Congress, NASA

Congressional reaction to the SLS announcement

Most members of Congress—with one notable exception—spoke approvingly of NASA’s announcement Wednesday of the design of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, even if they also expressed some frustration that the decision took too long to make or a perceived lack of vision for NASA’s human spaceflight programs.

For example, the key senators involved in promoting the SLS, Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), joined colleagues in praising the announcement. “This is the biggest thing for space exploration in decades,” Nelson said. “Because of the delays in announcing this design, it is imperative that we work with NASA to assure that the new Space Launch System is pursued without further losses of time and efficiency, while relying on NASA’s world-class engineers and designers to continue U.S. leadership in space exploration,” said Hutchison.

Another senator vocal on NASA issues, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), was cautiously pleased with the announcement. Citing a lack of details in the announcement, he said, “I will continue to monitor this situation very closely to see whether the administration implements the 130-metric ton SLS plan as enacted by Congress.” NASA’s current plans call for initial development of a 70-ton version of the rocket that can later be upgraded to a 130-ton version at a unspecified date. Shelby’s comments were echoed by his colleague, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): “NASA must continue to strive for the 130 metric-ton goal specified in law passed by Congress. And, I will continue to strongly encourage NASA to complete the Space Launch System and the 130 metric-ton rocket.”

Three House members—Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee; Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), chairman of that committee’s space subcommittee; and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee with oversight of NASA—issued a joint statement primarily venting frustration with delays in announcing the SLS design. “This Administration’s lack of commitment for human space exploration has frustrated and angered many of us in Congress who are committed to American leadership in space,” they state. “It is our sincere hope that today’s announcement signals a breakthrough with this President that will help alleviate the uncertainty that has plagued our aerospace industrial base and wreaked havoc on its employees.”

The science committee’s Democratic leadership was more conciliatory than their Republican colleagues. This is a great step forward. I am pleased that the White House has joined Congress in committing to a sustained, productive future for the nation’s human space flight program,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), ranking member of the science committee.

Individual Republican members expressed variations on the same themes. “While I am pleased that the new system has been announced, it was long past due and I will continue to push this White House to comply with the law of the land and get America back into space,” said Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) had similar concerns: “Despite today’s announcement, I remain frustrated and deeply disappointed that the Obama Administration continues to delay the implementation of the human space flight program approved by a bi-partisan Congress last year.” “It is time for NASA to give Congress a schedule — a hard and fast timeline — so American taxpayers have no doubt how their money is being spent on this effort. The days of unaccountable calendar and cost overruns are over,” said Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), who emphasized job creation in her statement as well. Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), while saying he was “encouraged” by the decision, is looking for a clearer vision and mission for the space agency: “We need bold objectives and an aggressive timeline to captivate and excite Americans of all ages, and keep our nation first in Space as a matter of national security.”

An exception to the general praise for the SLS decision comes from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). “This program is just fundamentally wrong,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News. He called the SLS “old technology” that he likened to the Saturn 5 rocket of the 1960s. “There are more viable and more creative ways of approaching the creation of a space transport system.”

170 comments to Congressional reaction to the SLS announcement

  • “Most members of Congress—with one notable exception—spoke approvingly of NASA’s announcement Wednesday of the design of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, even if they also expressed some frustration that the decision took too long to make or a perceived lack of vision for NASA’s human spaceflight programs.”

    Don’t you mean, “Most members of Congress who spoke on the matter. The members you cite are closely tied to SLS development. Most members of Congress are ambivalent about the matter and don’t pay it much if any attention. That’s the reason why the SLS porkers get away with as much as they do.

  • Here are some interesting factual points made at HobbySpace.com. I will note that any bold face for emphasis is mine:
    “The $62.5B number that got a lot of attention in the press referred to the total through 2025 for the case that accelerated the program significantly and flew far more often than the very minimal program laid out today. (It appears, in fact, that publicizing that $62.5B number may have helped make the plan introduced on Wednesday sound like a bargain!) It should be noted that even cases 1 and 2 are estimated to cost $41B and $44B, resp., through 2025. Nothing that NASA said on Wednesday refutes any of these numbers.

    Finally, I’ll point out that there was certainly nothing on Wednesday that refuted the findings in the Booz Allen study that NASA’s estimates beyond the 3-5 year time frame are fraught with great uncertainty. Hutchison and Nelson claimed last week that since the near term estimates were reliable, there’s no reason to delay getting the program underway. That’s the sort of good governance that explains why programs often explode “unexpectedly” in cost after 3-5 years…

  • E.P. Grondine

    The next steps:

    1) ATK tries to get other crewed efforts stopped as a way of saving money. (Doesn’t work for SpaceX, as they are beyond ATK’s grasp.)

    2) ATK gets work on other SLS boosters stopped as a way of saving money.

    ATK is announcing a $180 million per launch cost, which is $30 million per seat, plus cargo. What about the other prices?

    Rohrabacher’s got it right, and has the guts and sense to say it in a “polite” way. I wish he and Obama could get together for a nice quiet dinner someplace. I also wonder what Rep. Boehlert is up to now. He would make a good tablemate.

    I hope Obama managed to use Reid to roll some logs with Hatch for this, but I doubt it.

  • josh

    lol, and these fools are actually governing the us? what a bad joke, america is in decline.

  • Mark Whittington

    “There are more viable and more creative ways of approaching the creation of a space transport system.”

    One would wish Dana would enlighten us as to what those ways are. Otherwise he is fighting against something with nothing as an alternative.

  • amightywind

    “There are more viable and more creative ways of approaching the creation of a space transport system.”

    The ‘Princess and the Pea’ attitude among the Apostles of Musk has done enormous damage to American spaceflight. These people had their run and have chaos to show for it. It is time to tune them out.

  • Damn, Mark, you are dense. Didn’t you see the news two days ago about his request for NASA to release the depot study?

    I’m sticking by my prediction that SLS will be cancelled in 2016. I’ll back off the $30 billion and bump it down to $20 billion total spent with no flights, massive budget overruns and schedule slips. By 2015 Congress will have to cut budgets across the board and when they see at least three commercial companies flying people in the 50 metric ton range they’ll cancel SLS and tell NASA to make do with what it has.

  • I’m sticking by my prediction that SLS will be cancelled in 2016.

    I don’t see how it survives that long.

  • R. Kevin Hill

    http://wp.me/pXBia-u1

    This was an older post of mine, but Rohrabacher’s comments, given his position as Congressional representative of the district that contains Hawthorne, California, HQ of SapceX, seems to confirm some of it.

  • rpatituc@yahoo.com

    “I’m sticking by my prediction that SLS will be cancelled in 2016″

    This makes no sense. SLS has been worked on for 6 years already.
    By 2016 it will be almost built. Congress will never let it be cancelled.
    It has great support in Congress by democrats and republicians.

  • This was an older post of mine, but Rohrabacher’s comments, given his position as Congressional representative of the district that contains Hawthorne, California, HQ of SapceX, seems to confirm some of it.

    This lie doesn’t grow truthful from repetition. It has been corrected here repeatedly. Hawthorne is miles away from Dana’s district. It is in Maxine Waters’ district.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    Thanks for sharing the ATK line with us.

    It’s B*** S***, as Musk hired very experienced space engineers for his effort. The space frontier foundation folks have actually been something of a hinderance to him; now we see ATK trying to lump SpaceX together with them.

    Hi Rand –
    What part of ATK’s operation do you not understand?
    Our nation has just spent $10,000,000,000 putting ATK in the medium heavy launch market.

    Like I told you before, watching Obama has been like watching a 2 year old get run over by a Mack truck. The end of the 5 segs for manned launch and sensitive launches seemed so near… Somehow ATK has managed to frame opposition to their 5 segs as opposition to manned spaceflight and NASA; they preserved Griffin’s single thread plan.

    No one went after Griffin for his Contempt of Congress,though they easily threatened Boldin. Doesn’t that tell you something?

  • Coastal Ron

    R. Kevin Hill wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    This was an older post of mine

    If you have something to say, say it here – no link-spamming.

    given his position as Congressional representative of the district that contains Hawthorne, California, HQ of SapceX, seems to confirm some of it.

    If having SpaceX in his district confirms your suspicions, then the opposite must be true too. And since the truth is that SpaceX is in Maxine Water’s district (CA-35), I guess that means your assumptions about Rohrabacher are false.

    Glad we could clear that up for you.

  • JohnHunt

    “Dana Rohrabacher represents the 46th district. SpaceX is based in Hawthorne the 35th district.”

  • R. Kevin Hill

    Correction: is near Hawthorne. Does not contain it.

  • Hello, why not editing wikipedia with your critics of the different programs so lots of people can read you, instead of a few that are lucky to find this forum ?

    this page needs your helps on the budget, alternative and criticism section, here you have an opportunity to be widely read for the years to come.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System

    You can reference yourself or other authors you like.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    “There are more viable and more creative ways of approaching the creation of a space transport system.”

    “One would wish Dana would enlighten us as to what those ways are.”

    sorry Mark, you just dont want to see the ways. You are a big government toady…YOU NEED A PLAN, you need a government plan to do everything, at least in spaceflight.

    Sorry SLS wont survive this year. It is in its end game as the super committee is going to kill it…and the rest of us will move on with a space future…Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rick Boozer wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 7:36 am

    nicely written RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Michael Mealling wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    “I’m sticking by my prediction that SLS will be cancelled in 2016″

    Simberg is correct here; me I dont give it this year…we have yet to see the spending limits on the super committee…RGO

  • common sense

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    “I don’t see how it survives that long.”

    Jobs program in a recession. One that the GOP seems to endorse and that the Dems won’t have the heart to let go.

  • Das Boese

    Watching this disaster from the outside is like watching a slow-motion video of a jet hitting a concrete wall, with NASA being a crash test dummy strapped into the pilot’s seat.

  • Byeman

    Rohrabacher’s district does not contain Spacex.
    http://rohrabacher.house.gov/District/interactivemap.htm
    So your post is meaningless

  • Byeman

    His district actually include Boeing Huntington and Seal Beach which would benefit more from SLS.

  • Damn, Mark, you are dense. Didn’t you see the news two days ago about his request for NASA to release the depot study?

    That’s because his gripes have nothing to do with “space.”

    It has all to do with the “D” in front of, (or behind) Mr. Obama’s name.

  • amightywind

    The SLS design is majestic, but what is the architecture for the asteroid rendezvous mission, or the lunar mission? With Ares we had that. After 9 months of planning I expected more. Also, the artist rendition shows the core stage painted like a Saturn V. As with the shuttle, it is utterly pointless to add paint on top of the stray on insulation. The rocket as it is depicted is overkill for the LEO mission.

  • Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter joins in the porkfest:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7UGDozUmnI

  • One that the GOP seems to endorse and that the Dems won’t have the heart to let go.

    The GOP doesn’t care. No one on the Hill does except those benefiting from the pork.

  • Mark Whittington

    Oler, nice ad hominem, but I did not detect anything suggesting that I was wrong there, Actually, the current GOP drive against crony capitalism is going to alter commercial crew quite a bit.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “The SLS design is majestic, but what is the architecture for the asteroid rendezvous mission, or the lunar mission?”

    Sorry no money to define the architecture. All the money goes to SLS and MPCV. Not a penny for mission design.

    “With Ares we had that”

    No we did not.

    “After 9 months of planning I expected more. ”

    Yeah well you expect a lot outside of reality. The day you come back to it is the day you will finally see the light.

    “The rocket as it is depicted is overkill for the LEO mission.”

    Are you kidding? It is majestic. Big. Lots of noise and flame throwing stuff. Are you a commie or something? Not very patriotic it seems to me.

  • Dennis

    hey guys during the depression didnt the goverment create jobs via opening the highway department? If space can put people back to work, all the more reason to have it. What this vehicle may evolve into remains to be seen however. Remember both with Apollo and the Shuttle programs how the designs changed over time. We probably will end up with alot less by the time the first screw is turned! It will surprize me if it turns out just as indicated in the artist pictures.

  • Rhyolite

    Note that every single approving Congressional statement comes from a state that stands to gain pork from this boondoggle.

  • Even as a space fan I’m ambivalent about SLS. It would be great to have another big rocket, but….
    1.) Will it be funded consistently to a timely completion?
    2.) What other space exploration options are we foregoing?
    I’d rather have the Webb Telescope up there and wait on SLS. We also need to develop more in-space capabilities, those funds will be hard to come by? Griffin held back a good deal of tech development being narrowly focused and now we’ll have to wait even longer on those enabling technologies. Then again, Elon Musk has supported the development of a heavy lift even beyond his Falcon heavy capability.
    All this, leaves this space-fan ambivalent about SLS, NASA and what it will accomplish in a relevant time frame compared to what it could have accomplished. President Obama’s original proposals had a lot more vision than this; where we’ve arrived.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    “One that the GOP seems to endorse and that the Dems won’t have the heart to let go.”

    “The GOP doesn’t care.”

    Same thing to me.

  • amightywind

    Are you a commie or something? Not very patriotic it seems to me.

    Patriotic is not synonymous with stupid.

    No we did not.

    Ares I and Ares V, Orion, EDS, and Altair were designed and sized for the lunar mission. Lockmart has a nice design for an asteroid mission with similar hardware. Bolden didn’t say jack about other components of ‘Son of Constellation’ or its mission. For heaven’s sack the guy is supposed to be NASA Administrator. He needs to be showing the way.

  • This is fiscally irresponsible in our estimation. We do not see “the rocket” getting three billion a year. No one on the senate CJS committee will give us a straight answer of when we will be going anywhere or where we will be going to.

    Everyone seems to be focused on “the rocket”.

    We need a destination, not a means to reach that destination. We need a well thought strategy that utilizes the infrastructure we have.

    I found it somewhat disingenuous to give it the new SLS a white paint job. This was purely for nostalgia. Didn’t we stop paining ETs white for weight reduction? Going back to 5th grade here but I remember reading in TIME magazine about how the white paint job was no longer necessarily as the boil off wasn’t as bad as projected.

    I know a lot of people here are disappointed and we are too. We need fiscally responsible space policy that engages the free market.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • …the current GOP drive against crony capitalism is going to alter commercial crew quite a bit.

    As I said at my blog when you stated similar idiocy, it is mindless and stupid to imagine that multiple, competitive, fixed-price-for-performance contracts are somehow “crony capitalism,” but that gargantuan, sole-source, no-bid cost-plus contracts directed to particular companies at Congressional behest is not. You continue to be unable to explain this Bizarro-world upside-down standard.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark Whittington wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Actually, the current GOP drive against crony capitalism is going to alter commercial crew quite a bit.

    It should accelerate it, since the CCDev program has been competitively bid and awarded from the beginning. Competition, public/private partnerships (i.e. shared investment), milestone payments (only pay for what’s completed) – what’s not to like?

    However I’m not aware of any such drive by the GOP (or the Democrats for that matter), so I doubt it will every materialize. The trend is for “new” politicians to rail against the entrenched ones, until they become the entrenched ones…

  • Alex

    I’ll disagree with Rand and say that SLS won’t won’t make it. It’ll become something far more insidious… it’ll become a joke. An unending joke that sucks up all NASA’s money from here on out, and maybe goes on missions looping around the moon or out to Lagrange points every 18 months or so. NASA will sell these missions to an increasingly bored public as being vital for learning how humans survive in deep space, but in reality, these will just be spam in a can. There simply won’t be the money for advanced life sciences and telerobotics that a true Flexible Path architecture demands.

    But, hey — the launches will sure be pretty! And everyone likes giant rockets, right!

  • We need a destination, not a means to reach that destination.

    No, we need cost-effective means to reach multiple destinations. This is not it.

  • DCSCA

    “An exception to the general praise for the SLS decision comes from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). “This program is just fundamentally wrong,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News. He called the SLS “old technology” that he likened to the Saturn 5 rocket of the 1960s. “There are more viable and more creative ways of approaching the creation of a space transport system.””

    America is getting a new bird and giving one to Rohrbacher and his nutty conservative clan.

    Memo to Dana- the Saturn V worked for HSF; commercial HSF has failed to materialize. Now run along and find something more down-to-earth to do– like fixing the ‘privatized’ United States postal service– before you try tinkering with privatizing America’s space program. You’ve got a few post offices in your district, fella.

    Rohrbacher and his foolish, disasterous, privatize everything poison, residue from the failed Reagan/Thatcher era, along with his conservative, commercial space shills, will be left, as JFK once said, in the ‘backwash of space.’ Watch now how they go back to work against America’s manned space program to try to stall this project.

    @amightywind wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “Also, the artist rendition shows the core stage painted like a Saturn V.”

    Was with a group of students decades ago when one asked Von Braun himself why the Saturn V was ‘painted’ the way it was– and he told the assembly it was for engineering and tracking purposes and then added, ‘and it looks pretty.’

  • Egad

    > But, hey — the launches will sure be pretty! And everyone likes giant rockets, right!

    Absolutely! I was there for the launch of Apollo 14 and it was worth every penny of the trip(*) for the son et lumière.

    (*) Our local Carmelite priest pilot flew us there in a Cessna, which was pretty interesting in itself.

  • amightywind

    Actually, the current GOP drive against crony capitalism is going to alter commercial crew quite a bit.

    Hear, Hear! In Jim Demint’s words, ‘Venture socialism’, does not work. Solindra is the tip of the iceberg.

  • YoungNasa

    Can’t wait to start working on a Human Exploration program again. We at NASA have been sitting idle for way too long.

  • Bennett

    YoungNasa wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    “Can’t wait to start working on a Human Exploration program again. We at NASA have been sitting idle for way too long.”

    Newsflash for YoungNasa:

    You aren’t going to be working on a Human Exploration program, you’ll be working on a Pointless and Doomed To Fail program. Good luck with that.

  • YoungNasa wrote:

    We at NASA have been sitting idle for way too long.

    That’s what happens when you belong to a union.

  • vulture4

    This is a sad day. The space advocate community knows this is a waste of money. People who have dedicated their lives to space are losing their jobs while billions of tax dollars are pouring into pork that will never fly. The most we can hope for is that when the NASA budget gets slashed they will drop the SLS/MPCV, but more likely worthwhile programs will be cut. At least DOD has a more coherent space access plan:
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/beyondnextgen.html

  • YoungNasa

    Newsflash for YoungNasa:

    You aren’t going to be working on a Human Exploration program, you’ll be working on a Pointless and Doomed To Fail program. Good luck with that.

    Newsflash for Bennett (someone who obviously doesn’t work for NASA)

    Get a life. If everyone had your attitude, we would never get anything done. There are many of us young engineers here at NASA who are ready to show what we can do in designing America’s next great HSF’s endeavors.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    “Oler, nice ad hominem, but I did not detect anything suggesting that I was wrong there, Actually, the current GOP drive against crony capitalism is going to alter commercial crew quite a bit.”

    LOL

    OK try this YOU ARE WRONG WRONG ON ALMOST EVERYTHING BOTH POLITICAL AND SPACE POLITICS.

    shouting meant

    First off you talking about crony capitalism and commercial crew, implying that commercial crew is crony capitalism is nut NUTS REALLLY NUTS

    The only thing that stops SLS which you and the nuts of the GOP (and to be fair some dems) support from being called “crony capitalism” is that there really is no capitalism involved in it. It is simply cronyism run amock. The “project” such as it is only metric is to push work and money toward companies (or divisions of companies) who otherwise could not survive on the open market. KBH and even Porker Pete more or less say so.

    There is nothing but hot air from you in terms of commercial crew and cargo that remotely resembles “cronyism”. All the companies have had to pass free and fair bidding, meet milestones to get COMPENSATED and actually deliver a product.

    No amount of people like you who love big government saying that SpaceX or anyone else is getting crony treatment will make it so period…much less in comparison to say ATK and SLS.

    Finally in generic terms the GOP is stuck in cronyism. Pete Olson pushed for a second engine for the F-35…something that has never been done on a military fighter, Kay wants all the shuttle workers to get their job back even as she rails against a “jobs” program…and Rick Perry old Good hair is crony capitalism personafied.

    It is like Saddam having WMD Mark…no amount of people like you saying otherwise changes the fact…he did not

    Clear enough for you? Or have you been listening to much to Palin? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    YoungNasa wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    “Can’t wait to start working on a Human Exploration program again”

    LOL what exploration program do you think is starting? And if indeed you are “young” what is this “again”? LOL RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    YoungNasa wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    We at NASA have been sitting idle for way too long.

    Sitting idle? People that are motivated for a cause don’t wait for someone to tell them what to do, they go out and make things happen.

    How did you spend your days? Sit around complaining, or bringing together other motivated people to figure out how NASA can do more with less money and less resources?

    Your answer should be telling…

  • Coastal Ron

    YoungNasa wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    There are many of us young engineers here at NASA who are ready to show what we can do in designing America’s next great HSF’s endeavors.

    While enthusiasm is a good thing, the SLS is not America’s next great HSF endeavor – it’s just a mode of transportation, not exploration. Maybe you’re the kind of person that gets excited about flying on an airliner that’s taking you to your vacation destination, but the airliner is not your vacation. So it is with the SLS and space exploration.

    With the SLS sucking up the majority of NASA’s exploration funds, what decade do you imagine you’ll be able to start work on something besides the MPCV that will actually ride the SLS into space and do HSF exploration?

    Why not get behind a design like the Nautilus-X? Or the latest from the FISO group, the “Designing an Enduring Mars Campaign” study? These are all HSF programs that don’t need the SLS, and we could be starting on them now. Isn’t that better than waiting decades?

    Isn’t sustainable and reusable space hardware intriguing to you?

    Doesn’t cost matter to you?

  • common sense

    @amightywind wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    “Patriotic is not synonymous with stupid.”

    Not necessarily indeed but one has to wonder at least why certain people hijacked “patriotism” to serve their own agenda rather than that of the USA. And why others fall for it? If not stupidity then what is it?

    “Ares I and Ares V, Orion, EDS, and Altair were designed and sized for the lunar mission.”

    Do you really believe what you write? Orion and Ares I were almost designed. Not finished in any reasonable way. Ares V, EDS and Altair were never designed. Please provide a reference for their respective designs… There was no “lunar mission”.

    “Lockmart has a nice design for an asteroid mission with similar hardware.”

    Of course. If they could they would use to spread insecticide in the swamps in FL and TX. Why not if some one is willing to pay? People who are against “New Space” tend to forget that “Old Space” works for profit too, not philanthropy.

    “Bolden didn’t say jack about other components of ‘Son of Constellation’ or its mission. For heaven’s sack the guy is supposed to be NASA Administrator. He needs to be showing the way.”

    He’s showing the way. Many times over. He said he does not want SLS or any “son of constellation”. He ants commercial space. Congress is abusing its authority and imposes their views. Such a designing if it means anything an SLS.

  • common sense

    @ YoungNasa wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    “Can’t wait to start working on a Human Exploration program again. We at NASA have been sitting idle for way too long.”

    Do you know what happens who “sit idling” in the real world? I would not brag about that if I were you. Not too bright.

  • Mark Whittington

    I am amazed at the kind of things that pass for thought here. Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism? My bet is that if one were to substitute “high speed rail” for “commercial crew” the same people who are snarling about how great paying out six billion to the cool kids of new space would not be quite as supportive.

  • Norm Augustine on the SLS deal:

    http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2011/09/as-nasa-pols-celebrate-their-rocket-plan-a-splash-of-cold-water/

    “I haven’t had the chance to do any detailed engineering, so I don’t know if their timeline is possible or not,” he said. “It seems like it should be, if given adequate funds. The particular design they’ve come up with sounds to me, on the surface, to be reasonable. It’s not terribly different than some of the options we looked at on the committee. The real issue is going to be whether there is adequate money in the budget to do all of this, and whether we will have the staying power to continue to put adequate money in the budget.”

  • common sense

    Guess what I support High Speed Rail and CCDev!!! They serve two different purposes. There may not be that many people riding a high speed train now but wait until fuel surges again. AND more people will ride the trains ever than the SLS…

  • R. Kevin Hill

    1. I apologize if people think a link is “spam”; the last time I posted something that long in a comments thread I was taken to task for writing something too long and thought this was the better course. I suppose that one could simply ignore it, if that isn’t too demanding of one’s will-power.

    2. I was not “repeating” a “lie” about the relationship between Hawthorne and Rohrabacher’s district, as I had never heard it before, and had innocently misread a hasty Mapquest result that did not show borders. It’s an easy mistake to make since they are about 12 miles apart. It is not inconceivable that one or two people who work in Hawthorne live in District 46, and vote. They *probably* aren’t flying in every day from Huntsville, Alabama, but at the risk of repeating a lie to that effect, I can’t say I have done any inquiries along those lines. Cheers.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    “I am amazed at the kind of things that pass for thought here. Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism?”

    I dont know what you are talking about…if you are talking about the commercial crew/cargo thing, then clearly you are speaking from ignorance.

    There are no “subsidies” there are payments for services and progress toward delivering those subsidies.

    You obviously have never been in the private commercial world.

    What is even more amazing is your labeling of commercial crew/cargo as a subsidy…and yet complete buy in with things like Cx….which is simply funneling taxpayer money.

    Gee you are for SLS, I bet you would be against it if say the money were going for building roads, airports, or real infrastructure.

    Robert G. Oler

  • I am amazed at the kind of things that pass for thought here.

    That’s our experience about almost everything you write.

    Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism?

    In what way is being paid a few million for a delivered milestone, after bidding against competitors, and not being paid if it’s not met, a “government subsidy,” but being given a cost-plus contract for billions of dollars, with no requirement to bid, in which you get paid regardless of results, not?

    Why can you not answer this question?

    My conclusion is that you must be an idiot, given how many times this topic has come up. Do you have a better reason?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark Whittington wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism?

    I know exactly who you’re talking about – ATK!

    By definition crony capitalism is when politicians favor someone because of their ties to them, and that’s what happened when “some Senators” (you know who) slipped specific language into the SLS law to “favor” ATK. They even crowed about it to the press.

    Luckily other Senators have called out the crony capitalism, and NASA will be bidding out future SLS booster needs.

  • @Mark Whittington
    “I am amazed at the kind of things that pass for thought here. Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism? My bet is that if one were to substitute “high speed rail” for “commercial crew” the same people who are snarling about how great paying out six billion to the cool kids of new space would not be quite as supportive.”
    Just when I think your comments can’t get any dumber, you outdo yourself. How many high speed rail systems have been proposed where the government sponsor only pays for part of it and the companies that build the trains and the tracks put up the rest? That is the equivalent of what CCDev is doing.

    Even though the Socialist Launch System would be built by private companies, it would be totally paid for by the government. The taxpayers pay for only part of the vehicle development in CCDev, but they have to pay ALL of it with SLS and the More Politically Correct Vehicle. So whose is really fleecing the taxpayer? How about a little less hypocrisy, Whittington?

  • Rhyolite

    “Government subsidies for “private companies” for government contracts is not crony capitalism?”

    A subsidy is paying more than market value for something. That’s clearly not the case with the new space contracts. These contracts were awarded in open competitions to the lowest cost bidders. On the other hand, that’s clearly not the case for the SLS contracts.

    “private companies” should not be scare quotes. Are you asserting that Boeing is not a private company? Really? That Orbital is not a private company? Really? That SpaceX is not a private company? Really? That SNC is not a private company? Really? That Blue Origin is not a private company? Really?

    Cronies are friends. Good contracting practice relies on open competitions to avoid cronyism as was done with COTS and CCDev. Not so with the SLS contracts. And just who’s cronies would the new space be given that the initial contracts were awarded under Bush?

    Your arguments are completely devoid of merit. Stop repeating the same rubbish over and over again.

  • Mr. Right

    Actually Ares V was pretty far along. It shared many systems from Ares I. In term of independent cost Ares I was about 1 billion from a 1st flight, Ares V about 6 billion. Altar was not very far along. Basic systems design, level I requirements. The lunar spacesuits made great progress. Lots to build off of. The most of the money spent was not wasted. However I know some of you will not agree.

  • Frank Glover

    @ almightywind
    “The ‘Princess and the Pea’ attitude among the Apostles of Musk has done enormous damage to American spaceflight. These people had their run and have chaos to show for it. It is time to tune them out.”

    ULA and SpaceX have flown stuff, and can reasonably be expected to fly more. When may we expect an SLS to get daylight under itself?

    This is the point where some people would invoke clock sounds…

    “Also, the artist rendition shows the core stage painted like a Saturn V. As with the shuttle, it is utterly pointless to add paint on top of the stray on insulation.”

    You understand that that was meant to invoke Saturn V nostalgia and nothing more, right? And for many, it was resoundingly successful.(too much so, for some…they think it *is* essentially a resurrected Saturn) That *was* majestic, to some.

    @ rpatituc@yahoo.com
    “Congress will never let it be cancelled.
    It has great support in Congress by democrats and republicians.”

    I suspect some Shuttle supporters felt the same way (some of them are *still* in denial)

    @ Dennis:
    “If space can put people back to work, all the more reason to have it.’

    But not just *any* space project, at (literally?) *any* cost…

  • common sense

    @ Mr. Right wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Prove what you claim. If you can I am sure we’re all interested to know more. In the mean time…

  • I apologize if people think a link is “spam”

    I certainly don’t think so. I do it often.

    Actually Ares V was pretty far along.

    Ares V had not even started. There was no funding for it until the ISS had been shut down in 2016.

    In term of independent cost Ares I was about 1 billion from a 1st flight

    There is no basis for this statement. It is nuts.

    Altar was not very far along.

    Altair was just a dream, with no funding for years into the future. And the fact that you can’t even spell it is just a clue as to how clueless you are.

  • Michael from Iowa

    @Right

    Ares I wasn’t even far along, let alone Ares V. The closest Ares even got to a flight was NASA firing off a booster with the words ‘Ares I-X’ written on the side.

    I doubt SLS will even get that far before its scrapped.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr. Right wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Actually Ares V was pretty far along.

    Part of the problem with the value proposition of Ares I was that the Ares V was way too expensive without Ares I absorbing part of the development cost. In that light, sure Ares I was paying for the 5-segment SRB and J-2X 2nd stage engine, but that’s about the most you could claim. And neither of those has made it to flight status yet (and won’t for quite a few years).

    The SLS program doesn’t address any of the reasons why the Constellation program had to be cancelled, so it won’t take too long before it starts falling one year behind for every year of it’s existence, just like what happened on Constellation. And then Congress will kill it too. See a pattern here?

    The most of the money spent was not wasted. However I know some of you will not agree.

    If it doesn’t make it to space in a short period of time, then it’s a waste of taxpayer money. That’s how I critique any NASA space-specific expenditure. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • Robert G. Oler

    MARK WHITTINGTON

    Rand wrote:
    “In what way is being paid a few million for a delivered milestone, after bidding against competitors, and not being paid if it’s not met, a “government subsidy,” but being given a cost-plus contract for billions of dollars, with no requirement to bid, in which you get paid regardless of results, not?”

    I’ve asked this same question before why wont you answer it? WHY? RGO

  • Bennett

    R. Kevin Hill wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    You “misread” a mapquest map and then make up an entire post about a US Senator who is outraged at the stupidity and waste of the SLS and is speaking out about it because he got a campaign contribution from SpaceX?

    Are you simple?

    You are repeating lies when you write it more than once, don’t check the most basic of facts, and then spin a conspiracy theory based on your bush league errors.

    Feh!

  • Bennett

    Sorry, US Rep, not Senator.

  • @YoungNasa: “Newsflash for Bennett (someone who obviously doesn’t work for NASA)”

    You may peddle in the gift shop, but I don’t think that gives you a leg up on Bennett.

  • @Mr. Right:

    Actually Ares V was pretty far along.

    Not sure how you get “pretty far along” from “preliminary design review.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mr. Right wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    “Actually Ares V was pretty far along. It shared many systems from Ares I. In term of independent cost Ares I was about 1 billion from a 1st flight, Ares V about 6 billion.”

    not a chance really not a chance RGO

  • John

    Just love the comments. Lots of smoke and flames with no defined purpose. SLS is officially a dud. Any thoughts on how to cancel it without embarrassing the cheerleaders?

  • Explorer08

    Interesting thoughts , ideas and conclusions expressed in these forums. A pity that otherwise intelligent people have to be such nasty SOBs when they comment here. No wonder space advocates are so unsuccessful.

  • Matt Wiser

    DCSCA wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 3:38 pm:

    Agree with you completely. Congressman Rohrbacher would be in a position to influence the debate more if he was Chair of House Science, Space, and Tech, but Hall is.

    Mr. Right wrote @ September 15th, 2011 at 8:54 pm
    Actually Ares V was pretty far along. It shared many systems from Ares I. In term of independent cost Ares I was about 1 billion from a 1st flight, Ares V about 6 billion. Altar was not very far along. Basic systems design, level I requirements. The lunar spacesuits made great progress. Lots to build off of. The most of the money spent was not wasted. However I know some of you will not agree.

    Concur. Like I said in a thread a few months ago: while most of Constellation’s work won’t make it into space, Orion, the J-2X engine, 5-segment SRBs being the exception, one thing will: the spirit of the program. The people who worked on both Ares projects can say that some of what they spent time on, time away from their families, nights, weekends, etc, will not have been in vain, and that what they wanted, though not in its original form, will make it into space. This system, as rolled out, is more like Ares V light that Augustine felt was the best HLV option than the full-blown Ares V. Start issuing contracts, get hardware built, tested, and ready to fly; get the VAB and LC-39 prepped to support the new vehicle, and as Alan Shepard said on 5 May 61: “Fix your silly little problems and light this candle!”

  • Fred Willett

    Michael Mealling wrote

    …when they see at least three commercial companies flying people in the 50 metric ton range….
    Damn it, who are these 50 metric ton people?

  • Fred Willett

    My worry is that the SLS might mean the end of NASA.
    At an AIAA conference not so long ago Jeff Greason said that he had reason to believe that the idea of just shutting down NASA had been floated in government circles. That they should just declare victory and wind NASA up. (He didn’t say which administration considered this).
    The point being that he felt NASA couldn’t afford another Constellation like failure. It would mean the end for NASA.
    He might be right.

  • Fred Willett

    The greatest irony is that FISO today gave a presentation on a Mars exploration architecture based on existing Delta IV. With this architecture we could be walking on Mars before the first SLS rolls to the launch pad – if it ever does.

  • Mr. Right, I agree with you! As soon as Mr. Obama is out of office, come January of 2013, a change in the national space vision for the better will eventually come out. A re-created manned Lunar program can then be put together, and it will of course, borrow heavily from the tangible plans & progress of Constellation, up until Obama’s hideous, horrid decision to cancel the Project. Think about it: still-born plans that clearly should have been allowed to reach their full potential & the light of day. (1) New manned Lunar Rover designs. (2) New dusty-regolith-dealing space suits. (3) Dust management systems, for the new manned Lunar modules. (4) Expanded-duration life support systems; both for the space suits & the space-crafts (& the rover-vehicles on far-range excursions). (5) Enhanced electrical power systems; capable of dealing with an extraterrestrial night. All these items and others, will NEVER be built under Flexible Path; because the FP credo says that our astronauts must never get their boots & gloves dirty! Flexible Path gets us nowhere!

  • NASA Fan

    Does anyone on this blog think that Space or Earth Science will be ‘directed’ to utilize the lift capacity of the SLS? I’m sure when Shuttle was getting started, folks were at licking their lips at the up mass capacity; indeed the 4 great Observatories (HST, Sirtf,AXAF/Chandra, GRO) idea came about because of the large volume in the Shuttle Cargo Bay.

    However, me thinks that there will be MUCH resistance by Dr. Weiler, et al to even thinking about using this beast.

    Anyone?

  • Dennis

    I just read where they are NOT going to let Dragon dock with the ISS on the up coming Nov. flight. The Russians said it hasnt proved itself.

  • @Fred Willett
    “The point being that he felt NASA couldn’t afford another Constellation like failure. It would mean the end for NASA.
    He might be right.”

    My fear as well. But the SLS huggers are so obsessed with their giant phallic symbol that they don’t see it. Because it WILL be “another Constellation like failure. They are so blinded by their lust for a BMR that they won’t let themselves see that most of the people on our side are trying to save NASA, not end it.

  • Justin Kugler

    Castro,
    Your naivete doesn’t help you here. Given that NONE of the current GOP candidates have expressed any interest in increasing NASA’s budget line, you’re talking of fantasy. No exploration program will succeed, anyways, without a clear policy framework that requires NASA to develop a plan designed to deliver clear value to the nation.

    Given the fact that CxP had never closed its business case, I think it would have been canceled in a McCain administration, as well. Don’t forget that he was the guy that made the Pentagon go back to the drawing board over and over again until they got it right on contracting out the Air Force’s new tanker. Do you really think he would have let NASA persist with the status quo that the Augustine Commission found?

    As it is, the robotics and space suit folks at JSC are still working on new designs. They just conducted Desert RATS for this year. All of the technology development that you mention will still go on because they are necessary for extended duration missions. Many will be tested and proven on the ISS first, though. We’re getting ready to fly an Amine Swingbed CO2 scrubber, for example. Glenn and DOE have been talking about a smart power grid testbed, too.

    If your loyalty is to a particular program or architecture, then you miss the point. Playing the zero-sum game only hurts us all. My first loyalty is to advancing the cause of human space exploration because I think our species depends on it. How we get there depends on the politics and the needs of the nation, so we have to figure out how to make both the technical and policy sides work together. Until that happens, we aren’t going anywhere beyond LEO.

    And the person who posts under “YoungNasa”… if you really work at NASA, you can find me on global. We should talk.

  • Here’s the Space Access Society’s reaction to the SLS announcement:
    http://www.space-access.org/updates/sau128.html

  • Manny Louis

    …the idea of just shutting down NASA had been floated in government circles. That they should just declare victory and wind NASA up. (He didn’t say which administration considered this).
    The point being that he felt NASA couldn’t afford another Constellation like failure. It would mean the end for NASA.

    There are a lot of parts of NASA doing a fine job; in the sciences, planetary exploration, earth observations, aeronautics, etc. The big problem is in human space flight. And that problem is not with the people; they are mostly well trained and capable; the problem is the nonexistent leadership, starting with an Administrator-Bolden, who really has no plan, and Associate Administrator-Gerstenmaier, who seems to be a good technocrat making decisions on flying Shuttles and fuel sensors, etc, but who is no leader and who has no plan; not even a concept for a plan, and besides that no ability to communicate a plan. Astronauts and Flight Directors who came up through the ranks, now in leadership positions, did a fine job reading their checklists and procedures and mission rules, but none of whom have a plan, and none who have shown the slightest inclination towards leadership.

    What is dismaying is that we have the newspace commercial people coming up with some good hardware ideas and implementing them at what so far seems like reasonable cost. Then you have Orion and the new SLS which directly compete with American commercial industry-why??-and yet no realistic plan for what will be done with Orion or SLS. The idea of a throwaway capsule going into deep space for 3 weeks, then being thrown away at a cost of multiple $$$billions makes not a lick of sense. No plan-no concept of a plan.

    It is time to eliminate the existing non-leaders of human space flight and try someone different. Every day these flunkies hang on we are wasting dollars, time and people’s careers. The recent announcements of the departure of people like Bobby Braun, Laurie Leshin, or Mark Uhran means the wrong people are winning. Sanity and leadership are needed.

    • Ameriman

      …the idea of just shutting down NASA … a lot of parts of NASA doing a fine job
      ===== ==
      Really???
      Subtract what is being done by Caltech’s JPL, and SpaceX… and where is the ‘fine job’?
      We should downsize/eliminate Nasa, and use the NSF to directly fund Caltech’s JPL for probes, and private enterprises like SpaceX for boosters, capsules, and manned space… and get twice the result for 1/10 the money.

  • RyanCrierie

    “Finally in generic terms the GOP is stuck in cronyism. Pete Olson pushed for a second engine for the F-35…something that has never been done on a military fighter.”

    RGO has never heard of the Great Engine War of the 1980s for the F-15/F-16, it seems.

  • @Dennis
    “I just read where they are NOT going to let Dragon dock with the ISS on the up coming Nov. flight. The Russians said it hasnt proved itself.”
    Yes, it has been postponed. NO, it has NOT been postponed because the Russians said that. The TRUE reason why it has been postponed is that the remaining three members of the Expedition 30 crew won’t launch to the station until Dec. 26th. Until those crew members are on the station, the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon cargo test flight cannot take place because they are trained to conduct the berthing of the Dragon into dock. See these articles for more details:
    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-306_Soyuz_RTF.html
    http://spacenews.com/launch/110914-soyuz-failure-delays-launches.html

    Don’t lie.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I just read where they are NOT going to let Dragon dock with the ISS on the up coming Nov. flight. The Russians said it hasnt proved itself.

    Do you get all of your news from opinion pieces?

    The crew that has the training for the Dragon docking procedure won’t launch until late December, which pushes back the test flight to around January. The Progress crash is the source of the delay.

    I suggest you change over to a better source of information. One I could recommend is HobbySpace (http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/)

  • Robert G. Oler

    RyanCrierie wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 10:28 am
    I wroteL:
    “Finally in generic terms the GOP is stuck in cronyism. Pete Olson pushed for a second engine for the F-35…something that has never been done on a military fighter.”

    You replied
    RGO has never heard of the Great Engine War of the 1980s for the F-15/F-16, it seems.

    your reply is not relevant. There has never been a “second engine” procured for a military fighter where the initial engine is performing satisfactory.

    That is a GOP pork busting fact RGO

  • amightywind

    Boozer wrote:

    Yes, it has been postponed. NO, it has NOT been postponed because the Russians said that. Don’t lie.

    He’s not.

    http://en.ria.ru/world/20110916/166890060.html

    Our Russian partners will do anything the sabotage the US in world affairs or space, even for access to a space station that the US built! They occupy a US democratic ally, Georgia. They support Syria, Ghaddafi, Chavez, and despots around the planet. They hate Israel.They blackmail their neighbors with energy. The reliability of their rockets is in serious question. How’s that reset button workin’ for ya?

  • Vladislaw

    “And that problem is not with the people”

    Actually, that is the problem. Do you think, if NASA assigned a tiny tiger team to come up with a launch system that would only require 100 people for the entire launch system that it would sell on the hill?

    Whatever NASA comes up with it has to be BIG, it has to require an army or workers. Hell the more workers the better. Gosh even better yet, lets require that the system has to envolve workers from 28 states, now your talking.

    It reminds of the movie “Crocodile Dundee” a thug pulls out a switchblade and the woman says to him to becareful he has a knife and Mick pulls out his HUGE BLADE and says “Now THAT’S a knife.”

    It’s the same for some members of congress and NASA .. Now THAT’S a launch system. Huge and overbloated for the job.

  • @ Chris Castro wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 5:41 am

    You do realize the American taxpayer foots the bill here, right?

    You’re a partisan hack comedian like Windy is, lol.

  • Dennis

    I read it on Spacetoday, one of the links here….. Just was passing it along.

  • Jeff Foust

    I just read where they are NOT going to let Dragon dock with the ISS on the up coming Nov. flight. The Russians said it hasnt [sic] proved itself.

    Dennis appears to be referring to an RIA Novosti article that NASA has since stated is inaccurate.

  • Rhyolite

    “Does anyone on this blog think that Space or Earth Science will be ‘directed’ to utilize the lift capacity of the SLS?”

    No, it’s far more likely that science funding will get gutted to pay for SLS cost over runs. We are on the road to a giant-usless-rocket-agency.

  • @ablastofhotair
    B.S. See Jeff’s response above. But to a certain extent, I agree that the strategic interests of Russia do not always coincide with what its best for us.

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    My neighbor’s best interest is not necessarily mine, is it? Alabama’s best interest is not necessarily that of the other 49 States. So what? This is called living together in a global society. How do we accommodate each other as much we can?

    The rest of amightywind post is the usual nutto-wingo xenophobic nonsense.

    Hey amightywind, ever tried to leave the US to visit the world?

  • Coastal Ron

    Rick Boozer wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    But to a certain extent, I agree that the strategic interests of Russia do not always coincide with what its best for us.

    Ours interests worldwide don’t intersect with Russia’s either, nor do our interests intersect 100% of the time with even our closest allies. The interests of Rick Perry’s Texas don’t coincide 100% of the time with the rest of the nation, so this is not a big surprise, it’s just how the world works.

    That this is surprising to Windy just goes to show you how ignorant he is of world affairs.

    Russia has an interest in seeing the ISS succeed, as they can’t afford their own space program, and the world has no need for Soyuz and Progress spacecraft without the ISS. Russia also has experience with spacecraft crashing into space stations (both their own), so I think what you’re seeing is nervousness on the part of some in the Russian space program.

    People should stop knee-jerk reacting to news from translated foreign new services that are reporting unofficial conversations. That Windy puts stock in the Russian press over domestic sources is really the news here, especially since he acts so nationalistic.

  • R. Kevin Hill

    Oh, Bennett, for all I know Rep. Rohrabacher is quite right. It’s consistent with what I know about him ideologically. But I think you’re being rather silly. The whole point of posting the link to the blogpost (which was written well before the SLS announcement) was just to say again that along with the technical debates, there is an inevitable economic impact of different choices and that since NASA is government, the choices and this impact are inevitably political. The reason why I wrote the post originally is because there seem to be a lot of kooks out there who think that differences of opinion about means reflect support or hostility toward space stuff itself; I think it reflects legitimate differences of opinion colored by self-interested. *I* don’t have a problem with lobbying and neither should you. Having glanced at some of the rather charming comments here, I get the impression that people believe that economic self-interest only ever afflicts one’s opponents; one’s own judgments are always based on engineering. I understand that everyone says that, but it seems to me that everyone is exactly half-right in doing so. I think your comment directed at me is especially absurd: I wanted to share the earlier post; the comment about Rohrabacher was very much in passing. It was an easy to make mistake, and I immediately corrected it on my own initiative. The “lie” that I repeated was that I don’t think that being a stone’s throw away as opposed to inside one’s district makes a whole lot of difference to how that might color one’s perception of the interests of one’s constituents (which is his *job* to be concerned with, damn it). If I was a Congressman and had to choose between what was good for my local community and what was good for communities on the other side of the country, all else being equal, I would stand up for my people first. To notice who contributes what to whom in politics does not settle any questions of substance, but it is either empty bullying rhetoric or the height of naivete to think that it has no effect whatsoever. Do you suppose that Musk flipped a coin when trying to decide whether to give $30,000 to the DNC or the RNC? Really? (btw, I already knew that Musk had no given money to Rohrabacher (a Republican); he only gave money to the DNC, the party that canceled Constellation. Anyway, more power to him; it’s a free country. Seems a bit extreme to call that a “conspiracy theory.” I call it noticing that the sun is shining by looking out the window. Cheers.

  • Coastal Ron

    R. Kevin Hill wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Referring back to something you mentioned earlier, maybe people don’t like your long posts because they are all one paragraph? ;-)

    In general the longer a post goes on, the less likely someone will read it, and that’s something that affects all of us.

    And regarding your “misreading the map” for where Rohrabacher’s district lies (and who would therefore be in it), it just goes back to trust. If someone is sloppy with easy details, then it’s harder to assume trust in anything they say. This is another of those universal truths, so it applies to everyone. However you have already dug yourself into a hole with your initial inaccuracies, so it may some time to regain widespread trust.

    I get the impression that people believe that economic self-interest only ever afflicts one’s opponents; one’s own judgments are always based on engineering.

    Sometimes we forget that non-technical people are interested in space too. My background is in the operations side of manufacturing, and I have advocated for those things that lower the cost to access space. That is purely a monetary approach, and ignores engineering (although I do have opinions on those too).

    So to me the bottom line truly is important, regardless who is advocating what. And that perspective is approach-neutral for the most part, in that if NASA magically created the lowest cost way to space, I’d be supporting it. But the SLS won’t lower the cost to access space, and it doesn’t address any known transportation bottlenecks, so to me it’s a waste of money.

    Commercial Crew does address current transportation bottlenecks, and likely will lower the per seat cost to get to LEO. As we have seen with the Soyuz, relying on one crew transportation system has it’s downsides. The Shuttle didn’t address that problem either for the ISS, since it could only stay in space for two weeks, not the 6 months ISS crews need. So Rohrabacher’s motives for Commercial Crew are immaterial for me as long as he is supporting it.

    btw, I already knew that Musk had no given money to Rohrabacher (a Republican)

    Maybe not directly, but did you know about this:

    http://www.rohrabacher.com/elonmusk.pdf

  • Vladislaw

    Hill wrote:

    “*I* don’t have a problem with lobbying and neither should you. “

    So we should run the country under the idea that policy is decided by the size of the checkbook? Politicians should come to conclusions on what is best for the Nation by which corporation spends the most on lobbying?

    “he only gave money to the DNC, the party that canceled Constellation”

    When the Constellation program was canceled the democrats did not hold a majority in the house and didn’t have a bullet proof majority in the Senate, please explain to me how the Constellation program was canceled without bipartisan support?

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I would have liked to attend that fundraiser. I believe Jerry Pournelle was a speaker, if not the keynote.

  • MM_NASA

    GREAT NEWS! It is time for the U.S. Space Agency to work on a spacecraft that will lead to many new exciting discoveries in the future. I have confidence in NASA – they have done it before. New history for the Nation in the making.

    SLS and MPCV will bring NASA’s Human Space Flight Program back to prominence.

    Peace out!

  • Flexible Path is the central problem. Flexible Path calls for no manned lander vehicles. FP never wants to deal with them! Then FP directs NASA to ignore the Moon completely and send them instead to an NEO, knowing full well just how myriad of times more complicated THAT mission would be. The sheer distance and transit times needed to be surmounted with NEO’s is just preposterous. And when the astronauts reach their gigantic charcoal lug of a destination, they will NEITHER be able to land on it, stand, walk, or drive upon it. Issues like dust-dealing-with space suits, and in-cabin dust management will immediately creep up on them. The very things that Flexible Path does NOT want us to ever grapple with. Flexible Path as a plan scheme is pure idiocy!

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Flexible Path calls for no manned lander vehicles.

    It doesn’t NOT call for them either. That’s why it’s flexible, since you can do ANYTHING. Why this concept continue to elude you is beyond comprehension.

    The sheer distance and transit times needed to be surmounted with NEO’s is just preposterous.

    Lunatics like you can’t seem to understand the reason why an asteroid is the next destination. The reason why is that IT WILL BE HARD. But if we ever want to continue on to Mars, then we need to know how to transit between planets safely.

    And when the astronauts reach their gigantic charcoal lug of a destination, they will NEITHER be able to land on it, stand, walk, or drive upon it.

    And that’s not the prime goal, so that’s OK. As asteroid is a place to travel to for a BEO shakedown cruise – anything we do there is secondary to the actual trip out and back.

    Flexible Path as a plan scheme is pure idiocy!

    Flexible Path includes the Moon, so I guess you’re saying that going back to the Moon is pure idiocy?

  • Coastal Ron

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I have confidence in NASA – they have done it before.

    The most recent history of NASA tells us that large rocket programs get canceled for going over budget and schedule. Since they haven’t addressed the core reasons for why that happens, SLS is doomed to follow the same path.

    Sorry for bursting your bubble…

  • R. Kevin Hill

    Wow. I get chased off the property for misstating whether Hawthorne CA was in or near District 46, accused of “conspiracy theory” and it turns out that Musk held a $1000/plate fund-raiser for Rohrabacher? And instead of apologizing to me as someone properly brought up would, Bennett simply expresses a desire to have attended it? This is like Usenet in the mid-90s. You’re on your own, gentlemen. There is a world elsewhere.

  • Mr. Right

    SLS allows you to:

    Launch very large national security payloads
    Launch very large space station logistics modules/pallets
    Launch new/replacement ISS segments
    Build a large crewed spacecraft in only a few launches that can take you to Mars
    Launch a very, very large telescope
    Launch industrial space facilities for manufacturing
    Allow the extended duration Orion to fly
    Support the construction of a lunar base in just a few launches
    Keep the US No. 1 in crewed space flight
    Employ a lot of good smart people (and a few less smart Gov folks)

    Without SLS your just going to fly to ISS and maybe commercial space stations.

    No exploration

    Way to go NASA! Built that SLS

  • Fred Willett

    Flexible Path had no landers because there was no money for them.
    Go back and read the Augustine Committee Report again. Even expanding the budget by an extra $3B a year did not give enough money to build landers. Hence the Flexible Path. If you don’t have enough money to build landers well what can you do?
    Not much. For the moment you concentrate on doing what you can. Go to places like lagrange points and asteroids where you don’t need landers and kick the can down the road on building landers to some future point where we might have the money.
    The tragedy of SLS is that the congress wants to ignore the budget realities. They’ve specified a maximum amount to build the SLS which is not enough. A fixed time, which is not enough. And no monies for payloads, landers, or anything else to put on the SLS when and if it’s ever actually built.
    In other words NASA has been set up to fail again.

  • R. Kevin Hill

    But a big thank you to Coastal Ron for the tip.

  • R. Kevin Hill wrote:

    .. he only gave money to the DNC, the party that canceled Constellation.

    Thanks for reminding me of another reason to vote for the Democrats in 2012.

  • Bennett

    Apologize? Why would I do that? I never wrote that SpaceX didn’t contribute to the political campaigns of aerospace friendly pols. I would be disappointed if they didn’t have a modicum of smarts.

    That their contributions are pitiful in comparison to the amounts given by ATK, Boeing, LM, and PWR sorta makes their impact on national policy irrelevant, don’t you think?

    When SpaceX lands a sole source cost plus contract to develop a booster that costs the US taxpayer 500m per test-stand test, let me know. Until then, have a great life.

  • Coastal Ron

    R. Kevin Hill:

    Politics is a full-contact sport, and there are no referees to determine who is right. Space Politics is no different – lots of passion, since most of us want to do more in space, with the biggest disagreement in how to do that.

    You can’t have a fragile ego on this blog, but at least it’s an open forum, and maybe you haven’t “found your voice” yet. But starting off with incorrect facts and no paragraph breaks on long posts is not going to help you influence people they way you were hoping to.

  • R. Kevin Hill

    Ron: Thanks again for the info. I’m relatively new to these topics, but not the the sociology of flame-warriors, after spending a decade on Usenet. I’m just tired of it, is all. But yes, I didn’t know this was one of those sorts of places. Now I do. Thanks.

  • Vladislaw

    R. Kevin Hill wrote:

    “Wow. I get chased off the property for misstating whether Hawthorne CA was in or near District 46″

    You remind me of myself when I first posted here. I had failed to do any due diligence and just started making statements that were clearly wrong. The trouble is, when posting on a technical forum, when you make errors in the basics whatever else you have to say is usually ignored because you have lost credibility.

    For example, on your blogpost you state:

    “if NASA does not at least pretend to make motions toward a renewed manned program, now that it has no capacity to field astronauts itself, over time pressure would build for its abolition, and no amount of Tang, Space Sticks, Velcro, astronomy journal articles or pretty pictures would keep it alive.”

    You would be hard pressed to find someone, who posts on here, that doesn’t know that tang and velcro didn’t come from the space program but were already around.

    “Velcro is the brand name of the first commercially marketed fabric hook-and-loop fastener,[1] invented in 1948 by the Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral. De Mestral patented Velcro in 1955, subsequently refining and developing its practical manufacture until its commercial introduction in the late 1950s.

    The word Velcro is a portmanteau of the two French words velours and crochet, or “hook”.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velcro

    This goes to doing your DD and when you had that statement in the second paragraph of your blogpost, I will be honest, you lost crediblity with me. If you do not even know the basics, what are the odds you know what’s going on at a deeper level.

    You were very blatent in your blog post in forming this into a Democrat versus Republican problem. If you have followed the space program from the time of President Bush announcing the Vision for Space Exploration, in 2004, until the present you will find it really isn’t a republican versus democratic issue at all.

    This actually is about technology and opening up the space frontier. At the core of the debates on here, invariably it boils down to those two issues and how do we go forward.

  • Scott Bass

    RGO…in what year do you concede that sls will be built, multiple choice 2014,2017,2021 ;)

  • William Mellberg

    R. Kevin Hill wrote:

    “And instead of apologizing to me as someone properly brought up would …”

    You’ll get no apologies here. But you will get plenty of insults if you don’t toe the NewSpace party line. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to behave like professionals. Nor do they display what used to be known as good manners.

    Explorer08 wrote:

    “Interesting thoughts, ideas and conclusions expressed in these forums. A pity that otherwise intelligent people have to be such nasty SOBs when they comment here. No wonder space advocates are so unsuccessful.”

    It would appear that the goal of some people who regularly post comments here (every day it seems) is to berate others rather than to persuade others. They prefer to silence critics with insults rather than engaging them with reason. Thus, space advocates with different points of view are routinely described here as “stupid” and “dumb” and “insane” in an effort (I assume) to drive them away. Which pretty much describes the state of political discourse in America these days. Civility and good manners disappeared long ago.

    I do find it curious that most of the rude comments posted here come from NewSpace proponents (although I hasten to add that not all NewSpace proponents who leave comments here are rude).

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “Altair was just a dream, with no funding for years into the future. And the fact that you can’t even spell it is just a clue as to how clueless you are.”

    Mr. Simberg’s comment highlights my last point. He frequently resorts to insults such as this one to ridicule others.

    Of course, when Mr. Simberg makes a spelling error, it’s just a typo. But when an opponent does, he jumps on it as proof that they’re “clueless.”

    BTW, Altair was no more a dream than some of the fantasies that Mr. Simberg (a self-described, NewSpace industry lobbyist) regularly repeats — such as Elon Musk’s claim that he’ll be “retiring on Mars.” In fact, Altair had a much greater chance of becoming a reality had President Obama simply added some “stimulus” money to the Constellation budget rather than killing the program and thousands of hi-tech jobs with it.

    On a related point, isn’t it odd how the Obama Administration likes to “create” jobs in some places (e.g., the now defunct Solyndra enterprise), but kill them in others (e.g., Boeing’s new 787 assembly plant in South Carolina)? Picking and choosing winners and losers in the private sector isn’t crony capitalism … it’s “venture socialism.”

  • Rhyolite

    “SLS allows you to:

    Launch very large national security payloads”

    Which don’t exist and never will. Bigger platforms is opposite direction the nation security community is going.

    “Launch very large space station logistics modules/pallets”

    Which don’t exist and never will.

    “Launch new/replacement ISS segments”

    Which can be launched on Delta IV Heavy, Proton, or FH.

    “Build a large crewed spacecraft in only a few launches that can take you to Mars”

    4 launches on SLS is 8 launches on FH. Cutting the number of launches is not worth $60B.

    “Launch a very, very large telescope”

    We can easily double our exiting telescope sizes with existing launchers.

    “Launch industrial space facilities for manufacturing”

    Any real manufacturing facilities are likely to start small. None exist today. Don’t hold your breath.

    “Allow the extended duration Orion to fly”

    Which could fly on another vehicle.

    “Support the construction of a lunar base in just a few launches”

    Why should we care how many launches it takes if it can be done much cheaper another way.

    “Keep the US No. 1 in crewed space flight”

    There are much cheaper ways of doing this.

    “Employ a lot of good smart people (and a few less smart Gov folks)”

    There are more productive ways of doing this.

    “Without SLS your just going to fly to ISS and maybe commercial space stations.”

    There are plenty of exploration architectures that that don’t require a 130 MT vehicle or even a 70 MT vehicle.

    “No exploration”

    False

  • Jeff Foust

    You’ll get no apologies here. But you will get plenty of insults if you don’t toe the NewSpace party line.

    I think if you read the comments here you’ll find a wide spectrum of opinions on government space policy, the viability of commercial space ventures, and other issues. A good reminder for everyone is to attack each others’ ideas, and not attack each other. Thank you for your cooperation and your willingness to engage in policy debates without devolving into personal attacks going forward.

  • DCSCA

    Newspace is its own worst enemy. They talk a lot but fly nobody but whine about being blocked by government regs and at the same time, the need for their subsidies to get off the ground.

    Fly somebody. Get someone up around and down safely. Newspace needs credibility now more than capital.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You’ll get no apologies here. But you will get plenty of insults if you don’t toe the NewSpace party line.

    If you look closely, you’ll see that most of the ire is directed at people who tell lies (intentional falsehoods), including presenting arguments that they know to be false and pretending to be supportive of commercial space when they are not.

  • William Mellberg

    Martijn Meijering wrote:

    “If you look closely, you’ll see that most of the ire is directed at people who tell lies (intentional falsehoods), including presenting arguments that they know to be false and pretending to be supportive of commercial space when they are not.”

    Martijn, I have NEVER presented an intentionally false argument here, yet I have been on the receiving end of some peoples’ poison pens many times. There is no excuse for incivility, which is why I have outed the offenders on more than one occasion.

    For the record, your comments have always been civil and respectful, even when you disagree with people (myself included). It is a pleasure — and a challenge — to debate issues with people like yourself. Moreover, I respect your opinions. And whether you realize it or not, you have persuaded me on more than one occasion with your sound logic and your measured remarks.

    That said, I will reiterate my contention that there is no need for ire and insult here — especially from people who purport to be professionals. Even intentional falsehoods can be exposed without trashing the individuals who make them. In fact, a clever rebuke is far more effective than a nasty reply.

    Again … I thank you for not resorting to such tactics. You, sir, are a gentleman and a professional. I always find your comments worth reading — even when we disagree.

    Sincerely,

    Bill Mellberg

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    First you said:

    You’ll get no apologies here. But you will get plenty of insults if you don’t toe the NewSpace party line. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to behave like professionals. Nor do they display what used to be known as good manners.

    Then you said:

    BTW, Altair was no more a dream than some of the fantasies that Mr. Simberg (a self-described, NewSpace industry lobbyist) regularly repeats

    Was that a demonstration of how to “behave like professionals”?

    Oh, and if you use the strict definition of a lobbyist, then you would be a lobbyist too, as would all of us. However I think you were using the term to denigrate Rand as opposed to describe him, since being a lobbyist these days has a negative connotation. It was interesting how you decried the lack of professionalism on this blog, and then waded back down into the mud with “the NewSpace mud slingers” to take a whack at Rand.

    You also said:

    such as Elon Musk’s claim that he’ll be “retiring on Mars.”

    And this gets back to the factual inaccuracy issue. Musk has stated that he “wants” to retire on Mars. You claim he says he will be, which misstates his position.

    I think it’s also funny how some (including you) decry the lack of a “vision” from our leaders, even though Obama has stated that NASA’s next goal is an asteroid visit by 2025. And you also make fun of the owner of an aerospace company that has an aspirational goal to make it to Mars in his lifetime, and is spending his own money to see if he can do that.

    But since neither of those goals is the Moon, then they don’t matter. It’s just another sign that “Moon First” proponents don’t care about a space program, they only care about a Moon program.

    That would be my “professional” opinion.

  • BTW, Altair was no more a dream than some of the fantasies that Mr. Simberg (a self-described, NewSpace industry lobbyist) regularly repeats — such as Elon Musk’s claim that he’ll be “retiring on Mars.” In fact, Altair had a much greater chance of becoming a reality had President Obama simply added some “stimulus” money to the Constellation budget rather than killing the program and thousands of hi-tech jobs with it.

    There were no plans to fund Altair for years. It was going to cost a ridiculous amount of money (as was every other element of Constellation), and by the time they had ever started to build it, if they did, it would have likely been superseded by a much cheaper commercial alternative, perhaps from Masten or Armadillo (or someone who doesn’t even exist today). You can have government-directed (and Congress-directed) space program, or you can have an affordable one. Make a choice.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @William Melberg:

    Thank you for your kind words.

    That said, I will reiterate my contention that there is no need for ire and insult here — especially from people who purport to be professionals.

    There’s no such need when a mere difference of opinion is the reason. But I was trying to point out that merely disagreeing with the New Space vision tends not to provoke anyone’s ire and it would be a mistake to think otherwise. It would be unfair on New Space advocates to accuse them of such. There may well be exceptions of course, but as a rule, I think what I said is true.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Oh, and if you use the strict definition of a lobbyist, then you would be a lobbyist too, as would all of us. However I think you were using the term to denigrate Rand as opposed to describe him, since being a lobbyist these days has a negative connotation. It was interesting how you decried the lack of professionalism on this blog, and then waded back down into the mud with “the NewSpace mud slingers” to take a whack at Rand.”

    No, I’m not a lobbyist. I’m an advocate. I assume you are, as well. I can tell you that no one pays me to give my views about these topics. As stated previously, I was a lobbyist when I worked for Fokker Aircraft quite a few years ago. And I made it clear to everyone at the time that I was on the company’s payroll. But my views here are strictly my own.

    As for Mr. Simberg, I wasn’t denigrating him by identifying him as a lobbyist. I was simply noting what he states on his own resumé:

    “Since leaving Rockwell in 1993, he [Simberg] has been an entrepreneur and independent consultant in the information technology and commercial space industries, including lobbying and the development of federal policy position papers, some of which have resulted in legislation … In addition to publishing several policy papers and opinion pieces, he has been the editor of a book on lobbying for space-related causes.”

    http://randsimberg.com/resume/index.html

    I’ve never made fun of SpaceX. On the contrary, I’ve stated my admiration for their achievements, and I’ve expressed my best wishes for their future success. I’ve simply suggested that Elon Musk’s talk of “retiring on Mars” is hyperbole.
    That said, I was quite impressed with Dragon’s first successful flight. And given our total dependence on Soyuz for access to the ISS, I am hopeful that SpaceX is routinely flying cargo and people into LEO sooner rather than later. But I’ve also expressed some concerns about a relatively new firm developing new products — products that have to operate in the hostile environment of space. And I’ve expressed my reservations about the viability of the “commercial” market when it comes to human spaceflight.

    My concerns and reservations have been expressed using historical precedents — not insults and name-calling.

    If you go back to what I wrote (and what I’ve written previously), you will see that my objection is to the use of name-calling by some people. Describing others as “dumb” or “stupid” or “insane” is not professional — especially when one is referring to people like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan using that sort of language.

    Is it so very difficult in today’s culture to be civil?

    Coastal Ron added:

    “But since neither of those goals is the Moon, then they don’t matter. It’s just another sign that “Moon First” proponents don’t care about a space program, they only care about a Moon program.”

    I think you will find that many (if not most) of the so-called “Moon Firsters” advocate going back to the Moon as the “first” step to settling Mars. But I have no illusions about the timetables for either (i.e., I won’t be retiring on the Red Planet … or the Moon).

  • Vladislaw

    William Mellberg wrote:

    “Obama simply added some “stimulus” money to the Constellation budget rather than killing the program “

    You see this goes exactly to what has been posted earlier in the thread about repeating things that are not true or taken out of context.

    The Senators from Maryland and Texas, Democrat and Republican, both tried, in seperate bills, to get money added to NASA and both failed.

    President Obama tried getting money for NASA in the stimulus and all that would be funded was 400 million. Of that only 50 million went towards the program that was supposed to be funded in 2005. Commercial crew, which wasn’t supposed to close the gap, would now be carrying the load to get LEO access after the Ares 1 continued to fall behind schedule.

    There was NO simply adding money for NASA in the stimulus, especially not 3 billion a year. Especially for a program that had fell behind one year for each year of the program. Space is not that important, in Congress, outside of a small minority of space states.

    President Obama didn’t kill anything. He proposed a budget that didn’t include funding for Constellation. It is up to congress in what actual funding goes to a program, Congress could have funded Constellation at a reduced rate, as currently budgeted, or fully funded NASA’s numbers, and if President Obama vetoed that spending bill he would have been responsible for “killing” the program. A bipartisan Congress canceled constellation. I know that doesn’t make for good theater but the President only proposed defunding it and increase their overall budget.

    In the President’s 2010 budget he proposed 6 billion over 5 years going towards CCDEV, that was rejected by congress. We would have had both Atlas and Delta being upgraded for human launches along with multiple companies doing real spending on crew systems. NASA would have already had intial design reviews finished on deploying a fuel depot.

    So much would have been funded towards actual needed hardware that would actually launch. There is so much proposed hardware in the TLR range of 1-3 that could have been brought up

    The recent Republican house has been harsher towards total NASA spending than the President.

    “I do find it curious that most of the rude comments posted here come from NewSpace proponents”

    I take it then that you never read what windy says?

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Oh, and if you use the strict definition of a lobbyist, then you would be a lobbyist too, as would all of us.”

    That would only be true if you knew that legislatures or other members of government, in decision making positions, were actually reading this blog. You have to be directly trying to influence a person in government. If you write a letter versus posting on a blog then you are lobbying. There are three kinds, individuals acting independantly, non profit groups and professional for profit.

    Posting on a blog would be advocating, IMO.

  • Vladislaw

    Rhyolite wrote:

    ” Launch very large national security payloads”

    Which don’t exist and never will. Bigger platforms is opposite direction the nation security community is going.

    “Launch very large space station logistics modules/pallets”

    Which don’t exist and never will. “

    Although I agree, still, never is a long time. A better phrase would be there is nothing planned, or even being suggested, in the forseable future.

    ““Launch a very, very large telescope”

    We can easily double our exiting telescope sizes with existing launchers.”

    If the James Webb is the cost and schedule model for any new “very very large telescope”, good luck getting that funded to completion. People talk about all the great super large payloads, but with super large payloads comes super large costs and delays.

    “Launch industrial space facilities for manufacturing”

    Any real manufacturing facilities are likely to start small. None exist today. Don’t hold your breath.”

    It would be both faster and more economical to just send up additional modules and increase your floor space incrementally. Smaller, less expensive modules will also lead to standardization faster than really high cost to both build and launch modules, bringing costs down further.

    Secondly, why the hell do we want the government in charge of transportation for industrial facilities? Does the federal government run the semi truck transportation, or ocean shipping?

    If industry wants to launch large industrial stations they can goto the private sector, and why would they pay 1-2 billion per launch to the government? Unless Mr. Right is suggesting that the American taxpayer subsidize the launch costs undercutting commercial companies?

    ““Build a large crewed spacecraft in only a few launches that can take you to Mars”

    4 launches on SLS is 8 launches on FH. Cutting the number of launches is not worth $60B”

    This is where Mr. Right’s arguement goes right off the rails.

    4 launches at 4-6 billion or 8 launches at 640 million to 1 billion.

    How much extra hardware could be funded with that extra 3-5 billion?

    How much actual flight hardware could be funded, at competitely bid, fixed cost, milestone based and then launched for 60 BILLION dollars?

    That is the part some posters just refuse to either understand or acknowledge. Congress, through NASA, makes space flight more expensive than it has to be.

    You either want America to have more hardware/infrastructure and people in space, or you want it to have an artifically higher costing program ran through the congressional middle man.

  • Matt Wiser

    William Melberg wrote:

    “I think you will find that many (if not most) of the so-called “Moon Firsters” advocate going back to the Moon as the “first” step to settling Mars. But I have no illusions about the timetables for either (i.e., I won’t be retiring on the Red Planet … or the Moon).”

    Concur. What those of us who advocate lunar return first would prefer is lunar orbit and L-Points, then lunar landing. After that, then NEO and other destinations past Cis-Lunar space. Followed by Mars (flyby, orbit/moons, then the big prize: Mars proper). The Moon is the ideal FIRST destination: not the primary one. And as Professor Ed Crawley says in his presentation: NO President is going to authorize a NASA landing on Mars itself unless there’s experience operating on a planetary body in a space environment. The big prize, as Sen. Bill Nelson points out, is Mars. The question is this: where do we stop and visit on the way there? And when. Now that Congress, NASA, OMB, and the White House have finally agreed, it’s time to stop arguing and start building, testing, and flying. To quote America’s favorite drill sergeant, R. Lee Ermey, “Let’s get with the program!”

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    And as Professor Ed Crawley says in his presentation: NO President is going to authorize a NASA landing on Mars…

    Sorry Matt, but Crawley doesn’t make policy – he’s only an advisor, and he may not even be that when some future decides to go for Mars.

    The question is this: where do we stop and visit on the way there?

    We’ve already visited the Moon, so you don’t really mean “visit”, do you? You mean go there and stay awhile. Say what you mean.

    Now that Congress, NASA, OMB, and the White House have finally agreed, it’s time to stop arguing and start building, testing, and flying.

    Agreeing with someone while they hold a gun to your head is not the same as agreeing because of the merits of the proposition.

    You’re a funny one Matt. You claim to be a die-hard “Moon First” type person, but your actions make you a “Big Frakken Rocket” guy.

    Why do I say that? Because there are a number of recent proposals that show we can return to the Moon in a less costly & quicker fashion than if we wait for the SLS. You know about the ULA study, and just this month a NASA FISO group released their proposed architecture for a Mars mission that uses elements that can be used for a Moon mission too. Both can use existing rockets, which means they would be $60B closer to going anywhere than missions that are forced to use the SLS.

    Yet you’d rather build an unneeded rocket than go to the Moon. See what I mean Matt?

    To quote America’s favorite drill sergeant, R. Lee Ermey, “Let’s get with the program!”

    I’m sure they said the same thing when Griffin’s Constellation architecture was rolled out, and we all know how over-budget and behind-schedule that ended up.

    We don’t lack enthusiasm, we lack affordable exploration architectures. Think about that.

  • @Coastal Ron
    What’s wrong with you! Don’t you know that Professor Ed Crawley is the only truely competent and authorative expert in the field? ;)

  • Frank Glover

    @ MM_NASA:

    “GREAT NEWS! It is time for the U.S. Space Agency to work on a spacecraft that will lead to many new exciting discoveries in the future.”

    You everyone came to heir senses, and will develop and assemble Nautilus-X, after all…?

  • As for Mr. Simberg, I wasn’t denigrating him by identifying him as a lobbyist.

    The fact that I have, at some point in my three-decade career, been compensated to try to influence the executive or legislative branch (as you admit you have done yourself) does not give you license to either infer that I am being paid by some to post here, or to smear me with the implication that I am not expressing my sincere personal beliefs. Which you did. I wouldn’t accuse you of being on someone’s payroll in expressing your opinions here. I’ll thank you for the same consideration, though I won’t expect it based on past behavior.

    Nor will I take seriously your passive-aggressive pleas for “civility.”

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: I’ve read the ULA study, and those pushing it make some very good arguments in favor. However, and this is the key at the moment: they don’t have the political backing to get their ideas either heard at NASA, or in the halls of Congress. Now, if Rohrabacher had gotten that chair at House Science and Tech instead of Hall, he’s the one most likely to listen to those proposals and influence NASA to adopt some of them. Instead, Ralph Hall got the chair, and though he’s not from the Houston area, he will fight, as a good Texan should, for JSC’s interests. (Btw, the only Congressman of either party that would vote against any NASA funds is Ron Paul-mainly because Space isn’t in the Constitution-and thank heaven he’s retiring)

    One could argue (cynically) that the reason ULA is pushing EELV-based exploration is due to the fact that their products would be at the head of the line to be used, hence their advocacy for this approach. No different from ATK pushing 5-segment SRBs or Liberty, or those in Huntsville or Michoud who support SLS.

    By the way, Ron, how would you launch Nautilus-X, assuming it’s funded? It’ll need a launch vehicle that can lift a good deal. And assume for the purposes of the discussion that inflatable habitats don’t work out (micrometeorid protection judged insufficient, problems with hooking up avionics, life support, or whatever). Thanks to the decision made earlier in the week, we have a launch vehicle in the pipeline.

    The good thing about the argument is this: we’re not arguing over IF we should explore the heavens. We’re arguing over the HOW.

    One thing that needs to happen is a real “space summit.” Not that one held at the Cape last year where everyone was singing from the same song book. A real one. Where those who favor the Administration’s plans and those with criticism can get together, and see if the differences can be hashed out. And where everyone’s opinions are welcome: unlike the Administration, where they shabbily treated John Glenn, and dismissed Neil Armstrong, Gen. Stafford, Capts. Lovell and Cernan, and guys like Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz. Congress, fortunately, was in a mood to listen. Good advice.

  • common sense

    “On a related point, isn’t it odd how the Obama Administration likes to “create” jobs in some places (e.g., the now defunct Solyndra enterprise), but kill them in others (e.g., Boeing’s new 787 assembly plant in South Carolina)? Picking and choosing winners and losers in the private sector isn’t crony capitalism … it’s “venture socialism.”

    Yeah it is so odd. And Boeing is a CCDev winner in Houton, TX. A State well known for their support of the current President. Really really odd. I think maybe the President likes Boeing space systems better than Boeing airplanes. Since we all know that CCDev is crony capitalism and Boeing got the largest deal of CCDev, right?

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110418-nasa-announces-ccdev-awards.html

    Another great line of reasoning. Thank you for elevating the debate.

    I am trying to be civil though.

    Whatever.

  • Instead, Ralph Hall got the chair, and though he’s not from the Houston area, he will fight, as a good Texan should, for JSC’s interests.

    In what way is SLS in JSC’s interests?

    And where everyone’s opinions are welcome: unlike the Administration, where they shabbily treated John Glenn, and dismissed Neil Armstrong, Gen. Stafford, Capts. Lovell and Cernan, and guys like Chris Kraft and Gene Kranz. Congress, fortunately, was in a mood to listen.

    Congress barely paid any attention whatsoever. No one cared what they had to say except the porkers who brought them in for their show testimony to justify their continuing waste of taxpayer money.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    However, and this is the key at the moment: they don’t have the political backing to get their ideas either heard at NASA, or in the halls of Congress.

    United Space Alliance doesn’t have anyone they can talk to at NASA or in Congress? Or is it that no one wants to listen since it won’t employ the right people?

    Here’s the thing Matt. Any space program that is built on a political foundation is doomed to failure. It’s just impossible for the political foundation to stay in place for decades.

    The Shuttle was a political animal, but the entire eco-system of payload customers were dedicated to supporting the Shuttle after it started flying. It wasn’t until after Challenger that the DoD and commercial companies started migrating to lower cost and more dependable systems, but even then it’s ability to be a flying laboratory and temporary construction shack provided enough value to keep it going.

    The SLS has none of that. There are no known customers for the SLS beyond NASA’s use of it for flying the MPCV on Apollo 8 type photo ops. The SLS is a purely political system, and that’s why it will ultimately be canceled.

    One could argue (cynically) that the reason ULA is pushing EELV-based exploration is due to the fact that their products would be at the head of the line to be used, hence their advocacy for this approach.

    Duh! It’s the same reason they came up with the Plymouth Rock mission that you liked so much. Would they turn down the work? No.

    But what they are also doing is showing how to do something for less upfront cost to the American Taxpayer, as is SpaceX and the other aerospace companies. If you understood how capitalism worked, then you would understand this.

    But Congress is not listening. Instead Congress is taking the tried-and-true approach to trotting out known detractors of a political adversary, which in this case is Chairman Hall trotting out (again) Armstrong, Cernan and Griffin to say exactly what they have already said in Congress. Hall doesn’t want ideas, he wants political points.

    That is exactly why our space program will not leave LEO until the influence of Congress on the direction of our space program decreases.

    So while you are living the dream right now with the SLS, I’ll be waiting for your dreams to crash and be replaced with a more practical and cost effective space program that relies on commercial rockets.

  • a genius

    “4 launches on SLS is 8 launches on FH. Cutting the number of launches is not worth $60B”

    This is where Mr. Right’s arguement goes right off the rails.

    4 launches at 4-6 billion or 8 launches at 640 million to 1 billion.

    How much extra hardware could be funded with that extra 3-5 billion?

    How much actual flight hardware could be funded, at competitely bid, fixed cost, milestone based and then launched for 60 BILLION dollars?

    That is the part some posters just refuse to either understand or acknowledge. Congress, through NASA, makes space flight more expensive than it has to be.

    You either want America to have more hardware/infrastructure and people in space, or you want it to have an artifically higher costing program ran through the congressional middle man.”
    commented by Vladislaw

    you say this but provide no evidence and truth in your words.

    1: NASA can probably fund this project to be cheaper, but they need their equipments from RELIABLE sources and not waste their time looking for cheaper hardware and equipments.

    2. Time is a huge factor in this plan, and you cannot rush or a mistake will occur, which will be extremely fatal and damaging towards the space community in our world, in short terms for everybody, there will be no strong investments in the next few decades and money is time.

    3. We pour money into NASA for investment in the FUTURE. There is no way we would be able to fund this kind of project if it was 2 decades later, the world economy is not able to catch up quickly with the current population NOR will our limited resources on earth be able to suffice for every person on earth, which can lead to bad things…

    4. Everyone thinks they are so good at running a government and leading the people, but you need credibility, cooperation, and they need the nerve to continue and follow through. The US wont be a good place when no one starts following through with the governent.

    5. The impact of this project can be beneficial directly and indirectly to everyone in the technology sector and such as the present microchips and nanotechnology.

    Maybe you think this is a fairy tale, but we already had a shuttle out of our solar system before, and now this can be an immense, potential step for humanity. Why should it be denied so quickly?

  • @a genius
    “Maybe you think this is a fairy tale, but we already had a shuttle out of our solar system before, and now this can be an immense, potential step for humanity. Why should it be denied so quickly?”
    Wow! This guy indeed is a genius! I never knew we sent a shuttle “out of our solar system”. When did that happen? ;)

    Oh, I guess he thought the Star Trek movie episode with Zephram Cochrane was real. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zephram_Cochrane

    “There is no way we would be able to fund this kind of project if it was 2 decades later, the world economy is not able to catch up quickly with the current population NOR will our limited resources on earth be able to suffice for every person on earth, which can lead to bad things…”
    Another “genius” who thinks “this kind of project” is required to do deep space exploration because he knows nothing of the proposed alternatives for going beyond earth orbit.

  • a genius (sic) wrote:

    Maybe you think this is a fairy tale, but we already had a shuttle out of our solar system before …

    A Shuttle left the solar system?! A vehicle designed for low Earth orbit?! Really? When was that?!

  • Wow! This guy indeed is a genius! I never knew we sent a shuttle “out of our solar system”. When did that happen?

    But we’re not allowed to point out that these people are wasting our time and Jeff’s bandwidth with this ignorance and illogic, because that’s “uncivil.”

  • Vladislaw

    a genius wrote:

    “you say this but provide no evidence and truth in your words.”

    Talk about not showing any proof, where is your proof for this:

    “1: NASA can probably fund this project to be cheaper, but they need their equipments from RELIABLE sources and not waste their time looking for cheaper hardware and equipments.”

    Both the OMB and CBO have routinely called NASA to task for being late and over budget. The OMB has had NASA on the high risk list for 20 years because they can never seem to hit a target date or budget.

    There is absolutely NO proof that NASA can do anything cheaper. Why don’t you show proof to the contrary. Could you provide your evidence?

    “2. Time is a huge factor in this plan, and you cannot rush or a mistake will occur”

    NASA has only met one deadline with human spaceflight. That was Apollo and it took them an open checkbook and almost 5% of the budget to achieve it.

    They did not do the shuttle on time or budget, non of the canceled shuttle replacements were ever on time or budget. The space station was not built on time or budget. The recent Constellation program that congress canceled was not on time or budget.

    Now suddenly NASA is going to be on time and budget with a new monster rocket with no funded payloads or missions? could you provide your evidence?

    “3. We pour money into NASA for investment in the FUTURE. There is no way we would be able to fund this kind of project if it was 2 decades later,”

    Where is the future with SLS? No funded payloads, no funded missions, it will eat of the budget. In the meantime we don’t fund the technology investments that are the future. The reason congress canceled the Constellation program was because it was going to do exactly that, take decades.

    When President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), in 2004, he called on NASA to land on the moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020. When congress canceled the program in 2010 where were we? The early 2030′s before any lunar landing would take place and it would cost an addition 3 billion a year.

    The rot in our space program and NASA is a congress that is not interested in space exploration. They are only interested in a BIG project that takes decades. They want to maximize the jobs in their district and maximize their campaign donations.

    “5. The impact of this project can be beneficial directly and indirectly to everyone in the technology sector and such as the present microchips and nanotechnology.

    Maybe you think this is a fairy tale, but we already had a shuttle out of our solar system before, and now this can be an immense, potential step for humanity. Why should it be denied so quickly?”

    There is no nanotechnology going into the SLS that I am aware of, could you provide your evidence?

    We have never flown a space shuttle out of our solar system, could you provide your evidence?

    Talk about not providing any evidence… sheesh.

  • Dave Huntsman

    “Instead, Ralph Hall got the chair, and though he’s not from the Houston area, he will fight, as a good Texan should, for JSC’s interests.’

    In what way is SLS in JSC’s interests?”

    Exactly; SLS is not ‘in JSC’s interests’. JSC is a human space flight center; which means it needs to fly humans, and fly them often, or they really aren’t doing what America needs them to do. SLS is the opposite of that: a un-needed vehicle that our agency – and in fact no one else – will be able to afford to fly, much less often. But in the process of trying to do so, it has the potential to decimate most other NASA activities – starting with human spaceflight. And I challenge anyone to show otherwise.

    I am truly concerned, as someone originally from JSC, that my bretheren down there are not facing up to the fact that ISS, and MPCV, for that matter, no only do not need SLS; but are indeed threatened more by SLS than by anything else. SLS is something that we can not afford to build, own, and operate, and thus if we go forward with it, everything else of value in NASA is threatened.

    Adm. Bolden told Congress we ‘need’ SLS because ‘we can’t do exploration without it’.
    The Administrator has been misinformed; yet no one seems willing to show the courage to state that fact to him directly, other than Cong. Rohrbacher, who is right in just about everything he’s said about SLS, and in his preference for the more intelligent, sustainable, affordable, growable architecture.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt Wiser wrote:

    “Concur. What those of us who advocate lunar return first would prefer is lunar orbit and L-Points, then lunar landing. After that, then NEO and other destinations past Cis-Lunar space. Followed by Mars (flyby, orbit/moons, then the big prize: Mars proper). The Moon is the ideal FIRST destination: not the primary one”

    Matt, as a thought exercise, if NASA was just buying a lunar orbital trip by a per seat cost, and helped to just provide traffic to lunar orbit, would it be in any companies self interest to put a station there?

    If there is a both commercial and civil traffic to lunar orbit and there is a station there, would it be in any companies self interest to put a reusable landing craft based there?

    Would it be any kind of a great stretch that NASA could just buy a per seat cost for a lunar landing?

    If there is commercial and civil traffic to the lunar surface, would it again be any stretch that a commercial firm could put a base there and NASA just lease space? Couldn’t a couple of NASA astronauts then just take off for a week or two in a habit based rover from the commercial base?

    Couldn’t also a couple astronauts be staying at the base and going outdoors for ISRU hardware testing?

    All NASA has to do is be an anchor tenant/customer, in fuel depots, transporation systems, bases. What is America left with if SLS fails to deliver? What is America left with if one company fails, when it is just one of multiple suppliers.

  • Matt Wiser

    Vadislaw: you mean well, but NASA leasing space at a commercial lunar base is NOT politically possible. And you ought to know it. This proposal smacks of outsourcing exploration to commercial entities-which as we all know, Congress would reject in a heartbeat. Now, when exploitation of lunar (or other space) resources becomes possible, the commercial sector will be involved-big time, But exploration? Hah! That’s NASA’s job.

    And you wonder why there’s Congressional and other skepticism of Commecial crew activities? Simple: NASA has earned the trust of both the public and the Congress to send Astronauts into space and return them safely. The private sector has not. For there to be increased private sector HSF activites that would benefit NASA-either directly or indirectly-the private sector must earn that trust. Until they fly people, and demonstrate both reliablity and safety, that trust will be absent. A one-off flight doesn’t do that. Doing it several times a year does. Until then, expect the skeptics to remain vocal.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: it’s no different either way: PLYMOUTH ROCK is a good mission, and the sooner it’s flown-the better. Again, L-M pushing the flight is no different than ULA pushing their propellant depot based strategy, or ATK pushing Liberty, or the various contractors pushing SLS. It’s called lobbying. The difference is that with Orion and SLS, those folks been sucessful, while ULA hasn’t. You’d think that ULA would have attracted Congressional interest (Rohrabacher for one), but so far, they haven’t. Haven’t seen this come up in hearings-either on the House or Senate side.

  • Simple: NASA has earned the trust of both the public and the Congress to send Astronauts into space and return them safely. The private sector has not.

    You can keep repeating this all you want, but you never offer any real evidence. You just continue to project your own foolishness on others.

    PLYMOUTH ROCK is a good mission, and the sooner it’s flown-the better.

    It’s an unrealistic mission. The chances of mission success without having the crew go stir crazy and kill each other are minimal.

    You’d think that ULA would have attracted Congressional interest (Rohrabacher for one), but so far, they haven’t. Haven’t seen this come up in hearings-either on the House or Senate side.

    It has attracted Rohrabacher’s interest — that’s why he asked NASA for the propellant depot studies. It hasn’t come up in hearings because the people running the committees are only interested in big rockets, not in actual space exploration. Like you.

  • William Mellberg

    Matt Wiser wrote:

    “Now, when exploitation of lunar (or other space) resources becomes possible, the commercial sector will be involved-big time, But exploration? That’s NASA’s job.”

    Absolutely. And it’s not an either/or choice. Let the “commercial” space industry try to develop profitable operations in Low Earth Orbit if they can. But the ROI on developing lunar (or other space) resources is too long — and the cost is too great — for the private sector to go Beyond Earth Orbit on its own. That was somewhat the case when Columbus set sail for the New World. It wasn’t Italian merchants who sponsored his voyages. It was the King and Queen of Spain. But the private sector followed.

    If NASA explorers can demonstrate the ability to extract and utilize lunar resources, the private sector will follow. It might take 50 years. But it’s taking longer than that to get humans into LEO aboard “commercial” rockets and spacecraft.

    The fact of the matter is that we should be doing both … developing commercial spaceflight in LEO and exploring space BEO. The latter role is what NASA ought to be doing.

    Once again, this is why a genuine space “summit” would have been (and still would be) a good thing. With a variety of viewpoints represented around the table, perhaps it would be possible over time to find some common ground and combine the best ideas. In so doing, maybe we could finally come up with a long-term strategy for space that combines both commercial development and government exploration in a more cohesive form.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    NASA has earned the trust of both the public and the Congress to send Astronauts into space and return them safely.

    Only if you don’t count Challenger and Columbia. NASA can kill people, and that’s OK with you because they didn’t really mean it, and they promise to do better the next time. And the time after that.

    People dying on commercial vehicles, well that’s unconscionable, of course.

    Except it happens all the time, and people understand it. As will the astronauts who sign up to ride on the commercial crew vehicles, which will be far safer than the Shuttle, since the Shuttle lacked a Launch Abort System (LAS), but commercial crew vehicles will have pusher systems that are active and usable throughout the entire flight envelope.

    Oh, and did you know that the NASA MPCV LAS does not protect the crew during the entire flight envelope? Oops! Oh well, at least it’s better than the Shuttle… we hope. :-(

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    “The fact of the matter is that we should be doing both … developing commercial spaceflight in LEO and exploring space BEO. The latter role is what NASA ought to be doing.”

    And with one variant or two it precisely is what we have been advocating, we the commercial advocates, in as much as I represent them.

    We do not want SLS, nor MPCV BECAUSE it is hindering NASA in doing much more. They are a recipe for bankruptcy and failure.

    We do not really need a “summit”. They are not as effective as you may think. What we need is Congress to get out of the way since their goal is not about NASA and its mission but rather about elections. We need the politics taken out of the equation as much we can.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    But the ROI on developing lunar (or other space) resources is too long — and the cost is too great — for the private sector to go Beyond Earth Orbit on its own.

    I think it’s too great for the government to do it too. In fact no one has been able to show a need to do lunar ISRU yet, other than “because it’s there”.

    If history is any guide, we’ll be transporting water to the Moon for some time before we’ll need to develop a local supply that is less expensive overall. And when that time comes, it will be a person or company that does it, because the government typically doesn’t care about cost, so they will not drive the need for local supply.

    If NASA explorers can demonstrate the ability to extract and utilize lunar resources, the private sector will follow.

    The only NASA explorers doing that will be robotic, and they likely will be built and operated by non-NASA personnel. In other words they will be doing the work under contract to NASA, which is how I see most of NASA’s future lunar exploration happening.

    We’ve already done the hard part by landing a human on the Moon and returning them safely (i.e. Apollo). Now it’s just a matter of exploitation, which is what companies do best, and what NASA knows little about.

    re: Space Summit

    As long as the politicians are spending NASA money according to their political whims, it doesn’t matter about space summits.

    You say the Moon, Zubrin says Mars, others say asteroids – the default is no organized progression out into space, and advancements happen when it’s discovered that the logistics of doing them are suddenly within reach of meager budgets. That last part favors commercially enabled exploration, both NASA funded (i.e. contracted out) and with NASA as a co-participant.

    But these last 30 years of the Shuttle, and the mismanagement of Constellation, have convinced me that absent a recognized National Imperative NASA won’t be the major force for us moving out past LEO.

  • Matt Wiser

    William Melberg: Absolutely. A real “space summit” where everyone’s views are welcome-and not just those singing from the Administration’s song book-is not only due, but well overdue. Everyone contributes, and common ground can be found in “getting with the program.” The Administration blew it when they had that “summit” at the Cape, and only invited those who went along with their ideas. Big mistake. The only good thing, IMHO, that came out of that was a reasonable explanation of FlexPath by Professor Crawley. Apart from that-and yes, I’ve seen the various presentations on NASA’s Youtube channel from that-there wasn’t much else-everyone singing from the same sheet…… Maybe because even Charlie Bolden knew he’d have a tough time selling even this revised plan to Congress-and they weren’t in a listening mood after that botch called FY 11 rollout. And that was a Democratic-controlled Congress!

    As for Congressman Rohrabacher, again, if he was the committee chair, he’d be in a position to get NASA to pay serious attention to the ULA studies. He’s not. He could put a rider in another bill to get NASA to do so-as is his right, or offer an amendment (again, his right to do so).

    Ron: again, and this comes up in Congressional testimony, the private sector hasn’t earned the trust of either the Congress or the public. Period. NASA has earned that trust over the decades, and even after both shuttle accidents, there were calls almost immediately after to pick up where we left off and keep on going. The Commercial entities have to demonstrate safety and reliablity, before they earn that trust. Trust in this case is not a given. It has to be earned. Demonstrate that you can fly people back and forth to ISS safely and often, and you will get that trust. Not until then-it’s that cut and dry.

  • William Mellberg

    Matt Wiser wrote:

    “The Commercial entities have to demonstrate safety and reliablity, before they earn that trust. Trust in this case is not a given. It has to be earned. Demonstrate that you can fly people back and forth to ISS safely and often, and you will get that trust.”

    Matt, this goes back to what I said in a previous thread. Trust = Reputation.

    In the early years of the commercial airline industry, many people were afraid to fly. Kunte Rockne’s death did not help matters (and ruined Fokker’s reputation in this country for several decades). I still remember my Dad buying flight insurance at the airport every time he took a business trip. That was pretty much standard procedure through the mid-1960s. The life insurance kiosks at airports were a reflection of the concerns many people still had about flying.

    Which is why the commercial space sector is going to have to build a track record of its own.

    That said, it already has. Arianespace, for example, has proven to be very reliable. But they got off to a somewhat shaky start.

    Nevertheless, Arianespace soon captured half of the world’s commercial satellite launch business. So I’m generally optimistic about the future of “commercial” space in terms of hardware reliability. It’s the market viability for human spaceflight that I question. Without taxpayer dollars, could the industry stand on its own financially?

    Time will tell.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 9:58 am

    “It’s the market viability for human spaceflight that I question. Without taxpayer dollars, could the industry stand on its own financially?”

    This actually is a very good question and I don’t know that anyone has a good answer as of yet. What we know though is that if we do not try something like CCDev then the cost will always be prohibitive. Always. We know that HSF at NASA today for whatever reason is a bankrupt activity.

    So, is today the time to go commercial? Yes since we do not really have any other choice.

    Will it be successful? “Time will tell”.

  • William Mellberg

    Before anyone else nails me for a spelling error, I DO know that Knute Rockne’s name was spelled with a ‘Kn’ … not with a ‘Ku’ per my typo above.

  • Matt Wiser

    William Melberg:

    Time will tell indeed. And yes, trust does equal reputation. The Commercial Sector will have to build that if they want to get business not just from NASA, but other space agencies, let alone private customers like research institutions (MIT, Johns Hopkins, for example), space tourism, etc. What the various commercial entities-existing firms and startups alike-have to do is demonstrate their abilites-and do it often. Only then will the skeptics be satisfied that a capability has been proven. Until they do that….the skeptics in and out of Congress will be vocal.

  • common sense

    @ Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “The Commercial Sector will have to build that if they want to get business not just from NASA, but other space agencies, let alone private customers like research institutions (MIT, Johns Hopkins, for example), space tourism, etc. ”

    I am not sure in what form you have authority to speak on behalf of all these people. Always over the top of your capability… Not new thought but I’d hope you work a little at it.

    It seems to me some of those people you quote already have some trust… Or maybe it’s just another example of crony capitalism… Here is your best friend:

    http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13358

  • Without taxpayer dollars, could the industry stand on its own financially?

    Without taxpayer dollars, NASA couldn’t stand on its own financially, so I’m not sure what your point is. Our point is that NASA purchasing tickets from commercial firms instead of wasting billions developing and operating its own dedicated launch system will allow the taxpayer dollars to go a lot farther.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    The Commercial Sector will have to build that if they want to get business not just from NASA, but other space agencies…

    “The Commercial Sector” = everybody that NASA relies on to build NASA products, so I would say they have already have an established track record.

    And if you’re thinking that Trust = Reputation for only HSF, then may I remind you that NASA has a history of accidents, yet people kept flying on vehicles that they knew had no escape systems. Commercial crew companies will have Launch Abort Systems that can save passengers at any point in the flight, so I would say they are more trustworthy from a design standpoint than what NASA has been using. There won’t be a shortage of customers.

    And regarding Trust Before Orders, SpaceX has already developed that level of trust by logging $3B worth of customer orders, some of which are from Satellite Services (SES) arguably one of the toughest companies to get orders from. Might they have accidents along the way? Sure, that’s just the nature of life, and that’s why companies buy insurance. Nothing new.

    But the NASA of today has no inherent knowledge that makes them anymore trustworthy or competent than the contractors they use to build their products, so all you’re doing is making up reasons to support the SLS.

    The SLS will end up with the same fate as the Constellation program because NASA no longer has the ability to manage large programs without going horribly over budget and behind schedule, which in this budget environment is fatal.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    “But the NASA of today has no inherent knowledge that makes them anymore trustworthy or competent than the contractors they use to build their products”

    That is too broad a statement. Contractors are using NASA capabilities and knowledge every day.

    The mistake is to drive a wedge between NASA and the contractors. There is a mutual concurrent work being done at NASA with the contractors and it is overlooked and mostly ignored.

    System Integration is much better handled by contractors than by NASA. But NASA has some great knowledge.

  • William Mellberg

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “Without taxpayer dollars, NASA couldn’t stand on its own financially, so I’m not sure what your point is.”

    Nor could the Department of Defense. Or most other government agencies and departments. That’s why they’re “government” rather than “commercial” as is the case with most municipal mass transit systems which could not survive without taxpayer subsidies.

    My point is that the market for “commercial” space might not be large enough (i.e., economically viable) to support human spaceflight without taxpayer dollars. Thus, I question the use of the term “commercial” to describe it. Perhaps “subsidized” space would be a more accurate term. In any case, without the ISS, there isn’t much of an existing market (or need) for human spaceflight.

    Perhaps Sir Richard Branson will prove me wrong, and I hope he does. But Virgin Galactic’s sub-orbital hops to the edge of space will be many times less costly than orbital trips to the ISS. Which increases his potential customer base.

  • My point is that the market for “commercial” space might not be large enough (i.e., economically viable) to support human spaceflight without taxpayer dollars. Thus, I question the use of the term “commercial” to describe it. Perhaps “subsidized” space would be a more accurate term. In any case, without the ISS, there isn’t much of an existing market (or need) for human spaceflight.

    Bob Bigelow obviously disagrees, since he has invested over $200M to satisfy the market and need.

  • common sense

    I think this whole “commercial” vs. “subsidized” issue only is plain nonsense. Why the heck does it matter?

    The point is that NASA, and the country, are broke. The so-called commercial only is a way of doing business. Getting services for a fee. As opposed to cost-plus. It is not “new” space vs. “old” space (Boeing is part of CCDev). It is about trying to get the most of tax dollars. You want to call it subsidies be my guest. I don’t care. What I care of is that NASA can accomplish its mission. That the public gets something in return. And yes if we spend fewer dollars to do something then the public already gets something in return: More tax dollars for more services or put elsewhere it matters more such as Medicare or Social Security.

    This term, subsidies, only is being used as an inflammatory tactic by those who want to see a big rocket for the sake of it. Most likely an ego thing. We do not need that, neither the rocket nor the senseless fight.

    I wish people would understand that. Commercial space is risky? Yes. So what? Risks come in multiple flavors. Do you think that Elon, Sirangelo, Boeing and Bezos are taking risks? Putting their own cash in this? Yes even Boeing is putting its own cash.

    Maybe a little more respect would go a long way but I won’t hold my breath.

    Subsidies? Commercial? Again WHO CARES? For crying out loud. Do you, do we, want a space program or not? That is the real question. SLS is not that, nor is MPCV. And no they will never go BEO unless Congress provides the cash and they haven’t, they are not and most likely will never.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    But Virgin Galactic’s sub-orbital hops to the edge of space will be many times less costly than orbital trips to the ISS. Which increases his potential customer base.

    That’s a nonsensical comparison.

    Of course it’s less expensive to do a short sub-orbital flight compared to an orbital trip that involves docking with a space station.

    But they’re not fungible activities. You can’t say to the ISS crewman that “oh, we can’t get you to your place of work on the ISS, but how about going for a short joy ride instead?” They aren’t the same.

    The choice is very clear if you just choose to look:

    1. $63M/seat on a Soyuz
    2. $500M/seat on an MPCV/SLS
    3. Around $63M/seat (or less) on an American CCDev participant.

    Choose one.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    My point is that the market for “commercial” space might not be large enough (i.e., economically viable) to support human spaceflight without taxpayer dollars.

    To you “taxpayer dollars” is code for “subsidy”. It’s not. If that were true, then everything the government buys would be a subsidy, and that’s clearly not the case. Is the government subsidizing the airlines when their employees purchase a flight? No, they are paying for a service. Same with Commercial Crew.

    The thing that trips up you and others is what the CCDev program is doing. That in my mind is NASA transferring it’s HSF knowledge to the commercial aerospace industry in anticipation of buying services from them.

    NASA’s needs are too specific for the industry to go off and build it themselves – the risk of NASA saying “no, we don’t like how you did this, so we’re not going to use you” is too great. NASA doesn’t know what it doesn’t know for human-rating spacecraft, since they have never built one that will meet the requirements the Commercial Crew program will meet.

    That statement may surprise you, but think about it. The Shuttle didn’t have a Launch Abort System, so it wouldn’t meet today’s Commercial Crew standards. And Apollo, Gemini and Mercury were not reusable and were more experimental than production vehicles. This is new ground for NASA, which means they need to fund the development. Pretty simple.

    As to whether the market is large enough, that’s really for the companies to determine, isn’t it? And so far they are all saying ‘Yes’ by co-investing with NASA, so they stand to lose if it doesn’t work out as much as NASA.

    But as Rand points out, Robert Bigelow is spending his own money in order to be a future customer, and seven nations have said they want to be future customers, so that sounds like a potential market. And it actually sounds stronger to me that Virgin Galactics business, so we’ll see how the both do.

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