Congress, NASA

Rohrabacher calls for release of NASA depot study

Skeptical about NASA’s plans—mandated by last year’s authorization act—to develop the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is demanding to find out details about alternative architectures that use smaller rockets coupled with propellant depots. In a press release this week, Rohrabacher is calling on NASA to release a study about propellant depots that he said NASA administrator Charles Bolden promised in July to provide, but has yet to do so. The agency, Rohrabacher noted, has played up the potential of depots in the past, “then the depots dropped out of the conversation, and NASA has yet to provide any supporting documents explaining the change.”

Advocates of propellant depot architectures argue that using them, in combination with existing launch vehicles, could obviate the need for a heavy-lift vehicle like the SLS. “The promise and potential of on-orbit fuel depots is the ability to use our existing fleet of launch vehicles, including Delta IV, Atlas V, Falcon 9, Taurus II, and Liberty, to enable deep space missions,” Rohrabacher said in his statement. “Using this system instead of a huge ‘monster’ rocket would increase flight rates, bringing greater efficiency into operations, increasing flight experience and providing data leading to greater reliability; and would increase the market potential for the commercial systems we will use for crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station.”

This is not the first time Rohrabacher has pushed for the release of this NASA depot study. Earlier this month, as Space News reported, Rohrabacher wrote a letter to Bolden asking him for the study that the administrator had promised back in July. Bolden at the time had said that the study indicated that depot architectures were more expensive than the SLS approach, but Rohrabacher pressed him for details. “A wrong decision now could commit this nation to wasting tens-of-billons-of-dollars of taxpayer dollars,” Rohrabacher wrote. “My concern is that committing the nation to building a super-heavy-lift system is the wrong decision.” The article about the letter, though, came out around the same time as the SLS decision was announced, and hence got limited attention at best.

In this week’s statement, Rohrabacher tries a very different tack: seeking to enlist the support of former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. That seems at first an odd choice, since Griffin has been skeptical at best about the efficacy of propellant depots, such as in his testimony before the House Science Committee last week. Rohrabacher argues that if Griffin thinks depots aren’t the best approach, he would suport the release of a report that supports that. “Due to your continuing interest in this topic, as well as your strong belief in the importance of accountability and transparency in human space exploration, which you reiterated in [last week's] testimony, I ask that you join me in calling for NASA to make public the analysis and conclusions performed as part of the Human Exploration Framework Team activities,” Rohrabacher wrote in a letter to Griffin included in the press release.

188 comments to Rohrabacher calls for release of NASA depot study

  • Egad

    Not bad. Rohrabacker’s arguments at least have an identifiable logic to them and the Griffin part is a nice bit of jiu-jitsu.

    Is it known what staffers or other people help him write on space matters?

  • Tony DeTora is Mr. Rohrabacher’s legislative assistant on Science and Technology issues. Tony has a long history in the grass roots pro-space movement, as well as an MBA and aerospace engineering degrees from Embry Riddle.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    We don’t need Griffin’s word that depots are not a viable option. The Augustine Committee did not think they were a good idea,

  • Scott Bass

    Ok…. So explain to me why Bolden would say depots were more expensive than sls if they did not want sls built?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    “We don’t need Griffin’s word that depots are not a viable option. The Augustine Committee did not think they were a good idea,”

    Whittington continues his march to a supporter of big government programs…now he is tied to the recommendations of a committee …Sir Humphrey would be proud.

    What happen to you Mark? Are you just filled so much with Obama hate that you cannot think for yourself anymore RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Egad –

    From what I’ve seen, he pretty much does it himself.

    Anyone he talks with he pretty much keeps to himself, and thus keeps them well hidden from the lobbyists.

    I can add that Rep. Rohrabacher talks with his colleagues in the House and Senate, so any issue he raises usually reflects their thinking as well.

    Rep Rohrabacher has pretty much gotten to the heart of the matter: the US will have 4 medium heavy launch providers, and will be competing against China, which will have one modular system capable of being adjusted to exactly match payload size.

    His use of the fuel depot-modularization question to raise this problem is a very intelligent move, and surely has come as a surprise to many, including myself.

    There is no question but that increasing the flight rates of those medium heavies will reduce their cost per launch and improve their quality.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Here is the thing…

    if we cannot master the technology of viable fuel depots, we cannot explore deep space.

    that is not accurate about a “monster” rocket…

    Robert G. Oler

  • The Augustine Committee did not think they were a good idea

    This is utter unsupportable nonsense. Why do you think that you can just make things up and get away with it?

    Non-loons can read pages 64-66 of the report. Nowhere in there does it say that propellant depots are “not a good idea.” In fact, they say:

    “In the conventional scheme, the EDS burns some of its fuel on the way to orbit, and it arrives in low-Earth orbit partially full. The remainder of the fuel is expended in injecting the payload toward its destination beyond low-Earth
    orbit. The alternative is to refuel the EDS in low-Earth orbit from either a dedicated tanker or a fuel depot. This allows more mass to be injected from the Earth with a given EDS. Studies commissioned by the Committee found that in-space refueling could increase by at least two to three times the injection capability from low-Earth orbit of a launcher system, and in some cases more.

    Thus, an in-space refueling capability would make larger super-heavy lift vehicles even more capable, and would enable smaller ones to inject from low-Earth orbit a mass comparable to what larger launchers can do without inspace refueling. (See Figure 5.2.1-1.) In fact, the larger elements launched to low-Earth orbit tend to be propulsion stages, and these are usually about 80 percent fuel by mass. If there were the capability to fuel propulsion stages in space, the single-largest mass launched would be considerably less than in the absence of in-space refueling. The mass that must be launched to low-Earth orbit in the current NASA plan, without its fuel on board, is in the range of 25 to 40 mt, setting a notional lower limit on the size of the super heavy-lift launch vehicle if refueling is available.

    As an additional benefit of in-space refueling, the potential government-guaranteed market for fuel in low-Earth orbit would create a stimulus to the commercial launch industry beyond the current ISS commercial cargo-services market.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Their only criticism of the concept is that it requires further development and demonstration before being included in the baseline. Which is an argument to do such development and demonstration (which could be done much faster, and much more cheaply, than developing a heavy lifter), not to ignore them. But then, reading comprehension has never been Mark’s strong suit.

  • Rhyolite

    “Using this system instead of a huge ‘monster’ rocket would increase flight rates, bringing greater efficiency into operations, increasing flight experience and providing data leading to greater reliability; and would increase the market potential for the commercial systems we will use for crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station.”

    Absolutely. What we need to get to is higher flight rates, higher efficiencies and lower costs.

    SLS is the opposite of what we should be doing. Cancel it now.

  • Al Fansome

    WHITTINGTON: We don’t need Griffin’s word that depots are not a viable option. The Augustine Committee did not think they were a good idea,.

    How can you write this stuff, and look yourself in the mirror?

    Here is what the Augustine Committee actually said:

    5.2.1 The Need for Heavy Lift

    First, the Committee examined the question: do we need a heavy-lift capability? While it is obvious that the ability to inject massive spacecraft away from low-Earth orbit is vital for exploration, there is some question as to the smallest practical size of the launcher that will be used to carry cargo to low-Earth orbit. The Committee reviewed the issue of whether exploration beyond low-Earth orbit will require a “super heavy-lift” launch vehicle (i.e., larger than the current “heavy” EELVs, comparable to what larger launchers can do without inspace refueling. (See Figure 5.2.1-1.) In fact, the larger elements launched to low-Earth orbit tend to be propulsion stages, and these are usually about 80 percent fuel by mass. If there were the capability to fuel propulsion stages in space, the single-largest mass launched would be considerably less than in the absence of in-space refueling. The mass that must be launched to low-Earth orbit in the current NASA plan, without its fuel on board, is in the range of 25 to 40 mt, setting a notional lower limit on the size of the super heavy-lift launch vehicle if refueling is available.

    No one knows for certain the mass or dimensions of the largest piece of hardware that will be required for future exploration missions. It will likely be larger than 25 metric tons (mt) in mass, and may be larger than the approximately five-meterdiameter fairing of the largest current launchers. The largest single element in the current NASA plans that will be launched to low-Earth orbit is the Earth Departure Stage (EDS). Not counting its approximately 60 mt of payload, the EDS arrives in low-Earth orbit on a standard lunar mission with a mass of about 119 mt, of which about 94 mt is fuel, and only 25 mt is dry mass. In the absence of in-space refueling, the U.S. human spaceflight program will require a heavy-lift launcher of significantly greater than 25 mt capability to launch the EDS and its fuel.

    However the picture changes significantly if in-space refueling is used. All of the heavy-lift vehicles listed in Figure 5.2- 2 use an EDS to lift the specified payload mass to low-Earth orbit. In the conventional scheme, the EDS burns some of its fuel on the way to orbit, and it arrives in low-Earth orbit partially full. The remainder of the fuel is expended in in jecting the payload toward its destination beyond low-Earth orbit. The alternative is to refuel the EDS in low-Earth orbit from either a dedicated tanker or a fuel depot. This allows more mass to be injected from the Earth with a given EDS. Studies commissioned by the Committee found that in-space refueling could increase by at least two to three times the in jection capability from low-Earth orbit of a launcher system, and in some cases more.

    Thus, an in-space refueling capability would make larger super-heavy lift vehicles even more capable, and would enable smaller ones to inject from low-Earth orbit a mass launchers can do without inspace refueling. (See Figure 5.2.1-1.) In fact, the larger elements launched to low-Earth orbit tend to be propulsion stages, and these are usually about 80 percent fuel by mass. If there were the capability to fuel propulsion stages in space, the single-largest mass launched would be considerably less than in the absence of in-space refueling. The mass that must be launched to low-Earth orbit in the current NASA plan, without its fuel on board, is in the range of 25 to 40 mt, setting a notional lower limit on the size of the super heavy-lift launch vehicle if refueling is available.

    As an additional benefit of in-space refueling, the potential government-guaranteed market for fuel in low-Earth orbit would create a stimulus to the commercial launch industry beyond the current ISS commercial cargo-services market. The Committee examined the current concepts for inspace refueling. There are essentially two. In the simpler one, a single tanker performs a rendezvous and docking with the EDS on orbit, transfers fuel and separates, much like an airborne tanker refuels an aircraft. In a more evolved concept, many tankers rendezvous and transfer fuel to an in-space depot. (See Figure 5.2.1-2.) Then at a later time, the EDS docks with the depot, fuels, and departs Earth orbit. The Committee found both of these concepts feasible with current technology, but in need of significant further engineering development and in-space demonstration before they could be included in a base line design. This would require engineering effort, and at some development investment, long-term life-cycle savings may be obtained.”

    FWIW,
    – Al

  • Das Boese

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    if we cannot master the technology of viable fuel depots, we cannot explore deep space.

    Well, we can actually, it’s just that this kind of “exploration” isn’t worth a damn, i.e. one-off “flags and footprints” missions instead of a steady and sustainable push into the solar system.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    making it up as you go? wow Rand kind of demolished your argument RGO

  • Peter Lykke

    Allow me to point to Rand’s brilliant “A space program for the rest of us” on The new Atlantis, 2009 (find it via Google). I think that brings the best arguments for space gas tanks available and as far as I can tell the arguments still holds.

    Rand, have we grown wiser since then?

  • MrEarl

    This argument has been what has kept the US from moving forward for the past 6 years! Each solution has it’s pros and cons and the supporters of each go about trying to destroy the side in a schorched earth frenzy.

    The argument was setteled a year ago. Commercial for LEO cargo and crew, heavy lift for BEO. Fighting this battel AGAIN! will not get us closer to the goal that most of us have and that is the expansion of the human exploration of space. The killing of SLS will not mean more money on the commercial side or a change in direction for BEO exploration.
    The best that can be done now is to make sure that SLS is kept on time and on budget so ther is no reason to take monies from other projects. The best way that can be done is by bidding the SLS at a fixed price not Cost Plus. There’s nothing revoultionary with SLS or Orion. They could be easly bid at as fixed price per vehical.
    It’s past time to move on from this stalling and bickering to get ourselves moving again!

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Rand Simberg

    Thanks Rand. I was afraid I was going to have to go scrounging for that quote using only the internet on my phone. This isn’t the first time someone has flat out lied about what Augustine panel said on the subject on this blog, probably won’t be the last.

    A fuel depot is exactly the kind of “foothold” program I was advocating for yesterday. NASA builds a fuel depot to advance it’s own capabilities, commercial then is paid to supply it. NASA can then use the fuel itself, or sell it back to commercial for their own activities until private fuel depots are in place, which I imagine won’t take long if it is as effective as hoped.

    @Scott Bass
    I was asking the same thing on twitter and hobbyspacer last night. What’s he hiding in that report? Does it help the business case for SLS? Does it hurt the case for depots so much that he’d rather wait for another future study? Is it even reasonable to consider a fuel depot before we’ve cleaned up all that dangerous space debris? Does the report even qualify as a report? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Rand, have we grown wiser since then?

    Some of us have, but not the porkers in Congress who insist on the crony capitalism of Shuttlyndra.

  • The killing of SLS will not mean more money on the commercial side or a change in direction for BEO exploration.

    That’s an ignorant assertion, not a fact. And even if it were true, at least we’d stop wasting money on a rocket that will never fly, or if it does, cost billions per launch for little value.

  • Mark,

    You really did step in it. Beyond what Rand laid out, Augustine said at least two OTHER things re depots:

    1) every single option (except continuing Constellation) provided for a huge increase in space technology, and the TOP technology they suggested for pursuit was cryogenic propellant storage & transfer

    2) of all of the options, ONLY the smaller, semi-commercial kerolox heavy lift path fell WELL UNDER the normalizing budget runout, whereas the shuttle derived options had to be squeezed to fit under it. pretty much exactly like SLS + MPCV have had to be squeeze to fit (in only the near term) under the budget. the Administration understood this and picked that option.

    – Jim

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    “The killing of SLS will not mean more money on the commercial side or a change in direction for BEO exploration.”

    LOL. This position is farcical. What SLS would do if it were to continue and it wont…is absorb all the money that is there for anything.

    In the late 70′s and 80′s “the deal” that was struck between the shuttle folks and every other NASA program was “we will take all the money to develop shuttle but once we do…you get free launches for your projects”.

    in the process money stopped for everything 1 million dollars was the cost of maintaining the Apollo ALSEPs and that died committed to shuttle, same for the Viking Landers, ..

    then of course the darn thing was so expensive, so poorly performing as a “first stage” …and no real upper stage was ever developed…that very few payloads went onto it;

    the same thing happened with station.

    SLS would if it continues consume more and more money and in the end will be so darn expensive…no one will use it; as someone said about Ares 5…if we got it for free we couldnt afford to fly it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Rand, Oler:
    Read and comprehend my full post. You own ignorance and farcical positions are on full display.

  • amightywind

    Advocates of propellant depot architectures argue that using them, in combination with existing launch vehicles, could obviate the need for a heavy-lift vehicle like the SLS.

    They argue, but no more convincingly than the yahoos on this site. Rohrbacher is just providing the political services that Elon Musk paid him for. And of course the editor is happy to amplify the remarks when few others will.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Well, we can actually, it’s just that this kind of “exploration” isn’t worth a damn, i.e. one-off “flags and footprints” missions instead of a steady and sustainable push into the solar system.

    That isn’t true, we can do something like Huntress’ incremental exploration proposal with just a refuelable spacecraft and existing EELV upper stages. The plan is much better than Augustine’s Flexible Path and technologically simpler since you would need only one way transfer and noncryogenic propellant to get started.

    It could also create a sustainable market for propellant in orbit almost immediately, which would allow us to develop a mature space transportation infrastructure through demand-pull, or as Elon Musk put it the other day, by supplying a forcing function. The infrastructure could end up something like the one that was considered by the OASIS team or it could be even more advanced, and better still – unlike OASIS – it would be completely privately owned, competitive and redundant.

    The next steps in exploring Deep Space
    Orbital Aggregation & Space Infrastructure Systems (OASIS) – Executive Summary

    It’s absolutely untrue that we have to go with HLVs if we can’t develop or afford cryogenic depots. There may be reasons for letting exploration wait for cryogenic depots (but if so I haven’t seen convincing ones), but that must never become an excuse for doing an HLV. I realise that’s not what you’re suggesting, but it is what people like Griffin are saying and we must not play into their hands.

  • Dennis

    Isnt the up and coming plan for a cmmercial Soyuz launch round the Moon evidence of utilizing smaller craft with kicker stages? I do suspect that even with a proper size kicker stage and restartable engine, Soyuz could be lowered into Lunar Orbit as well! I have for years wondered why theSoviets havent done this! Just perhaps on a longer Mars mission depots would be of benefit. I dont really see their use for Lunar missions, where even small kicker stages can launch a craft toward the Moon.

  • Matt Wiser

    Almightywind:

    Agree completely. Even if the nearby Space X facility in Hawthorne isn’t in his District, there’s probably employees there who do. That’s probably his one of his reasons, though not the main one. Said it before, and I’ll repeat: if he was chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, he’d be in a better position to advocate his position. He didn’t get it, and has to push this from an inferior position.

    Mr. Earl:

    Concur: the argument was settled when the 2010 Authorization Act was passed-with bipartisan support. Stop whining, folks, and as America’s favorite drill sergeant, R. Lee Ermey likes to say, “Get with the Program!”
    Start getting components built, tested and flown.

    Propellant depot and SLS: win-win. The commercial space zealots here get their boost to the commercial industry, while a refuelable HLV means more and bigger stuff can be sent into LEO and beyond.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Das Boese wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    ..

    “Well, we can actually, it’s just that this kind of “exploration” isn’t worth a damn, i.e. one-off “flags and footprints” missions instead of a steady and sustainable push into the solar system.”

    yes of course. But it is the kind of exploration that internally NASA likes best…stay close to your desk and never go to sea RGO

  • Aremis Asling

    “Propellant depot and SLS: win-win. The commercial space zealots here get their boost to the commercial industry, while a refuelable HLV means more and bigger stuff can be sent into LEO and beyond.”

    I’d have to dust off my copy of the 2010 Authroization Act, but I don’t think all of that is in there. We can’t actually afford a refuelable HLV, fuel depots, and full up commercial for LEO. And that Act was signed when we didn’t know what SLS was going to cost. And regardless of their vociferous insistance otherwise, congress can’t legislate physics. Their rooster strut “It’s the law” garbage may as well have been directed at mother nature herself. For BEO, we can’t do Super Heavy (130t) and fuel depots for the money the scrooges in congress are willing to part with for NASA. It’s an either or proposition.

  • Propellant depot and SLS: win-win.

    If SLS continues, there will be no money for propellant depots, or for the payloads and hardware required for actual human spaceflight beyond earth orbit.

    But at least you’ll get to watch a really big rocket fly once every couple years, at a cost of billions.

  • josh

    seems like mark and windy really don’t want to see that study. kind of like the clergymen in galileo’s time refusing to look through his telescope…

  • We can’t actually afford a refuelable HLV, fuel depots, and full up commercial for LEO.

    No one is even talking about a “refuelable” HLV. Certainly SLS wouldn’t be. That doesn’t even make sense. Clearly (and completely unsurprisingly), Matt doesn’t even understand what we’re talking about.

  • Byeman

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    “Agree completely. Even if the nearby Space X facility in Hawthorne isn’t in his District, there’s probably employees there who do. That’s probably his one of his reasons, though not the main one”

    Another clueless and idiotic post. Good way to discredit yourself by agreeing with windy. How difficult is it to see that Rohrabacher’s district covers Boeing’s facilities in Seal and Huntington Beach. Boeing is a big depot advocate. Boeing is old space, but the anti nuspacer’s and HLV pumpers can’t see that, it doesn’t fit into their skewed and biased view of the world.

  • Peter Lykke

    About the wise men of 2009:
    I asked whether we had learned something since then – because I know I have.

    Back then I thought that space could, should and would be under some kind of NASA umbrella. NASA, with its magic wand would lead, and others might follow.

    Now, after two years plus of endless discussions I have come to the conclusion that NASA itself is the biggest obstacle against any progress in exploration. So when SLS falls, and SLS will fall, I hope that all the SLS money will disappear from the budget.

    That way the future NASA may be small enough to pass under the pork radar of Congress and all the arguing can finally come to an end.

  • amightywind

    seems like mark and windy really don’t want to see that study. kind of like the clergymen in galileo’s time refusing to look through his telescope…

    I’d like to see any study. The materials I have seen before from Boeing based on Delta are singularly unimpressive. It was a bad idea 6 years ago. It hasn’t gotten better with age. Rohrabacher flogging old material.

  • Byeman

    “It was a bad idea 6 years ago. It hasn’t gotten better with age.”

    Perfect words to describe any SDLV.

  • Boeing is a big depot advocate.

    Actually, Boeing is a very careful depot advocate. They never, ever claim that depots eliminate the need for HLVs, even though they do, both because they recognize it as politically incorrect with their customer, and because if there is going to be an HLV, they want to get a piece of it, and hopefully a big one.

    For instance, in the exhibit area of the AIAA conference in Long Beach yesterday, the Boeing display said “Space Launch System: Affordable Heavy Lift.” I took a picture of it that I’ll probably put up on my blog later, and everyone was laughing at it, but we knew they had to say some kind of nonsense like that.

    Similarly, Dallas Bienhoff gave a presentation demonstrating how much more payload one could put on the lunar surface, and how propellant depots were the only way to get full advantage of lunar propellant, and how the biggest piece of the architecture was only a dozen tonnes (the lander). And yet in his conclusion chart on the benefits, he didn’t mention the biggest one — the tens of billions in savings from not developing the heavy lifter. It wasn’t because he’s not aware of it…

  • Martijn Meijering

    If SLS continues, there will be no money for propellant depots, or for the payloads and hardware required for actual human spaceflight beyond earth orbit.

    Or even for launching just propellant. It would be a win for the Shuttle mafia and a loss for everybody else. As always the SLS crowd is trying to trick people into supporting their pet launcher or to shut down debate.

  • MrEarl

    The more I read the posts on here it just proves that it’s much more important to be “right” than to expand Human Space Exploration.
    I pitty you all.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It wasn’t because he’s not aware of it…

    I think the same is true for Huntress. He does say his architecture makes NTR unnecessary, but doesn’t say anything about HLVs even though he must have realised it makes them unnecessary too.

  • amightywind

    Inevitably, like the pull of a blackhole, all discussions on this forum degenerate into a food fight about fuel depots. I pronounce this thread concluded.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    This argument has been what has kept the US from moving forward for the past 6 years!

    According to your statement, that means that Constellation was keeping the U.S. from moving forward. Is that what you mean?

    Actually the way forward was stated with the VSE, and the method of carrying that out was the Constellation program. However Griffin couldn’t keep the program within budget, so Congress agreed to cancel it. Lesson learned? If you’ve got a massive program, don’t let it go over budget.

    As much as I didn’t like the Constellation program (i.e. Griffin’s Apollo on steroids description), it had a beginning, middle and end. The SLS only has a beginning, and probably not even enough money to get it to fly.

    So in reality the SLS doesn’t answer the question of what we do next, it’s just a rocket, and a very expensive one at that. But there is nothing to put on top of the rocket, so it doesn’t solve any of the problems that have stopped us from expanding out into space. The SLS is a distraction from exploration, not a help to do it.

    The killing of SLS will not mean more money on the commercial side or a change in direction for BEO exploration.

    I agree with the sentiments of others on this, in that if the SLS is cancelled, it wouldn’t be horrible if it took it’s share of the NASA budget with it. NASA doesn’t have enough money to even THINK about a use for the SLS right now, so if it had to work with less money, it would focus on those things that it can do with less money, like fuel depots, automatous docking technology, SEP and so on.

    Those types of things apply to everything we want to do in space, and help the entire space industry to create new products and services, so I see no downside.

    NASA would only shrink, not die, without the SLS budget. I can live with that.

  • Gwinn Shotwell of SpaceX has announced at AIAA that though the schedule for COTS is uncertain, “we’ll be up there in the next few months.”

    Also, ATK put their foot in their mouth at AIAA when their rep said, “Liberty was designed to be human-rated from the beginning, sets it apart from the rest of the field.” When in fact, Falcon 9 also has that distinction.

    All of the above via Hobbyspace.com:
    http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=32759

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    “Agree completely. Even if the nearby Space X facility in Hawthorne isn’t in his District, there’s probably employees there who do. That’s probably his one of his reasons, though not the main one”

    goofy I mean simply dumb…it is the kind of thinking that was common in the last administration. “probably” can justify anything you want to believe…since it doesnt require any proof, just a belief on your part.

    logic my friend try that RGO

  • Frank Wolfe today put out a political letter to OMB criticizing the JWST and the administrations NASA priorities and costs projections. One of his lesser complaints is the loss to other programs the JWST would entail. Meanwhile the SLS kills all these smaller innovative programs that could enable NASA to do more with less. Wolfe may or may not be a NASA fan but he does seem to favor traditional pork.

    Link to his letter from space ref.com
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=38586:

  • Robert G. Oler

    Peter Lykke wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    “Now, after two years plus of endless discussions I have come to the conclusion that NASA itself is the biggest obstacle against any progress in exploration. So when SLS falls, and SLS will fall, I hope that all the SLS money will disappear from the budget. ”

    That statement is in my view correct and should be the focal point of discussion in the SLS debate.

    Where we are today in federal acquisition of hardware for both defense and in just technical project acquisition is that what Ike spoke about in his notions of a military industrial complex have finally ground the government and its agencies to a halt.

    Simberg (who I disagree with on a lot of things) does a pretty good discussion in this post ( Rand Simberg wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 3:08 pm ) of Boeings careful stepping in terms of different policies.

    What he (Rand) did not say but which to me at least was implied is that what Boeing is doing is trying to have positioned themselves “eitherway” that federal policy goes; so they can in some fashion have a piece of that pie. And getting a piece of the pie is ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT FOR COMPANIES OR THEIR DIVISIONS, WHICH HAVE NO REAL COMMERCIAL ALTERNATIVE TO FEDERAL SPENDING, as a source of revenue.

    Hence the design of “SLS” is driven not by a project it is a part of or really any particular capability; but by keeping all the folks who had a piece of the pie in shuttle…having a piece of the pie in SLS.

    And corporate NASA is the enableer of that. They (NASA and the contractors) are all in bed with each other; their futures mutually independent. If there is no massive SLS program then the thunderheads who are on the civil service payroll have to either go do something ACTUAL or find some other paperwork gig to have.

    The words come out of the agency, but they are never words that are meaningful; they are simply words to keep all the hangers on (most of the people here) jacked up and to try and keep the American people behind the effort. The latter has faltered since Apollo and never really come back.

    I think we need a NASA but in the end it needs to be severely rescoped. Made smaller and have tough management (most of the managers are inepts) that actually gets the workforce to do something other then one meeting after another.

    nice post on your part Robert G. Oler

  • Marc Trolinger

    If our nation can ever get over the hubris, and focus on the reality at hand, we can explore the possibilities of new technologies such as fuel depots in space. I do not see why we need to spend billions of dollars to build a heavy launch vehicle we may not need, because it directs federal resources to a particular area. With the capabilities of ULA and Spacex available, wouldn’t the most responsible way forward seek to confirm, or deny the possibilities of moving fuel into LOA at a reasonable price before committing to a multi billion dollar heavy left architecture be the best decision?

    Let us put the 8.4 meter tank tooling into mothballs and see whether the
    proposals of Spacex to lower the cost of lift to LOA come to pass. Then determine whether ULA’s proposals regarding an exploration architecture based on fuel depots can work.

  • Rand “Actually, Boeing is a very careful depot advocate. They never, ever claim that depots eliminate the need for HLVs”

    That’s because they are right, they don’t eliminate the need for an HLV. Seems they know a bit more about spacecraft design than you do obviously.

    Having said that I also disagree with Mike Griffin concerning propellant depots.

    As I presented before the Commission; Von Braun (as do I) believe that a modest HLV and Prop Depot are key elements of any robust beyond Earth Human exploration program.

    The ability to stage the majority of the mass needed by any mission (ie propellant) in space is critical. It’s just as critical as having ground integrated/tested spacecraft that are broken up not by rocket payload limits but by mission requirements. These two approaches when combined work really well together.

    The best solution (budget, politics, engineering) is still darn close to what I showed the Commission a little over 2 years ago and obviously influenced their recommendations namely a modest SDHLV (i.e. Jupiter-130) with a depot supplied via commercial contract. This also provides the business case for Lunar ISRU if it’s more cost effective.

    Also everyone keeps getting hung up on lift capacity; diameter and volume are the most needed improvements not lift. If all we needed was more lift we could just cluster up existing boosters. This would work great if spacecraft had the density of lead but they don’t.

    Jeff Greason said it best; if a spacecraft is launched dry he didn’t see the need for more than 10m and 70mT, and I agree with him. The entry level Jupiter-130 does that right out of the box. Let the future determine if or when we need to grow significantly beyond that.

    The key is making sure we have enough money left over to take advantage of even this entry level improvement to our capabilities. Nothing would make me happier than to see the Ares-5 classic (i.e. Jupiter-252 heavy stretch) one day, but only if the budget to take advantage of this capability above the entry level Jupiter-130 is there.

    My guess is the Jupiter-130 even without propellant depots will keep us plenty busy for at least a couple of decades given the fiscal situation. Once through this the Jupiter-130 could grow to the Ares-5 Classic configuration if needs and budget allow.

  • abreaking wind flatulated: The materials I have seen before from Boeing based on Delta are singularly unimpressive.

    We don’t expect people too obtuse to understand simple technical topics to be impressed. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter whether Internet trolls are impressed or not.

  • The more I read the posts on here it just proves that it’s much more important to be “right” than to expand Human Space Exploration.

    No, it proves that you’re living in a dreamworld and don’t even understand the issues.

  • Martijn Meijering

    My guess is the Jupiter-130 even without propellant depots will keep us plenty busy for at least a couple of decades given the fiscal situation.

    That’s precisely why it’s such a spectacularly bad idea.

  • @Aremis:

    I’d have to dust off my copy of the 2010 Authroization Act, but I don’t think all of that is in there. We can’t actually afford a refuelable HLV, fuel depots, and full up commercial for LEO.

    Says who?

  • @Stephen:

    Having said that I also disagree with Mike Griffin concerning propellant depots.

    Is that so? Regarding what, exactly?.

  • That’s because they are right, they don’t eliminate the need for an HLV. Seems they know a bit more about spacecraft design than you do obviously.

    No, it’s not because they are “right,” because they themselves know that there is no need for an HLV. As I said, Dallas just presented a briefing demonstrating it yesterday, without explicitly stating the obvious conclusion. But they can’t state that publicly for reasons already discussed.

    They are my former colleagues. We all laughed at their own politically correct exhibit display. I talk to them over beers. Do you?

    Or do you too prefer your fantasy world of unnecessary big rockets, into which you now, after all these years, have so much emotional investment?

  • Jeff Greason said it best; if a spacecraft is launched dry he didn’t see the need for more than 10m and 70mT, and I agree with him.

    You need to work on your logic here. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think that it can be done with an even smaller vehicle. So maybe you don’t agree with him as much as you think.

  • I’m certainly no tech expert on this subject — as I often tell tourists, I have a Poli Sci degree therefore I know nothing useful — but it seems to me the real issue here isn’t which method is cheaper.

    It’s which method makes more sense.

    I really don’t like the “all eggs in one basket” approach. We found with Shuttle that doesn’t work. We had to shut down for years after Challenger and Columbia. Thank goodness the USAF resumed rocket production in 1985 or we would have had some serious national security issues with an inability to place satellites into orbit.

    I’m an advocate of the modular approach. Crew separate from cargo separate from anything else, e.g. exploration vehicles, fuel depots, etc.

    If one component fails, we don’t lose everything, just that one component.

    If that approach costs more, so be it.

  • Need to check my own logic. That should be “…doesn’t mean he doesn’t think it can’t be done…

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Says who?

    Essentially you’re saying “who says we can’t, and why?”, but the proper question is “who says we can, and why?”

    No one has shown that one or more SLS-sized payload missions can be funded by NASA for the SLS.

    It’s taking NASA more than a decade and $7B just to build a space telescope, but the assumption appears to be that 286,000 lb, 8.4m wide SLS-sized payloads will fly off the production lines every year at a cost of $1B, and cost $0 to operate. I’m a little skeptical about that.

  • @Coastal:

    Essentially you’re saying “who says we can’t, and why?”, but the proper question is “who says we can, and why?”

    No, I’m asking where is it written that NASA can’t afford HLV, fuel depots and full up commercial? I’ll be even more specific. Who says you can’t do all three on $18 billion a year?

    No one has shown that one or more SLS-sized payload missions can be funded by NASA for the SLS.

    What an interesting goalpost. Let me try it out. No one has shown that one or more refueling ready payload missions can be funded by NASA for our equally non-existent propellant depots.

  • @Stephen:

    If that approach costs more, so be it.

    Hopefully not. If it costs more than the risk you’re trying to avoid, then you’ve already lost.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think that it can be done with an even smaller vehicle.

    No, but it does suggest that Greason too cannot speak his mind openly.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No one has shown that one or more SLS-sized payload missions can be funded by NASA for the SLS.

    Nor that such hypothetical missions cannot be redesigned to accomplish the same goal using existing commercial launchers.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 6:15 pm
    “That’s because they are right, they don’t eliminate the need for an HLV. ”

    your post descends into babble right there.

    NAME A SINGLE PAYLOAD that exist that NEEDS A HLV?

    If not then be quiet..you are making noise not signal. RGO

  • @Martijn:

    Nor that such hypothetical missions cannot be redesigned to accomplish the same goal using existing commercial launchers.

    So why not fly everything up on Minotaurs?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Who says you can’t do all three [HLV, fuel depots and full up commercial] on $18 billion a year?

    Who says you can? Even Congress hasn’t come out and said it will support the use of the SLS, so there are no guarantee what the funding levels will actually be with or without the SLS.

    But if the Constellation and JWST programs are any guide, any overages on the SLS program will have to come out of other NASA programs, regardless of their merit.

    If you think you can state that fuel depot and “full up commercial” (whatever that means) will be protected in NASA’s future budgets, regardless what happens with the SLS, then that would be one thing. But we’d have to see your budget assumptions. Do you have any to show?

  • John

    Orbital fuel depots may have limited use if your constructing an exploration vehicle using existing ISS tech. Investing in a medium heavy lift 60-70mt with a reusable booster w/o solids sounds more practical.

  • Grand Lunar

    Ironic he’s asking for Griffin’s word, since, according to NASASpaceflight’s article, Griffin did say that “alternatives are fiction”, in relation to the method used with Ares 1 and Ares 5.

    It would be funny to see Griffin reverse this opinion.
    Hope he’s ready to eat his words.

  • vulture4

    What’s interesting to me is that Congress probably couldn’t care less what happens in space. For both parties, it’s all about how many tax dollars get spent in their districts.

    As to propellant depots vs HLVs, the long pole is cost, and given the current deficit the cost is much too high for either one. US taxpayers with money are not willing to pony up, and I do not see the most ardent SLS boosters (political, that is) or even any space enthusiasts offering to do so. I think the NASA budget will actually decline somewhat over the next decade, and the need for tech development (i.e. work of actual practical value) will not go away. We will still have space operations, but I see them as limited to ISS support and unmanned science and earth-observation missions. We built the Shuttle because we needed an “enabling technology” to make human spaceflight practical. We still do.

  • SpaceColonizer

    The money being spent on SLS could be used to do a lot. Fuel Depots and the Nautilus-X are the centerpiece to next generation exploration programs. Start with a prototype centrifuge for the NX to be put on the ISS. Start finding out how much simulated gravity is needed to maintain bone and muscle mass (*fingers crossed* Mars G). Then the fuel depots and in space propulsion, which I guess should be able to use the fuel depot. Finish off the NX and use it for asteroid mission(s), which we need the hardware for. I believe all this can be accomplished with existing and future commercial rockets by 2025-2030 with the exploration budget currently earmarked for SLS.

    And here’s the the really great part… THE FUEL DEPOTS AND NAUTILUS-X ARE FULLY REUSABLE!!! The just need to be resupplied and remanned with commercial services. We’ve already done COTS, so a fuel transport commercial program should be minimal, if we even need one at all. No big giant 1 launch/year government pork rocket required, just fixed price commercially contracted launches. Then we have the infrastructure we need to go to the moon, Mars, NEOs whenever we want with the budget previously used to develop these reusable substainable systems.

    Apollo style crash programs are over. Welcome to the REAL space age.

  • Matt Wiser

    Almightywind:

    You’re quite correct: it’s gotten into a fight over depots…again.

    As for depots, they’re a “nice to have” item. Not necessarily a “must have.” Wait until the technology demonstrator flies in late 2014 or early 2015 and see if it works out, people!

    Again, Rand and others, it has to be pointed out: NASA is beholden to Congress, and Congress writes the checks. It’s not a question of what you’d like to do, but it’s a question of what Congress will let you do. And what the Administration will let NASA do. (I’m sure there’s plenty in NASA who’d rather do moon first instead of the NEO, for example)

    So Rohrabacher has a couple of Boeing faciliites in his district. Now we know why he’s pushing this angle. That means work at those facilities and his constitutents. Any difference between him and those in AL, UT, LA, TX, and FL who successfully pushed for SLS? If there is, then there’s beachfront property I can sell you: In Montana! (the bridge in Brooklyn has long been off the market)

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Well let’s try a different angle.

    Recently history shows NASA spent over $10billion creating a sub-orbital mockup of an orbital launcher which wasn’t anywhere near the size of the SLS. Budget and shedule blown to hell and back. Fact.
    They are trying to build a space vehicle MPCV which to date has consumed upwards of $5billion and has not yet flown any hardware bar recently some parachutes. Budget and schedule blown to hell and back. Again, fact.
    JWT has consumed upwards of $7 billion and again has blown budget and schedule. Fact.
    Past NASA history is littered with cancelled projects to replace the Shuttle. NASA failed spectacularly to field a replacement vehicle over the last several decades. Fact.

    Commercial on the other hand has developed launch vehicles both evolved and new and most recently a space vehicle for cargo that can evolve into a human-cargo space vehicle. The most recent commercial company has gone from nothing to successful space return for less than $1 billion. Fact.

    On-orbit propellant transfer and storage exists and is used by the ISS. Fact.

    Based on the above, I can’t see SLS existing along with any other programs bar the ISS and MPCV. Insufficient funding. And it’s not neccessary for NASA to do anything in relation to lv’s or indeed space vehicles. They just need to get out of the jobs program/pork business and into the business of enabling space tech. via commercial albeit with different contracting methods.

  • DCSCA

    “Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is demanding…”

    End of fiscal year and a Reagan fossil is seeking attention; showing check writers he’s awake. Nothing more. The postal service awaits your investigative and fiscal prowess.

  • reader

    I guess the (silly) gauntlet is : prove that you cannot get a living human to mars and back with 10Mt to LEO launchers.

    Its incredibly hard to prove that. Hence, HLV is not needed.

    The second question after that usually is, what works out to be more economical .. and then a whole new can of worms gets opened because then you start defining the mission. How often, how many people, doing what, going there why ? There is no end to the debate, then.

  • The host of the space interest web-site, Ghost NASA, is very much on the mark, when he fumes about the Commercial Space Hoax. While he apparently did not like Constellation—and I disagree with him on that—I will tell you all that Commercial Space IS INDEED one gigantic, massive HOAX! Just a smoke screen, so that the Obama administration can pretend to care about manned spaceflight—when in fact it would prefer to hold the funeral for the American space program, right here, right now. Those entrepreneur companies are going to talk the talk, but NOT walk the walk! THEY CANNOT DELIVER ANYTHING OF LONG-RUN VALUE, beyond a series of cargo missions to the ISS. If they should happen to recreate the Russian unmanned Progress craft, or maybe-maybe, recreate John Glenn’s 1962 orbital flight; think about it, folks—what will we have accomplished in the first two decades of the 21st century?!?! My God, for all of its purported “flaws”, Project Constellation had the game plan of re-establishing a manned foothold on another world! It’d have started with sortie expeditions, but thenafter would’ve moved on to longer-stretch missions, and intermittently-occupied bases; which would’ve taught us tremendous things about the “devilish” details about what it takes to set-up a major manned presence on another planet’s surface—details by the way, completely ignored by the Mars zealots & the “let’s-go-to-an-asteroid-instead” advocates. After 2020 gets here, and all of us are a good twenty-years older, and the astronaut corps has shrunk to almost nobody—AND COMMERCIAL SPACE HAS FAILED UTTERLY IN BUILDING ANYTHING for the supposed-to-have-been-by-now American space future—and China has the world’s only fully-functioning heavy-lift launcher—and every last American rocket engineer has retired, with no effective numeric replacement to THAT work-force—then perhaps, it’ll finally be acceptable in the circles of political power, to say that the Obama plan was pure poison fed, to our once grandiose space program & NASA, some ten years back, in reflection.

  • @Chris Castro
    “The host of the space interest web-site, Ghost NASA, is very much on the mark, when he fumes about the Commercial Space Hoax. “
    This is hilarious! You don’t realize that Gaetano Morano who is the “host” of Ghost NASA has publicly referred to himself as “a GENIUS” (his words, his capitalization). Over the years he has claimed that NASA has stolen ideas from him (such as using SMEs for the second stage in the original design of Ares I) He also claims that Google stole the idea for the Lunar X-prize from him. He is a well known crank who has been banned for years from a number of blog sites (both pro-SLS and pro-commercial blog sites) for machine gun postings of clusters of long rambling semi-factual to non-factual comments. Your credibility was already low here, and your using Gaetano as if he were a reputable source doesn’t help. This is even funnier than Wiser agreeing with ablastofhotair’s outlandish ravings.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Who says you can?

    Why not? Even at Constellation’s peak projected annual funding, NASA would’ve left $3 billion left over . Commercial crew and cargo peaks at $1.4 billion in FY2011′s projection. That’s $1.6 to 2.6 billion left over.

    Even Congress hasn’t come out and said it will support the use of the SLS, so there are no guarantee what the funding levels will actually be with or without the SLS.

    Which has nothing to do with nothing.

    But if the Constellation and JWST programs are any guide, any overages on the SLS program will have to come out of other NASA programs, regardless of their merit.

    And?

    If you think you can state that fuel depot and “full up commercial” (whatever that means) will be protected in NASA’s future budgets, regardless what happens with the SLS, then that would be one thing. But we’d have to see your budget assumptions. Do you have any to show?

    My budget assumption is simple. SLS is not as expensive as Constellation was projected to be or ultimately turned out to be.

  • @Oler:

    NAME A SINGLE PAYLOAD that exist that NEEDS A HLV?

    Name a single payload that needs a 20 mT lifter?

  • Justin Kugler

    Castro,
    You’re regurgitating pablum and conspiracy theory. COTS, CRS, and CCDev were started in the Bush Administration. CCDev2 was the only award in the Obama Administration.

    Under CRS, Orbital and SpaceX are only delivering cargo to the ISS because that is what they are being paid to do. What exactly do you expect from them? This is a milestone-based, IDIQ services contract.

    The whole point behind commercial cargo and crew services is to provide needed access to the ISS less expensively than it would cost do it in-house, so NASA can focus its limited resources and energy on the things that it can do best. I don’t drive a U-Haul every day between my house in Pearland and my job in Clear Lake City. The Air Force doesn’t use its tactical airlifters for routine transfers.

    Now, as for Constellation, don’t you presume to tell those of us who actually worked on it what was going on. The budget and schedule were so out-of-control that we were ordered to de-scope all work on the lunar mission. We were spending billions of dollars just to send Orion and Ares I to LEO – after CxP expected ISS to go into the Pacific Ocean so we could raid its budget.

    I joined Constellation believing in that same promise that you still cling to and I was bitterly disappointed by the reality. I’ve learned my lesson from that experience. It’s only what is measured and what is paid for that gets done. Neither now nor under Constellation has Congress paid for landers, habitats, or real exploration systems. All the best laid plans mean nothing if they aren’t paid for.

    We ignore the iron law of economics at our own peril.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    @Martijn:

    Nor that such hypothetical missions cannot be redesigned to accomplish the same goal using existing commercial launchers.

    you replied:
    “So why not fly everything up on Minotaurs?”

    You simply must mean that as a rhetorical thing not as something that defends SLS.

    When folks went across the great plains before the Railroad the ones that could afford animal driven transportation sized their loads to the wagon of the time…not because the wagon of the time was the best for all things but because it was affordable and functional in the environment that it was to be used in. Anything that didnt fit was left and anything that overmassed the wagon was either left or dumped along the way as the realities of life set in.

    If we are to function in any human endeavor in space; and this includes both exploration for just explorations sake or things which actually return value for the dollar…there has to be some accounting of the cost to develop things and the cost to operate them…and those two criteria are the death knell for either doing everything on a Minatour or doing anything (note the change in “thing”) on SLS.

    There is no cost accounting that makes SLS given the development and operational cost affordable or practical or even usable. This act has been played out with the shuttle.

    Launch cost/launch rates and launch capability all have added up to a station that seems right now to be functionally not usable for anything other then well make work projects. And the shuttle was supposdly “free” in terms of launch cost in much the same way that people here (wiser/whittington/wind…the three w’s) justify SLS.

    Sorry maybe I missed the context you were replying in…but “why dont we ship everything in a VW” is no explanation of why people are trying to build a massive truck when a solid 18 wheeler will do RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 4:33 am
    ” After 2020 gets here, and all of us are a good twenty-years older, and the astronaut corps has shrunk to almost nobody—AND COMMERCIAL SPACE HAS FAILED UTTERLY IN BUILDING ANYTHING for the supposed-to-have-been-by-now American space future—and China has the world’s only fully-functioning heavy-lift launcher”

    take a breath. you are describing the last 30 years of space policy, not the future RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    My budget assumption is simple. SLS is not as expensive as Constellation was projected to be or ultimately turned out to be.

    Constellation was cancelled because it was continuing to grow budget-wise, so we’ll never know what it’s ultimate cost would have been. The same is true with the SLS, in that Congress wanted to spend $16B, NASA says it will cost $38B, and outside auditors say that NASA’s assumptions are unsupportable for the $38B. See the trend?

    The SLS cost growth will eat away at other programs, just like the JWST is going to eat away at other science programs (see Jeff’s next blog topic), so your simple budget assumption is not really a realistic one.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So why not fly everything up on Minotaurs?

    Not insisting everything should be launched on an HLV != Making any HLV optional != insisting anything should fly up on Minotaurs.

    Minotaur is too small for spacecraft and crew. Technically, everything except crew could be launched on Minotaurs, but the launches wouldn’t be cost-effective and it would require on orbit construction. You could also do everything with Falcon 9. Or you could use the largest vehicle that already exists and has commercial clients, Delta / Atlas Heavy.

    20-30mT to LEO is plenty. Getting the same amount to L1/L2 requires a slightly larger upper stage / separate transfer stage whose dry mass would easily fit on an EELV and which would fit easily within an EELV fairing. Refueling at L1/L2 will then enable pushing massive amounts of mass through TMI with a transfer stage that will fit within an EELV fairing and remain within EELV payloads limits.

    The real issue is cost/kg for propellant (for exploration) and crew (for commercial development of space). If an HLV (either a smallish one like EELV Phase 1 or FH, or something bigger) is cheaper, then competitive, fair, and redundant procurement of launch services will lead to an HLV. If not, then we shouldn’t want one. Either way the problem will be solved.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Name a single payload that needs a 20 mT lifter?

    There probably isn’t one. Poster libs0n is fond of pointing out how you could do everything with single core EELVs or Falcon 9. But why avoid EELV Heavies?

  • Martijn Meijering

    As to propellant depots vs HLVs, the long pole is cost, and given the current deficit the cost is much too high for either one.

    A refuelable spacecraft would do. One way transfer and noncryogenic propellant only. The budget is large enough for that if you get rid of SLS and redirect MPCV. And I believe JSC and Glenn would be capable enough to develop it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Name a single payload that needs a 20 mT lifter?

    By my count, 16 segments of the ISS if the next smaller lifter is 10mt.

    The DoD/NRO payload for Delta IV Heavy is the only current U.S. mission that requires a 20mt lifter.

  • @Justin Kugler
    Wow. I truly am impressed. I have never read a more eloquent and well reasoned response from a former Cx worker. It’s a shame that most pro-SLS people will never read it, because they are currently ignoring the old chestnut, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

  • As for depots, they’re a “nice to have” item. Not necessarily a “must have.”

    Orbital propellant storage and transfer is a “must have.” Heavy lift is not.

    Wait until the technology demonstrator flies in late 2014 or early 2015 and see if it works out, people!

    There is no sane reason to think that it won’t “work out.”

  • So Rohrabacher has a couple of Boeing faciliites in his district. Now we know why he’s pushing this angle. That means work at those facilities and his constitutents.

    That’s nonsense. Boeing is almost entirely out of the manned space business in California. The work would almost certainly be done in Huntsville.

    Consider the possibility that, unlike you, the Congressman is actually interested in accomplishing things in space.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Prez Cannady.

    Name a single payload that needs a 20 mT lifter?

    This year alone? There’s been a single NRO payload from Vandenberg, plus Juno and MSR from Canaveral.

    There is also the ATV cargo vehicle and the soon-to-fly MPCV prototype.

  • Byeman

    “Any difference between him and those in AL, UT, LA, TX, and FL who successfully pushed for SLS? ”

    Big difference. His constituents benefit from both depots and SLS equally. He chooses to back the smarter method.

  • common sense

    @ Prez Cannady wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    “My budget assumption is simple. SLS is not as expensive as Constellation was projected to be or ultimately turned out to be.”

    Oh great. You’re right. It is not as expensive and yet it is expensive and I did not know that Constellation “turned out to be” anything.

    Your usual comments essentially are a parody. There are quite a few posters like that. Welcome to their clan. But you’re far from topping some here. Your comments are too short. You need to expend and give us your full blown explanation of things.

    Oh and yes your “budget assumption is simple”.

    “So what?”

  • There probably isn’t one. Poster libs0n is fond of pointing out how you could do everything with single core EELVs or Falcon 9. But why avoid EELV Heavies?

    In the Boeing presentation, the biggest piece was the depot (almost thirty tonnes), but it could go up in three pieces. After that, the lander was the biggest piece, at twelve tonnes.

    Actually, the only real payload for a seventy-tonne vehicle is a Bigelow BA-2100.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Wait until the technology demonstrator flies in late 2014 or early 2015 and see if it works out, people!

    You keep saying that, but you know noncryogenic propellant transfer and storage would be enough. You are again being not only wrong, but blatantly dishonest.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And of course, if you really believed that, you should be in favour of waiting for the demonstrator before deciding to build an HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Orbital propellant storage and transfer is a “must have.”

    Not if your goal is to keep NASA in the launch business and if you’re willing to give up on meaningful activity in space.

    Heavy lift is not.

    It is if, like Matt, you want to keep NASA in the launch business. His approach is entirely rational, given his goals. Dishonest, but rational. As the commander of STS-135 said: SLS is our last chance to get it right. An offensive statement if you take “we” to mean “we the American people”, or “we space enthusiasts”, but the truth if it means “we the Shuttle industrial political complex”.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There is no sane reason to think that it won’t “work out.”

    The risk is not that it won’t work, even for LH2. It will work well enough to be useable and it will work well enough to be cost-effective eventually, especially on a deliberately sunk cost basis. It may or may not be practical to store LH2 in LEO for more than a couple of months, or for more than a year at L1/L2, but that is plenty. How long that will take and how much it will cost is the main uncertainty. Only if you let NASA develop depots is there a possibility near certainty it won’t work. Which is easily solved by keeping NASA away from cryogenic depots.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    So why not fly everything up on Minotaurs?

    You do realize that there is a finite amount of excess ICBM’s to use for Minotaurs, and then you’re back to using commercial launchers?

  • Das Boese

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    It’s absolutely untrue that we have to go with HLVs if we can’t develop or afford cryogenic depots. There may be reasons for letting exploration wait for cryogenic depots (but if so I haven’t seen convincing ones), but that must never become an excuse for doing an HLV. I realise that’s not what you’re suggesting, but it is what people like Griffin are saying and we must not play into their hands.

    It’s actually the opposite of what I was suggesting, I should have made myself more clear ;)

    I’m not a friend of forced HLV development by any stretch of the imagination, I just kinda assumed that people knew that by now. I’m much more in favor of focusing our efforts on actual space technology, which of course includes propellant depots/transfer of all flavors* among other things such.

    *(cryogenic, storable and strawberry)

  • Martijn Meijering

    Actually, the only real payload for a seventy-tonne vehicle is a Bigelow BA-2100.

    Which was probably designed as a fig-leaf for SLS.

  • Das Boese

    -such as propulsion, power, eclss etc.

    whoops.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Or an 8.5m diameter disposable heat shield, which was probably designed for the same reason.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    @Oler:

    NAME A SINGLE PAYLOAD that exist that NEEDS A HLV?

    You replied:
    Name a single payload that needs a 20 mT lifter?

    Thanks for the response…I was hoping that someone would go in this direction.

    my answer in a sentence.
    Go check the launch manifest for Ariane V.

    20mt is essentially the growth version in lift for Ariane V…and if the price point per launch is less then the price point for the V then the satellite(s) that V launches will grow into that capability.

    Where a 20 any ton commercial launch vehicle differs from a 70 any ton developed on the tax payer nickle and has to be flown on the tax payer nickle because it is so darn expensive….is that there is a potential market outside of government use.

    Musk must think so because he is spending HIS OWN MONEY to develop the Falcon heavy…but unlike say SLS he has to keep the operational cost of the vehicle in mind because that is what determines if there are payloads for it.

    SLS supporters just assume that if the rocket is developed then the government will pony up money to develop payloads and bear the cost of launching them, because otherwise what would be the point of developing a rocket that cost more then any other rocket to both develop and launch.

    got it? RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Prez Cannady wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 8:59 am
    “My budget assumption is simple. SLS is not as expensive as Constellation was projected to be or ultimately turned out to be.”

    Constellation was cancelled because it was continuing to grow budget-wise, so we’ll never know what it’s ultimate cost would have been. The same is true with the SLS, in that Congress wanted to spend $16B, NASA says it will cost $38B, and outside auditors say that NASA’s assumptions are unsupportable for the $38B. See the trend?”

    Gosh Ron, you sound so skeptical and jaded that NASA can’t stay on budget and schedule. Where is this coming from anyway?

    “This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA has poorly managed the development of these replacement radiation monitoring instruments. Specifically, total estimated ARI Project costs increased approximately 62 percent, from $16 million to $26 million; the Project has been de-scoped and will not include all planned elements; and delivery of the new instruments has been delayed by almost 3 years. In addition, until April 2010 NASA was developing an instrument that did not meet stated radiation monitoring requirements”
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=34810

    Don’t you understand Ron, THIS time will be different. This time they are going to be “disiplined” and do it by the numbers. On budget and on schedule. Well .. up until the time it is no longer on budget and schedule.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Space Hack –

    I left DC in 2003, had a stroke in 2005, and as I mentioned before am well out of the loop. I am glad that Rep. Rohrabacher has found such a well qualified aide.

    I would like to add Astronaut Sullivan to my short list of possible replacements for Ed Weiler, and apologize for not remembering her before.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Actually, the only real payload for a seventy-tonne vehicle is a Bigelow BA-2100.

    You probably mean “the only payload that has even a remote chance of ever becoming real.”

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 28th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    As for depots, they’re a “nice to have” item. Not necessarily a “must have.”

    Try selling people a car that has a sealed gas tank, and you’ll quickly see why what you say sounds crazy.

    Everybody, except for you and Windy that is, understands the value of refueling stations – why throw away the hardware when you all you need to do is replace the consumables?

    If we ever want to expand from one-shot space spectacles into a space-faring nation, then we need to master space depots. The longer we wait, the longer we’ll be tethered to Mother Earth.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Try selling people a car that has a sealed gas tank, and you’ll quickly see why what you say sounds crazy.

    Great line!

  • pathfinder_01

    Prez.

    The point is that launch systems need to be cost effective. The shuttle cost like 4-5 billion a year just in fixed costs alone. For the same money you could buy about 18 flights of Delta IV heavy @ 300 million each (what ULA was going to charge NASA in 2008 per launch for a commitment of nine launches). SLS will likely cost as much as the shuttle to keep around AND launcher fewer times.

    With 18 flights of Delta IV you could do 4-5 Apollo sized moon missions and not have to pay 4 billion just to keep the standing army standing. You could do them at a slow pace if the budget will not allow. However if you go the NASA owned\designed HLV route you will pay so much in fixed costs that you can forget having any BEO program.

    For 2 billion I could do exploration with Delta IV heavy. I can do a lunar mission every other year and have enough money to build payloads. 2 billion is not enough to keep anything shuttle derived going. I can put more money towards actual exploration rather than building the rocket.
    I also have a way to lower costs. If Space X or Orbital figure a way to lower my costs they can bid on it. The method could be reusable launch vechiles , improved EELV or even a HLV but such craft will be designed around an actual launch rate(unlike the shuttle) and will be designed to be cost effective from the start(since the companies want to profit). If we go with NASA owned HLV then you are tied to it with no way to lower its costs.

    If you use boosters that have other users you can lower your costs to orbit. Delta, Atlas, Falcon 9, Taraus II have other users both commercial and government. It cost NASA little to nothing to keep these boosters around.

    An HLV on the other hand would be like the Saturn V, the only non lunar related and non test flight was the launch of Skylab (and you can do space stations without HLV). So what is the point of keeping it around….too few missions to be worth the cost.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It’s actually the opposite of what I was suggesting, I should have made myself more clear

    I understood that, I was just trying to point out that we could achieve meaningful missions and commercial development of space 1) in the unlikely event cryogenic depots don’t work out or 2) before we have them which may take a long time. I don’t want RLVs to have to wait for cryogenic depots.

    Then again, with today’s news they may not have to. We will be vic-tooo-ri-ous!

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ September 29th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    ;-)

  • @Martijn Meijering
    “Then again, with today’s news they may not have to. We will be vic-tooo-ri-ous!”
    One cool video presentation of the plans, wasn’t it?

  • Martijn Meijering

    One cool video presentation of the plans, wasn’t it?

    Pure liquid awesome! This day let us all say Ich bin ein SpaceX fanboy!

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    The SpaceX video is cool however there’s an awful lot of maybe in the equation. That said, SpaceX does eventually do what they say they will or at least make the attempt which is more that most do either at NASA or in other legacy companies who wait for NASA to provide the funding without risking anything themselves. And after seeing the success of the 1st private space craft return from LEO, you’ve got to believe they have at least a good chance of doing what they say.
    At the end of the day, what I really admire about SpaceX is that they put their own skin in the game.

  • Bennett

    “This day let us all say Ich bin ein SpaceX fanboy!”

    That’s it actually. ALL of us who want to see great things happen in HSF. If this was Boeing or Ariennespace or JAXA or CNSA, it wouldn’t matter.

    I have waited too many years to spit on ANYONE with the declared goal (and the company to back it up) of developing an actual RLV.

    What I’ll never understand is why anyone who wants to see HSF progress beyond LEO, would denigrate anyone working honestly toward that goal.

  • Das Boese

    About a year or so ago after I started posting on this site, I said something along the lines of “There are undoubtedly a lot of interesting concepts hidden in SpaceX’s drawers.”

    Today we got a sneak peek, and it was exactly the kind of thing I was talking about.

    It’s undoubtedly a long-term development goal (seeing as they have yet to do a 1st stage recovery), but the mindful observer will notice a lot of technical details that are indicative that there’s more to this than a quick animation.

  • @Beancounter: Not quite sure what point you’re getting across other than that medium birds, particularly off the shelf, launch for less than custom to order heavy or super heavy lifters. Don’t recall anyone even disputing as much. But…

    On-orbit propellant transfer and storage exists and is used by the ISS. Fact.

    …this isn’t even remotely true.

  • @Oler:

    Thanks for the response…I was hoping that someone would go in this direction.

    my answer in a sentence. Go check the launch manifest for Ariane V.

    I’m going to assume you don’t mean the 5 V. In any case, that tells me what? Other than that there’s a market for payloads sized to max out or go dutch on the largest capacity lifters available?

    20mt is essentially the growth version in lift for Ariane V…and if the price point per launch is less then the price point for the V [sic] then the satellite(s) that V launches will grow into that capability.

    So why how is it that Ariane 5, since 1996, has flown only half as much as Ariane 4 did during its life span (which also happens to be fifteen years).

    Where a 20 any ton commercial launch vehicle differs from a 70 any ton developed on the tax payer nickle and has to be flown on the tax payer nickle because it is so darn expensive….is that there is a potential market outside of government use.

    Then how do you explain the Zenit-2?

    Musk must think so because he is spending HIS OWN MONEY to develop the Falcon heavy…but unlike say SLS he has to keep the operational cost of the vehicle in mind because that is what determines if there are payloads for it.

    SLS doesn’t even have a reference design. Hell, for all we know the system could metastasize into a commercial buy.

    SLS supporters just assume that if the rocket is developed then the government will pony up money to develop payloads and bear the cost of launching them, because otherwise what would be the point of developing a rocket that cost more then any other rocket to both develop and launch.

    Presumably. I imagine SLS supporters are in favor of developing all sorts of architectures that create no immediate value on the market so long as it opens up the Moon.

  • @pathfinder_01:

    The point is that launch systems need to be cost effective.

    They don’t, but that’s really besides the point. I don’t see any value whatsoever in picking fights with the pork barrellers, not when funds for commercial off the shelf can be procured in other ways.

    With 18 flights of Delta IV you could do 4-5 Apollo sized moon missions and not have to pay 4 billion just to keep the standing army standing.

    Not sure what you’re really getting at. The Shuttle was a 20 ton lifter, and you’re assuming a great deal about in orbit assembly and replenishing propellant. None of which has anything to do with the larger subject: whether or not the US can support the development of a genuine commercial sector in space–with commercial lifters and in orbit commercial replenishment–while simultaneously pursuing HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    …this isn’t even remotely true.

    It is the literal truth. Your statement couldn’t be more false.

  • Martijn Meijering

    whether or not the US can support the development of a genuine commercial sector in space–with commercial lifters and in orbit commercial replenishment–while simultaneously pursuing HLV.

    An even more important question is why we should even want an HLV if we could afford one, given that we don’t need it. The money could be better spent on developing spacecraft and buying commercial launches. There would have to be a pretty good reason for an HLV and so far only minor benefits have been proposed. The real reason seems to be “but I want one!”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    …this [On-orbit propellant transfer and storage] isn’t even remotely true.

    Uh, a simple Google check shows:

    The FGB is a descendant of the TKS spacecraft designed for the Russian Salyut program. 5.4 tons of propellant fuel can be stored and transferred automatically to and from ships docked to the Russian portion of the station – the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS).

  • Justin Kugler

    @Prez: Actually, it’s entirely true. Progress and ATV can – and do – refuel the propulsion system on the Service Module.

  • Das Boese

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    On-orbit propellant transfer and storage exists and is used by the ISS. Fact.

    …this isn’t even remotely true.

    You’re kidding, right? You have got to be kidding.

    The Russians have been doing propellant transfer on orbit since Salyut 6, which the ISS FGB and SM are direct descendants of.

  • At the risk of stating the obvious, cryogenic propellant transfer in orbit has never been demonstrated.

  • Martijn Meijering

    At the risk of stating the obvious, cryogenic propellant transfer in orbit has never been demonstrated.

    Yet there is little doubt it will work well enough to be practical, even for LH2. In addition there is no doubt at all that noncryogenic propellant transfer is good enough. The only questions are how long it will take and how much it will cost, as well as when to fund LOX/LH2 depots and how. We already know we don’t need HLVs and that we shouldn’t fund them directly.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    At the risk of stating the obvious, cryogenic propellant transfer in orbit has never been demonstrated.

    Again, by Googling “cryogenic propellant transfer in orbit”, I found this:

    In October 2009, the Air Force and United Launch Alliance (ULA) performed an experimental on-orbit demonstration on a modified Centaur upper stage on the DMSP-18 launch to improve “understanding of propellant settling and slosh, pressure control, RL10 chilldown and RL10 two-phase shutdown operations. “The light weight of DMSP-18 allowed 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) of remaining LO2 and LH2 propellant, 28% of Centaur’s capacity,” for the on-orbit demonstrations. The post-spacecraft mission extension ran 2.4 hours before executing the deorbit burn.

    Are you just using us to do your research for you, or is there a point you’re having a hard time making?

  • @Martijn:

    Yet there is little doubt it will work well enough to be practical…

    Assume sufficient time and advancements, just about anything becomes practical. I can’t think of anyone, not even Griffin, who doesn’t expect a space-based propellant economy to eventually emerge. The argument has always been around whether Americans could and should return to the Moon before that day, and whether HLV could and should play a role in accelerating the time table.

    The only questions are how long it will take and how much it will cost, as well as when to fund LOX/LH2 depots and how. We already know we don’t need HLVs and that we shouldn’t fund them directly.

    I love how you jump from the only important question–when and how cheaply will a cheap, cislunar propellant cycle manifest–to your usual garbage certainty regarding the obsolescence of HLV. There’s a word for that: non-sequitur.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    I asked about DMSP 18 on Simberg’s blog in January (for some reason, Space Politics is swallowing the link, so just google “Cannady” and “DMSP-18″), so please…don’t feel obligated to do my homework.

    And if you think that was a cryogenic propellant transfer demo, then Ares I-X validated heavy lift. Give me a break.

  • Das Boese

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    At the risk of stating the obvious, cryogenic propellant transfer in orbit has never been demonstrated.

    Then you should have said that cryogenic propellant transfer is what you were talking about, because we can’t read your bloody mind over the internet.

    In any case this is a weak objection, since cryogenic propellant transfer is not a necessity for exploration and certainly not for commercial use.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The argument has always been around whether Americans could and should return to the Moon before that day, and whether HLV could and should play a role in accelerating the time table.

    It could, but it shouldn’t, since using noncryogenic propellant transfer can also do that for you for less money, with less risk and in less time. It will also contribute enormously towards establishing a sustainable space transportation infrastructure, particularly for Eath to orbit.

    There’s a word for that: non-sequitur.

    It seems you have a problem with logic, so let me spell it out for you: if you want to go fast, then using noncryogenic propellant transfer is your best bet. If you want to go slow, you should go with LOX/LH2 depots, because we know they will be part of a mature space transportation infrastructure. You should not go with an HLV because it will likely not be part of a mature transportation infrastructure. Smallish HLVs (EELV Phase 1, FH) could be an exception, but that would be for the market to decide.

  • @Das Boese:

    Then you should have said that cryogenic propellant transfer is what you were talking about, because we can’t read your bloody mind over the internet.

    Are you kidding me? Please, when has anyone on these blogs ever envisioned depots as anything bearing anything other than cryogenic propellants?

    In any case this is a weak objection…

    Objection to what?

    …since cryogenic propellant transfer is not a necessity for exploration…

    This is true, insofar as exploration = hand outs for universities.

    …and certainly not for commercial use.

    Question. How many commercial satellites are topping off on hypergolics today?

  • @Martijn:

    It could, but it shouldn’t, since using noncryogenic propellant transfer can also do that for you for less money, with less risk and in less time.

    If that’s not pulled out of thin air, I don’t know what is. Seriously, where’re your UDMH depots? Hell, where are your routine refueling flights to Zarya?

    It will also contribute enormously towards establishing a sustainable space transportation infrastructure, particularly for Eath to orbit.

    Outstanding. When? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

    It seems you have a problem with logic, so let me spell it out for you:

    Says the guy now attempting to explain his leaps thereof…

    if you want to go fast, then using noncryogenic propellant transfer is your best bet. If you want to go slow, you should go with LOX/LH2 depots, because we know they will be part of a mature space transportation infrastructure.

    Who cares? The principle area of growth for the foreseeable is cislunar space. 350 s will do the job. The key issue, as it is in any other sector of energy industry, is growth–especially in the short term. Which do you think is more likely to emerge first off Earth? Cryogenics and sparks or UDMH and nitrogen peroxide?

    You should not go with an HLV because it will likely not be part of a mature transportation infrastructure.

    So goes the dogma. With commercial buy in the hands of advocates like these, I weep for the industry.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I asked about DMSP 18 on Simberg’s blog in January…

    So what? Does posing a question on a blog substitute for a little research initiative on your part?

    Sometimes I can spend a lot of time researching information before I post, so I don’t have any sympathy for people that pose questions but don’t contribute answers.

    And if you think that was a cryogenic propellant transfer demo…

    I do – they transferred cryogenic propellants. Demo’s come in all sizes, and this one was 12,000 lbs of fuel, which is enough to provide a heck of a kick.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    So what? Does posing a question on a blog substitute for a little research initiative on your part?

    What the hell are you talking about?

    Sometimes I can spend a lot of time researching information before I post, so I don’t have any sympathy for people that pose questions but don’t contribute answers.

    Good for you.

    I do – they transferred cryogenic propellants.

    I guess when you’re through “researching,” if you can’t find the answer you wanted from the onset you just make it up.

    Demo’s come in all sizes…

    Yada, yada, yada…keep waving your hands, squeezing your eyes shut and clicking your heels. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll turn DMSP 18 into a transfer demo through the power of positive thinking.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Seriously, where’re your UDMH depots? Hell, where are your routine refueling flights to Zarya?

    I’m not suggesting we should use noncryogenic depots, I’m suggesting we should use the natural propellants for spacecraft, and those are storable. A spacecraft can serve as its own depot. It would only need transfer one way, which simpler. And since it uses noncryogenic propellant too, that makes it a whole lot simpler than a dedicated depot. We need a spacecraft anyway and if it is refuelable you don’t have to throw it away every time.

    ISS refueling flights have been routine for quite some time, the recent failure was the first in a long time. And BTW nowadays it’s Zvezda that gets refueled, not Zarya. May I also remind you that we’ve never had routine HLV flights?

    Outstanding. When? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

    When NASA starts buying propellant in orbit. This hasn’t happened because people like you keep insisting we need an HLV to go beyond LEO.

    The principle area of growth for the foreseeable is cislunar space. 350 s will do the job. The key issue, as it is in any other sector of energy industry, is growth–especially in the short term. Which do you think is more likely to emerge first off Earth? Cryogenics and sparks or UDMH and nitrogen peroxide?

    Is there an argument in there somewhere? If so I missed it. Feel free to try again.

    So goes the dogma. With commercial buy in the hands of advocates like these, I weep for the industry.

    Yes, that is what this seems to be about for you: bitter clinging to the past.

  • @Martijn:

    I’m not suggesting we should use noncryogenic depots, I’m suggesting we should use the natural propellants for spacecraft, and those are storable.

    Where are our refuel ready spacecraft?

    ISS refueling flights have been routine for quite some time…

    Please, tell us how you define ‘routine.’ Routine enough to obviate the need for ATV or Progress assisted reboosts?

    the recent failure was the first in a long time. And BTW nowadays it’s Zvezda that gets refueled, not Zarya.

    Zvezda plumbs to both.

    May I also remind you that we’ve never had routine HLV flights?

    Unsurprising, since there is no heavy lifter.

    When NASA starts buying propellant in orbit. This hasn’t happened because people like you keep insisting we need an HLV to go beyond LEO.

    What a load of crap. How does an HLV stop you from buying propellant in orbit?

    Is there an argument in there somewhere? If so I missed it. Feel free to try again.

    You’re not going to crap out UDMH on the moon, buddy. Pick another propellant.

    Yes, that is what this seems to be about for you: bitter clinging to the past.

    What past?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I guess when you’re through “researching,” if you can’t find the answer you wanted from the onset you just make it up.

    Hey, I’m just pointing out what happened – 12,000 lbs of cryogenic propellant was transferred. I can’t help it if it the facts don’t fit your narrative.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Where are our refuel ready spacecraft?

    My point is that we have the technology and should build them. Look, we’re going to need a spacecraft anyway, so you might as well make it refuelable. Sheesh, this shouldn’t be difficult to comprehend. Incidentally Orion has some support for refueling.

    Routine enough to obviate the need for ATV or Progress assisted reboosts?

    I think so, they probably use ATV or Progress so it can use excess propellant in its own propellant tanks and to minimise wear on the ISS thrusters.

    How does an HLV stop you from buying propellant in orbit?

    By taking most of the propellant off the market and by sucking up much of the money that could have gone towards spacecraft or launches.

    You’re not going to crap out UDMH on the moon, buddy. Pick another propellant.

    Irrelevant at this stage. You could produce NTO on the moon, since NTO is two thirds oxygen. Or you could use hydrogen peroxide, which can be sourced locally. But as I said, it’s irrelevant at this stage.

    What past?

    The past when the US had an HLV or a national “Space Transportation System”. The past when NASA had capable launch vehicle designers.

  • pathfinder_01

    Prez there are many types of depots.

    There are the Hard Cryogens: Hydrogen. That one would be the hardest to store\transfer but then again helium has been stored on orbit and every Lox/Hydrogen upper stage has to be able to transfer it’s propellant from the tanks to the engines (Sometimes many hours latter).Transfer isn’t really the problem, it is storage. This storage problem also bedevils CXP(i.e. How to launch two rockets before the propellant boils off…Ares I and Ares V) and bedevils Zurbin’s mars(how to make Methane using hydrogen when by the time you get to mars your hydrogen has escaped). Solving this problem would do a lot more to forward space exploration than any HLV.

    There are the Mild Cryogens: Oxygen, Methane. Oxygen by mass is what masses the most in a chemical rocket just storing it alone can give a performance boost. Methane has ISRU potential on mars (and maybe the moon). Where as storing Hydrogen is hard, storing these two is easy. The Lunox plan(I think) was an example of the turning lunar soil to Oxygen…in the 90ies before water was discovered at the poles.

    There are propellants like Kerosene and the hypergolic that are the easiest to store. Kerosene might need to be heated and stirred form time to time. The hypergolic heated enough to keep from freezing.

    There are propellants that say an electric stage might use: Aragon. Xenon ect. putting these propellants in an depot say in high earth orbit could save time(or make for a faster trip).

    There are propellants that many types of rockets might use Ammonia and Hydrogen. Chemical/Nuclear and electric rockets can use these.

    Von Braun preferred the depot\propellant transfer approach because it does not limit your payload size. The Saturn V imposed operational constraints on Apollo; The entire payload had to be launched at once due to boil off. The Saturn V is too big to have any other use or users (making economies of scale impossible and making it difficult to impossible to get competition going to lower prices). He only went with the HLV because it was the fastest way to get to the moon (build a bigger rocket). Not the most economical or sustainable way.

  • @Whittington:

    When did Griffin ever say depots weren’t a viable option?

  • pathfinder_01

    “ Where are our refuel ready spacecraft?”
    The ISS. It would have run out of thruster propellant long ago if not refueling.

    “Please, tell us how you define ‘routine.’ Routine enough to obviate the need for ATV or Progress assisted reboosts?”

    Reboot from visting space is to save wear and tear on the ISS’s engines but yes the ISS can manuaver itself. Basically if ATV or Progess are available you would use their engines first rather than Zayria.

    “Unsurprising, since there is no heavy lifter.”

    No, we had one called Saturn V. It cost a huge sum. Required more people than the shuttle to launch and only launched about twice a year(maybe three time in the early 60ies). That isn’t enough launch rate to justity a rocket that cost so much.

    “What a load of crap. How does an HLV stop you from buying propellant in orbit?”

    If it consumes NASA’s budget doing nothing or gets canceled after it drains funding from the tech you truly need yeap it can.

    “You’re not going to crap out UDMH on the moon, buddy. Pick another propellant.”

    Actually you could if you send nitrogen and there were some nitrogen compounds found in lunar ice recently.

    “What past?”

    The sixties…i.e. It worked last time and gosh darnit we should go back and do it again just like before.

  • The ISS.

    Which goes nowhere. What a remarkable spacecraft.

    Reboot from visting space is to save wear and tear on the ISS’s engines but yes the ISS can manuaver itself.

    I don’t recall anyone asking whether or not ISS could maneuver on her own.

    No, we had one called Saturn V. It cost a huge sum. Required more people than the shuttle to launch and only launched about twice a year(maybe three time in the early 60ies). That isn’t enough launch rate to justity a rocket that cost so much.

    So your estimate for the future flight rate of HLV is based on a program that ended over forty years ago?

    If it consumes NASA’s budget doing nothing or gets canceled after it drains funding from the tech you truly need yeap it can.

    Which, as we all know, it doesn’t.

    Actually you could if you send nitrogen and there were some nitrogen compounds found in lunar ice recently.

    Care to describe the process you have in mind?

    The sixties…i.e. It worked last time and gosh darnit we should go back and do it again just like before.

    Who said anything of the sort?

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Hey, I’m just pointing out what happened – 12,000 lbs of cryogenic propellant was transferred. I can’t help it if it the facts don’t fit your narrative.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Transferred to where?

    @Martijn:

    My point is that we have the technology and should build them.

    And my question stands. Why haven’t they been built? Let’s take a lunar mission for example and consider the propellant provisioning in isolation. We’ll only assume transit from LEO to lunar orbit uses UMDH as a nod to your storables plan. Let’s take SpaceX at her word and price for 80 percent capacity on a Falcon 9 for $5861/kg ($49 million a launch). And let’s say we want to put 130 mT 3 km/s beyond LEO.

    The cost to deliver propellant alone will take 23 flights and cost you $1.4 billion. I should also note that this configuration assumes the ultimate payload is heading one way. Double to get a rough minimum for an actual vehicle to cycle back and forth between LEO and 3 km/s away from LEO.

    Look, we’re going to need a spacecraft anyway, so you might as well make it refuelable.

    Don’t recall arguing otherwise. Only folks I can think of who’d even entertain the thought consider HLV as part of a vertically integrated earth departure arch. Lifting heavier and heavier payloads to LEO, on the other hand, has value in and of itself–including in support of building out the survivable linchpins of a cislunar economy.

    Sheesh, this shouldn’t be difficult to comprehend.

    You’re confusing your habit of rambling with frustrated pedagogy. You’d save yourself a lot of sweat and tears if you’d cut it out.

    Incidentally Orion has some support for refueling.

    Who cares?

    I think so, they probably use ATV or Progress so it can use excess propellant in its own propellant tanks and to minimise wear on the ISS thrusters.

    For what, additional wear on the superstructure? Give me a break. They use ATV or Progress because they’re already there, period.

    By taking most of the propellant off the market…

    How does ATK deprive SpaceX of propellant?

    …and by sucking up much of the money that could have gone towards spacecraft or launches.

    Will this is a load of bunk. What money isn’t being spent on commercial that could and should’ve been? And if it was so damned important to have that money, why would you do a damn fool thing like pick a fight with Congress when there billions upon billions more in lower hanging fruit?

    Irrelevant at this stage.

    Says who?

    You could produce NTO on the moon, since NTO is two thirds oxygen. Or you could use hydrogen peroxide, which can be sourced locally.

    As I asked Pathfinder, describe your process. This is besides the point, since you’re not going to oxidize UDMH with NTO or hydrogen peroxide in the first place.

    The past when the US had an HLV or a national “Space Transportation System”. The past when NASA had capable launch vehicle designers.

    What the hell are you talking about?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    [The ISS] Which goes nowhere. What a remarkable spacecraft.

    The ISS is a research platform – who says it has to go somewhere? It’s already there! Do you complain about McMurdo Station the same way, that it “goes nowhere”?

    Is the ISS not meeting it’s intended spec for travel? Was it supposed to be able to travel beyond LEO?

    Maybe you should be advocating for NASA’s Nautilus-X concept…

  • @Pathfinder:

    Prez there are many types of depots.

    Your effort is appreciated but unnecessary.

    Von Braun preferred the depot\propellant transfer approach because it does not limit your payload size.

    Precision is in order here. The lifter ceases to be the sole determinant in ultimate mass and dimension provided the capacity and capability of your in orbit facilities can produce the desired payload.

    This is where serious debate is, because it goes beyond naive crunching of the rocket equation and scaling by launch price kilogram to the continuing costs of operating HLV and alternative architectures. I’ve yet to see any evidence in trades or even in the behavior of commercial lifters–new and old–that overwhelmingly favor one approach over the other. On the other hand, there’s at least one key player who anticipates serving both arenas.

  • @Pathfinder:

    The Saturn V is too big to have any other use or users (making economies of scale impossible and making it difficult to impossible to get competition going to lower prices). He only went with the HLV because it was the fastest way to get to the moon (build a bigger rocket). Not the most economical or sustainable way.

    Really? You didn’t have commercial satellites lifting off until 1962. You didn’t have commercial launchers in the US market until after deregulation in 1984. You’re really going to ignore the history of commercial space growing from nothing and conclude that HLV is bunk because an early heavy lifter didn’t even play the game?

  • Prez, stop digging.

    How does an HLV stop you from buying propellant in orbit?

    Developing an HLV stops you from doing anything else, even developing payloads large enough to require an HLV in the first place. The amount of money available is finite, and when the SLS goes over budget the money required for completion will be scavenged from other programs within the agency. You will end up with the same situation as JWST, where all other science programs are cannibalized to pay for the behemoth. And after a few years, when the costs have skyrocketed, another Congress will be forced to shut that program down, just like Constellation and NASP and Delta Clipper and all the rest.

    Arguing for a new NASA-developed and -owned and -run HLV is arguing for doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Quite frankly, the very organizational structure of NASA doesn’t allow it to develop anything on time and on budget.The entire organizational structure needs to change, and probably be split into two separate agencies.

  • Martijn Meijering

    We’ll only assume transit from LEO to lunar orbit uses UMDH as a nod to your storables plan.

    No, my plan is to buy noncryogenic propellant at L1/L2 and to let the market sort out how to get it there. It could be by using LOX/LH2 from LEO. If you use slow three body trajectories your total delta-v to the lunar surface is lower than on a fast Constellation style trajectory. I’ve done the sums and for cargo using hypergolics for the final leg only adds 10% or so IMLEO, less if you use pump-fed engines.

    More importantly, IMLEO is less than half of the story, cost/kg is another one. Development costs are another issue to consider. Not having to spend tens of billions on an unnecessary HLV saves a lot.

    If you really cared about minimising costs, you’d go for a competitive approach. If HLVs were cost-effective, then the market would select them. The fact that you oppose this suggests you know HLVs are more expensive.

    Lifting heavier and heavier payloads to LEO, on the other hand, has value in and of itself

    No it doesn’t. You can comfortably build everything out of 20-30mT building blocks.

    For what, additional wear on the superstructure? Give me a break. They use ATV or Progress because they’re already there, period.

    Wear on the ISS thrusters. Of course ATV and Progress are there and both have refueling capability. The propellant that is transferred comes from different tanks than the propellant for the ATV/Progress thrusters. In the case of ATV it even uses a slightly different fuel (MMH on ATV vs UDMH on ISS). Once the vehicles are there they can be and no doubt sometimes are used for both functions. If the ATV has more propellant than it needs it can be put to work reboosting the ISS, in addition to any propellant that is transferred. And as I said, it also reduces the wear on the ISS thrusters.

    How does ATK deprive SpaceX of propellant?

    Money spent launching propellant on an SDLV is money not spent launching it on competing commercial launchers.

    And if it was so damned important to have that money, why would you do a damn fool thing like pick a fight with Congress when there billions upon billions more in lower hanging fruit?

    What bilions are you talking about?

    As I asked Pathfinder, describe your process.

    See here for one example: http://www.asi.org/adb/02/15/05/dinitrogen-tetroxide-production.html

    Hydrazine production is very straightforward.

    This is besides the point, since you’re not going to oxidize UDMH with NTO or hydrogen peroxide in the first place.

    Why not? And note that peroxide can be used as a monopropellant, which was my point.

    But more importantly, none of this matters in the first decade and a half, maybe more, of an exploration program. Lunar landers can use cryogenic crasher stages as soon as the become available and storable propulsion will remain useful for a long time to come.

    I submit that the truth of the matter is that you prefer LOX/LH2 for spacecraft precisely because you know cryogenic propellant transfer and storage aren’t available right now.

  • @Ed Minchau:

    Prez, stop digging

    Give me a break. We could be discussing the cost of tea in China and you’d still find a way to work in all your whining about how the Constellation experience will worm its way into anything that even smells like a 70+ ton lifter.

    Developing an HLV stops you from doing anything else, even developing payloads large enough to require an HLV in the first place.

    That’s a load of crap, even if we were talking about Constellation.

    The amount of money available is finite…

    You don’t say.

    …and when the SLS goes over budget the money required for completion will be scavenged from other programs within the agency.

    We don’t even know what shape SLS will finally take, let alone its budget, or its risk of running over.

    You will end up with the same situation as JWST, where all other science programs are cannibalized to pay for the behemoth.

    Don’t much care about other science programs or JWST.

    And after a few years, when the costs have skyrocketed, another Congress will be forced to shut that program down, just like Constellation and NASP and Delta Clipper and all the rest.

    You keep on seeking out a pattern where there is none. The single common thread you can identify is there were proposed vehicles of various shapes, sizes and capacities in the past that failed. Whuppdee freaking doo.

    Arguing for a new NASA-developed and -owned and -run HLV…

    Whose arguing for a new government developed, owned and run HLV? Hell, by the end of its life you could barely say two of those things about the Shuttle.

    But since you want to argue with the guy who wants a GOSPLAN rocket, I’ll leave you to find him and have your fill.

  • @Martijn:

    No, my plan is to buy noncryogenic propellant at L1/L2 and to let the market sort out how to get it there.

    Don’t really care. I set 3 km/s since you’ll have to do that anyways no matter how you’ll have to insert to LEO and no matter what path you take to the Moon or where you immediately source your hypergolics (they’ll ultimately originate on Earth).

    It could be…

    Yada, yada. Who cares? We’re just talking about the cost of prepositioning propellant.

    If you really cared about minimising costs, you’d go for a competitive approach.

    Who says I don’t, regardless of whether or not I care about minimizing costs? More importantly, I care about minimizing the time to establish a permanent, expanding human presence in cislunar space; to the point of affordability I’m more than willing to sacrifice dogmatic adherence to efficiency to achieve that end.

    If HLVs were cost-effective, then the market would select them. The fact that you oppose this suggests you know HLVs are more expensive.

    If storing propellant in space was cost-effective, then the market would select them. The fact that you oppose this suggests you know storing propellant in space is more expensive.

    Feel free to swap in as many other unrealized sacred cows that form your particular pantheon until you realize how dumb it reads.

    No it doesn’t. You can comfortably build everything out of 20-30mT building blocks.

    This is getting borderline religious with you.

    Wear on the ISS thrusters.

    Read what I wrote and try again.

    Money spent launching propellant on an SDLV is money not spent launching it on competing commercial launchers.

    Are you on autopilot? I asked how does HLV stop you from buying propellant in orbit. You wrote “[b]y taking most of the propellant off the market…” I’ll ask you again; I’ll even rephrase. In what way does an SD HLV take propellant off the market for kerolox mid range lifter?

    In any case, your answer here is repetitive, religious garbage. You can’t even point to a shortfall in meeting commercial lift’s needs.

    What bilions are you talking about?

    Take NASA’s appropriation for a year, and subtract out commercial and HLV spending. Those billions.

    See here for one example: http://www.asi.org/adb/02/15/05/dinitrogen-tetroxide-production.html

    With ammonia feedstock from Earth?

    Why not? And note that peroxide can be used as a monopropellant, which was my point.

    Because NTO requires feedstock from Earth and hydrogen peroxide is a monopropellant. Why bother?

    But more importantly, none of this matters in the first decade and a half, maybe more, of an exploration program.

    Why? Who made you the arbiter of the time tables of exploration and expansion? And ultimately, what the hell are you trying to achieve? Your plan as you’ve described locks Americans into a decade long process of building out a storables refueling architecture that will always be tied to Earth feedstock. If your ultimate aim is simply to achieve some one-time price cut for the useless things we do now, you’ve certainly picked a winner. Even then, it’s still worth doing. So is cryogenic propellant storage. And heavy lift.

    I submit that the truth of the matter is that you prefer LOX/LH2 for spacecraft precisely because you know cryogenic propellant transfer and storage aren’t available right now.

    What you submit is next to worthless. Anyone who prefers LOX/LH2 does so because they can get it within 12 km/s round trip of LEO, and within 5 km/s of any place worth settling.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Really? You didn’t have commercial satellites lifting off until 1962. You didn’t have commercial launchers in the US market until after deregulation in 1984. You’re really going to ignore the history of commercial space growing from nothing and conclude that HLV is bunk because an early heavy lifter didn’t even play the game?”

    No it is called common sense. HLV’s by their nature are too big for the current market of 20ton and less payloads. NASA was the organization that launched commercial satellites back then….they could have used a Saturn V, but why not….could it be oversized and too costly for the job.

    Even today why buy a FH when your payload can use a Falcon 9? Using pounds per kilogram as the sole metric is like buying two 50 pound bags of sugar for a family of 4 to use in their every day needs. Sure it is cheaper per pound, but if you can’t afford butter, flower, meat eggs ect… because you blew your budget on the sugar you wont be eating. If the rocket consumes so much of your budget that you can’t afford a lunar lander (sounds familiar??) you won’t be landing on the moon any time soon.

    LEO human spaceflight does not need HLV. About the only thing they could be useful for is launching space stations and even then there are issues like space station last 10 year (long time to keep an HLV around just for that job) or more.

    Most science missions are small and the few that could use an HLV(the Galileo’s and Cassini’s) are rare(on the order of every ten years). Plus there is a lot to be gained by doing gradational assists and using a smaller cheaper rocket. I.e. you get more science at a lower cost.

    DoD has a budget big enough to afford an HLV yet they don’t seem to be after one.

    Which leaves BEO spaceflight the only customer for anything over about 30-50MT or so. However BEO spaceflight by it nature will be much more expensive than LEO spaceflight. A space station and the shuttle are reusable. Orion is not nor would be CXP’s lunar lander ect… You can safely bet their will be fewer moon missions than shuttle flights a year, heck CXP was only planning two, two week landing a year!

    In addition the infrastructure to build transport and test payloads greater than 20MT or so does not exist (even more money). Most exploration payloads mass less than 40MT when unfueled even things like nuclear reactors don’t mass that much. DRM 3.0 assumed a reactor mass of 23MT or so.

    I prefer that NASA not develop any rockets unless it is something new and experimental and SLS is not enough of that. I didn’t know wither I should smile or cry this week when I saw space X announce that it was attempting to develop a reusable rocket(esp. first stage). NASA should be on fore front of technology, not reassembling 1970ies parts to do an operational job like send stuff to the moon. It is sad when start ups have more gumption and foresight that the national space program.

    As for UDMH:

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/21oct_lcross2/

    You could bring Nitrogen to the moon or process the ammonia and methane present.

  • pathfinder_01

    Anyway my view is that NASA should not be developing the HLV at all. Industry should if needed.

    If industry does it then it will be done with an eye towards cost and efficacy. If NASA does it will be done with attempting to spend as much money in as many places as possible. Which gives you a rocket at great cost and no ability to raise the budget to put anything on it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I set 3 km/s since you’ll have to do that anyways no matter how you’ll have to insert to LEO and no matter what path you take to the Moon or where you immediately source your hypergolics (they’ll ultimately originate on Earth).

    Those 3km/s need not be done with hypergolic propulsion and likely wouldn’t be. Yes, the propellants will originate on Earth, because that’s where our propellant production facilities are currently located. It will takes us at least 15 years to establish them anywhere else, probably much longer. For the initial phase of an exploration program it is absolutely immaterial what propellant you use, because it will all be coming from Earth so ISRU will not be a factor.

    More importantly, I care about minimizing the time to establish a permanent, expanding human presence in cislunar space; to the point of affordability I’m more than willing to sacrifice dogmatic adherence to efficiency to achieve that end.

    Cheap lift will have a bigger impact on costs than the choice of propellant, especially if it’s only the propellant you start with, not the propellant you stick to for all eternity, and if you only use it from L1/L2 onward. And as I said, the market would select the most effective solution if you procured competitively. You can launch storable propellant to L1/L2 with an HLV if you want to.

    If storing propellant in space was cost-effective, then the market would select them. The fact that you oppose this suggests you know storing propellant in space is more expensive.

    I don’t oppose this, so your argument falls flat.

    In what way does an SD HLV take propellant off the market for kerolox mid range lifter?

    Whatever missions SLS would be used for, most of its payload would consist of propellant (that’s the rocket equation for you, as well as the high cost of hardware), and that propellant would then not be launched on commercial launchers. They could get themselves the propellant all right, but not a customer that would buy it from them in orbit. Simple really.

    With ammonia feedstock from Earth?

    Or hydrazine. But again, it is totally irrelevant. By the time we’re ready to do ISRU we may well have cryogenic crasher stages or even fully cryogenic landers. If not, we could do this. And it’s the first phase that would give us cheap lift and that’s what’s crucial.

    In any case, your answer here is repetitive, religious garbage.

    No it is perfectly rational, you simply seem to be too thick to get it.

    And ultimately, what the hell are you trying to achieve?

    To establish a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market as soon as possible. So that we can get to RLVs and other components of a mature space transportation infrastructure (such as cryogenic depots, SEP tugs, aerobraking, ISRU etc) as soon as possible through demand-pull, or as Elon Musk puts it, by supplying a forcing function. Such an infrastructure could be redundant and wholly privately owned. Once it’s up and running it would no longer need a government anchor client, since cheap lift will generate enough demand for commercial manned spaceflight, but it would be in the interest of a government exploration agency to make use of such an infrastructure.

    Take NASA’s appropriation for a year, and subtract out commercial and HLV spending. Those billions.

    NASA has spent $3.5B a year on Shuttle launches for the last thirty years. It should be easier to turn that into $3.5B (or even $1B) a year on competitively procured propellant launches than to do the same thing with R&D done at Glenn, or spacecraft at JPL etc. The only thing that needs to change is the rockets used to do the launches.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Most science missions are small and the few that could use an HLV(the Galileo’s and Cassini’s) are rare(on the order of every ten years).

    And even those could use propellant transfer and smaller launchers. That would make the missions more complicated and the SMD will therefore not develop systems for that with its own money, but if NASA HSF developed them they could then use them. In fact I see that as a good way to create a large market almost immediately. Simply provide Orion based transfer stages at L1/L2 to SMD, spend the Shuttle budget on launching storable propellant to L1/L2 and supply the propellant on a first-come first-served basis or to the highest bidder. This will skew the field towards heavily propulsive solutions and brute force near term missions, which would not be a bad thing. Things like sending a probe to the outer solar system on a fast trajectory, landing heavy instrumentation on top of Olympus Mons, NEO / main belt asteroid sample return / transponder tracking / observation a la Dawn.

  • Rhyolite

    “More importantly, I care about minimizing the time to establish a permanent, expanding human presence in cislunar space; to the point of affordability I’m more than willing to sacrifice dogmatic adherence to efficiency to achieve that end.”

    Affordability equals viability in the long run.

  • @pathfinder:

    No it is called common sense.

    That’s not common sense. That’s dogma.

    HLV’s by their nature are too big for the current market of 20ton and less payloads.

    More religion. The best you can infer is that per unit mass per launch and the available slack in launch demand drive lift choices, and that your floors and ceilings can fluctate over time. The small lifter bottom collapsed this year with customers expanding in the medium tier. There is no HLV, so there’s no way to tell what market growth or contraction you would expect in that area.

    NASA was the organization that launched commercial satellites back then….they could have used a Saturn V, but why not….could it be oversized and too costly for the job.

    Could it be that the satellite market was so soft in the 1960s and early 1970s that they could barely justify their Delta flight rates?

    Even today why buy a FH when your payload can use a Falcon 9? Using pounds per kilogram as the sole metric is like buying two 50 pound bags of sugar for a family of 4 to use in their every day needs. Sure it is cheaper per pound, but if you can’t afford butter, flower, meat eggs ect… because you blew your budget on the sugar you wont be eating. If the rocket consumes so much of your budget that you can’t afford a lunar lander (sounds familiar??) you won’t be landing on the moon any time soon.

    LEO human spaceflight does not need HLV. About the only thing they could be useful for is launching space stations and even then there are issues like space station last 10 year (long time to keep an HLV around just for that job) or more.

    Most science missions are small and the few that could use an HLV(the Galileo’s and Cassini’s) are rare(on the order of every ten years). Plus there is a lot to be gained by doing gradational assists and using a smaller cheaper rocket. I.e. you get more science at a lower cost.

    DoD has a budget big enough to afford an HLV yet they don’t seem to be after one.

    Which leaves BEO spaceflight the only customer for anything over about 30-50MT or so. However BEO spaceflight by it nature will be much more expensive than LEO spaceflight. A space station and the shuttle are reusable. Orion is not nor would be CXP’s lunar lander ect… You can safely bet their will be fewer moon missions than shuttle flights a year, heck CXP was only planning two, two week landing a year!

    In addition the infrastructure to build transport and test payloads greater than 20MT or so does not exist (even more money). Most exploration payloads mass less than 40MT when unfueled even things like nuclear reactors don’t mass that much. DRM 3.0 assumed a reactor mass of 23MT or so.

    I prefer that NASA not develop any rockets unless it is something new and experimental and SLS is not enough of that. I didn’t know wither I should smile or cry this week when I saw space X announce that it was attempting to develop a reusable rocket(esp. first stage). NASA should be on fore front of technology, not reassembling 1970ies parts to do an operational job like send stuff to the moon. It is sad when start ups have more gumption and foresight that the national space program.

    As for UDMH:

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/21oct_lcross2/

    You could bring Nitrogen to the moon or process the ammonia and methane present.

  • Hit return too soon:

    @pathfinder:

    No it is called common sense.

    That’s not common sense. That’s dogma.

    HLV’s by their nature are too big for the current market of 20ton and less payloads.

    More religion. The best you can infer is that per unit mass per launch and the available slack in launch demand drive lift choices, and that your floors and ceilings can fluctate over time. The small lifter bottom collapsed this year with customers expanding in the medium tier. There is no HLV, so there’s no way to tell what market growth or contraction you would expect in that area.

    NASA was the organization that launched commercial satellites back then….they could have used a Saturn V, but why not….could it be oversized and too costly for the job.

    Could it be that the satellite market was so soft in the 1960s and early 1970s that they could barely justify their Delta flight rates?

    Even today why buy a FH when your payload can use a Falcon 9? Using pounds per kilogram as the sole metric is like buying two 50 pound bags of sugar for a family of 4 to use in their every day needs. Sure it is cheaper per pound, but if you can’t afford butter, flower, meat eggs ect… because you blew your budget on the sugar you wont be eating.

    This is a dumb analogy, as you propose that buying sugar in bulk once bankrupts your family of 4.

    If the rocket consumes so much of your budget that you can’t afford a lunar lander (sounds familiar??) you won’t be landing on the moon any time soon.

    You know, at some point you guys are going to have to cease with all the crazy handwaving and actually show that even SLS will inevitably eat the budget. You know, that future as opposed to this one.

    LEO human spaceflight does not need HLV.

    Says you and your peculiar religion.

    In addition the infrastructure to build transport and test payloads greater than 20MT or so does not exist (even more money). Most exploration payloads mass less than 40MT when unfueled even things like nuclear reactors don’t mass that much. DRM 3.0 assumed a reactor mass of 23MT or so.

    We’re at DRA 5, and your dry NTR mass has gone up to 33.7 to 41.7 mT.

    I prefer that NASA not develop any rockets unless it is something new and experimental and SLS is not enough of that.

    Not surprisingly, I feel the same way. I also note that it is supremely foolish to talk about the shape of SLS seeing as we haven’t even broached its first appropriation. None of this has anything to do with the ultimately unknown shape and means of procuring heavy lift in general, however.

    You could bring Nitrogen to the moon or process the ammonia and methane present.

    You’re not going to source ammonia from the Moon.

  • @Pathfinder:

    Anyway my view is that NASA should not be developing the HLV at all. Industry should if needed. If industry does it then it will be done with an eye towards cost and efficacy.

    Good for you. For me, cost and efficacy are secondary concerns to expediency.

  • @Martijn:

    Those 3km/s need not be done with hypergolic propulsion and likely wouldn’t be.

    Oh really? Your plan is “to buy noncryogenic propellant at L1/L2.” If you’re disavowing this now, then we can forget about using your storables network to fuel propellant resupply out to libration. You’re now at 25 flights and $1.53 billion just for propellant delivery.

    Cheap lift will have a bigger impact on costs than the choice of propellant…

    You really do have a propensity to ramble. What does this have to do with anything I said?

    I don’t oppose this, so your argument falls flat.

    Sure you do. You’re arguing your approach is cost effective. The market clearly disagrees.

    Whatever missions SLS would be used for, most of its payload would consist of propellant (that’s the rocket equation for you, as well as the high cost of hardware), and that propellant would then not be launched on commercial launchers. They could get themselves the propellant all right, but not a customer that would buy it from them in orbit. Simple really.

    In other words, HLV doesn’t deprive commercial of propellant. Thank you.

    Or hydrazine. But again, it is totally irrelevant.

    No, it’s not. The difference between being ISRU ready or not goes a long way towards mitigating the risk that costs for a given particular in-space refueling strategy won’t exceed that of HLV to any arbitrary location.

    No it is perfectly rational, you simply seem to be too thick to get it.

    Rational presumes reasoning. You’ve been throwing out the same tired aphorisms–rephrased slightly for seasoning–since we’ve started.

    To establish a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market as soon as possible.

    I don’t think so. Someone who does that doesn’t impose arbitrary waiting periods on other technologies trying to move forward.

    NASA has spent $3.5B a year on Shuttle launches for the last thirty years. It should be easier to turn that into $3.5B (or even $1B) a year on competitively procured propellant launches than to do the same thing with R&D done at Glenn, or spacecraft at JPL etc. The only thing that needs to change is the rockets used to do the launches.

    Who cares what you think should be easier? Is it in fact, easier? Have you learned nothing from this Administration’s experience with Congress?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Your plan is “to buy noncryogenic propellant at L1/L2.” If you’re disavowing this now, then we can forget about using your storables network to fuel propellant resupply out to libration.

    You don’t seem to be listening. What I’m talking about is transporting storable propellant to L1/L2 without specifying how to get it there. You could transport ~16mT of storable propellant on a Centaur. That’s using LOX/LH2 to transport MMH/NTO.

    What does this have to do with anything I said?

    You argue against using storable propellant based on the higher Isp of LOX/LH2 and based on ISRU. I’m telling you launch costs can be reduced by more than IMLEO would be increased by lower Isp propulsion and by an amount that is comparable to the effect of ISRU. Not to mention the fact that ISRU applies to storable propellant too.

    Sure you do. You’re arguing your approach is cost effective. The market clearly disagrees.

    The market doesn’t clearly disagree since there is currently no market for manned spaceflight beyond LEO. There’s no telling what the market would do and I am not prejudging it. I expect cryogenic depots, SEP tugs and smallish HLVs (EELV Phase 1, FH) to be part of the infrastructure eventually, but it would be up to the market to decide.

    In other words, HLV doesn’t deprive commercial of propellant. Thank you.

    What an idiotic reply. I didn’t mean it would deprive them of propellant, but of the opportunity to sell it in orbit. Until we have an operational ISRU facility (and maybe even after that, depending on whether exporting lunar LOX/LH2 to LEO is cost-effective), doing exploration will require launching vast quantities of propellant from Earth to orbit. If there is an SLS, then the bulk of that propellant will be launched on it, thus depriving commercial launchers of the opportunity to launch that propellant for NASA. Do you get it now? Sheesh.

    No, it’s not. The difference between being ISRU ready or not goes a long way towards mitigating the risk that costs for a given particular in-space refueling strategy won’t exceed that of HLV to any arbitrary location.

    It won’t matter until you have an operational ISRU capability, ISRU can be used for storable propellant too and you can also switch to other forms of propulsion over time. Furthermore, the refueling strategy is at no risk of exceeding the costs of the HLV approach, it is going to be cheaper even at today’s launch prices since IMLEO would only be slightly higher and you can save the development and carrying costs of an HLV. In fact launch prices would automatically drop since fixed costs would be spread out over more launches.

    And then there’s the possibility of using SEP to move storable propellant to L1/L2. This could well end up cheaper than using LOX/LH2 to transport LOX/LH2 to L1/L2/LLO.

    And another thing: if we really want to reduce costs, we should abandon the wasteful habit of throwing away spacecraft after a single use as soon as possible. That pretty much requires orbital refueling.

    I don’t think so. Someone who does that doesn’t impose arbitrary waiting periods on other technologies trying to move forward.

    Ridiculous. I’m not proposing any arbitrary waiting periods, you are, by your religious insistence on an HLV, on use of LOX/LH2 and on avoiding orbital refueling and thus throwing away spacecraft after a single use. If an HLV (either a smallish one like EELV Phase 1 or FH, or something bigger, maybe even SLS) is the most efficient way to get propellant to L1/L2, then competitive procurement of propellant launches will allow the private sector to develop such an HLV. You on the other hand are insisting we should start with an HLV.

  • You don’t seem to be listening.

    What part of “to buy noncryogenic propellant at L1/L2″ am I not getting?

    What I’m talking about is transporting storable propellant to L1/L2 without specifying how to get it there. You could transport ~16mT of storable propellant on a Centaur. That’s using LOX/LH2 to transport MMH/NTO.

    Accounted for in my third calculation. You’re at $1.53 billion.

    What does this have to do with anything I said?

    You argue against using storable propellant…

    Never once argued against using storable propellants, or even your storable propellant network.

    …based on the higher Isp of LOX/LH2 and based on ISRU.

    Don’t really give a damn about specific impulse. For cislunar expansion, the difference between 353 s and 455 s doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

    I’m telling you launch costs can be reduced by more than IMLEO would be increased by lower Isp propulsion and by an amount that is comparable to the effect of ISRU.

    A comparison between launch costs and mass is nonsense. Consequently, it is impossible to infer what you mean by “effect.” I won’t speculate as to the point you’re trying to make here and await your clarification.

    Not to mention the fact that ISRU applies to storable propellant too.

    So long as we’re talking about hydrogen peroxide. I’d submit that 100 and change second specific impulse is pushing it.

    The market doesn’t clearly disagree since there is currently no market for manned spaceflight beyond LEO. There’s no telling what the market would do and I am not prejudging it.

    You can say the same for HLV, yet you’re clearly prejudging it.

    I expect cryogenic depots, SEP tugs and smallish HLVs (EELV Phase 1, FH) to be part of the infrastructure eventually, but it would be up to the market to decide.

    Very well, then zero out exploration spending entirely.

    What an idiotic reply. I didn’t mean it would deprive them of propellant, but of the opportunity to sell it in orbit.

    I’ll leave it to others to figure out how you go from “tak[ing] most of the propellant off the market” to “depriv[ing commercial] of the opportunity to sell [whatever propellant] in orbit.” Based on your remarks below, I imagine you’re about to walk this back to the narrow service of prepositioning propellant in the first place.

    Until we have an operational ISRU facility (and maybe even after that, depending on whether exporting lunar LOX/LH2 to LEO is cost-effective), doing exploration will require launching vast quantities of propellant from Earth to orbit. If there is an SLS, then the bulk of that propellant will be launched on it, thus depriving commercial launchers of the opportunity to launch that propellant for NASA. Do you get it now? Sheesh.

    No, I don’t, unless your suggesting that HLV is a more cost effective means of launching that propellant. It’s certainly possible, but even I haven’t made that argument. All I’ve shown is that after 130 mT SpaceX’s fixed price launch costs are comparable to HLV lifecycle costs averaged over launches–it’s a rough estimate but within a margin where other continuing costs can dominate.

    It won’t matter until you have an operational ISRU capability,

    It will matter if breaking vendor lock in for on orbit refueling gets costly enough.

    And then there’s the possibility of using SEP to move storable propellant to L1/L2. This could well end up cheaper than using LOX/LH2 to transport LOX/LH2 to L1/L2/LLO.

    That’s one acronym too far. SEP?

    And another thing: if we really want to reduce costs, we should abandon the wasteful habit of throwing away spacecraft after a single use as soon as possible. That pretty much requires orbital refueling.

    And another thing, water is wet. Anything else useful to add?

    Ridiculous.

    Not ridiculous. You’ve made several statements predicting lock in for a decade, 15 years, or more on your storable propellants scheme. You continue to demand serial progression from one stage of development and deployment to another. You make absurd pronouncements regarding the affordability of walking and chewing gum at the same time while resorting to silly strawmen. For example…

    I’m not proposing any arbitrary waiting periods, you are, by your religious insistence on an HLV, on use of LOX/LH2 and on avoiding orbital refueling and thus throwing away spacecraft after a single use.

    When have I ever argued against orbital refueling or for expendability as a virtue?

    And…

    You on the other hand are insisting we should start with an HLV.

    When did I ever say start with an HLV? How does that make sense in a market that already has EELVs and will soon have medium lifters for commercial buy years before even the most optimistic flight of any heavy lifter–proposed by either NASA or the private sector?

  • pathfinder_01

    SEP = Solar Electric Propulsion.

    There are several methods for it. If used it can lower the price of deep space flight by allowing you to send cargo for less. SEP is also possibly reusable(the only problem with reusability is the radiation from the Van Allen belt and even then there are panels that are very resistant to it).

    SEP can be used directly for the following situations:

    Lunar cargo
    Manned NEO missions
    Mars cargo

    SEP can help indirectly:

    Manned mars mission by moving cargo to a high earth orbit over time reducing the need for propellant to escape earth.

    The Van Allen belts and the time factor make it a poor use for manned lunar trips but with nuclear power mars trips open up (or much better solar panels).

    The big issues with SEP is the radiation from the van Allen belt and scaling up the process so that it can move 10-20tons or so. With SEP you could use an atlas to launch an Apollo sized lander to LEO move the lander to L1/l2 then use either 2 flights of Delta IV heavy or 1 of an Phase I EELV or FH+raptor to send a capsule to L1/L2 to meet the lander. However HIPEP, Arc jets and the famous Vasmir are examples of electric rockets.

    SEP could allow you to supply a moon base or deep space station with same rockets you use to supply the ISS. In theory you could do the same with a mars base but you probably want to send more cargo at once to a mars base vs. a moon base.

    You can move time insensitive cargos like propellant via SEP. You could for instance move the propellant needed to land on the moon or mars ahead which reduces the size of the rocket needed for the mission.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ You’re not going to source ammonia from the Moon.”

    Have you read the lacross mission results? Amionia, Methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide were found along with water ice on the moon’s poles.

    “Good for you. For me, cost and efficacy are secondary concerns to expediency.?”

    If costs don’t come down there will be no way we will go further out in the solar system. People will never support more than a few astronauts on the moon or mars(at that is at best). I want to see the day when a university or a group of them can organize a moon mission. That day is far right now but there are ways to work towards it. Sorry but space flight need to be more than flags and foot prints. The cheaper it costs the more likely it will be done and the more that can be done. I want to see a day when perhaps my grand kids can buy a trip into space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 8:09 am

    For me, cost and efficacy are secondary concerns to expediency.

    Why? The last time we sent a human out beyond LEO was 40 years ago, so what’s the rush?

    Don’t get me wrong – I wish we were much further along in human exploration of space, but that sentiment isn’t shared by most of the U.S. Taxpayers, which is one of the reasons why NASA doesn’t have an Apollo-sized budget these days.

    So why the expediency?

  • @pathfinder:

    SEP = Solar Electric Propulsion.

    Thank you. That’ll be all.

  • Have you read the lacross mission results?

    Yes.

    Amionia, Methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide were found along with water ice on the moon’s poles.

    Correction. Nonwater ices were detected. The concentration of different compositions could not be determined by the method used.

    If costs don’t come down there will be no way we will go further out in the solar system.

    Costs will come down regardless, and they’ll come down quicker the faster Americans get to kicking down doors.

    People will never support more than a few astronauts on the moon or mars(at that is at best).

    People will support $18 billion a year on NASA even in a recession. Once that money’s in hand, they don’t particularly care what the money is used for so long as there’s at least some program at least making noises about doing something in and with space.

    I want to see the day when a university or a group of them can organize a moon mission.

    I don’t give a crap what a university does. I also don’t give a crap about your grandkids. If there’re opportunities to accelerate the conquest of space quickly enough for folks today to enjoy the fruits, then I’m willing to deviate from what you consider to be the organic path forward.

  • @Coastal Ron;

    Why? The last time we sent a human out beyond LEO was 40 years ago, so what’s the rush?

    To realize the wealth of space as soon as possible. It’s that simple.

  • Rhyolite

    “Costs will come down regardless, and they’ll come down quicker the faster Americans get to kicking down doors.”

    Apollo was around $170B in present dollars. Constellation was coming in at over $230B in present dollars through a first moon landing. Costs are not going down. Any HLV architecture based on shuttle components will lock in an unfordable cost structure for decades to come.

  • Rhyolite

    “To realize the wealth of space as soon as possible.”

    At present launch costs, the “wealth of space” has negative value.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 10:10 am

    To realize the wealth of space as soon as possible.

    What would that be? Water? Minerals? Or are you talking about wealth from services?

    Why fast, and why not affordably? Fast assumes the government pays for everything, whereas affordably means businesses can participate. Who do you see doing what, and why?

  • @Coastal Ron:

    What would that be? Water? Minerals? Or are you talking about wealth from services?

    All of it, and as much of it as possible as fast as possible. Or at least a firm, inarguable evidence that it lies outside my grasp.

    Why fast, and why not affordably?

    Because the longer it takes to seize, the less time you have to enjoy it.

    Fast assumes the government pays for everything, whereas affordably means businesses can participate.

    This is aphorism, pulled out of thin air no less.

    Who do you see doing what, and why?

    Whatever institution or firm is best suited towards delivering the most benefit in the least amount of time within an affordable budget, with the public sector the risk taker of last resort.

  • Apollo was around $170B in present dollars. Constellation was coming in at over $230B in present dollars through a first moon landing.

    Please.

    VSE‘s implementation was expected to cost $230 billion from 2004 to 2005. or roughly $22-3 billion a year.

    Costs are not going down.

    Didn’t say they are. Said they’ll come down regardless.

    Any HLV architecture based on shuttle components will lock in an unfordable cost structure for decades to come.

    Even if that were true (and it isn’t), SD HLV isn’t the only path to super heavy.

  • @Rhyolite:

    At present launch costs, the “wealth of space” has negative value.

    That must be why the satellite market collapsed all those years ago and we’re stuck bouncing radio waves off the ionosphere.

  • Rhyolite

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    The satellite market has nothing to do with your HLV fantasies. The satellite market needs cheep reliable space access, not monster pork rockets.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    All of it, and as much of it as possible as fast as possible. Or at least a firm, inarguable evidence that it lies outside my grasp.

    And what are we going to do with it? Plant a flag, write our names in the dust, put them in containers to ship home – what?

    It (whatever “it” is) likely won’t be worthwhile to bring back to Earth, so why grab everything? What do you want to do with it, and why will it have tangible value?

    In manufacturing (my background) money spent on inventory that isn’t used immediately is viewed as a liability, not an asset, and so it would be in space. If you spend money to acquire something in space, it will be a waste of money until/unless you need it.

    My point of view is to build the sustainable systems that will allow us to not only get out into space, but stay out there also. My measurement of success in that regard is the average number people that are in space over a period of time (month and year). People require support, and that demand for support creates more and more capability, whether it comes from Earth or somewhere else (Moon, asteroids, etc.). Demand and supply stay closely coupled in such a system, and it’s easy to see when one is outstripping the other.

  • @Rhyloite:

    The satellite market has nothing to do with your HLV fantasies.

    It certainly has something to do with your delusion of negative growth in the satellite market.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    And what are we going to do with it? Plant a flag, write our names in the dust, put them in containers to ship home – what?

    Dig, crack, and explode the hell out of it until there’s enough to build something of value out of it. And keep doing it until either the ledger breaks even or it’s obvious it never will.

    It (whatever “it” is) likely won’t be worthwhile to bring back to Earth, so why grab everything? What do you want to do with it, and why will it have tangible value?

    Why would you bring it back to Earth?

    In manufacturing (my background) money spent on inventory that isn’t used immediately is viewed as a liability, not an asset…

    Manufacturing (allegedly your background) is not accounting. And you’re wrong. Not wrong as in mistaken. Wrong as in that statement is absolute nonsense, akin to…say…”2 + blue = snorkel.”

    Nevertheless, who said anything about stockpiling inventory in space? I’m not interested in depoting propellant or cracking rocks only to watch the result depreciate unused.

    My point of view is to build the sustainable systems that will allow us to not only get out into space, but stay out there also.

    Are you going to come out in favor of breathing, too?

    My measurement of success…

    Don’t really care. I think most people can grasp “getting there the firstest with the mostest” in a single sentence.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Manufacturing (allegedly your background) is not accounting. And you’re wrong.

    Obviously you’re not in manufacturing, but that’s OK since this is a space forum. But the CEO’s and President’s of the companies I worked for had a different view than you, as do the finance and operations disciplines – every day you have something sitting in inventory, that’s money that can’t be used for other things and is costing money to keep it there (facilities, overhead, touch labor to take care of it, etc.). Until a customer gives you money for it, it’s a liability.

    I look at our efforts to move out into space in the same light. If we spend money to build something, but it doesn’t get used, then it’s wasting money. That’s my biggest beef with the SLS is that I don’t see a use for it, so I see $30B+ of taxpayers money being spent on something that won’t get used much, whereas we could have spent the same money and be out exploring in a much larger fashion using existing rockets.

    That’s all the questions I have for this thread – thanks for taking the time to explain your views.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Dig, crack, and explode the hell out of it until there’s enough to build something of value out of it. And keep doing it until either the ledger breaks even or it’s obvious it never will.”

    At current prices of manned spaceflight it never will. Also robots can dig and crack cheaper and the moon is close enough that you could direct the robot from earth. Only mars would benifit form having humans in orbit directing the robots.

    “Don’t really care. I think most people can grasp “getting there the firstest with the mostest” in a single sentence.”

    At what cost and for what purpose? The Vikings got to North America but it apears they lacked the technolgy or the ability to seattle it.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Obviously you’re not in manufacturing, but that’s OK since this is a space forum.

    That’s okay, since outside of Fairyland there’s no way you get to transform assets into liabilities.

    But the CEO’s and President’s of the companies I worked for had a different view than you…

    Who cares? It’s their accountants’ views that matter.

    I look at our efforts to move out into space in the same light…

    Good for you. Don’t really see the value in it, but that’s your prerogative.

  • @pathfinder:

    At current prices of manned spaceflight it never will.

    Seriously, do you know how dumb this sounds? The only way it could be true is if total realizable income from space activity caps within the vicinity of present launch volume. If that’s the case, then spaceflight of any kind at any cost is a loser.

    Also robots can dig and crack cheaper…

    Awesome. Where’s my fully automated widget factory?

    At what cost and for what purpose?

    To get insanely rich as quickly as possible, at a cost that still permits you to get insanely rich or not completely bankrupt yourself discovering it was all just a dream anyway.

  • Rhyolite

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    “It certainly has something to do with your delusion of negative growth in the satellite market.”

    Who said anything about negative growth in the satellite market – other than you? We are talking about your fantasies to ““Dig, crack, and explode the hell out of it until there’s enough to build something of value out of it.” so you can exploit the “wealth of space.” The economics stink. Why the tax payers should foot the bill for HLV when there is no foreseeable return on that investment?

  • Rhyolite

    “To get insanely rich as quickly as possible, at a cost that still permits you to get insanely rich or not completely bankrupt yourself discovering it was all just a dream anyway.”

    Please go bankrupt on you own dime.

  • @Rhyolite:

    Who said anything about negative growth in the satellite market – other than you?

    You, and you alone it seems.

    We are talking about your fantasies to ““Dig, crack, and explode the hell out of it until there’s enough to build something of value out of it.” so you can exploit the “wealth of space.” The economics stink.

    Sorry, the Gospel According to Rhyolite wasn’t on the syllabus in macro.

    Why the tax payers should foot the bill for HLV when there is no foreseeable return on that investment?

    You are seriously full of it. If that’s your argument, zero out commercial crew and cargo, ISS, hell the whole of NASA. What’s the concrete, undeniable ROI on any of it anyway?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Who cares? It’s their accountants’ views that matter.

    And accounting/finance says the same thing. I have a background in this type of thing, including being appointed by CFO’s to manage inventory issues. Believe or don’t believe – I don’t care.

    Seeing as you’re not really concerned about how money is spent, I can see how you wouldn’t understand this. But again, this is not a core issue related to what we could/should be doing in space.

    However since we don’t lack the will or talent to do things in space, just the money, I think it has relevance. And determining who cares about how much things cost, and whether they are worth the money invested, seems to be a good indicator of what approach people want to take regarding space exploration and exploitation.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    And accounting/finance says the same thing.

    Then your accountants are committing fraud.

    Seeing as you’re not really concerned about how money is spent, I can see how you wouldn’t understand this.

    My views on frugality have nothing to do with your utterly ridiculous nonsense about marking assets as liabilities.

    However since we don’t lack the will or talent to do things in space, just the money, I think it has relevance.

    Since when have Americans lacked the money to do things in space?

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 5th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    There are two ways of looking at inventory – how it’s accounted for on the companies ledger, and how useful it is to the company.

    You are thinking in terms of the ledger, where inventory is indeed put into the asset category. But talk with a CFO and he’ll tell you that having lots of inventory for inventory sake is a liability for the company, in that it ties up cash that could be put to work somewhere else (new equipment, more sales staff, etc.).

    Inventory should only be on hand for the least amount of time it takes to transform it into revenue. Anything longer means that it’s a drag on the companies finances, and it makes the company less flexible to changing demand. If you have $10M worth of unique inventory on hand for Product A, but all the customers are ordering are Product B, then that’s $10M less dollars the company has to work with. Not good.

    And so it is for the SLS. If we don’t keep the SLS busy at lifting SLS-sized payloads into space, then it’ll be wasting money. And since no one has been able to point to even one likely SLS-unqiue payload, much less years and years of them, I see $30B being tied up in something that won’t return $30B worth of value. It won’t be giving us $30B worth of space exploration.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 5th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Since when have Americans lacked the money to do things in space?

    Since when have we lacked money for the FAA to support a known need?

    Same answer – when politicians decide there isn’t enough.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    There are two ways of looking at inventory – how it’s accounted for on the companies ledger, and how useful it is to the company.

    Let’s call them:
    1) the way that actually means something, and
    2) the way you define it to make a cute point.

    BTW, the term you’re looking for is opportunity cost, which calculating–as is befitting its association with 2)–is, whether out of cuteness of hindsight, often an exercise in frivolity.

    For example…

    If you have $10M worth of unique inventory on hand for Product A, but all the customers are ordering are Product B, then that’s $10M less dollars the company has to work with. Not good.

    …this example arises only in the confines of an economists’ mental playground; a convenient stretch to convey an Aesop. We’re not going to space to dump $10 million worth of…I don’t know…vacuum into inventory.

    And so it is for the SLS.

    Except, it’s not.

    If we don’t keep the SLS busy at lifting SLS-sized payloads into space, then it’ll be wasting money.

    By this reasoning, any architecture not running at max capacity in a given period is “wasting money.”

    And since no one has been able to point to even one likely SLS-unqiue payload…

    1. 70+ ton nuclear reactors,
    2. BA-2100

    That’s two.

    …much less years and years of them…

    If your foresight ends with resupplying the ISS and rotating crew on and off and meeting the needs of the present satellite market, you’ll be fine with a medium lifter and a capsule with 6000 kg up-mass. If not, then you’re already stuck in the world hypothetical payloads.

    …see $30B being tied up in something that won’t return $30B worth of value.

    1. You’re arbitrarily setting time limits on ROI; something government’s manifestly do *not* do even when concerned about such things.
    2. What’s the ROI on SpaceX’s CRS?

    It won’t be giving us $30B worth of space exploration.

    Probably because “$30 worth of space exploration” is a nonsensical phrase.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 6th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    opportunity cost, which calculating–as is befitting its association with 2)–is, whether out of cuteness of hindsight, often an exercise in frivolity.

    You’re on the right track, but you stopped reading too early – get to the part about “Implicit costs”.

    this example [inventory issues] arises only in the confines of an economists’ mental playground

    Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – it does, and every company that produces a product has to deal with it. Some do it better than others, and I’ve been asked to mitigate far more than $10M worth of potentially excess inventory at one company I’ve been at. Those non-liquid assets kept us from pursuing significant business opportunities.

    By this reasoning, any architecture not running at max capacity in a given period is “wasting money.”

    Yep. But as long as you’re competitive with the rest of the market it’s not always recognized. If you get a chance, read “Blue Ocean Strategy“.

    1. 70+ ton nuclear reactors,
    2. BA-2100

    Is that it? Let us know when they get funded and we’ll start work on the rocket that can carry them. Until then let’s focus on things we can put into space using existing launchers, which include module systems like the ISS.

    If your foresight ends with resupplying the ISS and rotating crew… If not, then you’re already stuck in the world hypothetical payloads.

    Lots of darts tossed, but no bulls-eyes. This needs a different thread if you want to get into the details.

    1. You’re arbitrarily setting time limits on ROI”

    Don’t forget your mantra of “To realize the wealth of space as soon as possible”. The SLS slows us down, it doesn’t speed up exploration.

    2. What’s the ROI on SpaceX’s CRS?

    This one can be calculated, since the alternative costs are known. But you’ll need NASA to cough up what they are getting charged by their partners for ATV, HTV and Progress to add to the known costs of the Shuttle. Just comparing to the Shuttle, I would say CRS pays back well within the first CRS contract, and their follown-on support costs will likely drop even further because of the maturity of the supply systems.

    Probably because “$30 worth of space exploration” is a nonsensical phrase.

    It’s easily quantified. Give two teams $30B to do space exploration. One team has to fund, build and use the SLS, the other uses commercial launchers. When the money runs out see who has accomplished the most in space (mass launched, people in space, places visited, etc.). The average taxpayer could easily judge the results.

  • Rhyolite

    “Sorry, the Gospel According to Rhyolite wasn’t on the syllabus in macro.”

    Was that supposed to constitute an argument? Provide a business case for getting “insanely rich” on the “wealth of space” or stop hitting the taxpayer up for money. If we are going to get that rich, it should be pretty easy to explain.

    “You are seriously full of it.”

    Pot. Kettle. Whatever.

    “If that’s your argument, zero out commercial crew and cargo, ISS, hell the whole of NASA. What’s the concrete, undeniable ROI on any of it anyway?”

    ISS was really sold on fostering cooperation with a former enemy. Was it worth it? That’s debatable. COTS and CCDev were sold as cheaper ways of operating ISS. They are justifiable if ISS can be justified. Cancellation is always an option.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>