Congress, NASA

Two themes from Wednesday’s CCDev hearing

Wednesday’s hearing by the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee on NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program didn’t yield any major breakthroughs or other significant news. Industry members in the hearing’s first panel expressed their confidence to develop systems to transport NASA astronauts and serve other markets in the next several years, provided adequate funding. NASA’s associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier also backed the program, while NASA inspector general Paul Martin covered some of the challenges the program faces. Two themes did emerge from the nearly three-hour hearing, though.

1. Congressional skepticism is about markets, not capabilities: During the hearing several members of congress, including committee chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), expressed their doubts that CCDev would unfold as NASA and industry claim. However, unlike some witnesses at past hearings that expressed doubt that commercial entities had the capabilities to develop such vehicles (such as former astronaut Gene Cernan, who said in testimony last month that commercial providers “don’t yet know what they don’t know” about building crewed spacecraft), members focused on the market. Their concern was whether other markets, like space tourism, research, and flying astronauts from other nations, constituted sufficient markets.

Some witnesses, like John Elbon of Boeing and Steve Lindsey of Sierra Nevada Corp., saif their business cases closed even if they only secured NASA business. Still, some members wondered if investing $6 billion over five years (NASA’s estimated cost of CCDev; some committee members asked for more details about the analysis NASA used to come up with that estimate) was a better deal than simply purchasing additional Soyuz flights, even if the services eventually offered by US companies were at a lower per-seat price than Russia, citing the amortization of that investment as well as concerns about costs to the government for indemnifying commercial providers. Members like Hall and Johnson, as well as Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), did not seem immediately convinced by arguments from NASA and industry.

2. CCDev’s FY12 budget is looking increasingly likely to be no more than $500 million: As NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver warned last week, Gerstenmaier said that funding CCDev at $500 million (the current Senate mark) rather than the administration’s request of $850 million would result in a one-year delay in vehicles entering service, to 2017, with the result that NASA would have to pay $480 million to Russia for an additional year of flight services. However, when asked by committee members, Gerstenmaier said that one-year delay would be the only major impact provided the program was adequately funded in future years. He added that NASA was still about a year away from making a decision to buy additional Soyuz seats.

Those comments, and the response, suggest there’s no major push among committee members to lobby House appropriators and fellow members to increase the CCDev budget above the Senate’s version. (Notably, they did not ask about the effects on the program if the House version of the budget, with only $312 million for CCDev, passed.) Senate leaders indicate they will finally vote on the “minibus” appropriations bill that includes NASA next Tuesday night, with “a quick turnaround” in the House shortly thereafter, according to POLITICO. So for advocates of CCDev seeking full funding, time is running out.

120 comments to Two themes from Wednesday’s CCDev hearing

  • Dennis

    At least a year away from purchasing more Soyuz seats? What happens if our space policy politicians decide they dont want any more rides? The ISS will belong to Russia. Not a bad deal for them!

  • amightywind

    Musk: ” “will personally guarantee” that taxpayers won’t have to bail out his company.”

    I found it amusing that Musk is willing to back SpaceX with all of his resources, but is not willing to invest those resources up front. SpaceX will retain ownership and potential profits for services whose development is financed by US tax payers. Sweet deal if you have well connected friends. If the market is as lucrative as the Nerds would have us believe, then public financing should be viable and preferable. If the taxpayer finances Nerdspace development, NASA should retain ownership of the vehicles, period. Every defense procurement works this way. SLS works this way. There is no reason for CCDev to be different. The only thing reaching space CCDev is the chicanery surrounding its financing, which stinks to high heaven.

  • MrEarl

    “Gerstenmaier said that one-year delay would be the only major impact provided the program was adequately funded in future years.”
    That’s the key phrase; “provided the program was adequately funded in future years.” This sets in the mind of congress that $500m is adequately funded when it clearly is not.
    Congress has become people who, “know the cost of everything but the value of nothing”.

  • SpaceMan

    stinks to high heaven

    What stinks is your continual spewing of ignorant gibberish.

    If you actually have any real knowledge of the space challenges then state them instead of stinking up an otherwise informative forum.

  • DocM

    @Almightywind

    ” If the market is as lucrative as the Nerds would have us believe, then public financing should be viable and preferable.”

    That statement ignores their stated goal to do an IPO by 2013.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I found it amusing that Musk is willing to back SpaceX with all of his resources, but is not willing to invest those resources up front.

    As usual you are clueless about the issues involved. If NASA stated they wanted a completely commercially developed system, then Congress wouldn’t be involved. NASA would hold an open competition and the winners would get the contract.

    But NASA and Congress have stated that they want a say into the design and validation of the commercial crew systems, so they need to pay for that ability. In testimony yesterday more than one witness said that they would agree to a firm fixed price contract, but NASA & Congress can’t change the conditions of the contract afterward (i.e. add requirements).

    This is standard contractual type stuff that happens in the real business world, so the issues involved are pretty well known (as are your objections to competition and capitalism).

  • Coastal Ron

    At the end of Panel 1 Chairman Hall said that the U.S. is facing an emergency situation for getting crew to the ISS.

    Being the old codger that he is, he used a WWII Pearl Harbor analogy that if taken by itself would seem to show a desire to fully fund CCDev. However since he is also an old politician, what he says hardly ever tracks with his actions, and I doubt he will choose American companies over Russian ones.

    And really, that’s the bottom line here – does the U.S. want not only a U.S. crew system for accessing the ISS, but a competitive one that could lead to a growing space industry. A little vision is needed here.

  • Byeman

    Every defense procurement works this way. Wrong. Defense companies can market their products commercially. See C-130.

    NASA or the DOD doesn’t own Atlas, Delta or Taurus. There is no advantage to NASA owning any CCDev vehicles, only disadvantages.

  • Byeman

    Commerical Crew 100% financed by NASA is still better and cheaper than a NASA managed and operated system

  • Continuing the ISS beyond 2015 at $3 billion a year as a make work program for commercial crew companies is an extremely wasteful and expensive way to develop a private commercial crew industry.

    Starting a simple national and international space lotto system could help to increase the volume of the space tourism market beyond that of the super wealthy by allowing billions of average people from around the world a chance to risk a dollar or two a year for a chance to win a trip aboard a private American space vehicle to private American space stations– plus $250,000 in compensation for the time off from work required for astronaut training.

    NASA could also make a $1 billion dollar a year contribution to the national space lotto system (for American tourist only) in order to insure private companies that at minimum there will be at least one billion dollar in ticket sales per year for rides into space. Subsidizing a space lotto system would be three times cheaper for NASA to fund than continuing the ISS beyond 2015 at over $3 billion a year with probably twice as many flights into space which should help to significantly reduce the cost of space travel which should help to increase the number of flights even more.

    NASA could then use the $2 billion in annual savings from the decommissioned ISS program for beyond LEO missions and to purchase some of the next generation of larger and cheaper space stations from Bigelow Aerospace.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • common sense

    “Congressional skepticism is about markets”

    So what? Are they expecting some money from this? Since when is it Congress’ business to investigate private companies markets????

    First they design rockets and now they are into business development.

    What’s next?

  • amightywind

    That statement ignores their stated goal to do an IPO by 2013.

    Sure, when their company has achieved sufficient value through government investment. Would they them pay the government back? At what terms? No, your statement is meaningless. Private companies can issue bonds.

    But NASA and Congress have stated that they want a say into the design and validation of the commercial crew systems, so they need to pay for that ability.

    Sure, the same thing is done routinely by the military. Their contractors do quite well. But the contractors do not keep ownership of the hardware and systems they produce. Look at the EELV program as an example.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:01 am
    ” Sweet deal if you have well connected friends. If the market is as lucrative as the Nerds would have us believe, then public financing should be viable and preferable. If the taxpayer finances Nerdspace development, NASA should retain ownership of the vehicles, period. ”

    ever since your Falcon 9 second stage babble I more or less let you troll, but occassionally you bring up interesting points.

    “If the market is as lucrative as the Nerds would have us believe, then public financing should be viable ”

    We (Rich Kolker and I, Mark Whittington had his name put on the piece) actually addressed that in our Weekly Standard piece over a decade ago. No analogy is perfect, but several come to mind which at least illustrate why your statement is gibberish.

    The “market” for air mail was thought to be very large…but until there actually was a “chicken” to make the egg (as the Secretary of Commerce of the time noted in testimony before Congress, it is impossible for the private capital markets (these are more or less his thoughts) to accurately guage the scope of the market, because there is little or no sample set. The person doing the testimony even reached back to the Pony express and how it started up (which then was not that far in the past) and the role that the US military played in “buying mail” (or dispatches) to form the financial foundation of the effort.

    There are “others” (the transcon railroad) but the trick is that “markets” which have been more or less dominated by non commercial groups and where its impossible to “nibble” at the market (ie there were few intermediate stops for the Pony Express) need “priming” (which again is the words of the Sec on the air mail bill.

    ” If the taxpayer finances Nerdspace development, NASA should retain ownership of the vehicles, period. ” but that is not really what is happening…the trick here is that the effort is more like the Civilian reserve airline fleet then anything else….but I am pleased to see that like Mark “I love my pork” Whittington who is now shilling for the Russians, you have gone so far in hatred that you are supporting government ownership of assets.

    sigh RGO

  • Bill Hensley

    The Congressional concern over markets is motivated by the desire to lower NASA’s costs by having other customers for these vehicles. What they seem to be completely missing is that, compared to a vehicle designed, developed and operated by NASA, commercially provided crew transfer would be cheaper even if the provider had no other customers. The inefficiencies of the current approach are what drives the extreme cost of government vehicles (Ares 1, Orion, SLS, etc.) Affordability comes from NASA backing away from its normal, intrusive oversight and control. If someone else besides NASA wants to buy a ride to space once these vehicles exist, that’s just icing on the cake as far as its effect on the prices NASA will be paying.

  • Byeman

    “But the contractors do not keep ownership of the hardware and systems they produce. Look at the EELV program as an example.’

    Windy, again you show that you are clueless. EELV contractors DO have and keep the hardware and systems they produce. The DOD does not own the hardware.

    Once again, you have proven that you don’t know squat about spaceflight.

  • Justin Kugler

    NASA isn’t paying for ownership. NASA is paying for crew and cargo services and is buying down developmental risk through the COTS and CCDev programs. In both cases, the point is to provide NASA with end capabilities that it requires at less cost than through an in-house, full-ownership model. I don’t pay the full cost of Southwest’s 737 or FedEx’s 747 when I buy services from them. For that matter, the military does not own ULA’s intellectual property, so the suggestion that NASA should appropriate the IP from companies like Boeing, SpaceX, SNC, and Blue Origin is absurd.

    For that matter, we are not continuing the ISS just to make a market for commercial crew companies. We are continuing the ISS because NASA, ESA, CSA, JAXA, Roscosmos, and the National Lab partners all have additional research and technology development work they want to see get done. Over the next couple of years, virtually every external platform site will be filled. Even if we put the ISS in the Pacific and bought “next generation” habitats for research, we’d still need a way to get there. We’d still need a way to transfer all of those committed on-orbit payloads to their new homes.

    The simple fact of the matter is that NASA has LEO access needs that must be fulfilled. All indications are that milestone-based service contracts are the best way to meet those needs affordably, so long as the contracts are executed properly.

  • @ablastofhotair
    “I found it amusing that Musk is willing to back SpaceX with all of his resources, but is not willing to invest those resources up front.”

    Another piece of idiocy from our resident nutball. As was stated in the testimony, $500 million of those resources have already been invested.

    “Sure, when their company has achieved sufficient value through government investment. Would they them pay the government back? At what terms?

    The government is paid back with a transportation system built to NASA’s safety requirements for less final operating expense than from the Russkies.

    Your comments aren’t getting any less stupid than the self-contradictory earlier one in another thread where you said “none” wanted Commercial Crew.

  • Byeman

    Williams, why do you keep bringing up the idiotic notion of cancelling the ISS, it is not going to happen, no matter how many times you post it.

    NASA doesn’t need to get involve with a lottery, That is not its charter. NASA is not in the tourist business. A lottery is just as extremely wasteful and expensive way to develop a private commercial crew industry

  • But the contractors do not keep ownership of the hardware and systems they produce. Look at the EELV program as an example.

    The EELV program is an example of the contractors keeping ownership of the hardware and systems they produce, you moron.

  • @Marcel Williams
    “Continuing the ISS beyond 2015 at $3 billion a year as a make work program for commercial crew companies is an extremely wasteful and expensive way to develop a private commercial crew industry. “

    Yet you have no problem with a more wasteful and expensive super-HLV. When other alternatives are more practical according to NASA’s own internal studies:
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1577

    Geez, talk about a “make work program”! How about turning down the hypocrisy level a little lower?

  • common sense

    @ Bill Hensley wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    “The Congressional concern over markets is motivated by the desire to lower NASA’s costs by having other customers for these vehicles.”

    This is none of their business. It’s a company business. Why would the companies have to reveal the names of their customers to them? The extent of the market? Where have you ever seen anything like this? Does any airline tell them their market share when they provide transport services to the US government? Ludicrous and embarrassing.

    Their concerns if they were sincere ought to be addressed by demanding firm price and making sure requirements do not change ever so often. And btw it is NASA’s concerns not Congress.

    Congress is a bipartisan failure at this point in time. On any subject.

  • Dennis

    I was wondering what each and everone of you view as a growing space industry? Until that is really defined, then the sojourns of a few rich will not open a space industry. For true space industry, we would need a constant usage of say an orbiting hotel, like perhaps Bigelow wants, or sometype of minning operations on the Moon or Mars so that actual profits are made by the owners. Everyone just wanting a hop, skip and a jaunt around the globe, and or a sub-orbital hop will not cut it. After the rich get the space bug out of their systems, and decide the dont want to go anymore, then what? NASA will have to continue on into the future to pay these companies for seats aboard their respective spacecraft. So NASA MUST continue to exist,period. Without NASA I dont think there would be any commercial endeavors on the horizon. Like it or not, that is the way of things.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The EELV program is an example of the contractors keeping ownership of the hardware and systems they produce, you moron.

    Do you know if they historically owned the IP to the predecessor systems? If not, how did ownership transfer to the ULA predecessor companies?

  • Coastal Ron

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Well put.

    If NASA & Congress do nothing, that means we will continue to cut checks to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and be dependent on Russia for access to the ISS. Or they can choose to support the creation of a commercial crew service industry. They have to pick one.

    No one is suggesting an open checkbook for crew service either, and the companies involved in CCDev have all praised the milestone-based approach NASA has taken so far. And while being concerned about another EELV situation is a valid concern, the best thing that Congress can do is to clearly identify the demand they will fund and let the market decide if that is enough.

  • Do you know if they historically owned the IP to the predecessor systems?

    I don’t know, but I would guess not.

    If not, how did ownership transfer to the ULA predecessor companies?

    Why would it need to? Both Delta and Atlas are almost clean-sheet designs, with little heritage to their earlier namesakes, other than the Centaur.

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis wrote:

    “I was wondering what each and everone of you view as a growing space industry? Until that is really defined, then the sojourns of a few rich will not open a space industry. For true space industry, we would need a constant usage of say an orbiting hotel, like perhaps Bigelow wants”

    There are endless uses for space. You want a definative, all encompassing single use for space, you will never find it. Some researchers want to do crystal growth, others medical, others material science research, others tourism. The point isn’t to define what people will do, the point is to create the access ( commercial space services to LEO) and a destination ( ISS and Bigelow facilities) so individuals, governments and corporations can do what they want.

    Bigelow Aerospace is not about building space hotels, Robert Bigelow has stated this over and over again, but people just refuse to acknowledge what he actually says. He wants to build open ended architecture for orbital facilities so that others can lease space and then conduct whatever kind of business they want. If you want an orbital hotel, you would lease a part or a whole BA 330 and create one.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I was wondering what each and everone of you view as a growing space industry? Until that is really defined, then the sojourns of a few rich will not open a space industry.

    Dennis, no one is building their commercial crew business case based on “tourism” – stop thinking about that completely.

    The market will initially succeed based on the needs of the ISS partners for crew transport, and other destinations in LEO such as the Bigelow Aerospace whose stated mission is “to provide affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients.”

    Space tourism to date has existed because there was excess supply (i.e. more seats than paying customers) on Soyuz flights, and that may be true for U.S. commercial crew providers too, but tourism is not going to be the primary reason for the flight in the first place.

    As far as defining future demand, you can’t. No one can, which is why there is a business risk for all the CCDev participants, but they understand that, and they are willing to risk their money.

    This is pretty typical for American business, as virtually every business encounters this situation – when will the next customer buy my product or service, and how many will like the new product or service I’m planning to offer? Capitalism 101.

  • Dennis

    I was just reading where Musk says if NASAs rules and regulations are to tight, he wont bid on the 3rd round of funding? What do you all think about that. First of all you know our government cant keep their noses out of anything! With all their rules all the time, they styfle progress.

  • Byeman

    NASA turn over Delta and Atlas in the last 80′s

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:01 am
    “Musk: ”“will personally guarantee” that taxpayers won’t have to bail out his company.” ”

    Master Musk’s guarantees mean little. More bombastic hype. Yet he flies nobody. Sooner or later even Barnum had to deliver an act to patrons. It’s a sucker bet to subsidize this fella’s whims. He’s going no place fast and past is prologue. Recent business media reports regarding Musk’s Tesla Motors indicate ‘no profits in the forseeable future.’ But then, he plans on retiring on Mars, doesn’t he. America’s space program needs another Von Braun, not a P.T. Barnum. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • DCSCA

    @SpaceMan wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:28 am
    ‘stinks to high heaven’

    =yawn= Fly somebody. Put some one up– or shut-up. End of story.

  • vulture4

    “Contractors are generally permitted to retain ownership of the technology they develop or deliver under their federal contracts.” –From the web page of a legal firm specializing in IP.

    To my knowledge, in practice, NASA retains IP only when the invention was actually developed at a NASA facility. I believe DOD is similar.

  • vulture4

    Vladislaw: “There are endless uses for space. You want a definative, all encompassing single use for space, you will never find it. Some researchers want to do crystal growth, others medical, others material science research, others tourism.”

    Vulture4: Keep in mind, however, that all these uses are very sensitive to cost. NASA press releases notwithstanding, there is not and never has been any science relevant to medicine on the earth that can only be accomplished in space. At $20B per seat, there might be one or two tourists a year. At $100K per seat, there would be over a hundred per year. The crystal growth market is similarly cost sensitive; at current costs there have been only a small handful of actual commercial (non-NASA-funded) experiments.

    Expendable launch systems are cost effective for current applications satellites and some science missions, but cannot meet cost requirements for a viable market in human spaceflight, as Musk and others have long conceded. SLS/Orion is many times more expensive and is not even affordable for geopolitical missions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I was just reading where Musk says if NASAs rules and regulations are to tight, he wont bid on the 3rd round of funding? What do you all think about that.>>

    Politics is strange…nothing “now” will matter after Musk (or OSC) has flown a trip to the space station in their vehicle. Then the argument (such as it is) will be over. RGO

  • Frank Glover

    @ Dennis

    “After the rich get the space bug out of their systems, and decide the dont want to go anymore, then what?”

    And yet, people keep paying money to climb Mt. Everest, at greater risk and discomfort than space tourism is likely to give. What causes you to think that such a scenario would ever come to pass? Even at today’s Russian-seat price to ISS, there’s been one repeat customer, already. (You also ignore non-tourist human commercial space flight sold to non-NASA government agencies, non-US government agencies, and to private entities of any kind, to stations that are not hotels….which will be most of them.)

    “NASA will have to continue on into the future to pay these companies for seats aboard their respective spacecraft.”

    Right. Or from anyone else who comes along that can offer a better deal. This is as opposed to…what?

    ” So NASA MUST continue to exist,period.”

    (shrug) Okay, cool. Got no basic problem there.

    Was that your problem? Not all of us here want to destroy NASA, but all but two or three of us want to *change* what it does, and how it does it. That’s not the same thing.

    @ DSCA:

    “=yawn= Fly somebody. Put some one up– or shut-up. End of story.”

    Are you willing to wait quietly, until then?*

    I’m thinking not…

    (* Especially if you’re that bored…this is about spaceflight, but sorry, it isn’t an action movie. We all know that yesterday’s first money-making Boeing 787 flight didn’t just magically spring from the forehead of Zeus either, and this is even more speculative. The wheels of justice aren’t the only thing that turn slowly. Patience, Grasshopper, daylight under the first manned launch will come…)

  • Martijn Meijering

    NASA turn over Delta and Atlas in the last 80′s

    And NASA presumably took over Delta and Atlas after the USAF switched to solids for ICBMs?

  • SpaceMan

    there is not and never has been any science relevant to medicine on the earth that can only be accomplished in space

    You might want to catch up with reality.

    http://healthystate.org/2011/06/how-the-shuttle-helped-salmonella-mrsa-research/

  • Vulture4 wrote:

    there is not and never has been any science relevant to medicine on the earth that can only be accomplished in space.

    Very, very wrong.

    Start with:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/515797main_UN-HSTI_research_accomplishments_overview_compressed.pdf

    And then there’s the salmonella vaccine currently under review at the FDA. That was only possible because of the absence of gravity on the ISS.

    The same company that developed the salmonella vaccine is now using the ISS to test a potential MRSA vaccine:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZnGHM1XTQcg

    The Astrogenetix video explains quite clearly and simply how the unique features of the ISS can be used to find the “genetic guideposts” that lead researchers to potential vaccines.

  • SpaceMan

    That healthy state website seems a tad unstable so try this one since it has more details.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706134141.htm

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    NASA turn over Delta and Atlas in the last 80′s

    You’re being too cryptic – expand what you’re saying.

  • Fred Willett

    DCSCA wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 4:23 pm
    Recent business media reports rearding Musk’s Tesla Motors indicate ‘no profits in the forseeable future.’ But then, he plans on retiring on Mars, doesn’t he. America’s space program needs another Von Braun, not a P.T. Barnum. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
    It might pay to learn a little bit about what Tesla is doing before commenting. Tesla got a loan from the DOE to build out their Model S factory. This will take them from a small volume high cost specialist company marketing only the very expensive Telsa Roadster to a medium volume car maker with a medium volume medium cost car, the Model S.
    Musk predicted a number of quarters of losses while the Model S production line was built. His investors seem happy with this. Witness the share price for Tesla. The company expects to start making profits again when the Model S hits the streets in 2012

  • Fred Willett

    Dennis wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
    “I was wondering what each and everone of you view as a growing space industry? Until that is really defined, then the sojourns of a few rich will not open a space industry.”
    It’s very difficult to predict where the growth will be. Didn’t a bigwig from IBM once say the total demand for computers was unlikely to exceed 2? And who would have predicted, back in 1920, the sheer volume of air traffic flying in and out of JFK. But here are a few of my guesses anyway.
    1/ GEO is a scarce resource. It’s getting crowded. At some point it’s going to be necessary to be able to access, repair and add to existing satellites rather than just put up entirely new satellites. before you can say swiss cheese you’ll have the stations Arthur C Clarke originally envisioned.
    2/ Space junk removal is a business several companies are looking at right now.
    3/ Or space salvage. in conjunction with 2 above rather than just deorbit space junk, collect it and recycle it. There will come a point where it might be cheaper to reuse rather than just toss stuff back into the atmosphere to burn up.
    4/ tugs. Again companies are looking at this. As more and more stuff is in space a business case opens to tow stuff around.
    5/ Fuel depots. They lower the cost of doing anything in space because they allow you to build reusable bits. i.e. reusable propulsion stages. There is no point in making a reusable propulsion stage if you have to throw it away when the fuel tank is empty. But with fuel depots the reverse is true. There is no point in throwing away perfectly good hardware when you can just fill it up and go again. The amazing thing about fuel depots is that suddenly the cost of doing anything in space suddenly starts to fall dramatically because you’re using stuff more than once.
    5/ Space Lines. Like an airline except in space. A reusable in space thruster, like an modified Aces upper stage pushing around a BA-330 and you’ve got the basis of a real space craft. Theres already a proposed commercial flight to the moon planned using a soyuz. With fuel depots and lower costs for in space hardware comes cheaper ticket prices for jaunts like that. If your in space propulsion stage can push your BA-330 through 6K/s delta V then with the judicious placement of fuel depots anywhere in the Earth/Moon/Mars system is reachable.
    Taken together the above is a good start.

  • Fred Willett

    with reguard to my previous post. You will notice how capability builds on capability.
    Tugs are enhanced by Fuel depots.
    Fuel depots enable reusability of in space hardware, and so on.
    It is ever so.
    Commercial Crew is just one of the fundamental capabilities we need to develop to do anything in space. By itself it doesn’t guarantee anything. But without it…

  • DCSCA

    @Fred Willett wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    =yawn= In fact, it doesnt pay to know what Tesla’s doing. That’s the point- no profits for the ‘forseeable future’ which is precisely the whole point of a ‘for profit’ private enterprised firm. The best thing Musk can do for America’s space program is stay out of it and concentrate on assembling his ‘retirement condo’ in Mars…. Pennsylvania.

  • DCSCA

    @Frank Glover wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 6:18 pm
    =Yawn= each time he tries to shakedown the Treasury for subsidies while he flies nobody he’ll get called on it loud and clear. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • DCSCA

    @Fred Willett wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “The company [Tesla] expects to start making profits again when the Model S hits the streets in 2012″ ROFLMAO ‘Promises, Promises’ was a Broadway play. Profits by promise in press releases aren’t profits. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • John

    Its becoming more of a cart before the horse joke to appease the commercial aerospace Gods that usually received 85% of NASA contracts in the past. The problem is they don’t have the hardware to work with. The cost of spreading manure and assumptions can get expensive.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    John. What gibberish! Would you like to clearly explain what you mean rather than trying to appear smart?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    each time he tries to shakedown the Treasury for subsidies while he flies nobody he’ll get called on it loud and clear.

    So far Musk is doing pretty good getting competitively bid government contracts, so I guess you’re wrong yet again. Don’cha hate that fella?

    Oh and hey, when are you packing up your family into a Conestoga rocket and migrating to the stars? Seems to me you were berating someone for not doing that, but you have yet to put your family where your mouth is…

  • @Byeman

    “Williams, why do you keep bringing up the idiotic notion of cancelling the ISS, it is not going to happen, no matter how many times you post it. NASA doesn’t need to get involve with a lottery, That is not its charter. NASA is not in the tourist business. A lottery is just as extremely wasteful and expensive way to develop a private commercial crew industry”

    Government sponsored lotto systems operate all over the US. I guess you would prefer NASA to continue the ISS program as a more expensive $3 billion a year welfare program for private industry.

    It is in the long term national interest for the US to develop a private manned spaceflight industry that its not dependent on tax payer money in order to sustain it. Subsidizing a space lotto system would be a temporary measure that is much cheaper than the $3 billion a year ISS work-fare program– that you advocate! It may turn out that a government subsidy for such a system is unnecessary. But if we want to give private investors more confidence to invest in private spaceflight companies, such a subsidy would be of immense value, IMO.

    So I think it is much less– idiotic– to spend $1 billion a year of tax payer money helping to support a market for private space programs than to spend $3 billion a year:-)

  • Byeman

    No, it is idiotic to think that the ISS only exists as a market for private space programs. The ISS exists for research and international relations.

    Also, there are no such things as temporary lottos.

  • @Rick Boozer wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    “Yet you have no problem with a more wasteful and expensive super-HLV. When other alternatives are more practical according to NASA’s own internal studies:
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1577“Geez, talk about a “make work program”! How about turning down the hypocrisy level a little lower?”

    NASA studies also show that the Sidemount shuttle would be cheaper to develop than the SLS.

    But unlike the slightly cheaper alternatives, the SLS will be the most versatile and useful launch system ever developed. No other system will be able to deploy huge instant space stations with a single launch because they can’t lift the 70 tonnes necessary to deploy them nor do they have the minimum 8 meter faring in order to house such structures. . Plus the SLS will be able to launch space depots into orbit much cheaper than current launch systems.

    You could also easily derive SLS launch vehicles that don’t require SRBs or an upper stage at all as proposed by Boeing.

    The RS-25E being developed for the SLS might also find a use as a man-rated engine for the Delta IV rockets. Congress support the development of the SLS is one of the smartest things they’ve ever done!

  • vulture4

    SpaceMan wrote @
    You might want to catch up with reality.
    http://healthystate.org/2011/06/how-the-shuttle-helped-salmonella-mrsa-research/

    Sorry to break this to you, but you might want to check the facts. People who are rightly skeptical of NASA statements on rockets and space travel accept their press releases on medicine without question.

    In fact, excellent vaccines against salmonella are already available and have essentially eliminated the disease in Britain in both poultry and humans: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/business/25vaccine.html?pagewanted=all
    The vaccine was rejected in the US due to lobbying by the poultry industry which would have had to pay a few cents per chicken.
    Second, the virulence transition in salmonella can be easily triggered on the ground by reducing the oxygen level or even changing the pH. Spaceflight is not required. You can verify this simply by reading the scientific journals,. i.e.: http://mic.sgmjournals.org/content/143/8/2665.full.pdf

    Obviously if it depended on weightlessness we wouldn’t be sick here on earth. If you don’t believe me, ask any experienced researcher in microbiology. Or read the NASA investigator’s three publications that mention microgravity. Most of their research was actually done on the ground, in a simple rotating culture vessel, and to the authors’ credit, nowhere is the claim made that the changes seen are unique to spaceflight. My goal isn’t to discredit the research, only the assertion in the popular press that it required space to do it.

    That said, I can understand the investigator’s situation and, given the choice, might have done the same. NASA is willing to fund research, but often, regardless of how valuable the research might be, funding is dependent on a convincing claim that it is a “free” byproduct of human spaceflight. We should be realists, not nihilists. My point is not that space is useless for research; it can be valuable – but it is not infinitely valuable. Unless access costs can be substantially reduced, medical research in space is not worth the cost.

  • DCSCA

    @John wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 9:17 pm
    “Its becoming more of a cart before the horse joke to appease the commercial aerospace Gods…”

    Yeah, too bad they can’t do the basics- like fly somebody. These clowns can’t fly a kite w/o a government contract as a customer to subsidize their fears and failures. They don’t know how to create and develop the market, which is why this crop of profiteers make for very poor rocketeers. But then, as Cernan noted, ‘they don’t know what they don’t know yet.’

  • Mark R. Whittington

    So how does an industry that has no private markets define itself as “commercial” again?

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    …is much cheaper than the $3 billion a year ISS work-fare program

    It amazes me that people like you think that we can learn to live and work in space without actually LIVING AND WORKING in space.

    The ISS is a fantastically capable laboratory at the closest possible distance to Earth (i.e. least expensive & fastest access), and it’s the perfect place to test out the things we’re going to need to move permanently beyond LEO. If you can’t see that, then I don’t see you as a true space advocate.

  • Mr. Right

    Recap: congress (several) in a bipartisan way supports and funds CxP. Like CxP or not, agree with it technically or not they funded it and made commitment to get it flying.
    A new administration cancels it without notice, consultation, consent or support from the same congress. Commercial will be the (ONLY) way (so proclaims Lori and Co.). Ok, fights on! Congress saves Orion and makes law (with agreement by the Administration) to build SLS. Like it or not, Congress wants the rocket (and you can have commercial cargo/crew too). Now people are surprised by limited support in congress for commercial? Wait until FY 2013! Congress will get its pounds of flesh from commercial space providers. To be clear, yes SpaceX and Orbital will fulfill the contracts signed (unless catastrophic event prevents it), but with Orion making a 1st orbital flight in a full up configuration (with a LAS) in 2013, congress will fund it 100%. 4 flights a year on EELV takes care of crew needs. I have a good briefing on what it takes to human rate EELVs. Lot less than you think. It’s too bad. NASA (under Griffin) was willing to give up all ISS cargo and crew support to ISS so he could push for deep space crewed missions (that’s the real challenge). But now, with no mission but trips to ISS we will have no need for commercial crew.
    Maybe space adventures can sell seats on a commercial spacecraft for $50-100 million each. But NASA astronaut pilots and crews (with international partners) will be flying on Orion.
    We need commercial space, but the damage has been done.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Mr Right, you may think that but the when Dragon COTS-C Flight 2/3 berths to the ISS and returns safely, everything changes. There will be no need for pork programs. SpaceX will have made their point and they will emphasise it with approx 8 CRS flights to provide flight heritage prior to their first sheduled Dragon Crew flight. Before then, FH will fly. SLS is dead, MPCV will be dead. The calls to get commercial crew up and running will be deafening. Believe it, there’s no money for expensive Cx-style programs.

  • Fred Willett

    DCSCA wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 9:14 pm
    Tick-tock, tick-tock.
    You’ve been ticking and tocking about SpaceX’s failure to fly crew for years when SpaceX aren’t even building a crew vehicle yet.
    Are they supposed to conjure one out of thin air just to please you?
    Why do you insist on instantaneous results?
    The fact is building anything takes time, and at the moment SpaceX are not building a crew Dragon, but building technology and at this they’ve achieved a lot. Falcon 1, Falcon 9, COTS 1 and in a month or so we’ll see COTS 2 and next year CRC. All this stuff takes time.
    An example: When Tesla started developing the Model S Musk said it would take 9 quarters before the first car rolled off the production line. It’s called “investment” and is a prelude to “profit”.
    Similarly Musk was clear that there would be 8 or so flights of cargo Dragon before crew dragon was ready to go. Developing anything takes time, whether it be Dragon, SLS or just building a house.
    Complaining (or ticking and tocking) when, at this point, contracts for Crewed Dragon haven’t even been let yet is utter nonsense.
    Once contracts are let (SAA or FAR or something in between) and SpaceX schedule starts to slip then you are entitled to tick as much as you like.
    Until then all your ticks and tocks are meaningless.

  • vulture4 wrote:

    In fact, excellent vaccines against salmonella are already available …

    Perhaps you should actually read the article you linked. It was a vaccine for CHICKENS, not PEOPLE.

    The ISS vaccine would protect PEOPLE from salmonella poisoning.

    In any case … Will you pledge right here and now, in front of everyone, that you will refuse to use any medication or technology developed on the ISS? Since you claim none will ever exist, this should be easy for you.

    Never mind that countries and companies around the world believe in the ISS potential and are lining up to use it for research. Yep, all of them are wrong and you are right.

    So take the pledge.

  • GuessWho

    I find it particularly troublesome that they are also looking for Govt indemnification as part of the deal from tax payers. Not only do they want to socialize the development risks, they apparently want to socialize the operational risks when they inevitably kill someone in flight or on the ground. This is looking less and less like a commercial transaction every day.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 12:11 am

    So how does an industry that has no private markets define itself as “commercial” again?”

    Gee Mark did you simply have a lobotomy when Obama took office?

    When you were actually for private space enterprise, you knew the answer to that.

    In our Weekly Standard Piece, the one that you asked to have your name on but offered no editorial content we answered that question. A private company does not know when it is providing a service WHO the customer is in terms of the service it provides.

    Our analogy was American Trans Air…they didnt know that they were renting a 767 to the US military to transport troops anywhere in the world or renting one to a tour company that was taking people to Hawaii…and for sometime ATA never rented to anyone but the US military. That did not make them less “private”.

    It is a measure of how you have slipped the surely bonds of reality, that questions you use to know the answer to and indeed easily give in rebuttal to stupid questions you now seem to ask yourself

    Robert G. oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    “. Plus the SLS will be able to launch space depots into orbit much cheaper than current launch systems.

    You could also easily derive SLS launch vehicles that don’t require SRBs or an upper stage at all as proposed by Boeing.

    The RS-25E being developed for the SLS might also find a use as a man-rated engine for the Delta IV rockets.”

    not a chance, never will happen, and not a chance on this earth:

    In order of the really ridiculous statements you make RGO

  • @Mark R. Whittington
    So how does an industry that has no private markets define itself as “commercial” again?

    How many times are you going to ask questions that you already know the answers to just to propagandize? Bigelow alone is one market. Foreign governments and large corporations have signed letters of intent with SpaceX and Bigelow. You say “no private markets”, but yet Bigelow laid off people because it is ready to go with its business and the launchers aren’t ready yet. That automatically means that Bigelow is an existing customer for the Commercial Crew guys that is waiting at the bus stop to buy the transportation they need. I swear, that kind of dumb ass statement makes me wonder whether your brain is capable of firing two or more neurons simultaneously.

  • @Earth to planet Marcel
    “NASA studies also show that the Sidemount shuttle would be cheaper to develop than the SLS. “

    And neither is cheaper than those other alternatives. And those alternatives are more than “slightly” cheaper, as mentioned in the NASA report I referenced. More of your distortional spin. Again, please cut the delusional hypocrisy. You should be less a pusher for your beloved sidemount, and more of a proponent for whatever method is best to advance your country in space for the long run.

  • Dennis

    If Mr. Musk can pull off his next flight, then things may begin to change. Maybe he can suggest that his Falcon heavy can loft Orion instead of SLS, and just perhaps our politicias may have a more agreeable ear. Musk means well I believe, but he still must prove his hardware is capable of taking on these desired missions.

  • Byeman

    Williams, And another point why do you keep bringing up SLS launch vehicles that don’t require SRBs or an upper stage, NASA is not going down that path. The SLS design it is going with is not capable of flying without them. it is not going to happen, no matter how many times you post it.

  • Byeman

    “the SLS will be the most versatile and useful launch system ever developed.”

    A 100% bogus statement.
    a. it won’t be versatile since it can’t fly without SRB’s
    b. There won’t be any money for payloads to fly on it
    c. NASA has no plans for stations past the ISS, much less any flying on SLS.
    d. It is easy to do a depot without SLS.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    No other system will be able to deploy huge instant space stations with a single launch because they can’t lift the 70 tonnes necessary to deploy them nor do they have the minimum 8 meter faring in order to house such structures.

    The SLS is too small for the future 200mt payloads that have 12 meter wide payloads, so it will never be used. For that reason alone it should be cancelled.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr. Right wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    A new administration cancels it without notice, consultation, consent or support from the same congress.

    Of course it was a different Congress – every TWO YEARS we get a different Congress. Don’t you know your civics?

    And maybe you also forgot the saying “the President proposes, but the Congress disposes”? Obama “proposed” to cancel CxP, and Congress agreed. So much for your theory.

    Wait until FY 2013! Congress will get its pounds of flesh from commercial space providers.

    You’re not making sense. There are no “pounds of flesh” to get from “commercial space providers”, because in 2013 the only commercial industries in space will be 1) Launch Providers (i.e. the rocket guys), and 2) Cargo Resupply providers (OSC & SpaceX). Who the hell are you talking about?

    but with Orion making a 1st orbital flight in a full up configuration (with a LAS) in 2013, congress will fund it 100%. 4 flights a year on EELV takes care of crew needs.

    Apparently you believe A) that money grows on trees, and B) Delta IV Heavy can lift a full-up MPCV + crew + fuel. Neither are true.

    First of all NASA only needs two flights a year for ISS support, and is only budgeting $480M for that. Delta IV Heavy costs $450M just for the rocket, so unless you plan on INCREASING the Space Operations budget for the ISS, that’s too expensive to happen. The MPCV will cost, what, $1B each? $500M each? And they are not planned to be reusable, so you’d have to crank up the production line for them. You my friend are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    We need commercial space, but the damage has been done.

    What damage? The SLS/MPCV combo are one accident away from shutting down U.S. access to space for years – didn’t you learn the lesson of redundancy from the Shuttle accidents? See CCL above.

  • John

    DCSCA wrote
    Tick-tock, tick-tock…

    Exactly. It will be five years by the time they’re up and running, hello Atlas V ( limited ); and the costs will be more than predicted. In the mean time the Russians will get another contract and expand their market.

  • Larson

    @Mark R. Whittington
    So how does an industry that has no private markets define itself as “commercial” again?

    No private markets? The head of Space Adventures begs to differ (http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=33464):

    First and foremost, it is not fair to say that because “only” eight seats have been sold there is no significant market for orbital human spaceflight. The primary limiting factor in the sales of orbital space missions has been the relative lack of supply. For the last few years, especially, Russia has provided 100% of its available seats to the NASA and the other international partners.

    Sure sounds like there’s room for some extra human spaceflight suppliers. (Much more at the link)

  • @Coastal Ron

    “It amazes me that people like you think that we can learn to live and work in space without actually LIVING AND WORKING in space.The ISS is a fantastically capable laboratory at the closest possible distance to Earth (i.e. least expensive & fastest access), and it’s the perfect place to test out the things we’re going to need to move permanently beyond LEO. If you can’t see that, then I don’t see you as a true space advocate.”

    Skylab and the ISS have pretty much told us— over and over and over again– that microgravity environments are inherently deleterious to human health. And now we’re even discovering that a significant number of astronauts who have spent a few weeks to several months in a microgravity environment are returning with serious eye problems:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/20/nation/la-na-blind-nasa-astronaut-20110921

    Its time for NASA to move in the direction of deploying space stations with larger interiors like the Bigelow Olympus BA-2100 which could accommodate high G centrifuges to see if this can help solve the problems of microgravity. Additionally NASA should fund the development of simple space stations that rotate perhaps 500 meters to a kilometer from a central axis from a cable or from a rigid boom in order to produce artificial gravity.

    But, again, its been pretty obvious– for decades now– that living in a microgravity environments for even a few months is inherently deleterious to human health. So its time to bring the ISS program to an end so that NASA can move on to building a lunar base (lunar voyagers appear to have experienced fewer deleterious effects that astronauts who spent that same amount of time in orbit) and also towards the next generation of space stations to see artificial gravity is the solution to this human health problem in space.

  • @Byeman

    “Williams, And another point why do you keep bringing up SLS launch vehicles that don’t require SRBs or an upper stage, NASA is not going down that path. The SLS design it is going with is not capable of flying without them. it is not going to happen, no matter how many times you post it.”

    I agree with you that NASA is not– currently– going down that road for two very good reasons:

    1. Launching the SLS core vehicle without SRBs would probably not meet the Congressional minimum of being able to place at least 70 tonnes into orbit

    and

    2. Launching the SLS without SRBs would also require at least 5 or 6 RS-25 engines. NASA currently only has about 12 to 15 RS-25 engines from the space shuttle program. And NASA estimates that the new RS-25E disposable engines won’t be ready until at least 2021.

    So testing the SLS without SRBs would quickly use up NASA’s extremely limited inventory RS-25 engines from the space shuttle era and would mean then no further test could be conducted until 2021. With SRBs, however, NASA could test the SLS with just three of four RS-25 engines which would allow NASA to utilize the limited number of engines for a lot more test flights until the RS-25E engines are ready.

    Once the new RS-25E engines are in full production in the 2020′s, I expect concepts like using crewed versions of the SLS without SRBs for orbital and beyond LEO missions will be looked at seriously by NASA in order to increase safety and to substantially reduce the recurring cost of the SLS program.

    And, again, Boeing has already contemplated deriving crew launch vehicles from the SLS core vehicle without SRBs. And Boeing will probably be the company building the SLS core vehicles.

  • John

    Rick Boozer wrote
    “Yet you have no problem with a more wasteful and expensive super-HLV.”

    True. Instead of promoting an reusable exploration vehicle that would be used to construct a gravity assisted station, Congress instead continues to support that one shot ponzi scheme mentality to satisfy defense contract SRB shareholders.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “Its time for NASA to move in the direction of deploying space stations with larger interiors like the Bigelow Olympus BA-2100 which could accommodate high G centrifuges to see if this can help solve the problems of microgravity.”
    And if an HLV is needed for this, it does not have to be either the proposed SLS or Sidemount.

    :”So its time to bring the ISS program to an end so that NASA can move on to building a lunar base (lunar voyagers appear to have experienced fewer deleterious effects that astronauts who spent that same amount of time in orbit) and also towards the next generation of space stations to see artificial gravity is the solution to this human health problem in space.”
    If we have to make a choice between ISS and SLS, SLS is the one that retards deep space advancement more. Also, as far as the gravity problem is concerned, there is a proposal now is to test it with a rotating torus at the ISS. You are right about that one thing, it is time to implement the artificial gravity solution.

    Again, because SLS is far more expensive to implement and even if built would be too expensive to launch more than a few times a year (even if sidemount), it is time to go with whatever method is best to advance the country in space for the long run. You and others like you need to give a damn about more issues than your mentally fixated pet Sidemount/SLS way of going at artificial gravity and other problems that we need to tackle with the limited resources Congress will be willing to actually give us.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Skylab and the ISS have pretty much told us— over and over and over again– that microgravity environments are inherently deleterious to human health.

    And the only reason we’re able to find and understand these conditions is because we’re in them. And how will you know if you can overcome them? By further testing in the same environment. The astronauts know what they are facing, and no one is dying, so the situation is not as bad as you make it out to be.

    Its time for NASA to move in the direction of deploying space stations with larger interiors like the Bigelow Olympus BA-2100 which could accommodate high G centrifuges to see if this can help solve the problems of microgravity.

    The fictional BA-2100 was not designed for rotation, so no, we don’t need it. And when we do build rotating space stations (something I support), they will be able to use existing rockets to build them.

    My favorite design is one that is cable stayed, kind of like a ferris wheel with the habit modules far from the center – slow rotation, mass efficient, easily modified and repaired.

    lunar voyagers appear to have experienced fewer deleterious effects that astronauts who spent that same amount of time in orbit

    Hah! What a bogus claim. A few days on the Moon cures all that ails you, is that your claim? Magic Moon dust, pools of frozen mineral water?

    The Apollo astronauts didn’t spend enough time on the Moon to evaluate that there was an physical difference between 1/6 lunar gravity and zero-G. The medical technology of the time couldn’t even begin to discern what was transportation related versus destination caused.

    You’re just making that up.

  • Vladislaw

    “But unlike the slightly cheaper alternatives, the SLS will be the most versatile and useful launch system ever developed. No other system will be able to deploy huge instant space stations with a single launch because they can’t lift the 70 tonnes necessary to deploy them nor do they have the minimum 8 meter faring in order to house such structures.”

    SLIGHTLY cheaper? 38 billion for the first flight. Even after 10 flights it is only down to 3.8 billion per flight. Each flight is going to cost upwards of 1 billion a pop.

    How is NASA going to be using the SLS to launch commercial stations? Since when is it NASA’s job to supply transportation for commercial services? I thought that after the NASA tried to use the shuttle and failed to launch commercial satellites on time and budget it was settled that NASA is not in the commercial launch business. You honestly think Bigelow is going to spend 1 billion for a launch? That’s crazy talk.

  • Byeman

    ” I expect concepts like using crewed versions of the SLS without SRBs for orbital and beyond LEO missions will be looked at seriously by NASA in order to increase safety and to substantially reduce the recurring cost of the SLS program..”

    You expect wrong and NASA is not– ever– going down that road. NASA is not going to change the design of SLS to accommodate flight without SRB’s and neither is Boeing. The flight hardware and infrastructure will not be able to accommodate this idea.

    How many times does it have to be said to get through you thick skull.

    Also, NASA is not going to build a crew launcher based on it or anything else since it will have commercial crew to provide the service.

    Furthermore, it would not reduce the recurring cost of SLS. It would increase it since there would be multiple versions of SLS to manage.

    Anyways, by 202 if not earlier, NASA will be out the launch vehicle business completely. SLS will OBE.

    PS. NASA has no near for a lunar base

  • Byeman

    PS. NASA has no need for a lunar base

  • Robert G. Oler

    Byeman wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    “Anyways, by 202 if not earlier, NASA will be out the launch vehicle business completely. SLS will OBE.”

    not sure what date one that is…but I would predict that by 2012 NASA is out of the launch business RGO

  • America needs a manned spaceflight capability NOW, not at some distant undefined point in the future. SpaceOps will build a 21st century Gemini capsule that will be ready to launch by the end of next year. Our national prestige, inspiration of youth, and maintaining our leadership in technology are only a few reasons we must act now to make this happen.

    Delaying America’s ability to orbit astronauts, SHOULD NOT BE AN OPTION”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    SpaceOps will build a 21st century Gemini capsule that will be ready to launch by the end of next year.

    Who is “SpaceOps”, and what problem does a 2-seat capsule solve?

  • Space Operations Inc.(SpaceOps) is a private U.S. based manned spaceflight company that was started in Jan. of this year. The problem that the 2-seat spacecraft solves is the capability to launch our astronauts into orbit next year, from the Cape.

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I guess I should have followed the link on your name. Thanks for the info.

    Sounds like a neat venture, but it doesn’t look like you have any hardware, much less funding, to make a flight by next year.

    A couple of observations from someone that is not an engineer (ignore at will):

    - I wouldn’t think copying the 60′s era Gemini capsule design automatically means that your vehicle can be “man rated”. Standards have changed over 50 years, and even changed from Gemini through the end of Apollo (especially after Apollo 1).

    - Gemini didn’t have a dock that could transfer people, and the vehicle doesn’t look like it lends itself to having something like a CBM.

    - Do you have a launch vehicle yet? With prices starting at $59.5M (Falcon 9), I gotta think that you’re going to be needing at least $100M, which brings us to…

    - Raising money – this I do have some professional insight into. No one is going to give you $100M if you don’t have a business plan that is made up of real customers that have real money. I would also add some board members that have experience raising money or doing a tech startup.

    Without a track record of previous business success (i.e. creating significant value), you have about a snowballs chance in hell of getting significant outside funding without some form of business traction (i.e. hardware, sales, etc.).

    Elon Musk is a good example of how to do a space startup, as is Jeff Greason of XCOR. Have you tried reaching out to another startup in your marketspace and get their perspective?

    In any case, good luck with your venture.

  • Bennett

    “the 2-seat spacecraft solves is the capability to launch our astronauts into orbit next year, from the Cape.”

    On what LV? Since the website is both soliciting donations and selling a seat on the first launch (next year, ha!) I have to figure you have a small vested interest?

    I look forward to hearing the behind-the-scenes story.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Russell wrote @ October 28th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Space Operations Inc.(SpaceOps) is a private U.S. based manned spaceflight company that was started in Jan. of this year. The problem that the 2-seat spacecraft solves is the capability to launch our astronauts into orbit next year, from the Cape.”

    I wish (You?) and/or SpaceOps luck. In theory it should be quite doable. Some years ago for my employer I was with a team that evaluated using “Blue Gemini” for a vehicle to do a few things in space (like space servicing of polar and Geo assets) . I guess if the drawings are to be believed I am surprised the concept still uses the “retro module”. The tradeoffs pretty quick were that this could go, with some work in the “service module” eliminating fuel cells for solar power and combining the two (they got rid of the retro section in the lunar gemini stuff). The Payload module is entertaining.

    Anyway good luck RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Russell wrote:

    “America needs a manned spaceflight capability NOW, not at some distant undefined point in the future.”

    What point is undefined? Boeing, Serria, SpaceX have all said they can launch by 2015. Congress said 2017, NASA says by 2015-16. That is not in the distant future and it certainly is not undefined.

  • John

    The point is the Bush administration in 2004 never intended to request funding for a crew vehicle but instead to rely on the Russians to transport our astronauts to the ISS. Those dates for completion are not a guarantee.

  • I think 5 or 6 years IS the distant future in the world we live in now. Next year (Feb. 20th) we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S manned orbital flight, and we can’t even orbit a mouse! I would suggest to those who argue that we should wait a few years…you are simply on the wrong side of the argument.

  • common sense

    @ Russell wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    “and we can’t even orbit a mouse! ”

    I would suggest you stop this kind of idiocy and get to work to find investment. Or maybe you can run for Congress.

  • Vladislaw

    Russell wrote:

    “I think 5 or 6 years IS the distant future in the world we live in now. Next year (Feb. 20th) we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S manned orbital flight, and we can’t even orbit a mouse! I would suggest to those who argue that we should wait a few years…you are simply on the wrong side of the argument.”

    Can you show me where someone has posted that “we should wait a few years”, no one on here as ever suggested that.

    In the 2009 stimulus the President wanted 400 mil to kickstart commercial crew, he got 50 mil. In the President’s 2010 NASA funding request he wanted 6 billion over 5 years, he got 250 mil. Now he is asking for 850 mil and the house said 300 mil and change and the Senate suggested 500 mil. The only people wanting to slow down commercial crew efforts are the few congressional members who want their pork first, they even had it written into the spending bill, NASA won’t get CCDEV funding until they get their pork first.

    Your arguement is not with anyone here but with congress.

    How do you propose to get funding for a 2 person capsule to ride on a Falcon 9 when SpaceX’s capsule that will ride on a falcon 9 will seat 7 passengers?

    How do you plan on getting through the launch process and safety requirements for a new capsule and launch it in only one year? Hell the paperwork alone will take over a year.

  • Bennett

    @ Russell wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    “and we can’t even orbit a mouse! ”

    Uh, I’m pretty sure a mouse can fly safely in a cargo iteration of the Dragon capsule, so you might want to think a bit longer before posting.

    I second common sense’s suggestions (at 12:13 pm).

  • If someone has a plan and a company to orbit astronauts in less than 4 years he is an idiot?

    I would sure like to hear what you (common sense) have done to help with this problem…

  • Bennett, I’m sure happy to hear of your plan to orbit a mouse, maybe you and (common sense) can get together on that…

  • common sense

    @ Russell wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    “If someone has a plan and a company to orbit astronauts in less than 4 years he is an idiot? ”

    No I did not say that and I hope your engineering comprehension goes further than that. I pointed out to you that “we can’t even orbit a mouse!” is idiotic. You may want to look at the Dragon going to orbit last year as one example.

    “I would sure like to hear what you (common sense) have done to help with this problem…”

    Oh yeah I know. And you would like to know what else? I do nothing to help. I am not here to help. But assume that I am an investor and that I invested in companies that actually have or will soon have orbital capability and then you come tell me that I should invest in your company then what should my reaction be? What do you think? I am not asking for money. You are.

  • The comment “we can’t even orbit a mouse” was meant to show how silly it is that the USA is unable to orbit people.

    I agree completely with your statement “I am not here to help”.

    Why are you here?

  • Bennett

    “The comment “we can’t even orbit a mouse” was meant to show how silly it is that the USA is unable to orbit people. “

    Yeah, but it wasn’t even close to being accurate. I can name 3 launch vehicles that could boost a pretty good sized pet shop into orbit, but if you’re talking human astronauts…

    If Boeing and SpaceX, with all of their resources and NASA assistance, feel it will take until 2014 for their capsules to be ready for piloted test flights, how do you figure you can do it in 12 months when you haven’t even closed your business plan yet?

    I know, you think that a uber-simple 2 person capsule will be SO much easier… What about your LAS?

    As others have noted, just the paperwork will take longer than that, but I hope you go for it and prove me wrong.

  • common sense

    @ Russell wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Please tell me one good reason why I would help *you*.

    And no your fact is not correct all the more reasons to not help you.

    I am here to point out the enormously silly assertions by some, be it SLS/MPCV cheerleaders or others.

    What are you here for?

  • The formal business plan was completed six months ago. I NEVER said that this effort was going to be easy.

    I’ll let you research the Gemini LAS yourself.

    The Gemini-type vehicle has already had 10 manned missions and 3 unmanned.

    Yes, we hope to prove you wrong for the good of the country..thanks for your “hope you go for it” comment!

  • A_M_Swallow

    Gemini 8 had a docking port. It docked with the Agena Target vehicle on March 16, 1966.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_8

    A version with airlocks will be needed for passenger access to a spacestation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    The formal business plan was completed six months ago. I NEVER said that this effort was going to be easy.

    Speaking strictly from a business standpoint, you did. You said:

    SpaceOps will build a 21st century Gemini capsule that will be ready to launch by the end of next year.

    You didn’t qualify that by saying things like “if we secure the proper funding” or “if our test plan meets no unexpected delays”. You said end of next year. That is the date everyone is going to measure you on, and when you don’t meet that date you will be called many things that won’t be nice to hear.

    Now maybe that was a rookie mistake by a first-time CEO, but statements that aren’t fully grounded in fact are part of the perception problem for “New Space” these days.

    Don’t boast about something you can’t guarantee, and right now you apparently don’t have the money to boast about anything other than a dream and a business plan. Surprise people with accomplishments, not press releases.

    Again, good luck with your endeavor.

  • Coastal Ron

    A_M_Swallow wrote @ October 30th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Gemini 8 had a docking port.

    More of a latching point than what we call a modern docking port. Nowadays that can be done with a simple probe sticking out of the side of the vehicle so the ISS station arm can grab it.

    The topic of conversation though is getting people to the ISS, not just lofting them into LEO. If you can’t transfer people between vehicles then it’s pretty useless except for short rides.

    The Gemini design is not appropriate for crew transfer, at least not without a complete redesign, and then it loses most of it’s 50 years-ago heritage (none of which is valid today anyways).

  • Vladislaw

    “SpaceOps will build a 21st century Gemini capsule that will be ready to launch by the end of next year.”

    You see Russel here is the problem I have. It is the end of October, that means you have 14 months to be ready to launch. You say you are going to launch it on a Falcon 9 or an Atlas V. The lead time on both of those vehicles are already past due. You would have had to already buy one of those launchers to secure a flight by the end of next year. So what vehicle have you already ordered and paid for so it will be ready to launch your capsule?

  • Astronauts will be able to EVA to an ISS airlock.

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell wrote @ October 30th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Astronauts will be able to EVA to an ISS airlock.

    Well sure, but is anybody interested in that type of vehicle & capability?

    This is a business question, not a technical one. Can you identify specific potential customers that 1) can afford the price you want to charge, and 2) have a need for your capability?

    Right now the ISS is the only human destination in LEO, so which ISS partner is going to choose you over the Russian Soyuz?

    Not Russia of course. All the other ISS partners, including the U.S., already have contracts in place with Russia for crew transportation through 2016. Even Bigelow wouldn’t use you until there is another crew provider online (for redundancy), but I don’t think his stations would come with an airlock so he probably couldn’t use you anyways.

    From an investor standpoint, I’m not seeing a robust market for your product/service, especially when you compare what you’re offering to the four CCDev participants.

    It does seem that you’re angling for business from a “patriotic” standpoint (i.e. lack of U.S. crew capability), and who knows, maybe you’ll find “patriotic” investors? The big question is, are there enough “patriot” customers?

  • Dennis

    You know I always thought that the inflatable airlock that was present on the Voshcod 1, was a pretty cool idea. Saves space! Of course I think it was only used that one time, but it got the job done!

  • Dennis

    Sorry for the mis-spelling of Voskhod, sometimes my typing isnt what it should be. I often make errors when at a typewriter.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ October 30th, 2011 at 1:14 pm
    A_M_Swallow wrote @ October 30th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    “Gemini 8 had a docking port.”

    More of a latching point than what we call a modern docking port.

    In fact, for its time, the Agena had a ‘docking port.’ Once upon a time, fingers were a calculator.

  • Dennis

    Also guys it was Voskhod 2 that had the inflatable airlock. Sorry my history is a little rusty too.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ October 31st, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    In fact, for its time, the Agena had a ‘docking port.’

    Anybody can use Wikipedia to look up 45 year old facts, and in your case it’s totally irrelevant data since the topic of conversation is getting crew to a space station, not how to bump vehicle noses. Try to keep up.

  • Dennis

    For a short time Boeing was illustrating a two man vehicle, again resembling Apollo, that would launch from the shuttle bay. This would send astronauts once again out to the moon. It never materialized of course, but the idea was there.

  • Dennis

    My point was I believe it had a docking port. A two man vehicle with docking port could be built. It like anything else however needs FUNDING>

  • Coastal Ron

    Russell wrote @ November 1st, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    EVA

    YTC

    Which stands for “You’re Too Cryptic”. Do you mean that EVA is a more economical way of creating a low cost crew transportation system, or you’re expressing your love of Eva (all caps is a way of exclamation)? TLI

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron,

    Too funny.

    EVA = Eventually Vultures Alight

  • Astronauts could “spacewalk” to an ISS airlock, this is known as EVA.

  • common sense

    @ Russell wrote @ November 2nd, 2011 at 9:01 am

    “Astronauts could “spacewalk” to an ISS airlock, this is known as EVA.”

    Unrealistic. Unless you do not see your Gemini as a rescue vehicle as well. I doubt you’d be able to spacewalk an injured/sick astronaut. And the whole ops may be very complicated.

  • russell

    I can’t believe I had to explain what EVA was!

  • Coastal Ron

    russell wrote @ December 3rd, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I can’t believe I had to explain what EVA was!

    You didn’t. However you said “EVA” without any context – which post were you referring to, and what question were you answering?

    You may have assumed you were answering a post that was at the end of a thread, but by the time your reply posted maybe it wouldn’t have been directly above your post – you left us guessing.

    Cryptic is fine, but context is everything. Just add some context to your cryptic posts.

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