Congress, NASA

A status report on NASA’s human spaceflight plans

Yesterday members of Congress were honoring the past of space exploration. Today, they’ll be looking at the future. The space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing at 10 am EST today on “NASA’s Human Space Exploration: Direction, Strategy, and Progress”. NASA administrator Charles Bolden will be testifying at the hearing, followed in a separate panel by three center directors: Robert Cabana of KSC, Michael Coats of JSC, and Robert Lightfoot of MSFC. The hearing will examine NASA’s plans for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and associated programs, according to the hearing announcement. The hearing will be webcast on the committee’s site as well as broadcast on NASA TV.

54 comments to A status report on NASA’s human spaceflight plans

  • NASA Fan

    Will be interesting to see if any discussion of what will fly on SLS is made. Jim Green of planetary (and probably speaking for all of NASA Science) has already said he ain’t putt’in anything on it.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Charlie seems to get his basic facts wrong and claims he is ‘out of his league’ in Senate testimony. I’m concerned.

  • GClark

    I suspect they would get a rather different view from the Directors of Langley, Glenn, Ames…

  • Stan

    Impressively uninformative. Vague reassurances, descriptions, nothing we haven’t heard before. Wonder what Sen Hutchinson will be doing after she retires the way she is protecting the SLS. Lobbying for interested parties?

  • amightywind

    More talk, talk, talk from the suits about what we haven’t been doing in space. We don’t have an Ares rocket yet, but we sure have a nice launch tower. I like it. It has that Apollo look.

  • ROBERT OLER

    As long as human space flight plans are rolled up in “patriotism, exploration, and national pride” then they are going nowhere… Only space flight junkies think that humans in space do those things anymore..ok congressional porkers do that as well.

    It’s “bing back the z60′s so we can fix it” GOP politics..

    Robert Oler

    Sent from my IPAD

  • MrEarl

    I think that exchange between Sen. Hutchinson and Mr. Bolden, then between her and Sen. Nelson about halfway through the video are the most telling.
    Hutchinson, dosen’t trust the administration to fully fund the SLS/MPCV and it shows in the minibus bill about to be passed. Commercial Crew, wich is a pet project of the administration was fully funded in the president’s budget while SLS/MPVC was not, leading to a drastic cut in Commercial Crew in the minibus to fund the SLS/MPCV and Webb. Holding back $100 million for CCDev untill there is a progress report on the SLS is an other telling sign.
    What was at least a hopefull sign was that both Senators spoke to the need for increasing funding for CCDev in future budgets as long as it doesn’t come out of SLS/MPCV.
    I guess we’ll see in February if the administration is willing to live up to the agreements they made with congress on this issue. If not I see more hard times for CCDev which will be a great blow to our HDF effort.

    As for the Super Committee that everyone keeps brining up with doom and gloom.
    The committee is charged with finding $1.2 trillion over 10 years to cut. That’s only $120 billion per year, a very small slice of the federal budget. The vast majority of that will come out of entitelment and defence spending with a small tax increase. NASA and other budgets will not be impacted very much.

  • DCSCA

    @ROBERT OLER wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    “As long as human space flight plans are rolled up in “patriotism, exploration, and national pride” then they are going nowhere…
    Sent from my IPAD.”

    Patriotism, exploration and national pride have been base motivators in the character of man since the species crawled out of the slime.

    In fact, the ‘nowheres’ it has taken us includes the 4 billion year old moon- and without ‘zat z60z zspace program’ you’d have had to send your comment via snail mail, not transmitted it instantly, electronically, via the government-university-funded and created internet, over a wireless, satellite linked, portable, microprocessor-and-battery powered IPAD, which can trace its core heritage to the R&D efforts of California’s Silicon Valley of ‘za z60s’ boom fueled by America’s government funded space program.

  • Dennis

    I see now where the Falcon flight has been postponed even further because of their computer programing. They are saying maybe Jan. of next year! This postponement doesnt bode well for the COTS program and if it continues will indeed hurt it. If Musk can get the craft up and running with a delivery to the ISS, this will help bolster the commercia side. However Jan. is a long ways off to be waiting.

  • amightywind

    Patriotism, exploration and national pride have been base motivators in the character of man since the species crawled out of the slime.

    Oler ought to read Pat Buchanan’s new book, “Death of the West…” The silly notions of the late ’60′s counter culture, that corrupt the minds of our current political leadership, will never replace nationalism (and indeed ethnocentrism) as the motivator of our society. But they are doing great damage to it. Back to zee 60′s may be our only hope.

  • common sense

    “The silly notions of the late ’60′s counter culture, that corrupt the minds of our current political leadership, will never replace nationalism (and indeed ethnocentrism) as the motivator of our society. ”

    This is a very sick comment. Nationalism? For space exploration? As for “ethnocentrism”. What is that?

    Sick, sick.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
    “Patriotism, exploration and national pride have been base motivators in the character of man since the species crawled out of the slime.”

    The “exploration” that space advocates fantasize about is somewhat mythological. Yes, the species that crawled out of the slime weren’t curious about what was over yon rock, but ended up slithering over to it because they were hungry or scared. Repeat those words. Hungry or scared. That’s why MOST people go places. There are a few who go places because they’re greedy or at least self-absorbed. It is largely those latter people who are nationally revered as heroes. Wouldn’t it be nice if the main mandate for going places was curiosity? As to human space flight being an expression of the “character of man”, that’s pretty hilarious. I guess you assert character by putting it on a rocket and pumping air out of it.

  • Dennis, NASA has been saying Feb since the Progress failure.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    However Jan. is a long ways off to be waiting.

    A month and a half is a “long ways off to be waiting”?

    Progress on space projects is measured in years, so maybe you should set your alarm for a couple of months and check back then – you seem to be experiencing too much anxiety on this.

  • vulture4

    It was telling that the Senate asked if there were any customers (military, planetary, commercial) for $L$ and there were none. They repeatedly referred to Orion as “the big capsule” even though it carries only 4 and the smaller commercial capsules carry seven. No one mentioned the cost of even one or two manned Mars missions (about $400 billion). In an era when even astronauts demand tax cuts, this won’t happen.

    An almost unimaginable amount of precious tax dollars has to be wasted on Constellation (let’s call it by its real name) just to make certain companies, lobbyists, and government officials rich. That’s a crime. But the real crime is that there really are people at NASA that could do useful things to advance technology, improve our lives, and create jobs and exports. But they can’t even get a hearing.

  • vulture4

    DSCA: without ‘zat z60z zspace program’ you’d have had to send your comment via snail mail, not transmitted it instantly, electronically, via the government-university-funded and created internet, over a wireless, satellite linked, portable, microprocessor-and-battery powere

    The internet grew out of ARPAnet, a DOD project funded in a bill sponsored by (yes, it”s historically true) Al Gore. Hypertext was developed at CERN. Communications satellites are used on some Internet links, but they are unrelated to the human spaceflight program, in fact NASA has done little or no comsat work since ATS-6 although DOD has financed several comsat designs. Because of all the money getting sucked up by Constellation there is little or no funding for application satellite technology.

  • Matt Wiser

    DCSCA: Concur: seems Oler doesn’t take national pride and a desire to be the first to do something into account. Then again, he’s always been opposed to HSF in any form, as we’re both aware.

  • Dennis

    Since the Progress failure? I thoght the point was to get the crew on board ISS that could handle the Dragon and its approach. They have now done that.

  • @Matt
    “Concur: seems Oler doesn’t take national pride and a desire to be the first to do something into account.
    if “national pride and a desire to be the first” were really important to you you wouldn’t be for SLS because real space exploration (even a return to the moon to stay) ain’t gonna happen that way. Just some jobs for constituents for a few years. Cut the B.S.

  • DCSCA

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Agreed. They’re the core elements of the famed ‘Cernan intangibles’ and, in fact. for most Americans (or back in the day, Soviets as well) the most broad and basic link they shared to connect to the space effort in some form. What’s the old line- if you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter. ;-)

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 7:49 pm
    “As to human space flight being an expression of the “character of man”, that’s pretty hilarious.”

    Hmmmm. Per Mike Collins, CMP for Apollo 11, Congressional medal recipient two days ago and clearly a ‘comedian’ to you: “People have always gone where they have been able to go. It’s that simple.” The meek shall inherit the earth for good reason, made clear by the first tentative steps taken in the recent blink of time by humans off this planet.

    @vulture4 wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    =yawn= “Communications satellites are used on some Internet links, but they are unrelated to the human spaceflight program.” ROFLMAO yeah, that TDRS network was all an expensive joke and those weblinks to the shuttle, MIR and ISS were all conducted with tin cans and balls of string. That internet thingy began in the late 60s and was strictly a government/university project.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ November 17th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    “Oler ought to read Pat Buchanan’s new book, “Death of the West…”

    I’ve read it…as I Noted about Buchanan’s speech at the Houston GOP convention; ” it sounded better in the native German spoken by someone in the 1930′s”

    Buchanan while a smart political commentator at his core believes that not all souls (hence people) are created alike by their creator. To him those that came from the White European Creator are better then just about everyone else…by virtue of that alone. The odd thing is when his Irish forefathers immigrated, people thought the same thing about them, he thinks of the current crop of immigrants

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    DCSCA: Concur: seems Oler doesn’t take national pride and a desire to be the first to do something into account. Then again, he’s always been opposed to HSF in any form, as we’re both aware.>>

    Of your two statements, the last sentence is a lie that is obvious to almost all here and the first, well just ignorant.

    “national pride and a desire to be first”…lol

    As Titus said (while he was a General before becoming one of the better Emperors of the Roman Empire) “Glory without purpose is Glory without value, Glory with purpose lives forever”.

    And it does.

    National pride and a desire to “be the first” are goofy reasons to do anything…but they are what passes for logic from people who do not understand how nations (and people) become great and are remembered for that long after they are gone because THE EFFORT LIVES ON.

    The people who put together the Syncom series of satellites (a nice combination of NASA money and industry effort) WERE FIRST. You cannot because you have no clue, understand how hard the technology of a spinning Geosat was…and yet that little hat box changed forever the life of a country and mankind. I note with a smile that the WGS block two sats are coming on line; and to imagine that we could defend The REpublic without the geo birds is almost impossible…much less the enterprise that it enables.

    SLS and other NASA concepts of human spaceflight today are glory without purpose. they are teenagerish designed to boast about capabilities (and not very impressive ones at that) which in the end no other nation gives a frack about…because like Saturn, parking it doesnt change the course of the nation.

    we are in trouble as a country because views such as you express here have governed our actions in the last oh 15 or so years. We do things because we can; the trillions spent in Iraq could have changed our country forever; they could have built us the infrastructure of this century; they could have been a debt that had value to the people (the future) who are going to have to pay it… but instead they were spent making us “Number 1″ and even now, already most people wish we had never done it.

    A desire to be first…LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    “Hmmmm. Per Mike Collins, CMP for Apollo 11, Congressional medal recipient two days ago and clearly a ‘comedian’ to you: “People have always gone where they have been able to go. It’s that simple.”

    Collins is simply wrong in this. He is applying a historical reality to an effort that has nothing in common.

    “People” did not go to the Moon. A few select individuals spent a “few” hours there (and Collins spent none at all) doing things which at a cost per hour basis was the most expensive time for humans to do something in history…and will probably stay that way for all of history.

    The effort he was a part of was in all instances ephemeral. The effort itself did not change America a bit; it did not make us stronger it did not change our lives. Here is a test…Imagine a world without the lunar landing…and you still have our world today. Imagine a world without geosynch satellites…and our world is very different.

    The lunar landings stand the historical test of a stunt. A good stunt, but a stunt. RGO

  • vulture4

    “that TDRS network was all an expensive joke”

    TDRS does not provide or advance the technology of commercial internet service, which was what the original post referred to. Originally commercial service over TDRS was planned, but it did not prove practical. TDRS is used only for NASA internal communication with Shuttle and ISS. It is an effective use by NASA of available technology. It did not provide benefits to ordinary Internet users.

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis wrote:

    “Since the Progress failure? I thoght the point was to get the crew on board ISS that could handle the Dragon and its approach. They have now done that.”

    The crew trained to dock the Dragon capsule doesn’t go up until december.

  • vulture4

    DCSCA: “People have always gone where they have been able to go. It’s that simple.”

    Of course if you are baying the bill, by all means have at it. I do not see a single Republican offering to pay the higher taxes that will be required to actually finance a new moon race, or even talking openly about the cost.

    Only John McCain addressed the issue squarely, in 2004. He said the VSE ignored the real cost of a manned flight to Mars, between $160B and $400B, and in an era of $400B deficits, that Congress could not pay for it. The problem with Constellation is not simply that it is wasteful, but that it will fail, because it is unaffordable.

  • Dennis

    Lets face it guys I think deficits are going to continue waaaay into the future, with us borrowing money from whom knows who. If we ever send men or women, as who would want to go without one, to Mars it will be on CREDIT. Remember the phrase: CHARGE IT!

  • DCSCA

    vulture4 wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    TDRS does (did) provide the link to the shuttle, which is what the original post was referencing. Get with it.

  • DCSCA

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Per Herr Oler attempt to refute his own disdain for HSF, here’s a reminder: Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 2nd, 2010 at 4:17 pm “First I really dont care that we (the US or humanity or whatever) goes to the Moon or Mars or an asteroid in the next 10-20 years. I dont think that there is any need to send people we have good robotics which can do the job at far lower cost.”

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    If we ever send men or women, as who would want to go without one…

    Channeling your inner male chauvinist, are we? Equating women to a commodity that you wouldn’t want to be without on a long trip, like a razor, or clean underwear?

    I say this in humor, as I don’t think you’re aware of your caveman-like attitudes, but in this case ignorance is not bliss…

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Per Herr Oler attempt to refute his own disdain for HSF, here’s a reminder: Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 2nd, 2010 at 4:17 pm “First I really dont care that we (the US or humanity or whatever) goes to the Moon or Mars or an asteroid in the next 10-20 years. I dont think that there is any need to send people we have good robotics which can do the job at far lower cost.”>>

    Goofy human spaceflight is not defined solely by human exploration of space…it is like saying “flying by humans” is only test flying. You and Matt need a new life RGO

  • Matt Wiser

    Nationalism and national pride still go a long ways, in case you haven’t noticed. And at the slightest hint of a PRC lunar program, the Political heat in Congress to get back to the lunar surface with people, not robots, gets turned way, way, way UP. The phrase “Taking it to the bank” comes to mind.

    DCSCA: Concur. The political naivety of some here never ceases to amaze. Why do some think Congress should automatically approve whatever the Administration wants, no matter what?

    Rick: Care to go to Congress with that idea? It wouldn’t even make it right out of either the House or Senate Committee these days. IF the economy was doing a lot better than it is, there’s a chance at least the EELV/Depot strategy would get a fair hearing and be on the table. But when you have workforce and industrial base issues that are here and now, guess what Congress wants? They want to maintain both workforce and the industrial base. And take a look at the ULA doc that Ron is so fond of: the one about using commercial rockets for exploration: Guess what? It states in Section VII, p. 19: “The presence of a launcher in the 50-80 tons to LEO class reduces the launch rate and reduces the dependency on depots. Combining depots with these larger launchers hugely amplifies the architecture peformance.” That means these days: SLS and depots. Which is more politically feasable. Again, Rick: you must convince Congress or you won’t get anywhere. If you had more than Rohrabacher pushing the idea, you’d have a chance. He may even be out of office next year due to Realignment of CA’s Congressional districts, and then where will you be politically?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Nationalism and national pride still go a long ways, in case you haven’t noticed. And at the slightest hint of a PRC lunar program, the Political heat in Congress to get back to the lunar surface with people, not robots, gets turned way, way, way UP”

    maybe I know space fans like you hope that…you should go read the goofy op ed by Pete Olson of TX-22 discussing how the Chinese docking presents a national security issue…but aside from you folks trying to recreate the 60′s again…there is little or no data to support your analysis.

    “space” and human space flight in particular were once seen as arenas of power confrontation…that was a product of the residue of WW2 (rockets to London), the babble/battle of ideologies (ie communisim/free enterprise) and a lot of misplaced fear that fed the military industrial complex. The historical currents that flowed in the late 50′s and early 60′s that launched Apollo are unique and dont seem to be recreating themselves in a China/US confrontation. IE people do not assume “trips to the Moon” equal strategic power anymore…and there is little chance of a Chinese/US notion of MAD. (you will have to look that one up yourself…hint its not the magazine).

    So for instance the notion of US astronauts flying to the space station on “gasp” Russian vehicles doesnt even raise a eyebrow to the vast majority of Americans…I bet you over 90 percent of Americans dont know or care that the Chinese have docked two vehicles.

    The Chinese ran a pretty big national Olympics effort that was nothing but propaganda…the US public didnt seem all that excited about it….

    I know people like you would beat and bang the drum of “the Chinese taking over the Moon” but my guess and history seems to indicate that most Americans would, assuming relations stay on a similar track…not care all that much.

    GOP politicians are another matter. Feeding the MIC and SIC is a big deal with those folks as well as recreating the “magic” of the cold war…so Saddam becomes the short guy with the mustache from the 30′s and Iran now is working on becoming Japan or Germany from the same era…all of which is nonsense.

    Sadly for the GOP most Americans are past the teenager status of “we are number 1″ and just beat up on other countries for the fun of it…one reason that the GOP field is so weak.

    Those who are ignorant of history generally misinterpret it. You should learn more before committing that sin RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    The phrase “Taking it to the bank” comes to mind.

    So far “breaking the bank” has been the reality.

    Why do some think Congress should automatically approve whatever the Administration wants, no matter what?

    We don’t. However you have shown a distinct lack of understanding the three branches of government and their roles.

    And take a look at the ULA doc that Ron is so fond of: the one about using commercial rockets for exploration: Guess what? It states in Section VII, p. 19: “The presence of a launcher in the 50-80 tons to LEO class reduces the launch rate and reduces the dependency on depots.

    Again, you seem surprised by this, but we’re not. Why? Because the premise for large launchers is based on when there is a need, and right now there is no need. None. Zero. Nada.

    The other thing is that the need for 50-80 tons launchers was planned to be satisfied by commercial capabilities, not government ones. Remember we’re talking about supporting a commercial commodity – propellant depots – and the government is not allowed to compete with the private market. That means the market will decide when larger rockets are needed, and how big they should be.

    Again, Rick: you must convince Congress or you won’t get anywhere. If you had more than Rohrabacher pushing the idea, you’d have a chance.

    You seem to prefer that NASA should be controlled by parochial needs rather than national ones, don’t you? While else would you be rooting for the worst possible way of spending NASA’s meager budget?

    Me, I’d rather fight for what I think is right, and having a bunch of money-grubbing bureaucrats protecting their pet projects is not what I want out of NASA.

    In any case ill-conceived mega rocket programs have a history of self destructing, so it’s only a matter of time before the SLS too will be an expensive footnote in history. And still Congress has no plans to use it – that should tell you everything…

  • Dennis

    I dont quite understand all the talk of SLS not having destinations in mind. The Pres. even said an asteroid or Mars, and Ive heard further talk of lunar missions. I realize that we could do these things with present rockets as well, but to say there are no destinations for SLS is just not correct, whether U support it or not. As to utilzing commercial for LEO, well that is good too, and if some of those vehicles could also be adapted for deep space later all the better. I think there will always be destinations in mind for whatever vehicles are built.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I dont quite understand all the talk of SLS not having destinations in mind.

    Maybe you don’t understand it because that’s not the discussion. The discussion is not whether there are any destinations, but whether 1) there is a real need for the SLS, and 2) whether the SLS is needed for our next beyond LEO exploration plans.

    So far the answer to both is no, and you only have to look at NASA’s internal studies to see that all of them can be accomplished using existing or near-term commercial rockets. Sure you could pile more mission hardware up onto an SLS-sized rocket, but that would be a luxury, not a requirement.

    …and Ive heard further talk of lunar missions.

    There is more than enough talk about where to go next – the Moon, Mars, asteroids, L1/L2, etc. What we lack is funding from Congress, and until you have that it’s all just talk.

  • Dennis

    My point as I said above is that there are destinations for SLS. I also did say we could do it with present rockets. As a matter of fact Im anxiously awaiting the up and coming test of Orion on a Delta, for high speed re-entries.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    “Goofy human spaceflight is not defined solely by human exploration of space…” Tagging your own words ‘goofy’ sums up your position completely.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    “The Chinese ran a pretty big national Olympics effort that was nothing but propaganda…the US public didnt seem all that excited about it….

    I know people like you would beat and bang the drum of “the Chinese taking over the Moon” but my guess and history seems to indicate that most Americans would, assuming relations stay on a similar track…not care all that much.”

    =yawn= Until they go fly. Something commerical HSF has yet to do BTW.

    “there is little or no data to support your analysis.’ In fact, there is, but you choose to ‘misinterpret’ it. Keep it up. Per your own words: “Those who are ignorant of history generally misinterpret it.” Yes and you misinterpret it repeatedly. It never ceases to amuse.

    @vulture4 wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    McCain is hardly a go to source for cost/benefit analysis given the fact he has never held a private sector job in his entire life – not even a paper route as a kid– and been the benficiary of government funding since the day he was born- if not before.

  • Frank Glover

    “I know people like you would beat and bang the drum of “the Chinese taking over the Moon” but my guess and history seems to indicate that most Americans would, assuming relations stay on a similar track…not care all that much.”

    Additionally, the ‘Sputnik shock’ was possible, because we then perceived the former Soviets as ‘backwards.’

    China? They’ve long had satellite launch capability, long range ballistic missile capability, occasional manned space flight capability. (though they still don’t match either US or Russian current abilities) And their industrial base goes without saying.

    No perception of backwardness there. There’s just nothing they’ve done for Joe Sixpack to be surprised about. Nor, so far, should he be.

    (If he gives it much thought at all…spaceflight to LEO *in general* is not terribly sexy and newsworthy anymore, and that, too, should not be a surprise. We get jaded quickly. Crowds no longer gather in Paris when a non-stop transatlantic flight happens. One day, another flight to Mars will be ho-hum mundane as well, and we actually should *want* such things to be common, sustainable events in the background of life.)

    Automatic dockings? A desirable ability, but one the Russians demonstrated in 1967 (Cosmos 186 and 188), and again for the umpteenth time with Progress 45, the same day as China. And I’d forgotten about Orbital Express in 2006 myself, until it was brought up on Rand’s site:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zK-fRjcqvg

    …And yet neither country has used this technology to go conquer the solar system so far. But to hear some talk, you’d think it meant that China was on the eve of doing just that.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    My point as I said above is that there are destinations for SLS.

    That is no point at all. Could a 747 be used to fly people between New York and Boston? Sure. Could a cruise ship be used to ferry people between Seattle and Bremerton? Sure. Could you use a container ship to transport containers between the port of Los Angles and the port of San Diego? Sure.

    But in all those cases there are smaller and less expensive ways of moving people and cargo, yet go to the same places. So it is with the SLS.

    Just because you can do something in the most expensive way doesn’t mean you should. NASA has not identified ANY payloads that must be flown on a rocket the size of the SLS. Zero. Nada. None.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Frank Glover wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    The strange thing about the historical currents that drove Apollo is that they barely formed in that generation; there is almost no chance of them forming today.

    Speculation is everything but in the end what got the lunar landings as a part of American policy was the death of JFK…had he lived its harder to see the money and the effort coming together (although of course who knows)…by the mid 60′s the effort was already running out of steam in terms of its political support. And how quickly the effort desolved is indicative of how weak its support was.

    Today there is nothing that drives some notion of spending 150-400 billion to recreate Apollo or to go to Mars or really to do anything in human exploration. NO ONE HAS COME UP WITH A REASON why…

    there are lots of “jobs” and “American greatness” issues but in the end those just keep a bare set of dollars flowing they do not generate public support for such an effort.

    We are entering into a world that few of the politicians who came up to speed in the 90′s understand…it is a world of economics not military or global power. And in that world human space exploration loses.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @Ron
    Thank you for handling the response to my comment while I was at my usual weekend refuge. I couldn’t have countered the B.S. any better myself. To some people a call for a 50 to 80 mt launcher automatically means nothing but SLS is possible, even though other HLVs can be obtained much more cheaply. Just as on example, Falcon Heavy will be finished in the next few years with no government financing of its development. To use Matt’s phrasing, SLS is “politically feasible” from a short term development standpoint for the first four or five years, but NOT implementable in the long term because there won’t be enough money budgeted to make it practically operable on a sustained basis. Their’s is an argument based on a false proposition that is classic GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis wrote:

    “My point as I said above is that there are destinations for SLS.”

    I have destinations for my car. I can afford to drive my car around the world, I can afford the gas anyway. What I couldn’t afford is the cost to transport my car across oceans first. It is the same with SLS, only reversed. It is like buying the space on a container ship to transport your car to europe, but you have to first sell your car in order to afford the shipping costs.

    We will have a rocket but where is funding for anything that will actually ride on it? Do you think they can bang out an EDS in 12 months? A lander in 12 months? All of that stuff has to be funded CONCURRENTLY with the SLS or they will not be ready in time.

    That is why we shouldn’t be spending 18-38 BILLION on just the launcher, personally I believe it will be closer to the 50 billion that Ares V was going to cost, using NASA contracting methods like fixed fee, cost plus where you do not pay for actual results you pay just to keep the overall machine going.

    20 billion could pay for a reusable EDS, fuel depot and lander if we used SAA’s, fixed price, milestone based contracts and plenty left over for buying commercial launches. We would also beable to do this faster and launch more often than what we will see with the SLS, with it’s 1 launch every year or every other year in 2021.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    ‘The strange thing about the historical currents that drove Apollo is that they barely formed in that generation; there is almost no chance of them forming today.’

    Per your own words- “Those who are ignorant of history generally misinterpret it.” And your misinterprestations continue to amuse. But then, your disdain for HSF is well known on this forum.

  • vulture4

    The Senate has cut the administration’s $850 million request for commercial crew and related commercial space to less than 50% of the requested amount. This is a disaster; it will delay US manned launch by at least two years and cost more than $400 million in Soyuz rides.

    It is particularly frustrating that Senator Hutchinson seems determined to stall Commercial Crew until Constellation, fueled by more than $3 billion a year, can catch up. This is disgraceful. It would be more patriotic to cut the NASA budget than to spend it on a program that is certain to be cancelled.

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    It is particularly frustrating that Senator Hutchinson seems determined to stall Commercial Crew…

    Yes, that is frustrating, especially since it’s hard to know why.

    However SpaceX gave Senator John Cornyn, the other Republican Senator from Texas, a personal tour of their facility Saturday when they held a picnic for McGregor area residents. The picnic included an engine firing too.

    It may not be quick, but SpaceX is slowly building up political supporters.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    When you can point out how I have misinterpreted friends all you are, to quote the Testament is a tinkling cymble. RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    We’ve established your disdain for HSF using your own words on this forum; your denial of stated intent from the PRC on their mid-to-long-term plans for HSF degrades your credibility as well. But keep pitchin’ those press release for Musk like a good little Musketeer. BTW- tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 12:26 am
    “It may not be quick, but SpaceX is slowly building up political supporters.”

    In other words, gonig no place fast. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA….sorry “friends” should be “trends” the editor regrets the error RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    We’ve established your disdain for HSF using your own words on this forum; your denial of stated intent from the PRC on their mid-to-long-term plans for HSF>>

    Words that you have taken out of context…as for “stated intent” it is goofy to believe the “stated intent” of a trading rival. Only a goofer really tells you what they are planning to do…I guess when you were small you fell for that “heh your shoe is untied” bit quite a lot.

    Only in your (and Wiser’s and a few other goofy minds) is a statement that there is no need for human exploration of space a blanket disdain for human spaceflight…you probably believed that there was WMD in IRAQ. RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    It bares repeating: “First I really dont care that we (the US or humanity or whatever) goes to the Moon or Mars or an asteroid in the next 10-20 years. I dont think that there is any need to send people we have good robotics which can do the job at far lower cost.” Now you’ve added another ‘goofy’ assertion: “Goofy human spaceflight is not defined solely by human exploration of space…it is like saying “flying by humans” is only test flying.” You’ve established your own odd, isolated position with yourown words. .

  • DCSCA

    As Americans struggle to make ends meet, with 25% of America’s kids at or below the poverty level, NASA continuyes to be out of step with our austere times as it manages to get some press over the past 10 days with: 1. At $1800/oz., Congress hands out gold medals to well-to-do ancient astronauts who flew 40-50 years ago. 2. Launched a very spiffy– and iffy– $2.5 billion atomic rover to Mars as the nation teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. 3. Continues to try to justify massive cost overrruns for the Webb Space Telescope.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ November 28th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    You forgot: 4) Congress continues to spend $Billions on an unneeded government-owned, government-run rocket that Congress won’t even appropriate money to use.

    Of course really what you seem to be advocating is just shutting all government spending off, since NASA is no different than any other agency that is doing things “for the greater good”. Good luck with that.

    As far as the fiscal situation we find ourselves in, we’ve survived much worse recessions and higher unemployment, and we’ve incurred much higher national debt. Chicken Little, and you, may think the sky is falling, but you’re delusional.

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