Congress, NASA

White House criticizes commercial crew language and funding in House bill

The House is scheduled to start debate today on HR 5326, the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill. (Depending on the number of amendments proposed, the bill may not be up for a final vote until Wednesday or Thursday.) Late yesterday, the White House issued a statement of administration policy (SAP) on the bill, outlining the issues the administration has with the bill and warning that the president’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill if it remained unchanged.

The only concern that the SAP raised about the portion of the bill funding NASA is with the language in the bill and accompanying report about NASA’s commercial crew program. “The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding provided for the commercial crew program,” it states, noting that the House funds the program at $500 million, $330 million below the administration’s request, “as well as restrictive report language that would eliminate competition in the program.” That is a reference to report language that calls on NASA to downselecting to one or, at most, two companies, and using conventional contracts versus Space Act Agreements. “This would increase the time the United States will be required to rely solely on foreign providers to transport American astronauts to and from the space station,” it warns.

The SAP goes on to state that while the administration “appreciates” the funding appropriated to NASA overall in the bill—a little under $17.6 billion, compared to the $17.71 billion requested—unspecified programs received “unnecessary increases at the expense of other important initiatives.”

The NASA language in the House bill did get an endorsement yesterday from three famous retired astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Jim Lovell. In a letter to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that developed the bill, they said a commercial crew downselect now would be “prudent” in an era of limited budgets in order to accelerate vehicle development.

78 comments to White House criticizes commercial crew language and funding in House bill

  • SpaceColonizer

    And by “accelerate vehicle development” they mean “accelerate cashflow to Boeing and ULA”.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    With all due respect to their space flight achievements, Armstrong, Cernan, and Lovell have little to no experience in the management and procurement of spacecraft development programs. After they were done being pilots and astronauts, Armstrong earned a teaching PhD, Cernan became a contributor to the Good Morning America show, and Lovell ran towing and telephone companies. Aside from Armstrong and Lovell’s inputs as test pilots prior to becoming astronauts, their backgrounds lack experience in engineering development programs.

    If we want advice on how to pilot complex machines under stressful conditions, there’s no one better. But if we want advice on how to get complex machines built quickly and efficiently, they don’t bring much wisdom to the table.

  • MrEarl

    Well this must be an election year. The administration has grown a pair in it’s dealings with congress.
    The NASA budget should be $17.8 billion with the increase, ($200 million over the House budget) going tword CCDev.

  • Justin Kugler

    I’m inclined to agree with DBN here. They hurt their own credibility by conceding that they were unfamiliar with Space Act Agreements and still insisting that any commercial crew services be managed the same as a government-owned system.

  • amightywind

    We’re getting down to brass tacks folks. Time to stop screwing around. This convenient, leisurely, lucrative, political competition is over. We should not be wasting our time with Blue Origin or some of the other competitors. If there is going to be a meaningful CCDev2 a winner must be declared and the schedule drawn in. The obvious choice is CST-100.

    I hope Neil, Gene, and Jim have a prominent role in directing NASA in the next administration.

  • common sense

    I suspect, only suspect, that these astronauts were misled in believing that Constellation was to restore the ancient glory of the Apollo program and possibly the grandeur of the US. I also suspect they act out of loyalty to… the image of the 60s USA then at its most powerful, a grand challenger to the Soviet Union. I wish they would take a step and go visit the several COTS and CCDev participants, see the enthusiasm of their respective crews, see that what they hold so dear actually still exists in the best form this country is able to: Entrepreneurship and this time to space. Come on, let go of the 60s! Open your eyes. Please.

    And btw, at the very least by visiting the commercial participants they might actually articulate some fair criticism instead of this nonsense.

    So be fair. Go and visit and make a judgement. Until then you are only diminishing your godly stature with those you inspired so much as to take action and build a future you once dreamed about.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    “I hope Neil, Gene, and Jim have a prominent role in directing NASA in the next administration.”

    I seriously doubt they will have any prominent role at NASA in 2016.

  • mr. mark

    amightywind.. nuts. That’s all I’ll say about your comment.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DBN –

    I think that the classic example of this is Chuck Yeager’s endorsement of the B-1 when he knew nothing about Lockheed’s stealth design.

    And then instead of Lockheed’s design, Reagan chose Northrup’s design, which is another issue.

    AW –

    If it makes you feel any better, remember that China has said that they can’t match SpaceX’s estimated launch costs.

    And remember that you have not only development costs, but then operational costs, hopefully.

    If you’ve put up millions in your own cash, a level playing field and no obstacles are not too much to ask for.

  • BRC

    “The obvious choice is CST-100.”

    Nothing against CST-100, and it’s had some nice parachute drop tests, and I wish BOEING well, but its flight hardware (oh, wait, there IS no flight hardware) has neither visited space nor returned from it (and NO, it is NOT just like a scaled-up Apollo (“on steroids)” that was Orion’s line — and that hadn’t help them get an expedited trip up there, either. You don’t “Qual-by-Resemblance”!!

    Regardless, any capsule – CST, Orion, even *GASP!* Dragon (or BO’s, or Dream Chaser) will have to see such a trips in an unmanned configuration (ECLSS not necessary), just to see if they can first hold it together. More unmanned flights would add confidence data before they’d put people in. Dragon will at least get some work as well as flight experience out of its shape, before they build the crewable version with chairs & ECLSS; and I know of at least one other major party (not SpX) that plans on the same strategy.

  • Vladislaw

    windy wrote:

    “The obvious choice is CST-100″

    The obvious choice is the team that still have never launched it’s capsule?

    Since SpaceX is farther along and advertising a cheaper per seat price, SpaceX is the obvious choice.

    Boeing is working with bigelow aerospace, that is boeing’s obvious choice.

  • MrEarl

    If there is a down-select, the odvious choices are Boeing and Dream Chaser.
    SpaceX has already said they would develop the Dragon manned capsule even without government funds. They will also have COT’s money and experiance to further develop their craft.
    Boeing provides an experianced aerospace company with a very high chance of success. Dream Chaser is a design that originated at NASA and is being preped at NASA facilities that should instill a level of confort not found with the Blue Origins project.
    There you have three vehicals from the funding of 2.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    This convenient, leisurely, lucrative, political competition is over.

    Lucrative? Lockheed Marting building the $8B Orion/MPCV without having to co-invest in the program is lucrative.

    All of the CCDev participants have to pony up their own money in order to be in the program. For reasons you have never stated, you think that is a bad idea.

    Congress may not know this, but proposals for the next phase of the Commercial Crew Program (CCiCap) have already been submitted to NASA and are under review. The award announcement date for the winning proposals is around the July/August timeframe, and proposals have to have identified how they will provide a complete end-to-end transportation system, how much they will invest, and when they will demonstrate crewed operations.

    The heavy hand of Boeing is likely behind some of this Congressional effort, and that’s likely because they don’t see a clear path to winning outright in the next contract, especially if Sierra Nevada submits a good proposal.

    Boeing can’t win on price vs SpaceX, and I’m sure there is a large desire within NASA to include a horizontal lander in the mix. That leaves Boeing in the third position in a field where only two may be picked to be funded due to the lack of funding from Congress.

  • amightywind

    If it makes you feel any better, remember that China has said that they can’t match SpaceX’s estimated launch costs.

    SpaceX’s devolutionary Falcon 9 is supposed to do miracles on what may be the lowest performing kerolox engines in use. But I don’t believe a word of it.

    Since SpaceX is farther along

    Dubious. But at least you are coming to terms with the reality of the down select. That’s progress on this forum.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Listening to Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan expound on national space policy is a little like listening to Ted Nugent and Sean Penn weigh in on presidential candidates. Their passion is strong, but their political wisdom is pretty much nada. The space operations and management history that Armstrong, Cernan and Lovell represent is really not the operations and management future we envision. That is, they represent heroism, bravery and success, but not policy or management smarts. We confuse those things at our peril.

    To the extent that these astronauts are concerned about unnecessary expenditures by NASA and our ability to get to ISS, one would like to believe that they’d want to spend their time expounding on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of SLS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    SpaceX’s devolutionary Falcon 9 is supposed to do miracles on what may be the lowest performing kerolox engines in use”

    sometimes what passes for commentary makes one weep.

    Consider the above in light of the person who wrote it’s statements on the EELV last thread.

    Since EELV cost are rising year after year…without any real change in EELV performance…ie there is no more bang for the buck…then the “rise” in EELV cost has to be in the cost of the technology in the vehicle spread out over the launch rate of the vehicle.

    which means that the EELV is designed flawed if one of the aspects of the vehicle is a price that stays affordable.

    Now can SpaceX’s technology meet that challenge…IE can it reliably toss X amount of payload into orbit at a cost that does not increase more then inflation per year? The jury is still out on that…but if it does then the design is a success.

    RGO

  • vulture4

    The downselect should include eliminating SLS/Orion, since there is no money to send it beyond earth orbit it is really just a Commercial Crew competitor.

    SpaceX and CST-100 should be selected for now; even absent flight hardware the CST is the only competitor beyond SpaceX that has a feasible operational concept. The Dreamchaser L/D is vastly inferior to that of the X-37 and is insufficient to make safe runway landings. The BO capsule is a reasonable design but not close to flight ready. The X-37C should be added as a new phase I design.

  • Miya

    Dragon is the only vehicle to successfully launch and return so far, and if their ISS mission this month goes well they’re basically a lock for a spot.

    Dream Chaser has made remarkable progress in the last year and last I heard they’re doing flight tests over the Summer, so an actual launch in the next 12-18 months may not be out of the question.

    Apart from the mock-up drop last month we haven’t heard much from Boeing about the CST-100 in the last 6-8 months, so it’s hard to say how much progress they have or haven’t made.

    Blue Origin’s vehicle is the wildcard of the bunch but to be honest I don’t see it coming out of nowhere and taking a spot if there’s a down-select.

    If Congress does force NASA to down-select to two (I’m hoping they won’t) – my money’s on Dragon and Dream Chaser unless Boeing has something big up their sleeves.

  • The administration has undermined support for private Commercial Crew development in Congress by not setting clear near term goals for our public space program while trying to integrate private companies into wasteful international big government programs like the ISS.

    The primary near term goal for NASA’s manned space program should be to establish permanently manned outpost at the lunar poles for the production of water to sustain the outpost (dramatically reducing the cost of sustaining such outpost) and for eventual export to the rest of cis-lunar space.

    The ISS needs to be ended by the end of 2015 so that a new generation of larger and cheaper American made space stations can be deployed throughout cis-lunar space– including simple artificial gravity producing rotating space stations and transhabs for interplanetary travel.

    Space tourism should be the focus of private spaceflight companies. And Congress needs to support such efforts by establishing a National and International space lotto system so that billions of private individuals around the world can risk a dollar or two every year for the chance to fly into space aboard private US spacecraft to private US space stations. Congress could even subsidize the National Space Lotto with $1 billion dollars of extra funds each year to provide a floor of confidence for investors in private spaceflight companies; this would still be $2 billion cheaper annually than using the costly $3 billion a year ISS program as a make-work program for private spaceflight companies.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • common sense

    “Dream Chaser is a design that originated at NASA”

    Not true. It is a reverse engineered soviet spacecraft. Absolutely not originated at NASA (Langley).

    “The Dreamchaser L/D is vastly inferior to that of the X-37 and is insufficient to make safe runway landings. The BO capsule is a reasonable design but not close to flight ready. The X-37C should be added as a new phase I design.”

    Do you have data to support your statement on L/D? What L/D do you refer to? Hypersonic L/D? Transonic? Supersonic? Subsonic? Come on!

    BO capsule or biconic? I don’t know of any orbital capsule BO is developing. Now for the CCDev, biconic is very risky. Most likely not monostable. Also lack of static stability in particular roll and yaw. My suspicion is they went with the biconic since it was a JSC idea (no I cannot prove this).

    They will not take X-37 for a NASA craft. It’s gone. Live with it.

    “If Congress does force NASA to down-select to two ”

    Well if they do I would not be surprised that SpaceX go it alone. The result will be yet another time shame on our Congress since SpaceX will fly a crewed vehicle long before any of the others even have an uncrewed vehicle in flight. If Elon secures enough cash from the satellite business you better believe he WILL fly a crewed Dragon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    The downselect should include eliminating SLS/Orion, since there is no money to send it beyond earth orbit it is really just a Commercial Crew competitor. >>

    A few points if I might.

    First (and I say this with all respect possible if any of the Dreamchaser people read this forum, they must someone sends me things occasionally)…When I think of the Dreamchaser concept most of the time I revert to the notions I had about Vans Aircraft a decade or so ago (well two decades).

    I love airplanes (I fly and test and manage them for a living) all sorts of airplanes…I’ve rebuilt a lot of “antiques”, have test flown but never built a true “homemade”. ie either one that “I” designed (shudder) or a person sold as a kit. I’ve always thought of doing it but just never have. A good friend on Torrey Pines (near the house in Clear Lake) bought an “RV” way before Van became the household name he is now. Brave soul he paid the full up price for the kit, long before the “kit” was flying and in my view Van was living pay check to pay check…I kept waiting for my friend to meet me one day and tell me the sob story of how all the money was gone…but the sub kits kept coming…and as one watched my friend put them together…well I still didnt think Van could put the entire plane together…but then we went out to the “factory” ….and you know that was impressive…got some stick time. Van and I went out and did some heavy “test manuevers”…and…then the real parts of the kit starting coming…and

    Van right now (and has for sometime) in my view builds one of the finest set of kits on the market. The planes are buildable by “mere mortals” and safe but high performance, well thought out in their design tradeoffs…and joys to fly and pleasant to ride in.

    Dreamchaser might just be one of those neat ideas that really never lifts off…but it might be more and in my view for the very small amount of dollars that it takes to keep them going…I would.

    I do think that the capsule “notion” has a lot of advantages and I am eager to see the FBW work on Dreamchaser…but as I said, every dollar spent on it has value as opposed to say SLS and Orion which is just a dead end

    BTW I notice on NASASPACEFLIGHT.com that NASA HSF is now doing its favorite thing…simulating Orion missions.

    The thing that in my view should not go into the mix…X-37. it has a funding source. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 2:25 pm >>

    the most politically tone deaf thing I have read. only Whittington goes farther. RGO

  • Ferris Valyln

    Everyone who is limiting the discussion of CCiCap selection to just CST-100/Atlas V, Dragon/Falcon 9, Dreamchaser/Atlas V, and Blue Origin – there is another player in the mix. And don’t think they aren’t serious.

  • Last night I attended a presentation by Mike Leinbach, former Shuttle launch director who’s now director of human spaceflight for ULA. He said that if Congress decides to cut the funding for commercial crew, NASA will have no choice but to reduce to one or two because spreading the limited funding among more than two will only slow things down further. He also said he supports as much competition as possible, so it sounds like he supports the Administration’s $835 million request. He was also very generous in praise with SpaceX, acknowledging that all of the competitors are important to the future of U.S. human spaceflight.

    For those who claim that the only way to inspire “the next generation” is to spend $50 billion on collecting more Moon rocks, this wonderful two-minute piece ran on an NBC affiliate in Hartford CT:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km6qIgiAVQQ

    It’s about a group of high school STEM students who are sending up an experiment on the COTS-2 SpaceX Dragon to determine if they can find a way to avoid bone loss during long-duration space flight.

    For these students, it’s clear that they are very inspired by the current space program and are going to find the true benefits for humanity, which are not a bunch of rocks.

  • Just fyi: there is a “strong rumor” that only 4 proposals were submitted for CCiCap, Blue not being among them, and the “new” bidder was LM-ATK for Liberty.

    Further, the “story” is that there may be an “intent” to fund 3 providers tho perhaps at unequal levels.

    Finalists have been notified. Given the above info and news of an “Updates to Liberty” press conf tomorrow by ATK, one can assume that Liberty was among them.

    Talk about newspeak, IMHO Liberty=tied up with ridiculous concept

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m sure there is a large desire within NASA to include a horizontal lander in the mix

    That would not be a legitimate consideration.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “The administration has undermined support for private Commercial Crew development in Congress by not setting clear near term goals for our public space program while trying to integrate private companies into wasteful international big government programs like the ISS. “

    This is just silly. The only way the administration could not of “undermined” support would been to say:

    Here;

    Senator Shelby .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Senator Nelson .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Senator Hutchinson .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Senator Hatch .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Senator Hall .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Senator blah blah blah .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    And to the house

    Representative Blah blah blah .. 5 – 10 billion in pork for monster rocket we don’t need.

    Even then they would have still wanted to chop, roadblock or slowdown any commercial effort that was faster and cheaper.

    You really really do not understand .. it is not about exploration. It is not about the space frontier. Not about more astronauts or American leadership in space.

    This has been proven over and over and over in the last 3 decades.

    It is ALL about the pork. Who gets what and how do they keep the campaign contributions flowing.

  • common sense

    For those who understand watch this

    http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2012/04/CFD-image-for-wind-tunnel.png

    This is the BO biconic. To read it (I assume) you look at the vertical plane that shows the Mach number (M), looks like 3 in the freestream. The surface contours represent the pressure coefficient (Cp). The angle of attack must be near the angle of the cone since most of the cone has the max pressure. Look at the flaps. They are effective and may provide stability even though I cannot clearly tell. The CFD gris is reasonably fine at this level. It may be an inviscid run though. May have been built for early GNC work. Back to the model. Note how “sharp” the edges are near the flat bottom? And at the connection between the cones. All those will have to be blended in so to speak or the heating will be nasty at Mach 25. Or they will need ablative TPS but it may just kill their aerodynamics. In any case. BO is probably far from done if their vehicle looks anything like this which it may, or not.

    The view does not help much but it seems that the blending of the various surfaces is better on the Dream Chaser even though I am not quite sure about the rear volume below the “wing”.

    http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2012/04/Press21.jpg

    FWIW.

  • Coastal Ron

    Ferris Valyln wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    …there is another player in the mix. And don’t think they aren’t serious.

    Are you talking about Excalibur Almaz?

    If so, then I don’t see that system as an improvement over Soyuz. Both seat three, and though their spacecraft is supposed to be reusable for at least 50 flights, there are only two of them. Not a lot of capacity, and not much redundancy.

    How do we expand our presence into space if we’re limited by a total usable capacity of six people?

    Is that who you meant?

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    “Listening to Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan expound on national space policy is a little like listening to Ted Nugent and Sean Penn weigh in on presidential candidates.”

    Except it’s not.

    “Their passion is strong, but their political wisdom is pretty much nada.” Their advocacy is couched in experience given their careers navagating the politics of space along with the pragmatics accoaiating with actually operating in that environment.

    “The space operations and management history that Armstrong, Cernan and Lovell represent is really not the operations and management future we envision.” “we?” Speak for yourself. The furture ‘you’ envision, commercial HSF will, if it every gets off the ground, be stuck going in LEO circles for generations of futures to come.

    “That is, they represent heroism, bravery and success, but not policy or management smarts.” Except they do.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    The primary near term goal for NASA’s manned space program should be to establish permanently manned outpost at the lunar poles for the production of water to sustain the outpost (dramatically reducing the cost of sustaining such outpost) and for eventual export to the rest of cis-lunar space.

    I guess you were asleep during the Republican primary?

    After the failed Gingrich lunar colony speech, which he agrees was poorly pitched, no one is going to be spending $100B subsidizing a non-existent lunar water market.

    In the mean time, Congress continues to strongly back the ISS.

  • Ferris Valyln

    Coastal Ron,

    No, I am not talking about EA (although I wouldn’t rule them out). No, Lurio mentioned who I was talking about – Liberty and ATK.

    We’ll find out who their partner is tomorrow

    And please understand – I am not suggesting who should or should not win an award – merely that to ignore the Liberty project (and its associated capsule) would be a mistake.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    ‘Their advocacy is couched in experience given their careers navagating the politics of space along with the pragmatics accoaiating with actually operating in that environment.’

    LOL, what careers were those exactly?

    ‘Except they do.’
    Where exactly?

  • Coastal Ron

    Ferris Valyln wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    No, I am not talking about EA (although I wouldn’t rule them out).

    Just from a pure capabilities standpoint, I would think they are #5 out of five.

    No, Lurio mentioned who I was talking about – Liberty and ATK.

    They are partnering with a spacecraft builder? That would be news.

    Ah, I see the post from Charles Lurio above. And who said NewSpace wasn’t exciting? ;-)

    Gotta give it to ATK – they are trying really hard to do something useful.

    Something else about ATK to keep in mind. They have stated that they think they can fly the Liberty for around $180M/flight. That is still far higher than Falcon Heavy ($128M/flight), but it’s far lower than Delta IV Heavy (supposedly ~$450M), and reportedly lower than even the basic Atlas V (depending on the contract, up to $200M).

    That just adds more competitive pressure to ULA, although I do truly feel that ULA is trying to rape the government for all they can while they still have a monopoly.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    That would not be a legitimate consideration.

    I wouldn’t dismiss it. There are technical reasons for Dream Chaser, in that it has low G-loads compared to capsules. That could be beneficial for many types of cargo as well as injured humans.

    I guess we’ll know soon if they are still under consideration.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 6:03 pm
    “Their advocacy is couched in experience given their careers navagating the politics of space along with the pragmatics accoaiating with actually operating in that environment.”

    Excuse me?? Navigating the politics of space? Please point me to their activities in “navigating politics”. Armstrong is a smart guy. He’s been named to a number of review committees. But it’s for his savvy in old-school NASA operations management and perhaps engineering. The others may actually know roughly where the Hill is. Or maybe you mean astronaut office politics? Yes, that’s serious business. But it has nothing to do with federal space policy.

    “Actually operating in that environment”? Ah, you mean having lunar dust in their ears (well, not Lovell), and having been weightless. Not really clear what political astuteness those things convey, though politicians often seem to operate with an admixture of pixie dust and levity. We should get the occupy folks in NYC to take over Wall Street. They’ve been actually operating in that environment. They’ve got their sleeping bags laid out in that environment.

    The future I envision is a space program that values economy (Apollo? No way!) and a strong reliance on robotics and information science (Apollo never even heard of that stuff). Those guys are noble astronauts, and I honor them as such, but they’re from a world that doesn’t really exist anymore. We confuse nobility with capability at our peril.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Their advocacy is couched in experience given their careers navagating the politics of space along with the pragmatics accoaiating with actually operating in that environment.

    Except it’s not (to use your new favorite phrase). They never had to navigate the “politics of space”.

    Were they elected officials? No

    Were they part of NASA management? No

    They never had to navigate anything more than office politics in order to become “the chosen ones”. They were employees hired to do dangerous jobs, but employees just the same.

    As usual you fail to prove your assertions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Charles Lurio wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Just fyi: there is a “strong rumor” that only 4 proposals were submitted for CCiCap, Blue not being among them, and the “new” bidder was LM-ATK for Liberty.>>

    You are a smart guy…what would be (if you care to) your evaluation of the politics behind this? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    ‘Their advocacy is couched in experience given their careers navagating the politics of space along with the pragmatics accoaiating with actually operating in that environment.’

    really? RGO

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Rest easy, Windy. The only thing reliable about Space X is their unreliability. Commentary spun to minimize the professional experience, judgements and contributions to space policy, spaceflight architecture, design and input on and/or procurement procedures by the astronaut corps is a desperately trite strategy, indeed. The feedback unto the programs from the people who’ve risked their lives flying the hardware- like Cernan (who BTW, was a paid consultant to ABC News on space for well over a decade, not just GMA, in addition to Coral Petroleum and other business ventures,) by Lovell, Armstrong and others has been validated many times over. Any attempt to spin otherwise is adolescent. The commercialist critics are simply scared. And rightly so. Because when it comes to aerospace, their hero talks openly of being ‘self-taught’ … “I read a lot of books on it… ha, ha, ha,” he sheepishly guffawed to an eyebrow-raised Scott Pelley. On the other hand, we have a more responsible perspective, from Armstrong:

    Armstrong: “In order to get a comprehensive perspective on this issue, I asked a number of senior industry leaders for their observations on the matter. This narrative is a compilation of my thoughts and their responses… http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans…gov/…/092211_Armstrong.pdf

    “The larger human exploration goals, however, lie beyond LEO: Luna, the lunar Lagrangian points, Mars and its natural satellites, and Near Earth Objects including meteoroids, comets, and asteroids. Last year I testified to this committee on the rationale for selecting Luna and its environs as the preferred initial option for America ’s exploration beyond Earth orbit.All that I have learned in the past year has just reinforced that opinion. Predicting the future is inherently risky, but the proposed Space Launch System (SLS) includes many proven and reliable components which suggest that its development could be relatively trouble free. If that proves to be so, it would bode well for exploration.”- Neil A. Armstrong
    source-http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans…gov/…/092211_Armstrong.pdf

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/26/neil-armstrong-nasa-space-program_n_981309.html

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 8:45 am

    “…they [Armstrong, Cernan, Lovell] don’t bring much wisdom to the table.” Except they do. And Musk, in near tears w/ Pelley, desperately craves their approval. “I wish it wasn’t so hard,” says Musk. Except it is.

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    “Mike Leinbach, former Shuttle launch director who’s now director of human spaceflight for ULA said that if Congress decides to cut the funding for commercial crew [which it clearly is doing], NASA will have no choice but to reduce to one or two because spreading the limited funding among more than two will only slow things down further.” Good–allthe more reason for Musk to meet schedules and get flying. Otrherwise, bye-bye, Space X. “[Leinbach] also said he supports as much competition as possible….” Just what commercial needs- the ‘wisdom’ of shed shuttle managers who repeatedly failed to keep costs down and get their vehicles launched on time as touchstones of ‘wisdom.’ As bad as listening to Garver.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    “They never had to navigate the “politics of space”.”=blink= Except they did. You really should read up on it.=eyeroll=

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    “Not really clear what political astuteness those things convey…” See above. But if commercialist strategies now include to diss and dismissing experienced ‘been there, done that’ Apollo people because they won’t endorse your methodology, it smacks of an immaturity associated w/adolescent bravado. Which is why Cernan rightly stated, ‘they don’t know what they don’t know yet.’ “The future I envision is a space program that values economy (Apollo? No way!) and a strong reliance on robotics and information science (Apollo never even heard of that stuff).” Pretty dull, Doug. Beancounters so not inspire, Doug. Economy, eh– then you cannot embrace the $1.2 billion Curiosity project, more than double its original budget, as it strains the credibility of your notion of ‘economy.’ You confuse economy w/value. Embracing/expecting a reasonable ROI as a measure of valued economy is a good metric. The ISS certainly is not doing that. Commercial HSF to LEO for the doomed ISS certainly is not either,, eapecially w/an operatinal cargo and crew system in place: Progress and Soyuz. And ‘flag waving’ as a motivation is not economy of purpose but emotionally driven. Curiosity certainly is not a measure of economy, either. JWST certainly is not. Apollo was- as the ROI was justfied in geo-political terms. And those famed ‘Cernan intangibles’ – a bonus by any measures- are priceless. An economy of purposed purchases bought $50 worth of paints and canvas for Van Gogh; it’s the ROI- the multi-million dollar paintings, which are the treasures we value. Beancounters motived by economy do not inspire, Doug.

  • Malmesbury

    There was a strong hint in the recent hearings about what would happen in the vent of a down select to one vendor. Bolden was asked why they didn’t just pick Atlas 5 as the Launcher now. He responded that they might not pick Atlas 5.

    If the down select is mandated and NASA goes for Dragon/Falcon 9 – it will be interesting to watch heads explode.

    The funny thing is that if LEO access is so vital – well, that is exactly why we need competition. How many times do we have to select a wonderful design from a contractor, and 600% of the predicted cost later find we have bought a lemon.

    Failure is not an option. It is a vital ingredient of success. We need to fly at least two competitors.

    The elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is this. Commercial Crew is seen as a threat to Orion/SLS. If there is only one CC winner, then Orion can be claimed to be vital as backup. But if CC has inbuilt backup…. you might have a world with 2 COTS systems and 2 (possibly different) CC systems….

    It’s not just the porksters – some sincere supporters of BEO believe religiously that they need a Big Rocket. If SLS stumbles, easy for the politicians to cut that if there is home grown way to get Americans into space. With a backup, no less. And a separate cargo delivery system.

    The real irony is that CC is vital for doing anything – even in SLS is the main NASA launcher for BEO missions. SLS flights will be rare – 0.5 a year to 1-2 a year. You can do flag and footprints to the moon with a single SLS flight (maybe). For all else you need multiple flights – a process that will resemble ISS more than Apollo. being able to get personnel and additional materials to the construction site will be vital. On-site occupation by astronauts during construction will probably be required….

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 8th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Really.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Predicting the future is inherently risky, but the proposed Space Launch System (SLS) includes many proven and reliable components which suggest that its development could be relatively trouble free. If that proves to be so, it would bode well for exploration.”- Neil A. Armstrong”

    And what if it isn’t “trouble free”? We are going to spend 8-10 BILLION for a capsule. How much for SLS? We have already invested how many billions for the SRB’s.

    When was the last time that NASA developed a trouble free human spacecraft?

  • Malmesbury

    “When was the last time that NASA developed a trouble free human spacecraft?”

    Ares 1

    no, wait……

    But Liberty will be perfect, you betcha! Much better and cheaper than Atlas 5….

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Armstrong: ‘…tried and tested components’. Armstrong’s forgotten any engineering he ever knew. Components, when put together, form a system. System behaviour can be completely different to individual components since components in a system can be inter-dependent. Failure in one can be caused by failure in another, etc. etc. etc.
    SLS is nothing but vapourware at the moment comprising a hodge podge of bits and pieces. Bit like NASA’s planned uses for the ISS after completion. Oh, no plan. How surprising!!
    Sheesh!!

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 1:17 am

    “But if commercialist strategies now include to diss and dismissing experienced ‘been there, done that’ Apollo people because they won’t endorse your methodology, it smacks of an immaturity associated w/adolescent bravado.”

    In my skepticism about the political, management, and or fiscal competence of these Apollo astronauts, I said NOTHING about commercialism. So put down that hammer. You’re using it to whack on a screw. I asked for some clear evidence that these noble astronauts had something to offer with respect to long range policy smarts, and I still haven’t heard it.

    “Beancounters so not inspire, Doug. Economy, eh– then you cannot embrace the $1.2 billion Curiosity project, more than double its original budget, as it strains the credibility of your notion of ‘economy.’

    Excuse me. Who is “embracing” the budget overruns on Curiosity (and JWST for that matter)? Not me. I think they’re a travesty.

    As to beancounters not inspiring, nope, they sure don’t. But not counting beans doesn’t inspire either. What beancounting allows is smart fiscal management that can enable missions that might not have otherwise been affordable. Beancounting enables inspiration, if you will. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that the Apollo budget, which was 3-4% percent of the total U.S. federal budget in 1965 is in some way politically defensible as a space exploration investment to our current leaders or to our nation. It’s not. But that’s the modicum that these particular astronauts represent. I don’t confuse economy with value, I define value as being based on economy. The word “economy” doesn’t mean “doing things on the cheap”. It means not paying more than you need to to get a job done. The job that the Apollo program did was wonderful. As a “beat the USSR job” it was profoundly successful. But what we paid to do seven missions to the vicinity of the Moon left us with what Roger Launius calls a “divided legacy” for NASA and the aerospace community. As a “begin the path for human exploration of space” job, it was largely a failure. Where was Neil Armstrong and his buddies and their policy smarts when the lunar program cratered? Where were the beancounters looking out for that legacy?

  • Malmesbury

    Tested systems for SLS -

    5 seg booster – no, wait, the grain is new, the configuration is new, the joints are modified.
    SSME – no, wait, the initial engines will be modified. The expendable ones (to be developed) will be very different. Lots of improvements apparently.
    The external tank – totally re-engineered. Essentially the same shape, but very different internally.

    I see a theme here….

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Except they did. You really should read up on it.

    I did. They didn’t.

    I know it’s hard for you to provide examples of things that you make up out of thin air, but in the real world people provide simple examples to support their arguments. Can you?

    Can you provide one example each showing how Armstrong, Cernan and Lovell had “careers navagating the politics of space”?

    And just so you understand what the word “career” means in this case, it means “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life”.

    Let the theatrical yawning and eyerolling begin…

  • Robert G. Oler

    My Great Grandmother once told me that “people grow old when they cannot imagine a future different then their past”…and despite their personal experience (and amazingly so actuallY) no matter what other accomplishments that they had after their “space time”. the three Apollo folks mentioned here…have grown old.

    Go to the various web sites and read in particular Armstrong’s comments and one sort of can see his motives…in their world NASA is a pretty vibrant organization (and that is true) …but what is amazingly one dimensional…is that for all the dollars and effort and national backing put into their NASA the number of people who got to the Moon is statistically trivial, there is nothing long lasting in the effort…and what it left is simply a government bureaucracy.

    It takes courage to imagine a world different; where there is success and failure, where judgments are crucial to success and where success is defined as a lasting impact on the economy of the US not just simply more flags and footprints.

    As Tony Perkins said yesterday on another topic “we need a world we can understand”…and all that admits is that they are unable to comprehend a dynamic world where change is the summoner of the future.

    At some point here The Dragon will fly and be successful…and it will demonstrate the basic truth of the American free enterprise system…private industry can invent a better mousetrap. And all the naysayers will be stuck in their imagined past. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Given the above info and news of an “Updates to Liberty” press conf tomorrow by ATK, one can assume that Liberty was among them.

    I have a really bad feeling about this. But isn’t this latest round supposed to be about integrated solutions? That would mean some spacecraft provider has teamed up with ATK. Any ideas who it could be? Maybe Excalibur Almaz or *shudder* CST-100 (as a backup launcher)?

  • Coastal Ron

    Malmesbury wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I see a theme here….

    Apparently when Armstrong says “the proposed Space Launch System (SLS) includes many proven and reliable components“, he’s talking about the black & white paint they use to make the SLS resemble the Saturn V.

    Because as you point out, everything underneath the paint is brand new and untested in the SLS configuration.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    That would mean some spacecraft provider has teamed up with ATK. Any ideas who it could be? Maybe Excalibur Almaz or *shudder* CST-100 (as a backup launcher)?

    I don’t see why Boeing would move over to a non-Boeing rocket (Boeing is a 50/50 partner in ULA).

    It’s not SpaceX, and Blue Origin is only needing a rocket long enough to bide them over until they build their own. SNC’s Dream Chaser? Excalibur Almaz? Someone new?

    We’ll know soon…

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t see why Boeing would move over to a non-Boeing rocket (Boeing is a 50/50 partner in ULA).

    Maybe they think it will hurt SpaceX more, or help SLS more. Or maybe it’s just my fear talking.

    We’ll know soon…

    Well, I’m going to bed. I won’t know the outcome until after I come back from work tomorrow. Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    “My Great Grandmother once told me that “people grow old when they cannot imagine a future different then their past”…and despite their personal experience (and amazingly so actuallY) no matter what other accomplishments that they had after their “space time”. the three Apollo folks mentioned here…have grown old.”

    Age discrimination is not a wise policy spin for commercialists but if you want to keep pitching it, go for it. Keep it up. Keep dissing the dissenting Apollo era people who’ve been there and done that. Aging is an individual varriant, but a close friend has spent time w/Aldrin in swimming therapy and he’s in tip-top shape for his age. Suggest you read some of Armstrong’s articulate testimony in the Congressional Record as well- and compare it to his comments and criticism on spaceflight, gov’t/commercial ventures and aerospace over the past 40 years. It remains remarkably articulate and consistent and clear. Even during the Apollo era, Lindbergh’s views were considered w/respect when disagreed with, and certainily not dismissed w/ ‘age rage’ – for instance, his oppostition to SST development was well known for environmental reasons, among other problems of that era, and in the long run, his perspective turns out to have been correct. (As was his support for Goddard in lean times.) The SST was shelved, the 747 flourished and still fly while the Anglo-French Concordes were flown to museums, environmentally shunned and ultimately doomed as economically unviable.

    “At some point here The Dragon will fly and be successful…” Hmmm, but you’re slipping- Musketeers keep reminding the press it has already flown successfully. Apparently you mean it will become successful when it becomes operational. Perhaps. We’ll see, once they stop delaying. Flying crews- doubtful. “…and it will demonstrate the basic truth of the American free enterprise system…” except it’s not a true ‘free market’ private enterprised system, as it has been subsidized by tax dollars. “…private industry can invent a better mousetrap.” It has- many times, but if there’s a market for it– and the best one is still the original spring variety- like Progress and Soyuz— they work. “And all the naysayers will be stuck in their imagined past.” Past is prologue, and couched in reality, RGO. “As Tony Perkins said yesterday on another topic “we need a world we can understand”…Tony gives the anguished cry of those being left behind w/rotary phones, carbon paper and John McCain.

  • vulture4

    Liberty will be proposed as a carrier of the Orion, revealing its true identity – Ares I reincarnate.

  • vulture4

    And I wanted to say that at one time Neil Armstrong was the best pilot in the world. It is tragic to see him as a political shill. If he can come up with $400B he is welcome to fly back to the moon with Constellation.

  • vulture4

    Mike Leinbach, on the other hand, has again demonstrated methodical reasoning and laudable dedication. He genuinely wants SapceX to be funded because he believes that even though competition would make life more difficult for ULA, it would be better for America.

  • pathfinder_01

    Honestly I can’t think of who would take the risk of putting thier capsule on that system. Atlas and Falcon 9 atleast exsist…liberty needs development. With liberty you risk the rocket being what delays your flight.

  • I went to the press conference. ATK and Astrium have teamed with Lockheed to use an Orion variant for the capsule. Pusher abort system, and less heat shield. They claim they’ll test a service module before Orion will, if they fly by 2015 (they need to get CCDev money to hit that date).

    Abreakingwind will probably love it.

  • Coastal Ron

    I said earlier before ATK’s announcement:

    It’s not SpaceX, and Blue Origin is only needing a rocket long enough to bide them over until they build their own. SNC’s Dream Chaser? Excalibur Almaz? Someone new?

    Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner called “Someone new”.

    OK, sort of new. ATK/Atrium’s franken-launcher with a Lockheed Martin capsule dug out of NASA’s leftover test bin.

    If anything ATK’s announcement puts to bed this important question that was debated here last year – what new spacecraft are going to be using pusher Launch Abort Systems? Everybody. Who’s going to be using Mercury/Gemini/Apollo/Soyuz tractor LAS? Nobody.

    Just thought I’d point that out.

    Also, ATK says their business case says that the Liberty SRB is disposable (as is everything except the capsule). I wonder if that was the case throughout the life of the Shuttle program (or at least after they figured out it wasn’t flying every two weeks), and the U.S. Taxpayer could have saved a bundle of money on Shuttle SRM refurbishment? I suspect yes, but from ATK’s perspective, why tell the government they don’t have to give you so much money?

    That’s Old Space for you…

  • In one of the great double entendre headlines of the day, Florida Today reports on the Liberty press conference:

    “ATK Lobbies for Liberty”

    That’s the only way they’ll get the NASA contract. Lobbying.

  • @Rand
    “Abreakingwind will probably love it.”
    Of course he will. It’s an abomination descended from the Corn Dog. He’ll be in throws of ecstasy.

  • OK, actually, it’s not a pusher abort system. It pulls, but from an ogive shield that goes over it with side thrusters, so it still has to be jettisoned.

  • Vladislaw

    From Stephen’s link:

    “A first flight test of the U.S.-European Liberty system is targeted for launch from KSC in 2014, and an initial piloted flight with company test pilots is aimed at 2015. “

    and

    “Rominger said the upcoming NASA award, which is expected this summer, “is very important to us because it puts us on a schedule to fly (ATK) crew in 2015.”

    “Without that, yes, we continue on with discretionary funding but the pace is much slower,” Rominger said. “By no means would we be flying in this decade. And so, it delays us years.”

    They are going to launch in 2 years or less with a full up capsule and pusher escape system and the modifications of Astrium’s Ariane V, plus the new engine … all in two years? I have some swamp land in florida to sell you also.

    Of course they can ONLY do this if you give them HOW MUCH?

    And people say that Elon Musk talks to ambitously about what he can do?

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    thanks for missing and making my Mamma’s point…”old” has nothing to do with physical age…rather it is a state of mind.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 9th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    It is interesting that you bring up Col Lindbergh.

    I have been reading (and listening) to a lot of his remarks recently. I have been granted visiting fellow status thanks to the USNI at the FDR and Wilson libraries. A lot of FDR’s papers are on the 70 year rule…right now every four months a new batch of “Presidential papers” which formally held security status are being released.

    “Slim” of course achieves his celebrity status based on his trip across the Atlantic and the public events that happened after that (and his rather attractive and out going wife)…but never in his commentary on foreign policy; where he is quite outspoken does he use his accomplishments as credentials for the validity of his views.

    Instead he has “current” achievements; including current flight operations trips abroad etc…his celebrity gets him on the stage; but its not “I went alone across the Atlantic so you need to listen to my views on the German Air Force”

    Parenthetically Slim’s relationship with FDR is not what one would expect. FDR is behind the scenes authorizing flights in B-17′s, observations of war games, at one point he even arranges a meeting with Black Jack Pershing who clues Lindbergh into some intel on what the Reich is up to with the “Jewish issues”. FDR lets Lindbergh go on one of the Fleet Battle excersizes…where Lindbergh meets Future Admiral Yammamoto. I am sort of imagining both of them on Saratoga observing flight operations ..

    The point of course is that Lindbergh had used his celebrity status to gain access to the “decision shapers” club but it was not what kept him there.

    Neither of the three Apollo legends seemed to have had much of a space career after “their” moment.

    Robert G. Oler

    PS I would add oddly enough both FDR and Lindbergh are right and wrong about both Germany and Japan…for the very same reason. But unlike todays fools they are trying to shape some sort of US doctrine. RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    I want to point out that those astronauts lost friends in Project “Apauling” as they called it before the Apollo 1 fire. They all do know how political engineering works – not well. How the .7 g oscillations of ATK’s Ares 1 made it through NASA safety is beyond me.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    I watched as litigation and insurance costs nearly completely killed the US general aviation industry. It was a bi-partisan effort which saved what was left, and Senator Dole played a central role in getting that legislation through.

    Sen. Lugar’s loss of the nomination indicates that your analysis of the fractioning of the Republican Party was pretty accurate.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW –

    “devolutionary”?

    If we all had to drive Formula 1 cars to get groceries, we’d all starve.

    If we all had to drive Peterbuilts down to get the groceries, we’d all starve.

    We could have had DIRECT and 2 manned LEO launchers for the money wasted on the Ares 1, all with no displacement of our technical base.

    Plain fact is, ATK is a crummy company which could not deliver a crummy rocket anywhere near on time or on budget, and that is what got us into this mess.

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 10th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    “I watched as litigation and insurance costs nearly completely killed the US general aviation industry. It was a bi-partisan effort which saved what was left, and Senator Dole played a central role in getting that legislation through.”

    YES…the notion of what “bi partisan” means has been screwed around, as have the “liberal/conservative” labels by ideological twits who have litmus test that have no real value except to simpletons.

    Bi partisan use to mean that differing philosophies of government came together to solve recognized problems.

    You name one…the liability issue for General Aviation. My Dad had a minor role in that actually he was defending one of the general aviation airplane manufactors and wrote a memo or two on the issue in terms of the pending liability reform.

    the problem today is two fold

    the first is that there is no ideological consistency much more in the GOP. They are all against “big government” but SLS/Orion make us a) proud, b) wonderful symbols of America, c) inspire us…etc. They want to privatize everything but human spaceflight is to important dangerous etc to privatize.

    The second is that this has lead to political based ideology not a philosophical one. Invading iraq on at best exaggerated information is OK but Obama doing what he did in Libya…horrible.

    There is a “bi partisan” compromise in human spaceflight…but IT SHOULD BE about keeping human spaceflight going and doing things which have some value. For instance if one of the compromises is that we have “human exploration” the notion should be around actually having it…not simply maintaining programs that use that as their moniker. But of course having SLS/Orion as the moniker of exploration is important not for exploration but for the need to have the programs.

    Lugar/Dole/Bradley/Hillary Clinton (well she is not a good example she left the Senate for something else…) lets say Kerry of Nebraska…all were people who believed in different philosophies of government but could at least work together to address issues.

    Today we have people who do not even recognize the notion of the debt defaulting. Hard to be bipartisan with that.

    The GOP is fracturing along the lines of corporations feeding BS to low information voters to maintain their industrial complex links to the federal treasury. This election is going to be in my view at least entertaining RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 10th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I want to point out that those astronauts lost friends in Project “Apauling” as they called it before the Apollo 1 fire. They all do know how political engineering works – not well>>

    Several years (well two decades!) ago I was the Senior Check Airman at FlightSafety International’s training center here in Houston…and I had the oppurtunity to both check and do some flying with one of the astronauts who played a major role in the post fire rebuild and a flight after that…I’ve agreed to keep the name private until his death…but he was kind enough to talk openly about the fire, the post fire and post fire flights…and did an oral history on tape for me.

    Apollo 1 is in the history of NASA accidents a sort of stand alone…I agree with this former astronaut that the “root cause” of the fire was that the entire Apollo project was probably at the limit (given the time constraints) of what the technology and methods then in place for managing that large a program could handle. And that was only after some major changes to the management (not people) structure and techniques were made after the fire. Up to the fire it was just a massive project (Rocket, three vehicles and a ground system) that all interacted and yet was being tracked mostly by methods which up utnil then had been barely able to handle Polaris and the submarine that carried it.

    The astronaut office in additioned to being “overwhelmed” technically was also viewing the entire effort like a “test” program with little or no operational part of it.

    My point is that there doubtless was politics involved in who got this or that effort; the Gemini 9 angry alligator problem is a good example of internal corporate and NASA politics as to who worked on what…but Apollo was pushing the limit of the scope of a project that could be managed.

    What is impressive to me about the Shuttle near misses and the ones that went bang…is that they were not so much “program management” as simply not paying attention to basic safety rules…and the astronaut office in particularly the Chief Astronauts and the flunkies who are “Safety” …simply nodding their head and going along…and I am pretty sure that is a political issue. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    This is not nearly as bad as I feared – at least not yet. If Liberty isn’t given any special privileges, manages to be cost-effective and isn’t used simply to kill of competition, then it’ s actually fine. But that does require three awards. If the funding for it materialises then Liberty may turn out to be a net win. Interesting how competition has forced ATK to become more commercial and entrepreneurial. And if even ATK can do it, then there’s no doubt that ULA could do so too.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Another consideration is that if Liberty ever becomes operational, it increases the pressure for having enough affordable payloads to keep several launch vehicles busy. Propellant is the obvious choice. It also generates pressure to do so ASAP, which would be great news.

    Wasting money on SLS is disastrously bad, wasting it on Liberty while killing SLS is merely somewhat inefficient.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    Thanks. That tape will make interesting listening, someday, I hope one much further down the road. Those system limits explain the Apollo 13 oxygen bottle screw-up as well.

  • Interesting how competition has forced ATK to become more commercial and entrepreneurial.

    Actually, all we know is that it has forced them to make speeches and issue press releases saying that they are. What happens to their cost structure when SLS is cancelled, and they have to absorb the entire overhead of SRB production?

  • Coastal Ron

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 11th, 2012 at 10:16 am

    What happens to their cost structure when SLS is cancelled, and they have to absorb the entire overhead of SRB production?

    That would also mean that they would have to fully absorb the costs of using and maintaining the two crawlers, as well as the crawlway. Probably lots of other stuff too that they plan for the government to pay for in the name of “providing a vital national service”.

    I know they have been talking about $180M/launch for just the Liberty, but I just don’t see how they can do that. Not with all the cost add-ons for passing along profit for Astrium on the launcher. Then you add Lockheed Martin for the capsule – those companies are not cheap to work with.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Actually, all we know is that it has forced them to make speeches and issue press releases saying that they are.

    Good point. Still progress though, and I would guess they have been spending some real time on design too, though we can’t be sure of that.

  • John

    The point is ATK has become NASA’s bridge to nowhere. Taxpayers were taken for a ride on the billions spent for SRB development while America sacrificed its space program. Lets all hope the next administration cancels SLS and ATK’s future.

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