NASA, White House

President Obama on human spaceflight and saving Florida jobs

On Thursday a reporter for Orlando television station WESH interviewed President Obama on a variety of topics, including space flight. In the interview, the president didn’t break any new ground on space policy, emphasizing that this is a “period of transition” for NASA that requires the development of new technologies. He also indicated, responding to the comment from the reporter (who apparently believes that there won’t be another NASA human spaceflight until 2025) about the jobs on Florida’s Space Coast lost with the shuttle’s retirement, that NASA will “figure out how we can move as many of the folks… who have expertise into these new projects”.

The question and answer is at the end of part 1 of the full interview video at the link above, starting just before the 4-minute mark. A rough transcript follows.

Reporter: When the manned space program shut down, we lost 9,000 jobs at NASA and in that general area. We’re not planning to have any more manned space flights until 2025. Do we risk losing the expertise and the behind-the-scenes acumen and public support by waiting that long to put men back in space?

Obama: Well, keep in mind that what we’ve done is said that we’re in a period of transition. I am absolutely committed to manned spaceflight. We had to make a choice. Frankly, we probably should have been doing a better job planning this out 20 years fr— 20 years ago. But the shuttle, and low orbit vehicles, had sort of played themselves out. For us to make the next leap, so that we’re not just going to the Moon but maybe Mars, we needed to revamp our technology, our heavy-lift vehicles had to be significantly improved. And so what we’ve done is said, look, we’re going to emphasize human spaceflight, that’s part of what makes America great, and it sparks the imagination not just in this country but the world. But in order to do that, we’ve got to take this transition time to start developing new technologies, more effective rockets, making sure that, as humans are in space longer, that we’ve figured out how to maintain environments for them. So, there’s going to be a huge amount of investment and work made in those areas, and the folks at NASA are the ones who are the experts. So even if the shuttle program has been suspended, what we’re trying to do is figure out how we can move as many of the folks—the engineers, the scientists, the technicians—who have expertise into these new projects to develop that next stage of human space flight.

107 comments to President Obama on human spaceflight and saving Florida jobs

  • Robert G. Oler

    A babble answer to a babble question…boilerplate RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    For once I agree with Oler. Obama does not even know what his only policy is or how it could be defended.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    “Obama does not even know what his only policy is or how it could be defended.”

    I didnt say that. What I said was that the question was babble and the answer was simply a babble back to it….it was political boilerplate sort of like people like you who babble on about “victories in the war on terror”…

    My guess is that the POTUS felt he no more had to mount a coherent defense of his policy to an idiot question then sometimes I feel about the statements you make; you know when you misstate the augustine commission or babble on about crony capitalism while defending SLS…

    but the difference is 1) I dont mind beating up on the uninformed or those who simply lie about things and 2) it is a pleasant diversion.

    What happened to you Mark? When did Obama hate simply overcome you? RGO

  • Manny Louis

    Not quite certain why someone doubts that the next US manned spaceflight will be in 2025. Maybe commercial will move along more quickly-we can only pray-but the current NASA goal is to fly Orion with 2 crewmen on a test flight in 2021. Given the NASA track record of the last 20 years, and particularly the Orion/Constellation record of the last 6 years, if Orion makes it to flight at all (probably the more serious question) coming in 25% over the current schedule, when we are still a decade away, is probably a reasonable guestimate.

  • Actually, I agree with Mark.

    Break out the vodka bar in Hell.

    He has a good policy, but he doesn’t understand it, or how to defend it. And once again I’m not as impressed with his brilliance as I’m always being told I’m supposed to be.

  • DCSCA

    “President Obama… I am absolutely committed to manned spaceflight.”

    No, you’re not. Actions speak louder than words and the evidence from the Executive branch, three years into his administration indicates otherwise. Mr. Obama knows HSF is a luxury expense in an era where necessities take priority through the Age of Austerity.

    Even if Mr. Obama is re-elected, it is highly doubtful another American astronaut will be launched into space during his administration by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, aboard a government funded and managed spacecraft affiliated with a U.S. manned space project.

    Meanwhile, the PRC has launched an ‘orbital workshop’ this week.

    “Frankly, we probably should have been doing a better job planning this out 20 years fr— 20 years ago.” Another observation from the professor-in-chief. America needs a Captain Kirk on the bridge. It has, instead, a “Mr. Spock.”

  • Presidents have a lot on their minds. This President is trying to wind down two wars left by his predecessor, resuscitate the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression that was left by his predecessor, and reduce a deficit largely left by his predecessor.

    Asking him to give a snappy answer on this subject really is expecting too much. And I’d say the same thing if Bush were still in office. It’s rather absurd to expect a President to know every single thing about every single program in the federal budget.

    The question really should have gone to Charlie Bolden. He’s the one in charge of the program.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    “Actually, I agree with Mark.

    Break out the vodka bar in Hell.”

    Had too much of it already? ;)

    “He has a good policy, but he doesn’t understand it, or how to defend it. And once again I’m not as impressed with his brilliance as I’m always being told I’m supposed to be.”

    I think it is a little more complex than that. The policy is great. Period. The President most likely understands it but he has more on his plate than just the policy. How much time/effort is he supposed to spend on that? He does a lot more than I can remember GWB do for the VSE.

    I think the slow pace is due to the re-org at NASA that can only go at a glacial pace. Plus. The re-org will not be enough. There is a change in mentality that is required. We recently say that Bobby Braun departed for personal reasons or something. How about he departed because he had no budget to do his job? There are still forces within NASA that want a big rocket program. It seems to me that Bolden’s role is to actually clean up the place, more so than communication. And sometimes you may just need another Terminator. Again how can you keep the old management in place and enforce a new policy? Well you can’t, not really. So at this stage I am willing to wait and hope that the changes will happen. Which is not clear since Congress is backing some of this old forces inside NASA.

    In any case. These are just theatrics. What is important is the success or lack thereof of the implementation and that lies with the NASA Admins. Both.

  • Alex

    The only good thing about this answer is that at least Obama pays lip service to men on Mars. As someone who vividly remembers the Clinton, pre-04 Bush II space policies, this is a rather positive development.

  • I think it is a little more complex than that. The policy is great. Period. The President most likely understands it but he has more on his plate than just the policy. How much time/effort is he supposed to spend on that?

    How much time/effort would it have taken him to correct the idiotic premise of the reporter’s question that there would be no Americans in space for fifteen years?

  • Even if Mr. Obama is re-elected, it is highly doubtful another American astronaut will be launched into space during his administration by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, aboard a government funded and managed spacecraft affiliated with a U.S. manned space project.

    That’s not going to happen regardless of the election results. It will likely never happen again, and that’s a good thing.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    “How much time/effort would it have taken him to correct the idiotic premise of the reporter’s question that there would be no Americans in space for fifteen years?”

    Well. Maybe so but as President he cannot just tell the guy he’s an idiot. Well I don’t think he can and I doubt it is his style anyway.

    Never been in such a situation? Where you wish you could tell as it is but cannot for whatever reason.

  • William Mellberg

    Stephen C. Smith wrote:

    “Presidents have a lot on their minds. This President is trying to wind down two wars left by his predecessor, resuscitate the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression that was left by his predecessor, and reduce a deficit largely left by his predecessor.”

    In other words, it’s all Bush’s fault.

    Give me a break.

    President Obama has been at the Cape at least three times during the past three years, including at least once with Elon Musk as his guide. He has brought about dramatic changes in this country’s space program — changes which have been criticized and panned very publicly by respected NASA veterans. His decisions regarding space have cost thousands of highly-skilled engineers and technicians their jobs and livelihoods. Plus, the Obama campaign needs to win Florida next year. And you say he doesn’t have to provide a cogent answer to a Florida reporter’s question about space policy because he has “a lot on his mind”?

    Perhaps if this President were to spend a lot less time campaigning, vacationing and golfing — and a lot more time actually working as our country’s Chief Executive — he might be able to explain and defend his misguided policies. Fortunately, it looks like he, too, will be joining the ranks of the unemployed a little over a year from now. But that will be much too late for the millions of people who have lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings on Obama’s watch. What this nation is going through because of Obamanomics is a tragedy.

    After three years of this Socialist nightmare, isn’t it time to stop blaming George Bush, the Japanese tsunami and Tea Party “terrorists” for the Nation’s woes? Yes, Barack Obama inherited some very big problems. But his inexperience and incompetence have made them far worse. In short, the mess you describe is Obama’s fault. Period. And despite the message sent to him by the voters last November (i.e., that they’re scared to death and mad as hell), this President continues down the same ruinous, ideolological path. The next President is going to really have a mess to clean up — including the chaos that this President and his appointees have injected into NASA and our Nation’s space program.

    As for the deficit … how can you possibly state that the current deficit was “largely left by his predecessor?” The federal deficit skyrocketed well beyond Low Earth Orbit under Obama, Pelosi and Reid. At least the brakes have been applied to their spending spree since the Republicans took control of the House last January.

    November 2012 and January 2013 cannot arrive soon enough.

  • Justin Kugler

    Constellation wasn’t going to save all those jobs, William.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “His decisions regarding space have cost thousands of highly-skilled engineers and technicians their jobs and livelihoods. Plus, the Obama campaign needs to win Florida next year. And you say he doesn’t have to provide a cogent answer to a Florida reporter’s question about space policy because he has “a lot on his mind”?”

    your post is complete babble…and mostly bad politics and political theory. I’ll start with the above.

    The decisions on space politics and policy have cost thousands of people their jobs, some highly skilled and some not…but they were jobs that absent the federal dole could not exist or stand on their own…and it is just these kinds of jobs and spending that is ebbing the life out of The Republic.

    Obama inherited the worst situation in the history of The Republic since FDR walked on the deck…and while you wont find me cheering most of his solutions, the battle in space politics and policy shows what he has been up against not only in space politics and policy but IN GENERAL.

    The answer of the folks who are oppossed to the changes in space policy are typicallly yours. We need to save those jobs but other then ephemeral reasons to do so there are no real reasons why the folks who feed off the federal dole should be any different then the folks who are losing their jobs in private industry.

    YET that is all people like you and Whittington and Wind and Kay and Pete and all the other “stay the course” people babble on. YOU in particular give not a singular reason why we should save those jobs, other then to save them…in other words we should continue the course Mike Griffin set things on…which is exactly the course that got us to an untenable situation.

    This is true nationwide. It was Bush and GOP congress economics that have sunk The Republic and yet with no shame people argue we should continue that same course. Tax cuts for the uber rich, goofy spending on things like “wars on terror” and Afland….and human spaceflight…and those positions are advocated with no shame as to how they got us to this mess.

    Who gives a frack about “NASA” vets. These are the same turd buckets who spent 15 billion dollars on Cx and got nothing for it…now they say “all we needed was more money”…when they had the same money that has produced the Ford CVN (and the R&D) or three times what it cost to do the entire Gemini program or more then it cost to build the shuttle.

    Why should we listen to the people who got us into this mess?

    Until you can explain that then dont babble on about the mess that Obama has caused. I dont think he has done exceptionally well, but the course we were on in space policy and in the national life when Bush ran out of office was the course that got us into the mess…that Obama has not proved very good at getting us out of.

    The right wing in this country is the most goofy group since the states rights people in the 1860′s. RGO

  • Matt Wiser

    Mellberg:

    Well said! The sooner we get a successor administration, and rid NASA of Garver and those parroting her line, the better. Get capable leadership below the Administrator level-though. Charlie Bolden’s a good guy, but he’s not a good communicator. He’s mentioned in the past that he expected lunar return sometime in his NASA flying days, and I’m sure that he’d like to be around for that, even in retirement. Get rid of Garver and those working for her, and we’ll get back on that track.

    Said it before: moon (including cis-lunar destinations such as L-Points), then NEOs, then Mars (flyby/orbit-moons/landing). In that order.

  • Jules Barkman

    Thanks William Mellberg you said it better than I could have.
    You read my mind.

  • @Simburg:

    He has a good policy, but he doesn’t understand it, or how to defend it. And once again I’m not as impressed with his brilliance as I’m always being told I’m supposed to be.

    He has a terrible policy, even by your metric, and he doesn’t care. The last authorization didn’t get signed by itself and Ralph Hall didn’t design an SD HLV.

  • @Simburg:

    There are still forces within NASA that want a big rocket program.

    Apparently swinging big enough to advance an SD HLV reference design over all other contenders.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    Presidents have a lot on their minds …Asking him to give a snappy answer on this subject really is expecting too much.”

    Oh for God’s sake- Obama was talking to a local Orlando television station with America’s spaceport on the coast and Disneyworld in town and you’re making excuses for him giving a Mickey Mouse answers. You boast of having ‘a degree in political science’ – then you shold know it’s PoliSci 101 that all politics is local and when you’re talking to local press, have a cogent response prepared on local matters like job losses on the Space Coast around Orlando. Good grief.

  • mr. mark

    This report is a little slow as NASA has moved an unmanned (Orion) mission to the moon to 2017 and a manned Moon mission to 2019 as reported at nasaspaceflight.com. The President’s policy looks bad short term but looks great long term. Commercial for LEO operations and BEO for SLS. We are about to see the start of it early next year with the flights of Dragon and Cygnus cargo.

  • E.P. Grondine

    You can’t say this was all Bush’s fault.

    Even though the Ares 1 was Griffin’s decision, and W. put Griffin in there.

    ATK are the ones who did not deliver anywhere near on time or on price, and did their best to shut down all alternatives to their 5 segs.

    And ATK were the same folks who have kept this up for the last 3 years as well.

    Thus you can’t say that this is all Obama’s fault, either.

    Clearly, ATK is a bipartisan problem.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    He has brought about dramatic changes in this country’s space program — changes which have been criticized and panned very publicly by respected NASA veterans.

    They have been supported by many, and criticized by few, and those few tend to be “guided” by Michael Griffin wherever they go. That should tell you something.

    Perhaps if this President were to spend a lot less time campaigning, vacationing and golfing — and a lot more time actually working as our country’s Chief Executive

    Nice rhetoric, but too bad the facts don’t support it. At the same point in their presidencies, Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch, and Reagan 112 days at his. In the August before 9/11, everyone thought the only thing Bush was going to do was be “the education President”, since that’s the only memorable thing he had done up until then.

    After three years of this Socialist nightmare, isn’t it time to stop blaming George Bush

    The man was in charge when the recession started, and even his own party blames him for the misguided policies that got us into it, along with the ones he implemented in trying to stop it (TARP, etc.). Obama’s on the hook for the recovery, but not getting us into this. Go look at any of the economic trends when the White House changed hands, and everything was going south when Bush 43 left. Even the public recognizes that the economic situation was Bush’s fault.

    Yes, Barack Obama inherited some very big problems.

    Oh? You mean like two wars that were never (never) part of the Bush budgets? And the unfunded Medicare Prescription plan that pushed the deficit even further negative (and it continues today).

    Look, Obama gave a bland response to a bland space related question. If you would like to point to a similar exchange where Bush 43 did so much better, great. But if memory serves me, Bush was a teleprompter-type of guy, who knew nothing more about space than what Obama does, so I doubt you’ll find any shining examples to show us.

    This is yet another example of where you think someday, somewhere, someone where utter magic words that will unite, after 40 years in the wilderness, unite everyone on a space plan that has us going back to the Moon before continuing on to anywhere else.

    I hope you have a comfy chair, because it’s going to be a long wait…

  • Well. Maybe so but as President he cannot just tell the guy he’s an idiot.

    No one proposed that he do so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 1:45 am
    “Oh for God’s sake- Obama was talking to a local Orlando television station with America’s spaceport on the coast and Disneyworld in town and you’re making excuses for him giving a Mickey Mouse answers”

    no excuse Mickey Mouse has the wider audience.

    If you want to see something very embarrassing go to YOUTUBE and watch Bush the last try and explain “sovereign”…the reply was over and over “it means you have sovereignty”

    this is no big deal, in fact it is no deal at all except to folks who want to make it one RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    “The sooner we get a successor administration, and rid NASA of Garver and those parroting her line, the better.”

    you are in for a sad decade….the situation with the US economy is only going to get worse and if there is a new administration the cuts it (or this one) will have to make to keep The Republic afloat are going to make people like you think of today as the “good old days”.

    Your NASA is dying but the good news is that it is almost dead. We will start over. RGO

  • He’s mentioned in the past that he expected lunar return sometime in his NASA flying days, and I’m sure that he’d like to be around for that, even in retirement. Get rid of Garver and those working for her, and we’ll get back on that track.

    This is stupid. Lori Garver has said that we’re going back to the moon.

  • vulture4

    What is Garver’s “line”? As nearly as I can tell, it is that we need to reduce to cost of human spaceflight to a level that will make it affordable and practical, so that people can actually go into space and do useful work.

  • William Mellberg

    Justin Kugler wrote:

    “Constellation wasn’t going to save all those jobs, William.”

    As former Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) pointed out last year, without Constellation, there was no need to end the Shuttle program until commercial operators can close the gap. Since the President reversed one Bush decision (i.e., going back to the Moon), he could have reversed another one, too (i.e., retiring the Shuttle to make way for Constellation). Keeping two Orbiters flying for two ISS supply missions a year would have saved a lot of jobs and provided a lot of capability that no longer exists.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    It only reaffitrms that space policy is not a high priority item with this president and his administration any more than it was w/Dubya, Clinton, Pappy Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford or Nixon.

  • DCSCA

    @mr. mark wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 11:03 am
    The President’s policy looks bad short term but looks great long term.

    Unfortunately, Americans are living day-to-day during his Administration; long term thinking is where is next month’s paycheck coming from. Obama’s space policies amount to nothing.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    ‘That’s not going to happen regardless of the election results. It will likely never happen again, and that’s a good thing.’

    No, it’s not, unless you’re now shilling for the PRC, too.

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Review Glenn’s public comments on space policy since the mid-1960′s and he has been remarkably consistent; labelling it basic, fundamental research. He is correct; Armstrong as well, over the years in post-Apollo comments.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “You are in for a sad decade … the situation with the US economy is only going to get worse.”

    Is that your line … or Jimmy Carter’s?

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “YOU in particular give not a singular reason why we should save those jobs, other then to save them …”

    Because they are hi-tech jobs that keep this country at the leading edge. Which gives this country an economic advantage. That’s why.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “They [Obama's changes to America's space policies] have been supported by many, and criticized by few, and those few tend to be ‘guided’ by Michael Griffin wherever they go. That should tell you something.”

    Apparently you missed the countless editorials across the country following the last Shuttle launch. Were all of those editorial writers ‘guided’ by Mike Griffin? Was John Glenn ‘guided’ by Mike Griffin? How about Chris Kraft?

    It is also quite insulting to suggest that Neil Armstrong is being ‘guided’ by Mike Griffin or anybody else. If you were more familiar with Mr. Armstrong, you’d know that his words are his own, as are his thoughts. He weighs his words carefully, and he offers his thoughts (in public) sparingly. But when he does speak out, it’s obvious that Mr. Armstrong is no dummy. He was an engineering professor for nearly a decade, after all. Or do you think Mike Griffin wrote his lectures for him, too?

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    As former Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio) pointed out last year, without Constellation, there was no need to end the Shuttle program until commercial operators can close the gap.

    It’s funny how you are so “Republican” for some of your views (not liking Obama), but you’re a big government spender for other views (run Shuttle as a jobs program).

    If your perspective is “NASA must always have their own rocket system”, then OK, maybe that makes sense. But NASA only needs a rocket for exploration, and Bush/Griffin even helped start the commercialization of routine space transportation, so no, it’s not an either/or situation for Constellation and Shuttle.

    Shuttle finished it’s last mission (the ISS), and there was no need for it anymore. Constellation (i.e. your Moon program) was so mismanaged by Griffin that Congress agreed to cancel it. But since there is no urgency to go anywhere in space, including the Moon, no replacement Moon program replaced it.

    Here are some quick facts for you:

    - The Shuttle production lines were shut down by the time Obama took office, and it would have taken years and lots and lots of NASA budget money to get them going again. Where would that money have come from? The ISS fund?

    - The Shuttle had no more missions that required the Shuttle. Everything post Shuttle took advantage of less costly alternatives. What would the Shuttle do if it was pressed back into service? Where would the money come from?

    - The COTS program is getting ready to graduate two U.S. suppliers for the CRS program, which combined will provide the ISS with 20 supply missions for $2.8B. Sure the Shuttle can carry 20,000 of pressurized supplies in the MPLM (Dragon carries 13,000 lbs), but the ISS doesn’t need that much at one time – what they need is frequent deliveries, not large deliveries.

    - The Ares I/Orion combo would not have flown in time to support the ISS, much less address the issue of only having one crew transportation system that can also perform lifeboat service at the ISS (i.e. Soyuz). The Shuttle can’t do that either, and it never has.

    - The Shuttle did not have a launch abort system. Sure people flew it, but why keep tempting fate? All of the Commercial Crew candidates have Launch Abort Systems (LAS), and they use liquid-fueled rockets, so in the event of a rocket failure, the crew has a chance to survive. On the Shuttle they don’t. Why take the risk, especially when Commercial Crew will cost far less?

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “YOU in particular give not a singular reason why we should save those jobs, other then to save them …”

    You replied:
    Because they are hi-tech jobs that keep this country at the leading edge. Which gives this country an economic advantage. That’s why.

    my short comment is “lol”

    There is no data that supports your statement. First most of teh shuttle jobs have nothing to do with “high tech”…few if any are advancing the state of the art in ANYTHING most are process jobs which did repetitive processes to get the shuttle ready for flight, fly it and then restore it for another flight.

    None of them invented any significant process or product which is used in spaceflight much less the general economy.

    The shuttle dollars spent on “people” do little more then supporting Bureau of Prison folks at a federal facility.

    Hi speed rail, the whipping boy of the right wing has more “high tech” in it then the space shuttle did. Remind me again what year the last shuttle flight computers were built!

    goofy statement RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    “Apparently you missed the countless editorials across the country following the last Shuttle launch. Were all of those editorial writers ‘guided’ by Mike Griffin? Was John Glenn ‘guided’ by Mike Griffin? How about Chris Kraft?”

    History is a useful guide here. When FDR was trying to do a few things by building the Yorktown class of carriers and the heavy cruisers with NRA funds during the depression; a lot of editorials appeared from retired Navy folks trying to get him to instead build what would become the North Carolina class of Battleships…

    they were wrong FDR was correct. We are at a moment in time where the things that Glenn etc argue for are from “their time” and they have passed into “old” which is a state of being unable to understand that “times have changed”. RGO

  • Matt Wiser

    Melberg: Well said! I’d rather have people like Neil Armstrong, Capts. Gene Cernan, Jim Lovell, John Young, Dr. Jack Schmitt, Col. Dave Scott, and Gen. Tom Stafford, let along Gene Kranz or Chris Kraft, in NASA leadership positions today. They’d do a lot better job than the lot we have now. I’d prefer someone like Kranz or Kraft running NASA, with one of the astronauts as deputy Admin.

    Ron: those editorial writers weren’t “guided” by anyone. If they happen to agree with Mike Griffin, that’s their perogrative.

    And when did Lori say that, Rand? I’ll gladly stand corrected if you can point out in a speech or Q&A that she’s mentioned return to the Moon.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “We are at a moment in time where the things that Glenn etc argue for are from ‘their time’ and they have passed into ‘old’ …”

    But Glenn and the others weren’t arguing that we build new Space Shuttles or keep the old Space Shuttles flying indefinitely. They were simply saying that the Shuttles should remain operational (on a limited basis) until the gap has been filled by the commercial sector (in case that gap proves to be longer than anticipated). USA offered to fly two Orbiters on a commercial basis. Their proposal was ignored. Why?

  • E.P. Grondine

    HI William –

    ATK killed USA’s proposal early on. Griffin shut down necessary shuttle part production lines.

    Hi CR – The magic words are “China Moon phase 1″
    But the real magic word is “CAPS”.

  • E.P. Grondine

    RGO –

    I think SLS will go in the budget compromise.
    ATK has LIberty, and that should satisfy national solid fuel tech needs.

    By the way, you do not have to necessarily have propellant transfer; though its nice; you can actually leave the fuel in the tank, and dock the entire tank and connections.

  • pathfinder_01

    “But Glenn and the others weren’t arguing that we build new Space Shuttles or keep the old Space Shuttles flying indefinitely. They were simply saying that the Shuttles should remain operational (on a limited basis) until the gap has been filled by the commercial sector (in case that gap proves to be longer than anticipated). USA offered to fly two Orbiters on a commercial basis. Their proposal was ignored. Why?”

    The shuttle has been in shut down mode for a couple of years. By the time Obama took office it would have taken 2 years to build another external tank and possibly the engines.

    What purpose would the 2 flights serve? The station is built and commercail cargo would be online in 2 years. No cargo need for the shuttle. Shuttle can’t serve as lifeboat and wouldn’t haul cargo.

    CXP needed the shuttle’s budget just to make the 2017 date, so now you need extra money if you wanted to both keep the shuttle and cxp. Or frankly do anything else.

    Commercail crew is aiming for 2016 so you start the shuttle up in about say 2012 or most likely 2013 just to stand it down in 2016. No point.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    “USA offered to fly two Orbiters on a commercial basis. Their proposal was ignored. Why?”

    because flying the Orbiters now that the station is complete MAKES NO SENSE under any scenario, is dangerous, and cost a lot of money (of which there is none)…finally there is no sense that USA could fly the shuttles safely under their “commercial” theory (which is not commercial in any real sense at all).

    I am comfortable addressing all the points I raised but I will for this post deal with two.

    First flying the shuttle made absolutely no sense once the station was complete. Flying the shuttle once or twice a year (which was the USA proposal) does nothing to eliminate the need for the Soyuz, as it is the CRV. If the Soyuz cannot fly, the station cannot right now be crewed. IT is that simple. The shuttle cannot stay at the station for any real length of time (less then two weeks) so it cannot function as an ACRV.

    There is no need for shuttle resupply. There is sufficient “stuff” on the station to keep the station crewed for a year even if there is no commercial US flights and this does not even allow for Japanese HTV and European ATV flights.

    if a “major” part on the station breaks (truss etc) then we are in a completely new ballgame and who knows if the part even exist to “refly”.

    There is no real mission for the shuttle this year NONE. All it does is try and keep some sort of the bureacracy around for TWO FLIGHTS a year and that works out to over 1 billion a flight.

    Second who knows if the shuttle can be flown safely outside of the cluster frack system that flew it? This is where I laugh when people start talking about commercial “cutting corners”…USA never really identified the savings that they could come up with…OK say that they took over “everything” and there were no NASA badged people even say USA astronauts…That doesnt mean the NASA people “go away”…they are still on payroll and still costing whatever they cost when they were assigned to the shuttle.

    How would USA do it with less people and who would judge “this was safe?” I think that the shuttle could have been flown with far less people but there was really no coherent plan from USA to do that…so who knows if they could meet those cost.

    The commercial aspects of it were a farce. If SpaceX or OSC cannot meet the numbers; they lose money and go out of business. USA would just come back for more…or start cutting corners in a vehicle that does not work well with that.

    The calls to keep flying the shuttle showed how “old” the people were who made them. There was no reason to do it…

    What do you think it would have accomplished? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 1st, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    “Melberg: Well said! I’d rather have people like Neil Armstrong, Capts. Gene Cernan, Jim Lovell, John Young, Dr. Jack Schmitt, Col. Dave Scott, and Gen. Tom Stafford, let along Gene Kranz or Chris Kraft, in NASA leadership positions today.”

    sure because you want yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems RGO

  • Because they are hi-tech jobs that keep this country at the leading edge.

    Nonsense. They are seventies-technology jobs, maintained merely to maintain the jobs. They are at the trailing edge when it comes to space technology or technology in general.

    Matt Not-So-Wiser asked:

    And when did Lori say that, Rand? I’ll gladly stand corrected if you can point out in a speech or Q&A that she’s mentioned return to the Moon.

    “http://www.space.com/9237-moon-exploration-dead-nasa-official.html”

    Don’t you ever get embarrassed by flaunting your ignorance here on an almost-daily basis?

    That was obviously a rhetorical question. You actually seem to revel in it.

  • They were simply saying that the Shuttles should remain operational (on a limited basis) until the gap has been filled by the commercial sector (in case that gap proves to be longer than anticipated). USA offered to fly two Orbiters on a commercial basis. Their proposal was ignored. Why?

    Because it is a) not possible — at best they could be resurrected a couple or three years from now and b) fiscally insane. The notion that you could fly two orbiters on a “commercial basis” is lunacy to anyone who is numerate.

    Neither you, or Cernan seem to have any comprehension of the budgetary realities of what you propose. You are stuck in the past when it was perfectly acceptable to spend large percentages of the nation’s discretionary budget to send a few people into space. Those days ended when we beat the Soviets to the moon. Look to the future, not the past.

  • Matt Wiser

    Melberg: good question. Given the shabby treatment the Administration gave Senator Glenn, it does bear asking. Again, it probably boils down to your original thesis a few threads back: not part of the machine…..

  • E.P. Grondine

    ATK has won:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/09/sls-mission-improving-crewed-moon-mission-2019/

    The magic words appear to be “China” and “Moon”

    My apologies for not looking around earlier. Jeff, this story is dated September 30.

    That leaves us with 4 (FOUR) under utilized medium heavy launchers.

    Now Obama gets accused of “dithering”.

    Maybe NASA can launch SLS while playing “The East Is Red”.

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 10:10 am not really NASAspaceflight.com makes any SLS rumor into fact…this has been out there for sometime…it will never happen RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    I wonder to what part of limbo or purgatory ATK sent the original engineers who worked the thrust oscillation issues with the shuttle SRBs:

    http://www.spacekb.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/space-shuttle/6641/They-just-won-t-learn-mk2

    You can be sure if the engineers didn’t/don’t work for ATK, they were silenced. Note the demand for sources in this bbs.

    Speaking about oscillations, this up and down has me pretty beat right now.

    What I’m looking at is a disaster: China with one launcher capable of being scaled to payload, the US with four heavy mediums with no payloads, one of them really crummy, a heavy that has no payloads; the US relying on ITAR to keep China out of the sat market, when China will acquire those ITAR technologies; China with international outreach, with the neocons here trying to make this into an us versus them “race”…

    $10,000,000 to put ATK into the medium heavy launch market, when for $5,000,000 we could have had NLS and two manned launch systems.

    And the science budget is just as screwed up.

    And you know how ATK will play it all in the I-4 corridor.

    This is like watching a two year old get hit by a Mack truck, but I just can’t stop watching… the best I can do is allow myself a day off.

  • John

    Bush retired the Shuttle program and Constellation was DOA when Obama was elected so he really could care less about the future of NASA or human space flight considering he supports SLS, well he hasn’t quibbled about it as he does with everything else.

  • Matt Wiser

    Rand: so she told some reporters that lunar exploration wasn’t dead. Big deal: Next time she’s on The Hill, make it official and on the record in front of whatever House or Senate committe she’s testifying to. Talking to reporters is one thing: going on the record in front of Congress is something else. Or better yet, have Charlie Bolden (the guy whose job Garver supposedly wants) make it official. Because every time poor Charlie goes to the Hill to testify, he keeps getting asked about lunar return, and he keeps dodging the question or giving some vague answer. That HEFT (Human Exploration Formulation Team) report should be out by now: how long have they been at it-if at all? That’s what a lot of folks want: meat on the bones for FlexPath. Not vague promises-which is what this Adminstration’s space record has been since 15 Apr of last year-when that so-called “space summit” was held.

  • Coastal Ron

    John wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    …so he [Obama] really could care less about the future of NASA or human space flight considering he supports SLS…

    The SLS is a Congressional designed and promoted rocket, and Obama has done nothing to actively support it. If anything his NASA Administrator (Bolden) has made no effort to accelerate it’s progress any more than he needs to – pick your reason for whether that’s good or bad. So no, I would not count Obama as an SLS supporter.

    I would count Obama as a HSF supporter though, and I see that in his public and budgetary support of Commercial Crew and human exploration beyond LEO (i.e. asteroid by 2025, Mars by 2035).

    Congress doesn’t show the same level of support for HSF, since they are focused on a rocket (SLS) and zero HSF missions. Pretty clear to me who supports HSF more.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    “Rand: so she told some reporters that lunar exploration wasn’t dead. Big deal: Next time she’s on The Hill, make it official and on the record in front of whatever House or Senate committe she’s testifying to.”

    why should anyone be stupid enough to do that. Outside of the contractor base, the “I need my federal job to be a good creator fearing Republican” contract toadys and the “the chinese are going to take over the Moon” idiots…there is no public support for such an effort.

    Or do you think that there is? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ October 2nd, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    “I wonder to what part of limbo or purgatory ATK sent the original engineers who worked the thrust oscillation issues with the shuttle SRBs:”

    the same place they sent the ones that tried to stop the Challenger launch.

    Look in normal times ATK and the “keep our federal job flowing” groups would win; but these are not normal times. There are tough budget cuts coming. The Navy is preped to go down to 10 flattops, there is a likely hood the F-35 is toast…and SLS is going to die.

    Change has become not only an imperative but the way things are going.

    The carnage has not even started RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt…the Reds are not even all that interested in their own space program…as I have noted for sometime human exploration of space is to most people boring

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15124952

    Robert G. Oler

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: he must be supporting SLS because he signed on to the Authorization Act, knowing full well what was in it. Not to mention giving White House (not OMB) approval for the program. Not to mention supporting heavy-lift development in his speech at the Cape-remember that?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 1:41 am

    goofy heavy lift development and SLS are NOT synonymous or they are in the minds of people like you who prefer solutions OUT OF THE PAST RGO.

  • Next time she’s on The Hill, make it official and on the record in front of whatever House or Senate committe she’s testifying to.

    There is no reason to think that she will ever testify on the Hill. Do you think she can just go up there and do it whenever she wants (again, flaunting your cluelessness)? I am sure that if she were ever invited, she would say the same thing she said in her very public speech.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Ron: he must be supporting SLS because he signed on to the Authorization Act, knowing full well what was in it.

    Congress was fighting for the SLS because it’s a jobs bill, not because they believe it will enable us to explore, and since Obama got 80% of what he wanted for NASA in the Authorization Act (Constellation cancelled, ISS extended, Commercial Crew funded), it was a compromise worth approving.

    If I were in his shoes, I would have signed the bill too. We all had a party to celebrate – didn’t you get the invite? ;-)

  • John

    Obama could have stepped up to the plate when he was elected. But what he did was use commercial space as the convenient scapegoat to continue the failed policies of the past. Obama signed off on SLS for that reason. He didn’t want to rock the boat and essentially followed in the footsteps of George Bush in maintaining a monopoly to nowhere. Back then they were ready and willing to make arrangements with Russia. It is that dead stick mentality and the unwillingness it commit to evolving our space program which has created the stagnation and fallout in the aerospace industry. You literally surrendered to a monopoly. So now you know why we don’t have a crew/cargo launch vehicle which we could have easily constructed five years ago.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 30th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “In other words, it’s all Bush’s fault.”

    Mostly yes and that of Clinton whose economic team eventually led to the disaster we’re in. Some of whom are/were on this President team. Beats me.

    “Give me a break.”

    Nope.

    “President Obama has been at the Cape at least three times during the past three years, including at least once with Elon Musk as his guide. He has brought about dramatic changes in this country’s space program — changes which have been criticized and panned very publicly by respected NASA veterans.”

    Ah veterans of Human Space Flight. What would we do without them? What could we do?

    “His decisions regarding space have cost thousands of highly-skilled engineers and technicians their jobs and livelihoods. Plus, the Obama campaign needs to win Florida next year. And you say he doesn’t have to provide a cogent answer to a Florida reporter’s question about space policy because he has “a lot on his mind”?”

    Had it been a “cogent” question then we might argue of the answer. Since it was a stupid uneducated question who the heck cares? Why would Obama’s team need to win Florida? Do you have access to secret polls? Or campaign plans?

    “Perhaps if this President were to spend a lot less time campaigning, vacationing and golfing — and a lot more time actually working as our country’s Chief Executive — he might be able to explain and defend his misguided policies.”

    I see. Well I don’t think he owns a ranch in TX where to go spend his free time. Would it help? As far as campaign goes maybe we should change the Constitution?

    “Fortunately, it looks like he, too, will be joining the ranks of the unemployed a little over a year from now. But that will be much too late for the millions of people who have lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings on Obama’s watch. What this nation is going through because of Obamanomics is a tragedy.”

    Yes of course. It all started under Obama. Forgot that. I wasn’t sure when the economic debacle started. Thanks. On the other hand according to McCain the economy was solid. At least we know that McCain would have done nothing.

    “After three years of this Socialist nightmare, isn’t it time to stop blaming George Bush, the Japanese tsunami and Tea Party “terrorists” for the Nation’s woes? ”

    Are you trying to imitate our only amightywind. I prefer the original. Do you even know what “socialist” means?

    “Yes, Barack Obama inherited some very big problems. But his inexperience and incompetence have made them far worse. In short, the mess you describe is Obama’s fault. Period.”

    Yes, yes. Far worse. Sure why not? We are still waiting to see an appropriate answer by the GOP.

    “And despite the message sent to him by the voters last November (i.e., that they’re scared to death and mad as hell), this President continues down the same ruinous, ideolological path. The next President is going to really have a mess to clean up — including the chaos that this President and his appointees have injected into NASA and our Nation’s space program.”

    What message? I can’t wait to see the “next” President in action.

    “As for the deficit … how can you possibly state that the current deficit was “largely left by his predecessor?” The federal deficit skyrocketed well beyond Low Earth Orbit under Obama, Pelosi and Reid. At least the brakes have been applied to their spending spree since the Republicans took control of the House last January.”

    Because it is the historical truth. The whole enchilada started under GWB, facilitated by some crazy laws signed under Clinton. Free Market nonsense self-regulation idiocy.

    “November 2012 and January 2013 cannot arrive soon enough.”

    Well, if you would care to point to us that a GOP President would reverse any of this Administration policies for Space at least, please share with us.

    I think you ought not to go the political drum beat nonsense you spout here. It seems to me you know more of the history of aviation and possibly space, rather than policy.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    Please stop referring to Chinese as “Reds” – their political thought has evolved along its own lines for many years now, thus it is a very peculiar shade of red unto itself. I used to follow this very closely until my stroke, though I don’t follow or comment on it now.

    That said, the discussion of political systems there will come down to how much central planning is desirable, issues of interpersonal utility mappings, the selection of qualified leaders, and how to reflect the public’s desires, just as it has been here for many years. And there is also the problem of taking actions which are not “popular”, but necessary.

    And not all Chinese are party members.

    If you had talked with any Chinese in the last several years, this “news” would have come as no surprise to you. As is true here, despite the very low costs of China’s manned space program, the expenses are is perceived by the public as being far larger than they are.

    I would like to add to this that many western commentators, as well as many analysts, have no idea where and how China’s space effort fits into China’s general science and technology goals, as well as their economic goals.

    The “crunch” hit many people in the US several years ago.

    Given Hutchinson/Nelson and Hatch/Reid, and the announcements, ATK “won”.I hope the country has as well, but my fear is that we have lost, bigtime. At least $5,000,000,000 and a decade.

  • Matt Wiser

    I suggest you folks have a look at these two articles. One gives reccommendations for initial lunar exploration once Orion and SLS are ready: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1942/1

    The other advocates using EELV/depot as a intirim measure until SLS is ready. The authors recognize that Congress supports SLS and that getting some basic exploration done in the near-term can get NASA ready for the big show with SLS when the time comes.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1940/1

  • DCSCA

    The fundamental question for the United States- why do human spaceflight- remains curiously unanswered by the powers that be today– and the naysayers grow louder.

    Long ago, the Russian people resolved this question in the affirmative and incorporated their commitment to HSF and space exploration into their national character. The PRC is in the midst of doing this now as well. Paper SLS aside, the America of today, not so much.

    In May, 1961, President Kennedy asserted an affirmative rationale for manned spaceflight to rally Congress and the American people when he stated, “We go into space, because whatever mankind undertakes, free men must fully share…” moments before actually stating the famed ‘Apollo charter’ line commiting America to the moon. That was half a century ago and it is long overdue that the leadership of the United States articulate a fresh affirmation human spaceflight and finance it not only with words, but the budgets to back them up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20111003/us_ac/10133605_nasa_space_exploration_is_not_crony_capitalism

    Whittington has often referred to the commercial crew development as “crony capitalism”…yet he never explains why SLS is not.

    he takes a shot at it on his blog…its a pretzel and one half in terms of logic.

    goofy in fact RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I suggest you folks have a look at these two articles

    read them …there is no chance that the Congress is going to push this program much less pay for it…in the coming carnage of the US budget…

    you are on fantasy Island RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 3rd, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I suggest you folks have a look at these two articles.

    Nothing new there Matt – everyone has ideas on how to spend government money, yet there is very little of it to spend for HSF exploration.

    Remember, there is no technical reason we haven’t returned to the Moon in four decades, it’s all been about a lack of interest and a lack of money. Until you solve both of those we’re not going back. And the SLS does nothing to address either of those, so I guess you’re still S.O.L.

  • @Wiser:

    Let’s see. Last month NASA committed to four contracts for a six month of study concepts for a cryogen storage and transfer demo. That’ll bring us into late spring of 2012. DMSP F18 took a few years to build, so call it 2014-2017 before the demo even mounts. You’re now four years from the proposed moon mission and you don’t even have a live depot in space.

    Somebody puts forward a plan that actually depots propellant in space and refuels SOMETHING of value before SLS launches, then you can damn well kiss SLS goodbye.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron/Prez: the second article’s authors recognize that SLS has much more political support than EELV-based strategies. What they propose is using depots and EELVs to get some basic exploration done until SLS is mission-ready. You get Orion flight-tested with human crews (LEO) and then do some lunar orbit or short-duration L-point stays. In case you forgot-NASA is beholden to Congress, and has to do what Congress tells it to. It cannot pick and choose what laws it’ll follow and which ones it won’t.

  • @Prez Cannady
    “Somebody puts forward a plan that actually depots propellant in space and refuels SOMETHING of value before SLS launches, then you can damn well kiss SLS goodbye.”

    Ain’t that the truth. ;)

  • P.S. Prez.

    One way or the other SLS is ultimately dead anyway in the long run (depot or no), because even though there is enough money to start work on it, Congress won’t be willing to finance it at a level that will allow it to be finished in anywhere close to when they claim it should be finished. Yep, it’ll keep some SLS promoting committee members’ constituents employed, for at least a while, and that’s what they are really after.

  • William Mellberg

    Common Sense wrote:

    “Why would Obama’s team need to win Florida?”

    How about 29 electoral votes? That’s more than 10% of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And unlike 2008, this time around Obama appears to be in trouble in Florida thanks, in part, to his space policy and the resulting job losses and home foreclosures around the Cape. I have a friend who worked at the Cape for 30+ years, but lost his job thanks to ObamaSpace. Fortunately, he landed a new consulting contract in California. But he can’t sell his home in Florida because the market has collapsed owing to the layoffs. He says the good news is that he and his wife and kids will likely maintain their Florida residence through next November, making it possible to cast four more votes against Obama and the Democrats.

    Back to the Electoral College … some ‘blue’ states have lost electoral votes because of reapportionment based on the 2010 Census. They include Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Some ‘red’ states have picked up electoral votes, including Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah. And with the Quinnipiac poll showing Obama with a potential problem in GOP-controlled Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Florida’s 29 electoral votes become even more important to the Obama campaign. Which is one more reason for the President to have given that Florida reporter a cogent response about space policy.

    Common Sense continued:

    “I think you ought not to go the political drum beat nonsense you spout here. It seems to me you know more of the history of aviation and possibly space, rather than policy.”

    I don’t quite understand these comments as you phrased them rather poorly. But based on the rest of your diatribe, I think I’ve finally figured out your true identity …

    ‘Common Sense’ is Keith Olbermann!

    Common Sense asked:

    “Do you even know what ‘socialist’ means?

    Yes, I do. All too well, I’m afraid. And I know what Socialism means, too. As Winston Churchill famously put it, “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. It’s inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

    Which pretty much describes Obamanomics.

  • vulture4

    Numerous progress flights have already refueled the ISS using automated propellant transfer, so if you consider ISS of value this has already been done.

    Back in the 70′s at JSC one of the primary missions of the space station was assumed to be fueling and servicing spacecraft bound for higher orbits. I assume the ISS could do it with a few storage tanks,

    The SLS is predicated on the idea that congress will pay for a major program of BEO human spaceflight. I have difficulty understanding what the practical benefits of this program would be, other than bragging rights.

  • Obama is the WORST President, with regards to manned spaceflight!! No freaking doubt about it!! He sold out to the Commercial Space Hoax. He destroyed the new Return-to-the-Moon initiative. He fanned the flames of sci-fi fantasy, with the notion that a human return to Luna was never going to be doable on schedule, no matter how hard we try,—-but if we only aim our manned spacecraft asteroid-ward and/or Mars-ward; oh then, buddy, we’re going to meld the program all together fast & on our first try out, just flawlessly!! Mr. Obama is a Trekkie, for crying out loud! What do you all expect?! Think about it folks: Ares 1 & Ares 5 were all “unworkable & unbuildable”; and we were “never” going to have a single billion bucks left to construct the Altair lunar lander, by the 2020′s;—-but if we aim for an NEO or the Red Planet, instead, everything is all going to fall in place so much easier,…..right?!?! What a colossal mound of bunk, the Flexible Path assumptions all are, folks!!!

  • @Boozer:

    One way or the other SLS is ultimately dead anyway in the long run (depot or no)…

    That’s the point, but…

    …because even though there is enough money to start work on it, Congress won’t be willing to finance it at a level that will allow it to be finished in anywhere close to when they claim it should be finished.

    …this is baseless speculation.

    Yep, it’ll keep some SLS promoting committee members’ constituents employed, for at least a while, and that’s what they are really after.

    Really, you think so?

  • Dennis

    With everyones talk of a quicker way to exploration, we alread have it, if we would only utilize it. The up and coming planned for Soyuz commercial flight around the Moon, is te example. With various kicker stages, we could send teams out to the Moon, even with landers. Lunar missons could begin almost immediately. Various versions of the kickers stages could first lower Soyuz into lunar orbit, and power iit back toward Earth. I do not undestand why the Soviets havent done this on their own already?

  • @Wiser:

    Ron/Prez: the second article’s authors recognize that SLS has much more political support than EELV-based strategies.

    Which makes them somewhat sharper than the average Newspace booster. On the other hand, it’s an open question whether a single production depot, let alone the mission minimum architecture proposed here, will emerge before SLS/MPCV launches (or even reaches the moon).

    In case you forgot-NASA is beholden to Congress, and has to do what Congress tells it to. It cannot pick and choose what laws it’ll follow and which ones it won’t.

    She can, however, fly (or at least design and start work) on fielding any number of lifters (in any number of ways) through the legal loopholes of the current law.

  • @Chris Castro
    “Think about it folks: Ares 1 & Ares 5 were all “unworkable & unbuildable”; and we were “never” going to have a single billion bucks left to construct the Altair lunar lander, by the 2020′s;—-but if we aim for an NEO or the Red Planet, instead, everything is all going to fall in place so much easier,…..right?!?! “
    Right. Because SLS would not be in the picture sucking up it’s $3 billion/year. SpaceX gave a quote to NASA of (at most) $2.5 billion total cost to develop a 150mt payload HLV. That’s 20 mt more payload than SLS for around one year of SLS’s budget!
    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awst/2010/11/29/AW_11_29_2010_p28-271784.xml&headline=NASA%20Studies%20Scaled-Up%20Falcon,%20Merlin
    That leaves a lot of money for landers, depots, etc. Also, ULA have said that they could upgrade one of their launchers to HLV for just a few billions total. Again, freeing up funds, though not as much as the SpaceX launcher would. NASA could probably fund both of them over a five year period and still have money to do development work on other things.

    But an HLV of any kind may not be needed with existing launch vehicles building and servicing a true in-space vehicle and depots. That would free up even more funds. The point is, either way, we could do it without a launcher that costs so much to develop and fly that it will get cancelled the way SLS will ultimately be.

    But your post is the kind of drivel one would expect of someone who claims Gaetano Morano is a credible aerospace authority. You repeatedly stick you foot in your mouth and never seem to get embarrassed by it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi William –

    The philosophy of Neo-conservatism appears to be to make everyone miserable, and then blame it on anybody else.

    There is nothing conservative in trying to pay for a war with tax cuts for billionaires. There is nothing conservative in then printing money to pay it all. There is nothing conservative in trashing our manufacturing base (even including ATK).

    There is nothing conservative in dumbing down the language of political discourse to the level of slogans. There is nothing conservative in demonizing your political opponents.

    But that’s just my view.

    As far as space policy goes, no one can legislate physics.

    The Ares 1 and Ares 5 will be far less than the best launchers the US could have produced, in my opinion.

  • E.P. Grondine

    PS – The people of Britain decided that they wanted everyone to share the misery of World War 2 equally, immediately after it was won.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    “How about 29 electoral votes? That’s more than 10% of the 270 electoral votes needed to win.”

    Assume you’re right. So you think that in Florida the SLS/MPCV is more important to voters than say Medicare? Medicaid? Or anything Cuban? Really?

    “I have a friend who worked at the Cape for 30+ years, but lost his job thanks to ObamaSpace.”

    Was he working on Constellation? You know that if he was working on Shuttle then it is Bushispace that killed his job right?

    “Fortunately, he landed a new consulting contract in California. But he can’t sell his home in Florida because the market has collapsed owing to the layoffs.”

    No the market initially collapsed because of idiotic bank investments. Were you out of the country between 2007-2008?

    “He says the good news is that he and his wife and kids will likely maintain their Florida residence through next November, making it possible to cast four more votes against Obama and the Democrats.”

    Nah come on. He has 2 kids that can vote at home? But in any case I am glad your friend found a new job. Mobility has always been a factor in the US.

    “Which is one more reason for the President to have given that Florida reporter a cogent response about space policy.”

    No it is not. The question was idiotic.

    “I don’t quite understand these comments as you phrased them rather poorly. But based on the rest of your diatribe, I think I’ve finally figured out your true identity …”

    I am sorry I did not major in English literature, nor in journalism. At the time it was not needed to help design space vehicles.

    “‘Common Sense’ is Keith Olbermann!”

    Hmm… Yeah well…

    “Yes, I do. All too well, I’m afraid. And I know what Socialism means, too. As Winston Churchill famously put it, “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. It’s inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.””

    No I don’t think you know what socialism is about. Especially if you compare thi President’s policy to Socialism. For example, can you explain to me what is socialist about promoting small businesses in Space? I think you ought to read about National-Socialism and check your usual view points with that.

    “Which pretty much describes Obamanomics.”

    As I said. We’ll soon see what the American people wants. And if it is a GOP president they are in for a big surprise. So are you.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    but lost his job thanks to ObamaSpace

    Let’s skip the implication you’re making about wanting guaranteed government employment, regardless of the need.

    What, pray tell, is “ObamaSpace”?

    As your buddy Matt Wiser just said:

    In case you forgot-NASA is beholden to Congress, and has to do what Congress tells it to. It cannot pick and choose what laws it’ll follow and which ones it won’t.

    So according to others in your “group”, it’s not Obama that’s to blame for NASA, it’s Congress. Congress creates the laws, and the President approves them. And as we all saw last year, a bipartisan Congress voted for the new NASA direction, so where does “ObamaSpace” come in?

    What are the funded programs that define “ObamaSpace”, and why are they so bad?

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Common Sense wrote:

    “Why would Obama’s team need to win Florida?”

    you replied:
    How about 29 electoral votes?

    I weep sometimes of the understanding people have of the process of electing the President. to win the electoral votes of Florida a candidate must either have a majority vote of the people casting ballots OR a majority vote of both houses of the FL legislature directing the EC folks from FL to vote in one or the other direction (ie electing that slate of candidates).

    The odds of “space” making any difference in teh FL election process have been debunked so many times for you to keep bringing it up is tiresome…however I love this part of your post

    “I have a friend who worked at the Cape for 30+ years, but lost his job thanks to ObamaSpace. ”

    I love goofy republicans like this. They rant and rave “the stimulus package cost this much per job…but I have to have the government program to keep my job”.

    If your friend is floundering he should thank his lucky stars that he is still able to keep self control of his destiny and be the captain of his ship even as it goes down thanks to GOP policies. remember self reliance

    RGO

  • William Mellberg

    Chris Castro wrote:

    “What a colossal mound of bunk …”

    Did you happen to see the news about Bigelow laying off workers?

    http://www.americaspace.org/?p=9441

    It seems some projections of the “commercial” market have proven to be “widely off the mark (i.e., “a colossal mound of bunk”).

    Surprise, surprise.

  • William Mellberg

    Common Sense asked:

    “So you think that in Florida the SLS/MPCV is more important to voters than say Medicare? Medicaid? Or anything Cuban? Really?”

    Yes, really. They all add up. Unemployed space workers. Senior citizens seeing their expenses soaring (medicine, food, gasoline) and home values collapsing. Cuban Americans. Jewish Americans. Obama and his policies have upset voters across the political spectrum in Florida (with its 29 electoral votes). But you say it doesn’t matter. Sorry, Mr. Sense. But you’re the one who comes across as a political novice.

    Common Sense also asked:

    “He has 2 kids that can vote at home?”

    Yes. They’re 18 and 20 years old. They’re active Young Republicans, too. Got a problem with that?

    Common Sense opined:

    “No I don’t think you know what socialism is about.”

    I don’t think you know what socialism is about. It’s about viewing people as groups rather than as individuals. It’s about forced conformity rather than unbridled individuality. It’s about rewarding mediocrity and punishing success. It’s about class warfare. It’s about Political Correctness and countless rules and regulations. It certainly isn’t about liberty and freedom. Socialism in the 20th Century was right up there with war and disease in terms of killing people. Socialism proves the old saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    “It seems some projections of the “commercial” market have proven to be “widely off the mark (i.e., “a colossal mound of bunk”).”

    this is how FREE ENTERPRISE works. Companies make bad judgments as to what the market is…and instead of being stuck on the government dole…they fold. Failure is the necessary alternative to success.

    What NASA SPACE does is insulate companies from failure. Produce a vehicle (the space shuttle) that is to expensive to run, and it and the company that built it would have folded…except at NASA where they just went back for more money RGO

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “… to win the electoral votes of Florida a candidate must either have a majority vote of the people casting ballots OR a majority vote of both houses of the FL legislature directing the EC folks from FL to vote in one or the other direction (ie electing that slate of candidates).”

    Mr. Oler, I learned that in my 8th grade Civics class. But you ought to look into what Pennsylvania is thinking about doing in terms of changing how it casts its votes in the Electoral College. The implications are quite significant:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/could-pennsylvania-republicans-end-the-electoral-college-as-we-know-it/2011/09/14/gIQAQUzUSK_blog.html

  • vulture4

    Until the price comes down a lot, the demand for commercial space transportation will be no more than a dozen seats per year to LEO, most for NASA and a few tourists only if NASA decides to allow them on the ISS. Bigelow knows this, as does Musk, all know that only a fully reusable launch system has any chance of supporting a viable commercial market.

    So if NASA wanted to do something really positive for spaceflight, they would support SpaceX and the other manufacturers in developing technology for practical reusable spaceflight.

    Unfortunately NASA has just finished firing everyone in the world with hands-on experience with reusable launch vehicles.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    “Mr. Oler, I learned that in my 8th grade Civics class. But you ought to look into what Pennsylvania is thinking about doing in terms of changing how it casts its votes in the Electoral College.”

    well good, your comment did not reflect that. I think that the EC should either 1) be tossed or 2) be proportional. I dont like the “winner take all”. My first choice is tossing the EC…but if not then proportional is the only way in my view to keep it relevant. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “I don’t think you know what socialism is about.”

    based on what you wrote after the above line; you either dont have a clue what socialism is about, or you are simply ignoring it and morphing your political notions into the definition.

    I suspect the latter since you are one of the people here that defends “old NASA” which in many respects was a perfect example of “socialism”. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Unfortunately NASA has just finished firing everyone in the world with hands-on experience with reusable launch vehicles.

    Well, those that had hands-on experience with a 70′s version of a reusable launch vehicle, and mostly just maintaining it not designing it, which is what will be needed far in advance of what United Space Alliance was doing for the Shuttle.

    Unless we’re going to be designing the same type of vehicle, I don’t think we’ve lost much. Besides the good engineers are still working and available when needed.

  • William Mellberg

    @ Robert G.Oler

    Mr. Oler, on a personal note, I wish to extend my belated but heartfelt condolences to you and your wife on your recent loss. I was saddened to read about it a few days ago, and I join many others here in expressing my sympathy to you. We’ve had our differences of opinion about history and politics. But some things put those things into their proper perspective. God bless.

    Sincerely,

    Bill Mellberg

  • common sense

    @ vulture4 wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    “Unfortunately NASA has just finished firing everyone in the world with hands-on experience with reusable launch vehicles.”

    You know I usually like what you write, well thought out. But when it comes to Shuttle and lifting body nonsense I really have a problem. This is so wrong. I wish you’d stop and make an effort. Because right now you sound like our friend DCSCA.

    Here again: X-37 and Dream Chaser (aka HL-20). The expertise is not lost. Yet.

  • @vulture4:

    Until the price comes down a lot, the demand for commercial space transportation will be no more than a dozen seats per year to LEO

    That’s because you’re still stuck thinking about crew as passengers, rather than say employees or even subsidized immigrants. If the price is $60 million a seat, you can put a 100 people in space every year for $6 billion annually. If it’s $6 million a seat, as new commercial is proposing, you get ten times as many. And so on. $6 billion isn’t outside the ballpark for a national customer. An order of magnitude less than that isn’t outside the operations budget of a large corporation. Put the two together, and pray that they can generate more value than it costs to lift them, and you have a market for putting large numbers of people in LEO at the very least.

    most for NASA and a few tourists…

    If space tourism takes off, it will be a Cheez Whiz. That is, an unexpected but welcome market entry that supports the underlying infrastructure. What matters is the kernel of space industry–those folks going up on the company or government dime to extract wealth from the heavens.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Besides the good engineers are still working and available when needed.

    Tools, on the other hand…

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Unfortunately NASA has just finished firing everyone in the world with hands-on experience with reusable launch vehicles.”

    there were far far to many of them, they lacked almost all the wrong skills and what technology was there, was on a decades old vehicle. Almost none of the skills are useful…

    X-37 has far more relevance to a reuseable vehicle. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    If it’s $6 million a seat, as new commercial is proposing…

    Maybe you’re just using $6M/seat as an example, but none of the commercial crew participants has suggested a price of $6M/seat.

    SpaceX has talked about $20M/seat, but only with a full capsule, so call it $140M/flight for up to seven people. Boeing has only said they will be competitive with Soyuz, which in 2015 will be around $60M/seat.

    I think one of the ways NASA will purchase crew transport will be by the flight, and then they will decide how many extra people (if any) they want to send up. Once there is a 7-person capsule at the ISS that needs rotation, NASA can send up extra personnel, contractor employees, politicians or whoever for short duration stays. I think this will end being very popular with not only NASA and it’s contractors, but the other ISS partners too.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Tools, on the other hand…

    …are not a problem either, even if what you really mean is fixtures.

    Facilities could be expensive, but the trend is to not need expensive buildings like the VAB or the Shuttle complex 39 A & B.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill…and everyone else thank you. We can all have our policy differences and those debated well are why we come here (grin)…but to see the depth of personal kindness rise above those has been very helpful in this sad time but also has impressed me about the kind of people we have here. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 4th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    “If space tourism takes off, it will be a Cheez Whiz.”

    concur completely …I think space tourism is in at least the short term…next 10-20 years something that is nothing RGO

  • @Coastal Ron:

    …are not a problem either, even if what you really mean is fixtures.

    No, I mean tools. As in the ever-depreciating capital that makes a plant, assembly area and launch facility more than just real-estate. Aerospace tool work sucks, sucks hard, and does terrible things to labor portability across the industry.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ October 6th, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    No, I mean tools. As in the ever-depreciating capital that makes a plant, assembly area and launch facility more than just real-estate.

    In the industries I’ve worked in fixtures are used to hold a part or assembly while it is being worked on, and tools are used to perform the work, so essentially we’re both talking the same category.

    Aerospace tool work sucks, sucks hard, and does terrible things to labor portability across the industry.

    If you mean it’s expensive, then sure, yes, it can be, depending on what it is. As to the rest of your point, what “terrible things to labor portability across the industry”? Are these wistful feelings, or do you have some examples you’d like to share?

  • vulture4

    X-37 has far more relevance to a reuseable vehicle. RGO

    I agree the X-37 represents the way forward, however it only a small part of the puzzle, the tip of the iceberg in a complete RLS, and even it could have benefited more from shuttle experience.

    RGO: there were far far to many of them, they lacked almost all the wrong skills and what technology was there, was on a decades old vehicle. Almost none of the skills are useful…

    How much of the Shuttle is 30 years old? Did you ever spend time asking the USA engineers and techs why the Shuttle was expensive to process, what they had done to improve it over the years, and how a new RLV could be made more efficient? They all had insights. In the rare cases when they were asked, they provided practical experience of what isn’t obvious to the engineer who has never done it before.

    Unfortunately the USA personnel were commonly regarded as bolt-turners by those whose interaction with the hardware was limited to Powerpoint. Paperwork isn’t what keeps you alive at mach 25. Some of the lessons of Shuttle were incorporated in the X-37, but it tested only one small part of the puzzle, and even the entire Orbiter was only the tip of the iceberg. Obviously the next generation RLV should be made more efficient. But how? The most important insights many of the Shuttle workers could provide were ways to make their own jobs easier or unnecessary through more insight earlier in the design.

    The rational approach would have been to apply this knowledge and experience to the initial design of the next generation of RLV. Instead almost all the lessons of thirty hard years have been thrown away, and will have to be relearned. The next generation always looks cheap and easy, just as the Shuttle looked cheap and easy 40 years ago. TPS, electrical, propulsion, almost every component except the basic structure has evolved, and eventually was maintained, at KSC. The skills were not those of the assembly line. Maintaining any aerospace vehicle requires craftsmanship, experience, judgment, and vigilance.

    The Shuttles underwent frequent modifications, as did the even more complex maintenance and ground processing system. The workers at KSC were responsible for many of the improvements that took a nearly unworkable basic design to the point where (management to the contrary) it flew safely and efficiently as was possible within those constraints.

    As long as the vehicle has structures, propulsion, GNC, and life support, as long as maintenance and operations are a far larger part of cost than the original design, as long as experience, craftsmanship, vigilance, and insight are needed to keep a reusable launch vehicle safe from T-0 to wheel stop, the skills of the USA technicians and engineers so recently dispersed from KSC will be the very skills we need.

  • Halfwit

    DCSCA wrote:
    Long ago, the Russian people resolved this question in the affirmative and incorporated their commitment to HSF and space exploration into their national character.
    The Russians needed HSF in the 1960-ies because they did not have automated means to deliver spy info from space to Earth. Later, they were developing HSF as part of their Star Wars doctrine and attack from space (Spiral, MiG-105). Currently all Roscosmos does is it reuses the old tech and milks government for funding. I don’t see how the Russian HSF goes anywhere.

    The Mir station was probably the last sensible project, which provided info on long-term (should I say longer-term) HSF. This might be useful for flight to, say, Mars.

    Prominent Russian space figures like Leonov and Chertok say that HSF makes sense for flying to the Moon or Mars, but not for low-Earth orbit anymore. But I don’t see any Moon- or Mars-related efforts on Russian part.

    P.S. BTW, as for the “Russian national character”. When the N1 Moon program failed, the Russians kept it classified for 20 years and the official stance was: “We never wanted to send people to the Moon, it is way too dangerous, only the Americans can be that foolish and irresponsible. We always wanted to sends robots, which we did with great success (Lunokhod missions).” Gee, what does this tell about the Russian national character? The Russian people was slaving away for some bigwigs to build and shoot rockets. The Russian people had no say at all in the Soviet space politics, although most of them did take pride in the achievements despite the hardships of everyday life.

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