Congress, NASA

Details on the Senate’s NASA budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released the report accompanying its fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, offering more details about the $17.9 billion it proposes for NASA. Here’s a summary chart comparing the president’s budget request (PBR) for FY12 along with what the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has offered in their respective appropriations bills (all amounts in millions):

Account PBR HAC SAC
Science $5,016.80 $4,504.00 $5,100.00
Aeronautics $569.40 $569.93 $501.00
Space Technology $1,024.20 $375.00 $637.00
Exploration $3,948.70 $3,649.00 $3,775.00
Space Operations $4,346.90 $4,064.00 $4,285.00
Education $138.40 $138.00 $138.40
Cross-Agency Support $3,192.00 $3,050.00 $3,043.00
Construction $450.40 $424.00 $422.00
Inspector General $37.50 $36.30 $37.30
TOTAL $18,724.30 $16,810.23 $17,938.70

The Senate’s bill is not nearly as severe as the House’s version, as the numbers above make clear. Space Technology still suffers a significant cut, but not nearly as bad as the House version. Aeronautics is the one area where the Senate proposes deeper cuts than the House. Some highlights:

  • In Space Technology, the Senate bill fully funds the SBIR/STTR and the “Partnership Development and Strategic Integration” programs, and splits the remaining money between Crosscutting Space Technology Development and Exploration Technology Development. The committee recommends in the report that NASA “prioritize ongoing efforts funded in fiscal year 2011 under the auspices of Space Technology using Space Operations funds” for Crosscutting tech work, and specifically recommends that satellite servicing work be continued at FY11 funding levels. ($75 million for satellite servicing is provided in the Space Operations section of the bill.)
  • The bill provides $1.8 billion in Space Exploration for the Space Launch System, but the report states that the program ” shall be managed under a strict cost cap” of $11.5 billion through 2017. NASA is asked to provide a report within 60 days of enactment of the bill that, among other things, should either validate that cost cap or provide “a viable and validated alternative”.
  • Similarly, the bill provides $1.2 million for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, but includes a cost cap of $5.5 billion through FY2017. NASA, again, is asked to either validate that cost cap or provide an alternative in a report.
  • The bill includes $500 million for Commercial Crew, but only $307.4 million will initially be available. The remaining $192.6 million would be released only after NASA publishes “the notifications to implement acquisition strategy” for SLS and starts to execute “relevant contract actions in support of development of SLS”.
  • The same report section requires NASA to “develop and make available to the public detailed human rating processes and requirements to guide the design of all crew transportation capabilities” funded by NASA, be they government- or commercially-operated. It also directs NASA to limit its use of Space Act Agreements for future CCDev rounds, although NASA is already planning to move to contracts (incorporating some elements of such agreements) for the next CCDev procurement.
  • For the James Webb Space Telescope, the bill provides $529.6 million in 2012, but includes language critical of the cost overruns on the program. It sets an overall development cost cap of $8 billion, in line with the most recent NASA estimates.
  • The bill provides $10 million for NASA to transfer to the Department of Energy to restart plutonium-238 production, although it’s not clear if that will be useful since other appropriators failed to provide matching funding in the DOE budget.

133 comments to Details on the Senate’s NASA budget

  • Robert G. Oler

    The “cost caps” and low yearly funding are where SLS starts the final march toward pulling the plug…it has been a long hard road but this is how federal government programs die RGO

  • They can maintain the cap, or fly in 2017, but not both.

    It also directs NASA to limit its use of Space Act Agreements for future CCDev rounds, although NASA is already planning to move to contracts (incorporating some elements of such agreements) for the next CCDev procurement.

    Anyone know why the Senate opposes SAAs? Is this just a way to ultimately kill the program?

  • yg1968

    Looks like the Senate doesn’t like Space Act Agreements:

    NASA Policy Directive 1050.1I states that funded Space Act
    Agreements may be used only when the Agency’s objective cannot
    be accomplished through the use of a procurement contract, grant,
    or cooperative agreement. The Committee believes that the current
    practice by NASA has gone beyond what is cited under NASA’s
    own policy directive. Such misuse of these authorities undermines
    the oversight of NASA in the procurement process and threatens
    crew safety. For future rounds of commercial crew competitions
    and acquisitions, NASA shall limit the use of funded Space Act
    Agreements as stated in the directive in order to preserve critical
    NASA oversight of Federal funds provided for spacecraft and launch vehicle development.

  • common sense

    “NASA is asked to provide a report within 60 days of enactment of the bill that, among other things, should either validate that cost cap or provide “a viable and validated alternative”.”

    Man. Obtuse the Congress is!!! NASA already told you, Congress, that there is not enough money to do it. They provided a cost assessment and an assessment of that cost that showed it is not enough money.

    What the heck is “a viable and validated alternative”? There is no alternative in your world, Congress. The only other alternative is to actually compete a design if you so much desire a HLV. But would Congress dare a competition? An overall competition of course!

    Same thing for MPCV.

    Here is the translation, the real one:

    We will provide those $Bs until 2017. At that tim, since three will be no SLS and no MPCV, we will pull the plug. So NASA and contractors, especially contractors, should be ready to have a new job by then. This of course if the budget does not get slashed soon…

  • Bennett

    Wow. I’m amazed that our fine public servants were willing to make it obvious (in writing even) that the only way they were going to fund CCDev was in trade for funding the SLS.

    Holding back 192 million until NASA signs procurement contracts is shrewd, but just means that Administrator Bolden is going to have to kick the reality can down the road a couple of years. Otherwise he’d probably just default to the truth. “It can’t be done.”

    “NASA is asked to provide a report within 60 days of enactment of the bill that, among other things, should either validate that cost cap or provide “a viable and validated alternative”. ”

    Hah! Sisyphus, NASA style.

  • Vladislaw

    “Anyone know why the Senate opposes SAAs? Is this just a way to ultimately kill the program”

    It slows up the progress of commercial firms, relative to what NASA is doing, it raises commercial firms costs, relative to what NASA is spending?

    Brings both programs closer together in time and costs?

    Certain members in congress can point the finger to commercial and say “see commercial takes a long time too, see commercial costs a lot more than they say”

  • Coastal Ron

    yg1968 wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    NASA Policy Directive 1050.1I states that funded Space Act
    Agreements may be used only when the Agency’s objective cannot
    be accomplished through the use of a procurement contract, grant,
    or cooperative agreement.

    That was likely added under direct influence of crony capitalism, since their arguments are not supported by the facts. NASA is paying the CCDev participants to perform a task, and they already have the ability to ensure that the task was accomplished per the agreed upon specifications.

    It’s also interesting that the Senate is so blatant in their holding hostage funds for Commercial Crew until certain SLS progress is made – the two programs are not related.

    I guess they don’t mind being dependent on the Russians for U.S. access to space…

  • Coastal Ron

    Bennett wrote @ September 16th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Wow. I’m amazed that our fine public servants were willing to make it obvious (in writing even) that the only way they were going to fund CCDev was in trade for funding the SLS.

    When the SLS announcement was made, I assumed there was a back-room deal for CCDev funding. It was just coincidental. That added language is how the Senate will ensure the Administration sticks to the deal.

  • SpaceColonizer

    glad to see JWST and CCDev getting some money… but, Jesus Christ, can we ever get passed a budgeting milestone WITHOUT a brand new SLS related earmark/caveat?

  • A_M_Swallow

    NASA could ask SpaceX and OSC how much doing CCDev using fully funded FAR instead of SAA will cost. Expect it to cost more and take longer.

  • An Aero Guy

    “The Senate’s bill is not nearly as severe as the House’s version, as the numbers above make clear.”

    …Unless you are in aeronautics.
    I know this is a space blog, but let’s be a bit more specific please. NASA is more than just about Space.

  • josh

    the us is becoming a banana republic. the corruption in congress regarding sls is blatantly obvious.

  • Vladislaw

    Trace Gallager in that Fox video did get a couple things wrong. He called it the capsule orion not the MPCV and said it could stay in space for up to 900 days. He also said that Virgin Galatic would be taking people into space without saying suborbital.

    The main point was a least mentioning it was a jobs program and that NASA rarely comes in on time or budget with big projects.

  • Das Boese

    I still wonder why SLS is under the “exploration” budget item. It’s not doing any exploration. At all.

    SLS isn’t just robbing Peter to pay Paul, it`s robbing Peter, John, Jim, their children and grandchildren and all their friends to buy a semi truck for paul, who can’t drive it and only really needs a chaep delivery van to do his business.

  • Noise

    So, are any of us going to get our jobs back at JSC?

  • BeanieCounterFromDownunder

    Hope you’re right RGO otherwise you can say goodbye to any real NSF progress for NASA and the US.

  • BeanieCounterFromDownunder

    Is there any way that NASA can fund COTS D if they wanted to?

  • @Vladislaw
    “Trace Gallager in that Fox video did get a couple things wrong. He called it the capsule orion not the MPCV and said it could stay in space for up to 900 days. He also said that Virgin Galatic would be taking people into space without saying suborbital.”

    Yeah, that’s the reason I said it was fairly good for something from a major network. It’s more in-depth than I’ve seen on any other network (which isn’t saying much) and I have seen worse gaffs.

  • Nemo

    NASA could ask SpaceX and OSC how much doing CCDev using fully funded FAR instead of SAA will cost. Expect it to cost more and take longer.

    OSC is not involved in CCDev. It’s SpaceX, Boeing, SNC, and Blue Origin.

    SpaceX and OSC are doing CRS right now under FAR and are doing just fine.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Phase 1 – Appropriate $11 billion for the development of a launch vehicle that will require $40 billion or more to actually complete in the set timetable.

    Phase 2 – ???

    Phase 3 – Explore space!

  • Bennett

    Das Boese wrote “SLS isn’t just robbing Peter to pay Paul, it`s robbing Peter, John, Jim, their children and grandchildren and all their friends to buy a semi truck for paul, who can’t drive it and only really needs a chaep delivery van to do his business.”

    That’s really great stuff, sad but true. But really, since there was never any change within NASA, there was never any realistic hope of a different outcome *from* NASA, was there?

    I admit that my hopes for something different this time around were all a pipe dream. And I don’t even own a pipe.

  • Donald Ernst

    I can see the utility of the SLS for launching large modules into Earth orbit to build space stations and vehicles but without fully reusable economical manned logistical vehicles it’s not going to be of much use. You could do an apollo redux or reach a asteroid but you can’t fly a orion capsule to Mars except as a unmanned vehicle. Unless other vehicles , fuel depots and projects needing multiple launches for orbital assembly are part of this it’s going to be of limited value.

  • NASA Fan

    Regarding publishing the manned rated safety requirements.

    Publishing this document won’t be hard. Anyone who has ever flown on STS or ISS knows that the safety requirements ‘interpretations document’, is the one that is more important. It also is a moving target.

    SLS , OMPCV, all dead by 2017.

  • Jerry Pournelle on the Chaos Manor website gives his take on SLS:
    “It proves that NASA has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and the purpose of NASA is to provide work for NASA employees. Given the task of coming up with a new national space program now that the Shuttle has eaten much of the dream, NASA comes up with a giant expendable that uses hydrogen fuel, Shuttle Recoverable (Solid Fuel) Boosters – SEGMENTED Shuttle Recoverable Boosters – monopropellant boosters on a giant expendable rocket. This bird is optimized for employing the NASA standing army.”
    http://jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=1992

  • Scott Bass

    Rick, even though they are all bad, fox is one of the worse for not fact checking before they air something, within hours of the sls announcement fox was showing photos of a rail system and representing it as sls, it was so over the top it seemed like a joke. Anyway they all rush to be first and it is a shame because it makes you wonder how many lies you have digested as being true on subjects you are less knowledgable about

  • vulture4

    Unsuprisingly, Fox fails to mention even once that the SLS/Orion/Constellation was the creation of George W. Bush and Mike Griffin, nor do they mention that (with the exception of the unprincipled Nelson) every supporter of SLS is Republican while Obama and Lori Garver have been fighting to drop it in favor of Commercial Space. Finding it convenient to change history, Fox craftily reveals that the wasteful Constellation was the idea of Obama and the Democrats all along while they, the frugal Republicans, are the cheerleaders of innovative small business.

    Once again Fox proves itself the consummate propaganda organ. Taking a page from George Orwell, they know well that a lie, repeated often enough and loudly enough, becomes the truth.

    I hope my friends at JSC, Huntsville, and the Space Coast, who believe that if they expunge Obama they will magically be on their way to Mars, will watch this carefully and think about who their real friends are.

  • CML

    I’m not that happy about ARMD getting smacked, either. I’m also a little concerned for cross-agency support. That’s the source of funding for upgrades to labs & computer networks, the archives & libraries (databases, research services for education, legal, IG, & everyone else), PAO (which is going to have a lot on its plate-I don’t think anyone reckoned on the affection that a lot of people had for the Shuttle, much like a beloved old car combined with a perception that the country was doing cool stuff), & a lot of other things that make the agency move along.

  • @Scott Bass
    “Rick, even though they are all bad, fox is one of the worse for not fact checking before they air something, within hours of the sls announcement fox was showing photos of a rail system and representing it as sls, it was so over the top it seemed like a joke. Anyway they all rush to be first and it is a shame because it makes you wonder how many lies you have digested as being true on subjects you are less knowledgable about”
    I myself am normally very skeptical of Fox News. I have seen them report things that were contrary to the facts I knew. However, if you and I both are honest, we will have to admit that for this particular video that I referenced, the facts are largely correct. Just because other pieces are B.S. does not mean everything always is.

  • @vulture4
    The only thing I truly approve of in the video was the central theme of: SLS is a squandering of taxpayer money and commercial can do it better. It shows that not just Obama Democrats, but also GW Bush Republicans are showing resistance to the SLS insanity.

  • MM_NASA

    Hey you all SLS Haters:

    SLS is being designed with modularization as a priority. It will have an upper-stage which can attain lunar orbit. The 70 mt vehicle will have 10% more thrust than the Saturn V. The upper stage for the Mars fly-by is also con-currently being designed. However, flights need to be done in stages in order to avoid a major catastrophe. The SLS will be able to launch payload to various destinations in space UNLIKE the Saturn V. It will provide America with an amazing capability to really do manned exploration of the Cosmos. As all of you have suggested, why not wait and first develop space technology. If we go with this approach, we will not design and develop a vehicle until 2050. We would have no capability for deep space exploration until then. Also, if we put all of our cards into commercial providers and do not have a government resource, what happens when the commercial providers have a failure, and they can no longer provide the service?? No one seems to be addressing this, especially after Space X conveniently failed to mention an engine anomaly on one of it’s flights. I find private companies can be quite decieving. All, I am saying is that we need a credible federally funded back-up for ISS. I also believe that SLS and MPCV are our answers. So if it gives you the jollies to continue showing negativity towards SLS and MPCV, please do so. I think these programs are critical for NASA Human Space Flight Program.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I dont care what it is being designed with…it is simply to expensive and there is no need now for a human exploration of the solar system (or the Moon) vehicle…

    Name one reason we should send humans to the moon at the cost it would incur today?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    SLS is being designed with modularization as a priority.

    It’s a multi-stage rocket, so of course it’s modular. Every multi-stage rocket is modular.

    The 70 mt vehicle will have 10% more thrust than the Saturn V.

    Big whoop. Why doesn’t it have 10% less, or 100% more?

    There is a old maxim that I like to refer to that goes something like this:

    It doesn’t matter how much you tried, only how much did you accomplished.

    And for getting mass to orbit my measurement is not how powerful the engines are or what color scheme the rockets are painted, it’s $/lb to LEO.

    For a 50,000 lb payload, the Shuttle was about $30,000/lb to LEO (full program cost), and Delta IV Heavy is about $9,000. Falcon Heavy will be about $1,070/lb to LEO.

    As of now there are no planned or funded payloads that are bigger than 50,000 lbs, nor are there any planned missions that Congress is getting to fund. We also know that we can build large vehicles in space using our current 50,000 lb capabilities (the ISS is almost 1M lbs), so as far as I can tell we don’t have a need for anything bigger.

    Face it, the SLS is not a solution for any known problem – except for jobs, of course.

  • Bennett

    “…manned exploration of the Cosmos.”

    Good luck with that. As far as I know, neither “cold sleep” or “faster than light” technology is optional equipment with the current SLS design.

  • GuessWho

    “The committee recommends in the report that NASA “prioritize ongoing efforts funded in fiscal year 2011 under the auspices of Space Technology using Space Operations funds” for Crosscutting tech work, and specifically recommends that satellite servicing work be continued at FY11 funding levels. ($75 million for satellite servicing is provided in the Space Operations section of the bill.)”

    I see Babs has porked up yet another project for Goddard. Just like JWST. Meanwhile real commercial satellite servicing options are already in the works. (http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Intelsat_Picks_MDA_For_Satellite_Servicing_999.html)

  • MM_NASA, what payload is 70 tonnes that cannot be broken down into smaller payloads and launched on currently-available vehicles and assembled in orbit? What happens if you have a payload that masses 160 tonnes? Do you then have a brand-new design for that? How about a payload in excess of 450 tonnes? Why, that’s as big as the ISS, we could never launch something that big on currently-available vehicles, could we? Oh, wait, we already did, and now NASA has tons of expertise in on-orbit assembly, and no experience in decades in designing an orbital vehicle that actually makes it to orbit. SLS won’t ever launch.

    And without a fundamental restructuring of NASA, the SLS will be cancelled and subsequently replaced with another gargantuan rocket designed solely to keep the NASA standing army standing. Then that one will be cancelled, and replaced with another. As long as NASA is structured the way it is – the huge standing army, the cost-plus contracts, and trying to be both the high-risk innovation center and the low-risk operations center – a variation of yet another hyper-expensive program that goes over budget, behind schedule, never flies, and gets cancelled is all taxpayers will get out of their investment in NASA.

    It’s even worse than that. These huge projects that eventually get cancelled suck resources from the rest of NASA. Development of things like a completely-enclosed life support system, radiation shielding, determination of a minimum artificial centripetal “gravity” to mitigate bone loss, on-orbit propellant storage and transfer, automated docking, and a host of other technologies absolutely required if we’re going to do anything productive in space all suffer to pay for the Big Rocket That Never Flies.

    That’s in normal economic times. This December the budget supercommittee is going to be cutting huge swaths from the budgets of all federal agencies. They have no choice – there’s no more money. NASA is not immune. The very first thing on the chopping block is SLS, for the same reasons Constellation had to go.

  • As all of you have suggested, why not wait and first develop space technology. If we go with this approach, we will not design and develop a vehicle until 2050. We would have no capability for deep space exploration until then.

    That’s nutty. We could be back on the moon in ten years, if we start spending the money building hardware we actually need to do that, instead of “big monster rockets.”

  • Martijn Meijering

    Falcon Heavy will be about $1,070/lb to LEO.

    Falcon Heavy may be about $1,070/lb to LEO…

  • Coastal Ron

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    If we go with this approach, we will not design and develop a vehicle until 2050.

    Actually the opposite is true. ULA and the NASA FISO group have outlined lunar and Mars exploration architectures that can use existing rockets, so we are only needing money, not the SLS, in order to push out past LEO. And don’t forget NASA’s Nautilus-X concept, which is a reusable space-only spaceship, and something we need to develop for our push out beyond the Earth-Moon system.

    None of this needs the SLS, and the SLS is keeping us from exploring.

    especially after Space X conveniently failed to mention an engine anomaly on one of it’s flights.

    You mean they didn’t tell YOU. NASA knew about it shortly after the mission, and the engine anomaly was after a successful 1st stage burn. It didn’t affect the mission, it would have affected reusability of the engines – something that they are working on (1st stage reusability), but it’s not something that NASA is paying them to do.

    I find private companies can be quite decieving.

    You are talking about, of course, the companies that will be building the SLS. How can you have any confidence in the SLS if it’s built by those deceiving private companies?

    That must be quite a dilemma for you… ;-)

    All, I am saying is that we need a credible federally funded back-up for ISS.

    The U.S. Government already depends on Atlas V and Delta IV for this nations most important science and security payloads, so why can’t they depend on them for crew too?

    You do realize that NASA won’t be running the operations portion of the SLS, that “those deceiving private companies” will be doing that.

    You’re grasping for straws. NASA can buy whatever transportation they need, and if the force of law is needed to ensure that, then Congress can implement the space equivalent of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) or Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). Problem solved, government access assured.

    And by having more than one company to depend upon, the U.S. can be assured that an accident on one launcher or at one facility will not stop our ability to get to space.

    The SLS is a Single Point of Failure (SPOF), so one accident would shut down U.S. space operations for years – we’ve seen this happen far too often, so I think we should finally learn the lesson that we can’t depend on only one way to space.

  • Martijn Meijering

    ULA and the NASA FISO group have outlined lunar and Mars exploration architectures that can use existing rockets

    Those are only some of the more recent proposals. Many other groups – inside and outside NASA – have done so for many years.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Falcon Heavy may be about $1,070/lb to LEO

    SpaceX advertises the Falcon Heavy for $80-125M, which gets you up to 117,000 lbs to LEO. So if you have $125M, then you can get 117,000 lbs to LEO for $1,070/lb.

    If you’re debating whether the Falcon Heavy will fly, here’s my view – I assume that the Boeings, LM, ATK and SpaceX of the world can get their products to work.

    I assumed that the Ares I could be made to fly safely, given enough time and money, and I assume the same for the SLS. My objections to them have always been based on need and cost, not based on design. Along those same lines I also assume Falcon Heavy will fly.

    Now SpaceX might end up spending more to get it operational then they originally assumed (very likely), but if you buy now you can lock in the $1,070/lb price.

  • Larson

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Also, if we put all of our cards into commercialgovernment providers and do not have a governmentcommercial resource, what happens when the commercialgovernment providers have a failure, and they can no longer provide the service??

    There, fixed that for you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 1:36 pm
    ” I find private companies can be quite decieving. All, I am saying is that we need a credible federally funded back-up for ISS.”

    LOL how would you describe NASA HSF after Columbia? If you want a credible backup for ISS, SLS isnt it. SLS is not a credible program…it will be dead by December RGO

  • Larson

    There was another bit of make-work slipped into the bill:

    The Committee encourages NASA to develop plans to fully utilize NASA-owned rocket testing infrastructure for commercially developed launch vehicles to ensure that these vehicles are tested in the same manner as Government-developed launch vehicles.

    Seems to me that if a commercial company wants to use a NASA test stand, they can sort that out on their own. Unless the senate is expecting SpaceX to abandon their Texas testing facility…? I also enjoy the assumption that government testing procedures are the only way to properly develop a launch vehicle.

  • Explorer08

    RGO asked: Name one reason we should send humans to the moon etc etc?

    Answer: Because…..we…..want……to. Period.

    Stupid question.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Explorer08 wrote @ September 17th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    RGO asked: Name one reason we should send humans to the moon etc etc?

    you replied:
    Answer: Because…..we…..want……to. Period.

    my reply dumbest answer I have ever heard…really dumb. No wonder the American people dont care about exploration of the solar system by the mythic heroes of NASA RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2011/09/let%E2%80%99s-argue-about-the-right-things/

    this is another one of Paul’s efforts. Give him credit he is asking questions and pushing a debate…problem is it is the wrong debate

    Spudis says “It is the mindset of the space program that needs re-thinking – not the next destination, not the next launch vehicle, and not the next spacecraft. ”

    that is a fair statement and not much wrong with it…except that Spudis never answers the question why we should spend all this money to develop “a space navy”…he makes (because he uses the picture) the comparison to TR’s Great White Fleet…the problem is that TR did not develop the GWF simply to explore the oceans…it was to project American sea power in a world where sea power was rapidly changing.

    There is no such reason to develop Spudis “navy”…to explore space with humans. until we figure out a reason…Spudis is once again asking wrong question RGO

  • Then you pay for it, explorer08. Stupid answer.

  • Rhyolite

    “I find private companies can be quite decieving.”

    And governments are perfectly honest, right?

  • Vladislaw

    Explorer08 wrote:

    “Answer: Because…..we…..want……to. Period.”

    Define “we”.

    It is clear that there isn’t a majority of the population demanding a lunar return. It is so far on the back burner it never even shows up in polls.

  • Explorer08 wrote:

    Because…..we…..want……to. Period.

    No, it’s because you want to. There are 308 million people in the U.S. Most of them disagree with you.

  • Clark Lindsey gave his reaction to the Spudis piece, and it would also apply as an answer to MM_NASA’s comment, ” I find private companies can be quite decieving. All, I am saying is that we need a credible federally funded back-up for ISS.”

    As Clark states:
    “It would have been great if in the past year the Congressional committees dealing with space had really investigated all of the options for a HSF program beyond earth orbit, carefully weighed the pluses and minuses of all these options, and then created a plan that maximized development in space while minimizing the cost. Instead, they focused on just two things – (1) criticizing the Administration for killing the previous big rocket program and (2) starting a new big rocket program.

    It’s simply a fact of humankind that strongly held points of view are not changed by argument but only by overwhelming facts on the ground (or in space in this case). The cast-in-stone view that the cost of spaceflight can never be significantly lowered won’t change until low cost vehicles are flying to space. The cast-in-stone view that flying to space will always be a rare and infrequent activity will only change when flights to space become routine and frequent.

    It’s clear from the past week, that the only hope for creating lower cost vehicles that fly to space routinely and frequently is with the commercial companies that are trying hard to develop such vehicles. If they succeed, then it will be easy to get a discussion of an affordable incremental way to proceed towards a robust in-space infrastructure. Until then, a huge portion of the NASA/Industry/Congressional complex just won’t listen to anything but the roar of their big rocket.”
    http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=32520

  • Frank Glover

    @ MM_NASA:

    “The upper stage for the Mars fly-by is also con-currently being designed.”

    Reference? Does this thing have a name I can look up? (and riding in Orion alone to Mars, whether flyby, orbital or landing [in...something] should be psychologically very interesting. Even flying a pair of them to a NEO is pushing it.)

    SLS will send no one Mars in one launch. You’re going to have to put at least two (and almost certainly more) things together in LEO, first. And once you accept any kind of orbital assembly, you can ask if more launches of smaller, cheaper, more nearly mass produced rockets is better. Yes, it’ll take longer…that’s what space stations are for. Assembly points. We’re not racing anyone today, that’s what led us to single-launch Lunar missions…stop thinking that way.

    “The SLS will be able to launch payload to various destinations in space UNLIKE the Saturn V…”

    The only reason Saturn V wasn’t used for more than Lunar missions and to launch Skylab, was that we did not choose to/were not willing to spend the money to do so. There were most certainly many proposals for other kinds of missions. A plan to simultaneously launch two Voyager-like outer planet probes, for example. There are things we *could* have used the Shuttle to do as well, but didn’t. This brings us back to the point that except for Orion (by itself, the best you could do is re-do Apollo 8, and there are cheaper ways to do manned circumlunar) there’s nothing in the works to put on this puppy that needs that much lift in one shot.

    “…It will provide America with an amazing capability to really do manned exploration of the Cosmos.”

    I assume you’re speaking figuratively. ‘The Cosmos’ (pretty much equivalent to ‘the Universe’) is a little bit more than just Mars.

    :”Also, if we put all of our cards into commercial providers and do not have a government resource, what happens when the commercial providers have a failure, and they can no longer provide the service??”

    All of them at once? Really? This is exactly *why* you have more than one commercial provider. You even used the plural, yourself.

    “I find private companies can be quite decieving.”

    But we can believe everything that comes out of government? Like the very need for an HLV?

    “All, I am saying is that we need a credible federally funded back-up for ISS.”

    Then at most, you want Orion + Delta IV heavy.

    SLS is serious payload/cost overkill for ISS supply (unless you anticipate adding a large new module to it…I don’t) or crew rotation. Skylab crews were launched on the Saturn 1B for example, not a Saturn V. Using SLS would be like doing the latter.

    “So if it gives you the jollies to continue showing negativity towards SLS and MPCV, please do so. ”

    We don’t enjoy seeing irrationality played out (and with our money). If calling it out is ‘negativity,’ (shrug) so be it.

  • vulture4

    Read the history of the NACA. It’s time for NASA to return to its original mission, research and development that provides practical benefits for American industry and taxpayers, not as an inadvertent byproduct, but as its primary goal.
    This is an issue much of NASA and even the astronauts have trouble grasping. They see human spaceflight as the work of elite pioneers who prove America’s greatness by accomplishing symbolic goals at great cost. In an era when even the astronauts want tax cuts, that day is past.

  • some guy

    So what’s the story on the aero cuts? The part of bill on Aero had almost as many thoughts as sentences in it.

  • DCSCA

    “•For the James Webb Space Telescope, the bill provides $529.6 million in 2012, but includes language critical of the cost overruns on the program.”

    This bird is on the block for the budget axe. Thanksgiving is coming and this turkey is dead.

  • DCSCA

    CNN reports the MPCV name as ‘Orion’ as well. It’s media short hand- that’s all. Lucas wasn’t pleased they kept calling Reagan’s SDI ‘Star Wars’ either. Fox is hardly a credible news source. Industry folk call it TTTV- trailer trash television– the target audience is down market and to the right.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Frank Glover wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 12:55 pm well done RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    that is really well said. HSF has become the ultimate entitlement…and representative of the military industrial complex…we just do it because well we do it. there is right now no reason why Nice job RGO

  • MM_NASA

    Hey SLS Haters:

    I understand that you all are bitter and thought that the commercial providers should be our only logical approach to an affordable and capable option for deep space travel and to ferry astronauts to ISS. I understand that you are all swayed by the CEOs of various aerospace firms that claim that they can do space exploration on the “dime”. Heck, you probably are wondering why we need NASA. I’ll tell you why…listen carefully…

    1. Majority of the public (myself included) and our government are not convinced that commercial providers can solely design, develop and safely operate a vehicle to ISS or any other destination. There is NO track record! NASA’s man-rated space vehicle designs have been successful and have been tested.

    2. Private Companies cannot afford to develop complex launch vehicles for deep space exploration. What happens if there is a change in design and performance? Will capitalistic entities be able to invest large sums of money to see these new designs in-place? There are some new design changes being implemented for the evolvable SLS.

    3. Private Companies cannot invest billions or even millions of dollars into research and development when required for such spacecraft and launch vehicle designs and development. You all make it out as if designing and developing spacecraft/LV is like developing an automobile or an aircraft. The environments are much more drastic and severe. I realize that NASA has made it look easy, but it is hardly so.

    4. The expertise needs to be developed at some of these private ventures such as Space X, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origins, etc… The expertise for manned space flight is already in-place at many of the NASA Centers and it has been for the last 40 years.

    I am just calling out some areas where commercial providers (there are many other areas that I have not gone into) still have to prove themselves.
    I am just waiting for another catastrophic anomaly that they forget to mention to the public.

    To be honest, I feel safer and wiser that my hard earned money is going to NASA in developing these vehicles. When it is all said and done, no private commercial provider has put a man on the moon.

    So, go ahead keep bashing SLS and MPCV, it is people like you that keep the U.S. Space Program grounded. Instead of supporting our Agency like we did back in the 60s – we just criticize it, beat it down and trash it.

    This is truly a great agency with so much history to back up that claim.

    Peace out!

  • Vladislaw

    “:”Also, if we put all of our cards into commercial providers and do not have a government resource, what happens when the commercial providers have a failure, and they can no longer provide the service??” “

    It always kills me when they trot out this reason. We can’t be dependant on multiple commercial options so lets get rid of all of them and instead rely on a NASA only system. Look how long it took to build the station because of a single string fault system like NASA. When NASA stalls, has an accident the ENTIRE Nation’s space access gets flushed down the toilet.

    So lets stick with that because it is better than multiple suppliers. Just goes to show you how out of touch their arguements are.

    One failure of the SLS and good bye to a National space program as EVERYTHING gets put on hold for years.

  • Dennis

    I thought NASAs original mission was to beat Russia to the Moon? It was born out of the cold war to show up the Soviets who were paving the way into space. After those initial flights a permanent base of operations should have been established. If it had we would be sittng pretty today. An outpost on the Moon, perhaps much like our polar stations.

  • John Malkin

    Frank Glover wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    SLS will send no one Mars in one launch. You’re going to have to put at least two (and almost certainly more) things together in LEO

    You are correct. Lockheed said it will take four SLS for a mission to a Mars moon. So to surface it will be at least two to four more.

    Instead of SLS, we should invest money in ISRU development and other technologies. These technologies could have direct application on Earth. It was a core component of the Vision for Space Exploration as implemented by the Science & Mission Systems Office.

    http://isru.msfc.nasa.gov/

    The missions NASA has outlined will have at most ten astronauts BEO by 2030. Does that really excite SLS supporters? I would rather have ten or more a month and we don’t need SLS to do it.

  • Vladislaw

    (drags out the dead horse to beat it a little more)

    The idea of a transportation system relying on only 1 provider and that provider being the government as the best way to go begs the question.

    If this is the best model why not use it for all transportation systems?

    If we allow mutliple commercial airlines and a plane crashes, gosh, the whole system would collapse. No need for multiple railroads or bus lines. No need for multiple oceanic shipping lines. 18 wheelers? No need, we just need for the government to run MEGA 72 wheelers that can haul 150 tons per load. All we really need is just one huge government program.

    As we all know, when it comes to government run transportation systems, congress knows best. Time for the Dept of Transportation to start building cars at cost plus-fixed fee with no competitive bidding, only then will we REALLY get the cars we need for the future.

  • Trent Waddington has put together a montage video of cancelled NASA space transport programs and set it to music. Of course, the last entry is a prediction, but it doesn’t take the fabled clairvoyant powers of Cassandra to figure SLS will ultimately fall by the wayside due to budgetary irrationality regardless of who the next president is.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vGQPE_kyw5Y

  • I understand that you all are bitter and thought that the commercial providers should be our only logical approach to an affordable and capable option for deep space travel and to ferry astronauts to ISS. I understand that you are all swayed by the CEOs of various aerospace firms that claim that they can do space exploration on the “dime”. Heck, you probably are wondering why we need NASA.

    Apparently you understand nothing at all. Why would we bother reading any more of your drivel after wading through these straw men?

  • It always kills me when they trot out this reason. We can’t be dependant on multiple commercial options so lets get rid of all of them and instead rely on a NASA only system.

    Logic is not their strong suit.

  • Ferris Valyln

    MM_NASA

    1. Majority of the public (myself included) and our government are not convinced that commercial providers can solely design, develop and safely operate a vehicle to ISS or any other destination. There is NO track record! NASA’s man-rated space vehicle designs have been successful and have been tested.

    I call total BS on 2 fronts.

    First, provide evidence that a majority of the public is not convinced that commercial providers can solely design, develop, and safely operate a vehicle to ISS or any other destination. You may not believe it, but I want to see evidence that other people don’t believe it

    Second, there is a track record. With regards to rockets – Atlas V has flown 27 times. Delta IV has flown 16 times. Falcon 9has flown 2 times. SLS has not flown.

    With regards to spacecraft – Dragon has flown 1 time. CST-100, Dream Chaser and Orion have never flown.

    Finally, it was NOT this generation of NASA engineers that developed the Shuttle.

    Thats the track record. Forgive me if I don’t regard NAsA as the be all end all of designing spacecraft or delivering payloads to LEO.

    2. Private Companies cannot afford to develop complex launch vehicles for deep space exploration. What happens if there is a change in design and performance? Will capitalistic entities be able to invest large sums of money to see these new designs in-place? There are some new design changes being implemented for the evolvable SLS.

    1. It HAS NOT been demonstrated that you need Super-Heavy Launch vehicles to do exploration.

    2. If we’ve trusted companies like ULA, Aerojet, Boeing etc to do development work on multiple rockets, why can’t we trust them to do end to end?

    3. Private Companies cannot invest billions or even millions of dollars into research and development when required for such spacecraft and launch vehicle designs and development. You all make it out as if designing and developing spacecraft/LV is like developing an automobile or an aircraft. The environments are much more drastic and severe. I realize that NASA has made it look easy, but it is hardly so.

    Go look at history – LM & Boeing both invested substantial amounts in EELV, and have produced very capable rockets. spaceX and Orbital have invested substantial amounts into the Taurus II and Falcon 9, and they are moving forward towards full operational status.

    As for spacecraft – forgive me, but aren’t most comm sats done entirely on a private basis?

    At the end of the day, engineering is engineering. Yes, the requirements may change, the operating environment may require different considerations, but if you’ve trained the engineers well, they can deal with the issues.

    4. The expertise needs to be developed at some of these private ventures such as Space X, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origins, etc… The expertise for manned space flight is already in-place at many of the NASA Centers and it has been for the last 40 years.

    The issue isn’t expertise – its management. Yes, for startups, its true they probably could benefit from more experience, but the point is to have test flights (which is what is going on). And more well established firms do have it (Boeing and ULA, for example).

    The issue is NOT engineering expertise – its management. The success ratio for turning out human spacecraft from NASA is atrocious . There have been no less than 4 different attempts to replace the Shuttle. That is a horrid record.

    To be honest, I feel safer and wiser that my hard earned money is going to NASA in developing these vehicles. When it is all said and done, no private commercial provider has put a man on the moon.

    Neither has NASA in the last 40 years. I seriously doubt there are that many people at NASA who were actively involved in putting people on the moon.

  • Coastal Ron

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Hey SLS Wasteful Spending Haters:

    You had a misspelling – I fixed it.

    You and other SLS supporters like to point to all the reasons why everybody else is wrong, but you avoid like the plague the reasons why the SLS is so right.

    The SLS is wasteful spending, in that there are no defined needs for it, and it was not born out of a defined and reproducible set of trade studies that explain why a government-built, government-run 130mt rocket is the best use of NASA’s money.

    All SLS supporters have been able to say in support of the SLS is that “someone said we’ll need it some day, so why not build it now“. Without a broad and deep level of need, it’s a waste of taxpayer money, that’s why.

    Majority of the public (myself included) and our government are not convinced that commercial providers can solely design, develop and safely operate a vehicle to ISS or any other destination.

    I’m sure you can point to national polls that back you up? I didn’t think so.

    To the contrary, the majority of the public has no confidence in the government to run an efficient and cost effective transportation system, but does trust the commercial aerospace industry to produce trustworthy vehicles.

    Private Companies cannot afford to develop complex launch vehicles for deep space exploration.

    We don’t need “complex” launch vehicles, we need “dependable and cost effective” launch vehicles. The Shuttle never made it out of the experimental vehicle category, and the SLS won’t either. There are no planned or funded programs that require anything more than what existing launchers can put into LEO today, so really the argument is academic – there is no need for a new HLV.

    Private Companies cannot invest billions or even millions of dollars into research and development when required for such spacecraft and launch vehicle designs and development.

    I guess all the $Millions that the aerospace industry has already put into launch vehicles, and the $Millions they’re spending on the next generation don’t count?

    You’re also under the false assumption that the debate is NASA vs the commercial aerospace industry. It’s not. Launching people into LEO is a known technique, and all that needs to happen is a transfer of knowledge from NASA to the industry in order for a redundant crew transportation industry to get established.

    Unless you would prefer depending on the Russians, or spending $1B/launch every time we need to rotate crew at the ISS? Neither would be supported by the public if you were to ask them. The only choice is commercial crew if we want to be able to afford transportation to LEO.

    When it is all said and done, no private commercial provider has put a man on the moon.

    Oh, the old “since they haven’t done it yet, they never will” justification. Look around you someday, and see how well that theory works here in reality.

    We only went to the Moon for political reasons, and the U.S. Taxpayer has not been clamoring to return, so don’t think there is a mandate to spend prodigious amounts of taxpayer money on things that don’t have a defined need.

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ September 19th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Trent’s title is wrong though. X-30 was not a crew transportation system nor was X-34 intended to be. X-30 will most likely never come to be: Too difficult, too expensive.

    I prefer this one though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbuQ7mAFeZQ&NR=1

  • Nemo

    Trace Gallager in that Fox video did get a couple things wrong. He called it the capsule orion not the MPCV

    Trace is correct. On May 24, 2011, NASA selected Orion as the basis for MPCV and all the official program documentation now reflects the Orion name again.

    CNN reports the MPCV name as ‘Orion’ as well. It’s media short hand- that’s all.

    No, it’s not “media shorthand”. “Orion MPCV” is now the official name of the project, just as “Orion CEV” was the official name prior to the cancellation of Constellation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MM_NASA wrote @ September 18th, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    .

    “To be honest, I feel safer and wiser that my hard earned money is going to NASA in developing these vehicles. When it is all said and done, no private commercial provider has put a man on the moon.

    LOL we will assume from now on that you are only being honest when you say “to be honest” and the rest of the time you are simply bsing.

    Go find out how many people in US spaceflight NASA bad decisions have killed versus how many people in US spaceflight NASA contractor bad decisions have killed (and contractors are not free enterprise in a NASA setting) and learn something…until then you are just a breeze blowing and we already have a “wind”.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rick Boozer wrote @ September 19th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    the video is pretty good RGO

  • @Dennis
    “I thought NASAs original mission was to beat Russia to the Moon? “
    No, NASA was born out of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, years before Kennedy announced the mission to beat Russia to the Moon. The founding charter for NASA lists what its main goals were to be. None of which was going to the moon.

    However, in the original 1958 charter it states among its primary objectives in Sec. 20112:
    “(4) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space; and

    (5) encourage and provide for Federal Government use of commercially provided space services and hardware, consistent with the requirements of the Federal Government. “

    But in order to beat NASA to the moon in the fastest way possible, after Kennedy declared the moon goal, it was decided to throw virtually unlimited amounts of money into that race and have NASA develop its own vehicles with commercial contractors, rather than have private commercial companies do their own incremental competive vehicle development via competition involving multiple candidate vehicles with NASA purchasing those. While this was the fastest way of reaching the moon, it was not a practical way to do it in an economical way that would allow us to keep going back to the moon indefinitely, because the Saturn/Apollo hardware was too expensive to build and operate in the long term with a more modest budget. Had an incremental commercial oriented paradigm been used instead, we might not have beaten the Russians to the moon, but once we got there we could have kept going back.

    Had the spirit of the founding charter of NASA been followed instead, we probably wouldn’t be having to rely on the Russians today because there would be more than one human transport commercial vehicle available to do the job. And (in that scenario) when we did get to the moon a few years after when Apollo did it, we wouldn’t have had to quit going back because of the impractical economics.

    Needless, to say, some key people did not learn that lesson from the moon space race; therefore, SLS is doomed to the same fate.

  • Sorry mistype in above comment:
    Instead of,
    “But in order to beat NASA to the moon in the fastest way possible…”
    Should be:
    “But in order to beat Russia to the moon in the fastest way possible…

  • Martijn Meijering

    We can’t be dependant on multiple commercial options so lets get rid of all of them and instead rely on a NASA only system.

    Yeah, silly. In addition USA, ATK and PWR are corporations too and the OP wasn’t too worried about that.

  • However, in the original 1958 charter it states among its primary objectives in Sec. 20112:

    “(4) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space; and

    That wasn’t in the original charter — it was added later with an amendment. But it’s definitely there now, and has been for years.

  • @common sense
    Well, the title was only wrong in regard those two vehicles. It was appropriate for the vast majority. That’s the reason why I refer to the vehicles mentioned in this video in my original post as “NASA space transport programs” rather than “crewed” vehicles, that covers crewed and uncrewed. But if we look at only the proposed crewed vehicles for orbit and beyond shown in that video, it makes the point that no such crewed vehicle has been successfully completed by NASA in the last 30 years. And as the saying goes, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” And “Those” in this case, are SLS huggers.

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ September 19th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Indeed the real history not only includes the immense successes of Apollo and dare I say Shuttle, despite all their flaws. But history also includes the repeated failures since then.

    It is fair to say though that, at least the most recent such as Constellation, are a failure of our Congress/WH and NASA together. Not NASA only. And I think that if some of the hidden requirements for NASA’s designs were more public then there might be a change. For CEV Phase 1 the contractors had to provide work to NASA mainly through SAAs if I remember correctly. On Phase 2 basically NASA had to find jobs for the contractors, the situation reversed. It seems difficult to find the right balance.

    Why is it that projects like Nautilus-X do not find any traction at most centers? Because they cannot work on it. They lack the expertise. And it is okay I guess. What is NOT okay is that our dear Congress will not invest in transforming the workforce at NASA to run such projects. Instead they go for the “easy” thing. SLS. MPCV. They go for Apollo repeats because it is all they understand. And they will you know… fail again.

  • Rick Boozer wrote:

    However, in the original 1958 charter it states among its primary objectives in Sec. 20112:

    As Rand noted, that’s not true. The amendment was introduced and passed by the Reagan administration in 1985. No one took it seriously until the Bush II administration introduced commercial cargo in 2005 and the Obama administration introduced commercial crew in 2010.

  • @Rand Simberg
    OK, mea culpa, but that still doesn’t change the validity of my point about the economic advantages of incremental development and sustainability. I know you are not saying it does, but I am pointing that out to anyone else reading this.

  • In related CCDev news:

    NASA today released the draft Request for Proposal (RFP) that will solicit the final designs for the CCDev vehicles.

    Click here for the NASA press release.

    Click here for the draft RFP documents.

    According to the press release, the Integrated Design Contracts (IDCs) will run from July 2012 through April 2014.

    One step closer to the next generation, boys and girls.

  • MM_NASA

    Hey you all SLS Haters:

    The statistics for public support of SLS can be seen at http://online.wsj.com/community/groups/question-day-229/topics/should-nasas-35-billion-plan?commentid=3050284

    Granted that these are only 4000 folks. If majority of Congress feels wary about commercial providers, it speaks volumes for our country.

    The SLS and MPCV will bring America back to Space Prominence.

  • Vladislaw

    ” The amendment was introduced and passed by the Reagan administration in 1985″

    Gosh, are you saying congress IGNORED the law for 20 years? So much for all the recent bluster about NASA foot dragging, and accusing Bolden or breaking the law, on what congress wanted.

    They are defending that congress is breaking the law.

  • E.P. Grondine

    To sum it all up, ATK strikes again.

    In other news, NASA can’t find the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
    That’s because it was either 2 comet fragments or 2 comets.

    And the impactor detection budget remains inadequate, though no one has the guts to say so because it would cost them their jobs.

    Meanwhile, the countdown clock ticks.

  • Dennis

    I think with the failure of one private company last year, Along with the failure of Blue Origins crash a short time back, Then the follow on anomalies revealed by SpaceX, during the Falcon Dragon flight, I think it prudent for our government to maintain its own space program. Until private can prove themselves, our government must aquire its own methods of reaching space, hands down.

  • Vladislaw

    Mark Bitterman, the ex Orbital lobbyist that worked for SpaceX for a couple months, just got hired by ULA for a VP position in Washington D.C.. Guess we know why he quit now, head hunters got em.

  • Frank Glover

    @ MM_NASA:

    “1. Majority of the public (myself included) and our government are not convinced that commercial providers can solely design, develop and safely operate a vehicle to ISS or any other destination.”

    (sigh) ‘The majority of the public’ doesn’t give a rat’s hind end about this. Most of them heard of SLS just the other day, and only know what they saw in that animation.. (As an all but the first few years of my life ‘space cadet’ before it was a term one wore proudly, I learned long ago that *most* people were not as interested in these things as I was Know what? It’s still true.)

    And who exactly is ‘our government?’

    NASA? It’s not ‘convinced’ of any such thing. It still wants Orion (not appropriate for LEO crew transfer, anyway), but SLS is not its idea, and does not welcome it.

    Congress? What you described is their excuse, not their actual motivation (and note that *most* people in either house of Congress isn’t giving a lot of thought to this debate, either)

    Other government agencies? It’s not even on their radar. (No, the DoD has no use for SLS, either. They also have nothing that big to launch. They’re quite happy with EELVs.)

    And, do you really think the Russians (Progress) and ESA (ATV, the Automated Transfer Vehicle) and JAXA (Kounotori 2, a.k.a. HTV-2) all have some secret mystical spell for carrying out space station re-supply, that only a government funded agency can cast, and that no non-government entity dares speak?

    And remember, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin want to ride Atlas V, a launcher that’s carried very expensive payloads to orbital ‘destinations’. very nicely, thank you. SpaceX is steadily getting better at same. The owners of those payloads might disagree with your assertion, as well…

    “3. Private Companies cannot invest billions or even millions of dollars into research and development when required for such spacecraft and launch vehicle designs and development…”

    I’m sure Boeing would be surprised to hear that, whenever they develop a major new commercial aircraft. They know how to spend big money, to take technological risks, to get big returns. But their aircraft divisions have to satisfy real customers, not specific senators and representatives.

    “…You all make it out as if designing and developing spacecraft/LV is like developing an automobile or an aircraft….”

    Nor is it *that* different.

    “..The environments are much more drastic and severe.”

    News flash: You are not the only one who knows that. It too, is no secret.

    “I realize that NASA has made it look easy, but it is hardly so.”

    And NASA’s mojo isn’t secret, either. Nor is it intended to be. This is from the NASA charter:

    “(c) Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

    Full text here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html

    Please remember that some of the CCDev companies *are also* NASA contractors. They know the magic rendezvous and docking words, too.

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “To the contrary, the majority of the public has no confidence in the government to run an efficient and cost effective transportation system, but does trust the commercial aerospace industry to produce trustworthy vehicles.

    We don’t need “complex” launch vehicles, we need “dependable and cost effective” launch vehicles. The Shuttle never made it out of the experimental vehicle category, and the SLS won’t either. There are no planned or funded programs that require anything more than what existing launchers can put into LEO today, so really the argument is academic – there is no need for a new HLV.

    I guess all the $Millions that the aerospace industry has already put into launch vehicles, and the $Millions they’re spending on the next generation don’t count?”

    Great points, I tried to make some of the same points on Dr. Spudis’s recent post on his blog. I think he got irrttated instead.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Had the spirit of the founding charter of NASA been followed instead, we probably wouldn’t be having to rely on the Russians today because there would be more than one human transport commercial vehicle available to do the job. And (in that scenario) when we did get to the moon a few years after when Apollo did it, we wouldn’t have had to quit going back because of the impractical economics.”

    Amen, if you had rockets that had other users besides NASA, then cost could be controled esp. a commercail one. The Saturn V had no other user and cost a fortune, it was an easy target. Delta IV on the other hand is used by the DOD and NASA unmanned. Atlas and Falcon 9 actually have non government users. These rockets can not be canceled by The President or Congress.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    I’ll say this much: The selection of OSC and SpaceX for CRS is a ultra high-risk strategy. It is either something that will ultimately be viewed as a gutsy seat-of-the-pants decision that changed spaceflight for the better forever or will be remembered an utter disaster that set back human spaceflight for decades.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    The SLS is wasteful spending, in that there are no defined needs for it, and it was not born out of a defined and reproducible set of trade studies that explain why a government-built, government-run 130mt rocket is the best use of NASA’s money.

    Last I checked, cheap medium lift and on-orbit assembly and refueling exist only in your hopes and dreams. But let’s set that aside. House and Senate are calling for $4.5 – 5 billion spending on science–commitments that have nothing to do with expanding access to space and don’t even have the decency to be jobs boondoggles. Where’s your outrage?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Last I checked, cheap medium lift and on-orbit assembly and refueling exist only in your hopes and dreams.

    Nope, on-orbit assembly and refueling have existed for decades. Cheap lift in the sense we mean it still doesn’t exist, but compared to SLS existing medium launchers are in fact cheaper. And they exist too, unlike SLS.

  • Ferris Valyln

    MM_NASA

    Let me get this straight – you are basing public support for a rocket on a non-scientific online poll?

    And how, pray tell, does the question of the WSJ online non-scientific poll tell us anything about “being wary of commercial providers”? It doesn’t ask about commercial providers – It says, “Should NASA’s $35 Billion plan for a new rocket to replace the space shuttle program be funded?”

    Prez Cannady

    Last I checked, cheap medium lift and on-orbit assembly and refueling exist only in your hopes and dreams.

    what is the ISS? Chopped liver? That was done via on-orbit assembly. And it is refuelable. In fact, refueling capabilities were fully demonstrated back in the 80s, with Salyut 6, if I remember correctly. True, its with storables, not cryogenics, but cryos aren’t that far off either

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi MM, pathfinder –

    Thanks for bringing up the charter. Griffin fought this clause, and instead spent $10,000,000,000.00 putting ATK in the medium heavy launch market:

    g) Warning and Mitigation of Potential Hazards of Near-Earth Objects.–Congress declares that the general welfare and security of the United States require that the unique competence of the Administration be directed to detecting, tracking, cataloguing, and characterizing near-Earth asteroids and comets in order to provide warning and mitigation of the potential hazard of such near-Earth objects to the Earth.

    The warning system still is not adequate. We’ve watched the results of the failures of warning systems in New Orleans and Japan.

    I really can’t hold Obama or Bolden responsible for the SLS. Its like when your team looses, you just admit you were beaten by a better team; team ATK in this case.

    Damn but that was a close game, though.

  • Das Boese

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Last I checked, cheap medium lift and on-orbit assembly and refueling exist only in your hopes and dreams.

    I don’t know if you noticed, but we have a 400,000kg space station that was assembled in orbit over the last decade or so and is regularly refueled. You know the one which replaces the other modular, refuelable space station we had to decommission after 15 years of use.
    Cheap medium lift is still getting started, but really, compared to SLS anything is cheap.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 7:00 am

    House and Senate are calling for $4.5 – 5 billion spending on science–commitments that have nothing to do with expanding access to space and don’t even have the decency to be jobs boondoggles. Where’s your outrage?

    The non-HSF side of NASA does have it’s own challenges (JWST being the biggest), but otherwise it seems to be working far better than the HSF side of NASA, and just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean I don’t support spending for science. I do.

    I focus on the part of NASA that is purportedly supporting Human SpaceFlight, which includes the current incarnation of the Big-Boys-Want-Big-Toys saga, the SLS. It’s my current “special project”. ;-)

  • Larson

    Dennis wrote @ September 19th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I think with the failure of one private company last year, Along with the failure of Blue Origins crash a short time back, Then the follow on anomalies revealed by SpaceX, during the Falcon Dragon flight, I think it prudent for our government to maintain its own space program. Until private can prove themselves, our government must aquire its own methods of reaching space, hands down.

    You realize that Blue Origins’s crash was completely unrelated to their commercial crew agreement with NASA? They were testing a suborbital launch vehicle as a separate project. They have still met all commercial crew objectives with their bi-conic orbital capsule (which will use the Atlas V initially). As for SpaceX, their anomoly, which had zero effect on mission success, occured on the second test flight of their vehicle. Come back when they have an accident that they say they’ve fixed that results in the loss of a mission. I don’t know what the “failure of one private company” is, so it’s hard to comment on that.

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I’ll say this much: The selection of OSC and SpaceX for CRS is a ultra high-risk strategy. It is either something that will ultimately be viewed as a gutsy seat-of-the-pants decision that changed spaceflight for the better forever or will be remembered an utter disaster that set back human spaceflight for decades.

    Why would the (unlikely) failure of both OSC and SpaceX to deliver cargo to the ISS set back human spaceflight decades? Sierra Nevada, Boeing, and Blue Origin still have their crew architectures that have nothing in common with the cargo delivery systems that NASA has chosen for the ISS. It does not seem logical to me to evaluate the competency of one commercial company based upon the performance of another.

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 5:15 am

    The selection of OSC and SpaceX for CRS is a ultra high-risk strategy.

    Why? They will be the number 4 & 5 cargo systems, and if they don’t work out we fall back on numbers 1, 2 & 3.

    Did you look at the choices NASA had to choose from in the COTS competition? Boeing and LM both offered up the ATV & HTV, only flown on their own rockets. That would not have resulted in a difference in cost or capability from what they already had.

    The SpaceX choice makes sense from both the cost and capability standpoint, in that their costs would be dramatically lower than the ATV & HTV, and they would get down-mass ability with the Dragon capsule. Even OSC would be providing a reduction in cost and provide a U.S. backup in case needed.

    Was there risk associated with going that direction? Sure, but the COTS milestone process provided quick feedback on whether the companies were meeting their goals, and that is why OSC was able to replace RpK. And the reward, which includes lower overall support costs and the creation of two more indigenous spacecraft companies, was well worth the risk.

    It is either something that will ultimately be viewed as a gutsy seat-of-the-pants decision that changed spaceflight for the better forever or will be remembered an utter disaster that set back human spaceflight for decades.

    I’m sure you’re meaning it could set back HSF “logistics”, and not HSF itself, since COTS/CRS is cargo only.

    Of course SpaceX has already retired most of their risk by flying their rocket twice and their capsule once. OSC has a more aggressive test schedule, but they are a larger and more experienced aerospace company, so while problems could come up with their Taurus II rocket or Cygnus capsule, they have deep enough pockets to address them.

    Out of curiosity, do you feel that relying on one NASA capsule (MPCV) and one NASA rocket (SLS) “will ultimately be viewed as a gutsy seat-of-the-pants decision that changed spaceflight for the better forever or will be remembered an utter disaster that set back human spaceflight for decades“?

    It seems that these types of debates seem to boil down to “Old Space” not trusting “New Space”, even though “New Space” promotes more than one provider for redundancy, whereas “Old Space” wants to rely on one system with no backup. Weird, huh?

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Failure with CRS would set back HSF because it would be quickly seized upon as a proof that ‘newspace’ isn’t up to the job and used to kill commercial human spaceflight.

    Additionally, I suspect that the International Partners will be unable to keep ISS fully operational without the extra margin that the CRS deliveries would provide, Ergo, a serious failure of CRS could lead to an early ISS retirement and the government pulling the plug on human spaceflight which, without ISS, would have no realistically-planned mission.

  • John Malkin

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I really can’t hold Obama or Bolden responsible for the SLS. Its like when your team looses, you just admit you were beaten by a better team; team ATK in this case.

    Damn but that was a close game, though.

    It felt like a slow motion sucker punch. They didn’t go for the knock out because CCDev is still funded and moving forward unlike any payloads for SLS other than the Orion MPCV.

  • John Malkin

    Is SLS going to be called Liberty V or Ares V? :o)

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ September 20th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Failure with CRS would set back HSF because it would be quickly seized upon as a proof that ‘newspace’ isn’t up to the job and used to kill commercial human spaceflight.

    Yes, yes, I know. If NASA kills someone then it’s just a sign of how hard it is to do spaceflight, but if commercial companies kill someone, it shows that they can’t be trusted. That narrative was made public a long time ago.

    Politics is politics, so it’s hard to forecast the outcome when (not if) something bad happens. SpaceX detractors always like to point out that SpaceX failed their first three times at launching a rocket, forgetting that they were part of a test program, not a customer paying one.

    But who knows, if NASA has a failure with the MPCV/SLS, maybe the hue and cry will be to change over commercial companies? That NASA will be recognized as not having the “right stuff” for rockets anymore, and that they should concentrate on exploration. Could happen.

  • John Malkin

    Is anything American built? We are the leaders?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14986217

  • vulture4

    In considering “government” vs “commercial” competence, it should be noted that for virtually the entire Shuttle program no NASA employees except the crew actually put their hands on the Shuttle. While there was NASA “oversight”, this was at the Powerpoint level. It was the USA techs and engineers who investigated the problems and found the solutions. It’s also hard to look at the Columbia and Challenger losses and find any consistent evidence that NASA personnel make better decisions than industry personnel, or that NASA procedures, despite being more cumbersome, ensure safety more effectively than procedures utilized by commercial organizations.

    Moreover, virtually everyone who has any practical experience working on reusable spacecraft has been laid off, probably permanently. This will adversely impact safety of the “government” program. Hopefully some will find employment with the new “commercial” spaceflight companies.

  • @Martijn:

    Nope, on-orbit assembly and refueling have existed for decades.

    Cheap on-orbit assembly and refueling.

    Cheap lift in the sense we mean it still doesn’t exist…

    Hence, hope and dreams.

  • @Ferris:

    what is the ISS? Chopped liver?

    Very expensive, extraordinarily useless chopped liver.

    @Boese:

    I don’t know if you noticed…

    Yeah, I did notice you missed the word “cheap.” In any case, on to the meat of the matter.

    @Coastal Ron:

    The non-HSF side of NASA does have it’s own challenges (JWST being the biggest), but otherwise it seems to be working far better than the HSF side of NASA, and just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean I don’t support spending for science. I do.

    So you’re just fine with spilling $4.5 – 5 billion into hunts for space algae and pretty pictures, but you’ll go to the mats where it concerns similar levels of funding for government funded lifters while harping over the perceived short shrifting of commercial crew and cargo.

  • @Ben Russell-Gough:

    I’ll say this much: The selection of OSC and SpaceX for CRS is a ultra high-risk strategy.

    The selection of any fundamentally new lifter–regardless of it’s so called heritage-ultr-is an ultra high-risk strategy by that reasoning. The only question is how much cash you expect to throw around putting your mind at ease. HEFT thinks it takes a billion or so a launch. SpaceX and OSC say you can get away with an order of magnitude or more less.

  • Vladislaw

    “Moreover, virtually everyone who has any practical experience working on reusable spacecraft has been laid off, probably permanently.”

    It is a stretch to call the Shuttle reusable. It was servicable. If every 747 had to have the engines taken off and stripped down to the bolts and totally rebuilt between each flight along with the fuselage having to be repaired with a new skin between each flight, while other planes are landing getting a maintence check refueled and turned around it would not be considered reusable and couldn’t compete.

  • Ferris Valyln

    Prez Cannady – it doesn’t have to cheap on-orbit assembly. It merely has to be cheaper than the alternative.

    And the evidence would suggest that it is cheaper than building a huge @$$ rocket, like SLS.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 8:15 am

    So you’re just fine with spilling $4.5 – 5 billion into hunts for space algae and pretty pictures, but you’ll go to the mats where it concerns similar levels of funding for government funded lifters while harping over the perceived short shrifting of commercial crew and cargo.

    NASA is only around 0.5% of the total U.S. Budget, and there are plenty of things throughout the entire U.S. budget that we could find that merit discussion. I limit myself to the HSF side of NASA’s budget.

    If you want to debate the ROI of the science side of NASA, or whatever, fine, but I won’t be joining you. Sorry.

  • vulture4

    Vladislaw wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 9:26 am
    It is a stretch to call the Shuttle reusable.

    I agree completely. Therefore the high cost of Shuttle operations does _not_ provide evidence that reusability is expensive. But despite thirty years of operational experience, NASA has made no attempt to determine why the Shuttle was more expensive to operate than anticipated, and how a new RLV could be more efficient.
    The Shuttle was our first attempt at an LV. We didn’t even have a flying prototype. It’s no wonder it had problems. But those problems were functions of this design, not of reusability itself. The economic arguments behind building the Shuttle, and replacing it now with a new RLV, are as solid as ever. There is no credible business case in which human spaceflight with ELVs will ever be anything more than a rare political stunt.

  • @Ferris:

    it doesn’t have to cheap on-orbit assembly. It merely has to be cheaper than the alternative.

    That’s the general idea.

    And the evidence would suggest that it is cheaper than building a huge @$$ rocket, like SLS.

    And what evidence would that be? What we have is reason to anticipate a deflating cost envelope in medium lift launches if flight rates go up. That does nothing to shed light on the risks for cost explosion in other space activities. If evidence to the contrary existed, why would SpaceX even consider evolving heavy and super-heavy configurations?

    Come to think of it, aren’t we still waiting on documentation from HEFT/HEAT’s three requirements teams?

  • @Coastal Ron:

    NASA is only around 0.5% of the total U.S. Budget, and there are plenty of things throughout the entire U.S. budget that we could find that merit discussion.

    Certainly, but as we both know there’s been a decades-long political ceiling to NASA’s adjusted annual funding. We can pretty much ignore the rest of the budget and focus narrowly on the agency’s priorities.

    I limit myself to the HSF side of NASA’s budget.

    If you want to debate the ROI of the science side of NASA, or whatever, fine, but I won’t be joining you. Sorry.

    Of course, because railing against the decades old jobs program that is US HSF is oh-so effective. Why bother with lower hanging fruit?

  • Ferris Valyln

    And what evidence would that be? What we have is reason to anticipate a deflating cost envelope in medium lift launches if flight rates go up. That does nothing to shed light on the risks for cost explosion in other space activities. If evidence to the contrary existed, why would SpaceX even consider evolving heavy and super-heavy configurations?

    Come to think of it, aren’t we still waiting on documentation from HEFT/HEAT’s three requirements teams?

    Don’t need to get to a deflating cost envelope. At $50-60 Billion to bring SLS to full flight operations, thats a pretty low bar to meet.

    Further, we don’t need to make a deep spacecraft that is as big or as complex as ISS – a 2-3 launch for the complete system , combined with a multi-launch for fuel (which, lets be blunt, is going to be relatively easy/cheap) is good enough, and will likely come in under the $60 B cap.

    And the benefit of developing a fuel depot is you are much more likely to get alternative users for that (assuming you plan it correctly) than you ever would for the Senate Launch System.

    Of course, if you demand a Super-HLV, then the appropriate direction to go is commercialize that, and plan for a multi-core systems, rather than an SDLV.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Why bother with lower hanging fruit?

    Who says it’s lower? ;-)

    My reason for focusing on HSF and not the science side is quite simple – this is a personal interest I have, not a job, so I only have limited time to apply to it, and HSF is of more interest to me.

    But please, don’t wait for me – go tilt at those windmills…

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    What we have is reason to anticipate a deflating cost envelope in medium lift launches if flight rates go up.

    We don’t necessarily have to see flight rates go up to see average costs go down. As SpaceX ramps up their flight rates, the average $/lb to orbit in the U.S. launch market will drop.

    And ULA is started to look into ways they can lower costs by looking at possible replacements for the RL-10, so who knows, maybe they will lower their prices too over time.

    What the U.S. market has been missing is competition, so now that we have it we’ll have to see if it makes a difference. However it’s a slow moving market, so I don’t expect any big reductions from ULA for quite a while. Nevertheless, the average $/lb will go down with SpaceX in the market.

  • @Ferris:

    Don’t need to get to a deflating cost envelope. At $50-60 Billion to bring SLS to full flight operations, thats a pretty low bar to meet.

    A low bar? Based on what, good vibes? Some back of the envelope trades on MMSEV? What?

    Further, we don’t need to make a deep spacecraft that is as big or as complex as ISS – a 2-3 launch for the complete system…combined with a multi-launch for fuel (which, lets be blunt, is going to be relatively easy/cheap) is good enough, and will likely come in under the $60 B cap.

    1. Yeah, that’ll really drive up flight rates.
    2. Where are you getting these numbers? Any concept for a deep space manned vehicle is very preliminary.
    3. Relatively cheap and easy, huh? I’m sure the folks promsing $75 million Shuttle launches thought the same thing.

    And the benefit of developing a fuel depot is you are much more likely to get alternative users for that (assuming you plan it correctly) than you ever would for the Senate Launch System.

    Yeah, I got the brochure. How do you launch a BA 2100 in pieces?

    Of course, if you demand a Super-HLV, then the appropriate direction to go is commercialize that, and plan for a multi-core systems, rather than an SDLV.

    Possibly. So how is it a post-Griffin NASA run by all the evil crony capitalists that keep Whittington up at night, we can’t even get a peak at the trial heats leading to HEAT’s selection of the a shuttle derived reference design?

  • @Coastal Ron:

    We don’t necessarily have to see flight rates go up to see average costs go down. As SpaceX ramps up their flight rates, the average $/lb to orbit in the U.S. launch market will drop.

    So…flight rates don’t have to increase in order to lower costs because as flight rates increase, they’ll lower costs?

    Tell me if I’m missing something.

    What the U.S. market has been missing is competition, so now that we have it we’ll have to see if it makes a difference.

    Which is besides the point. I’m not making a case against competition. If it so strikes you in the future, I’ll say right now I’m not making the case for an MSFC designed shuttle derived monstrosity. What I am is skeptical about this garbage regarding the demise of super heavy lift.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Who says it’s lower?

    The facts of life, as determined by how much skin Congress has in the game.

    My reason for focusing on HSFT and not the science side is quite simple – this is a personal interest I have, not a job, so I only have limited time to apply to it, and HSF is of more interest to me.

    Good. You want money to do what you want to do in HSFT. Are you really going to complain if it comes from the science side instead of SLS?

  • Ferris Valyln

    A low bar? Based on what, good vibes? Some back of the envelope trades on MMSEV? What?

    The documents printed by the Wall ST Journal citing $60 Billion for full operation of MPCV/SLS/21st century spaceport

    1. Yeah, that’ll really drive up flight rates.
    2. Where are you getting these numbers? Any concept for a deep space manned vehicle is very preliminary.
    3. Relatively cheap and easy, huh? I’m sure the folks promsing $75 million Shuttle launches thought the same thing.

    1. It doesn’t need to get up to super high flight rates. Just fully utilizing them is good enough
    2. We have 2 pieces that can put in place for a true deep space craft – Orion and Bigelow habs. And we have substantial experience with station, as a starting point
    3. NASA has more recent experience with in-space construction than it does with building big rockets. i’ll trust that

    Yeah, I got the brochure. How do you launch a BA 2100 in pieces?

    Lets start with the BA-330, and we’ll see if there is a need for the 2100.

    Possibly. So how is it a post-Griffin NASA run by all the evil crony capitalists that keep Whittington up at night, we can’t even get a peak at the trial heats leading to HEAT’s selection of the a shuttle derived reference design?

    A question I actually agree with. But when you have a Congress demanding “spend the money, spend the money, don’t worry about anything than spend the money”, I suspect its Congress who wants to ensure those things aren’t released.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Tell me if I’m missing something.

    Even if the market for U.S. launches doesn’t increase, as SpaceX takes away business from ULA the $/lb average goes down.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 6:26 am

    How do you launch a BA 2100 in pieces?

    Very carefully?

    Of course the BA 2100 is a fictional product, and so it would take a fictional launcher to get it to space. Unfortunately the Senate is funding a fictional launcher, but since it’s fictional it won’t ever get a chance to carry a fictional BA 2100.

    Why not just dock multiple BA 330′s?

    I think large internal volume space habits will be wonderful places to visit, but so far their utility hasn’t been standardized. I look forward to the day that they are, since they have lots of nice attributes, but we’re aways away from that point. Just like we’re aways away from needing an HLV that can carry a BA 2100.

  • @Ferris:

    The documents printed by the Wall ST Journal citing $60 Billion for full operation of MPCV/SLS/21st century spaceport.

    That gives you one fence post. where’s the other one?

    1. It doesn’t need to get up to super high flight rates. Just fully utilizing them is good enough

    There’s been 52 attempted launches world wide this year. There were 78 just two years ago. I doubt 2 to 3 extra launches are going to make a dent in price pound for pound.

    2. We have 2 pieces that can put in place for a true deep space craft – Orion and Bigelow habs.

    We don’t have either one of those assemblies, and no one has anything more than a dim idea of how to work them into anything more than what they are by themselves.

    And we have substantial experience with station, as a starting point.

    Your “substantial experience” involves bolting together a 100 billion boondoggle with 100 kW power plant and a nasty tendancy to shake under a few hundred pounds of thrust. Starting point, indeed.

    3. NASA has more recent experience with in-space construction than it does with building big rockets. i’ll trust that

    NASA has more recent experience with in-space plumbing, wiring, and legos. How that magically translates into experience in building deep spacecraft out of the commercial flavors of the week escapes me.

    Lets start with the BA-330, and we’ll see if there is a need for the 2100.

    Which is tantamount to admitting that we don’t know whether the Lincoln Log approach will obviate any need for a super heavy lifter.

    A question I actually agree with. But when you have a Congress demanding “spend the money, spend the money, don’t worry about anything than spend the money”, I suspect its Congress who wants to ensure those things aren’t released.

    A conspiracy theory with two glaring problems.

    1. Congress can’t do a damn thing to stop Bolden, Garver, or anyone else who can get their hands on it from releasing the report. Obviously someone got some of it to the Journal; and low and behold, the only portions we’ve seen are those critical of SLS.
    2. The supposed culprits went down the exact opposite path you proposed they should have gone.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Even if the market for U.S. launches doesn’t increase, as SpaceX takes away business from ULA the $/lb average goes down.

    If SpaceX enters a stagnant launch market, how does she plan to price to undercut ULA?

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Of course the BA 2100 is a fictional product…

    So is BA 330. And our deep space ship for that matter.

    …and so it would take a fictional launcher to get it to space.

    Or require some fictional orbital assembly arena to assemble it’s fictional pieces, along with its fictional power plant and fictional engine. Let’s not forget our fictional propellant depots and fictional taxis to transfer our fictional Lego blocks to libration.

    Unfortunately the Senate is funding a fictional launcher, but since it’s fictional it won’t ever get a chance to carry a fictional BA 2100.

    Who knows? Maybe your fictional Falcon 9 Heavy won’t ever get a chance to carry your fictional BA 330.

    Why not just dock multiple BA 330′s?

    If we’re contemplating fictional architectures, you’ve got a point. If not, then the answer is “who knows?” Certainly not Musk and Bigelow, who keep paying the salaries of people still mulling over super heavies and their payloads.

    I think large internal volume space habits will be wonderful places to visit, but so far their utility hasn’t been standardized.

    The utility of a space habitat of any size hasn’t been standardized. More to the point, it remains to be seen whether super heavy can be thoroughly obviated by some clever way around a 25 mT, 5 meter fairing constraint on payload.

    I look forward to the day that they are, since they have lots of nice attributes, but we’re aways away from that point. Just like we’re aways away from needing an HLV that can carry a BA 2100.

    Give me a break. Regardless of what happens with SLS, commercial cargo kicks off next year and crew two to three years afterwards. That’s besides the point. The “need” to put men on rockets is wholly contingent on the pound of flesh you can carve out of space, and whatever that is it’s not to be found dumping a $100 billion into an LEO Space Camp and flying the privileged few to play on it. Right or wrong, SD HLV is post-Griffin NASA’s solution to the problem of how to to make manned space flight pay.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    If SpaceX enters a stagnant launch market, how does she plan to price to undercut ULA?

    ULA is an established company that was built, as far as I can see, on the assumption that LM and Boeing were going to concentrate on the U.S. Government business almost exclusively, and not try to compete on the world market for commercial business. Because of that, they built DoD grade products and facilities. Dependable, but not inexpensive.

    SpaceX, a much younger company, was built to provide low cost access to space, and used a number of techniques (both low and high tech) to build a family of products that address the vast middle market of customers needs while keeping costs low.

    As far as pricing, SpaceX publishes their prices on their website, and the current pricing for the Falcon 9 is $54-59.5M, and the Falcon Heavy is $80-125M.

    ULA pricing is not public, and so I have to resort to guessing. My guess on Atlas V is somewhere starting at $100M, and for Delta IV Heavy it’s $450M (this per Paul Spudis, who said he had inside knowledge). However government funding from various agencies makes any number hard to pin down, but I found this NASA website to help shed some light:

    http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/nexgen/EELV_main.htm

    There is also this Space News article:

    http://spacenews.com/military/110114-eelv-program-costs-skyrocket.html

    That article pins the cost of an Atlas V 401, which is close in performance to the Falcon 9, at $187M for NASA, so maybe my assumptions are far too low?

    So the Falcon 9 is somewhere between $40-120M less expensive than the Atlas V, and the Falcon Heavy is 1/3 the price while more than equaling it’s capacity.

    And while SpaceX is able to attract business from outside the U.S., ULA is not priced to do so, so SpaceX could slowly acquire some of ULA’s U.S. customers while adding more foreign customers to solidify their already low pricing. And of course I haven’t even factored in the “disruptive technology” effect that would increase business beyond what ULA can generate.

    It’s a tough situation for ULA, but I hope they figure out how to lower prices and stay competitive since I don’t like monopolies, even if they are perceived as benevolent.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    ULA is…..

    Not sure what this has to do with anything.

    LM and Boeing were going to concentrate on the U.S. Government business almost exclusively, and not try to compete on the world market for commercial business.

    And certainly not sure where you got that idea. According to EELV program mission statement: ” “Partner with industry to develop a national launch capability that satisfies both government and commercial payload requirements and reduces the cost of space launch by at least 25 percent.”.

    As far as pricing, SpaceX publishes their prices on their website, and the current pricing for the Falcon 9 is $54-59.5M, and the Falcon Heavy is $80-125M.

    So how do you get $1.6 billion for 12 flights?

    ULA pricing is not public…

    Probably because ULA pricing is not static.

    That article pins the cost of an Atlas V 401, which is close in performance to the Falcon 9, at $187M for NASA, so maybe my assumptions are far too low?

    And yet NASA’s paid out as little as $124 million (2007 dollars) for a 401 launch. Perhaps your estimates for “fixed cost” launches are too…well…fixed.

    And while SpaceX is able to attract business from outside the U.S., ULA is not priced to do so, so SpaceX could slowly acquire some of ULA’s U.S. customers while adding more foreign customers to solidify their already low pricing.

    Arianespace pricing is even more difficult to pin down over different configurations, though Astronautix pegs what I can only guess to be an average at $138 million. And that’s leaving out the launch and a half worth of subsidy subsidy ESA gifts to them year after year.

    And of course I haven’t even factored in the “disruptive technology” effect that would increase business beyond what ULA can generate.

    What disruptive technology effect?

    It’s a tough situation for ULA, but I hope they figure out how to lower prices and stay competitive since I don’t like monopolies, even if they are perceived as benevolent.

    You’ll forgive me if I take your back of the envelope predictions on the state of the commercial market with a grain of salt.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 23rd, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Not sure what this [ULA] has to do with anything.

    Because you had said “If SpaceX enters a stagnant launch market, how does she plan to price to undercut ULA?”, and so I was talking about ULA.

    According to EELV program mission statement:

    There’s what companies say, and then there is what companies do. I look at what they do, and that points to them focusing on the U.S. Government and not trying to be competitive outside the U.S.

    So how do you get $1.6 billion for 12 flights?

    I haven’t stated that number on this forum thread, so what are YOU talking about?

    However if you are talking about the SpaceX CRS contract for delivering cargo to the ISS ($1.6B for 12 deliveries) then that is quite different than a launch only service. I thought we were comparing apples to apples?

    Probably because ULA pricing is not static.

    Obviously, and one of the chief complaints about them.

    And yet NASA’s paid out as little as $124 million (2007 dollars) for a 401 launch. Perhaps your estimates for “fixed cost” launches are too…well…fixed.

    Again, we’re talking about ULA, and we already know that they don’t have fixed pricing, so why does this surprise you? I had also stated that my baseline estimates for an Atlas 401 were around $100M, and that there was a lack of transparency in how their pricing was arrived at. Companies like predictability, and ULA does not seem to provide that for commercial clients, much less government ones.

    What disruptive technology effect?

    Look it up. Wikipedia has a good definition. It’s what SpaceX is doing.

    You’ll forgive me if I take your back of the envelope predictions on the state of the commercial market with a grain of salt.

    Add some pepper too if you want. I have stated my guesses and opinion where the facts were not present, and stated them as such, so I don’t care what you do with them.

  • Vladislaw

    “So how do you get $1.6 billion for 12 flights?”

    NASA wants a new dragon for each flight. That is how you get the higher price.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Because you had said “If SpaceX enters a stagnant launch market, how does she plan to price to undercut ULA?”, and so I was talking about ULA.

    You might as well have been talking about ULA’s dental plan, since I’m still not sure what any of this has to do with SpaceX undercutting ULA pricing.

    There’s what companies say, and then there is what companies do. I look at what they do, and that points to them focusing on the U.S. Government and not trying to be competitive outside the U.S.

    And ULA launches commercial birds. Perhaps not nearly as much as say Ariane 5, but then again Ariane 5 has a five year head start into the market and just under twice as many launches as both ULA platforms combined. You could easily say that it’s just taking some time for ULA to build market share.

    I haven’t stated that number on this forum thread, so what are YOU talking about?

    You apparently know exactly what I’m talking about.

    However if you are talking about the SpaceX CRS contract for delivering cargo to the ISS ($1.6B for 12 deliveries) then that is quite different than a launch only service. I thought we were comparing apples to apples?

    Really? I thought the point was we were looking for a launch only service provider.

    Obviously, and one of the chief complaints about them.

    And yet it’s apples and oranges when SpaceX does the same?

    Again, we’re talking about ULA, and we already know that they don’t have fixed pricing, so why does this surprise you? I had also stated that my baseline estimates for an Atlas 401 were around $100M, and that there was a lack of transparency in how their pricing was arrived at. Companies like predictability, and ULA does not seem to provide that for commercial clients, much less government ones.

    And what evidence is there that we’ll see such predictability moving forward?

    Look it up. Wikipedia has a good definition.

    I asked “what disruptive effect,” not “what is a disruptive effect.”

    It’s what SpaceX is doing.

    How so? Zenit-2 lifts almost 3 tons more than Falcon 9 and costs less per launch than even SpaceX is quoting despite only 31 successful launches since 1985. Didn’t really shake things up.

  • @Vladislaw:

    NASA wants a new dragon for each flight.

    First I’ve ever heard of that being a requirement in the IDIQ…

    That is how you get the higher price.

    …or that undemonstrated reusability of Dragon figured into SpaceX pricing.

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