense

    Just a thought experiment for our HLV supporter friends.

    Was the HLV sized for a mission to the Moon only, to Mars only?

    If we ever decide to send humans to check what is on Titan or Io are we going to build an even larger HLV? Or are we going to build a spaceraft in Earth orbit to get there?

    I don’t know. Just askin’ if exploration starts and ends with our Moon and/or Mars.

  • DCSCA

    @Dennis wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    “What does space science give us back in the way of profits? I am surprized anyone really must ask that question. It may not be direct money returns, but instead it is knowledge, that many times spills over into economic and monetary returns…”

    Uh-huh. That’s the same curve ball pitched for government funded HSF. Not so cavilier about it when its a space science oxen gored, eh. If it’s such a wonderful ‘investment’ let the private sector pay for it. In the angry age of Austerity in the ‘Tea Party Universe’ – if it doesn’t turn a profit it’s wasteful government spending.

    amightywind wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
    I can’t believe more isn’t being said on this forum about the emergency situation developing on the space station. There is no emergency, Windy. It’s a robust system and if you’re pitching that one missed supply flight then it’s not worth investing another dime into such a weak space system. The Russians will trace the problem down. Who knows– maybe they used a cheap Chinese chip in a system– or worse, an American surplus component. Chichen Littles have no place in space operations.

  • amightywind

    we might as well speculate on what will happen to every high wing Cessna single that is in flight if gravity fails.

    If you cannot see that ISS is in great danger, you are in denial.

  • John Malkin

    amightywind wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    NASA doesn’t seem to think there is an emergency. They seem very well prepared including support for unmanned operations. They are cautiously optimistic for a Soyuz flight in October which would allow for the SpaceX flight in November/December. You should be happy with the DM-3 test around the corner. I wonder if ATK is working towards an actual design for SLS.

  • Observed faults w/ private commercial operators:
    -Aerospace investments seem too inbred, it needs to expand and market for investments to attract non-traditional aerospace sources. Investment inbred habit brought-on by excessive military contract arrangements of past policies.

    Observed faults w/ Gov’t operations:
    -Gov’t seems to Uber control all resources doing business with it. A habit difficult to break since it always does contracts with the same old aerospace contractors. This is also the result of the common denominator problem of excessive military contract.

    Lastly, ALL space owner/operators should learn to work together and in particular allow for INTERNATIONAL AEROSPACE OWNER/INVESTOR for civil space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    There are many policies that could be inacted that would bring increased private investment into the space sector.

    I’ll agree with that, or at least agree that more commercial activity would be going on.

    But the NASA spending levels of the 60′s were not sustained, and other than the temporary Skylab, the U.S. Government didn’t care to go anywhere in space with people beyond LEO. And really there isn’t that much support for going anywhere today either, but at least the commercial sector is now established for rockets, and there is a desire to do crew.

  • Vladislaw

    “Anyone care to guess how ATK would do under Romney?”

    The only contribution I could find for ATK and Romney was that ATK gave him 500 bucks in the 2008 election campaign. Couldn’t find if they are funding him at all or they are supporting someone else.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    it still takes 5-7 years to develop a HLV once EELVs no longer have the “oomph” to do the job.

    OK, let us know when we’re 8 years away from the launch date for a funded program that requires more mass in space than commercial launchers can provide. And since existing launchers can build ISS sized structures in space, that new program will have to be building something REALLY big.

    But until that happens, I’m sure you would agree that paying to develop and let sit around such a rocket would be a waste of time – right?

    Or are you promoting the SLS as a jobs program?

  • John Malkin

    @Dennis

    Are you talking about Northrop Grumman’s profits from JWST? Some companies not NASA could profit from technology demonstrator missions (deep space atomic clock, space laser communications and a solar sail) announced this month.

  • Vladislaw

    Windy wrote:

    “If you cannot see that ISS is in great danger, you are in denial.”

    And you are not cheering about that danger why?

    I would have thought you would be praying that Russian engineers do not solve the problem. Then your wish of spashing the ISS would come to pass. You have been preaching this for years, why no celebrations?

  • E.P. Grondine wrote:

    Anyone care to guess how ATK would do under Romney?

    ATK’s connections are with Jon Huntsman. He’s personal pals with the ATK CEO. Romney has nothing to do with Utah other than he’s Mormon.

  • John Malkin

    Some of our ISS partners may want to invest in one or more of the CCDev or CCDev2 competitors so they aren’t dependant on the Russians. It’s a pity it takes a failure for governments to be proactive, oh yea that’s reactive.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Re value of space science …

    “That’s the same curve ball pitched for government funded HSF. Not so cavilier about it when its a space science oxen gored, eh.”

    Nope. Not even close. That comment is about as caviler as you can get. The historical case that documents the economical value of space science is strong. High performance optics, solar storm prediction, atomic and nuclear physics, tests of GR, etc. A historical case that documents the economical value of HSF is pretty much non-existent, except maybe this dubious “inspiration” thingy. It’s always amused me that people sitting on rockets makes kids love STEM education.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “I agree with the sentiments expressed in the piece completely.”

    a quote from the piece…

    “The White House, NASA administration and Congress need to decide whether we’re going to retain that preeminence or cede it to some other country like China.”

    that sentence alone puts it in the “goofy” column.

    The notion of having to build an SLS, or announce some “exploration goal” or really to have NASA do anything in terms of some massive single point government endeavor to retain or have “preeminence” in space or space technology or even human spaceflight is a self made metric. There is no real notion that having any sort of exploration by humans as a goal is the metric that defines “preeminence” in space.

    a more solid one is to be able to operate in space at a price that is affordable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    “If you cannot see that ISS is in great danger, you are in denial.”

    the Russians have very mature technology. It is unlikely that there is some “design” error in the rocket; more likely it is either a badly assembled sub part or is some manufactoring error…both are things that can be solved quite quickly.

    Wind you are in the “Falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control” mode. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron replied:

    “But the NASA spending levels of the 60′s were not sustained, and other than the temporary Skylab, the U.S. Government didn’t care to go anywhere in space with people beyond LEO. And really there isn’t that much support for going anywhere today either, but at least the commercial sector is now established for rockets, and there is a desire to do crew.”

    It was the fact they were not sustained and policy did nothing to augment it by bringing more commercial in to offset loses that I say policy rather than money.

    I agree with your assestment that space was not an issue with the Government, in the 60′s early 70′s, (other than beating the Soviets) that is reinforced because space was under the budget ax starting in 1965(?). My point is, although private investment could not have did a dollar for dollar replacement for NASA funding losses, policy could have an early dramatic effect on where private investment would be at today.

    Space is about a 300 billion a year sector today. It would have been fairly easy, money wise, if policy would have taken a different turn so that 280 billion and change, sector could be double or even triple that amount 40 years later.

  • adastramike

    As to Gingrich’s comments: they are idiotic. He has no technological backbone and asking him about NASA’s future is like asking a non-engineer how to launch a satellite. He claimed that NASA has seen nothing but failure after failure. That’s just plainly ignorant. NASA has had several HSF successes (Apollo, Shuttle flights, Hubble telescope repair, launching Galileo, assembling the ISS, Shuttle-MIR, etc) and several unmanned mission successes (Mars rovers, Cassini, other planetary probes, moon probes, etc). NASA has failed in producing a Shuttle replacement through its various replacement programs (e.g X33/VentureStar, CRV, NASP, etc). However Presidents/Congress canceled those, and they were not missions. So if anything there should be a committee of some sort to investigate why these programs failed or were canceled — and to identify changes to the bureaucracy and technical design processes. And we can’ forget that space exploration is risky and dangerous and that there will be failures (Mars ’99 probes, two Shuttle disasters, CONTOUR, Galileo failing to unfurl its HGA, etc). Politicians speaking from their rear is not needed in this debate.

    And him suggesting that NASA should have been disbanded — well great, and replaced with what? Nothing? So again let’s burn all the fleets and capabilities that will lead to future technologies and uses we can’t even yet imaging just because a goal was achieved. He’s a luddite and perhaps should go live in a cave. Good thing he is not a serious candidate.

  • Frank Glover

    @ almightywind

    “Newspace now hangs on the thread of competent Russian engineering failure analysis and mitigation, a tenuous thread indeed…”

    And your concern for Newspace or ISS began…when?

  • adastramike

    I guess the question then is what type of HLV IS affordable?

    On the one hand I can see the Congressional theory of utilizing existing Shuttle technology and Constellation elements to efficiently build an HLV. Make use of development work that’s already been done and that work won’t need to be redone. I believe this is what Congress thinks.

    However, on the other hand if Shuttle-derived components are inherently expensive I can see how including them in an HLV would lead to a hugely expensive rocket.

    So where do we strike a balance against rocket elements that have already been developed and are in testing (5 segment solids, J-2X, etc) and those that are cost efficient but need to be developed?

    I know some advocate for launching large payloads in pieces and assembling them as we did with the ISS. But has anyone checked the risk of doing this in terms of reliablity and risk assessment: of launching and assembling a beyond LEO crewed spacecraft vs one or two launches involving an SLS?

    What kind of HLV can we get if we cap the budget at $16B over the next 5 years? I haven’t seen any reports on this subject. Does one exist? Is it a totally new liquid booster HLV? Is it a 4-seg solid HLV with 5 or 6 SSMEs?

    Why isn’t the current NASA leadership doing the responsible thing then by studying what kind of HLV CAN be achieved with $16B in 5 years? Rather than just saying a SDHLV can be done but will cost twice as much and we’ll only have 2 missions in the next decade.

    If NASA is constrained by the law on what HLV studies they can focus on, well then we are stuck with the law. And perhaps what will emerge is a compromise HLV that won’t cost $38B — perhaps one with less payload to LEO which would require more assembly in LEO. But at some point we will need some type of affordable HLV. Otherwise if an HLV by itself is not “affordable” then we only need focus on one HSF endeavour at a time. Which means, finish using the ISS ASAP and then focus on beyond LEO missions to truly freep up funds for beyond LEO missions.

    But even to go to an asteroid will require investments beginning at least 15 years prior to the mission. If 10 (or rather 8) years was required for Apollo, then without Apollo-like budgets perhaps 15 years will be necessary. So to do the asteroid or any other beyond LEO mission, we have to begin building the elements now, not 5 years from now, or 5 years before the asteroid mission.

    I do wish however that right now we would be funding the truly ground-breaking vehicles: like an Earth Departure Stage or other upper stage vehicle, or crewed planetary landers. These are areas for the gov’t to fund. Commercial companies just aren’t there yet.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “If we ever decide to send humans to check what is on Titan or Io are we going to build an even larger HLV? Or are we going to build a spaceraft in Earth orbit to get there?”

    I believe it won’t happen until we have two things. First, the knowledge of will staying on Mars negate the effects of zero-g travel getting there and actually keep you robust. Second, gas stations around Mars.

    You send the ship to Mars from Earth, the passengers land on mars, people already on Mars and not suffering any negative effects from lower gravity, launch to Mars orbit, refuels the ship and takes it to Io or Europa and returns to Mars. You could possibly cut off a couple AUs of travel time for the people going there and they would not have had to suffer as much time under the negative effects of zero-g or radiation.

    What do you think?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Yeah, Vlad, funny how that works –

    Watching Obama deal with these guys is about as much fun as watching a 2 year old get run over by a Mack truck.
    (Mack still makes trucks, don’t they?)
    I don’t know what Carville is up to, maybe he could suggest some good people to the Prez.

    At least W. didn’t get the posters here killed, like he did so many others.
    Its simply that W. nearly killed NASA and left a real mess behind.

    RGO, MT – You want to remind everyone here again what a crummy manned launch vehicle Ares 1 (er, Liberty) will be, if it can ever be made to “work”.

  • vulture4

    vulture4: :“It is worth it to take the risk as long as people are not yet onboard.”
    Prez Cannady : Why not also when people are aboard?
    vulture4: Most of the passengers for the next decade will be NASA Commercial Crew, and if they are lost there will be a ton of paperwork. Don’t get me wrong; I have lost friends in crashes. But they know the risks they are taking, and if they are cool with it I say go ahead. But unfortunately the agency will put the brakes on for years so it makes sense to be a little more careful with people; ideally if any mods are made to the rocket send an unmanned ship up as the first test of the new design.

    “Tourism is a leisure activity..”
    Actually I see tourism as the primary market for human spaceflight for many decades to come. There is some legitimate science but it could be done unmanned. The idea that there is some miracle drug to be found in space is unfortunately a fraud. So we need much cheaper spaceflight, as the L-5 Society always wanted.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: HLVs do not grow on trees, as you know, and you also know the problem that CxP had: building everything at once drove up costs, and delays on one (Ares I in this case) diverted funds from Ares V and Altair. Certainly, we disagree. I maintain that HLV is needed ASAP, so that we can leave LEO and start going places. (the EELV-based approach doesn’t have the political support-and you know it). You’d rather wait until the payloads are ready-and they’d have to sit in the clean room until the rocket’s ready to go. (again, 5-7 years of development, testing-including test flights, and so on) A delay in the payload means a delay in the rocket if they’re part of the same program, and vice versa. Build the freaking thing now, stick Orion on top of it, if necessary, get ESA to build a hab module to spread out costs and get them involved in exploration, and GO. Just as Professor Ed Crawley says in his presentation. Just DO IT.

  • Rhyolite

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    If there is any questions about the need, timing or size of an HLV, but you (or the Senate) insist on building one, then we should be looking at modular HLVs. For example, consider an HLV built around 5 m cores using Delta IV tooling. If we need a little HLV, then use three cores. If we need a big HLV then use five cores. If we don’t need an HLV for another 10 years or at all, then a single core is still useful for conventional satellite launching and ETO transportation. The HLV plans can go back on the shelf to be retrieved when a mission comes along. No special standing army necessary.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I believe this is what Congress thinks.

    If you truly believe this, then you are very naive. If you don’t believe this, you’re being dishonest. That’s certainly what the pro-SLS members of Congress are. They don’t want SLS because it is cheaper or HLV because it is supposedly necessary, they want an HLV because SLS would be one and they want an SLS because they know it would be more expensive, not less, and they also know that money will be spent in their constituencies. It’s pork, pure and simple.

  • Paul

    I maintain that HLV is needed ASAP, so that we can leave LEO and start going places.

    This is cargo cult thinking, especially when limited budgets means we’ll have to assume the Payload Fairy will wave a magic wand to provide something for the HLV to launch.

    But then, cargo cult thinking pretty much characterizes what NASA has been doing for its entire existence.

  • Alan

    Still haven’t seen anyone present a cogent case against a funded, milestone-based, SAA with ULA to build the Delta IV Heavy with RS-68A’s and 6 GEM 60′s.

    ULA states only minor pad modifications are required.

    That would get a launcher with 95 ton payload to a 407km, 28.5 degree orbit WITHOUT having to have the rockets in stock since they use STANDARD Delta IV CBCs and GEM 60′s.

    It would also support a 6.8m x 85m fairing.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Sounds slick, Alan.

    What do you think ATK’s reaction is going to be?

  • Das Boese

    Vladislaw wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I believe it won’t happen until we have two things. First, the knowledge of will staying on Mars negate the effects of zero-g travel getting there and actually keep you robust. Second, gas stations around Mars.

    You send the ship to Mars from Earth, the passengers land on mars, people already on Mars and not suffering any negative effects from lower gravity, launch to Mars orbit, refuels the ship and takes it to Io or Europa and returns to Mars. You could possibly cut off a couple AUs of travel time for the people going there and they would not have had to suffer as much time under the negative effects of zero-g or radiation.

    What do you think?

    if you want to go to the outer solar system the asteroid belt is a much better place for a “gas station”. All the fuel and building material you could ever want is easily accessible, and artificial gravity can be done easily enough through rotation.

  • Alan

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Sounds slick, Alan.

    What do you think ATK’s reaction is going to be?

    ATK manufactures the GEM 60′s for the Delta IV.

  • Alan

    I forgot to mention that the Delta CBC’s are made in Decatur, AL . . .

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    You’d rather wait until the payloads are ready-and they’d have to sit in the clean room until the rocket’s ready to go.

    I guess you feel that we should build an HLV and let it sit around for however long it takes to build one (if not more) HLV-sized payloads? At least with the payloads you don’t have to pay for an army of support personnel and all the facilities. Guess which one costs less?

    But no, I advocate building exploration systems that max out our current lift capabilities, just like we’ve done with the ISS. As users identify where there are being limited for future systems, that’s what will drive the demand for larger capabilities. That’s how it works in the commercial transport world, and it works very well. To do otherwise just wastes money.

    Build the freaking thing now, stick Orion on top of it, if necessary, get ESA to build a hab module to spread out costs and get them involved in exploration, and GO.

    We can do that with the launchers we have today – no HLV required.

    And that’s the whole point Matt, is that we are $38B away from doing any exploration if we are forced to use the SLS, which is also NOT a redundant launch system (one BOOM, and we’re shut down for years).

    Take that $38B and spend it on building exploration payloads for existing launchers, and we can be out exploring Crawley-style much faster.

    the EELV-based approach doesn’t have the political support-and you know it

    We’ve never had a true Congressional debate or presentation on that point, so no, it’s never been decided. If you think otherwise, just provide the evidence (but I bet you can’t).

    What little support there is for the SLS can disappear in one Congressional bill, and it looks like that could happen sooner than I thought. The SLS only survives by political will, not by demand from lots of potential users, which means a change in political will is all it takes to end it. I hope that’s soon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    “Ron: HLVs do not grow on trees, as you know, and you also know the problem that CxP had: building everything at once drove up costs, and delays on one (Ares I in this case) diverted funds from Ares V and Altair.”

    what makes you think that if NASA HSF could not build Ares 1 and Orion for 15 billion dollars that they would not need many many times that for Ares V and Altair?

    ANYWAY it doesnt matter, there is no political support for large budget human exploration of space in this economic environment.

    As Sarah Palin would put it the “death panels” are pulling the plug on large budget NASA HSF and other programs RGO

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 8:06 pm
    @ Das Boese wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I think you missed the point but in a nice way. You tried to seriously answer a non serious question that was addressed to our HLV cult friends which I do not think you belong to. ;)

    My question was whether we will built an ever growing HLV depending on how far we plan to go. If we indeed need an HLV for going to the Moon or Mars. What will happen when we eventually decide to go to Titan, Io, Pluto, Alpha Centauri? What kind of HLV will we need then if this is the mode of operation we get into? If we invest in an HLV infrastructure for the future?…

    I would like HLV supporters to answer that. See what they come up with a rationale.

    Thanks for trying though.

  • Coastal Ron

    adastramike wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I guess the question then is what type of HLV IS affordable?

    No. The question is why aren’t we designing missions around the launchers we already have?

    Of the two most recent NASA exploration studies, HEFT and Nautilus-X, neither required a new launch vehicle. So why aren’t we funding exploration missions instead of a rocket that has no defined needs or customers?

    But has anyone checked the risk of doing this in terms of reliablity and risk assessment: of launching and assembling a beyond LEO crewed spacecraft vs one or two launches involving an SLS?

    If you don’t use in-space docking, assembly and refueling, you’re never going anywhere. So why put off getting extremely competent in the things that allow you to go exploring in force? What choice is there?

    Otherwise if an HLV by itself is not “affordable” then we only need focus on one HSF endeavour at a time.

    How much exploration hardware could you build with $16B? NASA’s estimate for the Nautilus-X is $7B, so instead of building a de-rated SLS with no money left for payloads, we could be testing our first true spaceship on 24 month BEO missions. Which sounds better to you?

    I do wish however that right now we would be funding the truly ground-breaking vehicles: like an Earth Departure Stage or other upper stage vehicle, or crewed planetary landers.

    An EDS is not a “ground-breaking vehicle”, it’s just a piece of transportation infrastructure, just like a first stage or upper stage. Every dollar that NASA spends on transportation hardware is one dollar less that it can spend on exploration hardware. Which is more important to you?

    Commercial companies just aren’t there yet.

    This is a pretty ignorant statement. Who do you think builds all of NASA’s hardware? Commercial companies.

    The only question is who pays for the development of new transportation infrastructure? If there is a big enough need, then the aerospace industry will, just like they do for their other commercial products, and that’s where NASA can save $Billions (which can go towards exploration).

    Forcing NASA to build a custom launcher that has limited use locks NASA into spending a considerable amount of their budget on non-value added activities that drain it’s exploration budgets. The SLS does nothing to lower the cost of exploration or accessing space, and in fact it actually INCREASES NASA’s cost to explore. How is that a good thing?

  • Martijn Meijering

    We’ve never had a true Congressional debate or presentation on that point, so no, it’s never been decided. If you think otherwise, just provide the evidence (but I bet you can’t).

    SDLV-lust, the love that dare not speak its name. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone admit they simply want an SDLV for its own sake. There are always technical pretexts and when they are shown to be defective the last resort is always to say that “all experts say so” and “Congress wants one”.

  • I wrote: I wonder if Cheney’s book will discuss the topic at all?

    Apparently not. Unless they just completely failed to index it.

  • Das Boese

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    get ESA to build a hab module to spread out costs and get them involved in exploration

    ESA has neither the money nor the desire to participate in this flawed approach to “exploration”. Not when it was called Constellation, not now.

  • Das Boese

    common sense wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Curses, my plans to derail the thread have been foiled yet again! ;)

    Anyway, you could propose any target for an exploration mission and you’d hear the exact same arguments from the HLV proponents that we’ve debated to death here.
    It boils down to every problem looking like a nail when your only tool is a hammer.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I wrote: I wonder if Cheney’s book will discuss the topic at all?

    “Apparently not. Unless they just completely failed to index it.”

    MAYBE

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I wrote: I wonder if Cheney’s book will discuss the topic at all?

    Apparently not. Unless they just completely failed to index it.

    MAYBE Mike Griffins head is just constantly exploding…he has an op ed in Space News that is typical sour grapes Mike RGO

    (my apologies to our host for a double post.) RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    adastramike wrote @ August 29th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    “I guess the question then is what type of HLV IS affordable? ”

    that wouldnt be my question…although it certainly is a good one.

    My question would be what do we want to launch into space and why, so that means we have to figure out what we want to do in space.

    Sorry I am not an “exploration” guy. The notion that we have to spend even tens of billions so a few NASA types can go to some other body; stay a few “time periods” sing some songs make goofy statements written by the PAO and then come back…isnt all that much with me.

    I think that we should be building federal infrastructure in space that has some value to the rest of the country; and that starts with a NASA that can do things for a reasonable price. RGO

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: did you see the stuff from that “space summit?” All of the presenters at that event (granted, singing from the same songbook) had HLV in their exploration outlines. Augustine practically declared it necessary. I’ll bet that the reason EELV-based exploration hasn’t come up is for one of two reasons: 1) no one who advocates it has the clout to put it to Congress-very likely), or 2) the companies that would benefit are concentrating on other spaceflight areas and are leaving BEO to NASA, even though they could get their respective members of Congress to push such a proposal.

    Again, Ron, there is a difference in what you want to do and what Congress will allow you to do. If the Administration had “made the sale” on what they had in mind a year ago, we may not be having this conversation. They didn’t sell their proposals to a Congress that was skeptical at best, and in many cases, downright hostile. And this was a Congress that was friendly to the Administration!

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve only seen one columnist for a paper that covers space advocate using EELVs: this guy here:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110828/COLUMNISTS0207/108280328/Matt-Reed-After-Russian-crash-turn-F-150-American-rockets&sa=U&ei=KJRdTtOIDevD0AGjw6jtAg&ved=0CCYQqQIwAQ&sig2=ljK_KImfzRzuTU-x9-NBVA&usg=AFQjCNE-GifNKuU2FZN1e2Z36906JtQtDg

    I would imagine that Senators Nelson and Rubio are not happy with this guy at the moment.

  • vulture4

    RGO: “My question would be what do we want to launch into space and why, so that means we have to figure out what we want to do in space.”

    vulture4: Since NASA is tax-supported, I believe that it should do whatever, within its capabilities, will provide the greatest benefit for the nation. Most of this work will not be doing things in space, but rather developing new technologies on earth. In the case of technologies for HSF, they should be focused on providing customers outside NASA, such as tourists and scientists not funded by NASA, with the ability to travel in space at a practical cost. This will allow HSF to become a productive industry rather than a political stunt.

    This is much harder than going to the moon with a blank check. But as Kennedy said, “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

  • Vladislaw

    Matt wrote:

    “I’ve only seen one columnist for a paper that covers space advocate using EELVs”

    Goto yahoo, enter “EELV exploration” I believe you will more that a few papers that advocate using current launch systems.

  • I would imagine that Senators Nelson and Rubio are not happy with this guy at the moment.

    Is there some reason he should care?

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ August 30th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Ron: did you see the stuff from that “space summit?” All of the presenters at that event (granted, singing from the same songbook) had HLV in their exploration outlines.

    If you tell everyone to make plans assuming an HLV will be available, what do you expect?

    Instead, tell everyone to make plans assuming they have to use existing launchers, and guess what? Their destinations and missions don’t change much, but the costs go down dramatically and the start dates get closer. What’s wrong with that?

    Augustine practically declared it necessary.

    Lots of people assume that some sort of HLV will be needed at some point, but if you ask them when (i.e. which decade or century) they’ll say they don’t know.

    I’ve asked you the same question, and you can’t even answer it.

    What year will it be that Congress authorizes & funds NASA to start building and launching 1/2 Million pounds of equipment, vehicles, structures and supplies into low Earth orbit every year for a decade or more?

    I don’t know why I ask, since you never even try to answer. I guess Cernan was right about you – you don’t know what you don’t know… ;-)

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