Congress, NASA

Minibus headed for its final stop

Yesterday the House and Senate passed the “minibus” appropriations bill that includes the $17.8 billion for NASA in FY12 reported here earlier this week. With the President to sign the bill into law today, it marks the end of the FY12 appropriations process, far sooner than FY11, which dragged into April of this year, and, as POLITICO put it, is a “rare return to some semblance of regular order for the tattered appropriations process.”

Some members use the final passage of the bill to hail its NASA-related provisions. In a statement, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) noted it includes “critical investments” in the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which at one point in the appropriations process was threatened with cancellation when House appropriators included no funding for it in its version of the bill. “The James Webb Space Telescope will keep America in the lead for science and technology and inspire students to learn science, technology, engineering and math to become the scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow,” she said. However, she added that her support for JWST “is not unconditional”, citing the programs major cost overruns. The bill caps the development cost of the telescope at NASA’s current estimate of $8 billion and requires the GAO to provide regular reports on the telescope’s development status and cost.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) used a statement to bring attention to a more obscure provision of the bill. NASA is required to provide Congress with quarterly reports on the status of the transfer of the shuttle orbiters to the museums to which they were awarded in April. This includes a notification if any recipient “has failed to meet a financial or physical milestone to which it had committed” and that the plans is to address that problem. This has been a sore point, of course, for Houston and Dayton, who thought they were slighted when NASA awarded Enterprise to New York City’s Intrepid museum, which is now seeking to develop a larger, more expensive site for displaying then orbiter than what it originally proposed. “In the wake of recent reports on alternate plans for displaying Enterprise in New York City, taxpayers deserve to know that the cities scheduled to receive orbiters can and will fully meet their obligations,” Olson said. A NASA Office of the Inspector General report in August largely cleared the shuttle site selection process, other than a “cut-and-paste” error that did not affect the final decision made by NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

63 comments to Minibus headed for its final stop

  • A NASA Office of the Inspector General report in August largely cleared the shuttle site selection process, other than a “cut-and-paste” error that did not affect the final decision made by NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

    Actually the report found attempts at political interference by the Houston delegation — which would, presumably, include the aforementioned Rep. Olson.

  • I love US government spending! “The bill caps the development cost of the telescope at NASA’s current estimate of $8 billion and requires the GAO to provide regular reports on the telescope’s development status and cost.”

    Can you really imagine the indirect cost of the GAO oversight of JWST (like they haven’t already) getting rolled up into the overall cost of JWST? Answering self: ‘Oh gosh no, that is just chinese bought bond borrowed cash, you can’t include that at all’.

    <-accountant's joke: How many GAO accountants does it take to generate reports on a $8 billion(+) telescope.

    Answer: Your guess is as good as mine and it is probably more.

    Gary Anderson
    real name

  • Here’s a good description of Congress’ butchery of the rest of NASA for the sake of SLS at the expense of American provided manned spaceflight both LEO and BEO. It is called Congress to NASA: DROP DEAD”
    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2011/11/congress-to-nasa-drop-dead.html

    As the author of the above linked article concludes:
    “Obama won’t be able to close the gap, but that will be due the failure of Adams and other politicians to properly fund CCDev.”

  • amightywind

    The James Webb Space Telescope will keep America in the lead for science and technology and inspire students to learn science, technology, engineering and math to become the scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow

    Keep shoveling, Senator. I have concerns that JWST will not be institution that Hubble is. By the time it is deactivated Hubble will have been the cutting edge astronomical instrument for 20 years. It has been significantly refurbished 3 times in orbit. JWST will be marooned at SE L2 without a spacecraft to service it. Experience tells us it will last nowhere near as long as Hubble. It won’t be up there long enough to inspire generations of children. I look at JWST and think, “Is this the best we can do?”

  • Stargazer

    So what do you propose, AMW? Hubble won’t keep going another 20 without the shuttle to service it, and anything more long lived than JWST isn’t on the drawing board right now… I can’t tell if you’re arguing against JWST (which would seem to do even less to inspire people), or for doing something even more ambitious (which seems unfeasible financially right now)?

  • Dennis

    Any instrumentation like the James Webb, should have been made with service missions in mind. That should be pre-determined prior to the project even being started. Just as Hubble has proven its worth over the years so to could have the James Webb Tele. If either James Webb, or the Mars lander Curiosity, should turn into major failures, I am not sure the money will till flow for future out of this world missions!

  • Doug Lassiter

    I have to agree with some of the less-than-complementary assessments of the current situation with JWST. For one, it’s a huge fiscal embarrassment to the science community and to the agency. As a result of the fiscal mess it has produced, there is a good chance it will be the last flagship space science mission for a long, long time. Anyone want to place any bets on whether JWST, having spent less than half of its development budget, will really achieve a launch in 2018 and without further budget blowups? For another thing, support of JWST will require pirating funds from other disciplines, both science and otherwise. This sets up an awkward and uncomfortable dynamic between planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics. Finally, this business of keeping America in the lead for science and technology is laughable. OK, so we’re in the lead until what, 2023, when the prime mission of JWST is over? Or maybe 2028 when what might possibly be an extended mission is over? What then? Do we have any reason to believe that the U.S. will have any large space telescopes available at that time to take over? The Astrophysics Division will be in the fiscal doghouse for a decade or more, and they won’t even dare try to propose one until JWST is launched. The presumption that JWST is about leadership is nearsighted. That presumption was shot full of holes years ago as the budget went out of control.

    That all being said, it’s truly great science that JWST will do, but it appears that we bit off more than we can chew.

  • amightywind

    So what do you propose, AMW?

    Redesign JWST for servicing. Complete Ares/Orion to do the job at L2. Evolve toward semi-permanent coordinated space telescope missions (X-Ray, UV, Visual, IR) with long lifetimes, like Earth telescopes. Get rid of the space mission mindset.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stargazer wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    So what do you propose, AMW? Hubble won’t keep going another 20 without the shuttle to service it,>>

    there are good proposals out there for Hubble which cost less and do a lot. For instance I know of a couple that propose a slow trip for Hubble to Geo orbit, then service it there…it could be done for less then what Webb would cost…and Webb wont work RGO

  • NASA Fan

    @ Doug, @ AMW

    JWST is an ongoing train wreck for what was left of SMD science. The SMD science divisions naturally have tensions between them, and now that JWST is eating their lunch, folks will be hunkering down protecting what is left of their rice bowls.

    The up and coming generation of non JWST scientists, folks in their late 20′s early 30′s, will not want to waste their passions on helio, planetary, etc, as nothing will fly, notwithstanding the energizer bunny Explorer Missions (which will also be stretched and delayed due to JWST) , in what would be the meat of their careers.

    In that sense, JWST is a career killer, and inhibits US leadership in non cosmology astrophysics.

    JWST has also killed the idea of ‘flagship’. No on in their right might mind is going to even bring up the idea of a flagship mission (planetary, mars, helio, and certainly not astrophysics) till the memory of JWST has faded (sometime around 2050?)

    What JWST might have accomplished is forcing NASA to re think how it will go about formulating and implementing missions that have more than , say, 2 instruments. (Single instrumented LEO earth science missions are 3/4 of $B now and will be approaching a $B by decades end, if not sooner.) A better approach is needed; lets see if NASA leadership is wise enough to look at that.

    What JWST might also accomplish, is provide something for manned space flight to do; should JWST ‘fail’, if HSF is adept and flexible enough, there may be a ‘forced’ servicing mission.

    AMW’s suggestion of a semi permanant JWST class facility at L2 would give something for SLS/Orion to do.

    Egad.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Look Guys – In my humble opinion, there is a far greater need to find as early as possible the next piece of space $#!+ headed our way than there is to solve the grand mysteries of the universe, or to find other inhabited planets. In other words, astronomy priority one is to keep this planet inhabited.

    With all due respect for Sen Muikulski, JWST is useless for this kind of detection work.

    While we’re on the subject, I’d like as many images of SW3′s debris stream as possible from Hubble, and I’d like them as soon as possible after perihelion. Given Hubble’s narrow field of view, this is going to take a whole whole lot of observing time; but as far as all those other grand questions go, right now, #@(< ‘em.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RB –

    We’re getting off message here again.

    ATK’s plan is to use their crummy Liberty launcher for manned launch.

    ATK is doing their best to kill the competition.

    Watching Obama try to deal with these guys is like watching a 2 year old get run over by a Mack truck.

    We could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems for less than what was wasted by ATK – and we’re going to live with the consequences of this blunder for the rest of our lives, and the next generation will as well.
    As I have to watch my blood pressure closely now, I’m going to try not to think about this anymore today…

  • Gregori

    Redesigning the whole JWST to be serviceable would cost loads of money.
    The money is not there to do that in ANY version of the universe!! Total lunacy.

    There is no vehicle in existence that is even suitable for servicing it at L2.

  • Doug Lassiter

    amightywind wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 4:56 pm
    “Redesign JWST for servicing. Complete Ares/Orion to do the job at L2.”

    It’s an interesting idea, but it would end up costing more than $8B. Almost starting from scratch. Now, that’s not bad. Because the cost could be borne not just by SMD, but by HEOMD that is going to eventually send astronauts to save the observatory. See, HST servicing was a huge, huge win for SOMD. They came out with their astronauts looking like heroes. They’ll gladly invest in doing that kind of thing again. When else do astronauts get to look like heroes?

    Now SMD never wanted to do this because they weren’t confident that a servicing spacecraft would be available. We still aren’t. But so what?

    You do the servicing at Earth-Moon L1 or L2, not Earth-Sun L2 where the telescope would operate. This is a strategy that has been worked out in some detail, and makes perfect sense. Sending astronauts out to an Earth-Sun Lagrange point to service something there is very dumb — in both risk and cost.

    Complete Ares? Why? No need for this application. Probably don’t even need SLS.

  • E.P. Grondine wrote:

    ATK’s plan is to use their crummy Liberty launcher for manned launch.

    The other day, I met an ATK employee from Utah. In his own words, Liberty is “desperation” and he pretty much admitted it will never exist beyond paper.

  • Doug Lassiter

    NASA Fan wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
    “In that sense, JWST is a career killer, and inhibits US leadership in non cosmology astrophysics.”

    You have the rest about right, but JWST is a career killer for astrophysics too. I said why. It’s because once you’ve started to use JWST to establish your career in space (read infrared) cosmological astrophysics, you have five (maybe ten) years left of that career. There won’t be any comparable space telescope after that. None. There won’t even be a well developed stable of space instrumentalists who have honed their managerial and technical skills on Explorer missions enough to beg for one.

    As I’ve said, young space astrophysicists should worship JWST with some trepidation. The older ones will win the prize, and retire in style. The younger ones will end up with a dearth of capability, and some really bad feelings from the other science communities.

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ November 18th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    You do the servicing at Earth-Moon L1 or L2, not Earth-Sun L2 where the telescope would operate. This is a strategy that has been worked out in some detail, and makes perfect sense.

    This type of discussion really exposes how short-sighted our national efforts in space have become. We spent all that time and money learning how to service Hubble, and what do we do next? Build an unserviceable successor that spent lots of program money trying to be as small as possible yet long-lasting.

    The goal after the first Hubble servicing mission had proved successful could have been to plan for future large-scale instruments to be serviceable. The technologies and techniques to do that would have to be worked out on separate budgets, but developing those capabilities would have been useful for future exploration too.

    For instance:

    - Autonomous tugs to not only bring the instruments back, but they could take them out too. That would require autonomous rendezvous in LEO, but we need to master that anyways. The other benefit is that because you don’t have an EDS going up with the instrument at the same time, you don’t need as large a rocket.

    - Temporary workshops at L1/L2. These could be testbeds for future space habitats, and they could be sent ahead on slower & less costly transportation (could be same tugs). After they are done, they would be sent back to LEO and stored at the ISS until needed again. Reusability, iterative & easy upgrades, and leverages existing assets (the ISS).

    - Crew transport. This could have been a use for the original ESAS Crew Exploration Vehicle, and eventually handed off to modified commercial crew vehicles.

    Each capability builds and supports the next, and they are all useable for just about any destination.

    However, since we don’t have an agreed-upon coherent and detailed overall strategy, Congress is off spending money on short-term political gains instead of long-term national capabilities. No wonder we haven’t left LEO in 40 years.

    My $0.02

  • NASA Fan

    @ Coastal Ron:

    “The goal after the first Hubble servicing mission had proved successful could have been to plan for future large-scale instruments to be serviceable”

    Absolutely. Too bad Ed Weiler was running the SMD show for most of those years, and didn’t want anything to do with Human Space flight – which is ironic as it was the success of Hubble Servicing that propelled his career to SMD AA.

    Now that Ed is gone, and his successor will be named soon, it will be interesting to see if SMD reaches out to HSF and works with them, vs. against them. (Ed’s bone to HSF was to allow ISS payloads to be proposed via SMD competitive AO solicitations – as missions of opportunities – he never had any intention of ever selecting any of them, no matter how brilliant or far reaching)

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi SS –

    Up early this morning for a charity fund raiser and still trying to get my feet.

    If and when Liberty goes down, I hope the ATK board of Directors take a close look at the whole deal, and their relations with Congress and NASA, and why they did not back DIRECT, and stay out of the medium launcher market, except as booster and abort rocket manufacturers.

  • Whipper Snapper

    Liberty is “desperation” and he pretty much admitted it will never exist beyond paper.

    On the other hand, I can’t understand why the ESA and EADS iaren’t aggressively pushing their Ariane V core stage as a core stage to LEO with kerosene boosters.

    That is exactly what it is designed for, and the engine looks easily removable.

  • Byeman

    “Any instrumentation like the James Webb, should have been made with service missions in mind. That should be pre-determined prior to the project even being started. Just as Hubble has proven its worth over the years”

    Wrong, it would have been cheaper to fly 5 ELV non EVA serviceable HST replacements than the 5 shuttle servicing missions.

  • Byeman

    And forgot to add and fly them to orbits that do not compromise viewing requirements (L2) vs low earth orbits accessible by the shuttle.

    Most telescopes do not want to be in LEO

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Build an unserviceable successor that spent lots of program money trying to be as small as possible yet long-lasting.

    The goal after the first Hubble servicing mission had proved successful could have been to plan for future large-scale instruments to be serviceable.”

    Ron .. Ron .. Ron … sighs. You keep forgetting what is all about. Building a serviceable system would cost less in the long, we can’t be having that. Servicing also implies no new builds and less workers, can’t be having that. The road taken is not about results, it is about the money spent on the road itself. Even when the costs and schedule beyond any recognition, it just doesn’t matter, either the program gets cut and a new one is started or everything else is underfunded to feed that beast. For three decades we have watched this train wreck called NASA, played by congress for it’s own ends. Do you hear the bells chiming? The next five years should pretty much end America’s reign as we drive ourselves off the cliff like a lemming’s march to the sea. I am losing my faith.

  • Dennis

    Okay here we go again, is re-usablility really cheaper than one shot missions. U are saying Hubble proved more expensive because it had to be serviced via the space shuttle. Seems I remember talk of sending a Soyuz to attempt a service mission. At any rate, U cant have it both ways, so it has to be one or the other. Without shutttle would the Hubble have been a cheaper deal, perhaps flying Dragon to it instead?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Byeman wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    “Wrong, it would have been cheaper to fly 5 ELV non EVA serviceable HST replacements than the 5 shuttle servicing missions.”

    true statement but that doesnt mean that all space service missions by people would not work or be cheaper…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Okay here we go again, is re-usablility really cheaper than one shot missions. U are saying Hubble proved more expensive because it had to be serviced via the space shuttle. Seems I remember talk of sending a Soyuz to attempt a service mission.>>

    A Soyuz could not have done a Hubble servicing mission…however there are methods to allow vehicles other then the space shuttle to do servicing missions.

    in my view this is what the Chinese are driving at…ie platforms with avionics etc that are easy to service by people periodically visiting them RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Wrong, it would have been cheaper to fly 5 ELV non EVA serviceable HST replacements than the 5 shuttle servicing missions.

    I don’t disagree with you, mainly because of the use of the Shuttle. My point, and Vladislaw alludes to it in his humorous response to my post, is that we could have gone a different direction with our space program if we had better long-term planning.

    Right now we’re on the 2-8 year cycle (i.e. Congressional & Presidential elections), and that’s just not working out.

    I’m sure there are many forms this could take, but it would be nice if some sort of independent group, with representatives from science, industry and government, were able to propose and oversee the high-level goals of NASA. Maybe propose goals that require a straight up or down vote in Congress (like BRAC), and is able to remove some of the direct political influence from both Congress and the squabbling NASA centers.

    At this point it’s probably just a fantasy, but one can dream…

  • Dennis

    why couldnt Soyuz have done a service mission. She was built for lunar missions, and presently there is talk of a commercial flight around the Moon in one. I think the could have reached Hubble if they wanted to.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Byeman wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 11:38 am
    >>“Any instrumentation like the James Webb, should have been made with service missions in mind. That should be pre-determined prior to the project even being started. Just as Hubble has proven its worth over the years”

    >”Wrong, it would have been cheaper to fly 5 ELV non EVA serviceable HST replacements than the 5 shuttle servicing missions.”

    Nope. It wouldn’t have been cheaper to SMD to fly HST replacements. It was an SMD decision to go this route, once it was established that SOMD was on board, so no surprise why they made the decision they did. SMD didn’t pay for the Shuttle launches. It would have paid for the ELVs (as well as the new telescopes). From a fiscal perspective, it was a big win to SMD to go this way. As I said, it was money well spent to SOMD to do the servicing missions. Their astronauts got to look like heroes, which they almost never get to do.

    In fact, the danger to SMD of launching replacement telescopes would have been that they might have had to support *many* such space telescopes simultaneously, serving a fairly narrow science community. You think they were going to drop HST-1 in the drink when they launched HST-2? Oh no.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    “I’m sure there are many forms this could take, but it would be nice if some sort of independent group, with representatives from science, industry and government, were able to propose and oversee the high-level goals of NASA.”

    this is the problem here…why does NASA need “high level goals”…? the entire notion of a goal based program is silly “IF” goals are defined as some place or physical objective. the entire notion of sillyness that Apollo left us with is that “some place” has to be where human spaceflight is headed…and thats simply goofy RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Sending astronauts out to an Earth-Sun Lagrange point to service something there is very dumb — in both risk and cost.

    True, but it’s interesting to note that Earth-Sun Lagrange points have been seriously proposed (by serious people such as Huntress and Farquhar) as staging nodes for exploration beyond the Earth moon system.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Denis:

    “Seems I remember talk of sending a Soyuz to attempt a service mission.”

    ‘Servicing’ means more than just getting a human with a wrench to a satellite. If parts have to be swapped out, and they’re too big to carry there on your spacecraft (and I mean getting them through the *hatch*), then neither Soyuz to Hubble (could it even reach Hubble’s orbit?), or Orion to JWST (when designing it, no one assumed the ability to reach it for servicing at the Earth-Sun L-1) are very helpful.

    The Shuttle also offered stable positioning in the payload bay and the manipulator arm. That’s not an option now either.

    Oh, and please learn to say ‘you.’

  • It’s not online for some reason, but the print version of Florida Today has a Page 1 article reporting that an unnamed tenant has agreed to lease OPF-1 next to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

    Boeing recently leased OPF-3 for the CST-100. The speculation is that the new tenant is Sierra Nevada for the Dream Chaser.

    According to the article, NASA has to be out of OPF-1 by August for the new tenant.

    So even with the Congressional butchery of the CCDev budget, the candidates are still moving forward.

  • vulture4

    Actually the SMD is not unlike that. Other NASA programs, centers, divisions and branches should propose their own projects, as occurs in most other federal technical agencies. Right now there are a bunch of civil servants with nothing to do except complain about how the Obama Administration isn’t providing “leadership”.

  • Good morning all.

    I just caught up on this thread and have noticed we are now talking about ‘servicing’. I have to ask this question and pose some conjecture.

    HST the fith and final service call by the space shuttle, three or four spacewalks occurred. But something struck me as ‘funny’ leading up to the flight. On STS-125 they purportedly installed 1. grasps to attach a future ‘de-orbiting’ device, and 2. (little talked about) on the first spacewalk, door handles to open and close the Hubble doors easier for the remaining spacewalks.

    Can I ask a simple question why didn’t we install the ‘door handles’ 18 years ago? I surmise the grasps not as a de-orbiting mission but a robotic servicing mission say with a ‘Dextre III’ like robot from that Canadian firm trying its hand in commercial sat servicing.

    Heck, I’m more inclined to believe JWST doesn’t launch in 2018, (optics on the ground are going to corrode or some similar fate before the $$$ are finally cancelled), and technology advances quickly enough for a “Keep Hubble Alive” ‘emergency mission’.

    Can we ever have the chance to stop being so cynical of today’s NASA? I lost faith as has others.

    Gary Anderson
    real name

  • Martijn Meijering

    Is the NASA budget now safe (presuming it is signed), or does the whole thing unravel if the super committee cannot reach an agreement?

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Anderson wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Can we ever have the chance to stop being so cynical of today’s NASA? I lost faith as has others.

    I think NASA has lots of potential, and in many ways it does a lot of good/great things. However it is hobbled by having to service too many masters, and the nature of the top-level political process pretty much guarantees that long-term goals are hard to make and keep.

    I hope something changes, because from the outside it sure doesn’t look like it’s being run for maximum ROI of my taxpayer money. The only way I think this changes is if something comes along to upset the current status quo. That could be something bad, or some outside influence where NASA is perceived to be part of the solution.

    However I think the best way forward is to remove some of the political influence, and get back to more of a science and technology focus. How or if that can happen is an open question, and whether NASA can survive to get to that point is a legitimate question too.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Sending astronauts out to an Earth-Sun Lagrange point to service something there is very dumb — in both risk and cost.”

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ November 19th, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    “True, but it’s interesting to note that Earth-Sun Lagrange points have been seriously proposed (by serious people such as Huntress and Farquhar) as staging nodes for exploration beyond the Earth moon system.”

    You have to understand that when Huntress and Farquhar first suggested this, we were going to have the ability to fly all around the solar system. This would be just one stop on the way to Mars. Now, as a staging node for exploration beyond the Earth-Moon system, there might have been some value in sending people to Earth-Sun Lagrange points. As long as you’re there for that reason, sure, service a telescope, I guess. (I’m rather skeptical of that myself.) But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    I’m pretty sure that at least Bob understands the importance of using Earth-Moon Lagrange points as accessible sites for working on facilities that normally live at Earth-Sun Lagrange points. He worked out the energetic convenience of moving things back and forth between them.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Is the NASA budget now safe (presuming it is signed), or does the whole thing unravel if the super committee cannot reach an agreement?>>

    This years might I think that the cuts go into affect Jan 2013 from the super committee if it works or fails RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Anderson wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    “Can we ever have the chance to stop being so cynical of today’s NASA? I lost faith as has others.”

    its hard to not be cynical…there is a pattern of failure here RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    He worked out the energetic convenience of moving things back and forth between them.

    Oh absolutely, transfer between the two types of Lagrange points is almost free, and Earth moon Lagrange points are *much* more convenient for servicing. It’s easier to move the telescope closer to home for servicing than sending the astronauts further out. It was just parenthetical remark about the utility of Sun Earth Lagrange points.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ November 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    “Oh absolutely, transfer between the two types of Lagrange points is almost free, and Earth moon Lagrange points are *much* more convenient for servicing.”

    You do raise a good point. The idea that we have an increasing number of important assets at Earth-Sun Lagrange points is routinely assumed to be a good reason to send humans there to maintain them. It’s not. That assumption belies a lack of understanding of what has been called the solar system superhighway. Propulsion-wise, it is extremely easy to move things between Lagrange points in the solar system. Now, it does take time to do that. Several months between ES and EM Lagrange points. That makes such trajectories of little interest for moving people around. But they’re just dandy for cargo.

    For this reason, Earth-Sun Lagrange points have been termed “ops sites” for scientific equipment, while Earth-Moon Lagrange points have been termed “job sites” — sort of the garage where we work on that equipment. You pull in to the garage to get your oil changed, and then head back out on the road.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    “There is a pattern of failure here”

    There sure is.

    Perhaps its related to greed, or greed leading to an inability to see the common good.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “something” will come along, sooner or later

  • Martijn Meijering

    Nice terminology. Another interesting thing to note is that there are efficient three body trajectories from LEO to EML1/2 too, although the cost is still substantial, 3.2km/s.

  • Byeman

    “Nope. It wouldn’t have been cheaper to SMD to fly HST replacements.”

    Wrong again, it would have been cheaper to NASA.

  • Byeman

    Forgot to add and cheaper to SMD since their hardware wouldn’t have to man and EVA rated.

  • Dennis

    How come all U guys are doom and gloom? Everyone is still moving ahead, and even though commercial didnt get a larger share, it is still getting something. Also the test flight for Orion on a Delta is now in line, Engines to be used in SLS are in testng phases. I do see movement forward, perhaps not as fast as we would like, but it is happening.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I do see movement forward, perhaps not as fast as we would like, but it is happening.

    I guess you equate spending money to getting something accomplished. I don’t.

    The question is not whether we are spending money but whether we’re spending it on the right things.

    At this point in it’s development, the Shuttle program already had payloads and missions being lined up for future flights. The SLS doesn’t. In fact in hearings last week NASA was asked if they planned to use the SLS for science missions, and NASA said “No”.

    No plans for the science side of the house, and other than a simple lunar flyby, no plans on the HSF side either. The SLS is turning into one of the worst misallocations of taxpayer money EVER.

    So no Dennis, I don’t see spending money on the SLS as “progress”.

  • Dennis

    Just thinking some more on this, I thought Mr. Musk has said he would push on without government help. So it seems to me things are still pushig forward. Commercial on the one hand,and Orion on the other.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Nope. It wouldn’t have been cheaper to SMD to fly HST replacements.”

    Byeman wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 10:11 am
    “Wrong again, it would have been cheaper to NASA.”

    Sorry, but that’s not what counts here. You have to think about what “it” means. This wasn’t about just doing science. It was about doing science and making heroes. Sending up HST#2 doesn’t make any heroes. Servicing HST was of huge value to SOMD in doing that. If it were just about doing science, there would never have been HST#2, at least not for a long time. Unlike for ground-based astronomy, NASA has never had an obligation to keep an observatory capability available forever. Once optical-UV had been served, SMD would have moved straight to high energy and infrared. Optical-UV would have slid off the table.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I thought Mr. Musk has said he would push on without government help.

    He said that was a possibility if NASA’s requirements for Commercial Crew become too expensive or restrictive, but that decision point probably won’t happen until the next round of CCDev, and that’s not supposed to happen until mid-2012. Lots of time for that to become a non-problem.

    So it seems to me things are still pushig forward. Commercial on the one hand,and Orion on the other.

    It seems to you? Thanks for trying to distill down the status of the space industry into one sentence, but I’ll stick to my normal news sources.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Doug –

    “Unlike for ground-based astronomy, NASA has never had an obligation to keep an observatory capability available forever.”

    NASA had explicit instructions from the Congress to find the next piece of space $#!^ before it hit. Griffin and Weiler blew them off.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Dennis –

    Thanks for reminding us of the progress being made.

  • amightywind

    Just thinking some more on this, I thought Mr. Musk has said he would push on without government help

    How noble, considering that between Tesla and SpaceX Mr. Musk is the recipient of more government handouts than any of Obama’s crony donors, and that he has little so show for either endeavor.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 6:09 pm
    “NASA had explicit instructions from the Congress to find the next piece of space $#!^ before it hit. Griffin and Weiler blew them off.”

    Explicit? Not that I’m aware of, at least in ratified legislation. Quote please?

    But that had nothing to do with obligations about keeping an observatory capability forever.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Well the supercommittee’s failed and now the cuts come across the board. Good luck to NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=35314

    how joyous that the super committee has failed..wonderful…get use to massive budget cuts including NASA …gone will be SLS and Webb. bye bye RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ November 21st, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    considering that between Tesla and SpaceX Mr. Musk is the recipient of more government handouts

    Windy, you are spinning out of control again – SpaceX has received no government loans. All of the money they have received from taxpayers has been for contract work that they have completed.

    For someone that hates SpaceX so much you would think you would be more informed about them. I guess facts are not that important for you…

  • How noble, considering that between Tesla and SpaceX Mr. Musk is the recipient of more government handouts than any of Obama’s crony donors, and that he has little so show for either endeavor.

    This is an ignorant and idiotic, and completely unsubstantiated claim. Just what we’d expect from you.

  • josh

    hmm, except for two new launchers and a capsule (spacex) and two new electric vehicles (tesla). atk couldn’t deliver anything with the little money spacex got. it took them billions to develop an oversized firecracker, lol.

    as to cronyism: i think you’re projecting.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    how joyous that the super committee has failed..wonderful…get use to massive budget cuts including NASA …gone will be SLS and Webb. bye bye RGO

    When this kabuki dance began months ago, I predicted that ultimately Congress would ignore the mandatory cuts. I still believe that will happen. Already they’re talking about legislation to reverse it.

    I’m happy about their failure, because it means the Bush tax cuts will expire which is what I’ve wanted all along. The only thing that could change that would be a filibuster-proof GOP majority in Congress and a GOP President in 2013. Ain’t gonna happen.

    As for SLS and Webb, SLS will survive after everything else, because as we saw last week the porkers are more than willing to destroy everything else in the name of pork for their own districts. JWST is pork for Senator Mikulski; so long as she’s chair of the Senate appropriations subcommittee for space, JWST will survive. SLS is pork for a whole lot of congresscritters, so it will survive too.

    There’s not much pork in ISS, COTS/CCDev, robotic exploration, climate change or aeronautics research, so expect those to disappear long before SLS and JWST.

    While the Bush tax cuts are a partisan issue, pork is bipartisan.

  • amightywind

    The only thing that could change that would be a filibuster-proof GOP majority in Congress and a GOP President in 2013. Ain’t gonna happen.

    The democrats have to defend 23 seats in the Senate, the GOP 10. Even short of 60 there will be enough fear for dems to break ranks. Obama’s prospects? Even liberal sycophants like Chris Mathews have abandoned him. Michelle Obama was roundly booed at Sundays NASCAR race in Florida. The canary in the proverbial coal mine…

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