Congress

Lampson a step closer to returning to Congress, and other space-related Texas primary news

A two-time former member of Congress who has been active on space issues won a Democratic primary for another Texas district last night. Nick Lampson won the primary for Texas’s 14th congressional district along the Gulf Coast south of Houston, currently held by Ron Paul, who is retiring. (The Republican nominee will be determined in a July runoff election between Felicia Harris and Randy Weber.) Lampson was active on space issues during his previous tenure in Congress, serving on the House Science Committee and presenting districts that included the Johnson Space Center (now in the 22nd district, which Lampson won in 2006 and lost in 2008.)

The man who beat Lampson in the 22nd district in 2008, Rep. Pete Olson, won the Republican primary, putting him on track to win a third term this fall. The general election is shaping up to be a rematch of the 2010 campaign, with Kesha Rogers narrowly winning the Democratic primary. Rogers, who affiliates herself with Lyndon LaRouche, appears to be running again on the theme “Save NASA, Dump Obama”; her “Space Colonization & Planetary Defense” platform calls for, among other things, restoring full funding for the canceled Constellation program.

Last month, Chuck Meyer, a Republican candidate for the new 36th district, proposed special-purpose “Space Bonds” to fund NASA’s human spaceflight program as part of his candidacy. It apparently didn’t win over many voters: Meyer finished sixth in the GOP primary in that east Texas district.

113 comments to Lampson a step closer to returning to Congress, and other space-related Texas primary news

  • The unmanned Dragon flight to do a cargo run to the ISS, has been blown way out of proportion in “importance” by the space community at large. Too many people who should know better, about the gloomy implications of what now is likely to happen from here on out, are allowing this “success” to blur their long-term vision. What has happened is the sacrifice at the altar, of ANY American plans for leaving LEO with a crew, for the next ten or fifteen years. Just to give the exclusive keys to U.S. spaceflight to the amateurs! The Dragon spacecraft is totally incapable of flying a Lunar mission. All it can do is the flight up to the ISS and back. Russia has had unmanned-to-LEO cargo craft for decades now: the Progress variant of the Soyuz. The same people who gripe about how America must not re-create the acheivements of the past, when it comes to returning to the Moon, apparently have no problem with the country doing nothing but flying circles in LEO for another decade & a half! In December of this year, the 40th year will have past since Apollo 17′s splashdown, and all we can do now is gleefully jump up and down because some government-bankrolled “commercial” firm managed to reach an LEO station to deliver grocery bags?! I tell you, the space community at large, must’ve really let its formerly-grand future expectations plummet, to nothing more than a grocery delivery some 200 miles up!

  • @Chris Castro AKA fellow denizen of Marcel’s planet
    “What has happened is the sacrifice at the altar, of ANY American plans for leaving LEO with a crew, for the next ten or fifteen years.
    You’re absolutely right with that sentence, Chris. And that altar which has the potential to strand us in LEO “for the next ten or fifteen years” is called SLS and MPCV.

  • amightywind

    I don’t see The GOP losing Ron Paul’s seat. The liberals are gonna need to circle the wagons this election.

  • Chuck Divine

    A Lyndon LaRouche associate won the Democratic Party primary? Is the Democratic Party a joke in that district?

    Curious minds want to know….

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Russia has had unmanned-to-LEO cargo craft for decades now: the Progress variant of the Soyuz.

    First you complain that Russia and China are going to beat back us back to the Moon (and how that was bad), now you’re advocating we should be depending on Russia for our access to space. Weird.

    Besides, Progress is too small to meet our needs, and has no down-mass capability.

    I think you just like to complain for the sake of complaining.

  • Justin Kugler

    Chuck,
    The Democratic Party hasn’t won a statewide office in Texas in 20 years. The GOP has a stranglehold on politics in this state and has gerrymandered the Democrats to limit them to districts the Republicans have given up trying to control. TX-22 was Tom DeLay’s old stomping ground, if that gives you any indication.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chuck Divine wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    A Lyndon LaRouche associate won the Democratic Party primary? Is the Democratic Party a joke in that district?

    Curious minds want to know>>

    It was close…as an aside I was only able to give money to Kp George (Rogers opponent) I voted for George and feel quite bad because had I had the time I probably could hve worked up 100 or so votes in the district…sadly work and moving our house is just pressing in to hard right now. George lost by 100 or so votes and would have in my view mounted a credible although mostly a losing campaign to Olson. Justin is “more or less” correct the district is gerrymandered pretty hard GOP ALTHOUGH in 04 DeLay got a pretty good scare from a candidate with about 1/10th his money.

    Justin is correct about the gerrymandering. I will probably move my registration down from Clear Lake to our new farm…although technically depending on the address we decide to use (the farm is a few properties rolled into one) we could vote in 22 or 14. My wife is registered in 14…

    Pete got 35K or so votes his self financed GOP rival got about 10K last time I looked…the big news is that the Harris county DA went down in the primary…that is a real shocker. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I don’t see The GOP losing Ron Paul’s seat. >>

    I’ll think of that as I cast a ballot for Lampson! 14 is more or less blue…it has waved (as have a lot of places in Texas) but it will be interesting to see what the trend is as the presidential campaign rolls on. Willard is not very popular here. RGO

  • Ben Joshua

    Texas is changing. Republicans, appealing to their most extreme base, are turning off future Texas voters. In three or four election cycles, pro-space Texans (oldspace or newspace) will find themselves currying favor with more Democrats than today. Yes, that’s long term, but a lot of space planning is indeed long term. Just Sayin . . .

  • Mark

    Just to correct Oler’s disinformation.

    The Texas 14th is in no way “blue.” Whomever wins the GOP runoff is almost certain to win in the general election.

    While Romney was not the first choice for many Texans, he is far more popular than the current president. Oler’s implication that it is otherwise is very wide of reality.

    Just as an aside, Ms. Rogers is going to be entertaining.

  • amightywind

    Texas is changing. Republicans, appealing to their most extreme base, are turning off future Texas voters.

    Texas GOP voters are the nation’s ‘most extreme’, if family values, patriotism, and economic dynamism are now considered extreme. The mass migration from the economic basket cases that are the blue states continues apace.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Just to correct Oler’s disinformation.

    The Texas 14th is in no way “blue.>>

    that Mark is not accurate. it is about like the statements you made on WMD and subsidies. Try and be a little more realistic. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ben Joshua wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Texas is changing. Republicans, appealing to their most extreme base, are turning off future Texas voters>>

    Pretty good analysis…I suspect we will see the first winds of that this year.

    Willard is not liked by the rabid right. Having a few of them in my family I can say that first hand. What you hear when you listen to the folks on the right is that “Willard is better then that MUSSSSLIM”

    But the trick on that is that Willard has more or less lost control of the direction the party is moving. He has started to appeal to the real nuts (see his trump thing) and the birthers the “America only for the white people” (close anyway) crowd…and that is starting to awaken most moderates and the other people who would get screwed in a Willard world.

    PLUS and this is important to this forum…support for the grand cathedrals in the sky is dropping even in TX-22. It use to be the space block there was pretty strong; but its not any more…it has gone nutty right just as the GOP Has. As I told someone the other day who was arguing that “the ignorant” shouldnt vote, “what if “they” decide you are ignorant”…

    The folks in at least Santa Fe (grin) dont really care about 3 billion a year on “cathedrals in the sky”; they just want the schools to open.

    I predict that this election will be like Gettysburg for the GOP…they are moving as far north as they will ever go and they are going to get creamed…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    The Dragon spacecraft is totally incapable of flying a Lunar mission.>>

    I dont think that is accurate…the one that isup there now it might be true, but then again it is true for every other machine up there (at ISS) now RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Texas GOP voters are the nation’s ‘most extreme’, if family values, patriotism, and economic dynamism are now considered extreme.

    Surely you’re not implying that Texans are the epitome of patriotism? They’d drop the old U.S. of A. in a minute and secede if they could. Definitely not the sign of a true patriot.

    As to “family values”, they are no better (or worse) than the rest of us.

  • common sense

    “The Dragon spacecraft is totally incapable of flying a Lunar mission.”

    Can you substantiate this statement? Why can it not fly a lunar mission?

    What spacecraft do you know today can fly a lunar mission and why?

    Not that I am holding my breath but if at least you can show you know what you are talking about, it would make for such a better story.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Willard couldnt even stop in the State to take a victory lap, instead he was to busy hanging out with the top 1 percent…more out of touch RGO

  • I predict that this election will be like Gettysburg for the GOP…they are moving as far north as they will ever go and they are going to get creamed…

    I can’t wait for November, when your nutty “right wing” paranoid fantasies are shown to get the foolishness that they are. Not that it will slow you down, of course.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert, if the Texas 14th is mostly blue, how has Ron Paul been able to run unopposed a couple times with no democat even running against him?

  • Jeff Foust

    General discussion of party politics, as well as the lunar capabilities of the Dragon spacecraft, are off-topic here. Thanks for your cooperation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Robert, if the Texas 14th is mostly blue, how has Ron Paul been able to run unopposed a couple times with no democat even running against him?>>

    because Ron Paul could be elected/reelected until they put him in a box.

    I didnt say “mostly blue” I said “more or less blue”…which means it is not “red”…Ron Paul is so far out of the right wing GOP mainstream that he is almost a separate party.

    his space comments show that. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    What will be entertaining to watch is to see what Lampson does as a “policy”…for spaceflight. There are modest blocks of JSC voters in his district…and it doesnt stretch much farther south then Aransas county…but…

    SpaceX and Intelsat have announced this purchase of a Falcon heavy…and it will be entertaining to see where that heavy is going to be launched from…most likely I guess the Cape but you wonder if this is some grand scheme to start launching from south Texas. RGO

  • Das Boese

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    The Dragon spacecraft is totally incapable of flying a Lunar mission. All it can do is the flight up to the ISS and back.

    The basic Dragon’s heat shield is capable of reentry at lunar return velocities and its systems support up to 2 years of operations in DragonLab form.

    The manned variant will support 7 people for at least a couple days of ISS flight and return, it stands to reason that a smaller crew will easily extend this beyond the week or so needed for a lunar fly-by. All it needs is an EDS.

    I tell you, the space community at large, must’ve really let its formerly-grand future expectations plummet, to nothing more than a grocery delivery some 200 miles up!

    “Grand future expectations” were lost when your government turned spaceflight turned into a jobs program and pork dispensing mechanism.

    The fact you can’t get over is that this “grocery delivery” is breaking the government monopoly on space access, and indeed on the future. We’re no longer bound by the vision, or lack thereof, of a handful of government agencies. I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would think this a bad thing.

  • Vladislaw

    Chris ‘the stand up comedian’ joked:

    “I tell you, the space community at large, must’ve really let its formerly-grand future expectations plummet, to nothing more than a grocery delivery some 200 miles up!”

    With just one tiny ENORMOUS difference. With all government programs that made grocery deliveries to LEO, there was no such thing as a private citizen being able to utilize that service. Didn’t matter how big your checkbook was. It was a government controled monopoly. You either played NASA’s game or you could kiss good by any contract in the future.

    With SpaceX and soon with Bigelow, we will have a situation were the government no longer has a monopoly position.

    And before DCSCA starts ranting the business always could do this. I am still waiting … for three years now .. for him to provide one single document that the FAA, the DOT, State, the Military, NASA and the executive branch was okay with private citizens building a ballistic rocket in their backyard and launch humans with it.

    tick tock tick tock … still waiting for all those documents from the early 1960′s showing all these branches of the federal government was on board for private rockets launching people. Show me all the docs that the FAA had all the lic. in place, the dept of transportation had all the regs in place, the military was okay with this.

    This IS the first time in our history of spaceflight that commercial firms are actually getting a green light from all those sectors in the government. Although some of the usual suspects from pork states are still trying to put up road blocks to keep the pork trains running.

    So obviously Chris, that joker, was kidding around when he tries to compare this to a communist, Stalin era, big government space program like the soyuz with a commercial firm that will be independant from government. With over 40 launches on their flight manifest SpaceX can survive without the 12 government launches. Can the ISS/U.S. segment survive without those 12 spaceX launches?

  • Mark

    Oler, Cook’s Partisan Voting Index lists the Texas 14th as Plus 18 Republican. That makes it one of the most “Red” districts in the country. Both McCain and Bush 43 won that district by about two to one.

    While the figure is for the current Congress, redistricting has not changed the makeup of the district that much.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Oler, Cook’s Partisan Voting Index lists the Texas 14th as Plus 18 Republican.

    “Mark”…if you were a member of Cook’s site you would be able to read his comments on why the race is one that is competitive. Plus I now live here…so we can take the analysis of someone who started flawed by predicting Dan Quayle would one day be President and ran aground over almost every issue since then or not.

    See how it works out. You are mostly wrong these days RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    With SpaceX and soon with Bigelow,>

    curious…how do you see or what do you see are the next steps for Bigelow? RGO

  • Chuck Divine

    Justin, RGO, All,

    I appreciate your comments. But one of crazy Lyndon LaRouche’s supporters won a Democratic Party primary?

    Let me mention my encounter with that bunch.

    In the 1970s I was doing grad work in social psychology at Columbia. One morning I was on my way up to Columbia, walking through Penn Station. A somewhat pretty, conservatively dressed young woman walked briskly up to me and said “Do you support nuclear power?” Wondering what was going on, I simply said “Yes…” She then replied “Oh! Good! Our group does too.” Would you like to buy one of our papers? It’s only a quarter. ” I replied, slowly, “Sure…”

    Riding the subway up to Columbia I started reading the paper. I began chuckling at the “articles.” Then I got to the one about how Queen Elizabeth — the one who lives in Buckingham Palace — was leader of a world wide drug ring, I laughed out loud. That is not normal behavior on the New York subway.

    When I got to Columbia, I ran into Steve and Lyle — two fellow students — and handed them this paper, telling them they had to read it. That “newspaper” provided a day of real amusement for me and my friends.

    Whenever I hear of a triumph by one of the Larouche crowd I wonder “What the Hell?” for obvious reasons.

  • DCSCA

    @Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Yep. The purveyors of the Magnifiied Importance of Diminished Vision are lighting up cigars over one satellite launch in the wake of thousands from the Cape– and more amusing, the flight is still in “progress” at this writing. Reentry, splash and safe recovery w/contents intact remains and it’s premature to be passing out the stogies. If ants had a space program, it would be the Empire State Building and they’ve made it to the candy store in the Fifth Avenue lobby. But if you caught the MoF ceremonies, the ‘astronaut cult aura’ is on the wane from the WH– and these Congressional races carry more weight as the long-term future of the space program is increasingly being shaped by Congress and not through Executive initiatives. The ‘chill’ between Glenn and Obama was quite evident in the body language, let alone th presentration itself, with Obama
    chuckling during his intro about Glenn’s second flight. What piqued the presidential fancy and the 35-45 press corps was Bob Dylan— hence from the WH/Holdren/Garver perspective, “the times, they are a changin’”Changin’ to the Msgnified Importance of Diminished Vision, of course.

    @Vladislaw wrote @ May 30th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “With just one tiny ENORMOUS difference. With all government programs that made grocery deliveries to LEO, there was no such thing as a private citizen being able to utilize that service.”

    Of course, private citizens have flown up aboard Soyuz and paid for the privledge. Groceries, no, but the point is, why waste billions on resources for a redundant system to a doomed space platform. When it’s splashed by 2020 or 2024 or so (if not sooner at $3 billion/yr for operational costs)and Dragon cargo capsules are lawn orniments at corporate parks or tucked in museums, we’ll be right where we are now- going in circles, no place fast, having condemned another generation to LEO ops, half a century post-Saylut/Skylab/Mir/Shuttle-Spacelab ops/ISS. That’s the legacy of the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. LEO is a ticket to no place. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

    “And before DCSCA starts ranting the business always could do this.”

    Don’t have to. You have for me- it’s a big planet and there’s lots of locales to fly from besides the USA. But you know that, don’t you.

  • Malmesbury

    On topic:

    Does anyone have a breakdown of how likely the survival of the various movers and shakers in Congress and the Senate with respect to the space program is?

  • Vladislaw

    Bigelow has been pretty consistant that he wants multiple suppliers, not just for crew access to LEO but in his whole supply chain. I believe when he first had the notion of putting up facilities it was to provide 3rd party independants the opportunity to lease space from him and in turn they would create space hotels for tourism.

    It readily became apparent in his public speeches that he was going to put that aspect on a back burner and instead focus on a different niche that seemed to come from frustrated 2nd and 3rd tier countries. These countries wanted to be a part of the “international” space efforts but were locked out for a lack of the funds that government programs, across the board seem to require.

    Witness who the MOU’s are signed with. With Virgin Galatic the vast bulk of deposits are from tourism with just a small part related to science and internationals. With Bigelow Aerospace it is the exact opposite. It is business related to those countries that now see they can have a full up LEO based space program for pennies compared what it would cost to play with NASA and the other internationals.

    I think it will come into sharp focus with even the first CCDEV team that gets a capsule ready. Bigelow may want redundacy for his customers but I would not believe he would pass up the opportunity of getting a station up and his maintence crew on board to start testing components.

    With Cargo delivery services already in place he can hit the ground running as soon as he can buy a ride for a crew.

    I just find it VERY hard to believe that he would invest all those millions on a factory that can pump out multiple BA 330′s a year on a whim. He has been talking to other potential customers for years now and has signed MOU’s and he has stated that there were many many more waiting in the wings if he is succeesful.

    He has also scrapped ideas of smaller modules, twice now and is going to focus on the 330 only. The word is that the price of launch has gotten to expensive. Personally I think it is because he actually knows what demand will be and everything he is doing is geared for more space and higher production.

    And he is still investing into the race of this global economic downturn. Again not the actions of someone who is fearful of his business plan.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Of course, private citizens have flown up aboard Soyuz and paid for the privledge. “

    I was clearly talking about domestic government programs, not the Russian government programs.

    “Don’t have to. You have for me- it’s a big planet and there’s lots of locales to fly from besides the USA. But you know that, don’t you.”

    Well then, show me the documents from State, ITAR, the Executive branch, and the military that says they are fine with American businesses going to other countries, with american technology, that can launch a rocket and drop a payload on any country.

    Still waiting for the greenlight from the military for an american firm to build rockets in north korea or Iran… just show me the documents were all of this is alright with the government. Our advanced tech being shipped to third world dicator states.

  • Justin Kugler

    Chuck,
    I don’t disagree. Rogers and her supporters tried to crash the most recent SpaceUP Houston event and were pretty roundly criticized for it. This just shows how ineffectual the Democrats are in TX-22. Even though Olson hasn’t really advanced space policy, the politics in this area remain Republican-dominated. The Democratic Party of Texas actually released its voters when Rogers pulled the same stunt in the last election.

  • Malmesbury wrote:

    Does anyone have a breakdown of how likely the survival of the various movers and shakers in Congress and the Senate with respect to the space program is?

    Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring, so she’ll be off the chessboard, replaced by another Texas Republican. It remains to be seen how much that person really cares about space pork.

    Bill Nelson will face either Connie Mack or George LeMieux. Florida Today had an article today about that race. Unless the economy tanks, my guess is Nelson is probably safe.

    Don’t really know about anyone else. All House members are in play, but I believe Ralph Hall (R-TX) is term-limited as space committee chair so even if he’s re-elected he won’t be the chair any more.

  • Explorer08

    amightywind wrote:

    “Texas GOP voters are the nation’s ‘most extreme’, if family values, patriotism, and economic dynamism are now considered extreme. The mass migration from the economic basket cases that are the blue states continues apace.”

    Your statement is only true to a right-wing extremist who defines freedom as the freedom to play by the extremists rules only. Family values according to the rules of family values as defined by the extremist. Patriotism really means nationalism to the extremist. Economic dynamism really means success for the one per centers to the extremists. Fascism is the shadow that follows each of you extremists. Woe be unto us all. Karl Rove is the Joseph Goebbels of the Republican party.

  • “Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring, so she’ll be off the chessboard, replaced by another Texas Republican. It remains to be seen how much that person really cares about space pork.
    But the person that replaces her will lack her seniority and her status as a Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Being a Ranking Member gives her the privilege of serving as an ex officio member of all subcomittees; therefore, her replacement will not wield as much power, even if he/she shares Hutchinson’s views.

  • vulture4

    Frank “Virginia” Wolf is unfortunately probably safe as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee. He is the xenophobe who has threatened to cut the NASA budget in half if anyone in the agency even breaths the name of Ch*na. His campaign had to apologize when a Wolf aide attacked a staffer for his Democratic opponent Judy Feder with a cane.

  • By the way: great news that Romney has made it over the top in the primary delegate count! Despite his ambivalent attitude about the worthiness of renewed deep space human flight, the fact remains that he is the most viable & well-equipped of the Republican presidential aspirants for the task of taking on Obama in this autumn’s election. It is my belief that he could be later convinced & swayed over to the side of the pro-Moon, pro-deep-space exploration legion. George W. Bush did not decide on starting a grandiose deep-space project until the last full year of his first term. So it may be with the future Romney presidency.

  • amightywind

    So it may be with the future Romney presidency.

    The only hope for a Romney NASA is that he is well advised. His space council suggests that he is.

    Fascism is the shadow that follows each of you extremists. Woe be unto us all. Karl Rove is the Joseph Goebbels of the Republican party.

    The GOP are not Fascists. We are more like the Sith.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 7:38 am

    When you are making it up you can believe anything you want…RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Romney appoints people to be his space council. That space council then tells Mitt that is he is well advised?

    Makes sense to me.

    It is surprising you would turn to Mark “never get a fact right” Whittington for your space council.

    So Mitt tells America he would fire any employee who came to him about spending billions on a space station. He then appoints Dr. Griffin to advise him on space issues. Then on the 22nd of May, Griffin comes out and proposes a lunar base.

    So is Mitt going to fire him now?

  • @Chris Castro
    “It is my belief that he could be later convinced & swayed over to the side of the pro-Moon, pro-deep-space exploration legion.”
    And “belief” is what every thing boils down to as far as you and Marcel are concerned, especially when it comes to SLS. Anything you don’t want to believe (no matter how much evidence there is), is conveniently ignored. You are a True Believer in the Church of the Infallable SLS. Amen.

    Please excuse the rest of us as we pursue a different truly practical way to go to the Moon and beyond. A goal that we will accomplish using applied research and affordable development coupled with pay for demonstrated accomplishment (rather than cost-plus contracting) and competition. And it will be done despite the obstacles that the people who share your belief put in the way.

    As a Doobie Brother’s song stated, “What a fool believes he sees, the wise man has the power to reason a way.”

  • @Rick Boozer

    “. And that altar which has the potential to strand us in LEO “for the next ten or fifteen years” is called SLS and MPCV.”

    Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore. Only Elon can:-)

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Malmesbury

    “. And that altar which has the potential to strand us in LEO “for the next ten or fifteen years” is called SLS and MPCV.”

    Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore. Only Elon can:-)

    They seem to have put alot of effort into trying to prove that.

    Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK, I mean. With help from NASA of course.

    They *can* do you a nice launch tower though. And take it for a trip around the launch site on the crawler

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Welcome back Dragon after another virtually perfect mission. CRS starts with first scheduled flight Sept 2012. Space tipping point may well have arrived. Well done SpaceX.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore. Only Elon can:-)”:

    so far only Elon has…if one factors into the notion “cost”. Actually it is true if one even looks at hardware.

    NASA has been trying to build a derivative of the shuttle system for cargo lift since the early 1980…then it was called Shuttle C…someone has done a timeline/cost line of the efforts Shuttle C/NLS/ALS/Ares/ now SLS…and its tens of billions for almost no real hardware.

    Boeing/Lockmart did get flying hardware with EELV but in the end the vehicles are simply unaffordable.

    This is of course the legacy of cost plus contracts…

    RGO

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    SLS is going to die and along with it MPCV. They’re too expensive and SpaceX is demonstrating capability beyond any of the other commercials and NASA to boot. By capability I mean design, manufacturing and launch and recovery now as well. A paying customer for FH, who needs SLS and a second Dragon mission completed successfully, who needs MPCV? Those 2 NASA programs expected development costs exceeding what $30 billion and SpaceX has spent less than a $1 billion. No comparison. NASA big programs are dead. JWST has also put paid on the robotic grand missions as well. Welcome to the new age.

  • @EarthToPlanetMarcel
    “Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore. Only Elon can:-)”
    If you believe I think only Elon can, then you haven’t really understood a damn thing I have written. The other guys could build new types of rockets until they are completed, but not as long as they require cost-plus contracts and a competition-free environment. But the way things stand right now, they may be able to start building major new rockets, but not finish them. Adapt or die. Why should we spend more when we could do more with the budget we already have?

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore.

    Boeing and Lockheed Martin already have rockets that do everything NASA and the Department of Defense need, and SpaceX will be adding to that existing capability.

    The question is whether there is a demand for anything larger than our existing rockets, and the answer is clearly no.

    Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as NASA, have already outlined an exploration architecture that uses existing rockets that can get us beyond LEO faster and for less money than the SLS can. There is no question of this.

    What you have failed to provide is any proof that anyone wants to build payloads for the SLS, much less 4-6 per year for the operational lifetime of the SLS. No one has a need for that much mass in space, and it would bankrupt NASA’s other science programs to even try.

    You continue to live in Cloud cuckoo land. Please come back to reality.

  • If you believe I think only Elon can, then you haven’t really understood a damn thing I have written.

    Reading comprehension is not Marcel’s strong suit.

  • amightywind

    Boeing’s X-37B will soon land after a historic mission

    Entrepreneurs at Boeing launched a satellite to spy on the scurrilous Chinese directly from orbit. It will soon land on the shuttle strip at Vandenberg. (Not splash down embarrassingly in the ocean!) It is a triumph or private industry.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel wrote:

    “Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore. Only Elon can:-)”

    What does it matter to them if they actually build a rocket? They get cost plus for the attempt, not the actual production of a product.

    SpaceX announced they were going to build a falcon 9 on nov of 2005, what year did they launch their first rocket?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Entrepreneurs at Boeing launched a satellite to spy on the scurrilous Chinese”

    There are entrepreneurs at Boeing, but they’re on the civil aircraft side of the house. They aren’t involved in X-37 development or other defense programs.

    “directly from orbit.”

    Versus spying indirectly from orbit?

    “It is a triumph or private industry.”

    It was a triumph of DARPA and USAF funding and management rescuing the program and letting Boeing do what it needed to do to get X-37 to flight after NASA nearly micromanaged the project to death.

    It’s too late now, but there were lessons in X-37 for Orion/MPCV.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Boeing’s X-37B will soon land after a historic mission

    Entrepreneurs at Boeing launched a satellite to spy>>

    boeing invested its own money in the X-37? Or are you just reinventing what words mean…RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Yeah, right! We all know that silly companies like Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and ATK can’t build rockets anymore.

    ATK have never built a rocket.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Just a captive carry, but another commercial vehicle is also beginning to take flight:

    http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_20733780/spacecraft-tested-tuesday-at-broomfield-airport

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    “boeing invested its own money in the X-37?”

    Not trying to say that amightywind knows what he’s talking about and knowing that in the world of defense contractors “own money” may have different meanings. Here my speculation:

    X-37 was the original bid by Boeing on the NASA OSP program. Therefore they must have invested a share amount of IRAD and BNP and MNA money into it. That is at least money that was not directly linked to an existing contract. Or not directly coming from the government.

    FWIW.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    That is plausible but for Wind to imply that Boeing did the same thing Musk has done is typical GOP right wing spin…it is redefine words on the go.

    Boeing might be putting “real” money into their commercial crew effort…but X-37…they got all that back from the US gov. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Just a captive carry, but another commercial vehicle is also beginning to take flight:

    Some people seem to fawn over the X-37 – and it is a nice little spaceship. But the winged space-vehicle that can help us expand our presence in space is the Dream Chaser, not the X-37.

    Go SNC!

    Cargo now. Crew next.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah that is why I said “own money” means different things in the world of defense contractors.

    Also we don’t know the extent of the deals between Boeing and the government so I would not bet anything even for the CST-100. Same goes for SpaceX and anyone else though…

    BUT Elon put $100M of his OWN cash in SpaceX and it speaks volumes.

    Just sayin…

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    X-37 is a military program now. If anything classified touched it we’ll probably never ever use it for any civilian application. Maybe a rescue mission of some sort but that is probably the extent of it. No matter anyone’s daydreaming fantasy.

    FWIW

  • Doug Lassiter

    amightywind wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 9:18 am
    “The only hope for a Romney NASA is that he is well advised. His space council suggests that he is.”

    I have yet to see any acknowledgment from the Romney campaign that Griffin and Pace are really formally Romney space advisers. In the absence of that info, this smells to me like self-declared advisers, wherein you just say you advise him, and thence call yourself a “council”. I have no reason to doubt that Pace and Griffin have offered advice to the Romney campaign, but that’s different. I can offer advice to the Romney campaign as well, as can Chuck Meyer.

    Can someone point me to the Romney campaign acknowledging the influence of Griffin and Pace?

  • X-37 was the original bid by Boeing on the NASA OSP program.

    No, it wasn’t. Boeing’s OSP vehicle was a capsule (CST is actually the legacy to it). X-37 originated in Downey in the early nineties, and was always a military program.

    I have yet to see any acknowledgment from the Romney campaign that Griffin and Pace are really formally Romney space advisers.

    Ummmmm…you missed this? It was put out by the Romney campaign. It didn’t disavow the group as being his advisers.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    what Griffin and Pace ARE TRYING TO DO is to become the “industrial choice” for any Romney space program decisions. There are several tried and true ways into the campaign of a candidate who doesnt care much about a particular issue but at somepoint will need that issue or at least a position on it…and in Willards case the way into the campaign is the deep pockets of the “titans” of right wing industrial politics.

    That is why Griffin is running around trying to flesh out his (Laughable) “non partisan” space program…which is really an attempt to get at least one maybe two of the current “stakeholders” to start pushing him with the Willard campaign.

    Willard will in my view NEED a space policy. While I persist in my view point that the election is really (at least in my view now) not going to be a close on; someone one of the two (assuming it stays two) is going to close the deal with the independents and that will swing it wildly…

    Part of that deal closing is going to be an argument over how to spend federal dollars…and if Obama’s political shop is smart (and they are showing some modest moves toward that)…illustrating the difference between Willard the greedy dont give a darn capitalist and people like Musk who made money and then instead of going into the economic shenanigans that Willard did…tried to restart the economy.

    But to your question no right now both Griffin and Pace are “interviewing”…lol RGO

  • common sense

    As I said Boeing bid OSP with the X-37.

    http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2003/q2/nr_030418s.html

    The capsule only came for the CEV eventually with Northrop Grumman.

    http://www.astronautix.com/craft/cev.htm

    Tss, tss Rand…

  • Vladislaw

    Wouldn’t it just be better to clean sheet a new design, for humans, based on what you learned with the X37?

  • Vladislaw

    Peter Marquez, who signed that letter in support of Romney, is a Vice President for Strategy at Orbital.

    I wonder what his strategy is?

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    “Wouldn’t it just be better to clean sheet a new design, for humans, based on what you learned with the X37?”

    As I said if anything, any thing, classified touched X-37 you can forget about using any of the lessons learned or derive anything from the program for civilian uses.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Wouldn’t it just be better to clean sheet a new design, for humans, based on what you learned with the X37?”

    For human transport, a “clean-sheet” X-37 for human transport would just scale up the X-37 and add human support and control systems. Like most airplanes, X-37 is essentially a tube with wings, and to fit a crew inside, the tube has to grow, and the wings have to scale up accordingly. (As an aside, I’m skeptical that X-37 could scale up to that size and still launch on an Atlas due to bending moments and escape issues, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    A lifting body like Dreamchaser is more efficient volumetrically than a winged body like X-37, and Dreamchaser is based on what is arguably the most efficient lifting body to date, the HL-20/BOR-4. So an ideal “clean sheet” alternative to capsules probably wouldn’t look much different from Dreamchaser, although such a lifting body would not be derived from X-37.

    Capsules are the most efficient volumetrically and easiest to develop and test, but they lack the crossrange and soft rides of winged and lifting bodies. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs…

    Hope this helps.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 6:09 pm
    “Ummmmm…you missed this? It was put out by the Romney campaign. It didn’t disavow the group as being his advisers.”

    No, I didn’t miss that. Of course, it doesn’t say that Griffin and Pace are being treated as “advisers”. Of course, it doesn’t disavow Griffin and Pace as wearing clown suits either. An adviser is someone retained by the campaign (perhaps for money, perhaps not) specifically to develop policy. All this letter says is that these space guys endorse him. Romney must have some respect for them, because he’s publicizing the letter. But that’s a far cry from labeling them “advisers”. It certainly doesn’t say that Mitt Romney is going to entrust his space policy to these men. What’s so hard to understand?

    I want to know who is setting up Romney’s space policy. Not who in the space world endorses him. I’ll bet I can find a truckload of the latter, including low level contract technicians, who are not Romney’s “advisers”. In this context, it is somewhat remarkable that Romney has not explicitly identified Pace and Griffin as his space advisers. Pace and Griffin would *love* to be called that by him. But Romney hasn’t done that. I have to wonder why.

  • William Mellberg

    I don’t believe in extending kudos before a mission has been successfully completed. But now that Dragon has returned to Earth, I would like to add my own congratulations to the SpaceX team on its outstanding achievement.

    While I have questioned (and still question) the viability of the “commercial” market for human spaceflight, I am pleased that the United States now has at least one rocket/spacecraft combination which can resupply the International Space Station. And I look forward to Dragon providing transportation for astronauts to and from the ISS within the next few years. I am also hopeful that Orbital Sciences Corporation will soon be flying cargo missions to the ISS, as well. A successful flight by Antares/Cygnus would make me even happier as it will augment America’s capability to service the space station.

    A bit of trivia …

    Soyuz 32 returned to Earth unmanned on June 13, 1979. Aboard the spacecraft were film canisters, processed materials and other items being returned for inspection and evaluation.

    Soyuz T-1 was another unmanned mission flown during 1979/1980.

    Both spacecraft had docked (automatically) with Salyut-6. Presumably, unmanned Soyuz spacecraft could still be used to return limited cargo payloads to Earth.

    In any event, Dragon was not the first unmanned vehicle to return cargo from a space station.

    But, of course, the circumstances surrounding the Soyuz-32 mission were a little different. The engine on Soyuz-32 was suspect because of a malfunction with the Soyuz-33 engine. Thus, Soyuz-34 was flown unmanned to Salyut-6 to give the Soyuz-32 crew a more reliable return vehicle. That is why the Soyuz-32 spacecraft (now redundant) was loaded with cargo and sent back to Earth unmanned.

    BTW, when President Obama welcomed President Bush to the White House yesterday, I wonder if he remembered to give his predecessor some credit for launching the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program?

    Thus far, I haven’t heard anyone from the White House, NASA, SpaceX or the news media acknowledge that this week’s achievement in space was initiated by the Bush Administration and formally announced in January 2006 under NASA Administrator Mike Griffin.

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/news/COTS_selection.html

    As long as people are handing out congratulations, how about giving a little credit where credit is due? Contrary to what so many reports have suggested during the past week, COTS was not the brainchild of Barack Obama and Lori Garver.

    Once again, I am very pleased to extend my sincere congratulations to the SpaceX and NASA teams on Dragon’s historic first visit to the International Space Station. Well done!

  • Romney WILL definitely need a new & distinct space policy once he is firmly in office, and this change of presidential administrations will indeed be a silver opportunity for positive change. The policy-makers must NOT make the mistake of thinking that commercial spacecraft are all the nation needs. Again, the Dragon spacecraft could NOT perform a Lunar expedition—-[assuming that it and its service module would be the lunar orbiting craft, and a separate lander were invoked]—-(1) there are the high speed re-entry speeds from cislunar space to consider here, and the Dragon has not been designed for them; (2) a cislunar spacecraft would need to be usable in deep space for vastly longer time periods to accomplish the Lunar objective, and the space taxi craft are only designed for the briefest of up-and-down again flight plans—to reach an LEO station, dock with it, deliver supplies, and return, all in one or two days; totally inadequate for the fortnight-lengths of time needed to reach the Moon. So make no mistake: the Orion CEV will have to be built, in order to do the role of deep space transport.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Chris Castro wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 3:27 am

    So what is this capability that Orion, sorry, MPCV has to enable it to do deep-space transport. Specifics please?

    FYI Dragon’s heat shield is capable for BEO returns and the DragonLab is designed to spend up to 2 years on orbit.

    Both vehicles will need service modules and currently neither has been designed or built.

    Just a few points.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Contrary to what so many reports have suggested during the past week, COTS was not the brainchild of Barack Obama and Lori Garver.

    I believe it had its roots in decisions made by Steidle and O’Keefe and reportedly Griffin was instructed by the Bush White House that he couldn’t touch COTS.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The policy-makers must NOT make the mistake of thinking that commercial spacecraft are all the nation needs.

    As far as Earth to orbit and crew return are concerned they are all that is needed. The mistake is yours.

    Again, the Dragon spacecraft could NOT perform a Lunar expedition

    Wrong, it most certainly could.

    (1) there are the high speed re-entry speeds from cislunar space to consider here, and the Dragon has not been designed for them;

    Wrong, Dragon was designed for return from hyperbolic (!) velocities.

    (2) a cislunar spacecraft would need to be usable in deep space for vastly longer time periods to accomplish the Lunar objective, and the space taxi craft are only designed for the briefest of up-and-down again flight plans—to reach an LEO station, dock with it, deliver supplies, and return, all in one or two days;

    Wrong, Dragon can stay in space for up to two years.

    the Orion CEV will have to be built, in order to do the role of deep space transport.

    Utter nonsense. Combined with a service module Dragon could serve as a beyond LEO capsule. With proper modifications so could CST-100. There is no doubt either company could build a SM. If it’s politically desirable, the Orion SM could be turned into a reusable and refuelable universal SM for Dragon, CST-100 and Orion Light (basically the LM capsule in the ATK Liberty CCiCap entry).

    I wish NASA would do this, because it would be a great compromise and one that could lead to the ever so crucial propellant launch market soon. I don’t so much prefer a NASA SM, but I’d be fine with it and it’s not important to get into a huge fight over.

    A new competitive development might be even better, but then again LM might still win that competition, especially in the light of cancellation fees, so it might not make much of a difference either way. Redundant procurement could also be a good idea. Something derived from a cross between a Delta 2 upper stage and a Cygnus SM could make a good candidate.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The policy-makers must NOT make the mistake of thinking that commercial spacecraft are all the nation needs.

    Let me add this: policy makers ARE making the mistake of building two things we don’t need, SLS and Orion. The Orion SM makes sense, but the capsule only does if it’s turned into a commercial crew carrier, in other words Orion Light. There would be nothing wrong with Orion Light, their mistake is that they appear to want to launch it on a ridiculous rocket like Liberty. As for SLS, it makes no sense at all.

    NASA cancelled the more useful elements of Constellation, Altair (especially its ascent stage), the new spacesuits and the pressurised rover, and continued the least useful bits, Orion (excluding the SM) and especially SLS.

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 1:07 am

    “I don’t believe in extending kudos before a mission has been successfully completed. But now that Dragon has returned to Earth, I would like to add my own congratulations to the SpaceX team on its outstanding achievement… Once again, I am very pleased to extend my sincere congratulations to the SpaceX and NASA teams on Dragon’s historic first visit to the International Space Station. Well done!”

    Ditto. DCSCA concurs. Outstanding.

    Now light up the cigars, Space X– and welcome to 1966! The purveyors of the Magnified Importance of Diminshed Vision are feelin’ groovy.

    A stellar technical accomplishment for the firm. However, from a business perspective- and this is more a business story than a space story, as Miles O’Brien notes- the technical accomplishment does not null the business failure by Space X to meet announced schedules and deliver contracted goods and services on time to its customer even after contracts we modified in their favor. This remains a problem meriting further inquiry by Congress. No doubt it is fixable. Still, the transient euphoria from shuttle times of ‘nobody cares how long it takes or how much it costs if the mission is successful’ can be both seductive and intoxicating. But it doesn’t negate the business questions. All the same, pop some champagne– preferably California domestic rather than French. Here’s to toasting the outstanding job by the young team at Space X. And although Oler wrongly insists it’s not, spaceflight IS hard. Musk knows it, too. All the more reason to say, as Chris Kraft would phrase it, ‘ Well done, young man.’ And add Goddard’s blessings from 80 years ago in a note to H.G. Wells:

    ‘There can be no thought of finishing, for ‘aiming at the stars’, both literally and figuratively, is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the thrill of just beginning.” —- Robert H. Goddard, 1932

  • William Mellberg

    Martijn Meijering wrote:

    “I believe it [COTS] had its roots in decisions made by Steidle and O’Keefe …”

    That is correct. But please note that I wrote “formally announced.”

    “… this week’s achievement in space was initiated by the Bush Administration and formally announced in January 2006 under NASA Administrator Mike Griffin.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/news/COTS_selection.html

  • @Chris Castro
    “Romney WILL definitely need a new & distinct space policy once he is firmly in office, and this change of presidential administrations will indeed be a silver opportunity for positive change.”
    Of course! Simply because you believe he WILL radically change things. Amen, brother! ;)
    Yes, there would be some policy changes, but nothing radical. The budget won’t allow it.

    “]—-(1) there are the high speed re-entry speeds from cislunar space to consider here, and the Dragon has not been designed for them.
    You really don’t know much do you. The Dragon uses PICA-X – an impovement of the same shielding that returned comet samples from interplanetary space. So actually its shielding should be able to withstand reentry speeds even greater than from cislunar space. If MPCV uses the AVCoat shielding used in Apollo (and the last I heard they were considering doing this), it should be able to handle cislunar re-entry, but not the greater speeds that Dragon could handle.

    “totally inadequate for the fortnight-lengths of time needed to reach the Moon.
    It takes 3.5 days to get to the moon and of course the same amount of time to get back. If you had a one or two day stay on the moon, that would be 8 or 9 days – 5 days shorter than a fortnight (14 days). But even so, you could lower the crew to 4 (still more than Orion to the moon) and use the weight reduction and volume increase to extend life support.

    How’s the weather up there on the planet where you and Marcel reside?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 3:27 am

    that is one of the most stunningly ill informed post I have read here…its not that I disagree with your conclusions; it is just what you are basing them on is wrong…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I am pleased that the United States now has at least one rocket/spacecraft combination which can resupply the International Space Station.

    Which to me is really what all the hoopla has been about. Have there been unmanned space freighters? Sure. But not unmanned U.S. space freighters. And certainly not any that were built and operated by a company, not a country. The hoopla is on the who & how-much ($), not that it’s ever been done.

    A successful flight by Antares/Cygnus would make me even happier as it will augment America’s capability to service the space station.

    Absolutely. The U.S. needs a redundant and competitive cargo resupply system. Again, that’s part of the excitement, that the U.S. is gaining a capability that will let us expand our presence into space. Russia has been a good ISS partner, but I’d prefer not to depend on them for our access to space.

    As long as people are handing out congratulations, how about giving a little credit where credit is due?

    I actually like to go back to Reagan. More than once, President Reagan stated his belief that NASA should encourage private-sector involvement in space and that the agency should remove obstacles to that involvement, and he announced a new national space policy including a fifteen-point commercial space initiative which provides a revised framework for U.S. space activities.

    But Bush/Griffin do get credit for getting cargo going, just as Obama gets credit for getting crew going. As for the media sometimes not pointing that out correctly, I know of a particular media outlet that I could correct all day long – might even be a favorite of yours – yet apparently it has become acceptable to have momentary lapses like that when convenient. It’s the times we live in, and you just have to get used to it.

    If Obama and Bush did talk about the mission, likely Obama would have said to Bush “How about that SpaceX, huh?” I think that would have sufficed considering how much any President spends on space issues.

    Cargo now. Crew next.

  • As I said Boeing bid OSP with the X-37.

    They may have bid using that as one of the concepts they would consider (it looked sexy for a press release) but after the initial trade studies they ended up with a capsule. I worked on it as a consultant in Huntington Beach.

  • I want to know who is setting up Romney’s space policy. Not who in the space world endorses him. I’ll bet I can find a truckload of the latter, including low level contract technicians, who are not Romney’s “advisers”. In this context, it is somewhat remarkable that Romney has not explicitly identified Pace and Griffin as his space advisers. Pace and Griffin would *love* to be called that by him. But Romney hasn’t done that. I have to wonder why.

    No one is setting up Romney’s space policy, because Romney doesn’t care about space policy, and doesn’t think it will be an issue in the campaign. He hasn’t explicitly named Pace and Griffin as his advisers because he probably thinks that the implicitness of his press release is sufficient.

  • common sense

    @ Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 31st, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    “As an aside, I’m skeptical that X-37 could scale up to that size and still launch on an Atlas due to bending moments and escape issues, but that’s neither here nor there.”

    Remember though that during OSP it was supposed to be launched atop an EELV.

    “A lifting body like Dreamchaser is more efficient volumetrically than a winged body like X-37,”

    Possibly but the pressure vessels are more difficult to build to accommodate the shape.

    “So an ideal “clean sheet” alternative to capsules probably wouldn’t look much different from Dreamchaser, although such a lifting body would not be derived from X-37.”

    I would refer you to the HL series of lifting bodies though.

    Capsules are the most efficient volumetrically and easiest to develop and test, but they lack the crossrange and soft rides of winged and lifting bodies. ”

    It is not clear for the “soft rides”, except of course for the landing part BUT they are safer in flight and like for Soyuz on landing.

    “Tradeoffs, tradeoffs…”

    Yep. It’s what most people, even in the industry, tend to forget. It is not about the shape, it is about answering the requirements…

  • common sense

    “I would refer you to the HL series of lifting bodies though.”

    Ooooppss I meant the M2-Fx series. Forget runway landing with wheels and you’ll see…

  • Googaw

    Wouldn’t it just be better to clean sheet a new design, for humans, based on what you learned with the X37?

    The astronaut cult’s robotic reaction to technological progress — take a perfectly good machine and demand that its functionality be handicapped and cost ballooned for the sake of putting a heavenly pilgrim on board.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Remember though that during OSP it was supposed to be launched atop an EELV.”

    I remain skeptical. A crew-sized X-37 could not be shrouded, which would expose the wings to airflow during Atlas acceleration. That’s going to create a lot of lift on those wings, a force which will want to rip the X-37 up and off the Atlas stack. The interface between the X-37 and Atlas will obviously be built strong enough to endure such a force, but that will just transfer the force down the Atlas stack. Lower on the stack, that force will try to bend (hence “bending moment”) and crumple the Atlas structure, like bending and then breaking a stick in your hands. As an Atlas’s tanks are emptied during a launch burn, they lose more and more of their rigidity, like a soda can becomes less rigid and more susceptible to bending moments when it is emptied. My back-of-the-envelope calculation says that there is no way that the depressurized Atlas tanks and structure could withstand the bending moments induced by the lift on the X-37′s wings in the airstream. (At least, as long as the Atlas’s engines keep thrusting in the direction of flight to keep the stack on course.) I may be wrong, but as Rand points out, X-37 isn’t where Boeing ended up on OSP and this may be one of the critical reasons.

    I also remain skeptical that a winged body like X-37 could reliably get into the right orientation for a safe landing in the event of a launch abort from a stack like an Atlas. I’m also skeptical of lifting bodies like HL-20 doing the same, so I’m interested to see where Sierra Nevada is going with this if it continues to advance in the commercial crew competition. Again, I may be wrong and someone could pull it off several times in different abort conditions reliably. But it will be substantially more difficult than doing the same with a capsule, which is probably another reason that Boeing went the capsule route in OSP and why we’ve never seen anything other than capsules on top of launch stacks for human space flight.

    “Possibly”

    Definitely. The closer a vehicle gets to a sphere, the more volumetrically efficient it is. Capsules are closer to spheres than lifting bodies and lifting bodies are closer to spheres than winged (tubular) bodies.

    “but the pressure vessels are more difficult to build to accommodate the shape.”

    True that. Assuming the winged body’s wings are simple, a winged (tubular) body is easier to manufacture than a complex lifting body.

    “It is not clear for the “soft rides”, except of course for the landing part”

    You get fewer g’s elsewhere in the descent profile with winged and lifting bodies — not just at landing. Compare Mercury/Gemini/Apollo to Shuttle.

    “BUT they are safer in flight and like for Soyuz on landing.”

    It depends on what you mean by “safe”. If safe is landing intact after a launch abort or a bad reentry, then capsules are better. If safe is being able to abort to multiple landing sites or not doing more damage to a fragile, injured crew member, then lifting or winged bodies are better.

    There is no “safe”. Just different desirables and how we want to weight them.

  • Googaw

    a one or two day stay on the moon

    Is this what has become of Newt’s lunar colony?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 10:34 am

    “Which to me is really what all the hoopla has been about.”

    Except it’s not.

    Corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state.

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw, actually I was responding to people who wanted to modify the current vehicle…. I was commenting if you want crew wouldn’t it be better to leave that vehicle alone and just use what you learn.

    Unless you can copy and paste where I said I wanted the current vehicle changed, you are off base, by a very large amount.

  • common sense

    @ Dark Blue Nine wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I am not saying it was going to be easy but DreamChaser will generate forces including lift atop the rocket as well and I don’t believe they intend to shroud it either.

    “I may be wrong, but as Rand points out, X-37 isn’t where Boeing ended up on OSP and this may be one of the critical reasons.”

    Possibly but we’ll never know ;)

    NASA did study HL-20 abort scenarii if I am not mistaken and lifting bodies are notoriously bad at abort. But I’ll throw this: Why do we need an abort system. As far as I know there is none on say a 747… The abort system came out of the astronaut office during CEV (not even during OSP if memory serves). As you said trade-offs etc.

    Nowadays you can assure decent in the 3g range reentry with a capsule thanks to RCS and better GNC. 3g is no that hard to endure. And if you assume possible entry abort then one has to endure upward of 11gs (see Soyuz). You are not going to be able to qualify many astronauts if one requirements is to sustain 11gs. Or you are back to the Apollo crews. Again back to LAS nonsense.

    “able to abort to multiple landing sites”

    70% of the Earth is water. You need to survive the abort. The multiple landing sites thing is just a silly requirement.

    As for an injured astronaut there are ways to use say parafoil for example instead of wings if needed btu we are back to trade offs. Since you have to consider the mass of the subsytem which possibly compare with wings…

    Again design is dictated by requirements not the other way around. As I suspect you know.

    “There is no “safe”. Just different desirables and how we want to weight them”

    I would agree with this hence my comment on LAS and its appropriateness…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state.

    Oh but Russia will always have our back? Yeah, right.

    I’ll trust our access to space to a U.S. corporation any day over your buddy Putin.

    You’ve been living in Russia too long pal comrade. ;-)

  • common sense

    Remember this?

    http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-space/article/2004-01/back-future

    It cannot work as shown but the spirit was there for a lifting body…

  • DCSCA

    IMore than once, President Reagan stated his belief that NASA should encourage private-sector involvement in space and that the agency should remove obstacles to that involvement, and he announced a new national space policy including a fifteen-point commercial space initiative which provides a revised framework for U.S. space activities.

    And gave us the Challenger disaster. Reagan’s poison crippled U.S. HSF ops for three decades.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 1st, 2012 at 10:55 am
    “No one is setting up Romney’s space policy, because Romney doesn’t care about space policy, and doesn’t think it will be an issue in the campaign. He hasn’t explicitly named Pace and Griffin as his advisers because he probably thinks that the implicitness of his press release is sufficient.”

    Ah, the power of implicitness. The sign of a strong leader. But you’re right. He doesn’t care squat about space. Now Griffin and Pace just have to admit that they’re advisers to a candidate who doesn’t care squat about space.

  • pathfinder_01

    Chris I think you need to learn more about the CCDEV craft.

    “1) there are the high speed re-entry speeds from cislunar space to consider here, and the Dragon has not been designed for them;”
    Dragon’s heat shield is designed for high speed return. It could indeed do a lunar return mission. PICA was used to protect star dust(the fastest reentry of any spacecraft) and Space X has an improved version called PICA-X.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/002/100716firststage/

    “(2) a cislunar spacecraft would need to be usable in deep space for vastly longer time periods to accomplish the Lunar objective, and the space taxi craft are only designed for the briefest of up-and-down again flight plans—to reach an LEO station, dock with it, deliver supplies, and return, all in one or two days; totally inadequate for the fortnight-lengths of time needed to reach the Moon.”

    Dragon Lab is designed with 2 years of independent on orbit capablility. Orion was only planning on 6 months.

    All CCDEV craft have to be able to stay in space docked to a station for at least 6 months. All CCDEV craft are required to be able to stay in space 3 days plus 48 hours contingency with a full crew(7). It does not take a forth night to reach the moon. Being docked to the ISS for 6 months is an even worse thermal enviroment than the craft being free and on it’s way to the moon.

    It is about 3 days to the moon and 3 days back. The extra time is so that you are able to do something on the surface and wait for the return window. That is why if you go to the moon Apollo style you need 14 days total…or Orion style 21 days. That is a lot to get out of a tiny spacecraft. In fact in Orion’s case it drove R/D since current life support tech cannot support 4 people 21 days in that tiny capsule.

    It is also about 4 days to l1/l2 and 4 days back….if you had prepositioned supplies(I wonder how you could do that…..Cygnus cough, cough or Dragon cough, cough) you could remain there indefinitely. You would have anytime return to earth capability and be able to land almost anywhere on the moon esp. the poles with ease.

    CST100 could be modified to lunar status, and there is the Dream chaser Xl, which is 20%Larger than the current craft and would carry 4 to l1/2.

  • Now Griffin and Pace just have to admit that they’re advisers to a candidate who doesn’t care squat about space.

    They probably know that, and like it. I imagine that they think it will give them a free hand to do what they want to do.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 2nd, 2012 at 1:06 pm
    “They probably know that, and like it. I imagine that they think it will give them a free hand to do what they want to do.”

    I think that’s exactly right. They self-label themselves “advisers” to a presidential candidate because (1) it would seem to elevate their perceived importance, and (2) because they know (but don’t tell anyone) that he isn’t paying any attention to them, except to tip his hat to them when they say something nice, nor does he exercise any sort of message-control over them. What’s not to like?

    Apparently “The Donald” is an “adviser” to the same candidate, in much the same way.

    Mike is a smart guy but, in the view of Congress, he’s damaged goods. I’d find it hard to believe that a presidential candidate would want to formally associate with him. Which is why Romney hasn’t.

  • Vladislaw

    “Ah, the power of implicitness. The sign of a strong leader. But you’re right. He doesn’t care squat about space.”

    I believe it is more like Governor Romney knows Americans, in general, don’t care about space. When he ridiculed Speaker Gingrich’s Lunar base plans it could have blew up in his face, if the people would have supported Newt.

    I think he made the political calculation that the majority would side with him so he blasted the lunar idea and didn’t seem to take a penalty for it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Politically, it all comes down to the narrative.

    For most space-beholden politicians, it’s about “preserving human space flight” and “making jobs”. As if “human space flight” was a goal unto itself. It isn’t, and the American people aren’t responsive to that. They aren’t fooled. As if the Commerce department was threatened, and Commerce-beholden legislators were out in the hustings nobly touting trucks, trains, and gasoline. What Gingrich did is try to tell the truth, which is that the real goal of human space flight probably has to be colonization and settlement. Now, that’s a real goal, though in the minds of most taxpayers, it isn’t a compelling one. Our nation has never had a real discussion about the importance, to the nation, of colonization and settlement of space. Our nation is simply not ready to commit to such a goal.

    Romney understands that the nation is not ready to commit to colonization and settlement of space as a goal, so that was an opportunity to stick it to Newt. Newt’s problem wasn’t that he told the truth, but that he was (astonishingly) politically naive enough to think that the nation would rally behind it.

    You’re right. Romney (and Obama) know that Americans don’t care about space. Americans care about being being able to show off that they’re really good at things, and they care about jobs. Both presidential candidates understand that human space flight doesn’t yet have the narrative that will get the nation to care about it.

  • Romney understands that the nation is not ready to commit to colonization and settlement of space as a goal, so that was an opportunity to stick it to Newt. Newt’s problem wasn’t that he told the truth, but that he was (astonishingly) politically naive enough to think that the nation would rally behind it.

    I disagree. I think that the problem was that he didn’t articulate a “why” in a way as to rally them. Newt always gets in trouble when speaking extemporaneously. If he’d had a well-crafted speech, it might have gone better.

  • Vladislaw

    “I think that the problem was that he didn’t articulate a “why” in a way as to rally them”

    I agree, reading a lot of general news blogs at that time, the most common slam against it was the 500 billion to 1 trillion commenters said it was going to cost the taxpayer.

    I thought it was a big mistake that all he did was talk about how it could be done at a lower cost (prizes et cetera) then didn’t give the actual price tag on some of the options. It could have, at the very least, provided his supports some ammunition to counter the 1 trillion dollar posts, instead he handed them an empty gun.

  • Googaw

    The problem here is the hallucination that HSF today is the primary thing we need now to get space colonization going in the future. This is the voodoo doll theory of space settlement. There is uttter confusion, not so much among American public, and certainly not with Romney, who can recognize a preposterous economic fantasy when he sees it , but among the HSF cult itself about this matter.

    Space colonization is our grachildren’s task, or their grandchidren’s. Promoting it as a national goal in our lifetimes makes about as much sense as promoting an astronaut trip to Eris, sending a Curiosity type rover to one of the newly disccovered almost-earthlike exoplanets, or any other such goal that is many orders of magnitude away from economic feasibility for us, but may be possible for our granchidlren.

    The basic problem the HSF cult has here is that it’s actually quite easy for most people to recognize and dismiss their crackpottery.

  • William Mellberg

    If memory serves me right, Gingrich talked about a lunar “base” — not a lunar colony. But Romney used the term “colony” to make Newt sound like a kook.

    Newt’s biggest failure the night of that debate was to remind Romney (and their audience) that up until Constellation was abandoned, a lunar “base” HAD been NASA’s goal — a goal that had been proposed by the Bush White House and approved by Congress (twice).

    Had Gingrich mentioned that simple fact, he might have avoided becoming a laughing stock on Saturday Night Live. But Newt’s ego might have gotten in the way. Rather than acknowledging that a lunar base had been the policy of the Bush Administration, it seems Gingrich wanted to make it look like another one of his “big” ideas. He could have made Romney look like a dunce had he simply said, “This isn’t my idea, Governor. This was national policy up until the time that the Obama Administration cancelled it. If you knew anything about the space program, you would have known that. But you’re obviously ill informed about America’s highly important aerospace industry.” And he might have asked Romney, “Governor, would you have ‘fired’ George W. Bush and the Congressional leaders who supported him for setting a return to the Moon and the establishment of a permanent lunar base as a national goal? Do you know anything about our space program?”

    Unfortunately, Gingrich just stood there. And he failed to cite the Constellation Program in every subsequent comment on the topic. In so doing, he made space exploration a subject for ridicule.

    “Open mouth, insert foot” seems to be Newt’s modus operandi. That was one of his greatest liabilities in the primary battles, as well as during his tenure as Speaker of the House. A smart man. But not smart enough to think twice before shooting his mouth off.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 3rd, 2012 at 2:08 pm
    “I think that the problem was that he didn’t articulate a “why” in a way as to rally them. Newt always gets in trouble when speaking extemporaneously.”

    That’s fair. But in Newt’s mind, colonization and settlement were, in the historical exploration tradition, of self evident value. He just never bothered to explain that to anyone. He’s a “historian”, you’ll remember. As in, if it’s good enough for the Pilgrims, it’s good enough for us!

    The price tag is irrelevant. Or at least it’s relevant only to the expressed goal. To the extent that colonization and settlement of the Moon is hardly considered a national need, just about any expenditure to do it is somewhat insane.

    But I’ll say again that by focusing on colonization and settlement, at least Newt tried (inarticulately, as it turns out) to reach for a real national goal that was far more enabling of the spirit of exploration than “human space flight” or “jobs, jobs, and more jobs”. What he learned was that the nation isn’t ready to accept that as a national goal.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ June 3rd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    This is the voodoo doll theory of space settlement.

    You used to be (at least on some low level) entertaining, even though what you wrote was at best (literally, at best) semi-incoherent…

    Space colonization is our grachildren’s task, or their grandchidren’s.

    … but apparently you feel space is “too hard”, and we should not even try to do anything in space with humans. I beg to differ.

    We don’t lack the will or the ability to leave LEO, we lack the money. That is why I am excited by the ability of SpaceX to significantly lower the cost to get mass to orbit and to resupply LEO stations. Countries, companies and people will react to this reduction in cost, and then the next innovator will figure out a way to lower the costs even more.

    Our children and grandchildren will benefit from the efforts we have made to lower costs, and they will have a much better starting point than our generation had. That’s the legacy we need to leave them – not that “it was too hard for us, so we left it all for you”.

    Don’t be a wimp.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Unfortunately, Gingrich just stood there. And he failed to cite the Constellation Program in every subsequent comment on the topic. In so doing, he made space exploration a subject for ridicule.”
    Gingrich is interested in space, but not programs like CXP. In the 90ies, he stated he would have stopped the moon landings after the first! He is very much pro-commercail, frankly more pro-commercail than Obama, or most of the posters here including me. He does want to settle the moon, but like me he does not see CXP as the template to do it with. If you settle the moon, the old NASA paragon is a no starter. CXP would have only landed the chosen few on the moon. It would not be like say Soyuz or CCREW where anyone in theory could pay for it if they have the money. Right now trips into LEO much less to the moon are expensive very expensive but that does not have to be the case forever. CXP did little to address the cost factor. Commercial space at least attempts to address this problem. I mean let’s say in ten years someone figures out how to lower the price of cargo to LEO by say 20 million. They could in theory win a contract to send cargo to the ISS or a new spacestation. They could even raise some capital via private markets.

    However if CXP is anything like the shuttle you would still mostly be using the same parts and technology ten years later. Little to no possibility of cost savings.
    “Newt’s biggest failure the night of that debate was to remind Romney (and their audience) that up until Constellation was abandoned, a lunar “base” HAD been NASA’s goal — a goal that had been proposed by the Bush White House and approved by Congress (twice).”
    Congress was going to approve anything that kept the money flowing to the old shuttle contractors. Note how well the OSP project did when they mentioned using the EELV to launch it. Bush would never have decided to go to the moon, if Columbia had not fallen in pieces to the ground. He just wanted a bold goal, but he was not as interested in the feasibility of said goal on a NASA budget that did not increase dramatically. Bush and even worse Griffon was somewhat anti-ISS….which having spent so much money and time putting it together, no one was going to dump a working space station into the ocean after five years. It is one thing to end the Apollo program(basically Apollo was ended by NASA running out of rockets/capsule).

    Pre Bush there were lunar plans that included the ISS. After Bush’s failed attempt to gather large amounts of international support for gulf war II, the ISS suddenly became something to be gotten out of as soon as possible. A sign that the US no longered cared about the rest of the planet. Congress also was not too crazy about that idea.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Unfortunately, Gingrich just stood there. And he failed to cite the Constellation Program in every subsequent comment on the topic. In so doing, he made space exploration a subject for ridicule.”

    Gingrich is interested in space, but not programs like CXP. In the 90ies, he stated he would have stopped the moon landings after the first! He is very much pro-commercail, frankly more pro-commercail than Obama, or most of the posters here including me. He does want to settle the moon, but like me he does not see CXP as the template to do it with.

    If you settle the moon, the old NASA paragon is a no starter. CXP would have only landed the chosen few on the moon. It would not be like say Soyuz or CCREW where anyone in theory could pay for it if they have the money. Right now trips into LEO much less to the moon are expensive very expensive but that does not have to be the case forever. CXP did little to address the cost factor. Commercial space at least attempts to address this problem. I mean let’s say in ten years someone figures out how to lower the price of cargo to LEO by say 20 million. They could in theory win a contract to send cargo to the ISS or a new spacestation. They could even raise some capital via private markets to aid with the development.

    However if CXP is anything like the shuttle you would still mostly be using the same parts and technology ten years later. Little to no possibility of cost savings.

    “Newt’s biggest failure the night of that debate was to remind Romney (and their audience) that up until Constellation was abandoned, a lunar “base” HAD been NASA’s goal — a goal that had been proposed by the Bush White House and approved by Congress (twice).”

    Congress was going to approve anything that kept the money flowing to the old shuttle contractors. Note how well the OSP project did when they mentioned using the EELV to launch it. Bush would never have decided to go to the moon, if Columbia had not fallen in pieces to the ground. He just wanted a bold goal, but he was not as interested in the feasibility of said goal on a NASA budget that did not increase dramatically. Bush and even worse Griffon was somewhat anti-ISS….which having spent so much money and time putting it together, no one was going to dump a working space station into the ocean after five years. It is one thing to end the Apollo program(basically Apollo was ended by NASA running out of rockets/capsule).

    Pre Bush there were lunar plans that included the ISS. After Bush’s failed attempt to gather large amounts of international support for gulf war II, the ISS suddenly became something to be gotten out of as soon as possible. A sign that the US no longered cared about the rest of the planet. Congress also was not too crazy about that idea.

  • pathfinder_01

    William, the idea behind commercial space is to set up a system by which NASA pays for services and these services are hopefully available to others. By paying for services instead of attempting to builddown, and create all hardware itself, it can choose lower priced service providers. That is the idea in its simplest form.

    The current pork laden system works against lowering costs. It seeks to maintain as much employment in certain districts as possible regardless of success of the program. This is at odds with every advance in human technology. Generally we figure out how to do things with fewer people over time (i.e. the shuttle control room vs. Space X control room) or we figure out how do something better with the same amount of people.

    Now the cost savings don’t have to come quickly. For instance paper was very expensive until new methods of production were invented in the 20th century, Machines and other devices to wash clothes for instance have been around since the 17th century, but it wasn’t till the 20ies that they start to become practical for the home. What needs to happen is that some method of choosing the cheaper or better system needs to exist so that technology advances.

    That is why there was so little support for CXP. Sure you can build a moon base, but at what cost? In short CXP would have given humanity LESS spaceflight experience than we currently have now. It degraded from lunar base to 2, 2 week missions to the moon for just 4 people. Right now there are 6 people on the ISS who can stay there for months.

    Right now I think it is possible for some future President to say have a goal to land people on the moon and have a much better chance of the program costing a lot less than CXP and being more sustainable than Apollo. You could use Dragon (much cheaper than Orion) and Falcon Heavy. NASA only needs to come up with EDS and lander. This is much cheaper than CXP where NASA has to build Capsule, rocket, and Lander with no other programs or organizations to share some costs with.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The problem here is the hallucination that HSF today is the primary thing we need now to get space colonization going in the future.

    Not for me, I don’t think manned spaceflight today is the primary thing we need. It might still work though, if done right, and NASA shows no sign of adopting the approach I believe could lead to substantial commercial manned spaceflight in our lifetime, not just that of our grandchildren.

  • Googaw

    I believe could lead to substantial commercial manned spaceflight in our lifetime

    A preposterously irrational belief. Based on faith in the astronaut cult and its dopmaine rush, but at least an order of magnitude divorced from economic reality.

    Either that, or based on the lie of calling 99.5% taxpayer-funded activities “commerce”.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

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