Congress, NASA

In the Senate, more criticism of commercial crew

Wednesday afternoon’s hearing by the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee revealed few new insights about NASA’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal or Congress’s reaction to it. However, it did emphasize that commercial crew, and the amount of funding NASA is requesting for the program, is one of the most sensitive aspects of the overall budget.

“Mr Administrator, I believe that the core mission of NASA is to build cutting-edge systems that allow us to expand our knowledge of the universe,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). “This administration, I believe, seems to think that NASA’s job is to use taxpayer money as venture capital to support speculative commercial companies, the future Solyndras of the space industry.” He complained that NASA sought to cut funding for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion while increasing funding for commercial crew. “When is this administration going to get the message that the Congress, I believe, is not willing to subsidize so-called commercial vendors at the expense of NASA’s core mission of engineering and exploration?”

Earlier in the hearing, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the ranking member of the subcommittee, reiterated similar concerns she expressed at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier in the month. “I do support commercial crew,” she said in her opening statement. “However, I think NASA is continuing to throw money at too many companies with a hope of flying astronauts.” She said NASA should commission a study like it did for SLS and Orion to find what she said would be the quickest solution, one that would involve only one or two companies going forward. “Members of Congress are already coalescing around NASA choosing no more than two companies, providing competition as well as funding realities that we see in our budget and not stealing from the long-term future, which is Orion and the launch vehicle.”

Bolden did not make any new arguments for or other statements about the status of the commercial crew program or the commercial cargo providers, whose upcoming test flights may weigh heavily on commercial crew’s future. “Commercial crew and cargo are vital for me to be able for me to live up to my promise to you on the International Space Station,” he said in response to questions about the program from Hutchison, who is an advocate for station utilization. He said he believed SpaceX was still likely to launch on April 30, weather permitting, for its cargo test flight, and Orbital would be ready to launch in the summer, depending on the status of its launch facilities at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia—delays in the completion of those facilities clearly being a sore point for both him and subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

Hutchison appeared almost weary of the exchanges she’s had with Bolden about the program. “I’m going to ask you a question, you’re not going to answer it, and we’re going to be where we are and we’re going to settle this one-on-one,” she said with a sigh when it was her turn to question Bolden.

Beyond commercial crew, Mikulski quizzed Bolden about whether NASA was drawing up any plans should budget sequestration proceed as currently required by law, an event that would cut the agency’s budget by 8% across the board, she warned. Bolden, who previously indicated he wasn’t worried about sequestration, said he remained optimistic Congress could avoid it. “While I am a realist, I am probably the world’s greatest optimist, and I am confident that the Congress will avoid that,” he said.

“Well, you couldn’t be an astronaut without being an optimist,” Mikulski responded. She argued, though, that NASA should have some contingency plans in place if there is a budget sequester, something Bolden said the agency hasn’t done to date. “I really would recommend both to the administration and to you,” she warned, “to really be ready for some real challenges.”

The hearing was the last one the subcommittee planned to perform before marking up its appropriations bill, which could come as soon as mid to late April. Since Sen. Hutchison is retiring after this year, Mikulski presented Hutchison at the beginning of the hearing with a gift: a small crystal space shuttle. Mikulski emphasized that the gift was from her, and not from Bolden. “I never get gifts from him,” she joked. “I’d rather have one from him.”

61 comments to In the Senate, more criticism of commercial crew

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Mr Administrator, I believe that the core mission of NASA is to build cutting-edge systems”

    Then why does the 2010 NASA Authorization Act limit SLS to playing tinkertoys with 30-year old Shuttle systems? Why does MPCV employ 40-year old Apollo technologies? How is the bulk of any of NASA’s human space flight developments “cutting-edge”?

    “that allow us to expand our knowledge of the universe… NASA’s core mission of engineering and exploration”

    How does (maybe) sending a crew around the Moon a decade or more from now, a feat that will have been accomplished almost half a century ago by that time, “expand our knowledge of the universe”? How do egregiously expensive launch vehicles and capsules that starve the budget of funding for transit stages, landers, and other, actual planetary exploration systems advance “exploration”? When will NASA be able to afford to conduct any new human space exploration with expensive ETO jobs albatrosses like SLS and MPCV hung around its neck?

    “This administration, I believe, seems to think that NASA’s job is to use taxpayer money as venture capital to support speculative commercial companies, the future Solyndras of the space industry.”

    The Administration and “speculative commercial companies” are saving Congress’s arse from the last failed attempt to keep the Shuttle pork flowing to their districts in Ares I/Orion.

  • Justin Kugler

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that anyone with the access is willing to speak truth to power like that, DBN. Folks like you and I are ultimately just preaching to the choir.

  • John

    The frustration stems from billions wasted on the Shuttle and Constellation programs, and to repeat the same mistakes with SLS. Instead of dialing down and improving on the Apollo program ( Saturn) and investing in BEO propulsion systems, it was shut down. Today NASA is using commercial space as its scapegoat of failed policies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    These hearings along with the ones from the House and Olson’s op ed illustrate how far out to lunch (mostly) the GOP members are of Congress who are interested in space. One almost barfs at the notion of Shelby mentioning in one breath cutting edge technology and SLS…and then combing his words for free enterprise with an attack on commercial crew launch…

    These are the same idiots who told us all the great things Cx and the space station were going to do.

    Personal note. Today is my little Daughter Lorelei J Oler’s 2nd birthday…

    RGO

  • A M Swallow

    I suspect that one assumption that Congress is making is that cutting CCDev will save money and time. This could be countered by showing a budget estimate where cancelling CCDev results in say the planetary science missions being delayed and going over budget.

    The Delta II launch vehicle has probably been cancelled so future planetary missions will have to buy a different launch vehicle. The obvious upgrade the Delta IV costs much more, according to its Encyclopedia Astronautica article a Delta IV Heavy cost $254 million in 2004 dollars.
    http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/delheavy.htm

    An alternative to the Delta IV as a replacement is to use NASA’s own launch vehicle the SLS, which will delay the missions until after 2021. This is also a very expensive option.

    Cheaper launch vehicles.

    Planetary science is not the only part of NASA that wants cheaper launch vehicles the International Space Station people do as well. Most of the hype around Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) is for the capsules but it is also overseeing the development of launch vehicles. These are the Blue origin, United Launch Alliance’s man-rated Atlas V and the Liberty rocket from ATK & Astrium. CCDev is run by NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office which also runs the Commercial Orbital Transport Services (COTS) program. COTS hopes to on ramp the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares launch vehicles soon.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCDev
    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/partners/ccdev_partners.html

    Any of the COTS and CCDev launch vehicles can be used for planetary science by fitting them with a fairing.

  • John

    A M Swallow wrote;
    ” United Launch Alliance’s man-rated Atlas V….”

    Crickets.

  • Engineer in Houston

    The paradigm has shifted under some of these “legacy senators”, but they don’t recognize that. They are influencing policy based on false lessons and bad advice. It’s heartbreaking for those of us who really want to see a powerful synergistic relationship between NASA and private enterprise launch us beyond the old Apollo ways.

  • Engineer in Houston

    SLS will cost what between now and 2021 – $15-$20 billion? – and result in two launches. You could buy on the order of 100 Atlas V launches for that, now.

  • amightywind

    Senator Shelby hit it on the head. Obama runs the government technology departments like some kind of misguided venture capitalist. Instead of technical managers, creatures like Bolden and Garver now consider themselves financiers. Messed up. Bolden is clearly slow walking SLS, a project of great national importance. Hutchinson is right to smack him down.

    In other news we here that Jeff Bezos will try to recover Apollo 11′s F-1 engines from the bottom of the Atlantic. Good luck to him. I wish these internet playboys would focus more on stunts like that then inserting themselves into NASA’s core business.

  • Ben Joshua

    Politicians against CCDev may be putting parochial interests well ahead of the national interest, or really imagine that SLS / MPCV is right around the corner and can fly a bunch of times every year.

    It is becoming clear that CCDev offers favorable timelines, affordable development and operations, and unleashes a wide breadth of design innovations that will be available to the nation’s civil and commercial space needs. It is the way forward.

    SLS / MPCV is . . .

  • …a project of great national importance. Hutchinson is right to smack him down.
    I’ll fix that for you Windy;
    …a project of great national importance to Red State NASA Districts — Hutchinson is right to smack him down.
    All better.

  • Michael from Iowa

    “In other news we here that Jeff Bezos will try to recover Apollo 11′s F-1 engines from the bottom of the Atlantic. Good luck to him. I wish these internet playboys would focus more on stunts like that then inserting themselves into NASA’s core business.”

    And what, exactly do “stunts like that” accomplish other than a few short page 4 news stories? How does recovering a Sat V engine that’s been rusting at the bottom of the ocean for nearly half a century affect the development of commercial launchers or the SLS?

    Spoilers – it doesn’t.

    Curious though that you would praise Jeff Bezos for salvaging a ruined Apollo engine while in the same breath denouncing “internet playboys inserting themselves into NASA’s business”. Internet playboys like Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, whose company has received about $25-30 million under the CCDev program.

  • There’s nothing wrong with helping private companies to develop their own manned spaceflight capability for their own private ventures. But attempting to do so by undermining NASA’s beyond LEO program is politically and technologically counterproductive.

    The fact that the Obama administration has proposed stunts for the SLS program set far into the future like traveling to an asteroid instead of establishing permanent outpost on the Moon and Mars, clearly tells you that they view the manned space program as nothing but a series of wasteful stunts. But, of course, the Obama administration never wanted NASA to have any manned spaceflight capability in the first place.

    So the Obama administration is doing its best to undermine the SLS/MPCV program by continuing to seriously underfund it in order to delay its development in the hope that emerging private space programs will eventually make it irrelevant. Unfortunately, all he’s managing to do is to delay both programs by unnecessarily making this a government vs private space industry issue while undermining support for Commercial Crew Development by both Democrats and Republicans in the Congress.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • A M Swallow

    John wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 10:33 am

    A M Swallow wrote;
    ” United Launch Alliance’s man-rated Atlas V….”

    Crickets.

    @John, you are behind the times. Read the references to see what ULA are working on.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    SLS, a project of great national importance>>

    “If you dont get the President of The United States on the line, you are going to have to answer to hte Coca Cola company” Col. Bat Guano…Dr. Strangelove

    So important no one can name a payload for it…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Senator Shelby hit it on the head.

    Squealed is the more correct term – as in a politician not wanting his porkbarrel funding messed with.

    We’ve spent, what, $5B on a NASA capsule that has never flown, and plan to spend $3B more to prove we can repeat something we did 50 years prior? Then we have to spend, what, another $Billion to build another one for who knows what?

    We’ve spent over $10B on a NASA rocket that has no mission, and will require $20B more to send a capsule on a repeat mission from 50 years ago. After that there is no funded need for it, and it will become another Kodak moment on the KSC museum tour.

    Spending taxpayer money has to have a purpose other than to spend money. Congress wants the ISS supported, so Commercial Cargo & Crew at least have a designated function, especially since Congress (including Senator Shelby) have mandated that Commercial Cargo & Crew are the primary method for supporting the ISS.

    So gee, we’ve spent $1.6B getting two cargo providers up to the point that they could start delivering cargo this year, and also getting four crew vehicles pretty far down the development phase so NASA has enough info to award final CCiCap contracts this summer.

    Five different flight systems for $1.6B so far, versus $15B for one small capsule and one too-big rocket. There’s that 10-1 ratio again.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Obama runs the government technology departments like some kind of misguided venture capitalist.”

    No. Venture capitalists invest in early stage companies in return for large shares of the companies’ ownership, which are eventually sold off to repay investors in the venture fund. Nothing discussed here, from DOE loan guarantees (backing for bank loans in the energy sector) to COTS/CRS/CCDev (payments for aerospace demonstrations and services), resembles the venture capital model.

    “Instead of technical managers, creatures like Bolden and Garver now consider themselves financiers.”

    We have no idea what Bolden and Garver consider themselves, but COTS/CRS/CCDev do not directly finance any company. They pay for products (technical developments and demonstrations) and services (flights to ISS). NASA does not own stock in Blue Origin, Boeing, OSC, Sierra Nevada, or SpaceX as a result of these programs, nor is NASA owed any principal and interest.

    Shelby engaged in ignorant demogaugery when he made his venture capital comment.

    “I wish these internet playboys would focus more on stunts like that”

    Yes, it’s much better when the rich waste their money on stunts than when they invest in companies that create wealth and new capabilities for the U.S. economy and defense. It’s a really good thing that silver spoons like William Boeing and Howard Hughes spent all their time as playboys instead of industrialists.

    “then inserting themselves into NASA’s core business.”

    NASA is a government agency. It’s not a business.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I wish these internet playboys would focus more on stunts like that then inserting themselves into NASA’s core business.

    What is NASA’s “core business”? To sustain government monopolies and prop up “old space” companies with porkbarrel programs?

    Perhaps you could explain why it’s taking an “old space” company $8B to build a slightly larger Apollo-style capsule? Is that one of NASA’s core businesses?

  • Justin Kugler

    Since when is NASA’s core business providing launch services?

  • Vladislaw

    A weak gust of wind wrote:

    “Senator Shelby hit it on the head. Obama runs the government technology departments like some kind of misguided venture capitalist. Instead of technical managers, creatures like Bolden and Garver now consider themselves financiers.”

    Well than we can thank the lord we have Richard Shelby here to show us the “true” way for our space program to go forward. Let’s spend godly amounts of money on SLS and after 20-30 billion we can have a test launch and a loop de loop around the moon a decade later.

    I am sure windy is on his knees thanking the good lord for Shelby, Hatch, Nelson, Kay B. Hutchinson to lead us to the promised land. …. lol

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    “Senator Shelby hit it on the head.”

    Yep.

    Obama runs the government technology departments like some kind of misguided venture capitalist. Instead of technical managers, creatures like Bolden and Garver now consider themselves financiers.” We. not totally, but certainly Garver’s lobbyist mentality is in play.

    “Bolden is clearly slow walking SLS, a project of great national importance.” Yep. Peter Principle at work.

    “In other news we here that Jeff Bezos will try to recover Apollo 11′s F-1 engines from the bottom of the Atlantic. Good luck to him. I wish these internet playboys would focus more on stunts like that then inserting themselves into NASA’s core business.” It’s long overdue and privately financed, w/Cameron involved. If memory serves, NASA archives have a rough idea of the locations for the S-IC stages splashes. If memory serves, 11′s broke up and elements were tumbling. So condition obviously depends on how they impacted. And NASA is not a business, it’s a government agency.

    =========

    “This administration, I believe, seems to think that NASA’s job is to use taxpayer money as venture capital to support speculative commercial companies, the future Solyndras of the space industry.” -Sen. Shelby, R, AL.

    Not totally, but, yes, at the core, Republican Shelby is correct. He knows private capital markets do not see a viable market w/significant ROI in LEO operations (hello, Halliburton, wanna buy in?!)– so private capital flows to oil firms for better yield— while at the same time, his party supports subsidizing the petroleum industry so energy costs remain low compared to other nations benefiting the many and the few. Pumping cash into LEO space operations doesnt do that– it only benefits a select few at the expense of the many. Republicans supported ‘venture capital’ investment in lots of forms, too– the form of blood and treasure in Iraq w/little to no direct ROI to the Treasury for the mess, but it was great for Halliburton and other contractors in the GOP favor. Shelby has a Huntsville constiuency w/vested interest in space systems. The President has little chance of winning Alabama and no interest in space. Obama’s space policy has long since been put in the out box since his KSC speech a few years ago. He simply reads briefs prepared by staff, assesses the recommendations, delivers a speech and moves on. As far as this administration is concerned, space policy was set at the KSC speech which torpedoed Constellation. And that has the stink of the Garver/Griffin battles all over it.

    @Engineer in Houston wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    “It’s heartbreaking for those of us who really want to see a powerful synergistic relationship between NASA and private enterprise launch us beyond the old Apollo ways.”

    Far from heartbreaking, it’s sobering dose of reality. NASA has been off course for decades and you best revisit Clarke or NdGT and refresh yourself on the vision thing because that clarity of purpose has been lost for years. Space exploitation is not space exploration. If you want to be a capitalist engineer in the space industry and work for a profit driven LEO enterprise, leave NASA and get a gig in private industry and devote your life’s work to exploiting LEO. If you want to contribute to BEO space exploration, stay with the government space agency for projects of scale. Mixing the two has crippled both, making each a crutch for the other’s short-term plans and as a result, both end up going no place fast.

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    “When will NASA be able to afford to conduct any new human space exploration with expensive ETO jobs albatrosses like SLS and MPCV hung around its neck?” Zeroing out all funding wasted subsidizing LEO commerical HSF is a great start as LEO is a ticket to no place. “We have no idea what Bolden and Garver consider themselves…” ROFLMAO in fact, we do. Their histories are well known.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi engineer in Houston –

    Do you have any intfo on Griffin, ATK, and the Ares1 decision?

  • Too bad President Obama isn’t running the government technology departments like some kind of misguided venture capitalist. We’d have seen NASA accomplishing a lot more on a lot less tax dollar.

    Venture capitalists are usually very smart cookies and they get things done and done cheaply!

  • Aberwys

    Sequestration! Hallelujah!
    The thing that will cure NASA of all that ails it!

  • vulture4

    I again suggest Senator Nelson as someone to contact; he is a Democrat and may be amenable to supporting the Administration position if enough constituents are interested. 202-224-5274

  • For those who didn’t see the hearing, it’s now on my YouTube channel at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSlrTXVCMc8

    Hutchison came across as a Mad Hatter, starting with her nasty comment at the beginning that she wanted a present from Bolden. In the hearing, she questioned Bolden’s integrity (always a rotten thing to do to a Marine) and kept implying he was part of some secret conspiracy to destroy SLS.

    Bolden kept smiling, probably because he knew he never has to put with her again now that she’s retiring at the end of this year.

    I thought back to September 14 at the SLS design rollout, when Bolden referred to Hutchison as the “Queen Bee.” Now I’m thinking he really meant “Queen B—-” and I think you can fill in those last four letters for yourself.

    The other Senators kept asking about the pork for their states. None of them said what SLS will be used for.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Zeroing out all funding wasted subsidizing LEO commerical HSF is a great start…”

    It won’t help. SLS/MPCV are $3 billion (with a “b”) per year. CCDev is only $400 million (if certain members of Congress get their way) to $800 million (if the Administration gets its way). You could zero out CCDev, and only pay for 13-26% of SLS/MPCV’s annual costs. And you still won’t get an operational flight for at least another decade, and you still won’t have any transit stages, landers, or other actual exploration hardware by that time.

    If you want human space exploration to happen sooner, you have to bring down its costs enormously. As Griffin found out, cutting all the small programs at NASA to pay for one or two huge, duplicative, out-of-control, ETO jobs programs at the human space flight centers only delays actual human space exploration.

    “we do”

    No, we don’t. Unless you can read minds, you have no idea what Bolden or Garver think of themselves.

  • DCSCA

    “Commercial crew and cargo are vital for me [Bolden] to be able for me to live up to my promise to you on the International Space Station…”

    This is the problem in a nutshell. This is not about Bolden. It’s about NASA and weaning the space agency away from the short term crutch of dependancy on commercial as justifcation for HSF LEO operations and refocus its mission back on longer term, BEO exploration projects. The ISS is a dinosaur from the Reagan days. Purging NASA managment of LEO shuttle/ISS era managers and the likes of Bolden, Garver could only be a plus for a government space agency sorely in need of fresh a fresh fix on exploration and leave financing LEO exploitation to the private sector.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Marcel you can believe your own spin if you like however it’s actually total rubbish. SLS/MPCV is not ‘seriously underfunded’. They’re receiving so much money that it’s gutting other programs. Bit like JWST. Overbloated is a kind description. MPCV pushing billions of dollars and not even a single test flight. SLS totally outdated technology, no missions, won’t fly for a decade at least, if ever.
    You’re just living in total la la land. No cred’ whatsoever.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Engineer in Houston wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 10:43 am

    The paradigm has shifted under some of these “legacy senators”, but they don’t recognize that.>>

    exactly…forces are at work now that are in the near term going to end SLS and Orion…and forever change NASA…this is the Charge of the Light Brigade…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    The other Senators kept asking about the pork for their states. None of them said what SLS will be used for.>>

    when Olson is confronted with that directly he looks as if he is having a lobotomy. There is no answer and the ones coming out of whatever NASA studies are ongoing are pathetic…RGO

  • vulture4

    “Zeroing out all funding wasted subsidizing LEO commerical HSF is a great start as LEO is a ticket to no place. ”

    When you consider the cuts in the discretionary budget that will be needed in the next few years, it’s the only ticket we have any prospect of being able to afford, until the cost of reaching orbit is vastly reduced. If anyone can demonstrate anything useful that will come out of SLS/Orion, please speak out.

  • Das Boese

    Aberwys wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Sequestration! Hallelujah!
    The thing that will cure NASA of all that ails it!

    In the way that an amputation cures an infected leg wound that could easily be treated with a cleanup and a pack of antibiotics.

    …and with the same person performing the amputation that caused the wound by shooting the patient in the foot and afterwards cutting out the bullet with a rusty butter knife.

  • John

    A M Swallow wrote;

    @John, you are behind the times. Read the references to see what ULA are working on….

    Yeah, they had to rewrite (fudge) the spec. That has nothing to do with being “behind the times”. Either way the Atlas V could never meet the requirements for the future, so we still end up being stuck with the SLS.

  • DCSCA

    vulture4 wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    ‘We’ can buy a ride on Soyuz to fulfill minimal crew and contractual requirements for ISS as LEO is a ticket to no place. Leaqve LEO to commercial w/o government subsidies for exploitation. The future for NASA is BEO HSF exploration, not using LEO operations as a crutch to justify mainting HSF short term. Keep dumping billions into going in circles and NASA will continue to go no place fast for another generation or two, inspiring nobody, particularly fresh generations of engineers.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 9:09 pm
    “…forces are at work now that are in the near term going to end SLS and Orion…and forever change NASA”

    And they’ve been identified, checked, isolated and eventually purged. They have no place in a government space agency dedicated to exploration, nto exploitation. Commercial awaits their applied ‘talents’ sans the critch of government subsidies.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “But attempting to do so by undermining NASA’s beyond LEO program is politically and technologically counterproductive.
    The primary thing that is slowing down NASA getting beyond LEO is SLS.

  • vulture4

    And why on earth would the taxpayers want an agency dedicated to “exploration”?

    This wasn’t even a mission until 2004. It isn’t research. It isn’t technology. It does not produce new commercial sales, new exports, or any jobs other than those that are paid for with tax dollars. It doesn’t save the world from asteroids. It does not even produce sustainable off-world colonies, since it is much too expensive for these colonies to support themselves.

    Exploration was created as an expression of American exceptionalism, an idea embodied by George W. Bush, who felt that doing “great” things had intrinsic value for the nation whether or not they were practical or sustainable. The reality is they bleed the economic resources we need to develop the practical science and technology that would keep our nation competitive.

  • Marcel F. Williams

    @  BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Sorry to inform you, but the SLS/MPCV program is only receiving about $3 billion a year. And the new Obama budget would cut this to below $3 billion. This is actually well below the $3.4 billion that was being spent on the Constellation program during Obama’s first year in office while both the ISS and the Space Shuttle programs were still being funded. 

    The end of the shuttle funding was supposed to add substantially more funds for beyond LEO development, above $5.6 billion a year. Instead, Obama has substantially reduced beyond LEO development with his current attempt to reduce funding below $3 billion a year. That’s just the facts! Go to the NASA website and you can check the current budget and the previous budgets for yourself!

    Marcel F. Williams

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “Instead, Obama has substantially reduced beyond LEO development with his current attempt to reduce funding below $3 billion a year.
    Only if you consider SLS to be sensible beyond LEO development, since it’s primary purpose is to keep politicians’ constituents employed and actual flight is (at best) a secondary consideration. That same amount of money applied to current launch vehicles and depot tech, we could be starting our BLEO efforts now rather than waiting for SLS to be completed.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Sorry to inform you, but the SLS/MPCV program is only receiving about $3 billion a year. And the new Obama budget would cut this to below $3 billion. This is actually well below the $3.4 billion that was being spent on the Constellation program…”

    The ~$3 billion per year funding level for SLS/MPCV was set by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, not by the White House.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ March 30th, 2012 at 6:46 am

    And they’ve been identified, checked, isolated and eventually purged. ”

    really funny RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ March 30th, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Which is why you’re chuckling past the graveyard.

  • DCSCA

    “No, we don’t. Unless you can read minds, you have no idea what Bolden or Garver think of themselves.”

    =eyeroll= Bolden and Garver’s positions are well known.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Bolden and Garver’s positions are well known.”

    The question was not whether their positions are known by others. The question was whether Bolden and Garver considered themselves financiers. And unless you can read minds, there’s no way to know whether they consider themselves financiers or not.

    You and the other troll on this site may call Bolden and Garver “financiers”. That doesn’t mean that Bolden and Garver put “financier” on their resumes.

  • Rick Boozer:

    “Only if you consider SLS to be sensible beyond LEO development, since it’s primary purpose is to keep politicians’ constituents employed and actual flight is (at best) a secondary consideration. That same amount of money applied to current launch vehicles and depot tech, we could be starting our BLEO efforts now rather than waiting for SLS to be completed.”

    Congress stepped in because the Obama administration pretty much shut down NASA’s manned space program in order to promote private commercial space programs. And this came as a shock to both Democrats and Republicans in Congress!

    Congress had several concepts to choose from as alternatives to the Ares I/V: Sidemount Shuttle, EELVs, DIRECT. But they decided that:

    1. They didn’t want to totally throw away billions of dollars already invested in Constellation technology (the Orion and the 5-segment SRBs)

    2. They didn’t want to completely throw away useful technology developed during the space shuttle era (the RS-25 engines)

    The SLS is sort of DIRECT on steroids (stretched core stage plus 5-segment SRBs). And since I favored DIRECT over other concepts, I’m pretty happy about the decision!

    But the real problem is that the Obama administration really doesn’t believe that NASA should have a manned space program which is why they terminated NASA’s ability to fly into space in their original budget.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Dark Blue Nine:

    “The ~$3 billion per year funding level for SLS/MPCV was set by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, not by the White House.”

    That’s because the White House wanted to spend– zero dollars– on a SLS/MPCV program.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Martijn Meijering

    the SLS/MPCV program is only receiving about $3 billion a year

    Yeah, a mere $3B. Pocket change really, what does a billion buy you these days, a few operational commercial crew transporation systems perhaps?

  • Martijn Meijering

    “Zeroing out all funding wasted subsidizing LEO commerical HSF is a great start as LEO is a ticket to no place. ”

    Actually, LEO is halfway from Earth to anywhere, and L1/L2 are halfway from LEO to anywhere. SDLV supporters used to poo-poo the use of Lagrange points, insisting everything had to go to LEO first, then dock and only then move beyond LEO *together*. Now that’s out of the picture, they suddenly start poo-pooing low Earth orbit rendez-vous, and insist everything has to be launched to L1/L2 or straight to its destination without EOR.

    As always, the ostensible reasons aren’t real reasons, but pretexts that are invented to justify a predetermined conclusion. In other words, SDLV supporters *know* they are liars and hypocrites. I can’t guarantee there aren’t liars and hypocrites in New Space, but the SDLV camp is full of them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Williams:

    Your two “reasons” (rationalisations really) are ridiculous, there is only one reason they made their choice and that reason is pork *and you know it*, as does everyone else here. Who do you think you are fooling?

    The SLS is sort of DIRECT on steroids (stretched core stage plus 5-segment SRBs).

    In other words, it is basically the Ares V they railed against.

    And since I favored DIRECT over other concepts, I’m pretty happy about the decision!

    Yes, you’ve consistently advocated the SDLV fanboi position. If it’s got an SDLV in it, you’ll like it and you’ll invent all sorts of silly rationalisations for it.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “The SLS is sort of DIRECT on steroids (stretched core stage plus 5-segment SRBs). And since I favored DIRECT over other concepts, I’m pretty happy about the decision! “
    And study after study from universities, industry, and NASA itself that actually realistically compare SLS to other alternatives indicates it is not the most practical and economic way to go BLEO. And I am not going to list those studies again, because they don’t register in your brain, Mr. Type 10 who is an admixture of Types 1, 2 , 3, and 4.

    SLS backers can be classified into the following categories:
    1- Those who think SLS is right because it is designed by NASA and is being developed in the traditional way with NASA micromanaging oversight and traditional contracting methods. It is inconceivable to these people that anything but the mega rocket project Apollo paradigm should be followed, because the traditional NASA way of doing things is holy.
    2- Super Heavy Lift fans who insist that a launch vehicle of Saturn V size or larger is the ONLY way to go. Alternate NASA and industry studies saying otherwise are conveniently ignored. Cost and lost time waiting while the huge new vehicle is being developed is also totally ignored.
    3- Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift enthusiasts who think that SDHL is the ONLY way to go, many of these are also Type 2. Again, alternate NASA and industry studies saying otherwise are conveniently ignored as are relative costs and lost time waiting for the vehicle’s completion.
    4- Those who perceive Commercial Crew as a threat to the existence of NASA, even though it can potentially free NASA to pursue cutting edge technologies to increase the capabilities of humans in LEO, back to the Moon and beyond.
    5- The NASA Old Guard who either perceive their jobs as being threatened and/or they just don’t want the way things have always been done to change.
    6- Those who don’t like Commercial Crew simply because it has Obama’s name associated with it and thus SLS appeals to them as an excuse for taking funds from Commercial Crew by adding those funds to the SLS budget.
    7- Those employed by or associated with a company contracted for SLS and thus personally benefit from SLS.
    8- Politicians and others who follow the advice of Types 1 through 7 because it economically benefits a particular local area (even when it is not in the best interests of the country as a whole).
    9- Some just because they haven’t taken the time to thoroughly investigate the issue.
    10- Any subset mixture of the above.
    Types 1, 2 and 3 are hopelessly unpersuadable because they are religious fanatics. Type 6 is just as unpersuadable for a different reason that is just as irrational. It is possible that Type 4 can be won over if they realize what the facts are. Some of Type 5 have opinions set in stone because there is some basis in reality to their fear of job loss; on the other hand, others of this type might change because they would flourish under the new paradigm but they just don’t realize it yet. Pure Type 7 people are as unchangeable as types 1, 2, 3 and 6, but at least they have a rational reason. Some of Type 8 can eventually change when they realize that even though the new paradigm may have some negative effects for their local area in the short run, it will be a net plus in the long run. Many pure Type 9s with no personal axe to grind (that is, with no Type 1, 2, 3 and 6 tendencies) may change their position when presented with the facts. Only a minority of SLS backers are purely only one of the types 1 through 9, with most being some form of Type 10. Of course, a particular form of a Type 10 person will only be changeable as long they also don’t possess any of the fanatical mindsets of types 1, 2, 3 and 6, and don’t exhibit Type 7. See next page for the four important things.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “That’s because the White House wanted to spend– zero dollars– on a SLS/MPCV program.”

    No, if the White House wanted to zero human space exploration, the President would have vetoed the bill. He didn’t.

    What the White House wanted to do was concentrate human space exploration dollars after Shuttle on actual human space exploration technologies and systems through competitive procurements. Instead, Congress wanted to lock-in Shuttle workforce and contracts that had been set to expire since the Bush II Administration. The Obama White House, having bigger fish to fry, compromised, and we’re where we’re at today — using the same expensive workforce and the same sole-source contracts to rearrange pieces of the Shuttle like a jigsaw for another couple decades, instead of exploring.

    The reason we’re not spending any significant dollars on human space exploration is because we’re still spending billions each year on Shuttle workforce, contracts, and infrastructure. Although the orbiters will soon become museum exhibits, thanks to Congress, the Shuttle program was never retired — it was just reanimated in the form of SLS and MPCV. Until it is retired, NASA won’t have any funding freed up to conduct exploration. The high cost of the Shuttle program crowded out exploration spending for the past 40 years, and unless stopped, will do so for another 20-odd years in the form of SLS/MPCV.

  • Oops! Forget to include the four important things.
    The four important things to those who really care about going BLEO:
    1- The vehicles sending our astronauts to space (whether orbit or BLEO) are American. We don’t give a crap what particular Americans make those vehicles as long as it results in a significant increase in American spaceflight.
    2- That we go beyond BLEO as soon as possible. (With SLS, we have to wait for the launch vehicle to be developed, instead of using existing launch vehicles).
    3- Not waste the hard earned money of the taxpayer (With SLS we have to spend more to go BLEO).
    4- Make sure that whatever vehicles we choose are as safe as fallable humans can make them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Rick:

    Nice list of categories. I think political preferences also play a role, those who work for government agencies will be hostile to advocacy of market forces in any sector, even if they themselves don’t work in it, because they may be next.

  • Vladislaw

    It doesn’t matter with Marcel F. Williams. Unless the system you describe has a huge phallic symbol for America it just wont work.

    Fuel Stations? … ah .. no .. where’s the monsterous phallic symbol?

    Gas and go, reusable systems? .. ah .. no … where’s the monsterous phallic symbol?

    Marcel only wants one thing for America, and space exploration isn’t it. You can show him a million alternatives, hell they could even be free from santa .. but if it doesn’t include a 30 – 50 BILLION dollar monster phallic symbol .. it is a non starter.

  • @Martijn Meijering
    “Nice list of categories. I think political preferences also play a role, those who work for government agencies will be hostile to advocacy of market forces in any sector, even if they themselves don’t work in it, because they may be next.
    Thanks Martijn. However, I covered the political preferences issue with types 5, 6, and 8.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Those are certainly political, but that’s not the category I had in mind. I was thinking of government employees in general, say in education.

  • DCSCA

    @ John wrote @ March 29th, 2012 at 10:14 am

    “Today NASA is using commercial space as its scapegoat of failed policies.”

    Elements of it are. The commercialists within NASA are using LEO as a crutch to justify and maintain short-term HSF operations and external commercialist are trying to leverage NASA as a crutch for exploitation they otherwise cannot afford to do on their own. Separating the two, leaving NASA to explore BEO w/government funding and commercial to exploit LEO w/private funding and no government subsidies is the way to go.

  • Joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ March 31st, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    - It doesn’t matter with Marcel F. Williams. Unless the system you describe has a huge phallic symbol for America it just wont work.

    - Fuel Stations? … ah .. no .. where’s the monsterous phallic symbol?

    -Gas and go, reusable systems? .. ah .. no … where’s the monsterous phallic symbol?

    - Marcel only wants one thing for America, and space exploration isn’t it. You can show him a million alternatives, hell they could even be free from santa .. but if it doesn’t include a 30 – 50 BILLION dollar monster phallic symbol .. it is a non starter.

    Four “phallic symbol” references in one (for you) short post. Are you sure Marcel is the one with the “phallic symbol” obsession?

  • Vladislaw

    yes Joe, I am sure.

    There is not a single alternative, no matter if it is cheaper, quicker to impliment, less labor intensive. If it does not include the monster rocket, Marcel will not even consider it. Doesn’t matter what expert opinions are put forward, for Marcel, it has to include the monster rocket. Also, you can not even allow commercial companies, who have stated it could be done for 10 to 6 times cheaper, it has to be a monster rocket and built the most expensive way possible. The stalinist model of big government.

    The fixation isn’t mine, it’s Marcel’s.

  • Joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 1st, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    “yes Joe, I am sure.”

    Ahh, then it must be true. Sorry to have bothered you.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>