Congress, States

Thanksgiving leftovers

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving holiday. It’s been a quiet holiday in the space policy arena, as NASA and NOAA digest their final FY2012 budget and make plans for the next fiscal year. A few highlights from the federal and state level from recent days:

An amendment to a Senate appropriations bill would prevent the FCC from approving LightSquared’s plans for a terrestrial wireless network until any potential interference with the GPS system is resolved. Aviation Week reports that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the amendment to the financial services appropriations bill, similar to one in the House version of the spending bill. Concerns that LightSquared’s terrestrial system—intended to augment its satellite system—would overwhelm the much weaker GPS signals in nearby regions of spectrum has led to an ongoing series of tests scheduled for completion this week.

Last week the office of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell released a report on potential improvements to the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia. The report calls for more capital investment in the spaceport and a long-range strategy that includes making sure MARS is a “multi-use facility”. The Daily Press newspaper in Hampton Roads, Virginia, points out a lesser-known recommendation: that Orbital Sciences should no longer have a vote on the spaceport’s board of directors. Orbital is MARS’s biggest user, developing launch facilities for its Taurus 2 rocket, but the report found that the company’s seat on the board “is perceived as a conflict of interest by potential customers/potential competitors.” Orbital used to have two seats on the board, but is now down to one; that seat, currently held by what the Daily Press describes as “a very vocal Jeffrey Windland”, can’t be changed until MARS and Orbital amend their existing agreement about using the spaceport.

Representatives of a number of “space states” are in Orlando today and tomorrow for a closed-door meeting, Florida Today reports. The meeting is by invitation only and includes “experts and state and federal officials in the space sector”, although no list of attendees or agenda has been released by the host organization, Space Florida. The meeting is described as “a first-of-its-kind event”, although the report doesn’t note that representatives of space-minded states have met in the past through the Aerospace States Association and the now-defunct National Coalition of Spaceport States.

31 comments to Thanksgiving leftovers

  • “Representatives of a number of “space states” are in Orlando today and tomorrow for a closed-door meeting.”
    Let’s see how much more we can ring out of Commercial Crew to put into SLS. So what if it increases the amount of time we have to fly American astronauts on Russian spacecraft, as long as we make the short-term jobs last as long as we can before SLS is cancelled! Getting re-elected is much more important than what is good for the country’s space effort in the long term.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Wallops needs an upgrade to the viewing area that people use, the one near the main entrance – parking, bathrooms, etc. They should also consider moving the museum there (nothing real fancy, a prefab building would do), and adding a small bus tour for visitors. There’s a real problem with mosquito control in the area as well.

  • amightywind

    An amendment to a Senate appropriations bill would prevent the FCC from approving LightSquared’s plans for a terrestrial wireless network

    It is surprising the lengths congress has to go corral Obama’s radical activists at NASA, EPA, NLRB, and now the FCC. GPS is so much more important than LightSquared’s crony inroads into wireless, you’d think the FCC wouldn’t be tempted. You’d think.

    The report calls for more capital investment in the spaceport and a long-range strategy that includes making sure MARS

    Compared to the Cape, Wallops is a terrible place to conduct space launches, for obvious reasons. Investments should instead be made to improve the horrendous range response and low launch rate of the Cape. There is no reason why the Cape shouldn’t support multiple launches in one day. America does not need a large number of marginal spaceports.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ November 29th, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Compared to the Cape, Wallops is a terrible place to conduct space launches, for obvious reasons.

    For someone that purports to be a conservative, you sure like to support big government solutions over free market ones. How come you don’t want the market to determine the best location to launch from, instead of government picking the winners?

    I guess you’re saying that Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is wrong to try and offer a potentially lower cost launch location? That Florida should hold a monopoly on east coast launches? Weird.

  • One has to wonder what happens when the Virginia and Florida delegations meet, since Florida has been trying to pass legislation that would give KSC/CCAFS a launch monopoly …

  • SpaceMan

    Results are expected to be released after the meeting are over, she said.

    Sounds worth paying attention to.

  • @AMW
    “Compared to the Cape, Wallops is a terrible place to conduct space launches, for obvious reasons.”
    For low inclination orbits where it is best to get the maximum amount of free velocity from Earth’s rotation that is correct. But not for high inclination destinations such as the ISS. You don’t know half of what you think you do. You keep making stupid gaffs.

    Here was another major gaff by you from an earlier thread to go with it. When I commented:
    we saw the live video transmission all the way to orbit and the SpaceX announcer even stated it reached orbit as soon as it did.
    You responded:
    “Your recollection of events is conveniently flawed. SpaceX cut off the video abruptly while the uncontrolled rotation rate of the stage was 4 RPM and increasing, uncontrolled. ‘Spinning out of control’, if you will.. They did not show video all the way to engine cutoff.”
    Your description is flawed. Right before orbital insertion was announced, video was lost for about 10 seconds then reclaimed for a few more seconds. It is at this time (about 8 mins 56 secs into the flight) with video coming from the spacecraft, SpaceX announces that it has reached orbit and video is lost permanently after that. After the signal is permanently lost, the announcer further emphasized the success of reaching orbit.
    Here’s the video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP5gykvTBpM

    Please, if you can’t honestly defend your posts, don’t post. This kind of comment along with stuff like you considering the Empire the good guys in Star Wars because they sought to bring stability to civilization (a little tyranny is worth it right?) and many many others that make give an impression of buffoonery from you.

  • Bennett

    “hile the uncontrolled rotation rate of the stage was 4 RPM and increasing,”

    If the engine is shut down and there is no atmosphere, how can a rotation rate be increasing?

    Please explain.

  • Freddo

    There is a certain irony in seeing people complain about others’ “gaffs”. Laugh (or laff?) amongst yourselves.

    To bring this discussion back on topic, exactly what did happen to the “now-defunct National Coalition of Spaceport States”?

  • @Freddo
    “To bring this discussion back on topic, exactly what did happen to the “now-defunct National Coalition of Spaceport States”?
    I can find nothing on the web relating to the formal dissolution of the National Coalition of Spaceport States. Probably Jeff can tell you. It looks like it may have just faded away.

    BTW, if you think “gaffe” is spelled with “ugh”, then the “laugh” is on you. The only gaffe I made was to leave off the trailing ‘e’ in my typing haste.

  • amightywind

    Here was another major gaff by you from an earlier thread to go with it.

    Please, lets stay on topic.

    For low inclination orbits where it is best to get the maximum amount of free velocity from Earth’s rotation that is correct. You don’t know half of what you think you do.

    And the duplication of the range, shipping facilities, and the disruption of air and shipping, etc, etc. I know enough to point out the obvious.

    I guess you’re saying that Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is wrong to try and offer a potentially lower cost launch location?

    No. He is acting in his state’s self interest. But his efforts are misguided from the standpoint of allocation of scarce federal funding.

  • Breaking news via Florida Today that will have political ramifications for KSC and CCAFS.

    The proposed redistricting of Florida’s House seats would leave the Space Coast with only representative instead of two.

    Right now, Bill Posey’s district includes CCAFS and Sandy Adams has KSC.

    Under the proposed redistricting, all of Brevard County would be within Posey’s district.

    So the space industry here would have only one voice instead of two … although I won’t shed a tear in losing Ms. Adams.

    And for those looking for any partisan conspiracy in this, the Florida State Senate is overwhelmingly Republican and drew up this map.

  • A M Swallow

    Sounds like Orbital will have to find (or create) a new spaceport.

  • “And the duplication of the range, shipping facilities, and the disruption of air and shipping, etc, etc. I know enough to point out the obvious.”
    They have experience handling disruption, since they have been sending up unmanned launchers for decades. They also have range facilities and shipping facilities, but I will indeed give you the point that those may have to be upgraded with increased launch rate (statistically you’re bound to occassionally get one right). But none of those make it, as you say, “a terrible place to conduct space launches”.

    As for staying on topic, the issue of your lack of credibility is relevant when you continually make ridiculous statements not backed up by fact. I and others will continue to call you on it. For instance, you talking about Obama’s “radical activists” in a comment in this thread is oxymoronic in the extreme considering Merriam-Webster’s definition of radical as:
    “very different from the usual or traditional : extreme”
    The paradox comes from the fact that under that definition, you are the most radical person on this blog. In your case (as your earlier mentioned Star Wars comment suggests) your views appear to lean toward extreme Fascism. I’m no big Obama fan, but I don’t believe he is a combination of V.L. Lenin, the bogey man, and the AntiChrist, either.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ November 29th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    And the duplication of the range, shipping facilities, and the disruption of air and shipping, etc, etc.

    Whose to say that Virginia can’t do it better, and at a lower cost than Florida?

    Again, you want to cut short competition and have the government choose the winners – what kind of conservative are you?

  • amightywind

    Again, you want to cut short competition and have the government choose the winners – what kind of conservative are you?

    The competition is pointless in this case. Between the Cape and Vandenberg America is well served. I don’t think that is a controversial point. In launch sites as in real estate its location, location, location. Nothing, short of plate subduction, can change that. My political philosophy draws from Alexander Hamilton and Andrew Jackson if you must know.

    (as your earlier mentioned Star Wars comment suggests) your views appear to lean toward extreme Fascism.

    Isn’t that a little silly. Besides, the Jedi are elitists.

    …and the AntiChrist, either.

    The mark next to his nose is a sure sign ;^)

  • Bennett

    Wait a minute, I know it’s slightly off topic and catering to a troll, but where is my physics explanation from allanalwind about how a spacecraft can gain spin (i.e. increase spin rate, as he claims for f9′s first launch) without thrust or atmosphere to play off spacecraft surfaces?

    I do look forward to your enlightening reply.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    “Please, lets stay on topic.”

    I agree with you completely. We are getting way off message here, which is that ATK is a crummy company that could not deliver a crummy launcher anywhere near on time or on budget, which is what got us into this mess.
    The last time we were having a nice technical discussion on exactly how crummy a launcher ATK was trying to foist on us, Jeff claimed we were getting off topic and shut down the thread.

    Others here have covered some of Wallops’ uses for you.

    Either you are ignorant of Wallops’ other uses, or you are using the cheap debate tactic of failing to mention them. Speaking of which -

    Another item Wallops needs is a clean up.

    As it now stands, debris from a current test failure can’t be found among the all the debris from earlier test failures.

    And that is not the only reason why that debris needs to be cleaned up.

  • amightywind

    Another item Wallops needs is a clean up.

    Its just make work. It wouldn’t matter to the space program if Wallops were a Plutonium waste site. If the good people of Virginia want to clean Wallops up, do it! It is not in the nation’s interest.

    I do look forward to your enlightening reply.

    You can search the archives for my thoughts on the subject. I stand by them. Let’s stop beating a dead horse.

  • common sense

    @ Bennett wrote @ November 29th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I am not trying to help out our local “ethnocentrist” but you may have some leakage, leftover fuel leakage for example. Not that it was necessarily spinning out of control, just trying to give you a possible reason.

    This being said and if my memory serves the 2nd stage was spinning under thrust. Most likely a controls issue. Not that this is any big deal whatsoever, especially on a test flight that had accomplished all its goals…

    More here:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20006863-239.html

  • Bennett

    common sense wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Yeah yeah, sure sure, IF it was leaking in a direction that enhanced the existing spin (not that one could pick that up from the few seconds of flight video after SECO). First it was “corkscrewing” and now it’s “increasing rate of spin”…

    Rather than Hamilton and Andrew, I suggest Nixon and Clinton, who were also caught in their lies.

  • common sense

    @ Bennett wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    All right all right. I was only trying to help…

    BTW, did you just try to out-common-sense me? I am going to have to be more careful I guess…

    Any who.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    If the good people of Virginia want to clean Wallops up, do it! It is not in the nation’s interest.

    I’ll have to strongly disagree with you both on whether the clean up is the State of Virginia’s responsibility or that of the Federal government, as well as on the need for it.

  • Bennett

    @common sense “BTW, did you just try to out-common-sense me? I am going to have to be more careful I guess…”

    Nah, I couldn’t do that. You da man.
    :-)

  • Did any of you out there, read the new article in the Space Review web-site, trying hard with bogus arguments, to refute the need for a U.S. non-commercial Heavy-Lift rocket?? The author is a microcosm of the petty, flawed, limited, short-term thinking that is the Flexible Path/Commercial Space movement. The numbers & figures he gives, that purportedly makes the SLS heavy-lift vehicle unsustainable are pure sensationalism!!! WHY would the commercial entrepreneurs have an easy-street time at building a similar rocket? Plus, WHY should we as a nation, place ourselves into such a helpless dependency on these commercial firms for much-later-on building one? To me, it appears to be a case of the commercial side whining over not being handed over ALL of the federal budget dollars—-right away, and without delay, nor deliberation. Again, I tell you all: THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO LEAD THE WAY, with this. No commercial entity is ready, nor up to the task of renewing American manned spaceflight! The current Administration’s plan of heavily subsidizing these companies & granting them exclusiveness & priviledge with regard to launching ANY future astronauts for the rest of this decade, strikes me as the biggest folly ever devised!! What—Flexible Path/Commercial Space wants the immediate end of the governmental space program, just so that their amateurish dreams of launching rockets out of their backyards can commence?!?!

  • GuessWho

    Bennet wrote – :”Yeah yeah, sure sure, IF it was leaking in a direction that enhanced the existing spin (not that one could pick that up from the few seconds of flight video after SECO). First it was “corkscrewing” and now it’s “increasing rate of spin”…”

    You mean like a thruster valve seat that was leaking because it experienced flight temperatures well below its qualified AFT’s?

  • Justin Kugler

    Castro,
    Commercial entrepreneurs aren’t trying to build a similar rocket. They’re trying to build rockets that meet the demand from both private and government customers. That is the difference between them and SLS. SLS is being built to satisfy Congressional demands, not mission requirements.

    Besides, why should we, as a nation, place ourselves into such a helpless dependency on a single heavy lift system? What happens to the space program if there is an SLS failure akin to the Shuttle tragedies or the Soyuz/Progress loss?

    The commercial side is not asking for “ALL of the federal budget dollars.” That, sir, is “pure sensationalism.” They are asking for sufficient funding to compete and provide NASA the desired services in a timely manner. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Your position is entirely predicated on hyperbole and strawman arguments. The whole point behind buying commercial services for LEO access to reduce NASA spaceflight operations costs so that it can afford to spend more of its money on BEO missions and mission systems.

  • @Chris Castro
    “The author is a microcosm of the petty, flawed, limited, short-term thinking that is the Flexible Path/Commercial Space movement.”
    A proverb you should look up: about a pot and kettle and their respective colors.

    “The numbers & figures he gives, that purportedly makes the SLS heavy-lift vehicle unsustainable are pure sensationalism!!! WHY would the commercial entrepreneurs have an easy-street time at building a similar rocket?”

    WHY? For the same reason a study conducted by the Air Force and NASA together concluded that if Falcon 9 had been developed using traditional NASA methods, it would have cost many times more than was spent by SpaceX. BTW, the independent Booz-Allen group reported that SLS can only stay in budget a few years before its costs blow up unsustainably. So there is some pretty hard evidence that SLS development costs will be much more than a commercially made equivalent.
    Here’s the relevant NASA document that discusses how much more expensive their methods are for producing launchers than going about it the new goal-oriented fixed-price way that is being used with COTS and Commercial Crew:
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/586023main_8-3-11_NAFCOM.pdf

    So it is YOU who are guilty of “sensationalism”.

    “What—Flexible Path/Commercial Space wants the immediate end of the governmental space program, just so that their amateurish dreams of launching rockets out of their backyards can commence?!?!”
    More irrational hysteria. What people on our side want is for the money wasted on SLS to be used by NASA to develop the more technologically cutting-edge manned deep spacecraft and depots that would be assembled from materials lofted by commercial launchers. Thus the expensive 1970′s era technology of the SLS is actually preventing exploration beyond low Earth orbit; especially, since it would cost much more than an equivalent commercially made HLV launcher or several smaller rockets doing the same job piecemeal.

    All of this has been pointed out to you over and over again.

    Grow up, Chris.

  • Oops! I meant to say,
    “So there is some pretty hard evidence that SLS development costs will be much more than a commercially designed and developed equivalent.”
    Rather than,
    “So there is some pretty hard evidence that SLS development costs will be much more than a commercially made equivalent.”

    Even SLS will be commercially made.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ December 1st, 2011 at 5:28 am

    The numbers & figures he gives, that purportedly makes the SLS heavy-lift vehicle unsustainable are pure sensationalism!

    OK, then it should be pretty easy for you to refute.

    How much will the SLS cost to launch a pound of payload to LEO?

    I’ll take silence to mean that you don’t have a clue, which won’t surprise many of us…

  • common sense

    @Bennett wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “You da man.”

    I know, I know.

    Nonetheless the acknowledgment is welcome. Sweet music to my hears.

    ;)

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