Campaign '12, NASA

“60 Minutes” segment becomes a political football

Sunday night, the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” aired a segment (video above) on the impact the retirement of the Space Shuttle program has had on Florida’s Space Coast, including profiling some of the people who lost their jobs as a result and the broader economic impact on the community. It’s hard not to sympathize with those people who have struggled to find work in the months since losing their jobs. The segment, though, has taken on something of a political dimension as well.

“President Obama cancelled NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle in favor of a more modest program,” CBS’s Scott Pelley said in his introduction to the segment. “And then, Congress slashed the funding for that.” The implication, also expressed in the segment, was that many or even most would still have jobs there if President Obama hasn’t pushed to cancel Constellation in 2010. (Left unsaid is just how many shuttle-specific workers would have been let go even if Constellation had been retained, especially since the program was at the time of its cancellation still several years from the first Ares 1/Orion flight.) Congress also gets dinged for cutting commercial crew funding, with again the implication that more money would have retained more KSC jobs, although most of the current commercial crew development work is being done outside of Florida.

On Tuesday, NASA administrator Charles Bolden (traveling this week in Australia) responded to the “60 Minutes” piece in a blog post on the NASA website. The segment, he argued, “missed an awful lot of important context about the end of that era and where we’re headed from here.” Constellation was behind schedule, lengthening the gap in US human space access, he said, while commercial entities can more more quickly to fill that gap, with NASA following with the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion. He also noted that unemployment is going down in Brevard County, the heart of the Space Coast, and had reached its lowest levels since May 2009, more than two years before the final shuttle flight.

By that time, though, the segment had been used as ammunition against the Obama Administration. The Republican National Committee, through its @gop Twitter account,publicized a blog post by the Sunshine State News that likened one person interviewed in the “60 Minutes” piece, Mike Carpenter, to Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber”, a figure in the 2008 presidential campaign. The post also quoted Republican officials saying that Obama broke promises he made in 2008 to retain jobs at KSC.

(Sidebar: although Wurzelbacher didn’t do much in the long run to boost John McCain’s presidential campaign, he has returned to politics, winning the GOP nomination for Ohio’s 9th congressional district. He will face incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur in the redrawn district which now includes, on its eastern edge, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Kaptur defeated another incumbent, Dennis Kucinich, whose district had previously included Glenn.)

Democrats fired back Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported, with comments by Michael Blake, the Democratic mayor of Cocoa, Florida. Blake argued that Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, would be far worse when it comes to space policy than the current administration, claiming that Romney’s proposals for budget cuts could clash NASA’s budget by $4.5 billion. “When it comes to NASA and space exploration, it is clear that Mitt Romney is completely wrong on the issue and out of touch with the Space Coast,” he said.

133 comments to “60 Minutes” segment becomes a political football

  • Robert G. Oler

    It is always juicy to watch the GOP backtrack on its rhetoric…

    The jobs lost when the shuttle stopped and we finally ended Cx were technowelfare. They produced nothing of value that was commensurate with their cost…BUT THEY WERE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW WEALTH TRANSFER FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN CHANGE COMMUNITIES.

    There is an interesting study from the University of Houston that is in its final prep stages, but which I have been asked to review (and allowed to comment on)…which indicates that the PRIME benefit that “space spending” had in the Clear Lake area…was that it primed the pump for the medical complexes now taking over the area…because the workers in the space program both contract and civil service…essentially had federal health care.

    The facilities were built to respond to that need…and now have taken on a life of their own, as they have become self sustaining.

    Since the far right essentially opposes single payer health care in large measure on the grounds that it will injure the health care system that fact is entertaining.

    It is juicy to watch the far right; which claims to oppose wasteful federal spending for “job creation” rally to this fight…

    It is about like Mark Whittington continuing to call Commercial crew/cargo a “subsidy” (even if he cannot get the amount correct)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Both the Obama administration and NASA needs to do a better job educating the public on exactly what it is doing with regard to space. As with everything else, the right wing is controlling the dialogue and the public isn’t looking at the facts. Constellation was doomed from the start. If CONGRESS would fund SLS/ORION/CCD, we would have an impressive future indeed.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    It’s very sad that the 60 Minutes piece and the political “debate” resulting from it are not about what NASA’s human space flight program should be doing or is doing in space but are instead about how many people NASA’s human space flight program employs directly or indirectly on Earth. Our national discussion on space policy has devolved into whether a restaraunt down the road from KSC is closing, which has zero to do with advancing human space flight. Yet more evidence that NASA, thanks to parochial politics, has become a jobs program and is no longer much of a space agency.

  • amightywind

    A chill wind just blew through hell. CBS is actually reporting objectively on the carnage on the space coast. I do love it.

    “President Obama cancelled NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle in favor of a more modest program

    …run by his political contributors.

    while commercial entities can more more quickly to fill that gap

    Jeez. Hard to argue schedule and cost for commercial space when they have never met either. Bolden is willing to go down in flames with this argument apparently.

    It is an election year and the ruins of America’s space program lie at Obama’s feet for all to see, in a crucial swing state.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The problem here is that no one in the federal government EXCEPT the administration really know what to do with NASA.

    The “traditional NASA” people are stuck on this exploration model that simply has no political support (see Newt Gingrich)…people are talking about 500 day missions in some”new” space station which is simply goofy…there is no political support for the spending.

    It is clear that internally NASA HSF is opposed to technology development (most of the folks there are simply out of the game)…

    yet the notion of NASA is still stuck in the GOP Pantheon of cold war ideas that the party as a whole cannot shake…

    this election is going to be crucial for The Republic. If the GOP is soundly beaten then we will have shed the last 30 years of just horrible government that they have forced on the country and we can move for a new start.

    and that includes NASA

    RGO

  • Benjamin Brown

    That 60′s minute piece was very one-sided. Yes its tragic that so many have lost jobs, but as it stands now the gap wont be much longer than the Apollo-Shuttle gap and we’ll have a more sustainable space program as a result.

    Constellation wasn’t sustainable, and never had a chance to be funded properly. Especially after this recession we’re slowly getting over. So to say that Obama killed a viable program is just false.

    Not to mention Congress has to approve any space policy he comes up with. Yes its sad that we have had to have a gap, but the political reality is that there would have been a gap either way.

  • Nixon ended NASA’s progressive and pioneering manned space program in the early 1970s. And since that time, NASA has merely been a make work program for astronauts at LEO. And now some folks in private industry want the tax payers to make them a part of NASA’s LEO make-work program:-)

    NASA needs to return to its roots and become the progressive pioneering program it use to be– starting with a permanent presence at the lunar poles. And private manned space programs need to focus on private space tourism– not NASA make-work programs.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 2:01 pm >>

    really nicely said…you seem to be channeling Major Tom in the clarity of your post…and that is a compliment.

    there is some manuvering to do in the political process but I am starting to think, particularly if Willard is the nominee (and sadly for me that looks all to clear…I wanted a nut like Santorum)…the overarching theme of this election is going to be about the role of the federal government…(one could hope Willard does something “marvelous” Like pick Ryan for the VP nominee)

    if this occurs in human spaceflight Obama is well position to argue his moves with commercial space. It is likely that by the time campaigning starts the issues with commercial cargo at least are settled hopefully SpaceX will have had a successful flight in April…and that will set the tone for the debate on the space coast.

    Particularly interesting since Willard’s plan is still “under study” RGO

  • Das Boese

    “President Obama cancelled NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle in favor of a more modest program,”

    Well, how accurate is a report going to be that starts with a lie and a baseless opinion?

    Constellation was never intended to replace the Space Shuttle, and the goals set forth by Obama (NEO mission by 2025 followed by Mars in the 2030s) are arguably more, but certainly no less ambitious than Constellation’s “Apollo redux” by 2020.

    Add to that , of course, that the statement is, possibly intentionally, phrased such that your average TV consumer will hear and remember “President Obama cancelled (…) the space shuttle.”

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Jeez. Hard to argue schedule and cost for commercial space when they have never met either.

    Hilarious. I suppose you’re going to argue that Constellation was on budget and on schedule? Is that why Republicans in Congress were so quick to cancel it?

    But you are apparently unaware that COTS and CCDev participants don’t get paid unless they have completed previously agreed upon work. And you keep forgetting that those same companies are also investing their own money into the programs.

    Ignorance is bliss for you, and apparently socializing our space program is bliss for you too.

  • amightywind

    Is that why Republicans in Congress were so quick to cancel it?

    Constellation was cancelled in Feb 2010 while the Presidency and the Senate were occupied by democrat majorities. The House was instrumental is saving Orion and proposing SLS. GOP hands are clean in the tragedy of central Florida. Obama did make a lot of promises, and he reneged. I am glad that 60 Minutes has decided to do journalism again.

    completed previously agreed upon work.

    Its all a little abstract. SpaceX hasn’t launched jack. Somehow they manage to keep the lights on. They hold some dynamite press conferences though, with their investors at NASA who pose as managers. Is the new era still scheduled to start April 30th or will it slip again? Meanwhile Boeing and Lockmart fly mission after complex mission deploying billion dollar national defense satellites. We will here more about SpaceX deliveries of track suits to the ISS.

  • vulture4

    NASA’s real roots are not in “pioneering”, they are in technology development. Obama did not cancel Constellation, he attempted (so far without sucess) to cancel a plan that has no chance of success. Constellation was not intended to replace Shuttle, it was intended to abandon LEO entirely. Nixon did not end NASA’s progressive program, he informed NASA that the US could no longer afford Apollo. or afford competing civilian and DOD programs for human spaceflight. Bush did not restart a program for space exploration; he never funded it fully or even gave an honest assessment off its cost.

    Finally, the CAIB said in 2003 that Shuttle could continue flying until a replacement was operational, and that the replacement should be designed solely for access to LEO because any more ambitious plan would fail. Bush cancelled Shuttle without an operational replacement and proposed a replacement that is impractical for access to LEO.

    It is time to drop Constellation/SLS/Orion entirely and fully fund NASA’s remaining projects. I hope SpaceX succeeds on Aril 30 but obviously there is considerable risk. Even if the mission fails sustainable access to LEO is the essential first step.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    The House was instrumental is saving Orion and proposing SLS.

    Who cares if it was the House or Senate – Republicans in both houses voted to end Constellation without a whisper of debate.

    And I don’t know why you are crowing about Orion/MPCV, and especially the crony capitalism of the SLS. Can you identify one funded mission for them? Beyond the testing programs. How many agencies, departments or programs with approved funds are crying out for them? None. Nada. Zero.

    Prove to us that the SLS is not going to be a huge monument to political waste.

    SpaceX hasn’t launched jack.

    Compared to rocket families that that has been around since the dawn of the rocket age, of course not. They do launch though, so it’s not like the Ares V or the SLS, which only exist as PowerPoint presentations, yet have consumed $Billions with nothing productive to show to taxpayers.

    And that’s really the point here. NASA has paid SpaceX less than $400M to develop a cargo delivery system, and SpaceX could be certified for ISS deliveries after their upcoming launch. Real hardware, getting ready to perform real work this year, not next decade.

    You complain about NASA spending money on transportation infrastructure that it has a Congressionally funded need for, yet you ignore the programs that receive 10X more money, yet have no known need. Your priorities are wrong.

  • DCSCA

    “Our national discussion on space policy has devolved into whether a restaraunt down the road from KSC is closing, which has zero to do with advancing human space flight.”

    Except the 15 minute segment really wasn’t about national space policy anymore than last week’s puff piece was on Musk. (CBS stretching a travel budgets again.) And the only number mentioned was the $3 billion/yr., savings as the program ended – (and the 33 flights of Atlantis, ‘designed to fly 100′ which was a misnomer as well.)

    “60 Minutes” operates around four words from the late Don Hewitt- “Tell me a story.” And putting a face on a story is 60 Minutes 101. The piece was chiefly a revisit to Brevard County and touched base with previously interviewed individuals eight months after the last shuttle left town, in line with their reporting on a number of ‘company towns’ in economic tatters when a primary employer closes down and the ripple affect from same. It was no secret shuttle was ending and the fits and starts associated w/civil space projects in and around the Space Coast are nothing new. How the folks they met last summer were coping was the point of the piece.

    The tears and pride were emotion driven, which is television 101, but skirted the cold reality that shuttle launches, a 1970′s era technology, were costing taxpayers roughly $750 million and $1 billion a pop– to go in circles in LEO. That’s quite pricey to keep an aging, angry crane operatorwho worked them all from STS-1, a wistful bar owner, an engineering blueprint reader w/a heart condition and a teary-eyed fuel technician (who doesn’t look like he has missed a meal BTW) ‘pridefully’ employed.

    After 30 years of successes and two costly disasters it was time to end shuttle. Whether Constellation was rightly or wrongly cancelled was the real story and Pelley missed it– but that’s not really the mantre of 60 Minutes, which is nothing more than a televised airline seat pocket magazine. Back in mid-1980, CBS Reports did a fine piece on shuttle’s cost overruns and delays when it was then three years behind schedule, w/a history of shedding tiles and blowing up engines on the test stand, almost a year before STS-1 cleared the tower. In 1980 dollars shuttle costs had already risen to $15 billion. But the program flew on for three decades. This angst which accompanies the ‘fits and starts’ of America’s civil space program is nothing new. All the more reason for NASA to become a civilian division of the DoD to stabilize funding, consolidate space operations, focus mid-long term program planning and give it the added protection of a ‘national security’ umbrella.

    Back in 1978, we visited KSC when they were in the midsts of the last big ‘gap’ and businesses were shuttered as well and the only visible activity was the construction work reconfiguring the Saturn pads for shuttle. Otherwise, it was a depressing ghost town. Unlike a lot of private sectored employees, shuttle workers have known the program was winding down for several years and the work force has been shrinking since the turn of the century. They knew layoffs were coming and not everyone was ‘transferring’ to Constellation. The point of the piece was that some prepared, some didn’t and some were disappointed. So in spite of the brave bravado, “Shuttles” closed and waitresses were layed off. Back in the day, ‘Pancho’s’ burned down, too. Press on.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The House was instrumental is saving Orion and proposing SLS.”

    No, it wasn’t. The Senate authored the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. The House failed to get its version of that legislation passed.

    “GOP hands are clean in the tragedy of central Florida.”

    What “tragedy”? The 7K Shuttle contractors laid off represent only 2% of Brevard County’s 325K working age adults and only 1% of Brevard County’s 543K total population. And per the blog entry at the top, emloyment in Brevard is _higher_ now than it was before the last Shuttle flight. There are certainly individual dislocations and tragedies as there are whenever an industry goes through a transition and the workforce gets redeployed (as happens routinely in a free market, capitalist economy), but this is not a “tragedy of central Florida”.

    As for the blood on “GOP hands”, the Bush II Administration made the (arguably long overdue) decision to shut down the Shuttle, numerous Republican-controlled Congresses did nothing to counter that decision, and a Republican House killed the $35M economic aid package for the fired Shuttle workers. Democrats are guilty, too, but if we’re handing out political blame, Republican hands are very bloody here.

    “Is the new era still scheduled to start April 30th or will it slip again?”

    The slips are at NASA’s direction, not SpaceX’s.

    “Meanwhile Boeing and Lockmart fly mission after complex mission”

    Sure, a full decade after their maiden flights.

  • Mark

    60 Minutes is ill suited to air a detailed piece on the many short comings of Obama’s space policy. People who have been lied to by the president and have lost their jobs and businesses as a result make much more entertaining television, at least that seems to be the approach here.

    On the other hand, the theme of people who have given their careers for a program that the country thought was important enough to keep going for 30 years getting screwed and lied to by President Obama makes a pretty good political story. I expect Romney to run with it, even if it means he has to forget that version of himself who thought the idea of a lunar base was “zany.”

  • Mark

    Oh, and before we get into the mantra of “NASA aint a jobs program,” let me remind one and all that very few human endeavors in the modern age are undertaken without hiring people.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Both the Obama administration and NASA needs to do a better job educating the public on exactly what it is doing with regard to space.
    Assuming the SpaceX mission goes well in a few weeks I imagine they’ll capitalize on that to help publicize the space plan.

  • DCSCA

    The slips are at NASA’s direction, not SpaceX’s.

    Ever the shill. Space X’s capacity to slip schedule are legendary.

  • DCSCA

    “As for the blood on “GOP hands”, the Bush II Administration made the (arguably long overdue) decision to shut down the Shuttle. ”

    And underfunded Constellation. Dubya’s space legacy is just like Pappy’s ’89 pitch- a glitzy space project and didn’t do the politiking to get it funded. The damage done to shuttle in the Reagan era is a given. But Dubya was forced to make a decision on shuttle, because of Columbia, not because he was taking any initiative.

  • Gov. Romney has called the new House GOP budget plan “marvelous.” With its mandated cuts to discretionary spending, has anyone calculated this plan’s impact on NASA’s budget?

  • ElaxMinn

    As a baby boomer who watched followed every launch through the 60′s and early 70′s and was convinced at age 12 that I’d be going to the moon for a visit today, I’m profoundly disappointed in what’s happened to the space program for the past few years.

    The fact is that the model that we have at Nasa seems to be great for certain things (sending out unmanned probes), but not so good for other things (getting people out of low earth orbit).

    The educational system, the federal government, and the media have taken miserably failed at informing the public what comes out of being dominant in space.

    Instead of in-fighting, wouldn’t it be nice if both parties talked about what are the advanced American engineering, manufacturing, and scientific technologies that we can develop to keep our grand children prosperous.

  • red

    “Meanwhile Boeing and Lockmart fly mission after complex mission”

    … usually using the same rockets that Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origin plan to use for commercial crew. Thanks for the solid pro commercial crew point, amightywind!

  • A lot of folks here in Brevard County are pretty upset with 60 Minutes for running a distorted and at times completely false story.

    I posted my observations here, so I won’t go into a lot of detail, but here are a couple examples of what 60 Minutes completely distorted:

    * Showing Miracle City Mall in Titusville as an example of local economic collapse after the Shuttle’s end. Actually, Miracle City Mall has been a derelict since the mid-1970s, after the Apollo program ended, so that was one fib. Another fib is that the City of Titusville in December approved a renovation plan for Miracle City Mall. Had they done so a few years ago, it wouldn’t be in the condition it’s in now.

    * The history of the Shuttles Dugout bar. Shuttles is near my home. My wife and I went there a few times but stopped because the service was so lousy and the food was mediocre. That’s not just my opinion, but also the opinion of many former customers. Click here to read the reviews on TripAdvisor.com. The owner shown on 60 Minutes was not the original owner who did the space theme; the guy on TV junked much of the space memorabilia and replaced it with a sports bar theme, the Boston Red Sox in particular. Yeah, like that will go over well in central Florida.

    * The claim that Obama did nothing to help with jobs here after saying he would in a campaign stop in August 2008. In April 2010, Obama directed the creation of a Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development. Its objective was to create “an interagency action plan to facilitate economic development strategies and plans along the Space Coast and to provide training and other opportunities for affected aerospace workers so they are equipped to contribute to new developments in America’s space program and related industries.”

    The report was issued on August 15, 2010. The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) issued a request for applications from entities interested in funding to create jobs in the Space Coast.

    Congress, however, failed to provide the funding for this $35 million program. When the GOP took over the House in January 2011, they blocked the funding so it died.

    * And as for the opening shot of the house with weeds in the front … We live in a very large tract about five miles south of KSC. I’d guess there are about 200 homes in this tract. Not one of them has weeds in the front. And we’re closer to KSC than Titusville.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Already getting ready to move the goalposts again I see, DCSCA.

  • red

    “President Obama cancelled NASA’s plan to replace the space shuttle in favor of a more modest program,”

    Setting aside the fact that NASA’s plan to “replace” the space shuttle, Constellation, offered, according to the Augustine Committee, “little or no apparent value”, why would you call Obama’s original plan (not the current pathetic “compromise” that includes budget cuts and massive SLS and MPCV waste) “a more modest program” than building Ares I and Orion? –>

    - increase NASA’s budget
    - keep the ISS instead of splashing it
    - increase use of, and capabilities of, the ISS
    - make commercial cargo more robust
    - add commercial crew
    - fund initial flagship technology demonstration missions in space to demonstrate advance in-space propulsion and solar arrays, an automated rendezvous and docking space tug, inflatable habitats, aerocapture, propellant depots, and advanced closed-loop life support
    - fund a massive increase in exploration technology development
    - fund a massive increase in general space technology development
    - fund a massive increase in “humans in space” research
    - fly a fleet of small and large robotic precursor missions to the Moon, NEAs, Mars, and the moons of Mars
    - repair some of the damage done by Constellation to NASA’s Science and Aeronautics areas

  • DCSCA

    @Michael from Iowa wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    False equivalency. You gotta have some skin in the game to be a player. You’re up in the stands. When it comes to delivering groceries to space statins, should Space X deliver some goodies- which remains to be seen- we’ll applaud them duplicating what Progress spoacecraft have been doing for over 34 YEARS. Then wait for the presser when Master Musk announces, with great fanfare, plans to finance the construction of a silvered monoplane, with a Tesla styled electric motor, to make a solo flight across the Atlantic in 2027.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Ever the shill.”

    What’s with the namecalling and ad hominem attack? No one has thrown an insult at you in this thread.

    And stating facts is not “shilling”.

    “Space X’s capacity to slip schedule are legendary.”

    You’d have to be an idiot to take a half decade of Orion/MPCV slippage over a 16 months of slippage on Dragon/ISS docking.

    If commercial schedule slippage is legendary, then the schedule slippage on NASA’s in-house and traditionally contracted human space flight programs is biblical.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Gov. Romney has called the new House GOP budget plan ‘marvelous.’ With its mandated cuts to discretionary spending, has anyone calculated this plan’s impact on NASA’s budget?”

    If the cuts are proportional across all the departments and agencies in a particular budget function, then NASA’s space activities over the ten-year period from FY13- FY22 will see a 6% cut in total. See:

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/ryan-budget-would-cut-more-from-nasa-noaa-budget-functions

    NASA’s FY 2013 budget request is flat funded at $17.7B per year, or $177B over ten years (through 2022). So a 6% cut would take over $10B out of NASA’s budget during that period.

    A cut of that magnitude would likely result in a massive deferrel or termination of SLS or MPCV as no other development program at NASA approaches that level of spending during those ten years. (Assuming no cost growth, SLS and MPCV will spend over $30B through 2022.) NASA’s next most expensive development program is JWST, but it is only $8B in total, most of which has already been spent.

  • vulture4

    Ellegood wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 8:31 pm
    “Gov. Romney has called the new House GOP budget plan “marvelous.” With its mandated cuts to discretionary spending, has anyone calculated this plan’s impact on NASA’s budget?”

    For the category “General Science,Space and Technology” BA funds appear to be cut from $29B to $27B and stay there for at least the next 5 years, a cut of about 7% followed by no growth. There are few details. The budget document is mostly political rhetoric.

    ElaxMinn wrote
    “Instead of in-fighting, wouldn’t it be nice if both parties talked about what are the advanced American engineering, manufacturing, and scientific technologies that we can develop to keep our grand children prosperous.”

    It would be even better if we could just get a little in R&T funds to actually develop useful technology. Almost all of our modest, ($20-100K) practical R&D proposals are rejected while the money goes down the insatiable maw of
    Constellation

  • DCSCA

    @Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    “NASA needs to return to its roots and become the progressive pioneering program it use to be.”

    Yeah, but good timing and sharp talent helps, too. Guys like Low, Gilruth, Kraft, Faget, et al from the STG, Von Braun, Webb etc., and the teams associated w/same don’t come along too often with the adequate resources in place and vocal support from the hightessty levels of the Administration as well. Obama’s not a ‘space cadet’ and we know Romeny isn’t by his own words during the debate. But NASA won’t improve as long as commercialsts, like Garver, are poisoning it. Obama is ultimately responsible for his people but all he did at KSC in 2010 was show up and deliver the recomendations from his people in a speech, and moved on to the next problem. As far as he’s concerned, space policy for term #1 is in the out box w/economic matters and military problems more pressing. Bolden’s the ‘Peter Principle’ on display (your tax dollars at work- he’s in Australia) and Garver’s history as a registered lobbyist and long time advocate for commercial space is easy to research. The Griffin-Garver feud still simmers to a boil on occasion, too. The quicker NASA jettisons the likes of Garver and sheds the affable incompetence of Bolden, the better. As long as there is an element within NASA advocating short term dependence on commercial for HSF operations, substituting exploitation for exploration, American manned spaceflight will be doomed to going in circles in LEO for another generation or two. NASA needs a thorough house cleaning, beginning with a purge of cmmercialists and shuttle era management, if you want ot see it swing back on the course envisioned by the likes of Clarke 40 years ago and recently echoed by NdGT, at one time said to be on the ‘short-list’ for the NASA Administrator gig.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Oh, and before we get into the mantra of “NASA aint a jobs program,” let me remind one and all that very few human endeavors in the modern age are undertaken without hiring people.>>

    Yes but at the very least the “things” that the hired people do should have some value for the cost of hiring them. Outside our house here they are widening HWY 646 the dollars spent on that effort have value.

    The shuttle program, Cx and most space spending since Apollo have literally been bridges to nowhere.

    You liked that one RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    On the other hand, the theme of people who have given their careers for a program that the country thought was important enough to keep going for 30 years getting screwed and lied to by President Obama makes a pretty good political story. I expect Romney to run with it, even if it means he has to forget that version of himself who thought the idea of a lunar base was “zany.”…

    LOTS OF LAUGH..

    Willard forgetting his various versions is no problem to a party that ahs simply run out of ideas…

    At the end of those 30 years the “things” that the people did…all with well paid jobs, good federal health care, and not working all that hard…should be evaluated to see if the taxpayers were getting their money from it.

    Mark Whittington 15 years ago use to think that…what happened to him…did he collapse under Bush43′s failures/ RGO

  • mr. mark

    Expect Elon Musk and Spacex employees to get a thank you call from the President after Dragon berths with the ISS. I’m not into politics but, this will be one of those moments.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    ‘Ever the shill. Space X’s capacity to slip schedule are legendary.’

    Hilarious. When they’re within cooey of Cx, Orion/MPCV, X-33, JWST, et al, give me a call.

  • @Vulture4′s April 4th, 3:57 pm Comment; He wrote:”Constellation was not intended to replace the Shuttle, it was intended to abandon LEO entirely.” WHAT THE FREAK?! And THAT would be such a bad thing, in your view?! I personally see no freaking point to all this continued ISS-1, then on to ISS-2 jazz. LEO space stations are completely worthless! What has lingering in LEO for the past forty years ever brought us?? The Flexible Path people are always hyping about Constellation supposedly going to be an Apollo “Redux”; but what are we supposed to make of all those future plans for Bigelow-built new space stations?? Are they not going to be the ISS REDUX??! Skylab Redux; Salyut Redux; Mir Redux. {this message goes out to Das Boese, also, as his above comment threw in this argument bit} Why is it that re-creating the same, lame LEO station thing, every other decade, over & over again, not also bashed as a rehash-of-the-past?

  • @Chris Castro
    “LEO space stations are completely worthless! What has lingering in LEO for the past forty years ever brought us??
    Again Chris, SLS could condemn us to another 40 years in LEO. Take the blinders off and lower the fanaticism.

  • @Chris Castro
    “@Vulture4′s April 4th, 3:57 pm Comment; He wrote:”Constellation was not intended to replace the Shuttle, it was intended to abandon LEO entirely.” WHAT THE FREAK?! And THAT would be such a bad thing, in your view?!
    Forgot to reply to this. Though Constellation’s stated goal was to abandon LEO entirely, had it not been cancelled it would have had the same effect as I said SLS will have and for the same reasons. It was a perfect method for making sure we didn’t leave LEO on a constant and permanent basis. Since the reasons why this is true have been explained to you over and over again, I will not restate them.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “What has lingering in LEO for the past forty years ever brought us??”

    Building blocks for deep space missions:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/03/dsh-module-concepts-outlined-beo-exploration/

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/04/delving-deeper-dsh-configurations-support-craft/

    Of course, with SLS/MPCV sucking up the entire human space exploration budget for the next decade or more, we don’t have any budget to build these missions.

    “what are we supposed to make of all those future plans for Bigelow-built new space stations??”

    That Bigelow Corp. and some of its customers want to put them on the Moon:

    http://www.space.com/10634-moon-base-lunar-outpost-technology.html

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    that post is incoherent…all I can say RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    mr. mark wrote @ April 5th, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Expect Elon Musk and Spacex employees to get a thank you call from the President after Dragon berths with the ISS. I’m not into politics but, this will be one of those moments.>>

    as it should be.

    the ability of private enterprise to essentially from scratch create a product, execute it and provide a service is (with some other parts) the key that make Free Enterprise work in this country….and as a result this country work.

    What the nattering nabobs of the space industrial complex want is a continued reliance on a slothful bureacracy that has stomped the very essence out of human spaceflight.

    go look at the goofy pie in the sky requirements that folks are writing for SLS…it can stay on the pad for 180 days it can under go 13 cryo cycles…all the results of what Newt called “sitting around and talking about space”..

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ April 5th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I personally see no freaking point to all this continued ISS-1, then on to ISS-2 jazz. LEO space stations are completely worthless! What has lingering in LEO for the past forty years ever brought us?

    I think what you are failing to understand, and even to prove, is that we can create a fully formed and fully functional space program without venturing into space. Because that’s what you are suggesting, right?

    That somehow we are so smart, that our engineers have so much foresight, that we don’t need to test out equipment in space before we commit to using it long term. That the equipment we make today will work perfectly on the Moon, despite never having tested it in the vacuum of space, or with humans onboard.

    Oh and humans. Yep, we already knew everything we needed to know about the effects of space on humans, and the ways to mitigate any negative effects, way back in the 60′s when John Glenn first circled the Earth. Right? We’ll just send people out on a mission, and if they die, well so what – next!

    Of course no one at NASA agrees with you, and no one in the industry agrees with you either. I know that’s hard to accept, but since there is no “National Imperative” that drives our need to go out into space – no “space race” anymore – then why not keep our risks low by using a logical plan of expansion? By figuring out what we really need, testing it incrementally to keep costs low, and understanding better how fast we can go?

    Because what you fail to convey is why we need to rush out into space. To spend vast sums of taxpayer money without regard to cost, and without regard to safety. You fail to convince, no matter how many !!!!! you use.

    Try using powers of persuasion, instead of exclamation marks.

  • Robert G. Oler

    In the end the problem with NASA HSF is that what it evolved to after the Apollo missions is 1) something the American people have found little to embrace or find value in and 2) something that NASA itself did not do very well.

    The space station as talked about by Ronaldus the Great is simply not the space station we have today…the one Reagan talked about was a center for activity…today’s space station is simply people from various countries really doing little more then staying in space… there is nothing going on there that comes even close to justifying the billions spent on the effort just to keep it going.

    It took over 20 years to get something in orbit that was useful and SLS will take that same amount of time…and the difference between SLS and the station is that SLS no longer even pretends to have missions…they just want to build it.

    It is kind of like the race between the F-35 and the various drones that are coming on line…in the end the F-35 might have a lot of capability but that is far overshadowed by its cost.

    As long as we are stuck with people at NASA who sit around coming up with goofy ideas and requirements (where did the ability to withstand 13 cryo cycles come from on SLS? or stay at the Pad 180 days …half a fracken year come from? What “fertile mind” or process at NASA spawned those)

    then we are stuck with an agency that is simply brain dead. and exploration is gone with it.

    RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “or stay at the Pad 180 days …half a fracken year come from?”

    Well if you are only going to launch it twice a year, you will want at least 180 days on the pad for each launch.

    Just think Bob… 180 days of delays and scrubbed launches as NASA explains to the taxpayer how difficult space is.

  • Vladislaw

    We “lingered in LEO” after Apollo with Skylab, three missions for a total of what? Three months?

    Then we build the STS and each of the 2-9 launches per year would linger in LEO for a couple days to a couple weeks. Not a whole hell of a lot of lingering when you add it up.

    The ISS has been up a decade with the vast majority of that time not running a full crew during the very long construction period.

    Out of those 40 years you would think we would be in the millions of man hours/days in space, after all it is been 40 years of lingering ….

    gosh .. and to think .. they just learned about the eyesight issue on the ISS.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “180 days of delays and scrubbed launches as NASA explains to the taxpayer how difficult space is.”

    As long as Congress and NASA insist on using three different engines per launch, six different engines over the lifetime of the vehicle, and the same leaky LH2 lines and flawed ET structure that plagued the late STS launch schedule, NASA is going to need 180 days for some of these launches. For example, IIRC, STS-133 was delayed about six months, from September 2010 to February 2011, and STS-134 was delayed about seven months, from November 2010 to May 2011. ET stringers cracks LH2 vapor leaks, and APU heater failures drove the delays.

  • vulture4 wrote:” Nixon did not end NASA’s progressive program, he informed NASA that the US could no longer afford Apollo. or afford competing civilian and DOD programs for human spaceflight.”

    That was Nixon’s flawed perspective. There was a reason why Eisenhower decide to create a civilian space program that was separate from that of the military. And the NASA agenda is totally different from that of the military agenda.

    Actually, studies continue to show that our investment in space during the 1960s created a lot more wealth than it consumed. For every dollar spent in the 1960s, two were created for the general economy by 1970. And this investment in space in the 1960s is estimated to have eventually created more than 7 times as much money as was spent for the general economy. Even China recognizes this which is why they are heavily investing in a manned space program.

    But this is not surprising. Investing money in scientific and technological advancement does not make a country poorer, it makes it richer!

    The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Space Program
    http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/economics.html

    Marcel F. Williams

  • @Coastal Ron; If you had read my final post to the recent comment thread, relating to Congress questioning the viability of the entire commercial space effort, you would see my observation, that aside from all the unmanned test launches of Apollo rockets & hardware, only a mere two missions, Apollos 7 & 9, were devoted to manned full-up tests of the spacecrafts in LEO, during the whole Moon (& getting-to-the-Moon) phase of the program—-pre-Skylab, pre-ASTP—-the rest: Apollos 8, 10-17, were actual expeditions which left LEO for deep space. [Yes, cislunar space IS deep space!] So all this loitering in LEO in endless reincarnations of the orbital space station concept, is completely UNnecessary. Apollo was a project which actually had a destination in mind, every step of the way. This ISS, commercial-provider-built taxis to reach it, and then on to further & bigger & supposedly “better” space stations built now by Bigelow & Musk, looks like the path to full-up stagnation for the next 15-20 years. What off Earth are we doing?!
    By the way, haven’t the Zubrinites always had the attitude that their own earth-shattering plans for the Red Planet weren’t going to need any freaking intermediate goal testing before being sent to the ruddy promised land?! Have you read the Mars fanatics’ plans for a three-year human mission, in which they time and time again denigrate the Moon Return/Moonbase goal as an “unnecessary distraction” from their high & mighty goal of colonizing the Red Planet from expedition one??! Where is THEIR pragmatic, methodical mode of thinking with regards to the pre-mission testing of their proposed interplanetary equipment, hardware, & techniques?? Just like Apollo needed project Gemini, in order to succeed, so too will future Mars expeditions need an intermediate & closer-to-Earth goal also, to prove the viability of each proposed expedition milestone. But I would just rather see that proving ground be something other than Low Earth Orbit! LEO is just too easy! It is too easy to get bogged down in, and just continue to take the easy way out. LEO is just about as close as we can be to the home planet, but still be able to say that we’re in space. Hence, we’ll get into big, lazy habits of not taking any greater risks nor making greater strides.

  • vladislaw wrote:

    gosh .. and to think .. they just learned about the eyesight issue on the ISS.

    They’ve learned a lot on the ISS — not just the “eyesight issue” but also about bone less and cranial pressure. They’ll be using the ISS to simulate long-duration flights to an asteroid or Mars.

    Beyond that, they already have potential vaccines for salmonella and MRSA. Last year, Dr. Satoshi Furakawa performed an angiogenesis experiment that could give us a potential cure for cancer.

    So much is going on aboard the ISS — click here to visit the ISS Benefits for Humanity web site — but some people refuse to acknowledge the scientific reality, for partisan political reasons or they’re just anti-science. We have a political party in charge of one house in Congress dedicated to banning the teaching of evolution and forcing the teaching of creationism as fact. One really shouldn’t expect that party to be very enthusiastic about the ISS.

  • Vladislaw

    Stephen, thanks for the link, I agree. Personally I don’t think we have really even scratched the surface on the possiblities. We have no metal manufacturing in space yet, no medical etc.

    Chris rags on about 40 years in circles … but how productive were those years versus how productive they could have been or can be.

  • @Chris Castro
    “It is too easy to get bogged down in, and just continue to take the easy way out.
    Agreed. Example: building a big rocket with obsolete technology that (even if it got finished, which it probably won’t be) would take so long to develop that it gives other space faring nations more than enough time to get ahead of us.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “But this is not surprising. Investing money in scientific and technological advancement does not make a country poorer, it makes it richer! “
    Agreed. Which is part of the reason that building a launch vehicle with old Shuttle-derived technology is so stupid, rather than truly advancing technology significantly. Automatically assuming that the same strategy that we used 40 years ago to get the moon is the right one now is similarly stupid.
    Advancing technology does make a country richer. The opposite, doing little or no technological advancement, does NOT make a country richer. SLS is an example of the latter since it is being developed using retro incunabulum tech.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 5th, 2012 at 11:04 pm
    “Actually, studies continue to show that our investment in space during the 1960s created a lot more wealth than it consumed. For every dollar spent in the 1960s, two were created for the general economy by 1970.”

    all you folks need to get together and at least settle on one number. There is a clown on Pete Olson’s facebook page who commonly claims a 14 to 1 number…

    both are humerous.

    If NASA did a 2 to 1 number its a pretty poor statistic. Right now a combination of federal funds and state dollars are being used to improve Highway 646 from its northern intersection of I45 to its meet up with Highway 6 (which runs both ways…sorry TAMU lore) into a four lane very modern highway. If all it does is follow pretty standard highway building numbers here in Houston the estimates are that it will push a 6 to 1 ratio…ie for every dollar spent there was a 6 to 1 improvement in value on the road.

    Some of it is a little tricky of course but you dont have to be a real estate agent to see the land buyouts for commercial properties that once were pretty sleepy homesteads.

    The PROBLEM with human spaceflight and arguing some massive spinoff number is that there is no baseline product that human spaceflight product gives.

    the HSF argument is kind of like saying “lets build 646 so we can build the neat concrete pouring/polishing machine and that will have so many spin offs”

    In which case just like human spaceflight it doesnt matter what the operation does or where it goes…just so it can claim spinoffs that supposdly crank up more dollars then what was spent.

    Problem is of course that this argument is more “tricky” then the discussion of 646.

    I laugh all the time reading links like the one you post when we get to medical technology spinoffs.

    Thanks in part to medicare/caid the technology research devoted to old age life extension is just booming. Medical research does not need the space program to invent technologies for it. To argue otherwise is goofy

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I agree with you…where we have a “itsy bitsy” disagreement is that I dont think that the full potential of ISS can be achieved through the current NASA organizational chart. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Overall a good post. Still need paragraph breaks though.

    you would see my observation, that aside from all the unmanned test launches of Apollo rockets & hardware, only a mere two missions, Apollos 7 & 9, were devoted to manned full-up tests of the spacecrafts in LEO

    Compare that to the amount of in-space testing we accomplished with Shuttle, and now accomplishing long-term with the ISS. The urine water processor is a good example of where engineers thought they had a workable design, but found out it didn’t really work. It took a lot of iterations in space to perfect it – you can’t do that with short flights that have little room for failure.

    Yes, cislunar space IS deep space!

    You get excited over the weirdest things. But cislunar space is only “deep space” because we haven’t been there much. It’s really just local space if you consider that the Moon is in orbit around the Earth. It’s not even BEO. Get some perspective.

    …the Zubrinites…

    I’ve been vocal about Zubrin’s plans too. He doesn’t believe much in testing either.

    Look, I can’t wait to see people leaving LEO for places and planets far away. But maybe it’s my manufacturing background that keeps me grounded in reality – we can’t skip from A to Z without taking risks in space, and that too many risks is unacceptable to government funding.

    I also don’t see the infrastructure in place to support anything beyond LEO. How do we get supplies to the Moon? How do we transport crew back and forth every 4-6 months from the Moon? Who pays for developing that hardware, and who pays for supporting it?

    You and others have wonderful dreams, but dreams take lots of money to turn into reality. That’s why I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space. Once we can get to space without a Congress having to approve every launch, we’ll be able to leave LEO a lot easier.

    Until then, you better be calling Senator Shelby and asking when he’s going to support your space dreams, because he’s the one holding them up right now.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 5th, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Actually, studies continue to show that our investment in space during the 1960s created a lot more wealth than it consumed.

    Government spending is generally considered a stimulus to the economy, but the study you cite is decades old, and doesn’t apply to NASA of today, or even the past couple of decades.

    Besides just general spending, where is the direct evidence to show that NASA spending is any different than any other agency or department like the DOE, NIH or even the DOD?

    NASA is not “special”, and advocating for spending more through NASA, which spends 85% of it’s budget on private contractors, is just pork-barrel advocacy. Define the problem the money is supposed to solve, THEN maybe people will listen to you. Well, maybe not, but you’ll have a better chance at least.

  • Vladislaw

    “You and others have wonderful dreams, but dreams take lots of money to turn into reality.”

    Especially if you want a government agency to fullfill your dream when they openly admit their way is going to cost the taxpayer 10 times as much rather then using an American commercial aerospace firm to build it.

  • Aerospace Engineer

    The 60 minute segment is a political football because the Obama space program is a travesty. First the shuttle ( a Mach 25 spaceplane with a huge living space, an airlock, a rendevous and docking capability, an in orbit repair platform, etc etc etc) gone, then KSC gutted, now its JPL’s turn and the withering away of our solar system exploration capability. Well done. We will get routine milk runs to ISS in a tin can, someday, maybe. Whoopee.

    I don’t work for NASA or on a NASA contract. I do not grieve over my job. I grieve about the lost space leadership of my country. Not very fashionable around here I know. You’d rather believe snake oil from internet moguls.

  • vulture4

    @Aerospace Engineer
    I have worked for Shuttle for 25 years, and I absolutely agree. It should have flown another 10 years, and I argued for it. I wa agast when Sean o’Keefe announced the cancellation of Shuttle in 2004. I was horrified to see Constellation proposed when it would so obviously fail. I was nauseeated when Augustine refused to make a decision.

    Hard as it is to convince my Republican friends, Obama made the hard but correct choice. Drop Constellation and focus human spaceflight on practical and reliable access to LEO. But he has been stymied by an utterly cynical and corrupt Congress.

  • Coastal Ron

    Aerospace Engineer wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    The 60 minute segment is a political football because the Obama space program is a travesty. First the shuttle … gone, then KSC gutted…

    So Obama is responsible for the Shuttle program coming to an end?

    And what was supposed to be going on at KSC after the end of the Shuttle? Even Constellation wasn’t going to be launching anything until at least 2017, so what was all the actively supposed to be in the meantime?

    Though you may indeed be an aerospace engineer, and maybe even a damn fine one, I’m not sure you are an informed person on topic of who is doing what to NASA.

    For instance, how does the gross overrun of the JWST budget play into the amount of money that is left over for planetary science? And when did that overrun and schedule slip start?

    And what would be the alternative to all the things you bring up? What would you have done if you were President instead of Obama – what choices would you have made within the same budget?

  • Coastal Ron

    Aerospace Engineer wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    You’d rather believe snake oil from internet moguls.

    For myself, I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space. SpaceX says they can do that, and so far they have been able to do what they said they could do.

    Not without schedule slips, which unfortunately is par for the course for just about every single space program, but at least it’s not costing taxpayers any more money, since SpaceX only gets paid when they successfully complete NASA milestones.

    Any why wouldn’t I cheer on a company that has real hardware sitting at the Cape getting ready to launch? Where is SLS?

    Who are you cheering on, if not the companies making the fastest progress to opening up space?

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “And what was supposed to be going on at KSC after the end of the Shuttle? Even Constellation wasn’t going to be launching anything until at least 2017, so what was all the actively supposed to be in the meantime?”

    Good point.

    Also, the ISS was going to be deorbited at the end of 2015, so the Orion would be launching to LEO with no station to dock to. This would go on until 2028-2033 when the Ares V, EDS, and Altair lander were completed.

    I just do not understand what there was to be pro Constellation with it’s two decade delay..

  • pathfinder_01

    “I just do not understand what there was to be pro Constellation with it’s two decade delay..”

    But we were going to the moon….

    :)

  • pathfinder_01

    What gets me is the current plans for SLS…. 180 day delay on the pad(maybe instead of making it last longer on the pad we should make it easier to launch….silly me).

    EM2 orbiting the moon but with no purpose. I mean you could test out many systems in the safety of LEO(like Apollo) then venture out doing incrementally more.

    Maybe if we spent less on the rocket we could afford to do more in space sooner without begging for a budget increase.

  • DCSCA

    @Aerospace Engineer wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    “We will get routine milk runs to ISS in a tin can, someday, maybe. Whoopee.”

    “We” already have that, too– “we” being human beings as Progress spacecraft have been servicing space platforms/stations for over 34 YEARS, including th ISS. They’re just not built in America.

    Space exploitation is not space exploration. Revisit Clarke’s musings in 1970 or NdGT’s today. They both hit a similar theme. That leaving LEO to comemrcial development – exploitation- and financing the risk on its own from private capital sources w/o government subsidies makes good sense. Leave BEO exploration to government space gencies which can absorb the largess and risks of space projects of scale. What we have today is commercial HSF using government as a crutch to leverage financing and share the high risk (to benefit a few, not the many) and elements in the government space agency are using commercial exploitation as a substitude for space exploration and a rationale for continuing HSF, condemning it to LEO for another generation or two.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I have worked for Shuttle for 25 years…”

    Then you should know it was time to end it. A 30 year run (with roughly half a decade in total down time due to accidents and engineering problems) was pertty good. The problem is the costs were not going down and launching 1970′s era shuttles was roughly between $750 million to $1 billion a launch. A wiser thing to do would have been to fly two, three or at most, four a year as servicing missions depernding on available funding for the ISS and supplement it w/Progress while a longer range BEO project came into being. We’re at a point now where serving the ISS is just thowing good money after bad. It’s a dinosaur- a relic of an era long over, when it was conceived as an element of a larger, integrated space exploration program out to the moon and eventually Mars. That’s all back on the shelf now.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “the Obama space program is a travesty. First the shuttle”

    Which was a Bush II decision, not the current Administration.

    “( a Mach 25 spaceplane with a huge living space, an airlock, a rendevous and docking capability, an in orbit repair platform, etc etc etc)”

    A spaceplane that cost $1.2B-$1.5B per launch, suffered from six month launch delays, had no useful abort system, had little use for that temporary living space when competing against a space station that is on orbit year-round, had to inspect itself in space to keep from disintegrating during reentry, and was down to a barely functional fleet of three orbiters with no hope for replacements.

    It was way past time to retire Shuttle.

    Unfortunately, we have yet to ractually etire Shuttle as Congress wants to maintain appearances with the workforce by shuffling Shuttle components around in SLS like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle — needlessly complex engine configurations, leaky LH2 lines, cracking ET structure, and all.

    “then KSC gutted”

    How? No civil servants were fired, only 7K contractors were let go, and hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into rehabilitation and renovations.

    “now its JPL’s turn and the withering away of our solar system exploration capability”

    They’re replacing a contribution to a European Mars rover with an American Mars orbiter. Hardly a “withering” of US or JPL capabilities.

    “We will get routine milk runs to ISS in a tin can”

    If it’s a “milk run”, then it should be done the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, which isn’t blowing a billion and half taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary spaceplane flight per “run”.

    “I grieve about the lost space leadership of my country.”

    We’ve lost nothing. We had to rely on the Russians for ISS access even when the Shuttle was suppossed to be flying. No other country’s capabilities in space — from ISS to GPS to commercial and military remote sensing to number of launch vehicle families — come close.

    “You’d rather believe snake oil from internet moguls.”‘

    You can take the launch vehicle and capsule that have actually been to orbit and back for a few hundred million dollars.

    Or you can take the cancelled launch vehicle and renamed capsule that have cost the taxpayer north of ten billion dollars and cost NASA more than a half-decade of delays, have yet to get to orbit, and will rely on yet another commercial launch vehicle if and when the capsule does fly the first time in a couple years.

    It’s pretty clear who’s been selling “snake oil”.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Maybe if we spent less on the rocket we could afford to do more in space sooner”

    Amen.

  • DCSCA

    “You can take the launch vehicle and capsule that have actually been to orbit and back for a few hundred million dollars.”

    False equivalency. ‘Actually been in orbit’– for three hours– and carred a wheel of cheese. You’re citing a single test flight from December, 2010 as a comparative to the thirty year space shuttle program– and half a century of government managed and operated HSF operations, including the Russians which have been delivering cargo to space platforms/stations with their Progress spacecraft for over 34 YEARS. It’s absurdly trollish, as usual, by desperate commercialists shilling for Space X. The ‘capsule’ had no independently verified ECS and no independently verified LES either. A test bed. A boilerplate.. =eyeroll=

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    “For myself, I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space.”

    Everybody does– but access to space is an intended vaguery. For the private sector to exploit at their own expense and risk, yes; with government subsidies, no. In DoD matters, national security can finance space operations in ‘the service of liberty’ at any price.

    “SpaceX says they can do that, and so far they have been able to do what they said they could do.” No, they have not- not w/o government subsidies and a faux market (the ISS.) They have orbited a wheel of cheese for three hours. That’s all. They are not operational, they have not delivered cargo and no any operational service in place; slip schedules and have not flown crews in orbit, let alone to and from the ISS. Soyuz has been flying crews up and down and Progress spacecraft have been delivering groceries to space stations for 34 YEARS.

  • Aerospace Engineer wrote:

    The 60 minute segment is a political football because the Obama space program is a travesty. First the shuttle ( a Mach 25 spaceplane with a huge living space, an airlock, a rendevous and docking capability, an in orbit repair platform, etc etc etc) gone, then KSC gutted, now its JPL’s turn and the withering away of our solar system exploration capability. Well done. We will get routine milk runs to ISS in a tin can, someday, maybe. Whoopee.

    Sorry, you missed April Fool’s Day by about a week. Try again next year.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “You’re citing a single test flight from December, 2010 as a comparative to the thirty year space shuttle program– and half a century of government managed and operated HSF operations”

    No, I’m not. I’m comparing it to Orion/MPCV , which hasn’t flown, isn’t schedule to do so for another two years at least, won’t do anything operationally useful until 2021 at the earliest, and is more than an order of magnitude more expensive.

    You argument is false equivalency. Shuttle orbiters on their way to museums and a generation of Apollo engineers long retired or dead are not competition for Dragon, CST-100, Dreamchaser, or Blue Origin (or MPCV, for that matter).

    “by desperate commercialists shilling”

    Again with the schoolyard namecalling? Ad hominem attacks are a sign of “desperation”.

    “The ‘capsule’ had no independently verified ECS and no independently verified LES either.”

    Neither does MPCV. They’re both under development.

    “A boilerplate.”

    More false equivalency. Where is the MPCV boilerplate that’s been to orbit and back?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Aerospace Engineer wrote @ April 6th, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    I do not grieve over my job. I grieve about the lost space leadership of my country. >>

    I will play along for a few passes…how do you define space leadership? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 4:04 am

    No, they have not- not w/o government subsidies and a faux market (the ISS.)”

    repeating lies over and over does notmake them true…and these are really quite tiresome statements…

    the odd thing is that you seem to have no clue about American history…servicing Army forts is in large measure what started most although not all of the major western cities…

    sorry RGO

  • Daddy

    So, it will be interesting to see if SpaceX will ever solve their launch dynamics problem on F-9. Apparently the initial launch of Dragon on the F-9 resulted in extraordinary vibe loads to the point that it was observed that humans would turn into jelly. Apparently the innovative brainiacs at SpaceX never bothered to consider that in their design process. While, interestingly enough, NASA had this specific issue well characterized in the Ares-I design, and were on the way to resolving it upon Cx cancellation.

    This one issue shows the fundamental difference between the NASA design processes evolved over decades versus the commercialist disregard for thoughtful and deliberate spacecraft and launch vehicle development.

    Getting back to the Obama space policy debacle and the 60 minutes episode, the vibration problem also points to the recklessness and ignorance exhibited by the president and his non-technical advisors, such as Lori Garver (imfamous political scientist and Obama groupie), have taken to throwing out years of NASA experience and technical competence in favor of the Elan train of snake-oil salesmen.

    So space is easy…. Then why hasn’t anyone in the private sector ever succeeded? Because they see no logic in tackling such a complex feat without getting the government to cover their asses. Elan will keep going as long as his money lasts and Obama and Garver keep kissing and covering his ass.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    “repeating lies over and over does notmake them true…and these are really quite tiresome statements”

    FACTS: “In October 2009 NASA provided a pre-solicitation notice regarding an effort to be funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The commercial crew enabling work would include a “base task” of refurbishing and reactivating SLC-40 power transfer switches, performing maintenance on the lower Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) substation and motor control centers, installing bollards around piping, replacing the door frame and threshold for the Falcon Support Building mechanical room and repairing fencing around the complex perimeter. Several optional tasks would include work installing conductive flooring in the Hangar Hypergol area, performing corrosion control inspection and maintenance of the lightning protection tower’s structural steel, upgrading and refurbishing other facility equipment and performing corrosion control on rail cars and pad lighting poles, painting several buildings, repairing and improving roads, and hydro-seeding the complex.”

    Ths makes you the liar, RGO. Any attempt by commercialists to spin SpaceX as free from any government subsidies or is a true private enterprise space venture is dishonest..

  • DCSCA

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 4th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    False equivalency. As usual.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 5th, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    Nice try. Nay-saying is commercialists 101 but if you want to keep pitching that, for instance, Garver isn’t a commercialist when the facs show otherwise, go for it.

  • pathfinder_01

    Actually cargo dragon does have an ECS. Not enough to support a human being’s trip to space but enough to allow you to work inside it at the ISS and enough to deliver lab animals if needed. Even a cargo ship has to maintain a safe working environment and a controlled environment in order to deliver anything. (i.e. Without temperature control at least that block of cheese would have either froze or melted)
    Space X is working with paragon to produce and life support system. As part of CCDEV-1 paragon(the company that is also doing Orion’s life support system), paragon did produce an independently verified life support system that is meant to be installed in any ccdev spacecraft. Beoing also produced a life support system for its cst100.

    Ah AT&T was the only choice for telephone service, but technology pushed forward. So just because for 50 years government has owned spaceflight does not mean that no one else ever will. I mean the US government did own the shuttle, but not Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9, ect…. Spaceflight has been privatized bar HSF for the last near 30 years.

    Anyway the CCDEV craft unlike Orion really are not pushing the edge of life support technology. Their short missions mean that Shuttle/Apollo style lifesupport can work. Orion’s crew of 4 and 21 days plus lack of space means that life support for Orion cannot use Shuttle/Apollo tech (i.e. LIOH cartages).

  • Das Boese

    DCSCA wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 4:04 am

    national security can finance space operations in ‘the service of liberty’ at any price.

    I sometimes do get the impression that the USA are on their way to becoming the world’s most powerful banana republic, but seeing people actively wish for it is a new level of bizarre.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    So, it will be interesting to see if SpaceX will ever solve their launch dynamics problem on F-9. Apparently the initial launch of Dragon on the F-9 resulted in extraordinary vibe loads to the point that it was observed that humans would turn into jelly.>>

    we will need more then your simple statement of that to start discussions along those lines…I’ve seen G meter/accelerometer runs from the last Dragon…and there is no “bowl of jelly” there.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Daddy

    Pathfinder says, “Actually cargo Dragon does have an ECS.”

    I wasn’t questioning whether a Dragon crew could breathe… I was questioning whether the first crew on Dragon would be shaken into bone and blood jello. The obvious thing to prepare if you’re new to the business is to make sure the crew can breathe… Of course SpaceX probably hasn’t gotten too far into contingency planning for their ECS. Sorta like their arrogant approach to software assurance, which has resulted in the last several COTS delays. But those are just little wasteful details that take too much time and expense to think about.

  • DCSCA

    @Daddy wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    They’re going to learn the hard way. As Cernan so aptly noted, they don’t know what they don’t know yet. Bear in mind, in the first three years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put 28 unmanned satellites into orbitand only 8 succeeded.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 7:42 pm
    ” As Cernan so aptly noted, they don’t know what they don’t know yet. Bear in mind, in the first three years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put 28 unmanned satellites into orbitand only 8 succeeded.”

    goofy…all the way. Cernan was stone cold silent on the two orbiter losses except “give them more money”…and frankly the only people who have killed people in space in the US is NASA…

    Nothing from the first years of spaceflight is applicable today….almost tiresome RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Apparently the initial launch of Dragon on the F-9 resulted in extraordinary vibe loads to the point that it was observed that humans would turn into jelly”

    Link?

    “Bear in mind, in the first three years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put 28 unmanned satellites into orbitand only 8 succeeded.”

    False equivalency. In the first eight years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young, and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put six manned Mercury missions and ten manned Gemini missions into orbit and succeeded, every time.

  • pathfinder_01

    The difference between Space X and the CCDEV companies and Orion is that they have (or had) multiple unmanned fights on which to find and solve problems. NASA feels that it can safely launch people into space and to the moon on the 2nd flight of SLS! I think the 2nd is much more risky than the first! Using the same rocket for both commercial use and HSF use means that there is a chance that a problem can be found on an unmanned flight without endangering the crew.

  • Daddy wrote:

    So, it will be interesting to see if SpaceX will ever solve their launch dynamics problem on F-9.

    Source? Link? Or is this your own personal fantasy?

  • DCSCA

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 12:31 am

    “Bear in mind, in the first three years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put 28 unmanned satellites into orbit and only 8 succeeded.”

    “False equivalency.” Wrong. FACT.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    The commercial crew enabling work would include a “base task” of refurbishing and reactivating SLC-40…

    These are landlord improvements. When SpaceX leaves at the end of their lease, they wouldn’t take the improvements with them.

    Don’t you know anything about business?

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    So, it will be interesting to see if SpaceX will ever solve their launch dynamics problem on F-9.

    Our bigger problem is drive-by posters that make accusations without providing any collaborating information.

    NASA had this specific issue well characterized in the Ares-I design, and were on the way to resolving it upon Cx cancellation.

    Yes, characterized, and the only solution was by adding mass and subtracting performance.

    But since you brought up Ares I, then you should know why they had that problem to begin with, and it’s one of the reasons why long-time posters here don’t immediately believe what you’re saying. Solid fuel rockets have lots of vibration, and with the SRM’s that are used for Ares I they also have induced harmonics – like a musical instrument. You can see the results when you watch the cockpit view of a Shuttle launch – very violent.

    Liquid fueled rockets are far more benign. If you watch the cockpit view of a Soyuz launch, they are just sitting there. They usually have something dangling down from above, so you can easily gauge that there is little vibration. Falcon 9 should be the same.

  • Martijn Meijering

    years of NASA experience and technical competence

    Translation: I’m angry I lost my phoney-baloney job and now I’m going to badmouth the competition? To the degree the technical experience and competence was there, it can be part of the new system which is based around *open competition*. To the degree it wasn’t, it’s just whining by a bunch of ingrates who think their government owes them a job and even *gasp* gratitude.

  • Justin Kugler

    My friends at Boeing working on CST-100 would be amused by this conversation, if not insulted.

  • Daddy

    I am the last person to whine about my job… My job has everything to do with cleaning up the mess that is left by ignorant and arrogant scientists and engineers. I am an engineer who has spent a career understanding how technical arrogance translates into misfortune…. We are heading in that direction.

    As far as rocket propulsion acoustic vibration, it can happen in solid and in liquid propellant systems. It is simply a product of spring-mass systems acted upon by a forcing function. Does the term “pogo” ring a bell? [Pun intended] Solids tend to act in axial and radial dimensions, but pogo in liquid systems can be very violent in the axial dimension. The fact that the phenomenon was understood going into Ares design is due to the vast experience base. Driving forward in the face of it represents some technical arrogance, but there were and are ways forward. The fact that the loads did not manifest themselves significantly in the Ares I-X test speaks to the conservatism built into the simulations and analysis. A good thing!

    No I don’t have the data on F-9 vibration. My knowledge is here-say from very reliable sources. There is not a robust data set because SpaceX didn’t think they needed it…. Think again.

    Mr. Oler’s observation that nothing from the early NASA days is applicable today is profoundly amusing since our commercial experiences up to now seem motivated to duplicate that early naivete.

    And I am only an occasional contributor here because I stay out of conversations unless I see a gap in logic or opinion that I can add to the discussion. I have read quite a lot of commercial zeal and dissing of orthodox NASA development and operations. NASA is an economic and technology demonstration tool of the president and as such has had to undergo a lot of dunderheaded social engineering, like the incessant push for procuring from small business and the “10 healthy Center” concept meant to pander to wide congressional constituencies…. But these obstacles have not appreciably diminished the overall exceptional performance of the agency IN COMPARISON to the rest of government.

    Now if the argument is against government being in this business in the first place, I would only agree if there is practical short term business growth in space…. I don’t believe there is yet, until THE GOVERNMENT creates a space infrastructure that supports commerce. Does anyone remember Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system? Why didn’t commercial industry build thousands of miles of multi-lane highways??? Because of the $ billions in start-up capital and the lack of short-term gain.

    Commercial space? Think again…

  • Martijn Meijering

    I have read quite a lot of commercial zeal and dissing of orthodox NASA development and operations.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me personally the criticism is mainly aimed at a lack of competition and special privileges for the old guard, not against the old guard specifically. That’s because I’m not hoping for handouts to specific companies (“New Space”), but because I believe competition and creative destruction are vital if we are to achieve anything meaningful in space. Of course, different people will have different definitions of meaningful and different perceptions of the likely consequences of competition.

  • Joe

    Daddy wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    “Does the term “pogo” ring a bell?”

    I am pretty sure it does not with these guys and rather than “study up” on it, the bulk of them will try to yell ans scream it away.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Wrong. FACT.”

    You’re fact is right. But it’s false equivalency to compare unmanned spacecraft to manned spacecraft.

    Your posts are chock full of false equivalency of late.

    And a lot of equivalent falsities.

    There’s a lot of truthiness in your posts.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    You wrote:
    “I am an engineer who has spent a career understanding how technical arrogance translates into misfortune…. We are heading in that direction.”

    which makes your comments all the more puzzling because the folks where “technical arrogance” seems to just froth at the bowel…is NASA HSF.

    One cannot look at the Columbia and Challenger deaths and the lucky “misses” in between (launching with hydrogen leaks when the ground equipment is saying “Hydrogen leaks”) and not see a bread crumb trail of hubris in NASA HSF that either borders on incompetence or ineptness or a nice smattering of both.

    SpaceX in particular is running a test program…there is no evidence of hubris…in fact to a trained technical observer there is evidence of the exact opposite.

    You wrote:
    “As far as rocket propulsion acoustic vibration, it can happen in solid and in liquid propellant systems. It is simply a product of spring-mass systems acted upon by a forcing function. Does the term “pogo” ring a bell?”

    Yes, but there is no evidence of it in Falcon9 much less to the point of turning humans to jelly. A statement which makes me think you are the alter ego of spinning out of control “wind”. (BTW NASA in the early days routinely launched with POGO it is probably what took out the center engine in the Apollo 13 second stage.)

    you wrote:

    “Mr. Oler’s observation that nothing from the early NASA days is applicable today is profoundly amusing since our commercial experiences up to now seem motivated to duplicate that early naivete. ”

    Goofy. the early missteps in rocketry (since this is where you are) were not borne of naivete, but they were borne of lack of knowledge. Some things can be learned by simulation and book analysis but in the end the only way simulation and book analysis are verified is in the act of flying in a controlled test environment.

    Gulfstream lost a G650 awhile back (killed all on board) and the answer is “test flying is a dangerous business”…but someone has to do it…and its pretty clear from your statements that you dont have much of a clue about it.

    But put up or shut up…point to some external evidence other then the musings of an anonymous person that the latest Falcon 9 had pogo that would “turn a human to jelly”.

    If you cant, then become another wind…amusing but thats all.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “As far as rocket propulsion acoustic vibration, it can happen in solid and in liquid propellant systems. It is simply a product of spring-mass systems acted upon by a forcing function. Does the term “pogo” ring a bell?”

    Pogo is a phenomenon in liquid engines. Solid engines like the Ares I first stage experience thrust oscillation. They’re two different things with very different physics and fixes.

    “The fact that the phenomenon was understood going into Ares design”

    It wasn’t understood going into the design. The thrust oscillation issue on Ares I

    “but there were and are ways forward.”

    Only if you were willing to compromise the interstage structure on Ares I, and add actuated counterweights to the first-stage or a LOX bellows to the second-stage, all of which introduced new failure modes.

    “The fact that the loads did not manifest themselves significantly in the Ares I-X test speaks to the conservatism built into the simulations and analysis.”

    No, it speaks to the fact that Ares I-X had a 4-segment first stage with a different length, fuel type, and burn geometry. The thrust oscillation issue was with the 5-segment Ares I first stage.

    “My knowledge is here-say from very reliable sources.”

    Of course it is.

    “There is not a robust data set”

    You didn’t have to provide data. Just a link or other reference to verify your claim.

    “NASA is an economic and technology demonstration tool of the president and as such has had to undergo a lot of dunderheaded social engineering, like the incessant push for procuring from small business and the ’10 healthy Center’ concept meant to pander to wide congressional constituencies”

    The small business requirement is imposed by Congress, not the White House, and it applies to practically all departments and agencies across the government. NASA is not being singled out here.

    You have Mike Griffin to thank for “Ten Healthy Centers”. That was his team’s mantra to pander to Congress.

    “Does anyone remember Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system?”

    Yes, but we’re not talking about building highways. We’re talking about building the trucks and cars (launch vehicles and spacecraft) that travel upon them. Building automobiles, or any other vehicle, is not an inherently governmental function.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I am pretty sure it does not with these guys and rather than ‘study up’ on it, the bulk of them will try to yell ans scream it away.”

    There’s not much need to “study up” on an issue with a easy technical fix that was invented way back in the Saturn V days.

  • Daddy

    Mr. Oler, For your information I have spent 19 years in hazardous testing. There is a difference between testing and technical ignorance. I am glad I could entertain you!

  • Daddy

    PS — I will shut up when you do. For now we both are entitled to our opinions. And I can see the mine is certainly as valid as yours.

  • Daddy

    @DB9 — You are correct… I don’t like everything you say, but you have logical arguments. Thrust oscillation and pogo are not CAUSED the same way, but they result in very similar challenges nonetheless. And, yes, they can be remedied in similar OR unique ways. I appreciate your clarifications.

    @Joe — You are most probably right as well. It seems few who rant on this page really have a very deep technical experience base. I can tell that DB9 knows something. I’m sure a few others do too, but they don’t seem to spend much time educating on these threads.

    @Martijn — Yes, competition is a key ingredient, but my point really is that space industry will compete for government funds, but there doesn’t seem to be a viable near-term market beyond government for space except in tourism. And I expect the tourism market will shrivel up quickly if there is a major catastrophe. I am not sure it is a sustainable fund source to begin with.

  • Joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
    ““I am pretty sure it does not with these guys and rather than ‘study up’ on it, the bulk of them will try to yell ans scream it away.”

    There’s not much need to “study up” on an issue with a easy technical fix that was invented way back in the Saturn V days.”

    The POGO Effect, like Thrust Oscillation, is dependent on the specific design. One solution for one design does not fit another design, but then you would not know that (or care).

    Thanks for reinforcing my point.

  • Martijn Meijering

    there doesn’t seem to be a viable near-term market beyond government for space except in tourism.

    I don’t disagree with that.

  • Joe

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    “there doesn’t seem to be a viable near-term market beyond government for space except in tourism.

    I don’t disagree with that.”

    The very next sentence said: “And I expect the tourism market will shrivel up quickly if there is a major catastrophe. I am not sure it is a sustainable fund source to begin with.”

    Are we allowed to assume you do not disagree with that either?

  • Martijn Meijering

    And I expect the tourism market will shrivel up quickly if there is a major catastrophe.

    Not sure about that.

    I am not sure it is a sustainable fund source to begin with.

    Not in the near future.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The POGO Effect, like Thrust Oscillation, is dependent on the specific design. One solution for one design does not fit another design, but then you would not know that (or care).”

    Nope.

    Thrust oscillation directly couples to the launch vehicle’s structure, so the solution will depend on the vehicle in question and its structure.

    POGO directly couples to the liquid propellent system, and through that, indirectly to the launch vehicle structure. The Saturn V team fixed their POGO issue by putting a passive pneumatic shock absorber in the Saturn V’s LOX feed lines to each engine. Stop POGO in the propellant system and you never have to make changes to the rest of the vehicle. Adding shock absorbers to propellent lines is a fix that could be applied to any liquid fueled launch vehicle — those shock absorbers don’t care what the rest of the vehicle looks like. Instead of the five shock absorbers used on Saturn V, Falcon 9 would need nine similar shock absorbers, but it’s fundamentally the same solution.

    “Thanks for reinforcing my point.”

    Your point applies to you.

    It’s possible that SpaceX has lied through their teeth and put it in writing their payload user’s guides, managed to fool the dozen or so customers on their manifest, and that billions are being spent building Orbcomm, Iridium, and other satellites to specifications that will shake them apart.

    But it’s not likely.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    PS — I will shut up when you do. For now we both are entitled to our opinions. And I can see the mine is certainly as valid as yours.”

    NO goofy…you made a claim…a claim that the last Falcon9 flight would have turned any human occupants into “a bowel of Jelly” (having flashbacks to the Backyardigans XMAS episode where that was Santa’s Code Nam)…

    you made a claim.

    Now either back it up with some links or shut up about it. This not Bush43 world. You dont get to make idiotic claims and then bully everyone else into accepting them. We as a country should not have let Bush43 lie to us either…but I wont let you.

    if you have some proof about the Falcon9 then post it…if you dont then stop making the claim….btw “claims” are not opinions.

    Bush43 did not say “I claim there is WMD in Iraq” ….his Sec Def said he knew where it was. That was a lie.

    Robert G. oler

  • Joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
    “The Saturn V team fixed their POGO issue by putting a passive pneumatic shock absorber in the Saturn V’s LOX feed lines to each engine. Stop POGO in the propellant system and you never have to make changes to the rest of the vehicle. Adding shock absorbers to propellent lines is a fix that could be applied to any liquid fueled launch vehicle — those shock absorbers don’t care what the rest of the vehicle looks like. Instead of the five shock absorbers used on Saturn V, Falcon 9 would need nine similar shock absorbers, but it’s fundamentally the same solution.”

    Yes, that would be the reason the first test flight of the Delta IV Heavy (decades later) had a launch anomaly (as a result of the Pogo Effect) that caused the flight to fail. Boeing, having your simple one size fits all solution available, did not use it because they wanted the first test flight of their expensive, high profile booster to fail. Got it.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 6:43 pm
    “This not Bush43 world. You dont get to make idiotic claims and then bully everyone else into accepting them. We as a country should not have let Bush43 lie to us either…but I wont let you.”

    Not that there is any reasonable expectation that you will answer, but I will ask anyway. What does the current discussion of Thrust Oscillation/Pogo Effect (a rather arcane technical discussion) have to do with the former Presidents foreign policy (except, of course, that you are obviously extremely emotional about both)?

  • pathfinder_01

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 12:31 am

    “Bear in mind, in the first three years of NASA’s existence, when the technology was new, young and on the cutting edge, NASA tried to put 28 unmanned satellites into orbit and only 8 succeeded.”

    “False equivalency.” Wrong. FACT.

    Ah, no. You are assuming that nothing was learned from the 28 flights and that it wiil be just as hard to do it now as it was then. It is like assuming that because people often were injured by automobile cranks that the injury rate from automobile cranks is the same today as it was before the starter was invented.After all we still use automobiles.

    Or assuming that just becuase it took hours to cook dinner in say the 1900′s that it takes the same amount of time now.

    To quote Newtown: ” If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    NASA’s job imho is best R/D developing large liquid rockets to put something into space is an R/D project. Actually putting stuff in space on a regular bais is not and is best left to private industry.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Yes, that would be the reason the first test flight of the Delta IV Heavy (decades later) had a launch anomaly (as a result of the Pogo Effect) that caused the flight to fail. Boeing, having your simple one size fits all solution available, did not use it because they wanted the first test flight of their expensive, high profile booster to fail. Got it.”

    The first flight of any rocket has about a 50/50 chance of blowing up or malfunctioning. Heck by all rights Columbia likely could have been lost on it’s first flight due to glitch. Space X does not plan to launch people until atleast 6(if I remember correctly) flights of the falcon 9 have been performed. Atlas has had about 29 flights. SLS will have had only 1 before they risk putting a crew on board…..

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    … the folks where “technical arrogance” seems to just froth at the bowel…is NASA HSF.

    One cannot look at the Columbia and Challenger deaths and the lucky “misses” in between (launching with hydrogen leaks when the ground equipment is saying “Hydrogen leaks”) and not see a bread crumb trail of hubris in NASA HSF that either borders on incompetence or ineptness or a nice smattering of both.

    Then you’ll enjoy this, Robert.

    I was working on an innocent blog entry tonight and stumbled across a January 2011 USA report looking at an incident three years before with STS-124. It seems that many of the flame trench bricks were blown out because NASA basically assumed it would never fail.

    Click here to read the USA analysis.

    Read all the way through the conclusions. They found that basically NASA assumed “legacy systems” can’t fail. This is five years after Columbia and twenty-two years after Challenger.

    One can only imagine what would have happened if a couple of those bricks had been blown upwards instead of out the side at 860 MPH over a distance of 1,800 feet.

    And for reference, my blog commentary is here.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 8:19 am

    These are, in fact, tax dollars to renovate a facility for private enterprised firm perfectly capable of funding and constructing their own facilities at their own expense w/o using tax dollars. Space X is not a ‘private enterprised operation’ as you keep pitching it. End of story.

    wn.com/Cape_Canaveral_Air_Force_Station_Space_Launch_Complex

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    =yawn= Nice try, but false equivalency is commercial HSF 101, particularly w/ you Musketeers, because yuo fly nobody. The comparison of course was w/NASA operations as they began when, like Space X, they didn’t know what they didn’t know yet. And of course, a singular truth remains: Space X has failed to launch, orbit and safely returned any crews aboard any of their capsules. But as Neil Armstrong has said, [we] encourage newcomers.” But not at the expense of funding for existing government operations. The place for Space X to source fuinancing is the private capital marketsm not the US Treasury. take the risks and some skin on the game- fly somebody. NASA took the risk when ballistic missile systems had a roughly 60% success rate. Because the rewards were geopolitial, not financial. Commercial HSF balks today in an era when the technology is presumably better than it was in the early 1960s.. Because the rewards (aka profits) have yet to outweigh the risks. If you do, then you might discover a flood of capital investment. Just do it on your own dime, not the taxpayers money.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 7th, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    “goofy…all the way. Cernan was stone cold silent on the two orbiter losses except “give them more money”…”

    ??? =eyeroll= ‘goofy’ indeed. Miles of video/audio w/Cernan comments on shuttle orbiter and crew losses. When Challenger was lost, he was a paid space consultant for ABC News and their archives are loaded with tapes of his comments on same. Similar archives exist regarding Cernan’s comments on Columbia’s loss as well. You’re just plain wrong.

    “… and frankly the only people who have killed people in space in the US is NASA.” That’s because for over fifty years, the only people willing to take the risk and capable of flying people into and back from space has been the government space agency, NASA. And in case you need reminding, Space X has failed to launch, orbit and return anybody. =eyeroll=

    ”Nothing from the first years of spaceflight is applicable today…” =eyeroll= Start w/Sputnik 1, 2, Corona, the creation of NASA,. Explorer 1, the Van Allen Belts discovery, Vostok 1&2, Gagarin, Titov, Project Mercury, Shepard, Grissom, Glenn and the Kennedy lunar challenge. First you deny Space X gets tax subsidies, which they do, now you ignore history. And that is ‘almost tiresome’ indeed.

    @Daddy wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    “Now if the argument is against government being in this business in the first place, I would only agree if there is practical short term business growth in space…. I don’t believe there is yet, until THE GOVERNMENT creates a space infrastructure that supports commerce. Does anyone remember Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system? Why didn’t commercial industry build thousands of miles of multi-lane highways??? Because of the $ billions in start-up capital and the lack of short-term gain. Commercial space? Think again…”

    Go, Daddy, GO! You’ve essentially distilled the same pitch Arthur Clarke made 40 years ago regarding commercial space exploitation versus government space exploration and NdGT is revisiting same today. And recall, Ike’s highway system was couched w/t DoD overlays as a rationale for government financin g.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 8th, 2012

    “you made a claim. Now either back it up with some links or shut up about it. ” Sort of like your ‘claims’ about Space X not getting any tax subsidies and the early days od spacefligh not having any revlevence to today. Both your assertions and both refuted. Pot. Kettle. Black.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Boeing, having your simple one size fits all solution available,”

    It’s not one size fits all. It’s a solution that can be applied to rocket engines that use pressure-fed, liquid propellants. Of course it would have to be sized differently for different sizes of engines, different liquid propellants, etc. But the fundamental solution remains the same and widely applicable.

    A handful or two of passive pneumatic shock absorbers are simpler to employ than adding hundreds of springs to interstage structure, tuning hundreds of counterweights, or making the largest LOX bellows ever built operational. Those were the solutions Ares I was facing to solve its thrust oscillation issue, and they were very specific to its design.

    “did not use it because they wanted the first test flight of their expensive, high profile booster to fail.”

    No, they didn’t use it because it was the maiden flight of the Delta IV. Boeing didn’t anticipate the cavitation issue in the LOX feed line that forced the early CBC shutdown.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Yes, competition is a key ingredient, but my point really is that space industry will compete for government funds, but there doesn’t seem to be a viable near-term market beyond government for space except in tourism.

    Space tourism, at least the LEO variety, does not drive any demand – it utilizes excess capacity on already planned trips. The only pure tourism flight that anyone can point to is the one planned to go around the Moon, but that still doesn’t have enough paying customers.

    For the foreseeable future, space tourism will not be a significant driver of demand for crew transportation services, it will utilize existing capacity.

    The area I see driving future demand is based on the ability to travel more often to the ISS, and for travel to private space stations like the one (or many) Bigelow is planning. The Bigelow demand is less defined, since we don’t know what the intentions are of the Bigelow customers.

    For the ISS, I think once commercial crew service starts, that NASA and the ISS partners will take advantage of sending up extra people for short stays between crew rotations – sort of the arrangement that happened with Shuttle visits. Instead of sending up just three crew, they could add a fourth person such as an engineer to work on a problem, a scientist to help out with an experiment (or to see their experiments working in zero-G), or an invited VIP such as a reporter or politician. Again, same concept as what we did with the Shuttle, and they only stay for the few days during crew rotation.

    This may not seem like much, but the way I see it is it starts opening up demand for more flights, especially if the ISS gets extended past 2020. In purchasing and manufacturing (my background), when the lead times for buying a product or service goes down dramatically, a consumer will change their behavior. In the case of crew transportation, reducing lead times, and giving customers extra capacity (likely for the same price if they buy each flight) encourages more usage. Over time, that creates more demand.

    However, and I’ve stated this many times, I see slow growth for anything space related, especially in the government arena. But as they say in baseball, if you don’t swing, you can’t hit the ball…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    you realize of course that the payload name of the Delta IV heavy was “demosat”….it was mostly concrete as I recall…dont be goofy RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    The area I see driving future demand is based on the ability to travel more often to the ISS, and for travel to private space stations like the one (or many) Bigelow is planning.

    I certainly hope so, but I’m not optimistic this is going to happen any time soon. The frustrating thing is that an exploration program would provide enormous demand. Imagine where we would be today if the total 1500mT of payload, most of it propellant, launched by Saturn Vs during Apollo had been launched on a number of competing smaller rockets instead. That’s about 100 EELV Medium launches.

  • Justin Kugler

    Ron, one of NASA’s goals with commercial crew is to get to seven crew. That will nearly double the amount of time available for dedicated science.

  • Joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    “It’s not one size fits all. It’s a solution that can be applied to rocket engines that use pressure-fed, liquid propellants.”

    Exactly it is not a solution; it is a tool that can be used to develop a solution (assuming in any particular case a solution is possible). To use that tool first you have to know you have a problem. Boeing did not think they had one because the Delta IV Heavy first stage was simply (nothing is ever simple in this area) three Delta IV Medium stages burning in parallel. They discovered the problem in flight and had to go “back to the old drawing board”.

    The Falcon 9 has now flown twice with some problems on each flight; it is therefore not unreasonable for “Daddy” (or whoever) to report on various potential problems. Take offense if have to, but I can tell you that Space X performance at last Falls dry run for their FRR (which is where the most recent round of launch delays began) does not inspire confidence.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    “you realize of course that the payload name of the Delta IV heavy was “demosat”….it was mostly concrete as I recall…dont be goofy RGO”

    Yes, I was aware that it carried a dummy payload, which has nothing what so ever to do with a discussion of the Pogo Effect.

    So why do you bring it up?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “They’re going to learn the hard way. As Cernan so aptly noted, they don’t know what they don’t know yet.”

    “today in an era when the technology is presumably better than it was in the early 1960s.”

    So which is it?

    Is launch vehicle development still so hard today that launch companies still “don’t know what they don’t know”?

    Or is the “technology… better than it was in the early 1960s”, making commercial development and operations possible?

    You’re arguing out of both sides of your mouth.

    You’re just cranking to crank.

  • it is therefore not unreasonable for “Daddy” (or whoever) to report on various potential problems.

    No, but it is unreasonable for him to just make s**t up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 8th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    “Not that there is any reasonable expectation that you will answer, but I will ask anyway. What does the current discussion of Thrust Oscillation/Pogo Effect (a rather arcane technical discussion) have to do with the former Presidents foreign policy (except, of course, that you are obviously extremely emotional about both)?”

    No problem…

    both are arguments/policy decisions stemming from a false positive…ie a statement has been made (that the last Falcon9 flight would have turned its occupants into “a bowel of jelly”)…a statement for which no proof was offered and then the debate picks up as if the statement is TRUE.

    The nation got lead on the Saddam is going to nuke us debate as if the underlying statement were true.

    We are having (or some are) a debate on POGO when THE REALITY IS THAT THE CLAIM MADE BY “DADDY” HAS NO VALIDITY BEHIND IT.

    And this is where the debate should end. As should have the debate on IRAQ.

    you right wingers.. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 8:59 am

    “Yes, I was aware that it carried a dummy payload, which has nothing what so ever to do with a discussion of the Pogo Effect.

    So why do you bring it up?”

    for the reason that it shows how little you know about technical management (and perhaps other things).

    Boeing knew that there might be a problem with the Delta and they figured that a test shot was worth the issue…this is typical Boeing; at some point you have to go fly…they did this with the 777 even though both engines compressor stalled at liftoff…

    they knew that there might be a problem so they launched concrete…

    they found the problem and fixed it..the next launch was a “valued” national security payload.

    goofy RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 8:55 am

    it is therefore not unreasonable for “Daddy” (or whoever) to report on various potential problems..

    we are back here to Saddam…”Daddy” is not reporting on various “potential” problems…he is making a claim…one thats suckered you in and he cannot substantiate. “We know where the WMD is”….(Donald Duck lying Rumsfeld)

    Robert

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Exactly it is not a solution; it is a tool”

    This is just nitpicking terminology.

    “Boeing did not think they had one because the Delta IV Heavy first stage was simply (nothing is ever simple in this area) three Delta IV Medium stages burning in parallel. They discovered the problem in flight and had to go ‘back to the old drawing board’.”

    I think we’re in violent agreement. The reason Boeing didn’t put passive pneumatic shock absorbers on the maiden Delta IV Heavy flight was because they didn’t know that they had a problem that needed such a solution (or tool or whatever you want to call it).

    Earlier, you were arguing that Boeing should have put absorbers on the maiden flight if absorbers were a widely applicable solution (or tool), as I argued earlier. But, as you argue now, it doesn’t matter how widely application a solution (or tool) is if you don’t know that you have a problem to begin with. You can’t fix something, with any solution (or tool), no matter how widely applicable, if you don’t know that something is broken.

    “I can tell you that Space X performance at last Falls dry run for their FRR (which is where the most recent round of launch delays began) does not inspire confidence.”

    All reviews have problems, but there are matters of degree in both the number and magnitude. Like you, I have insight into these reviews, and I’ll take a SpaceX FRR over what I saw in the Ares I and Orion SRRs and PDRs — by a long shot — anyday.

    That’s just my hearsay, but it’s just as valid as your hearsay.

    “it is therefore not unreasonable for “Daddy” (or whoever) to report on various potential problems”

    It’s a free country — Daddy can “report” on whatever he wants. But without something to back it up, it’s just hearsay, which is what I and others are pointing out.

    Worse, in the case of Daddy, his hearsay doesn’t match reality in terms of what’s in the Falcon 9 payload user’s guides and in terms of the long list of customers that have made payments to SpaceX and are designing payloads to Falcon 9 specifications. If Falcon 9 does have a major problem with POGO or something else in its acoustic environments, I have a hard time believing that SpaceX would open themselves up to huge litigation by withholding that information from their payload user’s guides. Even if they were withholding that information, I seriously doubt that SpaceX could fool all the engineering teams and old hands at Iridium, Orbcomm, SES, etc. that are building payloads to SpaceX specs.

    I’m not saying that Daddy is lying — he may be misunderstanding something or just passing along that someone else told him — but there doesn’t appear to be much truth to his claim.

  • Joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 11:55 am
    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 11:59 am
    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    There is an old episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Lisa have been cornered at a car show (where the Bat mobile is being displayed) by Adam West who is insisting they believe he is the real Batman.

    The quote from Homer coming to the rescue seems to apply here.

    “OK kids, back up slowly don’t make eye contact.”

  • Joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    “I think we’re in violent agreement.”

    I think we were talking past each other (or worse at each other – an all too common occurrence around here). I, by my current understanding, I did not change my position; but you did not either. We could debate more about the efficacy of fixes for thrust oscillation, but I find nothing to argue about in what you say about the POGO Effect.

    “All reviews have problems, but there are matters of degree in both the number and magnitude. Like you, I have insight into these reviews, and I’ll take a SpaceX FRR over what I saw in the Ares I and Orion SRRs and PDRs — by a long shot — anyday.”

    I actually participated in some of the Constellation reviews, but was not directly involved in the dry run. However I have a number of friends who were. Their opinions of the outcome were very stark, one in particular on the SW side (a very calm individual with no “ax to grind” was particularly astonished by the review). I am not claiming that is dispositive, but it is enough to raise concerns.

    “That’s just my hearsay, but it’s just as valid as your hearsay.”

    Agreed. I guess we will see what happens on April 16 (if the review still happens then) and after.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 9th, 2012 at 4:50 am

    I certainly hope so, but I’m not optimistic this is going to happen any time soon.

    If you mean “soon” as in years, then I agree.

    That is part of the problem though, in that some people have a false sense of scale for space-related progress – they don’t understand that the amount of money it currently takes to do large NASA hardware programs limits their progress to something like a decade or more.

    The only way to reduce that timeline is to commoditize infrastructure. Instead of the current method of starting a new space effort, where the first decision is to build a new rocket and new spacecraft, we need to be reusing existing rockets and existing hardware designs as much as possible. That immediately reduces the leadtime for starting a program by at least 10 years, lowers the capital cost needed up front, and encourages commodity markets for fuel and supplies.

    About 18 months ago I did a costing exercise to see if a small reusable habitat could be put at L1 with two crew exchanges for less that $10B. As it turns out, my assumptions ended being very close to the design NASA is looking at called DSH. I assumed only one new element, sort of a Service Module, but everything else was based on current designs. Including using Delta IV Heavy for the big stuff (this was before Falcon Heavy) and Falcon 9/Dragon for crew, I was estimated that the hardware costs for the whole 18 month mission would be about $7B. And the hardware would still be there for further use.

    Reusability is still something new for NASA, and it certainly goes against the grain for politicians that want large hardware programs being built in their districts. We can’t change the behavior of politicians, so we need to take away the need for large new programs, and the only way to do that is by changing over to a service model instead of NASA owning everything.

    Commercial cargo and crew will start that process, and they may help kill the SLS before it does too much financial damage to NASA, but someone needs to put forth an exploration vision for Congress that will get them to look at funding real space exploration platforms like Nautilus-X, or start looking at rotating spaceships or space stations for use on long-term lunar or Mars missions. Those could even be commercial efforts under the right circumstances

    The goal should be to always keep NASA on the leading edge of exploration, and not let it get bogged down in the routine stuff like transportation and logistics.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Joe…there are certain internet(s) protocols to know when the other person is out of ammunition…going to the Simpsons is one of them…

    remember there is no proof of POGO…only an accusation…and you suckered into it.

    Robert G. oler

  • Daddy

    Joe,
    You are my hero! Anyone who intelligently quotes the Simpson’s in a Space Policy blog wins my admiration! I am smiling and backing away….

    Besides, there is no longer any sport in antagonizing Mr. Oler and Mr Simberg. The hot air spewed on this topic has got me goofy dizzy…

    Until next time….

  • DCSCA

    “…it’s just hearsay…”

    Which is of no value in planning the future of America’s space program.

  • Jeff Foust

    Time to close off this discussion, folks.