NASA, Other, White House

Former astronaut a convert to the administration’s space policy

Former astronaut Mark Kelly—perhaps best known as the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords—reveals in an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel that he initially was not a suporter of the Obama Administration’s change in direction for NASA. “I was not a fan at first of canceling the Constellation rocket program. I worried about what it would mean for NASA’s overall mission, and what it would do to the brilliant and patriotic men and women who work there,” he writes.

That assessment has changed, though, he says. “I’m impressed by how far SpaceX has come in the past 17 months,” he states, referring to the company’s Dragon test flight to the ISS this week. “The dramatic cost savings of commercial spaceflight — savings we need to reduce the deficit and grow our economy — let us expand the frontiers of space and stay at the forefront of technological innovation.”

He goes on to express support for various aspects of the administration’s efforts, from commercial crew to infrastructure upgrades at the Kennedy Space Center. “The president made a tough, bold decision — and I now believe he was right,” he concludes. Ironically, it was his wife who, in the debate on the NASA authorization act of 2010 on the House floor, spoke out against the bill that enshrined many elements of the administration’s plan into law.

140 comments to Former astronaut a convert to the administration’s space policy

  • Robert G. Oler

    Of course Obama was correct…and we are seeing that.

    It is amazing to me how many people here want European socialism in terms of our space program. There is effectively no difference in how NASA works with its contractors then how things are done in Europe or in Russia or in China…

    So people who push SLS/Orion are trying to delete the free enterprise system and move us to some sort of European socialist program

    Shame on you Wind, Whittington and all the GOP Congresspeople who support this. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=42693

    Rand gets a typical Mike Griffin (anatomicalpart) slapdown…Griffin is a loud mouth who has little facts to back him up, he is Psycho Dan Goldin without any of Goldin’s brains or talent.

    But a curious thing in the exchange which I assume Rand is reporting accurately (at least it reads that way to me), Griffin never really bothers to engage on facts…

    in an era where Griffin had a lot of time and a lot of money to develop heavy lift…and did nothing successful…it is a pretty good lesson on denial of reality that Griffin finds it necessary to be rude and condescending alone to Simberg who while a luminary in the space blogger community certainly is not making policy or is in danger of really being listened to by those who are.

    Yet Griffin finds it necessary to do that…curious.

    RGO

  • josh

    nice to see that people can actually change their minds and admit that they were wrong in the past. i’m not holding my breath for someone like windy to come around though. his economic self-interest (he works for atk, right?) tops everything else for him.

  • josh

    griffin turned out to be a psycho and a fool. what a disappointment. i had high hopes for the guy when he first became administrator. instead he managed to burn through 10 billion with next to nothing to show for it.
    his credibility is non-existent at this point.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly is not the first to change his mind about transferring routine NASA tasks like cargo and crew over to commercial companies, and I would expect to see even more publicly (and privately) come to the same conclusion.

    SpaceX is just the first of what hopefully will be many more companies that will prove they have the “Right Stuff” to safely operate vehicles in space. SpaceX has a couple more flights in the limelight before they transition to “been there, done that” status – which is what we want for all routine space transportation.

    Next up for cargo flight excitement is Orbital Sciences with their Antares/Cygnus flights. I’m not sure about the long-term prospects for Antares, but Cygnus is a very capable vehicle, and it’s service bus could end up being the foundation for the first generation of space tugs.

    Then we start getting into the test phase for CCiCap, based on who the announced winners are later this year. 2012/13 is going to be a very busy year for writers and blogger in the space arena.

    What this means:

    The U.S. is already self-sufficient in the payload to space market, though ULA is not competitive in the world market. SpaceX is competitive worldwide.

    CRS means the U.S. will be self-sufficient in the cargo resupply market, and that can be expanded to any nation that wants to put up their own space station (which could include China – just sayin).

    CCiCap means the U.S. will be self-sufficient in getting crew to LEO, and since LEO is the gateway to the universe, that opens up all of space for the U.S. (over the top, I know, but true).

    Between those three capabilities, the U.S. doesn’t need to wait for “everything on one rocket” hardware like the SLS. We can assemble a modular beyond-LEO mission pretty quick and for far less than just a portion of the SLS development budget. That’s when space exploration becomes affordable, and we can finally afford to leave LEO again.

    Kill the SLS now so we can start exploring again.

  • Googaw

    Griffin has basically conceded that NASA’s HSF program is not an economic effort, but a religious one. If you’re going to build cathedrals, build them impressively, and that means big.

    As for Kelly & Giffords, they are corruptocrats who now get to hide their corruption under a thick rich blanket of martyrdom. The duo weren’t interested in Space-X until it was far enough along for Kelly to hope to use them for one of his heavenly joyrides: his thrills still funded by us suckers called taxpayers as much as they ever were.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    That is in my view a pretty good analysis…sometimes while I am “pondering” (like working on my levee) I wonder why various companies in the commercial cargo (and crew but now cargo) made the decisions that they did.

    There must have been a reason that Orbital went with the Alenia mini ninja turtle bus over a recoverable capsule…and it might be what you are banging on.

    at any rate the notion of exploration is only valid even if cost come down…if existing hardware can be adapted over simply spending tens of billions to build one of hardware. nice post RGO

  • Tom Billings

    RGO writes:

    “It is amazing to me how many people here want European socialism in terms of our space program. ”

    Well, no. They want LBJ’s style of socialism. The Texas pols want people dependent on themselves for having nice jobs, and all that goes with them. It is at least as feudal as it is socialist, and fits far too well with the old Democratic Party’s roots in the South’s rural oligarchy. Note that it isn’t really a Democrat/Republican division, or even just a Texas thing.

    That is, other than the fact that geographically LBJ pushed NASA Centers that were in areas that eventually turned Republican because they could raise a Jacksonian hurrah for “the US Space Program”, while still disliking any other government interference in their lives. The latter being what turned them Republican, while still being “LBJians”. The latest EPA ruling against the coal-burning electricity production of Texas is only the latest example in a decades long line of such interference.

    No, that combination is not rational, but it is *very* human.

    As to Griffin and Rand, …I think Rand’s standing in the blogging community has just enough idea-spreading leverage that Griffin recognizes that if Rand’s views ever predominate, his own political compromises 2005-2009 will be looked at in a light far from what he perceived when compromising with the “LBJians”. He bought the “LBJian” power needed to get along as NASA Administrator, and the price will haunt him for the rest of his life, I expect.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    “Of course Obama was correct…and we are seeing that.”

    Except he’s not, given his 180 on his own space policy pronouncements as candidate.

    “It is amazing to me how many people here want European socialism in terms of our space program.”

    LOL , playing w/strawmen again, Oler; as opposed to American socialism, eh,… like the post office, Medicare, Social Security, etc.. “We are all ‘soclalists,’” as Lawrence O’Donnell smartly and often reminds us. Sober up.

  • well

    It’s not just Obama’s idea but if pols do something right it’s probably good to give them a pat on the head.

  • DCSCA

    Mark Kelly’s poor judgement was on display to the world when, as his wife was in the very iffy early stages of battling to recover from a severe head injury, he chose to fly his shuttle mission, after already having had his share of spaceflights, rather than staying by his wife’s side. Speaks volumes. Then Kelly abruptly quit the space agency post flight, still collecting those NASA/government bennies.

  • Ron

    Tom Billings wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    “The Texas pols want people dependent on themselves for having nice jobs, and all that goes with them.”

    What was that line from “The Right Stuff?”:

    “All the fixins’.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Tom Billings wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Well, no. They want LBJ’s style of socialism. The Texas pols want people dependent on themselves for having nice jobs, and all that goes with them. It is at least as feudal as it is socialist, >>

    an interesting post and it caused some thought in my mind…

    A few points.

    First LBJ was not a socialist. If we continue this back and forth we might get into a discussion of what constitutes a “socialist” but LBJ was not one. No American President has been (and that includes this one) nor really has there been a serious candidate for President who could remotely qualify under the term socialism.

    Where a difference does exist between the modern Republican party (and this does not include Ronaldus the Great…but starts at Bush43) and the modern Democratic party which is as to how federal tax dollars should be distributed.

    Democrats believe (and their stim bill which I think was a failure) shows this…that tax dollars should be distributed through both federal programs and lessor levels of government to individuals. With government more or less acting in a regulatory mode to monitor how things are spent etc.

    The Modern GOP has become a corporate cash register. The GOP believes in distributing tax dollars in a sort of trickle down through the mechanisms of corporations most of which would not exist without the spending of governments. At that point the “corporation” assumes the role of government in terms of dealing with individuals.

    So the difference is well look at Sarah Palin’s death panels. Palin argued that “government bureaucrats” would decide when to turn Grandma’s machines off. OK thats an oversimplification but it does reasonably lean in the right direction; there would be government enforced rules in single payer as to who could get what treatment based to some extent on viability….

    But what she wont talk about is that under the plans of the GOP corporations would (and do today) do the same thing.

    there are economics in both calculus but in the terms of private corporations making the decisions the profit motive is a driver that single payer does not have. (and warning I have US single payer health care).

    Where this is playing out is in our space debate.

    There are as Rand will quickly point out a few Dems who are arguing for Mike Griffins’ cathedrals…but the main bangers on the issue are those from the GOP…Ralph Hall or Pete Olson or Kay Bailey can give an impassion plea on the evils of single payer health care (which they have BTW) and with the next breath argue that NASA should continue SLS/Orion because of various “American exceptionalism” issues and then we get down to the “nut” which is good federal and first tier contractor jobs…in their districts.

    Why do they do this? Easy answer. Both positions support the corporations which are now giving in record numbers to the GOP. This might be feudal as you mention but it is in large part socialist because NOW the corporation exist SOLEY by virtue of state support…which is a lot of the corporations in Europe.

    This can be seen in the human space program. USA (Alliance) had no life passed the government dole, ULA more or less does not either; take away any particular “part” of SLS (ie the solids for instance) and that particular congressional support fades immediately (the stakeholders).

    We are now entering a most juicy phase of politics…in which mostly GOP folks are going to argue that we have to keep Pentagon spending going at record levels soon to pass that in WW2, (and I suspect NASA’s SLS/Orion will get dragged into this) not to defeat an enemy or even prepare for one…BUT TO STOP A RECESSION NEXT YEAR.

    The Speaker of the House is already making those noises…which is entertaining because before hand they had poohpoohed the notion of federal spending being linked to economic recovery. The reality is however that all spending at the Pentagon and NASA is doing is propping up corporations which are firmly hooked to the GOP corporate wealth machine and which cannot exist without government funding.

    How the GOP keeps the people who work in such industries synched up to the notion that almost everything else in the American Republic should be privatized but those thigns…is the babble about American exceptionalism…and Mike Griffin’s “cathedral” theory.

    the workers here get over the notion of being on the federal dole because well they are special, the “help America do great things”, they “support our troops” etc…all the ethos of “you are a warrior in the war against evil as well even though you stay at home.”. when really they are just a flunkie in the corporate machine.

    As for Rand…well maybe later. RGO

  • Rhyolite

    Skepticism of SpaceX was justified at the beginning. Literally dozens of rocket start ups have fizzled over the past thirty years. Only two, Orbital and SpaceX have orbited payloads. I was skeptical but equally glad to be proven wrong.

    What they have achieved in developing new engines, launch vehicles and spacecraft outside of the tradional aerospace-government-industrial complex is unprecedented. (Even orbital mostly stacked other peoples components). At this point, I think there is every reason to believe the can do commercial crew and much more.

  • Coastal Ron

    josh wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    nice to see that people can actually change their minds and admit that they were wrong in the past.

    I’m a space enthusiast, and not in the space industry, but when I came to Jeff’s Space Politics blog I was a DIRECT fan. Over time numerous people (both directly and indirectly) educated me on how inefficient the Shuttle infrastructure was, and how that locked in high costs for DIRECT. I’m definitely proof that people’s minds can be changed.

    That education has lead me to advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space. Today that is best epitomized by SpaceX, but there are plenty more companies that are pursuing the same goals. I even hope someday that I’ll be able to root for ULA because they are lowering the cost to access space, but I may not see that happen with the current owners.

    But back to your point. Changing direction on how you think about something usually takes an epiphany of some sort – that you suddenly understand what “the new approach” is really doing better than the old approach.

    For those that look at NASA as a monolithic entity – one of those “corporations are people too” that Romney has defined – then NASA’s history of mostly competent spaceflight is a touchstone that provides comfort. You know NASA can build a working space vehicle, it’s just not known how much money it will take. But given enough money, they can look glorious doing stuff in space.

    For private spaceflight, I think most of us remember the 90′s when so many new spacecraft were getting attention, both privately and through NASA, and none of them succeeded. That has informed a lot of the resistance to trusting the claims of commercial space today. And I understand that.

    But now that the funding issues of the past have been largely addressed, and the technology barriers are much lower than they were two decades ago, so though it still took a little bit of faith leading up to this current SpaceX flight, the results speak loudly for not only SpaceX but the commercial space industry as a whole – private industry, under competent management, can do what it used to take governments to do.

    I look forward to the day that someone changing their minds about commercial space is no longer newsworthy – just like it’s no longer newsworthy when a new commercial space vehicle takes off on a successful mission.

  • Coastal Ron

    Quite a few politicians are lemming-like. They go where the crowd seems to be moving.

    Now that SpaceX has had a successful flight, expect more lemmings politicians to start moving towards supporting commercial space.

    Why even the home of KBH and Rick Perry is looking into throwing money providing incentives to SpaceX if they will build their new spaceport there:

    State officials are developing an incentive package to encourage SpaceX to build a spaceport near Brownsville. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company is also considering launch sites in Florida and Puerto Rico.

    Two sources familiar with the negotiations said the state is working on a multimillion-dollar package that could include funding from the Texas Enterprise Fund, infrastructure support from the state Department of Transportation and assistance from the Texas Workforce Commission, among others.

    Politicians – they are so cute when they do the right thing, even if they don’t understand why.

    And, soon or later that shift of political support will help bleed support from the SLS, which to me is the top priority for change (i.e CANCELLATION).

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 3:58 pm
    “Mark Kelly’s poor judgement was on display to the world when, as his wife was in the very iffy early stages of battling to recover from a severe head injury, he chose to fly his shuttle mission, after already having had his share of spaceflights, rather than staying by his wife’s side. Speaks volumes.”

    Huh? As if Mark Kelly decided that his presence could repair a hole in his wife’s brain? It speaks volumes about Kelly’s commitment to his job and his country that he did what he did. Are you saying that Gabby Giffords would be further along in her recovery if Kelly hadn’t gone? Are you saying that his wife wanted him to stay by her side? Are you saying that his wife regrets that he didn’t stay by her side? You frankly don’t know what you’re talking about, except trying to impose your absolute sense of ethics on others. The volumes that this speaks isn’t about Kelly. Yawn away.

  • Most folks here recall that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison claimed we need the Space Launch System as a “backup” for commercial crew, even though the Orion capsule is not being designed for compatibility with the ISS.

    Now that it’s been demonstrated that commercial companies can indeed reach the ISS and for far cheaper, will she now admit there’s no need for the SLS?

    I’m not holding my breath.

    But it should be interesting to hear how she and the other Texas porkers try to rationalize their behavior.

  • Malmesbury

    The music has changed again.

    Remember when “Rocket engines are nearly impossible to resuse” changed to “that’s trivial to do” overnight when DC-X started flying?

    Well, it seems that the new song is “Commerical is an LEO only thing. We need to bin everything to do with LEO and do BEO”.

    Will be interesting when Falcon heavy flies.

    Two possible test missions – a very heavy (53 ton) LEO payload. Or sending something to escape velocity. A GEO mission would get into the whole issue of GEO slots – not probably for a test payload.

    Politically the escape mission(s) would generate a fire storm. It would be seen as an outright attack on SLS. A Zond style lobbing of a Dragon round the moon would be seen as extremely provocative, in particular. Lobbing a Dragon at Mars would be nearly as bad…..

  • Mark

    If one were a cynic, one would wonder if Kelly thinks he has a future in the Obama administration, say as Bolden;s replacement in a second term. Of course there has to be a second term for that to happen.

  • How much money will NASA saves by spending $3 billion a year on an unnecessary space station? Nothing! The ISS is a hyper expensive $3 billionmake work program for the commercial crew industry. And NASA will continue to struggle for funding for its beyond LEO efforts.

  • Mark

    And, of course, Kelly has not addressed the issue of the crippling of the space exploration program or the Solyndra stench that still permeates the commercial crew program. SpaceX has done a remarkable thing. But it was not commercial because it was paid for by government subsidies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    But it should be interesting to hear how she and the other Texas porkers try to rationalize their behavior.>>

    the new line of “reasoning” is this. The GOP has loaded the budget with Pentagon spending and made lots of cuts everywhere else in the budget…so the theory now is that if the Pentagon spending is not allowed then we will fall into recession because of the loss of federal spending. For the first time both Kay and Pete are starting to make that argument about SLS.

    It is impressive because at the same time that they are making “this” argument they can go on about how cuts to teachers, fire fighters etc are not going to harm the economy…

    It is exciting RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Politically the escape mission(s) would generate a fire storm. It would be seen as an outright attack on SLS. A Zond style lobbing of a Dragon round the moon would be seen as extremely provocative, in particular. Lobbing a Dragon at Mars would be nearly as bad…..>>

    Of course a crewed mission on a Falcon9 would simply be delicious.

    I know for a fact (because I helped write the proposal) that a “group” representing a couple of universities is presenting a “thought excersize” about a Falcon heavy launch that sent a Dragon on a “round the moon” and also put the old Triana satellite at a Libration point.

    It is a repurposing of “Goresat” that is innovative and doesnt cost a lot assuming 1) the launch is more or less free and 2) the satellite is more or less free.

    It would be a nice stick in the eye as well to the GOP right wing! RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    “the crippling of the space exploration program”

    this of course is a hoot. There is no political support for a human space exploration program. Willard more or less ran the entire notion in the ditch as he creamed “Mr. Newt”…

    What has crippled space exploration for humans is a NASA effort that has so far consumed 21 billion dollars and has produced no flyable hardware.

    How Mark do you explain SpaceX spending so far about 1.5 billion and NASA spending 21 billion and the differing “results”…LOL

    Human exploration programs are dead. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    How much money will NASA saves by spending $3 billion a year on an unnecessary space station?

    It’s good to question the value of things, since the U.S. Taxpayer shouldn’t be shouldered with spending that isn’t producing enough value for the money being put in. Let’s look at two examples of government spending of approximately equal size:

    The ISS – we do know that science is being done with results showing important knowledge is coming back (the report referenced was from before the ISS was fully functional). We also know that there are many scientists around the world that want to do experiments on the ISS.

    The science being done not only helps us understand how we will live and work in space, but it also is benefiting everyone on Earth.

    Is that worth $3B per year? I think a lot of people would say yes.

    The SLS & MPCV – no agency requested the SLS be built. It was born of the desire to save jobs after Congress cancelled the Constellation program (i.e. Presidents propose, Congress dispose).

    Other than test flights for the MPCV (some of which will fly on commercial rockets), no customers have been funded for using it, and even NASA’s own Science Directorate has said that they can’t afford to use it.

    The cost of operating the SLS, plus the cost of building and operating once-per-year missions for the SLS, will necessitate a large increase in NASA’s budget. That is unlikely to happen. Oh, and building this monstrosity will cost at least $30B and take 10 years… if we’re lucky.

    Is it worth $3B per year? No way.

    Any sane person comparing the two would be able to see that the ISS has a much broader base of support, far more use, and costs far less in future dollars.

    Killing the SLS and using existing rockets means we can start exploring beyond LEO much faster, and for far less. NASA, Boeing and ULA have proposed exploration systems that use existing rockets and technology and get us beyond LEO within 10 years, whereas the SLS will take that long just to become operational (but without demonstrated reliability).

    Again, any sane person can see the difference.

  • Bennett

    Malmesbury wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    “Politically the escape mission(s) would generate a fire storm…”

    That’s a really great observation.

    How you finished that thought has, as Robert notes, the potential for leading to something “simply delicious”. Thanks for the brian stimulation!

    Mark wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Mark, You’ve become completely irrelevant to the conversation. I feel sad for you.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/spacexs-dragon-capsule-docks-with-international-space-station/2012/05/25/gJQAmFrwqU_story.html

    The usual suspects. Whittington is sshouting “its not free enterprise” and Scott Pace is being his idiotic self. The keen minds of the GOP who love free enterprise right up until its not their crony corporations. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    How Mark do you explain SpaceX spending so far about 1.5 billion and NASA spending 21 billion and the differing “results”…LOL

    It’s worse than that – for Mark at least in your comparison.

    According to Gwynne Shotwell (President of SpaceX), SpaceX has spent $680M on cargo development, of which $390M came from NASA contracts.

    Compared to the U.S. Taxpayer having to foot 100% of a too-big & too-expensive rocket system, public/private partnerships are the best bargains around for the U.S. Taxpayer.

  • pathfinder_01

    “And NASA will continue to struggle for funding for its beyond LEO efforts.”

    It struggles because it has a Neman Markus approach to BEO when it needs to shop at Walmart instead. It refuses to use commercial launchers for BEO spaceflight. I built my own computer years ago just for fun and because I like to tinker. Even then I had to limit my looses to no more than 30% over just buying it in the store. A store bought machine has economies of scale working for it. Back in the day a single disk drive cost like $15.00, but if you could buy ten it would drop to $5.00 or less each! Well I didn’t need ten, and so was forced to pay more.

    Nasa really can only afford maybe 1-2 BEO missions a year at best and none at worse. Any NASA only,BEO only system is going to be supper expensive.

    Why do you think the few hundred million Space X received can do much for BEO spaceflight when Orion gets billion a year has been going as long as Dragon, yet is not even in a state where it could send underwear to the ISS.

    You seem to forget that anything that launches cargo to the ISS can also launch cargo to a BEO spacecraft being assembled in LEO. You forget that if Bigloew or someone else puts up a space station, it will be much easier because Dragon is available for hire. You assume there is some barrier forever keeping dragon in LEO when you could probably turn it into a BEO supply ship launch able by Delta Heavy to l1/l2. In space exploration and in war logistics is important.

  • Moose

    The more Scott Pace talks, the less talkative “Obama killed shuttle, vote Romney!” people get. He’s almost single-handedly killing their fantasy of Romney as some kind of Big Space “savior.” Keep talking, Scott, keep talking.

  • Malmesbury

    On the FH test mission it comes down to how far SpaceX will push it politically. To be frank, any launch in the heavy category before SLS flies will be seen as an attack by some. Even 50 tons of water in a can to 300×300…. The implications are obvious.

    An escape velocity mission needs guidance, control etc. Which means Dragon in some form. Cargo Dragon would be the simplest and cheapest – extra cameras for a lunar flyby? A prototype crewed dragon with empty seats would be seen as very, very aggrevsive by the usual suspects.

    Could do a very high apogee orbit I suppose – but that would still be beating Orion….

    The more I think about it, the more the FH test launch sounds like it will burn some serious bridges in Washinton and elsewhere. If it suceeds in meeting the performance goals (even if it is just 50+ tons to LEO), there will be calls to cancel SLS from influential people before the mission is over. Even if that is not what Elon asks for or wants…..

  • It is VERY DISAPPOINTING to see a seasoned spaceman like Mark Kelley—who should know better—siding with Barack Obama on the space issue. B.O.’s space policy has been a colossal blunder! Obamaspace robbed America of some amazing would-have-been Beyond-LEO capabilities, just to hand over the stage to a cadre of hobbyists, who’ll do little more than take millionaires on tourist joyrides to the ISS. Meanwhile, China just might decide to play its space-program card differently: utilizing a bona-fide Heavy-Lift Vehicle, and by using only a single earth-orbit rendezvous, become capable of returning humankind to the Moon. If China were smart, they would take full advantage of this lamentable time that America’s space program is down & out, in the doldrums, and whip up all of the majestic capabilities that the Constellation Project would’ve brought us!

  • Marcel F. Williams

    The SLS will allow NASA and private industry to deploy instant space stations into orbit with a single launch far larger and cheaper than the ISS house of pork. 

    The SLS will ultimately be able to launch at least 130 tonnes of cargo into orbit, something that would require 13 launches of the Falcon 9. And you could probably easily configure it to launch nearly 200 tonnes into orbit. 

    The SLS in combination with an extraterrestrial landing vehicle would be able to deploy at least ten tonnes of payload with large diameters and volumes to the lunar surface per launch for deploying lunar outpost that could give NASA access to probably over a billion tonnes of water ice at the lunar poles. Reusable tankers taking advantage of the large payload SLS faring size could transport hundreds on tonnes of water  from the Moon the per launch within cis-lunar space. 

    There is no way we’re getting $3 billion dollars worth of incredible science out of the ISS every year. No way. Just 5% of that money invested in some other scientific research on Earth every year would be far more productive. However, if Iss money was spent on developing a lunar outpost and on developing artificial gravity space stations and artificial gravity interplanetary vehicles then this could give us access to lands and resources probably worth hundreds of quadrillions of dollars in ultimate wealth. 

    Marcel F. Williams

  • DCSCA

    !@Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    “It speaks volumes about Kelly’s commitment to his job and his country that he did what he did.” You bet it did.He [ut his career aspirations first. Speaks volumes. He knew he’d never get another flight. Worse still, that ‘commitment’ to his job lasted a few weeks… he flew and a few weeks afet wheels stop, he quit NASA.

    It speaks volumes about his poor judgement risking himself and his crew given the added burden of concern and disraction and NASA should have replaced him. Nobody would have questioned it under the circumstances. Crew have been bumped for much less. He had a back-up- that’s what they’re for- and the back-up should have flown the mission. End of story.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    “Human exploration programs are dead. RGO”

    Except they’re not. =eyeroll=

  • Malmesbury

    Which is Solyandra like?

    Sending $390m of government money to successfully develop a cargo delivery system. Including multiple test flights. Dragon and F9

    Spending the same on a launch tower? ARES-1X launch tower.

    Spending more than that on a single test launch. With a non-representative first stage. Dummy interstate and second stage. Non-representative control system. ARES 1X.

    Give a billion a year to a couple of companies who have been specifically allowed to create a monopoly to “maintain their capability” – they don’t have to do anything apart from not fire people for that. EELV program.

  • Beautiful opinion column today by Florida Today editor John Kelly on SpaceX:

    “SpaceX Leads New Space Race”

    So many great quotes in that column. I’ll post here the concluding sentence:

    The only people saying “can’t be done” are probably the same naysayers who’ve been sitting in the peanut gallery making fun these last few years while the SpaceX team went to work and got it done.

  • And here’s another Florida Today column by business editor Adam Lowenstein:

    “SpaceX a Triumph of Public-Private Teamwork”

    The article concludes:

    Government encouraging the private sector, the private sector helping government. Seems like we all win.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Crhis Castro:

    “It is VERY DISAPPOINTING to see a seasoned spaceman like Mark Kelley—who should know better—siding with Barack Obama on the space issue. B.O.’s space policy has been a colossal blunder!”

    Says the commercial spacecraft now docked…

    “Obamaspace robbed America of some amazing would-have-been Beyond-LEO capabilities,”

    As a Lunar lander was dropped fromt he plan long ago, it would ‘amazingly’ allowed re-doing Apollo 8, just with somewhat longer orbital stay times.

    “…just to hand over the stage to a cadre of hobbyists…”

    One of whom just delivered on what he said. You will probably make similar assertions abut Blue Origin, but would Sierra Nevada and Boeing (and the ULA launchers they’ll ride) also count as hobbyists?

    “…who’ll do little more than take millionaires on tourist joyrides to the ISS”

    Oh, you mean like the Russian hobbyists?

    You write as if there’s something wrong with orbital tourism as a market.

    You also blatantly ignore everyone else with a human-present orbital need for basic or non-tourist commercial purposes. (oh, and for SpaceX, and possibly Blue Origin, if they get their own in-house launcher working, there’s the known unmanned satellite market.. Heard of that?)

    “Meanwhile, China just might decide to play its space-program card differently: utilizing a bona-fide Heavy-Lift Vehicle…”

    Which will also take them a long time to develop and fly, if they’e foolish to go that route so soon as well.

    The US went the Apollo route of HLV single-launch to the Moon, because, given the constraints of ‘ before the decade is out,’ and before the Soviets, it was considered faster than any form of Earth orbital rendezvous and assembly. Not cheaper. We’re not in a hurry. If China thinks it is (which I doubt), more power to em’…

    (Though to be fair, if they do, at least they won’t be constrained to maximize use of US Shuttle derived hardware…if they copy anyone, Energia would be a better model)

    “…and by using only a single earth-orbit rendezvous, become capable of returning humankind to the Moon.”

    Oh, so you *do* think they’ll do EOR? Then why not more launches of the medium rockets they’ve got in production already, instead of an HLV they’ll hardly use?

    “If China were smart, they would take full advantage of this lamentable time that America’s space program is down & out, in the doldrums…”

    China will do whatever it thinks it needs to do. They don’t have to ‘wait’ for any particular turn in US policy. And considering the long developmental lead time for things like an HLV, they’d have to commit themselves at some point, again regardless of our policy. Space is big (you heard it here first) Big enough for anyone’s and everyone’s plans.

    “…and whip up all of the majestic capabilities that the Constellation Project would’ve brought us!”

    At what price tag and projected schedule, again?

    (And don’t assume, like Windy, that anyone is going to gut everything else at NASA, and kill any social programs, to make this happen slightly sooner…)

    @ Marcel:

    “The SLS will allow NASA and private industry to deploy instant space stations into orbit with a single launch far larger and cheaper than the ISS house of pork.”

    SLS, even if built, will never be commercially viable. An honest cost-per-launch price would be unaffordable by anyone but the government agency (and if they’re charged a less than break even price, that’s a…subsidy), and as the DoD has no need of that single-launch capacity, that just leaves one. Bigelow’s largest projected station module is the only commercial payload I know of, that can’t be accommodated by current launchers, or Falcon Heavy. Ask Bob how much he could pay for a launch of one, before his business case could no longer close.

    Have you paid no attention to all the explanations of the slow production and launch rate of (a single customer) SLS would have little benefit from economies of scale? Where’s the gain if a launcher that may have 13x the payload, costs more than 13x as much…?

    “The SLS in combination with an extraterrestrial landing vehicle would…”

    Unless we go with some of the recent ULA, Boeing, or Masten proposals (not all of which even *need* SLS…what lander could you possibly mean? Another cost-plus project that will take as long as Orion?

    “There is no way we’re getting $3 billion dollars worth of incredible science out of the ISS every year.”

    Okay, so, in what ways would your single-launch station be superior…?

  • josh

    @ Chris Castro

    you’re a gifted comedian. thanks for the laugh and keep it up! :P

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 5:43 am

    The SLS will allow NASA and private industry to deploy instant space stations into orbit with a single launch far larger and cheaper than the ISS house of pork.

    You have failed – utter failed – to show a list of payloads or customers that can only fly on the SLS, and that are likely to be funded.

    That dear boy is called a lack of credibility.

    If someone – anyone – could show that there is a long list of SLS-only funded missions on the horizon, then the SLS would be viewed as being useful for at least something (although the market might still be too small to warrant building it). But no one needs to lift 130mt to LEO in one chunk. NO ONE.

    That is why the Solyndra Launch Vehicle is a $30B pork vehicle.

  • Vladislaw

    “The SLS will allow NASA and private industry to deploy instant space stations into orbit with a single launch far larger and cheaper than the ISS house of pork.”

    Any savings would be lost because of the 1.5 – 2 billion launch costs. I highly doubt commercial firms are going to see out NASA for launching anything.

    Remember how the commercial satellite companies all demanded to launch sats on the space shuttle?

    Oh wait, they ran away from NASA’s business model.

  • Ben Joshua

    Retired shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly’s publicly stated change of mind about SpaceX may be a harbinger of things to come. SpaceX, once considered just another of so many newspace efforts that eventually failed, for lack of financing, sufficient technical base or political support in a world dominated by aerospace giants, is beginning to be taken seriously.

    Plans for the “heavy,” the air-launched variant, re-usability, Merlin 2 and others, which may have seemed fanciful some months ago, may now be making some aerospace establishment types at least uncomfortable, if not seriously concerned.

    It should be an unexpected and exciting decade in space capability.

  • Vladislaw

    Chris ‘the stand-up comedian’ Casto joked:

    “Meanwhile, China just might decide to play its space-program card differently: utilizing a bona-fide Heavy-Lift Vehicle, and by using only a single earth-orbit rendezvous, become capable of returning humankind to the Moon.”

    As Dr. Griffin so eloquently stated before a Congressional committee meeting, CHINA doesn’t need heavy lift to get to the moon. He stated he had already worked it out and crunched the numbers. China could use their Long March and 4 launches and get to Luna.

    It was ONLY America that couldn’t get to Luna utilizing taxpayer funded and operating rockets like the equally capable Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles.

    Apparantly, to Dr. Griffin, Americans are to stupid to get to Luna the same way the chinese could, that is why, according to him, America had to fund the Ares V. America needed a 207 ton launch vehicle while the Chinese only needed a 25 ton launch figure.

    Gosh, those Chinese are so smart compared to us. Imagine, them figuring out how to land on Luna utilizing only a 25 ton launch vehicle and America is to stupid to do the same thing and needed to spend 100 billion in launch vehicle development instead.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76784.html

    It is pretty stunning to me how many people on this forum have no real clue of politics…Marcel is really in the twilight zone…but here are a few key takeaways.

    first the Whittington claim that “it is not free enterprise” is not only baseless it almost gets the Marcel award for tone deaf.

    Second there is no incentive or demand or even modest support for “human exploration of space’

    And so we are left with the link. Really other then “anti Obama ” Willard has no programs..

    To pull a Lombardi…nothing succeeds like success and this is Obama’s success…

    It is going to take a bit but Obama will be able to use this as a lever (if he wants to) in the political issue with Willard…because SpaceX is going to fly at least once more and maybe twice before the election and those are going to be moments where Obama’s space policy can be contrasted with either the non existant space policy of Willard or the one made by the goofy Mike Griffin…

    Contrast a youthful looking Musk and Obama walking around a flown Dragon with Willard the lying sos and Griffin who is a moron talking about programs that really the American people do not want.

    This is Lindbergh going across the Atlantic. FAce it…the SLS people lost They were always going to lose. Go Orbital RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:55 am

    both columns were outstanding. RGO

  • @Frank Glover

    NASA has estimated the cost per SLS launch to be similar to the cost of launching NASA’s former heavy lift vehicle (the Space Shuttle) if the vehicle’s are launched 4 to 6 times a year as they would have to been in any lunar base program.

    The cost of SLS launches increase dramatically, however, if your attempting to undermine the system by utilizing them for crazy and infrequent stunts to an asteroid. That’s why Obama’s crazy plans for the SLS are completely unsustainable.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Robert G. Oler

    On the post capture press conference was it just me or did Alan L of NASA (out in California) look like he was holding up a sign that said “I am seeking engineering asylum in California” RGO

  • @Vladislaw

    SLS launches will be expensive if you endorse the Obama plan of infrequent SLS launches. However, NASA has estimated the cost of the SLS to be similar to that of the Shuttle ($400 to $500 per launch) for 4 to 6 launches per year which would be similar to the launch rate of the Space Shuttle program.

    Space X has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 cargo missions to the ISS (~120 tonnes since the Falcon 9 can only lift about 10 tonnes of cargo into orbit). The SLS with the 5-segment SRBs an upper stage could launch 11 tonnes into orbit for about $500 million if the SLS is being frequently used. And the SLS can be use for other things like:

    manned and unmanned lunar missions, launching huge space stations for governments and private companies to Earth orbit, launching smaller space stations to the Lagrange points, launching small space stations into orbit around Mars, launching Lagrange point space telescopes, launching landing vehicles to the surface of the moons of Mars for retrieval and return of material back to cis-lunar space. deep space robotic landing vehicles to the moons of the outer planets, deployment of large solar sails for asteroid capture and return to cis-lunar space, launching large solar power satellites to geosynchronous orbit, etc.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    @Frank Glover

    NASA has estimated the cost per SLS launch to be similar to the cost of launching NASA’s former heavy lift vehicle (the Space Shuttle) if the vehicle’s are launched 4 to 6 times a year as they would have to been in any lunar base program. >>

    Goofy would you like to buy some land south of Fort Crockett near Galveston…Gee RGO

  • Malmesbury

    As Dr. Griffin so eloquently stated before a Congressional committee meeting, CHINA doesn’t need heavy lift to get to the moon. He stated he had already worked it out and crunched the numbers. China could use their Long March and 4 launches and get to Luna.

    It was ONLY America that couldn’t get to Luna utilizing taxpayer funded and operating rockets like the equally capable Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles.

    Remember the study that said that Ares 1 was a better rocket than any other for crewed launch – the one where NASA Gs were less bad than Non-NASA G force?

    Things are different here Toto.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 6:51 am

    “SpaceX Leads New Space Race”

    Except they don’t. But in the mind’s eye to those who euphorically ascribe to magnifying the importance for Diminished Vision, it may seem so. The Empire State Building is the space program for ants.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    “This is Lindbergh going across the Atlantic.”

    Except it’s not.

    For starts, Lindbergh piloted his monoplane himself. The unmanned cargo Dragon carried sundries, not a lone crewman– like Gagarin, Titov, or Glenn- and the satellite was launched in the wake of half a century of other successful satellite flights from the Cape and otther locales worldwide. It has more in common w/an Atlas/Agena launch circa 1966– and EVERY Russian Progress launch since 1978. That’s over 34 years of successful, routine servicing of LEO platforms. What was ‘unique’ about Lindy’s flight was he piloted his single-engine monoplane from NY to Paris, non-stop– and alone. And, of course, Lindy and his backers didn’t secure a ‘government contract’ from Ortig for several flights, operational or test, before commiting to fly for the prize.

    It cheapens Lindbergh’s accomplishment, the personal risk he, alone, took and the financial risk of his backers, which had not secured any multi-flight government contract before hand, by lowering it in a comparison to lofting a can full of groceries which Russian have been doing for three and a half decades. It’s odd if not desperate spin but ultimately absurd for you to keep attempting to equate an unmanned satellite launch, one of thousands, in over fifty years, w/t solo piloting of a single-engined monoplane on a non-stop, one-way flight between NY and Paris. No matter how many times you keep insisting 1+1=11, in reality, it tallies up to 2.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:55 am
    And here’s another Florida Today column by business editor Adam Lowenstein: “SpaceX a Triumph of Public-Private Teamwork”

    Except it’s not.

    Outsourcing to commerical by NASA is similar to outsourcing by the DoD to Haliburton. Which financially benefits a select and elite few at the expense of the many. A local newscaster asked after airing the Space X package last evening, how much Space X charged the government (aka us) for this first flight and nobody had an answer at hand. As the old NASA line went during shuttle times, ‘if the mission succeeds, nobody asks what it costs.’ The push to privatize government services is GOP 101. And Obama and his commercial space advisors are guilty of aiding and abetting. Had space advocates known of his plans to flip-flop on his campaign space policy position (that is, following throguh w/Constellation) many would have factored that in before voting. (That, Oler, is the politics of the matter.) This takes nothing awat from Space X’s technical achievement thus far and they’ve had a lot of help along the way both from contractual modifications and from NASA– bu then, they have little choice. They have to (and hopefully will) get their bird back through reentry, splash and recovery, a la an unmanned Gemini. A water ecovery being another costly and dangerous element, especially if they attempt to carry crews. But it remains a matter of magnified importance of a Diminished Vision. Given the politics of the Age of Austerity, Miles O’Brien wisely noted that although Charlie Bolden insisted on Friday that the SLS is ‘on the horizon’ it may, as O’Brien noted, be over it, as it is totally dependent on the budget process and purse strings of Congress. Orion is arriving at the Cape later this year, but the SLS may never actually get off the drawning board, let alone the launch pad. Which condemns Americans to another 10 years or so of LEO HSF operations until ISS splashes in the Pacific. Another decade of going in circles, headed no place fast. And by 2020-24 or so, the United States will be right where we are today, 40 years after Reagan proposed the space station in his SOTU speech in 1984. And another generation of engineers will be trapped in LEO, praising the magnified importance of the Diminished Vision of HSF for America. Head for Luna, PRC, it’s yours for the taking.

  • DCSCA

    @Ben Joshua wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 11:54 am

    “It should be an unexpected and exciting decade in space capability”

    Going in circles another ten years, no place fast, is hardly exciting. But then, if you’re between 15 and 25 and that’s all you’ve known, the Magnified Importance of a Diminished Vision can satisfy the appetite for the ‘excitement of the new’ -as Von Braun called it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    NASA has estimated the cost per SLS launch to be similar to the cost of launching NASA’s former heavy lift vehicle (the Space Shuttle) if the vehicle’s are launched 4 to 6 times a year as they would have to been in any lunar base program.

    Wacky on three levels:

    1. That Congress is going to funding a lunar program that requires 4-6 launches per year of the SLS. Mitt won’t, and you already know where Obama stands, so who is going to push this?

    2. That Congress will increase NASA’s budget by $10-20B per year to pay for 1/2 Millions pounds of complex payload that you say will be launched every year. Congress would rather cut budgets, not increase them. Don’t you pay attention to what the Republican House is doing?

    3. That the SLS will cost $500M per launch. Delta IV Heavy costs that much, which should tell you how far off you are, and NASA itself has never said that it will cost $500M/launch, but closer to $1.5B. My facts override your delusions. If you disagree, provide the link to the NASA estimate (you never have).

    You are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

  • pathfinder_01

    Ah, DCSC welcome to the 21st. century. If Lindbergh had today’s technology at his disposal he would not have needed to fly the plane. Today’s planes can take off, navigate, and land themselves. It could have flown itself risking no lives or atleast allowed him to nap a bit in flight. As for a contract for mulitflights, well his plane carried one person and just about no cargo. It was not practical. Transatlantic flight really won’t be practical till the 50ies. It is rather like the X-prize.

    Even in terms of spaceflight launch and landing is highly automated. On launch events happen too fast for a human to react or control. Your brave man Armstrong, just like everyone else was just there for the ride on launch. In the case of the shuttle reentry is very automated, only landing was done by hand. Heck for the crew of Apollo-Soyuz flying by hand nearly killed them (they forgot a step).

    Just because no humans were onboard does not cheapen or lessen the accomplishment.

    “ EVERY Russian Progress launch since 1978.”

    Wrong, One failed last August. In addition one collided with MIR in the 90ies.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    For starts, Lindbergh piloted his monoplane himself.

    Ah, you are a test pilot worshipper!

    You think that no spaceship should ever be allowed to be automated, and that humans should always be allowed “the glory” of proving that they are smarter than machines.

    Maybe from that basement you live in that sounds “glorious”, but here in the real world artificial intelligence (better than they kind you have) is making it so we can send cargo to hazardous locations without risking life. Not only is that safer, but more cargo gets delivered, and the costs go down dramatically.

    UAV’s and UGV’s are the wave of the future, and self-driving cars are now legal to drive themselves on the road. Autonomous spacecraft (USV’s) are just the natural progression.

    I only care about the task being done for the lowest practical cost, not who “The Anointed Civil Servant” was.

    History is passing you by, and there is nothing you can do about it

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    A local newscaster asked after airing the Space X package last evening, how much Space X charged the government (aka us) for this first flight and nobody had an answer at hand.

    Golly gosh, you mean not everyone in the world knows what the COTS milestones are and how much SpaceX gets for them?

    Well we certainly know that YOU DON’T KNOW what the COTS milestone payments are, nor do you appear to even understand how they work. What a surprise.

    Since you’re too lazy (or too ignorant) to look it up, here is the GAO report from 2011 that includes the COTS milestone list and what SpaceX (and Orbital) are being paid when they successfully complete a milestone:

    19. Demo 2 Mission = $5M
    20. Cargo Integration Demonstration = $5M
    21. Demo 3 Readiness Review = $5M
    22. Demo 3 Mission = $5M

    So the answer is $20M. How hard was that?

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    “…first the Whittington claim that “it is not free enterprise” is not only baseless …”

    Except it’s not.

    =yawn= Again you need refreshed w/facts:

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

    Any attempt to label SpaceX as a true private enterprise space venture is inaccurate. It ain’t ‘Lindy flying the Atlantic.’ =eyeroll=

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel daydreamed:

    “However, NASA has estimated the cost of the SLS to be similar to that of the Shuttle ($400 to $500 per launch) for 4 to 6 launches per year which would be similar to the launch rate of the Space Shuttle program.”

    Which major project that NASA has undertaken, have the costs came out as predicted?

    6 launches = 3 billion, ISS = 3 billion. The rest of NASA spaceflight 1.1 billion.

    Okay, the disposable capsule from Lockheed will cost about 500 – 800 million … getting a cost out of them is like pulling teeth.

    Okay … well we won’t be doing 6 moon launches because the capsules will cost 3 – 5 billion.

    How much would a 130 ton space telescope cost and how long to build?

    Lunar habs? Where would the money come from?

    Lunar lander .. has anything been budgeted for this yet?

    so you see… as NASA’s budget is falling, where is all the money going to come from for your daydreams to come true?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ May 26th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    If it wasn’t for the Giffords matter, nobody would care or note any POV of shuttle driver Kelly on this. There’s a list of ex-shuttle pilots in private industry lobbying for commerical.

    “SpaceX is just the first of what hopefully will be many more companies that will prove they have the “Right Stuff” to safely operate vehicles in space.”

    Hmmm. In case you’re unaware, as Miles O’Brien again so aprtly noted on PBS, EVERY U.S. spacecraft ever flown was built by private industry demonstrating ‘the Right Stuff’ as yo parrot it, to ‘operate in space.” What’s at issue, as O’Brien noted again, is ‘how the deals are cut’ and the ‘cost-plus’ model NASA used akin to the Pentagon’s procurment policy- is in play.

    “SpaceX has a couple more flights in the limelight before they transition to “been there, done that” status – which is what we want for all routine space transportation.”

    You articulate the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision quite nicely. ‘Been there, done that’ as you say, is quite passe as for three and a half decades, Progress spacecraft has been resupplying LEO space platforms. =eyeroll= They’re operational. They’re reliable. And it’s routine. ‘Been there. Done that. 34-plis years.’

    “What this means:” is space exploitation is not space exploration as LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where fast. And more humorously, your “Kill the SLS now so we can start exploring again” line is classic oxy-marooned thinking.

  • Googaw

    Coastal Ron is quite right that astronaut exploration BEO is dead for this generation. It has been relegated to the pages of obsolete 20th century sci-fi, along with the flying cars and the rolling roads.

    But I wonder if Coastal recognizes how slim a reed his own astronaut toys are obiting on in LEO. I give ISS 5 years, 10 tops: even if no other grand government project comes along to nab its funding, fears that the U.S. will be going the way of Greece with our skyrocketing debt will. Useless astronaut joyrides will be the most obvious and visible waste to cut. And neither the UFO hunter nor any other crackpot with coin is going to come along and privatize or launch their own versions of this 99.5% taxpayer funded economic fantasy.

    So Ron, you’ve got about 5 years, 10 tops, for your boys to produce something great with our epxensive toys. Hand-waving about some preposterously indirect role in some cancer-related research won’t cut it. You need real businesses up there. What happened to microgravity alloys? Growing the purest semiconductors in space? Purifying drugs with gravity-free electrophoresis? The many other once-vaunted promises of microgravity industry? DCSCA is wrong about many things, but he is quite correct that mere microgravity research does not come anywhere remotely close to justifying $3 billion dollars a year of ongoing expenditures. Only the direct development of large industries can justify that.

    You’ve had over thirty years of space stations to figure this stuff out. Skylab, Salyut, Mir, the various Shuttle add-ons, and now ISS. Better get some real industry going soon. And a quite lucrative industry it will have to be indeed to pay that remaining 99.5%. Otherwise orbital HSF is dead, period, for the next generation or two. And good riddance, because we need to get on with real space development. The kind that actually benefits customers on earth, rather than merely yanking money money from the paychecks of people with real jobs to fund people with phony make-work jobs.

  • vulture4

    “A local newscaster asked after airing the Space X package last evening, how much Space X charged the government (aka us) for this first flight and nobody had an answer at hand.”

    SpaceX received some development funding and they will get paid $1.6B for twelve operational flights, about $133M each, but this was a required demonstration flight which they had to fly to qualify for the operational flights, and they were not paid for it. Probably that’s why no one could come up with the cost to the taxpayers. There was none. But it makes no sense to post this as a suggestion the cost must be unimaginably high when you could have looked it up.

    “Going in circles another ten years, no place fast, is hardly exciting.”

    I’ve never met anyone who’s actually been in orbit that didn’t find it pretty exciting. But that’s not the point. NASA should provide practical scientific, techological, commercial, and geopolitical benefits to our nation and the world. That was, and is, its original mission. Unless and until human spaceflight is shown to be practical and productive in LEO, it is folly to suggest it can be practical BEO, where costs are far greater. So that’s our job. To make human spaceflight practical, productive, frequent, and routine.

    If you want excitement, go to a movie.

  • @Robert G. Oler

    NASA has been launching a heavy lift vehicle 4 -6 times a year since the early 1980s. It was called the space shuttle. Now you think they’ll no longer be able to do this with a much simpler shuttle derived cargo vehicle????

    Your anti-government extremism never ceases to amaze me! I think you’ve been to too may Tea Parties:-)

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Once it becomes clear that the Chinese are on their way to dominate the Moon’s precious ice resources, Congress and the President will know what to do with the new SLS. Plus the money is so tiny, it won’t be a big deal anyway since it can be done within the NASA budget once the $3 billion dollar a year ISS program is in the grave.

    You don’t seem to understand that launch cost are dependent on demand. Delta IV heavy launch cost are extremely high, almost as high as the shuttle because there is extremely little demand for Delta IV heavy launches.

    Again, you and Oler have been going to too many Tea Parties. Watch out for those black UN helicopters:-)

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:44 pm


    Your anti-government extremism never ceases to amaze me! I think you’ve been to too may Tea Parties:-)”

    two points.

    one I have never been to a Tea Party “event”…I’ve watched a few of them on TV to marvel at the idiots who go there. In my view, while there are exceptions most of the Tea Party people are “affable dunces” who have a simplistic view of government and are being used by corporate interest.

    Moving on you wrote “NASA has been launching a heavy lift vehicle 4 -6 times a year since the early 1980s. It was called the space shuttle. Now you think they’ll no longer be able to do this with a much simpler shuttle derived cargo vehicle????

    I am sure that they can eventually “do it” …but no I dont think that it can be developed for a reasonable amount of money and yes I am quite sure that it will cost more then the shuttle to operate.

    here is a data point. Ares/SLS is costing more in constant dollars to develop then the shuttle system did originally. So when “the simple derived …vehicle” cost more to develop then the original I am quite certain that its cost will be higher to operate…particularly as most of it will be obsolete technology.

    Finally

    “Once it becomes clear that the Chinese are on their way to dominate the Moon’s precious ice resources, Congress and the President will know what to do with the new SLS”

    Like Saddam with his WMD you are simply goofy…this is so funny it is simply absurd. You are moving in to wind territory RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw wrote:

    “But I wonder if Coastal recognizes how slim a reed his own astronaut toys are obiting on in LEO. I give ISS 5 years, 10 tops: even if no other grand government project comes along to nab its funding, “

    And why wouldn’t NASA just start leasing from a lower cost Bigelow Facility?

    “You’ve had over thirty years of space stations to figure this stuff out. Skylab, Salyut, Mir, the various Shuttle add-ons, and now ISS.”

    The capital markets, entreprenuers and commercial firms have had unstricted and unburdened by NASA use of which of these stations in the last thirty years?

    We are on the edge of having, for the first time, domestic, commercial access for crew and cargo and also commercial stations for the first time in our spaceflight history.

    Can they at least get in place before you drop the shoe on the whole idea?

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “Once it becomes clear that the Chinese are on their way to dominate the Moon’s precious ice resources,”

    When will that be? What is the timeline?

    First chinese landing on the moon?
    First chinese base?
    First chinese walmart selling water to the yankees?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    If it wasn’t for the Giffords matter, nobody would care or note any POV of shuttle driver Kelly on this. There’s a list of ex-shuttle pilots in private industry lobbying for commerical.

    And who knows more about modern spaceflight than today’s generation of astronauts?

    See that’s the thing, you cling to people that are two generations behind in experience and knowledge about what we’re able to do in space.

    You are 40 years behind. Time to catch up.

    Progress spacecraft has been resupplying LEO space platforms. They’re operational. They’re reliable…

    …And Progress is Russian. Americans want AMERICAN access to space. Apparently you’ve been living outside the U.S. too long, eh Comrade?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    You don’t seem to understand that launch cost are dependent on demand.>>

    that is not completely true…There is a “baseline” of people etc that are needed for 1 to X launches…and so those cost are fixed throughout that range…above X the number of people increase hence cost go up…then there are cost associated with the actual launch.

    One of the shuttle manager clowns came on this forum at one point and explained it as “the first shuttle launch cost 2.X billion and the rest are more or less free or some small number” and that was crap.

    EELV cost are probably running at about what the launch rate will sustain. It isno where near as expensive as the shuttle. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 5:03 pm
    LOL

    the prononcements you make on history are so laughable the knowledge you have of it brings to mind the line from Kelly’s Hero’s where Donald Southerland (Oddball) tells Don Rickles (Crapgame) who is advocating some military action “this from someone to whom Hero is a sandwich”.

    But you are welcome to your views. We need ignorant people.

    This is just flawed however on its face.

    “Outsourcing to commerical by NASA is similar to outsourcing by the DoD to Haliburton. ”

    that is what we have now…and it is that way in all respects. Haliburton never does anything with the government without sole source and cost plus contracts. None of which describe SpaceX.

    second

    “Had space advocates known of his plans to flip-flop on his campaign space policy position (that is, following throguh w/Constellation) many would have factored that in before voting. ”

    and that would not have changed a single district’s outcome in 2008 nor will it in 12.

    Goofy RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    But I wonder if Coastal recognizes how slim a reed his own astronaut toys are obiting on in LEO. I give ISS 5 years, 10 tops

    Our space program has always existed by the will of the people, as I think they see it as a way to exercise and show off our science and technology. I think most people think too (as I do) that a national space program benefits our nation by providing a focused push on science and technology. The money isn’t always wisely spent (like the SLS shows), but mostly it is.

    Could that change? Sure, but if it did, without a commensurate focus on some other science and technology, then that will be a sign that we have started a serious decline in our country. That could happen if the anti-science movement somehow grows, but let’s hope not.

    I think the ISS will last until at least 2028, likely longer.

    What happened to microgravity alloys? Growing the purest semiconductors in space? Purifying drugs with gravity-free electrophoresis?

    The ISS is a National Laboratory, which means that it’s purpose is to be the first step in finding new directions in areas like biology, science and technology. That it has done, and the pace of research has been ramping up.

    I can’t speak to whether any of the claims you claim were actually made, nor can I believe that anyone in our marketing-dominated society would believe without question the claims of politicians or people that don’t know what National Laboratories do.

    What I do know is that the ISS is the only platform we have to test out the technology and techniques we’ll need to survive long-term in LEO and beyond. To give up on the ISS, is to be doomed to a future of short jaunts within Earth local space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    NASA has been launching a heavy lift vehicle 4 -6 times a year since the early 1980s. It was called the space shuttle. Now you think they’ll no longer be able to do this with a much simpler shuttle derived cargo vehicle????

    For the last 13 years of the Shuttle program, the main purpose of the Shuttle was to build the ISS and service the Hubble.

    The SLS can do neither.

    Nor is there funding for any payloads for the SLS, each of which would likely take ~$10B and ~10 years to build. To support yearly SLS missions, that means NASA would have to be funded an extra $10B/year (not including the cost of building and operating the SLS). Pure fantasy in today’s tight fiscal environment.

    The debate has never been whether we can build and operate the SLS. Given enough time and money, anything is possible.

    But we don’t need the SLS. Never have. Kill it now.

  • Fred Willett

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    You don’t seem to understand that launch cost are dependent on demand. Delta IV heavy launch cost are extremely high, almost as high as the shuttle because there is extremely little demand for Delta IV heavy launches.
    So what is the launch demand for something 5x as big?
    And what is the cost?
    I see you’ve finally got it.

  • Explorer08

    RGO, you are such a smart guy with lots of excellent points but every once in awhile you come up with a maniacal doozy like, “Human exploration programs are dead.”. Almost as looney as your claim a couple weeks ago that the USA singlehandedly won WW II. Again, to use your own word: goofy.

  • Googaw

    And why wouldn’t NASA just start leasing from a lower cost Bigelow Facility?

    And if crackpots with coin are to be our authorities, we shouldn’t NASA also get into the UFO hunting business?

  • Googaw

    And who knows more about modern spaceflight than today’s generation of astronauts?

    Today’s generation of satellite and rocket engineers. By a very large margin.

  • Googaw

    Can they at least get in place before you drop the shoe on the whole idea?

    FWIW, I am in favor of greatly increasing commercial access to ISS. In NASA/Russian/etc. government hands it’s just a silly s*c**l*st white elephant. In private hands it, or any crackpot with coin effort at a “private space station”, will still with high probability be a pale pachyderm, but NASA renting out space and utility on ISS is nevertheless worth a try. There’s not much useful going on up there that would be lost in trying, and we might recoup at least some small fraction of that $3b/year.

    So I agree that NASA should be renting facilities on the ISS at prices that are not too extraordinarily subsidized. The price should be set low enough that most of the ISS would be rented out, and high enough that nobody has to wait in line to get space. The result would never recoup any significant fraction of what we’ve already spent on ISS, or even a big fraction of that $3b/year, but it would be much better than nothing.

    Said renters might use their access for space tourism, private researching and manufacturing operations, whatever. Not that I think there will be many takers without NASA shoveling them the money to pay said rent under the table. But it’s worth a try, and it can’t hurt because the commercial guys (even the faux commercial guys) will make better use of it than NASA or other government agencies would.

    Of course, this whole discussion is completely missing out on where the real space commerce action is. But real commerce is apparently too boring for the astronaut cult, their NASA channel, or “space politics”.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    In case you haven’t noticed, the “I’ in “ISS” indicates it’ an International’ space platform. One pitched by Reagan in his SOTU speech in ’84, over 28 years ago. And Dragon spacecraft are SpaceX o/o vehicles, as Bolden reiterates, not American. Dragon spacecraft are emblazoned w/t tSpaceX logo and are owned/operated by a corporation, not the United States government/NASA. Shuttles, Apollos, Gemini and Mercury spacecraft and their respective LVs were not emblazoned w/Rockwell, North American or McDonnell-Douglas corporate logos but U.S. insignia. =eyeroll= And corporations do not owe any allegiance to any nation-state. “Progress is Russian. Americans want AMERICAN access to space. Apparently you’ve been living outside the U.S. too long, eh Comrade?” Hmmm, last time we checked the map, California is still one of the 50 states. You know, Elon’s ‘American’ home for Space X. Or perhaps you believe otherwise and spell it, ‘Kalifornia’… comrade. ;-)

    “And who knows more about modern spaceflight than today’s generation of astronauts?”

    Seems your hero, Elon Musk, the Space X ‘chief designer’ believes he does, and the other people who design the machines to operate in that environment have demonstrated it as well. And as pathfinder_01 notes on this thread, ‘welcome to the 21st. century. If Lindbergh had today’s technology at his disposal he would not have needed to fly the plane.[and not make the flight] Today’s planes can take off, navigate, and land themselves.’ You seem unaware that in these highly automated times, pilots are essentially ‘chauffeurs’ , often snoozing while the gadgets of today are engaged. A severe criticism to be sure, yet a criticism leveled even in Lindy’s time.

    @Googaw wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    “Coastal Ron is quite right that astronaut exploration BEO is dead for this generation.”

    Nah. The PRC will go. They want it more than Americans do these days.

    “DCSCA is wrong about many things…” Except he’s not. ;-)

    “…but he is quite correct that mere microgravity research does not come anywhere remotely close to justifying $3 billion dollars a year of ongoing expenditures. Only the direct development of large industries can justify that.” Precisely. Well said.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    “most of the Tea Party people are “affable dunces” who have a simplistic view of government and are being used by corporate interest.”

    Goofy. And it’s a very poor, condescending view, indeed, of your fellow countrymen. This is a stunning assertion by someone who supposedly spouts a superior knowledge base of political discourse above others who regularly grace this forum. Someone who is being ‘used’ to peddle the commercial propaganda of Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. Rather than vector you to the nearest history section of a public library, you best head to a bookstore instead and spend your own funds purchasing a copy of ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People.” You’re sorely in need of it, RGO.

    “[With respect to the aspirations of the PRC press out toward Luna,] … like Saddam with his WMD you are simply goofy…this is so funny it is simply absurd.”

    Except it’s not. But your obsession w/t long dead Saddam is.

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    “the prononcements you [DCSCA] make on history are so laughable the knowledge you have of it brings to mind the line from Kelly’s Hero’s where Donald Southerland (Oddball) tells Don Rickles (Crapgame) who is advocating some military action “this from someone to whom Hero is a sandwich”.

    Except it’s not.

    Projecting again, RGO. You’re so confused, or simply embarrassed by your own errors. Your Saddam obsession has nothing to do w/spaceflight and is quite peculiar. Strange spin for a commercial propagandist devoted to the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. Your disdain for HSF is well documented on this forum; your erroneous and disproved insistence that Space X did not receive any government subsidies has been exposed by public record and your absurd attempt to equate an unmanned satellite launch, one of thousands, over fifty years, w/t solo piloting of a single-engined monoplane on a non-stop, one-way flight from NY and Paris has been easily and entertainingly dismissed. Indeed, the wildly grandiose pronouncements you make on matters history are laughable. But you are welcome to your views. We need ignorant people to try to improve themselves- start w/ Alcock and Brown, then move on to 60′s fantasy war film analogies. In your case,(Marvin) Reisman’s line in ‘The Dirty Dozen’ to Breed (Ryan) fits and rates appropriate paraphrasing: Reisman- “I use to think you were a cold and unimaginative officer. But you’re really quite emotional. Aren’t you.”

    “‘Outsourcing to commerical by NASA is similar to outsourcing by the DoD to Haliburton Which financially benefits a select and elite few at the expense of the many.’ that is what we have now…and it is that way in all respects.”

    Except it’s not.

    But benefiting a select few at the expense of the many appeals to purveyors of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision for selfish and obvious reasons. Those who insist 1+1=11, not 2 are comfortable with it; at ease w/t rise of corporate plutocracies and look down upon taxpaying tea partiers. Reisman’s line fits you to a ‘tea.’.

    @vulture4 wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    ‘”A local newscaster asked after airing the Space X package last evening, how much Space X charged the government (aka us) for this first flight and nobody had an answer at hand.’ SpaceX received some development funding and they will get paid $1.6B for twelve operational flights, about $133M each, but this was a required demonstration flight which they had to fly to qualify for the operational flights, and they were not paid for it. Probably that’s why no one could come up with the cost to the taxpayers. There was none. But it makes no sense to post this as a suggestion the cost must be unimaginably high when you could have looked it up. ”

    Actually, you’re a bit sensitive about the cost issue as the point of the package was discussing cost per flight against costs for shuttle operations. The overall point was, of course, that in shuttle times, the axiom was ‘if the mission was successful nobody asks about the costs’ which few dispute, but noting the bewilderment of local news reaching Southern California viewers, including those in Space X’s Hawthorne backyard was amusing. A savvy PR guy would have had those numbers up front and even playing w/t bookkeeping, a cost per flight number would have been in Space X’s favor over shuttle.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Well Marcel, you never fail to amaze. ‘…precious ice resources…” What exactly is so precious about them and why would anyone want them? The Moon is not the place to house a self-sustaining colony and no way is it of any strategic value. LOL LOL …
    Now Mars is a different beast. Elon knows that much that’s why he hasn’t expressed any interest in the Moon, only Mars. He’ll go to the Moon but only if someone pays him to. He’ll go to Mars on his own dime. That says a lot.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 27th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    On the post capture press conference was it just me or did Alan L of NASA (out in California) look like he was holding up a sign that said “I am seeking engineering asylum in California” RGO

    Good one! I’d say that Alan has made himself unpopular with a reasonable portion of NASA, and is now thoroughly enjoying his moment.

  • Aberwys

    And, what appointment is Mark Kelly going to get for “changing his mind”? Minds aren’t typically changed in this business on principle alone…

    Stay Tuned.

  • vulture4

    @DCSCA I am not sure of your point. Concern regarding costs was constant during the Shuttle era, whether or not the missions succeeded. I have never heard the expression you refer to, that no one asks the cost if the mission succeeds. SpaceX is certainly more frugal than Shuttle, let alone Orion/Ares I or Orion/SLS, and the facts are readily available.

    Can you recall what station the local newscaster was working for? Obviously he did not have a SpaceX or NASA representative to ask. Did he just ask the question about SpaceX mission cost on the air to the sports guy and the weather girl? If that’s the case it’s not surprising no one could answer him, but this seems a bizarre and unprofessional thing for a newscaster to do, when he could have looked up the facts ahead of time. What point do you think he was trying to make?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Dragon spacecraft are emblazoned w/t tSpaceX logo and are owned/operated by a corporation, not the United States government/NASA.

    Owned and operated by Americans, and flown under contract to the U.S. Government (NASA in this case).

    Ask any American who they would rather depend on for our access to space – American aerospace corporations or Vladimir Putin. Nuff said.

    And in case you hadn’t noticed, with the successful arrival of the Dragon at the ISS, the debate is over for cargo.

    Next up crew.

  • Greg Zsidisin

    Lost in this predictable and boring right-left slap-fest is the fact that Mark Kelly is married to one of the most vocal Constellation supporters in Congress. Given Gabrielle Gifford’s impassioned floor speeches to maintain that course, Kelly’s public statement is pretty amazing – whatever you think the correct course should be.

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw wrote:

    “And if crackpots with coin are to be our authorities, we shouldn’t NASA also get into the UFO hunting business?”

    So you are going to take a joke I made about the insanity of reality T.V. and try and turn it into a policy for NASA?

    You said the ISS has at most five years, maybe ten then nothing. I asked the question, if and when the ISS is decommissioned why couldn’t NASA just lease space from a commercial facility at a lower price. Where the hell did I suggest there are other authorities or that NASA should change?

  • amightywind

    Safely returned from his final space flight Mark Kelly supports his wife’s party’s space policy. Aren’t all of you just shocked? Prepare for NASA to be redirected in 6 months and these sad 4 years at NASA to be a bad memory. There are going to be a lot of scores to settle!

  • Robert G. Oler

    BeancounterFromDownunder wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 8:34 am

    “Good one! I’d say that Alan has made himself unpopular with a reasonable portion of NASA, and is now thoroughly enjoying his moment.”

    the joke was that the T Shirt he had on underneath said “what would Elon do?”

    Of course after some of the conversations that took place a few years ago when SpaceX got the Commercial cargo award I think Musk should wear “how do you like me now?”

    It is really quite amazing how SpaceX has managed to do what NASA for tens of billions has been unable to do. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Safely returned from his final space flight Mark Kelly supports his wife’s party’s space policy”

    which actually she opposed. I realize you are a low information andknowledge voter…but the election is in six months… Jan 20 the second term of Obama will start.

    As for “scores to settle”…the fact that you and Whittington and DSCA and all the other troglodytes are having to watch Dragon be a wonderful success…is score enough for me! Mike Griffin spinning out of control is just a bonus. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Aberwys wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 9:19 am

    And, what appointment is Mark Kelly going to get for “changing his mind”? Minds aren’t typically changed in this business on principle alone…”

    reality is a pretty good mind changer…

    The astronauts on ISS are going through a similar “rethink”…

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120528crew/

    Before long the right wing idiots will have SpaceX success all due to Bush43…RGO

  • Googaw

    Coastal, your answer about the ISS is very dissapointing. No specifics. Failing to remember even the most well known of the wide variety of attempts to take advantage of microgravity for industrial processes. Just vague hand-waving about a “National Laboratory.” I regularly see in the pages of Sciece and other major scientific journals interesting accounts of important science that has come out of real national laboraties: Los Alamos, Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, etc. Even more out of universities, which do better research per dollar than the national laboratories. Important scientific results have come out of unmanned space probes and orbiting telescopes. I search in vain for important scientific results that have come out of the ISS, or out of any of the many previous space stations.

    The idea of astronauts BEO is dead. The ISS, too, will soon be dead. Your answer tells me that it will be closer to 5 years than 10. It’s an orbiting zombie. Your answer also tells me that when ISS dies, orbital HSF itself will die with it, and be gone for at least a generation, probably two. Our grandchildren will have to be the ones to renew the astronaut cult.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Explorer08 wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 12:05 am

    RGO, you are such a smart guy with lots of excellent points but every once in awhile you come up with a maniacal doozy like, “Human exploration programs are dead.”. ”

    Unlike the WW2 statement which was Victory at Sea hyperbole and I didnt have a problem (as you fail to note) admitting it…any sentence can be taken and made to weave a thread that is inaccurate…if one is going to quote that sentence then it is important to note the context which I have amplified here on many many occassions.

    Human space explorations are in my view dead for at least a generation and until the current method of exploration is changed.

    The circumstances which would “motivate” the US (or any country) to attempt an Apollo style “exploration” (and that is being very very kind) are so bizzare as to not even be worthy of an honorable mention.

    Human exploration of the solar system will resume if and only if (in my view) 1) cost drop by many many factors. Cx was on track to exceed Apollo in exploration cost and SLS/whatever goes along with it is on a similar trajectory. The political season has made it quite clear that not even the slice of the American political pie that is inclined toward human exploration (the GOP right) is interested in it.

    At best we are in some sort of “exploration mode” which consist simply of trying to build things…not actually explore a darn thing.

    The keen minds here of the right wing…Whittington, Wind, and others people whose views of reality are filtered through political lenses…have been trying to crank up a cause celeb for an Apollo style effort..and they simply cant get one going.

    A basic reality that must be grappled before we go forward is that at least right now the LEAST efficient method of planetary exploration is with humans RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Safely returned from his final space flight Mark Kelly supports his wife’s party’s space policy.

    Last I looked the Commercial Cargo and Crew program was started under a Republican administration, and continued and supported under a Democrat administration.

    Is this just more of the recent Republican “run away from anything George W. Bush” mania?

    In any case, what used to take a country can now be done by an American company. I’d say that is worth a reassessment of prior assumptions, and Kelly came to a natural conclusion.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I dont agree with a lot of what you say; but at the very least you are “entertaining” and that is a good thing with me…I would make three points.

    1. ISS. I find it very unlikely that ISS is “life limited” as you note. ISS was built with the notion in mind not of what it can/could accomplish but that building it and keeping the various world (exclusive of the “creatorless Chinese”) space agencies “busy” is accomplishment enough.

    I dont see any trends; even the worsening economy that would change that. To deorbit ISS the US (and most of the worlds space agencies) would have to be on the brink of simply folding….now world (or national in the US ) chaos might bring that…but I dont see that occurring.

    It would be in the US and in every other country an admission of the decline of “industrial” status (not to mention all the ethos of “greatness”) and it is just not going to happen.

    the worlds space agencies have in my view reached their “pinnacle” of success in ISS and they are going to hold on to it as tenaciously as the Soviets held on to Mir, until there was something else to go to.

    2. The “National lab” idea is intriguing and I suspect it will even get a try but I also suspect it is going nowhere. There are bright people like Justin K (on this forum) who are valiantly trying to make something useful of ISS in a science line…and they might be successful.

    But really I would be surprised if this happens.

    What things can ISS be useful for really? Well I have some ideas if you are interested but all of them nicely fall into point 1…ie the notion that whatever is done really is done to have “mythic greatness” qualities…ie it is the “great power” nonesense we have grown so fond of.

    3. American debt is Greece. I hear this a lot (are you a tea party person) but it is to me mostly rhetoric trying to be policy.

    THe US has enormous problems but one of them is not that we spend to much; it is that we tax to little and spend on things of little or no value to anything. SLS is such a creature; Afland fighting is the same; F-35 and other defense projects are similar…I would argue space station is as well…but the politics of that are pretty set.

    Debt is only bad if you cannot grow your way out of it…and the engine for economic growth is sputtering in this country but is alive and well…if we just get rid of the GOP idiots who took Clintons’ economy and turned it into Bush43′s.

    SpaceX is proof of that. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I search in vain for important scientific results that have come out of the ISS…

    Apparently you can’t type with your eyes and ears closed to new information.

    Google “iss science” to find a plethora of links for science being done on the ISS.

    Here is a 2009 press release from NASA – before the ISS was competed – saying in part:

    This report represents a record of science accomplishments during assembly and summarizes peer-reviewed publications to date,” said Julie Robinson, program scientist for the station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “As we enter the final year of station assembly, this report highlights the capabilities and opportunities for space station research after assembly is complete.

    Here is the link to the report.

    Here are some of the experiments they completed:

    o Bioavailability and Performance of Promethazine During Space Flight (PMZ)

    o Effects of EVA and Long-term Exposure to Microgravity on Pulmonary Function (PuFF)

    o Renal Stone Risk During Space Flight: Assessment and Countermeasure Validation (Renal Stone)

    o Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Space Flight-Long (Sleep-Long)

    o Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Space Flight-Short (Sleep-Short)

    o Stability of Pharmacotherapeutic and Nutritional Compounds (Stability)

    o Subregional Assessment of Bone Loss in the Axial Skeleton in Long-term
    Space Flight (Subregional Bone)

    o Surface, Water, and Air Biocharacterization (SWAB) –A Comprehensive Characterization of Microorganisms and Allergens in Spacecraft

    o Organ Dose Measurement Using a Phantom Torso (Torso)

    o Effect of Microgravity on the Peripheral Subcutaneous Veno-arteriolar Reflex in Humans (Xenon-1)

    Any else you want me to look up that you’re too lazy to do?

  • Elon knows that much that’s why he hasn’t expressed any interest in the Moon, only Mars. He’ll go to the Moon but only if someone pays him to. He’ll go to Mars on his own dime. That says a lot.

    It says nothing except that Elon has a preference for Mars. It says nothing about where other people might like to go, or the utility of either place.

  • DCSCA

    @Greg Zsidisin wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Not really. A year ago he was ‘flyin’ high’ with a spotlight chasing him. Today his book, ‘Gabby’ is already in the discount bin at the local bookstore for $1.95. If it wasn’t for the tragic turn of events, his POV would be a footnote to history and carry even less weight than it does now. 10 days ago he was appearing on TV w/Cernan pitching a Naval flight school in Florida. He likes the camera, Greg.

    @vulture4 wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Was a NBC or CBS affilate but it was ‘Saturday’ holiday team so the depth of coverage would be what you’d expect. Mid-week the CBS team had a smart package from Hawthorne on launch day and as network coverage goes, CBS has been giving it the best play. The more interesting element is the lack of coverage by ABC at both network and local level. Corporate may have some input into that given ABC’s Disney overseers. His point might have just been to add his take on a piece of ‘hard news’ for his reel.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 10:47 am

    The Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision is trying the emotional pitch of ‘flags & footprints’ routine. A desperate move. Corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state, Ron. American firms were doing business w/Nazi Germany as late as mid-1940. Ask Anheiser-Busch where their ‘loyalties’ lay =eyeroll= That’s globalization for you. LOL America is just another market. “Next up crew.” Next? Soyuz has been ferrying international crews aka humans, including Americans, to the ISS for years and before that, for years to MIR. Soyuz is operational. Reliable. Routine. What you continue to embrace is the condemnation of another generation to LEO ops and the resources to sustain it. When the ISS splashes into the Pacific at decade’s end or so, you’ll be right where you are now, after sinking billions of more dollars, a dwindling resource in the Age of Austerity, into the Cold War relic and its ops. There is simply no justification for the expense given the low to no ROI, as Googaw notes. And you advocate wasting more on contracting for a redundancy to for a doomed space platform destined for a Pacific grave. Chasing government contracts for this redundancy is lobbyist Garver’s mantre. Her goal is to secure contacts. That’s all. That’s why we’re saddled with the ISS, an aerospace WPA project, as Slayton called it. Wasting billions on redundant commercial LEO cargo runs and possibly crew as well is foolish, unless you’re a propagandist for the Magnified Importance of Diminshed Vision– which is what LEO ops is. Or you’re simply a corporatist. Step back and look at the timeline: Since Skylab, the U.S. has restricted itself to LEO ops. Factor in the Russian ops, and that’s coming up on 40 years now through several generations of space platforms and space engineers, etc. Profit driven corporations bent on securing contracts are not going to alter that trajectory. LEO is a ticket to no place, heading no where fast, going in circles. You cheer this Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision for snother decade. It’s short term thinking. And it’s sad. That’s half a century of going no place fast, wasting time and dwindling resources on going in circles. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Here is a 2009 press release from NASA – before the ISS was competed – saying in part…

    LOL you forgot Velcro, Tang and freeze-dried shripm. ;-). You think that justofies $100 billion expense and costs of $3 billion/yr.???? LOL Bear in mind, that in ’09 when that memo went out, the ISS was on the outs: plans were to splash the ISS by mid-decade, before Consterllation was scuttled.

    You’re trying to justify the unjustifiable simply; a ‘faux market’ to promote the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision, aka NewSpace. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

    __________________

    BTW, to any and all, enjoy your Memorial Day holiday..

  • Googaw

    [long list of trivial results]

    Read what I wrote, Coastal. I said important results. The kind that get reported in leading journals like Science.

    There are similarly large troves of jargon from Skylab, Salyut, the various Shuttle-based labs, and Mir. When you are spending billions of taxpayers’ money you can have monkeys type up as much stuff that sounds like knowledge as you like and can print it on as much paper as you like. However once that was done, they are no longer allowed by librarians to waste shelf space and can only be found on microfiche. Millions of trees died for nothing printing out those results. In other words they have long since been forgotten. You certainly don’t seem to remember even the most formerly well-known results.

    A similar fate awaits this nonsense from ISS. It will sink in the Google results and be forgotten by all but the computer disks that quite cheaply but uselessly store them.

  • Googaw

    The “National lab” idea is intriguing and I suspect it will even get a try but I also suspect it is going nowhere. …What things can ISS be useful for really? Well I have some ideas if you are interested but all of them nicely fall into point 1…ie the notion that whatever is done really is done to have “mythic greatness” qualities…

    What Mike Griffin quite accurately called space “cathedrals”.

    But since when is the U.S. government supposed to be funding religious architecture? That our good friend the former Adminstrator failed to explain.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I said important results. The kind that get reported in leading journals like Science.

    You keep moving the goal posts – you didn’t specify “Science” as being the only “gold standard” that you would accept. Not that you get to set any standards for what is acceptable, nor do I think you understand the whole science process anyways. For instance, do you know what “peer reviewed” means?

    And somehow you think a new National Laboratory with an average size staff of less than six is supposed to produce as much science as an 80 year old National Laboratory with a staff of 4,000 + 800 students. Weird.

    The ISS is unique because of the science that can’t be done anywhere on Earth, and it is uniquely suited to help us find out how to exist off of Earth. If you don’t think we should leave Earth, then of course you won’t want the ISS to continue. I disagree, and so does Congress for now.

    In fact, one has to wonder why you bother to post here if you don’t want people to go into space. Doubly weird.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Once it becomes clear that the Chinese are on their way to dominate the Moon’s precious ice resources, Congress and the President will know what to do with the new SLS. Plus the money is so tiny, it won’t be a big deal anyway since it can be done within the NASA budget once the $3 billion dollar a year ISS program is in the grave.”

    Ah, water on the moon…even worse ICE. I can just imagine the sight the Chinese attempting to dominate water as the US sends a NEP ship to Jupiter with a giant bumper sticker on the back saying “Got Aragon?” .

    Sorry but SLS will not make any lunar resource cheap enough to even try to exploit. You can get Hydrogen, Oxygen, and water on earth for far less than it would cost to produce on the moon. Or ship out from the moon and for far less that attempting to turn the moon into a factory of any sort. The reason is good old economies of scale and demand.

    On earth there is demand for hydrogen, oxygen, unmanned spaceflight and water. That means that everything you could get from lunar ice could be sent from earth into space for less. This means that an earth bound fuel depot program can:

    1. Not need to invest in any facility to produce hydrogen or Oxygen. In fact when a rocket needs fuel or oxidizer on earth it is simply trucked in.
    2. Not need to invest in any facility to turn dusty, dirty, impure ice into water. If your payload needs water call a plumber.
    3. Not need to invest in lunar only spacecraft to carry said water/propellant/ ect. You could use Delta, Atlas, FH, Flacon 9, ect.. to launch your tanker spacecraft.

    Where lunar ice MIGHT prove handy is in reducing the amount of imports that a lunar base needs but getting the moon to any level of self sufficiency with current technology would take a century or two( if ever). If we had star trek replicators then maybe it could be done sooner, but with current technology a lunar base will need to import almost everything.

    “You don’t seem to understand that launch cost are dependent on demand. Delta IV heavy launch cost are extremely high, almost as high as the shuttle because there is extremely little demand for Delta IV heavy launches.”

    There is Demand for Delta heavy launches outside of NASA HSF. DOD, and NASA unmanned spaceflight make use of this rocket. In 2008 ULA offered NASA a cost of 300 million a launch for Delta Heavy if it would have bought nine flights and man rated it for about 1 billion(or so). In addition Delta IV heavy has lower fixed costs than the shuttle. The EELV is estimated to have fixed costs in the range of 1-1.5 billion a year. The shuttle cost 3-4 billion. Fixed costs are why the Shuttle was never more cost efficient than the ELV it was to replace.

  • Das Boese

    Googaw wrote @ May 28th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    [long list of trivial results]

    Man, those goalposts sure look heavy, moving them around all the time must be a real bitch…

  • pathfinder_01

    “There are similarly large troves of jargon from Skylab, Salyut, the various Shuttle-based labs, and Mir. When you are spending billions of taxpayers’ money you can have monkeys type up as much stuff that sounds like knowledge as you like and can print it on as much paper as you like. However once that was done, they are no longer allowed by librarians to waste shelf space and can only be found on microfiche. Millions of trees died for nothing printing out those results. In other words they have long since been forgotten. You certainly don’t seem to remember even the most formerly well-known results.”

    Ah it was standard practice to put things like newspapers, and magazines on microfiche. One, storage space is always limited. Two certain materials (news papers, magazines, and older books–esp. paperback) do not stand up well over time. If an actively growing library did not put its materials away that way it simply would run out of space. Even coperations put older but important documents on to microfiche back in the day.

    Judging by if the results are in print or not in not that good a judge. How many libraries have an original April 1953 copy of the Journal Nature available to the general public? It contains one of the greatest papers written in the 20th century. What shape would said item be after more than 50 years worth of decay and usage?

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “And somehow you think a new National Laboratory with an average size staff of less than six is supposed to produce as much science as an 80 year old National Laboratory with a staff of 4,000 + 800 students. Weird.”

    Not only that but the actual time it takes to get your one legacy experient into space, the turn around time to get your results back to earth then good luck on a follow up.

    On the ground how many iterations of an experiment can you run? You get your results, crunch some numbers and within hours, days, or a couple weeks and you are running the next leg of the experiment. You can run this through how many times in the course of a year or two? How many times in space? Once in a career and then only the most preliminary results and no follow up?

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 29th, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Not only that but the actual time it takes to get your one legacy experient into space, the turn around time to get your results back to earth then good luck on a follow up.

    Good point. And Dragon provides the down-mass capability that makes it possible to get the experiments back to Earth for further analysis, which we lost with the end of Shuttle.

    Between the efforts of CASIS and the availability of Dragon and Cygnus, science on the ISS is going to be getting very busy. As was the plan.

    And once Commercial Crew capability comes online, then NASA can increase the ISS crew from six to seven (what it was designed to support), which will further boost the science output. As was the plan.

    I love it when a plan comes together.

  • Googaw

    doubly weird.

    People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

  • Vladislaw

    I believe it will take, at the vary least, one flight a month and double that to make things a little more exciting.

    I would like to see NASA invest in ballute techology, launch several at a time and dump smaller experiment packages more often.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ May 29th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    If the goo fits… ;-)

    Seriously though, you rage on and on about what you are against, but I have no idea what you’re for. What is it you want for our future in space?

  • Tom Billings

    People seem to want to talk about everything about Space *but* the continuing growth of commercial spaceflight, which is what the demo 3 flight is about. Meanwhile, up in Bellevue, Wa. they are beginning to ready designs for satellite telescopes that will be mass produced, and then launched, in large part, on Falcon 9, with some of the incremental profit going to SpaceX. Those people are focused on what *they* will do, not on pronouncing judgement on some other’s achievements.

    The very fact that we now have people investing in Space capabilities on the basis of the existence of competitive multiple launch providers has been skipped in all the arguments about how worthless Obama is, or how vile Musk is to have paid for his inauguration party, or to have shifted jobs from MSFC to the California, Texas, and Florida facilities of SpaceX, even when he is also hiring for the SpaceX office in Huntsville.

    The belief, that the only significant US activity in Space must be governmental, and NASA, is as pernicious as the belief that touching NASA money makes a company nothing more than an appenage of JSC, or MSFC, or KSC, …or that which person occupies the WH determines the virtue of a NASA program that breaks rice bowls in NASA Center- House Districts.

    COTS was started in a Republican administration, and yet gets panned, because it might enhance the possibility of turning MSFC from a developer of monster rockets into a developer of reusable lunar landers, and Mars Landers, and ISRU, and, …. and redound to the credit of the present occupant of the WH, while Commercial Crew gets viciously attacked, even though it was assumed in the Bush administration that it would be the primary means of US personnel getting to orbit. Remember that even Mike Griffin only described Ares1 and Orion as “backups” to commercial efforts, until the pork was threatened.

    How about we focus on what commercial spaceflight can or will be doing, instead of getting lost in the weeds of whether ISS should exist, or other tactical matters? And remember, the weeds you have been tromping through here *are* tactics, and not strategy, much less policy.

    Jeff Greason said it accurately over the last several years. If human spaceflight is not about the *policy* of settling the Solar System, then its time to do something else with the money. Last year at the ISDC he pointed out that first the Bush Administration, and then even more strongly the Obama administration, endorsed that.

    No one here can have the faintest hope that NASA, or any other government program can settle the Solar System. So, why are people bitching about the best achievements to date by someone who has stated they are not waiting for government in that endeavor, though they will accept government help, in “making Homo Sapiens a multi-planet species”? Sorry, you’ve gotta have a better response than “anyone who gets money from Obama must be vile”.

    The splashy glory of a space launch seems to fascinate, and people seem to hate seeing that taken away from NASA. It is *not*only* the splashy stuff that will determine if we can settle the Solar System, but all the grubby stuff done once we get a grip on some resources, whether on an asteroid, on the Moon, or on Mars. It’s long past time for NASA to leave behind the glory, and get down to putting its budget into the grubby work of developing the tech for settlement.

  • Googaw

    <i.Good point.

    Of course it’s a terrible point. Anybody thinking rationally realizes that a scarcity of or high expense of time and space in a lab is a factor weighing against its scientific productivity, not in favor of it.

    Thinking backwards to reach the desired astronaut funding dogma is however a common astronaut cult pastime.

  • DCSCA

    Tom Billings wrote @ May 29th, 2012 at 10:24 pm
    People seem to want to talk about everything about Space *but* the continuing growth of commercial spaceflight, which is what the demo 3 flight is about.

    No it’s about the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. nobody condemns it, but it’s refundant at best to existing systems (Soyuz has been operating for fur decades in LEO; Progress over 34 years.) The ‘demos’ simply replicate capabilities similar to Gemini/Agena launches circa 1966. What it does in the lnog run is condemn another generation to LEO ops. And after the ISS splashes in a decade or so, you’ll no further along than you are today. LEO is a ticket to no place, going no where fast, in circles.

    Googaw wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    the AC aura is on te wane for sure. If you caught the Medal of Freedom presentation video from yesterday, the body language between Glenn and Obama was to be kind, decidely chilly- it even elicited a chuckle whn O noted Glenn’s second flight and the attention getter for Obama- and the 35-45 something media types, was Bob Dylan. not Glenn.Dylan was part of their lives; Glenn’s flights, not so much.

  • Paul

    Not only is ISS not producing great science, it’s not even producing much science, as measured by papers per unit of spending. Some rather cheap unmanned missions from NASA have produced more published research than the entirety of the ISS science program.

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Not only is ISS not producing great science, it’s not even producing much science, as measured by papers per unit of spending.

    Golly gosh. You mean it’s less expensive to do science in the middle of civilization than the harsh environment of space?

    Alert the press!

    Gee, you must be pretty smart to have figured that out all by yourself…

    Some rather cheap unmanned missions from NASA have produced more published research than the entirety of the ISS science program.

    Oh, so it’s the amount of data collected that matters, not the relevance or quality? Quantity vs Quality?

    So essentially you’re saying that all science is equal, and given the same amount of money, that science should produce the same amount of results.

    Sorry to say, but you don’t know what you are talking about.

  • Paul

    Oh, so it’s the amount of data collected that matters, not the relevance or quality? Quantity vs Quality?

    It’s both. ISS science is a bad deal no matter how you look at it.

    Normally, you’re a pretty smart guy CR, but you’re really stuck on stupid here.

    By any chance are you involved in ISS science?

  • Googaw

    If human spaceflight is not about the *policy* of settling the Solar System, then its time to do something else with the money.

    Political support for HSF is certainly not based on space settlement, as Newt Gingrich most recently well demonstrated. And it certainly should not be based on this voodoo theory of space colonization: launch astronauts today and space colonization will follow tomorrow. That is hallucinatory nonsense. The tasks we need to make it easier for our granchildren to settle space are radically different.

    So it’s time to do something else with the money.

  • Vladislaw

    Paul, have you happened to read this 260 page document about the ISS?

    International Space Station – Science Research Accomplishments During the Assembly Years: An Analysis of Results from 2000-2008

    To compare dollar for dollar ground based labs that have been around for decades, to the ISS and the way congress makes sure every nut and bolt travels through every district to get their pork is not really fair.

    But the ISS is producing papers and those papers are providing the ground work for a lot of terrestrial research that you wouldn’t even know that it is based on work started on the ISS.

    Could their be more coming from the ISS? Without a doubt, if NASA was willing a little more willing to give up control. Witness the trouble with just trying to get it set up as a National lab.

  • Vladislaw

    Another thing that comes to mind that people forget. It takes about 3 people just to do the maintence at the ISS. For a lot of the time the ISS has flown there were two and three people only.

    That would be like having a national lab where only the janitors and building maintence people were ever there, then complaining that no science is being done at that lab.

  • Paul

    To compare dollar for dollar ground based labs that have been around for decades, to the ISS and the way congress makes sure every nut and bolt travels through every district to get their pork is not really fair.

    Ok, let’s instead compare ISS to WMAP, a $150 M unmanned mission.

    WMAP observations have producedthree times the scientific publications of ISS.

    Not sure why you bring up congression pork in defending ISS. You’re just explaining one reason why it sucks, not denying that it sucks.

    But the ISS is producing papers and those papers are providing the ground work for a lot of terrestrial research that you wouldn’t even know that it is based on work started on the ISS.

    The impact of research can be assessed by something called the impact factor of the resulting papers (which, if I understand correctly, is a function of the profile of the journals and the number of citations the papers get). ISS research, as I understand it, has led to papers with low impact factor.

  • DCSCA

    @Paul wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 8:30 am

    LOL witness ‘astroresearcher’ Pettit (sp.?) who spent a day and a half grabbing a can of groceries. Calculate the cost/hour for on orbit time for a reseacher lost from ‘scientif research’ screwing around with that redundant ops whereas Progress automatically docks. Such a waste. This ‘orbiting zombie’ as Googaw calls it; this Cold War relic; this quarter century aerospace WPA project, as Deke Slayton called it, proposed by Reagan in his ’84 SOTU speech, is a massive waste of resources, still championed by Garver today, as in her lobbyist NSS days, and produces only chum for contracting sharks and virtually no ROI for its $100+billion expense and $2 bil./yr operations costs. NASA had it penciled in for splash by mid-decade before Constellation was scuttled. It’s a fiscal and political liability; a drag than keeps BEO planning and execution chained to LEO ops.

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    It’s both. ISS science is a bad deal no matter how you look at it.

    Unmanned exploration missions don’t return much applicable science that will help us figure out how to not only survive in space for a long period of time, but thrive. That is the prime mission of the ISS, and there is no better place to do that science than zero-G, and the least costly zero-G location is 200 miles above us.

    By any chance are you involved in ISS science?

    Nope. My field of expertise is manufacturing, which includes logistics. I’ve worked for both government contractors and commercial companies, and one of my areas of interest & experience is cost roll-up (determining the final material cost of a product) – which is why I look at total overall costs as opposed to individual hardware or experiments.

    I’m assuming that you want humanity to expand out into space (if not, ignore the following). Two questions:

    1. How do we learn how to survive in space if we’re not in space to learn how we survive in space?

    2. If you think the ISS is bad (whatever that means), then what is the alternative to the ISS? And how much would that cost?

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    The impact of research can be assessed by something called the impact factor of the resulting papers (which, if I understand correctly, is a function of the profile of the journals and the number of citations the papers get). ISS research, as I understand it, has led to papers with low impact factor.

    So you admit that you don’t fully understand the measurement system that you are using to measure the ISS?

    Have you considered that there may be other factors involved with the rating system you’re relying upon?

    A. ISS science is done in zero-G, which means that the results cannot easily be duplicated here on Earth.

    B. ISS science is partly focused on human health in zero-G, which mainly has applications on people living in zero-G – that segment of research is going to be very compartmentalized compared to something like gene therapy or cancer research.

    If you want to compare two Earth-based National Laboratories that are doing research in the same fields, then it might be appropriate to use a comparison of output across common areas. I don’t see that there are any similar research facilities doing space research, and doing it with so few people, so I think other units of measure need to be found.

  • Vladislaw

    Paul wrote:

    “Ok, let’s instead compare ISS to WMAP, a $150 M unmanned mission.

    WMAP observations have producedthree times the scientific publications of ISS.”

    First, lets compare the paper count for all 150 million unmanned probes. What was the average, mean and mode for the number of papers.

    You picked wmap:

    ” “First off, “Since 2000, the three most highly cited papers in all of physics and astronomy are WMAP scientific papers.” (Emphasis added.)

    Second, today WMAP is just a relevant as ever. I draw your attention to the most cited papers in 2009. (The first one, Review of Particle Physics, isn’t a research article but an “encyclopedia” people quote for values of things like constants. We’ve discussed this book before.)

    In 2009, the #1, #3, #9 and #10 most cited research articles were the WMAP papers. To be in physics and to not know about WMAP, to me, means you are living under a rock. There is no experiment in this last decade producing more follow up scientific research!”

    http://www.theeternaluniverse.com/2010/03/just-how-important-is-wmap.html

    Nothing like using a ringer to try and win a point. You pick the stellar star of all unmanned missions then pair that up to research that is totally unrelated.

    Answer me this question, dollar for dollar, which project returned the most useful data on how humans can both live and thrive in the vacumn of space?

    Wmap 0 papers
    ISS 78 papers

    WOW! it looks like wmap was a total waste of money, it didn’t answer even a simple question on how humans can live in space.

    you have to compare apples to apples. In this case, you have to compare zero g experiments for humans. On the ground and in space.

    “Not sure why you bring up congression pork in defending ISS. You’re just explaining one reason why it sucks, not denying that it sucks.”

    There is something called “the cost of doing business” it can be used to describe many things that are not actually a business in the strict sense.

    In certain areas of Federal procurement the costs are higher than what you would expect if you compared it to a typical business transaction.

    Military spending is an example where costs for some programs are higher because powerful congressional members influence the costs. Typically it is refered to as pork and earmarks.

    NASA is also one of those areas and in particular human spaceflight. As NASA has pointed out, To achieve what SpaceX did, using traditional NASA contracting under FAR would have been as high as 4 billion dollars.

    This extra is the cost of doing business for NASA and the American taxpayer. So if taxpayers wanted a lab funded in their state, the cost per square foot, on average, is not going to be as high as the extra costs associated with the Space Station.

    They could have saved billions by not using the space shuttle and if they would have used SAA’s with fixed cost, milestone based contracts.

    But .. they didn’t, taxpayers pay no attention to space so the ISS cost 100 billion instead of 10 – 20 billion. The cost of doing business is REALLY high compared to the cost of doing business for government unmanned missions. But even some of those are so laced with it, like the James Webb.

    But the cost of space, in general, is a lot higher than doing business on the ground with government contracting. Seems to be a bit more transparency.

    That’s why I mentioned the costs. Once there are other competing labs, both from other countries and commercial ones we will have more data.

  • Vladislaw

    There is another factor in play here also. The numbers of grad students and people in that field.

    If you plan to jump in your car, drive to a lab, run experiments after you graduate what is the odds you can actually achieve that goal?

    If you plan to MAYBE get funding for obscure problems in human spaceflight, and MAYBE get your experiment to actually fly in space, and you are actually still employed when results are returned after you graduate what is the odds you can actually achieve that goal?

    There doesn’t seem to be many waiting lines for people who want to jump into a career path where you are one of the lucky few if you get to do a legacy experiment involving human spaceflight. Since follow on and turn around times are slow are you really surprised at the paper counts?

  • E.P. Grondine

    “What I do know is that the ISS is the only platform we have to test out the technology and techniques we’ll need to survive long-term in LEO and beyond. To give up on the ISS, is to be doomed to a future of short jaunts within Earth local space.”

    I agree with you completely on this.

    Aside from that, earlier NASA utlization mechanisms were prety bad.

  • Googaw

    you have to compare apples to apples. In this case, you have to compare zero g experiments for humans. On the ground and in space.

    In other words, Paul, it’s all about the astronauts. If it’s not of, by, and for the heavenly pilgrims, the astronaut cult is not interested.

  • Vladislaw

    ah .. lets see.. investigating how humans can live in space … hhmmm is this about astronauts … well .. I guess astronauts are human … ssooo …

    gosh .. I guess you are right .. it’s about astronauts because they are humans also.

  • E.P. Grondine

    googaw –

    While robots can do some things that humans can not do,
    humans can do some things that robots can not do.

  • Paul

    When WMAP is 2000 times more productive (in papers/dollar) at producing scientific results than ISS, when huge efforts like the LHC are an order of magnitude cheaper than the ISS, when there is very little support for ISS science in the larger scientific community, it’s incumbent on those defending ISS research to provide a VERY strong justification for the importance of their research. Why exactly is human reaction to microgravity worth so much of our scientific research budget? This whole effort seems incestuous and circular, a “self-licking ice cream cone” in NASA parlance.

    I frankly expected better of Coastal Ron and Vlad than this sort of laughable argumentation. You have to know your position is weak, guys. Maybe you should take a step back and ask yourself if you really want to be arguing this way.

    CR: you never did answer my question about whether you’re doing ISS science. Are you feeding at this trough, sir?

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 11:05 am

    When WMAP is 2000 times more productive (in papers/dollar) at producing scientific results than ISS…

    I’m getting the feeling that you’re not a science type of guy, since you are obviously arguing apple vs oranges.

    The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) is a NASA Explorer mission that launched June 2001 to make fundamental measurements of cosmology – the study of the properties of our universe as a whole. You can’t do that very well on Earth, so of course the paper count is going to go up astronomically (pun) now that we can do more direct investigations. It’s also a pretty small scientific community.

    The field of human health is massive in comparison, so the percentage contribution by the ISS is going to be comparatively small.

    Bottom line is that you haven’t established a valid basis of comparison. You think you have, but a good investigator would test their assumptions, and it doesn’t look like you have. You continue to have an unproved theory.

    CR: you never did answer my question about whether you’re doing ISS science. Are you feeding at this trough, sir?

    Not only did I answer you on May 30th, 2012 at 5:47 pm, but I posed you questions that you have failed to answer. Are you feeding at this trough, sir?

  • Paul

    The field of human health is massive in comparison, so the percentage contribution by the ISS is going to be comparatively small.

    I wasn’t requiring that ISS produce a large fraction of the papers in human health. I was merely observing that per dollar spent, it produces pitifully few papers. This would be true regardless of the number of papers produced elsewhere in research on human health.

    As for establishing a good basis for comparison: you are quibbling. Can your quibbling and equivocation erase a factor of 2000 difference in research productivity? I think not.

    I missed your response to the question, and the return question. Thank you for repeating. And no, I am not engaged in scientific research, on ISS or elsewhere, and receive no money from NASA or any other government ageny.

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I wasn’t requiring that ISS produce a large fraction of the papers in human health. I was merely observing that per dollar spent, it produces pitifully few papers.

    Observation is OK, but you are reaching a conclusion based on an unsubstantiated premise.

    Your original statement was “Not only is ISS not producing great science, it’s not even producing much science, as measured by papers per unit of spending.

    Is that how the science community measures the effectiveness of the science being done on the ISS?

    You also seem to ignore the quality and relevance of the science being done. If one experiment were to lead to the ability of humans to survive in zero-G and harsh radiation environments, then who cares how much it gets cited, right?

    You also ignore comparisons with other human-tended science missions that are in situ. In biology, in situ means to examine the phenomenon exactly in place where it occurs (i.e. without moving it to some special medium).

    And you still haven’t addressed my question of how do we learn how to live and work in space if we’re not living and working in space?

    What alternative are you proposing in place of the ISS that will create the same or better output of the science we are looking for?

    I don’t mind questions, and some level of complaining is OK, but whining without contributing potential solutions is useless.

  • Vladislaw

    Can I see the link for the paper count that shows WMAP has 400,000 papers published? That would only cover until 2008, I do not find how many papers were written in the last 4 years.

  • Paul

    Vladislaw: I was referring to productivity in the sense of papers per unit of research spending.

    WMAP produced about 3x the refereed publications of ISS, while costing about 700 times less.

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ June 6th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    WMAP produced about 3x the refereed publications of ISS, while costing about 700 times less.

    So what?

    Did WMAP tell us how humans are going to react to long-term exposure to zero-G? Did WAMP tell us how exercise and drugs can mitigate the effects of zero-G on the human body?

    The ISS was not built in competition with the WMAP, it was built to answer the question of how we will live and work in space. That is the only measurement that matters – is it helping us answer that question?

    Comparing a boat to a llama would be more relevant than your comparison…

  • Paul

    So what?

    Your concern for the efficient and effective use of the taxpayer’s dollars is noted. Oh wait, you’re all for spending other people’s money like water.

    Did WMAP tell us how humans are going to react to long-term exposure to zero-G? Did WAMP tell us how exercise and drugs can mitigate the effects of zero-G on the human body?

    Why should I care about those things? Those are not burning scientific questions. They are, at best, bits of information that would be useful if you want to do manned space activities for some other purpose. They are not, by themselves, things that justify doing manned space activities at all.

    The involuted, self-referential justification for space is what I was referring to as a “self-licking ice cream cone”. You can justify space activity on the basis that it’s necessary for space activity.

  • Paul

    Er, “can’t justify”

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ June 7th, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Oh wait, you’re all for spending other people’s money like water.

    And how much direct benefit to the U.S. Taxpayer has the WMAP program provided? Science for science sake?

    Let’s not get ridiculous here.

    Why should I care about those things? Those are not burning scientific questions.

    Au contrare. According to the President:

    Fifty years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite. And in fulfilling this task, we will not only extend humanity’s reach in space—we will strengthen America’s leadership here on Earth.

    - President Barack Obama, April 15, 2010

    This is consistent with his predecessors too, so it’s not a partisan view.

    The only way we’ll learn to live and work in space, is by living and working in space. There is no substitute. Will we be 100% successful and efficient with the ISS? No more so than any other large research facility – it’s an investment over time that may tell us the right approaches to use, or it may tell us the completely wrong ones to use.

    But since our national goal is to expand our presence into space, we can’t do that sitting on Earth, so instead of moaning and groaning about the ISS, you should be suggesting ways to improve the results we get, whether that’s increasing the science or decreasing the costs (or both). Especially since it’s here to stay through at least 2020.

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