Campaign '12, Congress, NASA

Briefly: LeMieux’s space stance, Space Bonds, Utah SLS meeting

In a conversation a few days ago with Florida Today, Florida Republican Senate candidate George LeMieux offered support for a mix of government and commercial space efforts. LeMieux called SpaceX’s efforts in particular “very exciting” and that “you’re going to see these people reach the International Space Station on a regular basis.” However, exploration beyond Earth orbit should be done by NASA, he added. “I want to see some leadership, to say we’re going to a certain place by a certain time. And then we need to go and fund it.” LeMieux, who served in the Senate in 2009 and 2010 to fill out the remainder of Mel Martinez’s term, is seeking the Republican nomination to run against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson this fall.

In Texas, another Republican congressional candidate has his own idea for supporting NASA. Chuck Meyer, a former business executive running in the new 36th district in southeastern Texas that includes portions of the Houston area, is proposing special-purpose savings bonds, or “Space Bonds”, to fund NASA’s human spaceflight program. Meyer is short on details about how this plan would work, something he admits in the release. “When I am on the campaign trail, I find voters aren’t that interested in the fine details of my plans,” he says in the release. “What does excite our citizens is the fact that there is one candidate with a plan to save human space flight before it is too late and with a passion to get the job done. I am that candidate.” Meyer is asking current members of the stat’s congressional delegation, and other members, to support this concept now.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden met earlier this week with the Republican members of Utah’s congressional delegation and assured them that the Space Launch System (SLS) and its Utah-manufactured solid rocket motors were on track for a 2017 test flight. (The state’s sole Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, was unable to attend the meeting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune). In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the Utah members sounded satisfied with the progress the SLS is making. “I always appreciate his willingness to sit down with us to take questions and hear our concerns regarding the future of solid rocket motors,” said Rep. Rob Bishop in the statement.

100 comments to Briefly: LeMieux’s space stance, Space Bonds, Utah SLS meeting

  • Martijn Meijering

    I want to see some leadership, to say we’re going to a certain place by a certain time. And then we need to go and fund it.

    Great, but that doesn’t require SLS or even Orion, as LeMieux is probably suggesting.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “. “When I am on the campaign trail, I find voters aren’t that interested in the fine details of my plans. ”

    Fine details are of course one thing…a sense of how the idea would work is quite another. I think of course that SLS should be financed by the sale of these bonds…then the project dies because no one is going to buy them.

    This is a typical GOP goofy idea…RGO

  • “… The Utah members sounded satisfied with the progress the SLS is making.”

    And here’s a transcript of that moment:

    “Oink oink oink oink oink …”

    Stephen

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 29th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Bravo Zulu RGO

  • Vladislaw

    So the Government would issue bonds … kinda like … let’s say treasury bonds. Then the government would pay back the principle and interest from tax revenues, or by borrowing the money. Gosh .. makes sense.

  • Straying a bit off-topic …

    A week or two ago, I wrote that as we get closer to SpaceX launch time, the media would start to pick up on this historic event.

    The Tampa Bay Times published this article today focusing on the SpaceX launch and the general positive trend for the Florida launch industry.

    Tourists began booking rooms weeks ago, making plans to see what is more than a routine rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.

    The next chapter in U.S. space exploration should begin in about a week, when California-based Space Exploration Technologies — SpaceX for short — expects to become the first private company to send a rocket to the International Space Station. Once it perfects its delivery system for cargo, the company will turn its focus to transporting U.S. astronauts.

    “We are right now standing at kind of the beginning of a new era in space travel,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said, “one in which the commercial companies work with NASA to advance space flight.”

    The SpaceX launch scheduled for May 7 demonstrates the potential for private companies to use Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and nearby Kennedy Space Center for new endeavors.

    The article correctly notes that President Bush proposed the Shuttle’s cancellation in 2004, and takes to task Scott Pelley and 60 Minutes for the bogus segment they ran a few weeks ago smearing Brevard County.

  • Coastal Ron

    Republican congressional candidate Chuck Meyer said:

    What does excite our citizens is the fact that there is one candidate with a plan to save human space flight before it is too late…

    Mr. Meyer is not the only person to try and scare people into thinking that once we stop doing something we can never do it again. I think it as Neil Armstrong who also tried to use this scare tactic in his testimony before Congress. It is the height of foolishness to say this type of thing, and anyone that believes it is just being duped.

    For instance, this plays into the theory that even though you’ve never done something before, you can never do it – because you have never done it before. Of course our progress as a species proves otherwise, yet some people apparently think we never rose above the level of neanderthals.

    And apparently the same is true if you’ve done it before, but stop, that you can never learn to do it again – or at least not as well, despite our levels of knowledge and technology dramatically improving.

    Accessing space is an engineering problem that was solved in this country long ago. The big question today is how do we do it economically? How do we start lowering the costs to access space instead of giving in to constantly raising prices (like ULA and Russia’s Soyuz have been doing).

    The Constellation program was effectively taking a two decade break in spaceflight, yet no one was concerned about “losing the bubble” during that time, and the SLS is certainly on track to keep NASA out of the space launch business for more than a decade… hmm, maybe Mr. Meyer is talking about the SLS program?

  • DCSCA

    “LeMieux called SpaceX’s efforts in particular “very exciting” and that “you’re going to see these people reach the International Space Station on a regular basis.” ‘These people’– not a particularly endearing phrase of praise. Just another meaningless ‘press release.’

    “In Texas, another Republican congressional candidate has his own idea for supporting NASA. Chuck Meyer, a former business executive running in the new 36th district in southeastern Texas that includes portions of the Houston area, is proposing special-purpose savings bonds, or “Space Bonds”, to fund NASA’s human spaceflight program…. “What does excite our citizens is the fact that there is one candidate with a plan to save human space flight .”

    Rather grandiose claim, ‘saving HSF’ .. hmmm, as if only Americans do it– it has been flourishing in Russia for half a century and is stirring in the PRC as well. If it does ‘need saving’ in America, it’s only from the poisons of profiteers playing at rocketeers. Meyer should know already know that interest in HSF in the U.S. has always been a broad but shallow pool and usually generates brief chatter when a spectacle occurs. The realities are a tough pill to swallow. The major TV networks stopped covering real time launches back in the 80s; cablers sandwiched them in between commercials and once airborne, carried little of the NASA Select feed to the general public. NASA may have learned too late that showboating orbiters in transport to the folks who paid fo them makes for good PR and in years past they should have flown them over significant population centers back from Edwards even if it was a tad out of the way. Still, you see one orbiter, you’ve seen them all. Personally, the finest memory of shuttle at work will be a brief, four minute pass, just after dusk a few years ago, when we watched the orbiter pass over head… and trailing behind it by about a minute, was the ISS= they had just undocked and the kids were awed when they realized there were people up there in those pinpoints of light, zipping across the emerging star field.

    Space bonds are a redundancy. The taxpayers of the United States already fund several government space operations, civil and DoD. Better management, organization and consolidation is needed, not another layer of paper.

  • K.S.

    I find the reference to the future of solid rocket motors instead of the future of space flight particularly telling. It seems that the pretense of patriotism has been dropped.

    Unfortunately, as long as the SLS survives we’re stuck with the pork. Unless leadership in DC changes or SLS is killed soon, pork is an unfortunate reality. Maybe the bond issue is a sign of despiration.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Most of the verbiage is ATK sloganeering and BS.

    SLS has a damping mass for the combustion oscillations of ATK’s 5 segs.

    I’d love to hear RMS’s views on .7 g oscillations and defense payloads.

    We could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money that was wasted on the Ares 1. If there was/is a defense need for Ares1, then the development money should have come DoD, not NASA.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Chuck Meyer, a former business executive running in the new 36th district in southeastern Texas that includes portions of the Houston area, is proposing special-purpose savings bonds, or ‘Space Bonds’, to fund NASA’s human spaceflight program.”

    To my knowledge, the federal government has never issued “special-purpose savings bonds” for anything other than war: the original Liberty Bonds of WWI and the War Bonds of WWII. If that’s accurate, then it’s hard to see the Treasury issuing bonds for the civil human space flight program.

    Moreover, what would be the difference between “space bonds” and the bonds currently issued by the Treasury to fund the debt the government takes on to pay for NASA? If there is none, then no one else is going to bother.

  • Martijn Meijering

    We could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money that was wasted on the Ares 1.

    And we could have had two manned launch systems, a beyond LEO capsule and perhaps a robotic lander for the money you would have wasted on DIRECT. DIRECT would still have been very wasteful, so there is no moral difference between you and the ATK propagandists.

  • Robert Horning

    As much derision as can be heaped upon DIRECT, at least it could be flying right now had congressional support been strong behind the effort. There were many voices from within NASA that suggested the approach toward Constellation was all messed up and that Constellation would never fly… and except for the Ares I-X test (basically a glorified launch of the Shuttle SRB with an improved avionic package for solo flight that didn’t even make the trip into orbit).

    Having current American manned spaceflight capability would have been preferable over having absolutely nothing, which is what we have today. Not even SpaceX, Orbital, Boeing, or for that matter anybody except for Roskosmos is even capable of sending up astronauts to the International Space Station. And yes, that even includes China and India if you want to throw up anybody who in theory might be able to make the trip. To me that is just pathetic. DIRECT could have at least provided a stop-gap measure… but it never happened at all.

    Yes, DIRECT would have an expensive government boondoggle and the urgency for getting commercial cargo/crew going would not have been nearly so intense, but that might have even been a good thing too. There would have been plenty of room to prove that going with government launchers is a bad thing, and we certainly wouldn’t have this insane level of funding going to SLS that is simply killing off NASA, where it seems that between SLS and the James Webb Telescope the rest of NASA might as well not exist. DIRECT would have at least kept the rest of the unmanned space programs going.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As much derision as can be heaped upon DIRECT, at least it could be flying right now had congressional support been strong behind the effort.

    And Steidle’s plans would have led to something flying even sooner. And even after Griffin’s disastrous dead-end the Obama administration could have had the first commercial propellant flights in the air this year. Then the upcoming SpaceX COTS 2/3 flight would not have been as unnecessarily crucial as it is now.

    Having current American manned spaceflight capability would have been preferable over having absolutely nothing, which is what we have today.

    No, not if the opportunity cost is another three decades of SDLV monopoly.

    DIRECT could have at least provided a stop-gap measure… but it never happened at all.

    It is doubtful DIRECT would have been faster than a commercial solution, and it was certainly not intended to be a stop-gap solution. Its goal was to perpetuate the Shuttle political-industrial complex.

    we certainly wouldn’t have this insane level of funding going to SLS that is simply killing off NASA

    That may be the only way to get rid of SLS.

  • Well, I don’t think the “space bonds” idea is that bad. It’s a knockoff on the old war bonds idea used when governments needed to borrow money to fight wars. It appealled to patriotism, and resulted in some cool poster art. :-)

    It also resulted in a famous Bugs Bunny propaganda short called, “Any Bonds Today?”.

    That said … I don’t think space bonds would raise any significant amount of money. Space advocacy is a niche. If it raised a total of $1 million, I’d be shocked. That barely covers a week’s worth of pork for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

    And it would show that the American public is generally apathetic when it comes to supporting space. Launching a rocket?! Yay! Pay for it?! Eh, not so much.

  • amightywind

    Space bonds are redundant and unnecessary. If find it incredible how readily the government is to borrow money against our children’s future for investments that can never pay off. They are a symbol of the frustration that our government cannot direct general funds to where they are needed or wanted. If only we could terminate ISS! For NASA, every dollar spent on fabricating rocket stages, another is wasted on government junkets in Las Vegas.

    Good to hear that SLS (nee’ Ares) SRM development just keeps rollin’ along without a lot of histrionics. I’ve gotten so used to NASA saying much and doing little that actual progress is refreshing.

  • Coastal Ron

    Windy, sometimes you seem truly concerned about the financial future of our country, like when you say:

    If find it incredible how readily the government is to borrow money against our children’s future for investments that can never pay off.

    But then you destroy all evidence of that supposed concern by gleefully supporting a $30B rocket that even you admit has no planned or funded need – the SLS.

    Contradicting yourself so quickly is what makes you hard to believe…

  • Robert G. Oler

    BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ April 29th, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    .
    RGO Yes long read but very interesting. ……
    Your comments jibe with my own thoughts. O’B has been a disappointment in many ways.>>

    I have as of late tried to understand what “I” think is going on with the Administration. Absent say Bloomberg getting into the race my vote is done…Willard is such a dremel tool, he is an empty suit that as Whittington would say “people are telling him what to think” that there is no chance I would vote for him period. Plus I Like the essence of Obama’s space policy….and in general I dont think that he has done to terrible a job (grin) trying to shift US policy from the despicable course it got on with Bush.

    I am trying to understand however why he (Obama) has shifted it so little…As a function of the US Naval Institute I am getting access to the “70” year documents from the FDR library …and that is what struck me about your post.

    it is fascinating to read the issues FDR was dealing with in terms of foreign and domestic policy in the years (which have been cataloged and filed) up to Feb of 41. History is entertaining to me because while circumstances change the reactions of people to them generally dont over “near generations” ie the generations of that era act a lot like those of this era…and while FDR was very popular (much like Obama is) he (FDR) faced enormous political pressures at home in terms of how he had/was dealing with the on going depression and the foreign events in both Europe and Asia.

    There was like today a Republican opposition that was growing more and more irrational…he was even getting some flack inside his own party (the Joe Kennedy wing) abotu how he was dealing with foreign affairs particularly Hitler.

    Obama is facing in space policy and in general similar though somewhat different currents and in my view is reacting the same way to them although not as aggressively as FDR did.

    Then as today it is really unclear WHERE things are heading.

    Space politics and policy is muddled in large measure because there is nothing out there in the public venue (or what little of the public cares about it) other then “technical visions”. Ie Dragon to ISS…now that is important but no one is running around saying “and this could lead to …..”

    (of course Obama is not really doing this on any of his politics or policies so…) So we are stuck right now with the SLS “vision” (which is just money to the stakeholders) and a hope that when Dragon etc are successful the world changes (which I think it will).

    As a final (guess) note on pre war policy. From what I have read of FDR’s papers so far. My impression is that there is a “war” that the Japanese could have engaged in which would have involved the Brits and other colonial powers but not the US…FDR was pretty clear to Winston that he would not bear the politics of the US fighting to support colonial powers in the far east. Had the Japanese attacked just The Dutch, French, and British possessions in the Far East (other the Australia) I think FDR would have been chagrined but would have just sat and watched. FDR had told Churchill on several occassions according to the SecState that Australia was for purposes of US action, an independent country in the East and we would defend it. But Singapore…not so much.

    Had the Japanese been a little more clever they might have defined the action a little more carefully…They chose the worst option possible. They are about like any country that things the “war” will be easy.

    We are going over a few days (first 10 in May) where in 42 the course of the war changes due ot the actions of American and Australian forces…from Corregidor to Port Moresby.

    If the Falcon flies and Dragon makes it up to ISS and back in the same time period…well history loves ironies. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Robert Horning wrote @ April 30th, 2012 at 4:22 am

    As much derision as can be heaped upon DIRECT, at least it could be flying right now had congressional support been strong behind the effort. >>

    this is the main weakness of the DIRECT people. NASA could not have gotten it flying in this short a time…if you held a gun to the people’s head. Sorry if it were not for gravity the Agency would blow up a good turd. RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Good to hear that SLS (nee’ Ares) SRM development just keeps rollin’ along”

    So SLS is “rollin’ along”? In other threads, you claim that the Administration and/or NASA leadership are “dragging their feet” on SLS. Which is it? Dragging or rolling?

    And when you wrote “dragging” before, were you intentionally lying or unintentionally ignorant?

  • Robert Horning

    “this is the main weakness of the DIRECT people. NASA could not have gotten it flying in this short a time…if you held a gun to the people’s head. Sorry if it were not for gravity the Agency would blow up a good turd. RGO”

    It has been nearly a decade since DIRECT was originally proposed and a couple of presidential elections since then including a change in the Oval Office. I wonder how long it really would have taken?

    Yes, I realize there were other programs before Griffin became administrator that were similarly killed, which does get to another issue about NASA: they seem to show a systemic aversion to getting anything built for manned spaceflight. The last vehicle to fly off of the drafting table was the Space Shuttle. That was a contemporary project to the “Big G-Gemini” system.

    I’m just saying that DIRECT was the last, best hope for NASA engineers to actually get anything into space using the traditional contracting model. Neither Constellation nor SLS ever showed any hope of getting built, and it just make me sad to see the SLS supporters push NASA down a slow death march of destruction. I really don’t understand why recent college graduates with an aeronautical engineering degree would ever want to work for NASA or a NASA contractor using the traditional cost-plus model, particularly when nothing they do will amount to anything worth while except to collect a paycheck. That sure isn’t inspiring to encourage anybody else to enter the profession.

  • amightywind

    But then you destroy all evidence of that supposed concern by gleefully supporting a $30B rocket that even you admit has no planned or funded need – the SLS.

    I strongly believe America can afford a new launch system by cannibalizing current ISS, earth science, and climate sciences funding. ISS and its ilk are dead money. I oppose deficit spending for *any* of it. Clear now?

    In other threads, you claim that the Administration and/or NASA leadership are “dragging their feet” on SLS.

    I have a high regard for the engineers and technology workers in Utah. I have a low regard for our light level NASA management. Thus the seeming contradiction to your simple mind.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m just saying that DIRECT was the last, best hope for NASA engineers to actually get anything into space using the traditional contracting model.

    Actually, Steidle’s spirals were NASA’s last best hope.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I have a high regard for the engineers and technology workers in Utah. I have a low regard for our light level NASA management.”

    You’re avoiding the question. Is the SLS program “rolling along” or “dragging”? You’ve described it as both. It doesn’t matter whom you like and don’t like. The program is either in one state or another. Which is it?

    “Thus the seeming contradiction to your simple mind.”

    The contradiction is in your head. If “rolling along” is the right assessment of the program’s progress, then when you wrote “dragging” before, were you intentionally lying or unintentionally ignorant? Or if “dragging” is the right assessment, are you intentionally lying or unintentionally ignorant today?

    Let us know when you figure it out, MightyConfused.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Robert Horning wrote @ April 30th, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    there is (sadlY) a massive difference between what should be able to be accomplished and what NASA of today is able to accomplish…in even a remotely reasonable world the Atlas should be human rateable (and we could debate what that means) within 18 months or less…and argument could be made that with its current record and a LAS the vehicle is crew rated NOW…

    Shuttle C or Direct should not have been that hard to build…but in today’s NASA world the same people who killed Ares and are killing SLS would kill DIRECT…put it another way…if they had to do it today the folks at NASA could not crew rate the Titan II or original Atlas in under three years. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “I strongly believe America can afford a new launch system by cannibalizing current ISS, earth science, and climate sciences funding. ISS and its ilk are dead money. I oppose deficit spending for *any* of it. Clear now?”

    Why cannibalize anything? Boeing said heavy lift for 6 billion, Lockmart said 5 billion and SpaceX said 3 billion.

    I thought you were a free market capitalist who believes that government is the problem not the solution?

    President Ronald Reagan fought the special interests in congress to get the Space Act of 1958 ammended to include:

    “c) Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

    The general welfare of the United States also includes getting the most bang for the taxpayer’s buck.

    Two words just jump out at you:

    Seek – Don’t sit back on your heels, but go out into the commerical sector and ACTIVELY seek out new opportunities and do the pump priming to get it started.

    Encourage – Again, do not passively sit back resting on your laurals but to, again, ACTIVELY encourage entrepreneurs to make the jump.

    Why you so steadfastly support a Stalinist, bloated, big government program rather than America’s commercial firms dominating an entire sector of the space economy is beyond me.

  • Das Boese

    “I want to see some leadership, to say we’re going to a certain place by a certain time. And then we need to go and fund it.”

    By now it should be patently clear that this Apollo-style approach simply doesn’t work in the world of today, nor does it make sense for BEO exploration. Unfortunately, though, it seems most of the people in charge don’t want to hear this, be it for political reasons, a sentimental attachment to the past or because they just don’t give a damn.

    BEO spaceflight, if you’re serious about it, means technology development first and foremost. I don’t accept that this can’t be as exciting as HSF antics, although keeping people interested would certainly necessitate a rethink of NASA’s traditional (usually boring) approach to PR.

  • Martijn Meijering

    BEO spaceflight, if you’re serious about it, means technology development first and foremost.

    True, though that doesn’t mean the beyond LEO spaceflight has to wait for that technology development.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 30th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I strongly believe America can afford a new launch system by cannibalizing current ISS, earth science, and climate sciences funding. ISS and its ilk are dead money.

    The difference of course is that the ISS et al have customers for their capabilities, and for whatever it’s worth, Congress has designated the ISS to be a National Laboratory. You could certainly argue the ROI of what we get out of it, but it does have a measurable ROI.

    Can anyone today forecast an ROI for the $30B SLS?

    Can you point to any defined need that the SLS supports for hauling payload to space? ANY? Even a non-funded one that has stepped forward to say that only the SLS can satisfy it’s mass to space needs?

    I’ll take your continued silence on this matter as confirmation that you just want to support pork for Utah…

  • By now it should be patently clear that this Apollo-style approach simply doesn’t work in the world of today, nor does it make sense for BEO exploration.

    It barely worked with Apollo. If Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated, it’s likely that it would have been canceled.

  • Frank Glover

    @ almighty:

    “I strongly believe America can afford a new launch system by cannibalizing current ISS, earth science, and climate sciences funding. ISS and its ilk are dead money. I oppose deficit spending for *any* of it. Clear now?”

    And still leaving us with a big freaking launcher that might someday be finished, with nothing worthy of its capacity to put on it, and nothing left in NASA to cannibalize, to even attempt to develop payloads that might be.

    But, I haven’t forgotten that you once explicitly expressed a willingness to raid entitlements (an assertion I then said you couldn’t possibly top, and so far you haven’t, IMO) for your, um, ‘vision’ as well…

  • vuture4

    “George LeMieux’s Four Freedoms Plan will grow the economy and create jobs by lowering taxes and vastly reducing the power of the federal government” – http://www.georgeforflorida.com

    “When I am on the campaign trail, I find voters aren’t that interested in the fine details of my plans, What does excite our citizens is the fact that there is one candidate with a plan to save human space flight before it is too late and with a passion to get the job done. I am that candidate.”

    This is really beginning to sound like “1984”. The people don’t need or even want to know the secret plan. They just want a strong leader. A leader so manly and conservative that no one will even question whether what he says is true or whether what he does is right.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 29th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    “The next chapter in U.S. space exploration should begin in about a week, when California-based Space Exploration Technologies — SpaceX for short — expects to become the first private company to send a rocket to the International Space Station.”

    Except it’s not. 1., if successful it is an exercise in exploitation, not exploration, and space exploitation is not space exploration;

    2.: “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.”

    Any attempt to label SpaceX as a true ‘private enterprise’ space venture is inaccurate.

  • amightywind

    But, I haven’t forgotten that you once explicitly expressed a willingness to raid entitlements (an assertion I then said you couldn’t possibly top, and so far you haven’t, IMO)

    I do want to reform entitlements and transform SSoc and Medicare into means tested anti-poverty programs. I see no reason for tax payers fund 30 years of retirement or Botox for grandma. But I admit it would be wrong to use payroll taxes for any other purpose than the intended ones. Space should be funded by the general fund. I would outlaw the EPA and Education departments instead.

    Can you point to any defined need that the SLS supports for hauling payload to space?

    The asteroid rendezvous goal stated by Obama demands it.

    Happy May Day socialists ;)

  • @ablastofhotair
    “The asteroid rendezvous goal stated by Obama demands it.”
    B.S. NASA’s own studies put the lie to that.
    http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=40632
    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/21.jul2011.vxs.pdf

    Comrade, you would be the one on this blog to notice it is May Day given that your are a pseudo-capitalist advocating a big government centralized space program. I hadn’t even given it a thought until you mentioned it and no doubt that is true of others here.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Except it’s not. 1., if successful it is an exercise in exploitation, not exploration, and space exploitation is not space exploration; ”

    As far as it goes I concur in that statement. However, the collolary is also true…there can be no exploration without exploitation (unless exploration is so cheap that it is affordable on the chum money) RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW –

    From what I’ve seen, a lot of the malaise in NASA has been due to ATK political engineering for the last 52 years. Unless they directly benefit, nothing moves forward.

    Given ATK’s political activities, it is very difficult for me to even try to maintain a neutral view when considering that part of the US technology base.

    My current view if that If if were not for ATK’s greed, we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money wasted on their Ares 1.

    They knew combustion oscillations from the beginning, or should have, and the effects of .7 g oscillations on astronauts’ brains is unacceptable. I’d like to shake all of the safety engineers involved in this fiasco at .7 g’s, but shortly before their retirements, so as to reduce the cost to the public of their medical care afterwards. In other words, let them pay for that out of their own pockets. A reward for a job really crappily done.

    ATK’s current continued sloganeering and PR both debase the English language and make rational discussion of space issues extremely difficult.

    The current ATK campaign to smear Obama as “corrupt” through “croney capitalism” is disgusting. .

    The use by ATK of war profits for this activity is even worse.

    Whatever set backs may occur, and they almost certainly will, Musk intends to do what he intends to do. From the recent news, ATK can see that Musk has deep enough pockets. They are familiar with his engineering base as well.

    ATK also knows that all Musk needs is a level playing field and no obstructions.

    If Florida wanted to use stimulus money to retain its launch industry, that was Florida’s decision. If the legislators of Texas or New Mexico or Virginia want to encourage their launch industries, then that is their business.

  • John

    Charles Bolden assures the Republican members of Utah’s congressional delegation that the SRB monopoly will remain in place for their shareholders to continue the legacy of sacrificing America’s national space program for another twenty years…

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 11:23 am

    AW –

    From what I’ve seen, a lot of the malaise in NASA has been due to ATK political engineering for the last 52 years. Unless they directly benefit, nothing moves forward. >>

    I agree…but the malaise is more due to the fact that there is no real political ambitions for NASA…they kind of died in the 86-00 era…NASA effectively turned itself into an entitlement. They worked hard at that.

    RGO

  • amightywind

    My current view if that If if were not for ATK’s greed, we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money wasted on their Ares 1.

    That doesn’t make sense. ATK sells 2 unmodified shuttle SRBs per Direct instead of 1 4 1/2 segment modified SRB for Ares I. Direct would be better business.

    The focus on ATK is bogus anyway. The riskiest and most controversial parts of the SLS design are the core and upper stages. If someone wants to build a kerolox replacement for the SRB, I’m listening. But I’ll judge it by how much in increases SLS performance not because of someone’s phobia about using SRBs.

    pseudo-capitalist advocating a big government centralized space program

    I view NASA’s relationship to America similar to that of the military, a part of the ‘common defense’ to which we must all contribute. I wouldn’t contract to Elon Musk to battle our adversaries.

  • 4/30/12 United Technologies to sell Rocketdyne, Greg Hayes, chief financial officer, “It’s still a very good business. It’s a national asset … but unfortunately, without a national space policy, growth will be limited for some time.”

    Or are there rockets to expensive to compete?

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 11:18 am
    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 4:39 am “Except it’s not. 1., if successful it is an exercise in exploitation, not exploration, and space exploitation is not space exploration; ” “As far as it goes I concur in that statement.” Stop the presses! Then you best notify the rest of the Space X PR machine and any shills at Florida Today. Not to mention this: “We are right now standing at kind of the beginning of a new era in space travel,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said, “one in which the commercial companies work with NASA to advance space flight.”

    Except it’s not- and Ms. Grantham should know that. 1. If successful, there’s nothing ‘new’ about delivering cargo to a crewed space platform in LEO- Progress spacecraft have been doing it for over 34 years, hard-docking, not getting grappled and berthed. 2. NASA has been ‘working w/commercial companies’ since its inception. nothing ‘new’ in that either.

  • As we wait for history on Monday, word comes of another potential medical discovery on the ISS.

    From a press release published by SpaceRef.com:

    New research published online in the FASEB Journal suggests that a specific enzyme, called 5-lipoxygenase, plays a key role in cell death induced by microgravity environments, and that inhibiting this enzyme will likely help prevent or lessen the severity of immune problems in astronauts caused by spaceflight. Additionally, since space conditions initiate health problems that mimic the aging process on Earth, this discovery may also lead to therapeutics that extend lives by bolstering the immune systems of the elderly.

    “The outcomes of this space research might be helpful to improve health in the elderly on Earth,” said Mauro Maccarrone, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Teramo in Teramo, Italy. “In fact, space conditions [cause problems that] resemble the physiological process of aging and drugs able to reduce microgravity-induced immunodepression might be effective therapeutics against loss of immune performance in aging people. 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors, already used to curb human inflammatory diseases, may be such a group of compounds.”

    Maccarone and colleagues made this discovery by conducting experiments involving two groups of human lymphocytes that were isolated from the blood of two healthy donors. The first group of lymphocytes was exposed to microgravity onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The second group was put in a centrifuge onboard the ISS, to have the same “Space environment” as the other group, but a normal Earth-like force of gravity. When programmed cell death (apoptosis) was measured in both groups, the lymphocytes exposed to microgravity showed an increase above what is considered “normal.” The group exposed to the simulated Earth gravity showed no unusual differences. Specifically, the researchers believe that this difference is caused by different levels of the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme.

    I think we’re going to see a lot more of this once we allow the ISS some time to do more experiments, increase access the advent of commercial cargo/crew, and once Bigelow is operational it’s going to be an entirely new economy based here in the U.S.

  • Jim

    “By now it should be patently clear that this Apollo-style approach simply doesn’t work in the world of today, nor does it make sense for BEO exploration.

    It barely worked with Apollo. If Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated, it’s likely that it would have been canceled.”

    Actually it didn’t work then just as it wont today. Apollo was cancelled. Saturn production was terminated even before men made it to the moon. That was the original reason for Shuttle-to produce a heavy launcher that would not have to be thrown away after every flight. That goal was achieved. The lack of improvements in hardware and processes was what ultimately did Shuttle in. We got focused on the largest ops organization we could field which only made the costs go up, not down.

    “The Constellation program was effectively taking a two decade break in spaceflight, yet no one was concerned about “losing the bubble” during that time”

    Many of us were concerned then, which was probably why Constellation was terminated. Many of us are just as concerned with Orion and SLS today.

  • Well Then

    @DCSCA

    there’s nothing ‘new’ about delivering cargo to a crewed space platform in LEO

    Except that it’s being done by a company and not a country. You may not think that is a change, but most people involved with space stuff do.

    NASA has been ‘working w/commercial companies’ since its inception. nothing ‘new’ in that either.

    All NASA spacecraft have been built to be owned by NASA, and operated under the ultimate control of NASA. Commercial Cargo, and soon Commercial Crew, vehicles are owned by their respective companies, and NASA, as a customer, buys services from them.

    Again, you may not think that is a change, but most people involved with space stuff do.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Occassionally I agree with your sentiments however not so in this case. I think you may be missing a few significant differences so I’ll help out as there are clearly other posters with the same problem:
    SpaceX is U.S., Progress Russian;
    SpaceX private company, Progress Russian government;
    Dragon new tech, Progress old tech;
    Dragon lower cost, Progress not so much;
    Dragon return capability, Progress one way;
    Dragon development path, Progress dead-end.
    Cheers.

  • Das Boese

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ April 30th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    True, though that doesn’t mean the beyond LEO spaceflight has to wait for that technology development.

    Of course. In the cases of unmanned exploration or manned exploration of the Earth-Moon system, there’s certainly enough we could do with today’s (even yesterday’s) technology. I should’ve been a bit clearer that I meant manned exploration.
    Please note that I didn’t write “beyond LEO” but “BEO”. A lot of people conflate the two terms (and often it doesn’t make a difference), however in this case I’m a literalist. BEO in that sense (manned exploration beyond the moon and maybe Lagrangian points) does require a bit of development legwork still.

    The kind of technology development (bloody hell, how often do I have to write that term ;D) I’m advocating for is not driven by specific goals/destinations but an open-ended pursuit of multiple approaches. This works well with what you advocate for, in the sense that exploration can begin as soon as an initial capability has been established and continued development just expands the list of destinations and what we can do there while shrinking the price tag.

    The fatal flaw of this idea is, of course, that it will never work under the current model of government funding and oversight. Especially as long as people with that Apollo mindset are still in charge.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 6:03 pm
    Then you best notify the rest of the Space X PR machine and any shills at Florida Today. Not to mention this: “We are right now standing at kind of the beginning of a new era in space travel,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said, “one in which the commercial companies work with NASA to advance space flight.”

    Not so much. What Kirstin said is not at odds with my statement…in fact while a tad of hyperbole its far more solid logic then what you wrote next.

    This is a Free Republic (the US) with a free market economy. It is “special” when Private enterprise does something that has been the purview of government before…particularly when it does it with an eye to the economics of the effort which might give it “legs” past the government effort.

    I really dont care if you or Whittington or Wind or any of the other folks who support a government only program dont see that. You are free to have your opinion, there are still some people who think Bush43 was trying to get Osama the son of Ladin…

    We will see who is correct in a bit…RGO

  • DCSCA

    “President Ronald Reagan fought the special interests in congress to get the Space Act of 1958 ammended to include:”

    “c) Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

    And with deadly results. Reraganomics is not going to fuel the human expansion out into the cosmos.

  • DCSCA

    @Well Then wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Except that it’s being done by a company and not a country. You may not think that is a change, but most people involved with space stuff do.

    Except this less’space stuff’ and more about commerce; delivering contracted goods and goods on time for a fee– someithng they’ve yet to do operationally. Space X seeks and has rec’d government subsidies as most people who matter involved with space stuff know and is not a true private enterprised firm as it hypes itself. Most who matter know it’s a weak redundancy goosed up by desperate commercialsists inside and outside NASA to service a ‘faux market’ – the ISS, a market of 6 (in a good month) and a waste of resources to a doomed space platform, a relic from the Cold War, an era long over. No ISS, no wasted resources on hauling cargo. Most people involved with space stuff who matter know LEO is a ticket to no place and that diverting dwindling resources to LEO operations is a waste. Space exploitation is not space exploration. And to the people who matter, the future of space exploration is BEO, not LEO. “All NASA spacecraft have been built to be owned by NASA, and operated under the ultimate control of NASA.” And that’s as it should be – they’ve worked well, taking crews to LEO and BEO to the moon..

    @BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    False equivalency, of course.

    Progress is operatrional; it works over 34 years. Dragon is not. At best it is in an experimental phase and so far, behind schedule in what is increasingly becoming an ‘open-ended test program’ which has managed to loft a few kilos of cheese… yet has been contracted to get cracking and deliver goods and servives to the ISS; Worse still, they seek government subsidies. It rates a TBD at best. And as Dragon remains non-operational, projected costs for delivering any cargo are totally irrelevant- sd is any projections on costs for ferrying crews. Progress is operational, it works, and works well- for decades. So has Soyuz. So you’re pitching return capacity- a bigger trash can- as a justification for the expense. More waste. Soyuz works fine, and again, like Progress, its operational to and carries crews to a doomed LEO space platform w/a limited lifetime. Dragon carries nobody, is projected to test that capability several years from now, per Musk’s own musings. If there’s no profit in it, they may nevef do it. It’s redundant and unnecessary. So far, it’s all just a press release. Progress is working and Soyuz, as you’re well aware, was designed for lunar flight. =sigh= Dragons emblazoned with the Space X logo do not represent the “U.S.” anymore than American Airlines represents the United States government as an air carrier.

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    “As we wait for history on Monday..” Hmmm, an attempt to roughly duplicate what Russian Progress spacecraft have been routinely accomplishing for over 34 years is redundant, not historic.

    “…think we’re going to see a lot more of this once we allow the ISS some time to do more experiments…” So after 11 years and over $100 billion you cite this as a justification for a $100 billion-plus manned apce platform, eh– and how much ofthat same research can be conducted w/o crew monitoring or on the ground… and have the pefectred turing lead into gold. Best you spend you hype energies on getting your test flight off on time Monday, May 7– a test flight years behinds schedule to be launched from a government subsidied/rerfurbished facility which Space X could easily have afforded to refurbish- or construct independently on another site for themselves. Meanwhile, deficit funding for Afghanistan remains about $2 billion/week- and tonight the Presdient commited the U.S. to expenditures of blood and treasure there for another 12 years.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Hmmm, so this is why Musk said he needed more time and postponed his launch– he needed the time to give interviews/ His ‘software’ problem turns out to have been a ‘soft news’ problem.

  • Das Boese

    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

    And with deadly results. Reraganomics is not going to fuel the human expansion out into the cosmos.

    How, exactly, is encouraging commercial use of space “Reaganomics”? And what, exactly, were those “deadly results”?

    Or could it be you’re just rambling pointless nonsense again?

  • Googaw

    Cancel everything else and fund my pet project now!

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “And with deadly results. Reraganomics is not going to fuel the human expansion out into the cosmos.”

    Do you want to explain to me the deadly results of President Reagan calling for a federal agency to utilize more commercial firms to conduct work needed for agency?

  • amightywind

    The national media is starting to pay attention to the historic SpaceX Dragon launch.

    Thanks for the links! Musk is my hero! You might be interested in looking at this one. May 13, 19…? Do I hear June? LOL!

  • Well Then

    @DCSCA

    Except this less’space stuff’ and more about commerce

    Commerce in space has been going on for a long time in different market segments. Opening up the market segment for supplies and cargo is just an extension of what has already been going on.

    Are you against commerce in space?

    Space exploitation is not space exploration.

    Maybe you’re not aware of this, but astronauts that went to the Moon have been making money off of their exploits for four decades. Granted that’s on the personal side of exploitation, but it shows that humans are naturally drawn to exploit what their explore. It’s inevitable.

    If you think exploration is pure, without a hint of exploitation, then you are sorely misinformed.

    Most people involved with space stuff who matter know LEO is a ticket to no place and that diverting dwindling resources to LEO operations is a waste.

    Who are “most people”?

    Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO. Plus, you do realize that Congress supports the ISS, and has ordered NASA to determine how to extend it’s life well beyond 2020?

    Seems to me I remember you recently talking about school children being inspired by the ISS, so even you seem to recognize the value of a research platform in space – which just happens to be in low Earth orbit, not on the surface of Mars or the Moon. Are you against space research?

    Since NASA has had no problem getting astronaut, industry and science support for both the Shuttle and ISS programs, which only went as far as low Earth orbit, then I don’t see any evidence to support your claims.

    You may have strong personal feelings on this matter, but they don’t match up with what is happening in the space community. Please show some evidence to back up your claim.

  • joe

    Well Then wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 11:09 am

    “Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO.”

    Actually George H. W. Bush also proposed an extensive BEO program and had it shot down by the (then Democratically controlled) Congress.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    outside NASA to service a ‘faux market’ –”

    of all the anti free enterprise arguments by proponents of the status quo I find this one the least intellectually rigorous…and of course it is historically inept.

    The federal government as a “distributor of the collective good” (A Ben Franklin effort) has been creating “faux” markets since the start of The Republic.

    When it came time to build what is today the Constitution class frigate the price to get the needed support to build it was that the Federal government essentially create a ship building market in Norfolk VA. Norfolk was a sea faring town, but had little or no dry dock and engraving facilities …and the locals there did not want to raise the money to build them…so they extracted the price as a function of the votes to build the class of ships.

    Entire companies sprung up whose “Market” was the build of the shipyard…which everyone was hoping after the two ship build, would find other business. In some form and fashion those “facilities” exist today.

    You are free to make any arguments of any intellectual rigor you wish…and I firmly expect the level of rigor to be low…but the notion of “faux” Markets, even by the Obama haters in things like Solyndra….is goofy.

    It doesnt take to much research to find when the federal government was “Solyndraing” several of the oil companies a century ago…with some loss…and of course the foundation of today’s oil industry.

    I get chided by Stephen Smith very kindly and in my view mostly correctly for minimizing the potential of ISS. I would not have built ISS and unlike you have a decade plus history of opposition under my real name, at some cost to my career in opposition to ISS…

    but in the end we have ISS and to now figure out how to use effectively a 100 billion dollar facility is completely irresponsible.

    Faux markets are what the pro status quo people go to when they ahve no coherent argument. Ask Whittington RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Das Boese:

    What kind of technology development are you thinking of for beyond the Earth moon system? I think we can do NEO’s without new technology and probably Mars orbit too. Mars itself pretty much requires ISRU and surface nuclear power.

  • Das Boese

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    We’re talking manned exploration I assume? (just cheking)
    As far as NEOs go you may be right, for Mars I’d say we need at least a viable deep space habitat, including better ECLSS. Cryogenic propellant transfer and storage is a given. As for propulsion, “slow” chemical rockets may or may not work, depending on the radiation hazard which we don’t know enough about yet, but it’s a smart idea to develop advanced (nuclear thermal/alectric) propulsion systems anyway. It increases the odds of success at Mars as well as opening up further targets in the asteroid belt and outer solar system. The asteroid belt is damn interesting.

  • Well Then

    @ joe

    Actually George H. W. Bush also proposed an extensive BEO program and had it shot down by the (then Democratically controlled) Congress.

    Maybe that’s how you remember it, but that’s not necessarily what happened. George H. W. Bush expanded a classified Reagan space policy, and then directed NASA to do a study of it. That resulted in “the 90-Day Study on Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars”.

    In lieu of something shorter, here is the Wikipedia summary of what happened next:

    The 90-Day Study estimated SEI’s long-term cost at approximately 500 billion dollars spread over 20 to 30 years. According to Steve Dick, NASA Chief Historian, the National Academy of Sciences largely concurred with the NASA study, but White House and Congressional reaction to the NASA plan was hostile, primarily due to the cost estimate. President Bush sought international partners, but the program was thought too expensive even for an international endeavor.

    In August 1990, Vice President Quayle established an advisory committee, often called the “Augustine Commission”, which recommended that NASA should focus on space and Earth science, and transition human exploration to a “go-as-you-pay” strategy.

    If you’ll notice, it’s the cost of the overall plan that shocked everyone, and which ultimately lead to the plan being focused on a “go-as-you-pay” strategy. The first step of that was an LEO space station, and then if everyone would have followed a “go-as-you-pay” strategy, we might have made some progress towards leaving LEO, but the Constellation program – which was not “go-as-you-pay” – screwed up everything.

    If we would have stuck with the H. W. Bush strategy, instead of the W. Bush strategy, we’d be a lot further along towards leaving low Earth orbit than we are today.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

    =yawn= Except its not. What’s more, commercialists know it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As far as NEOs go you may be right, for Mars I’d say we need at least a viable deep space habitat, including better ECLSS.

    Better than ISS?

    Cryogenic propellant transfer and storage is a given.

    I don’t think we’re likely to go to Mars before we have that, but I don’t see why it would be necessary. Von Braun’s Mars Project envisaged using storable propellant. Once you have refueling, it doesn’t matter much in principle what propellant you use. Especially if you use SEP to preposition the propellant.

    All in all I think we can go much further with today’s and yesterday’s technology than most people realise. Funding and politics are much bigger problems than technology.

  • Well Then

    @ DCSCA

    Except its not.

    Why not?

    What’s more, commercialists know it.

    How do you know that?

  • joe

    Well Then wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 3:49 pm
    “Maybe that’s how you remember it, but that’s not necessarily what happened. George H. W. Bush expanded a classified Reagan space policy, and then directed NASA to do a study of it. That resulted in “the 90-Day Study on Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars”.
    In lieu of something shorter, here is the Wikipedia summary of what happened next:”

    Ah yes Wikipedia the ultimate source of internet knowledge. I was there at the time and worked on SEI before it was shut down. The Bush (Herbert Walker) Administration requested money to begin the project and the Congress shut it down. Twist and Contort that fact anyway you want (complete with Wikipedia references), it will not change what actually happened.

  • Well Then

    @ Joe

    Ah yes Wikipedia the ultimate source of internet knowledge.

    At least they reference their sources, which in this case is NASA:

    http://history.nasa.gov/seisummary.htm

    You are free to provide your own references – what are they besides personal recollection?

    The Bush (Herbert Walker) Administration requested money to begin the project and the Congress shut it down.

    Hard to shut something down that hasn’t started.

    Maybe you mean that the administration requested money and Congress didn’t provide it. How unusual, considering how little 500 Billion is.

    Did you ever consider that maybe the proposal wasn’t compelling enough to fund? Or it was too ambitious? Or, that it didn’t fit within the spending profile Congress had in mind for NASA?

    Or are you arguing that Congress should automatically fund every space plan that gets proposed – like president Obama’s proposed asteroid mission? What determines what should get funded?

  • The Bush (Herbert Walker) Administration requested money to begin the project and the Congress shut it down.

    Dick Truly, who was part of the Bush administration, actively lobbied against it on the Hill. Which is one of the reasons he was fired.

  • DCSCA

    @Well Then wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    If you want to spend your time trying to defend the ISS as a non ‘faux market,’ go for it- but LEO operations are a ticket to no place. You best review a good epilogue piece penned by Arthur Clarke back in 1970 as the epilogue to the book, First Men On The Moon bt the Apollo 11 crew. It lays out a post-Apollo perspectve that’s fairly prescient, including clarity on the development of LEO space commerce on their own dime separate from government BEO operations as well as the differeces between space exploitation and space exploration. And make no mistake about it, space exploitation is NOT space exploration. It’s a good piece and NdGT revisits similar musings of late. Clarke’s 2001 Hilton Hotel space station was no accidental piece of product placement hype- it was intended and a good example from the piece. The ISS is a Cold War Reagan era relic, a piece of an integrated HSF exploration program shelved long ago. 25 years out of date and increasingly irrelevent in the Age of Austerity. The late Deke Slayton rightly labeled the ISS nothing more than a WPA aerospace works project- a contractor’s oink-fest, championed by lobbyist, now NASA commercialists like Lori Garver in her NSS days, over BEO plans to return to the moon; who never met an aerospace contract she didn’t like. The orbting albatross has ballooned in costs maasively over its original $10 -12 billion budget by completion to over $100 billion, albeit due to endless years of redesigns, and barely survived the Congress of the GHWBush era- but today it is a meaningless, orbiting dinosaur. A drain of dwindling resources which could be better used for BEO operations. . After 11 years it has failed to deliver anything close to the value of the expense of assembling it. It represents past planning from an era long, long over. A few years ago NASA managers had plans to splash it by 2015, doomed to a Pacific grave, and press on w/BEO operations before Constellation was scuttled. Far from being a ‘national asset’ it is, in fact, an ‘international liability’ and has failed to justify its S100 billion-plus expense. Rather than sailing along 250 miles up, it would have better served the nation, NASA, the international scientific community and the commercialists hungry to fly if the challenge had been accepted and it was firmly anchored BEO to the floor of the Ocean of Storms as a lunar research facility, 240,000 miles away. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles.

    And as a postscript, sure the kids were amused by the ISS- shuttle pass- for about 4 minutes. Not as much as me, but space exploitation nd exploration isn’t a focus of their lives. Still, they looked up all the same. The 14 year old liked how they were travelling at the same speed, but far apart (about the width of a fist from our POV) The straight-A Berkeley grad student, whose a math/science whiz, then said matter of factly. ‘never had much interest in that. It just goes in circles. The money is in bioengineering.’ My reply, ‘Or on Wall Street with oyur numbers skills. Not aerospace. Yeah, it was more inspiring when you looked at the moon and realized people were at work up there – they went someplace- but for you kids, this is as close as you’re going to get to what we experienced.’ Added the grad student, with a shrug, ‘China is going to the moon.’ And that’s the mind set.

  • Vladislaw

    joe wrote:

    “Ah yes Wikipedia the ultimate source of internet knowledge. I was there at the time and worked on SEI before it was shut down. The Bush (Herbert Walker) Administration requested money to begin the project and the Congress shut it down. Twist and Contort that fact anyway you want (complete with Wikipedia references), it will not change what actually happened.”

    This is from: http://history.nasa.gov/sp4410.pdf

    Mars Wars

    The Rise and Fall of the Space Exploration Initiative
    Thor Hogan

    “Chapter 4: The 90-Day Study
    • Reference Approach A
    – Lunar Outpost: $100 billion (FY 1991-2001)
    – Lunar Outpost Emplacement & Operations: $208 billion
    (FY 2002-2025)
    – Mars Outpost: $158 billion (FY 1991-2016)
    – Mars Outpost Emplacement & Operations: $75 billion
    (FY 2017-2025)
    – Total: $541 billion
    • Reference Approach E
    – Lunar Outpost: $98 billion (FY 1991-2004)
    – Lunar Outpost Emplacement & Operations: $137 billion
    (FY 2005-2025)
    – Mars Outpost: $160 billion (FY 1991-2016)
    – Mars Outpost Emplacement & Operations: $76 billion
    (FY 2017-2025)
    – Total: $471 billion

    The report also included two startling charts, which illustrated the impact of the reference approaches on the overall NASA budget. Starting with a base budget of approximately $15 billion, the implementation of both reference approaches would require increasing the annual agency appropriation to $30 billion by FY 2000, where it would stay for another 25 years.48 In the coming weeks and months, it would become increasingly clear that these budgetary requirements were simply staggering to all outside observers. Admiral Truly and the TSG clearly believed that President Bush was prepared to support a major escalation in annual spending for the space program. This judgment was reached despite the fact that the nation was facing large budget deficits and almost every other sector of the government was expecting significant funding cuts. It proved to be a tremendous miscalculation.

    Behind closed doors, the White House’s reaction to the 90-Day Study was outright shock. The Space Council staff could not believe the TSG had produced a report that essentially had no real alternatives. Mark Albrecht recalled later that the report included “basically one architecture…different technologies did not exist at all, it was one plan offered three ways; slow, moderate, and fast. We were just stunned, felt completely betrayed. Vice President Quayle was furious. The 90-Day Study was the biggest ‘F’ flunk, you could ever get in government. The real problem with the NASA plan was not that we didn’t think the technology was right, but that it was just the most expensive possible approach. It was just so fabulously unaffordable,
    it showed no imagination.”50 OMB Director Darman later told Congress, “some of us in the administration felt that the NASA report itself was very much biased towards what you might think of as the off-the-shelf approach to the Moon and Mars, that it didn’t really seek highly divergent new technologies.” When asked about the study after he left office, President Bush recalled feeling that “I got set up.”51
    The release led to a rapid disintegration in the already tenuous Space Council-
    NASA relationship. Douglas O’Handley remembers the study “made the situation
    worse than it was at the beginning. The NASA plan was not what the Space Council wanted. Admiral Truly lost all credibility with the Space Council. There was clearly a clash of personalities.”52 Although the White House was highly critical of NASA, agency officials believed the report was received unfavorably because of poor guidance from the Space Council. Admiral Truly and Aaron Cohen felt the council staff didn’t really understand the technical complexities involved in going to the Moon and Mars. In their opinion, significantly different cost profiles were not needed because establishing a permanent human presence on those celestial bodies would require approximately the same amount of resources, regardless of the strategic architectures that were selected. If the Space Council wanted options with different budgetary impacts, they argued, NASA should have been asked to examine different mission content—such as eliminating construction of a permanent lunar base or a human mission to Mars.”

    This is a long post but it is needed to show that the everyone thought that the very high price tag would not even be considered by congress.

    The report goes on:

    “NASA leaders were actually surprised with the White House reaction to the 90-Day Study. Even after submitting it, they believed that it was an appropriate response to President Bush’s speech. This was particularly true regarding the cost estimates for a long-term initiative. The TSG believed that given Quayle’s approval of similar budget estimates in June, these new figures were acceptable. Years later, Aaron Cohen concluded that the primary reason for this misunderstanding was poor communication between the two organizations. He maintained that the primary
    problem was not that the council staff asked for options, but that “NASA did not try to understand what the customer really wanted. That is a very important rule in design. Know what the customer really wants. The president’s speech was not what they really wanted. We should have tried harder to understand what they really wanted.”54 From his point of view, the primary lesson learned from this failure of communication was that technical agencies like NASA need to work very closely with its customer to understand their policy needs.55
    Before the public release of the report, Vice President Quayle and Mark Albrecht began preparing a plan to downplay the importance of the 90-Day Study. The Space Council staff fashioned a strategy intended to discourage speculation that the TSG vision for SEI matched that of President Bush. The Administration would argue the study was only one data source within an ongoing alternative generation process that would seek inputs from other government agencies, industry, and the scientific community. In fact, such a process had not yet been initiated. Regardless, the White House would suggest that the TSG report was merely a starting point for identifying ways to minimize risk, maximize performance, keep costs at an affordable level, and achieve overall program goals.56 This was clearly an ad hoc effort at damage control. It proved to be a near total failure.

    The clearest sign that the Space Council staff was on high alert was the decision to ask NASA to remove the cost estimation section from the public report. Mark Albrecht recalled this determination was made because “we had only one alternative, and it had this $400 billion price tag. We knew right away that this was dead on arrival. Just what you need, to go out and say President Bush’s initiative is going to cost $400 billion. Dead. That’s exactly what we didn’t want to happen. So, we asked NASA to keep it separate while we began in earnest to look for real alternatives.” Regardless, the administration correctly concluded that rumors would quickly surface that the agency had indeed conducted an internal cost analysis. To counter these stories, the council staff planned to cast doubt on the TSG’s estimation techniques—most importantly challenging the group’s conservative technical approach.”

    The bottom line was that the Bush Administration knew that this would never get past congress. So it is disingenous to blame democrats when there were republicans also who were not on board with spending 30 billion a year for almost three decades.

  • joe

    Well Then wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 6:10 pm
    “Or are you arguing that Congress should automatically fund every space plan that gets proposed…”

    Actually I am stating (not arguing) that this discussion began with you saying: “Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO.” I presented evidence proving that to be untrue and you have been trying to corkscrew your way out of that fact ever since.

    Have a nice evening.

  • joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    “Dick Truly, who was part of the Bush administration, actively lobbied against it on the Hill. Which is one of the reasons he was fired.”

    Sad, but true. I did not want to get into all the political mechanizations (including putting costing wraps on top of costing wraps) that were used to come up with the numbers Well Then quoted from Wikipedia, and I still do not (it will just turn into another food fight and there are enough of those around here).

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I was there at the time and worked on SEI before it was shut down.”

    If you worked on the 90-day study or otherwise supported Administrator Truly’s response to the Bush I Administration’s charge, then you were part of the reason why SEI was shut down. Per Mark Albrecht, who was Bush’s space advisor and lead staffer on the National Space Council:

    “… much of his [Albrecht’s] book talks about how he and others at the White House during the Bush 41 administration tried to reinvigorate the agency with the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), only to run into opposition from NASA itself. ‘We were naive,’ he recalled. ‘We believed that offering a floundering agency, NASA, a lifeline of support, and vision, and resources, would be met with an enthusiastic response. We were wrong.'”

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/11/11/albrecht-nasa-has-become-a-risk-averse-feudal-empire/

    “Frustration grew when NASA instead proposed a business-as-usual approach in their 90-day study in response to the SEI announcement. ‘To this day,’ he writes, ‘I remain mystified at the incredible misreading of the times, temperament, and trends that NASA stubbornly embraced with their secretive 90-day study.'”

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1866/1

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

    =yawn= Except its not. What’s more, commercialists know it.Z>>

    Including the ones that are investing 100’s of millions of their own dollars in it? RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Well Then wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    “If we would have stuck with the H. W. Bush strategy, instead of the W. Bush strategy, we’d be a lot further along towards leaving low Earth orbit than we are today.”

    Except GHWB made no effort to battle to get his proposal funded through the Congress. The day GHWB announced his space initiative, 7/20/89, Gephardt’s response was there’s no money.. So was Panetta’s. The list of Congress folk claiming no monies for Bush’s space initiative was lengthy.. Worse, still, Truly was left in the WH briefing room to twist in the wind at a presser trying to field tough budget qurstions- questions he had no answers to. Dubya pulled the same stunt as his Pappy- made a grand proposal and didn’t fight for adequate funding, and that was only because the loss of Columbia forced the issue. He as literally in the middle of launching mideast wars at the time.. not unlike Pappy.

    “How unusual, considering how little 500 Billion is….” Oh, proorities. At $2 billion a week, that finances only about five years of the Afghan war.

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 10:45 pm
    There was work done on SEI during and after the 90 day study, that was farmed out to the field centers. The work was strictly technical in nature. I worked on lunar surface and asteroid operations. What we turned in as concepts was anything but “business as usual”. What headquarters did with it after it was turned in is another matter and out of our control. If you do not understand that, then you do not know what you are talking about.

    At any rate the subject at hand was whether or not any President between Johnson and George W. Bush had ever proposed a BEO program. “Well Then” said they had not. The very fact that the articles you link to exist proves that to be incorrect.

    I know you guys cannot stand it unless you get the last word, so have fun; twist words, change the subject, and all the other obfuscations you use when you are wrong.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “What we turned in as concepts was anything but ‘business as usual’.”

    If you say so, but your customer at the White House claimed and continues to claim the exact opposite.

    “If you do not understand that, then you do not know what you are talking about.”

    It’s not what I know or don’t know that matters. It’s what Bush’s space advisor thought of and continues to think of the NASA work that inadvertently or purposefully sabotaged SEI.

    You’re shooting the messenger. I provided quotes directly from the mouth of the head on the National Space Council. If you don’t like them, then argue with Albrecht, not me.

    “I know you guys cannot stand it unless you get the last word, so have fun; twist words, change the subject, and all the other obfuscations you use when you are wrong.”

    I’m not changing the subject. You blamed Congress for the failure of SEI. According to President’s Bush’s space advisor and the head of the National Space Council at the time, it was not their failure — it was NASA’s. I’m guessing he has a better handle on what actually transpired with SEI than you did at a field center working on a couple piece-parts.

    It’s fine if you don’t want to deal with the reality of NASA’s culpability in the failure of SEI. But don’t blame me for your denial. That your burden.

  • Well Then

    @ Joe

    Sorry for not responding earlier. Long flight.

    Actually I am stating (not arguing) that this discussion began with you saying: “Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO.” I presented evidence proving that to be untrue and you have been trying to corkscrew your way out of that fact ever since.

    This could certainly be a discussion about what “is” is. You seem to be arguing that the mere desire to go beyond low Earth orbit constitutes a plan, even though there is no consensus and no funding.

    If that were true, then it would probably be true that every single president since the start of our efforts in space has had a plan to go beyond low Earth orbit. And every politician, and certainly everyone on this blog. If that is your definition, so be it, but it is a ridiculously low bar.

    I tend to go with a higher bar, one that starts with someone convincing our elected representatives that going beyond low Earth orbit is worth spending tax payer money on.

    George W. Bush was able to do that. George H. W. Bush was not, regardless the personal effort you put into it.

    To take this back to where you started this, you took issue when I said:

    Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO.

    And now you can see why I look at the SEI proposal as a failure, and they decided to focus on the more modest Reagan space station plan, without firm plans to leave low Earth orbit.

    The original discussion you started this from was with DCSCA, in that they were advocating “LEO is a ticket to no place”, and I responded with my phrase above to show that our political leaders didn’t agree. That they supported low Earth orbit operations. Are you agreeing with DCSCA?

  • Well Then

    @ DCSCA

    Long response. I’m not sure what you thought my two questions were, but you didn’t address them.

    Also, I have read much of what Clarke wrote, and he was a great futurist. However he was not appointed or elected to determine our direction in space, and he’s not even around anymore to ask what he would do in today’s reality. Depending on his guidance today for space issues is a little out of date, especially considering that technology and monetary issues have changed significantly since his time.

    We can all guess what he would think about the plans Planetary Resources has, or that of the other commercial space companies, but what’s the point? He’s not here anymore.

  • joe

    Well Then wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 1:21 pm
    “The original discussion you started this from was with DCSCA, in that they were advocating “LEO is a ticket to no place”, and I responded with my phrase above to show that our political leaders didn’t agree. That they supported low Earth orbit operations. Are you agreeing with DCSCA?”

    OK, I will play this game for one more round.

    You and DCSCA were having one of the usual ‘heated discussions’ around here. As I read through It, I noted you said “Except for George W. Bush, every president since Johnson has been fine to focus on LEO.”

    The only intent of my post was to note that the first President Bush attempted to start a BEO program. You can “set the bar” wherever you want. The first Bush Administration attempted to start a BEO program. They faced an enormous push back from the congress (then overwhelmingly controlled by the opposition party) and surprisingly from the politically appointed (by the administration) NASA leadership. As a result the attempt failed, but they made the attempt.

    I was not agreeing/disagreeing with DCSCA. I was disagreeing with you on that one point. I was surprised that it drew as much attention as it did (naive of me, I suppose, given the nature of discourse around here).

  • DCSCA

    @Well Then wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “Depending on his guidance today for space issues is a little out of date.”

    Not really. In fact, it’s quite prescient, plus or minus a few points but fairly accurate and it’s a disservice to his contributions to suggest otherwise. Clarke was quite pragmatic and a realist about it and couched his comments and extrapolations in historical context (the comparisons to aviation’s evolution to that of spaceflight and the deviation from it would interest Oler) – including references to space commerce, exploration and exploitation. NdGT revisits same with similar musings of late– and his nane was floated to be on Obama’s short-list for NASA Administrator. Suggest you revisit the Clarke epilogue- its about 40 pages in my 1st ed. of the 11 crew’s ghost-penned book– the paperback is still in print at B&N.

    “I’m not sure what you thought my two questions were, but you didn’t address them.” In fact, they were. The ISS is a ‘faux market’ ginned up by desperate commercialists inside and outside NASA. =yawn= Just a few years ago NASA was planning to splash the ISS by mid-decade before Constellation was scuttled- its a matter of public record- you don’t splash a viable ‘market’-eyeroll- A market of six on a good expedition, BTW. And as late as last summer a Russian space officials mused about the it publicly and was quickly forced to retract, for obvlious reasons. The op-eds and posted letters in recent years by the top establishment space community leaders have layed out their poistions and support for space exploration. A few years ago Kraft presented a fairly good exploration plan for a space program for the next 40 years. But it fell on deaf ears not unlike von Braun’s presentation to Congress in August, 1969 in the wake of Apollo 11. . It is the commercialists who desperately need to ‘validate’ their positions for exploitation as a supplement for exploration, particularly when they’re seeking government subsidies.

    Orbital Sciences and Space X have contracts totalling $3.5 billion or so. At $60/$70 million/round trip seat on Soyuz, that would pay to ferry plenty of U.S. crewsd to the ISS. At 6 months a stay, that’s roughly 50 American astronauts- say four Americans a year rotated… that’s 11 years of crew rotation to a doomed space platform- more if you stretch it to 3 a year. The smart move is to minimize contractual obligations to the ISS, work to rule, withdraw from it and stop pouring dwindling resources into a doomed space platform, (particularly into a LEO cargo/crew system which is redundant to an existing and operating system- Soyuz and Progress) and press on w/BEO government space exploration operations and leave LEO to commercial development on their own dime. That’s what Clarke recommended BTW, 40 years ago.

    “… but what’s the point? He’s [Clarke] not here anymore.” =eyeroll= Neither is Oberth, Tsiolkovsky, Von Braun, O’Neill, Sagan, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Asimov, Galileo, Goddard, Korolev, Hubble, Webb, Low, Faget, Gilruth, etc.,… and the apeman who crafted the first wheel.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 1st, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    “The national media is starting to pay attention to the historic SpaceX Dragon launch.”

    You might want to stop talking about ‘making history’ and focus on simply making schedule. =eyeroll= It’s high time the press started asking why the firm’s CEO why it can’t meet a schedule, too. ‘I wish it wasn’t so hard,’ says Elon Musk. Seems for Russia’s Progress, it’s not that ‘hard’ at all– and they have the 34 years of experience demonstrating it.

    @amightywind wrote @ May 2nd, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Leave it to CBS News to reaffirm that the only thing reliable about Space X is their uneliability: “NEXT MONDAY’S SPACE X FALCON 9 LAUNCH DATE IN DOUBT- by Bill Harwood, CBS News

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120501delay/

    They’ve had plenty of time- time to do pressers, it seems. This is poor managment on display and simply unacceptable. Space X has been contracted to deliver goods and services, not operate an ‘open-ended test program’ of convenience, courtesy of the American taxpayer.The only the only thing reliable about Space X is their unreliability.

    It’s time for Congress to step in over the commercial coddlers at NASA, hold hearings and call the management of this firm and the commercialists within NASA on to the carpet for an investigation on the failure of this firm, after being granted so many breaks in scheduling and subsidizes, to meet schedules and fulfill its contractual obligations. Better still, their failure to meet schedule is testimony enough. Terminate the contract. Fire them.

  • Well Then

    @ Joe

    The first Bush Administration attempted to start a BEO program.

    I’ll agree with that.

    Where I think we disagree is whether an attempt at creating an expansive space plan counts as official policy. I don’t think it does, because it was never finalized and put in place, and the end result of whatever effort they put into their attempt ended up being just supporting a much smaller push for building a space station.

    There were two things that I liked about what they attempted. First, it lead them to supporting a “go-as-you-pay” strategy, which is something I think should be re-adopted. Second, their overall plan wasn’t bad conceptually, but like they thought, the NASA implementation of it was too expensive.

    The lesson in that is that money continues to be the reason we aren’t going beyond low Earth orbit. Until we address the money issue by either increasing it or decreasing the need for it, we’re going to continue to have ideas bigger than our wallets and lots of frustrating conversations like this.

    I was surprised that it drew as much attention as it did

    Me too, but for me it was interesting from a historical perspective. But time to move on.

  • Vladislaw

    :“The lesson in that is that money continues to be the reason we aren’t going beyond low Earth orbit. Until we address the money issue by either increasing it or decreasing the need for it, we’re going to continue to have ideas bigger than our wallets and lots of frustrating conversations like this.”

    I think the lesson learned is America should not utlize NASA but instead really on commercial systems. As NASA illustrated by what it would have cost them to do what SpaceX did, that is the real lesson learned/

  • Well Then

    @ DCSCA

    Not really. In fact, it’s quite prescient, plus or minus a few points but fairly accurate and it’s a disservice to his contributions to suggest otherwise.

    You keep saying that Clarke had a plan, but you haven’t shown what that plan is. Maybe if you detailed it out it would be better understood. You talking about how great it is leaves out too much detail.

    However unless Clarke’s plan covers what the U.S. space effort should be when NASA’s entire budget is around $18 Billion per year, it doesn’t matter what he thought prior to his death. Fantasy stays fantasy.

    The ISS is a ‘faux market’ ginned up by desperate commercialists inside and outside NASA.

    If you are implying that the five or six small companies involved in the COTS and CCDev programs have fooled Congress into continuing the ISS, then sorry, but what you are saying doesn’t line up with reality. In fact that would be pretty laughable considering how little influence they have in Congress.

    Just a few years ago NASA was planning to splash the ISS by mid-decade before Constellation was scuttled- its a matter of public record

    Then you must also know that NASA was being directed to do that because of funding for the Constellation program. Now that Constellation has been cancelled Congress has directed NASA to look into extending the life of the ISS past 2020. In case you’re wondering, NASA designed it’s part of the ISS to last at least 30 years.

    If you need any other confirmation that Congress wants the ISS utilized fully, just look at the hearings when they grilled NASA officials about CASIS. The public record is quite clear on this – the current administration and both houses of Congress want the ISS, as well as the science community.

    But you’re saying it’s really a conspiracy? Conspiracies that big are called “official policy”, which you are free to disagree with, but they are still official policy.

  • pathfinder_01

    Where do I even start here? There is alot wrong in this statement:

    “Orbital Sciences and Space X have contracts totalling $3.5 billion or so. At $60/$70 million/round trip seat on Soyuz, that would pay to ferry plenty of U.S. crewsd to the ISS. At 6 months a stay, that’s roughly 50 American astronauts- say four Americans a year rotated… that’s 11 years of crew rotation to a doomed space platform- more if you stretch it to 3 a year. The smart move is to minimize contractual obligations to the ISS, work to rule, withdraw from it and stop pouring dwindling resources into a doomed space platform, (particularly into a LEO cargo/crew system which is redundant to an existing and operating system- Soyuz and Progress) and press on w/BEO government space exploration operations and leave LEO to commercial development on their own dime. That’s what Clarke recommended BTW, 40 years ago. “

    Comparing Soyuz to commercial crew to commercial cargo is like comparing a sub compact car (Soyuz) to a minivan (commercial crew) to a very small pick up truck (Progress) to a full sized pick up truck (commercial cargo).

    First of all it Soyuz does not deliver cargo, that is progress(which is unable to return cargo so if you want to examine say an ISS part to see what the environment of space did to it, it had better be a very small part(l00 pounds and it had better not be bulky). To be blunt you can’t even return a spacesuit via the Russians (they dump and send up a new one). Even a something the size of a packing box is too much. Being unable to return samples really limits the science and engineering capabilities of the ISS.

    Secondly Space X’s contract starts at 1.6 billion for 12 flights and is worth up to 3.1 billion if they launch more than the 12. That comes to about $133 million a flight. Far cheaper than the shuttle. They also have a min cargo goal of 20,000kg. If filled to the brink thoose 12 flights would launch 72,000kg cargo (6,000kg vs, 1,800 dry cargos) it would take 40 Progress flights to match it in terms of mass. In term of volume (which is often the bigger constraint) that would be 12(10 meters cubed) or 120 meters cubed worth of useable volume. It would take 16 flights of Progress (7.3 meters cubed) to match that. Oh and by the way the price per flight of Progress is probably higher than the price per seat for Soyuz. Not to mention Dragon has return capability (3,000kg vs. 0) and a bigger hatch.

    Orbital has a contract for 8 missions at 1.9 billion and must deliver 20mt worth of cargo. In terms of mass progress and Orbital are similar (1.5mt-1.8mt vs. 1.8 for progress). However in terms of volume Cygnus blows both Space X and Progress out the water (either 18.9 or 27 meters cubed depending on model). It would take 20 flights of progress to match the volume that could be carried in thoose 8 flights of Cygnus. Not to mention the bigger hatch.

    Also Soyuz limits the crew to 6 and leaves us at the mercy of Russia and we are 1 Soyuz malefaction away from having no access to the ISS. IMHO crew is an enabler. If you want to go BEO you have to go through LEO first. There is no way to launch a NEO mission and certainly not a mars mission in a single launch. You can barely fit a lunar one in such a launch.

    Commercial cargo and commercial crew are like the civil transportation to the army. Sure you could march your troops across country or you could waste thousands of troops flying passenger and cargo planes in non war zone areas but a smarter use of resources is to use American airlines(or whoever) to fly your troops as close the war zone as possible and Fed ex to deliver cargo as close to your re-supplybase/station as possible.

  • Martijn Meijering

    press on w/BEO government space exploration operations and leave LEO to commercial development on their own dime

    Fine, as long as NASA gets out of the Earth to orbit business. But that of course is what you don’t want, you want the Shuttle political-industrial complex to continue their profiteering on the US taxpayers’ dime.

  • DCSCA

    @Well Then wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 8:29 pm “You keep saying that Clarke had a plan, but you haven’t shown what that plan is.”

    You’ve been told where to look— the one epilogue is about 40 pages long. or perhaps you have, and just don’t like what he suggests. “Congress has directed NASA to look into extending the life of the ISS past 2020.” Meaningless, especially if it hasn’t been funded. And, of course, dumping any more funding into LEO operations is just throwing good money after bad literally into the Pacific. “NASA designed it’s part of the ISS to last at least 30 years.” Which explains why a few years ago they were planing to splash it in 2015. It seems you’re the one talking conspiracy. Easy to see why- commercialsits are desperate. That orbiting dinosaur is a soaring waste. Stop thinking of it as a piece of space hardware and as a Cold war expense- an aerospace WPA project, as Slayton pegged it. He was right. . It’s like the Berlin Wall- out of date, obsolete and a relic of past planning from an era long over. By now, you probably couldn’t unload it on the Chinese- they’d have no use for it either. It’s better propaganda to build their own, smaller one, and crew it with their own people. =eyeroll=

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 4:52 am
    Comparing Soyuz to commercial crew to commercial cargo is like comparing a sub compact car (Soyuz) to a minivan (commercial crew) to a very small pick up truck (Progress) to a full sized pick up truck (commercial cargo).

    Wrong. Soyuz and Progress are operational. They GET YOU THERE. Your ‘minivan’ is not operation and goes no place. .

    “Being unable to return samples really limits the science and engineering capabilities of the ISS.” Nonsense and given the costs involved, you reduce the size of the samples to fit the container, you don’t spend billions to build a bigger piece of Tupperware. Revisit Clarke’s musings on space manufacturing. and why it’s not quite what was tought would occur. “Far cheaper than the shuttle….” Shuttle’s been non-operational for a year.
    Also Soyuz limits the crew to 6 — the optimal crew siz is 6– up to 7… and even w/6, thry’re doing nothing to justify the $100 billion expense! =eyeroll=

  • vulture4

    “Soyuz and Progress are operational. They GET YOU THERE. Your ‘minivan’ is not operation and goes no place.”

    Soyuz has had several very close calls when the service module separation pyrobolts failed. Russian quality control is deteriorating, and as a monopoly provider they are naturally boosting cost.

    “dumping any more funding into LEO operations is just throwing good money after bad literally into the Pacific.”

    Making human flight to LEO practical is a lot tougher than going to the moon with a blank check. If we cannot determine how to get people into LEO at a cost that makes their work productive, we certainly cannot do it on the moon or Mars. If you want to pay for a flight to the moon, have at it. America does not have the money for expensive joyrides.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 8:32 am
    – an aerospace WPA project,” (the space station)

    I find your comments churlish but I am that way sometimes…what is really annoying is when you try and rev up the knowledge of history and know almost nothing about it…sigh

    WPA and NRA projects included a plethora of things…including cruisers and aircraft carriers …they were designed to produce things that 1) kept people employed, 2) preserved critical infrastructure and 3) created useful infrastructure for the future. They did all three.

    The Yorktown class of Carriers (at least the first two) were all WPA programs…Hornet came from the two ocean navy act.

    Just as a general statement we would be far better off as a country if after 9/11 we had spent the trillions that were spent on “things abroad” doing WPA like programs here in the homeland.

    As for the station…if we could morph it into a WPA like effort then we would be far better off. Calling the station a “cold war relic” is probably a better analogy (I recall Deke’s comments but not precisely and think you are more or less morphing them to your own theories)…

    But the notion of “just dump it” shows you to be really a crackpot in terms of politics and theory.

    Right now you are on the losing side of events…we are going to go with a different theory for a bit…we played it your way for decades and this is where we are…lets see what happens. RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    ” an aerospace WPA project,” I find your comments churlish but I am that way sometimes…what is really annoying is when you try and rev up the knowledge of history and know almost nothing about it…sigh”

    Hmmmm. LOLOLOL Speak for yourself, RGO. Those were Deke Slayton’s words, RGO. History has never been your strong point.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The only the only thing reliable about Space X is their unreliability.

    It’s time for Congress to step in over the commercial coddlers at NASA, hold hearings and call the management of this firm and the commercialists within NASA on to the carpet for an investigation on the failure of this firm, after being granted so many breaks in scheduling and subsidizes, to meet schedules and fulfill its contractual obligations. Better still, their failure to meet schedule is testimony enough. Terminate the contract. Fire them.”

    NASA is not going to fire a company because NASA technicians need more time to understand the mission software:

    “The launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been set for May 7, but SpaceX said liftoff would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/03/11525131-spacex-chief-wants-to-be-spaceflier?lite

    Don’t be a flaming idiot, fella. The schedule slippage is due to NASA, not SpaceX.

  • Martijn Meijering

    to meet schedules and fulfill its contractual obligations.

    SpaceX has no contractual obligations under COTS, it’s a Space Act Agreement. They only get paid if they deliver, unlike your cost-plus friends. Your transparent and grotesque lies are why no one here takes you seriously.

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    An interesting progression of descriptive language. First MSNBC reports:“but more time is needed to analyze changes in SpaceX’s flight software and make sure all systems are go.”

    Then MSNBC reports (siting their own previous article):”but SpaceX said liftoff would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    So “analyze changes” had been changed to “double-checking”.

    Then “Dark Blue Nine” changes the description again:“because NASA technicians need more time to understand the mission software”.

    So “double-checking” is now changed to “understand”.

    Then “Dark Blue Nine” asserts:“The schedule slippage is due to NASA, not SpaceX.”

    Blaming the delay on NASA not understanding Space X software (even though he is the only one to imply that NASA does not understand Space X software).

    What actually has happened is that in the dry run for this test flight FRR last fall the Space X software just plain did not work. NASA has been working with Space X since that time to fix Space X software problems. It would be interesting to know – for those who claim to believe that the COTS program is commercial – where the money to pay the non-Space X personnel to help Space X fix its software problems is coming from:
    – Is Space X being billed?
    – Is the money coming from COTS (and how does that match up with ‘fee for service’)?
    – Or is the money being transferred from other NASA accounts?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “So “double-checking” is now changed to “understand”.”

    Fair criticism.

    “What actually has happened is that in the dry run for this test flight FRR”

    Do you have a link or other evidence?

    “where the money to pay the non-Space X personnel”

    There is a small pot of money (~5%, IIRC) within the COTS budget for the NASA program office.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    It would be interesting to know … where the money to pay the non-Space X personnel to help Space X fix its software problems is coming from

    Do you know that there are “personnel” helping SpaceX fix their software problems, or are you speculating? If you know, then provide details.

    Remember though that part of the function of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO) is to work with it’s private industry partners to help them solve the problems they are having.

    Also, you are aware that part of NASA’s mission is to share it’s knowledge with American industry? Here is just one example.

    And customers helping their suppliers solve problems is not unusual in business – it happens all the time in the manufacturing world, especially when you’re dealing with unique products and services.

  • DCSCA

    @joe wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    “What actually has happened is that in the dry run for this test flight FRR last fall the Space X software just plain did not work. NASA has been working with Space X since that time to fix Space X software problems. It would be interesting to know – for those who claim to believe that the COTS program is commercial – where the money to pay the non-Space X personnel to help Space X fix its software problems is coming from.”

    Well said, Joe.

    Taxpayers, of course- Even DBN admits that:”There is a small pot of money (~5%, IIRC) within the COTS budget for the NASA program office.” Small pot. More spin from a ‘commercial’ firm. And, of course, the LC40 facilities refutrbishment was taxpayer funded as well.

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    “Don’t be a flaming shilliot, fella. The schedule slippages are due to Space X, not NASA.” There, fixed that for you. Leave it to CBS News to reaffirm that the only thing reliable about Space X is their uneliability:

    “NEXT MONDAY’S SPACE X FALCON 9 LAUNCH DATE IN DOUBT- by Bill Harwood, CBS News http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120501delay/

  • DCSCA

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    “SpaceX has no contractual obligations…”

    Except they do. And fulfilling them would enhance their chances if they want more business.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    (I recall Deke’s comments but not precisely and think you are more or less morphing them… Uh, no. And Chaikin has reiterated same.

  • Jeff Foust

    Time to wrap up this discussion, folks.