Congress, NASA

Retiring senator says NASA in a “good position” for the future

After a couple of years of tumult and turmoil, one of the few members of the US Senate who is active on space issues says she’ll leave the institution this year “excited” about the future of NASA.

“I am just very excited that we are now going forward, I think, with NASA in a good position,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) at a Women in Aerospace breakfast at the US Capitol Tuesday morning. Hutchison, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is retiring when her term ends this year. “I feel like I will now be able to leave Congress at the end of this year knowing that we are going to have a commercial operation that is sound, with competition.”

That’s a reference to NASA’s commercial crew effort, which will make at least two full awards, and perhaps a partial or “half” award to a third company, later this summer. “What Congress is trying to shape is that we have at least two competitors, not no more than two and a half, because we want to have full funding of competition while at the same time we are not neglecting the next generation of space exploration that is going to propel us to places we haven’t been,” she said, referring to NASA’s work on the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and Orion spacecraft. “That is the essence of American superiority, that we will always be looking to that next future.”

Later, in response to a question about international cooperation, Hutchison cited the need for NASA to be both a leader and a reliable partner. “We have to show that we are leading the world in the vision for space exploration and the benefits the world economic situation will gain. But, number two, we have to keep our word,” she said. “We can’t do this alone. We have to have an international consortium.” NASA, she said, wavered on its commitment to the ISS for a time. “We’ve got this investment [in the ISS] and yet we let the shuttle lapse, instead of building up the capability to have a follow-on shuttle immediately.”

While she was optimistic about what she termed NASA’s two key areas, commercial spaceflight to support the ISS and the development of next-generation exploration vehicles, she expressed some uncertainty when asked about export control reform for the space industry, something that has been a hot topic of late after the House included reform language in its version of the defense authorization bill last month. “We certainly need to work with the industry to determine where they are being constrained,” she said. There have been, in fact, several studies that have examined the effect that ITAR is having on the US space industrial base, as well as the recent “Section 1248″ report by administration that concluded that many satellites and related components could be moved to the less-restrictive Commerce Control List. “Yes, we’re not going to sell national security secrets, but we certainly want our commercial capabilities to be competitive, and if there is a problem, I know Congress will work with the industry. The industry needs to bring the problems to Congress so we can do that.”

As she leaves Congress, she said she hopes to see some progress, and compromise, on policy issues in general after the November election, as the current highly partisan atmosphere subsides. “We have to see how the elections turn out,” she said. “I would hope that we can move forward, I hope in the direction that I think is right, even if it’s less than I want it to be.”

80 comments to Retiring senator says NASA in a “good position” for the future

  • Robert G. Oler

    . “That is the essence of American superiority, that we will always be looking to that next future.” KBH

    this is standard right wing babble…American “superiority” gee…probably sounds better in the native German or Japanese. The right wing has gotten all in a push about “superiority” while they try and relive the superpower era that is fading with each passing day.

    SLS will not outlive Kay’s time in the Senate. Sequestration is going to both kill it and probably reelect Obama RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Too bad she doesn’t recognize that the SLS is the single biggest diversion that is keeping NASA from doing “the next generation of space exploration that is going to propel us to places we haven’t been”.

    Apparently her staff never showed her the many studies that showed we could use existing rockets to explore quicker and for less money.

    I hope her replacement on the NASA committee is more enlightened.

  • docm

    After so long trying to all but kill commercial crew she now feels glad it’s in a good position? Excuse me, but my BS-O-Meter is klanging like a fire bell.

  • Tony Rusi

    It IS the Economy stupid! And 20% of the country has been “left out to die” by the Obama Administration. When was the last time you heard a liberal even mention the “Homeless Problem”? Do really think homeless numbers have changed at all? They are rising. A thriving space economy means MORE people working in Aerospace, not less. Our economy went into the tank six months before Obama took office. That’s because the stock market is a “leading indicator”. They lead the market by at least six months. If people on Wall Street thought Romney was going to be elected, Wall Street would be going thru the roof, right now. The race is too close to call and Wall Street is nervous. That keeps any chance of recovery in limbo. I think it’s kind of funny. We have Google millionaires come out and say we are investing in the future by supporting “asteroid mining” but they only hire less than a hundred engineers. And Romney does not seem to even be aware of a private enterprise driven space economy. I think Ron Paul has it right. NASA should be eliminated. And so should federal dollars for research scientists across the nation. Federal Money just screws things up! And so do federal taxes. Trust me, people will figure out how to spend the money they earn!

  • Good riddance, Kay. Don’t let the Russell Senate Office Building door hit you in the butt on the way out.

    She and Richard Shelby are the main reason NASA is so screwed up right now, and Bill Nelson isn’t much better. Her legacy is $3 billion of waste per year through 2015 for a “monster rocket” that has no missions or destinations.

    Her obsessive paranoia about Charlie Bolden is an embarrassment. She screamed — literally — bloody hell at Bolden claiming there was a giant conspiracy to defund SLS in favor of commercial crew. Now that the commercial model has proven viable, all of a sudden she’s trying to take credit?!

    Take your Captain Queeg act and your ball bearings into retirement. You’ve done enough damage to NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    this is standard right wing babble…American “superiority” gee…probably sounds better in the native German or Japanese. The right wing has gotten all in a push about “superiority” while they try and relive the superpower era that is fading with each passing day.

    In the now-closed thread, you wrote that you have recordings of Hutchison and Pete Olson babbling their nonsense. Have you thought about putting these recordings online?

    You know they’re going to go apes*** in a few days when China launches its taikonauts to do their version of Gemini 8. It will be another Sputnik Moment and they’ll blame Obama for it because he didn’t funnel NASA’s entire $18 billion budget into the “Monster Rocket.” Never mind we’re only 46 years ahead of China in space.

  • amightywind

    Happy trails, Senator. I hope Texas will pick someone more conservative.

    Hutchison cited the need for NASA to be both a leader and a reliable partner.

    NASA’s insane preoccupation with international tie ups has got to end. How can the US cooperate with Russia on the ISS while they support the slaughter of innocents in Syria and enable Iran’s nuclear program? You can’t. There entire foreign policy is organised around overt opposition to US interests. We need to face facts, folks. Russia is the enemy, again.

  • Egad

    a “monster rocket” that has no missions or destinations.

    But doesn’t the 180-Day Exploration Destination Report that was rolled out in April answer the missions and destinations questions in detail?

    Oh, wait…

  • Egad wrote:

    But doesn’t the 180-Day Exploration Destination Report that was rolled out in April answer the missions and destinations questions in detail?

    The report will be NASA’s proposal for missions and destinations. Congress is not required to take any action on it. NASA has produced zillions of reports over the decades that Congress has ignored. This will be no different.

  • In an aside, thought everyone would want to know the NuStar X-ray observatory is due to launch at noon EST on an Orbital Sciences Pegasus launcher and is live webcast at:
    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/pegasus/nustar/status.html
    The mother ship plane and launcher have just taken off from the runway.

  • MrEarl

    “But doesn’t the 180-Day Exploration Destination Report that was rolled out in April answer the missions and destinations questions in detail?

    Oh, wait…”

    Actually it was rolled out to NASA HQ and approved. It details components and missions needed for a return to the moon using a Gateway at EML2 and using that gateway to also launch missions to NEO’s. It calls for international cooperation in the building of components and manning these missions.
    Another feature of this plan is designing payloads in the 100mt range and the SLS Block 1B/2B design which makes use of more EELV and existing components to keep costs down and things on schedule. The 130+mt version would be further developed if/when it is needed for Mars missions.
    As I understand it was determined that releasing a plan like this during an election year, when budget and spending will play the critical roll, would just set this up as a target. I believe that NASA intends to announce the new plans and missions in the Nov/Dec time frame.

  • @Mr Earl
    “It details components and missions needed for a return to the moon using a Gateway at EML2 and using that gateway to also launch missions to NEO’s.
    It also is estimated to take longer and cost more than these alternative gateway plans.
    http://futureinspaceoperations.com/papers/HumanOps_Beyond_LEO_11_2010.pdf
    http://history.nasa.gov/DPT/Architectures/Moon%20-%20L1-Moon%20Lander%20Design%20JSC%20DPT%20Nov%2001.pdf

    Considering it is a more impractical and less economical way to do it, it should not be surprising that as you say “releasing a plan like this during an election year, when budget and spending will play the critical roll, would just set this up as a target.”. Its lack of efficacy will make it a target regardless of when it is introduced.

  • NuStar has reached its targeted orbit and is set to begin operation.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 11:17 am

    “I believe that NASA intends to announce the new plans and missions in the Nov/Dec time frame.”

    VSE was announced in January 2004. Constellation was never really announced. What difference does that make? I mean actually. Another set of powerpoints with no budget to match.

    Great.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “We have to see how the elections turn out,” she said. “I would hope that we can move forward, I hope in the direction that I think is right, even if it’s less than I want it to be.” KBH from the thread.

    Kay belongs to a group of politicans whose effort at “vision” is to simply take what happened in the past, what is talked about in the present and project both those things into the future….she is really no different then the NASA 180 day study that Mr. Earl mentions; it simply cannot imagine a future indescribably different from the present or the past. Most pols are like this (there are some amazing exceptions and why we think of them as great leaders. Washington, TR, FDR, JFK and RWR to keep the list bi partisan and one “non party guy”. Kay is simply not able to think outside of her comfort box.

    Even when the world changes some pols have issues. The most “parallel” time to ours today was the late 50′s for both Britain and France. Both colonial powers left with some residual military power from WW2…they simply could not come to grips with the fact that their model of power projection (colonies and a military) no longer worked. Both countries had good object lessons before but the Suez effort shut them down.

    Bush’s run into Iraq and Afland…is our Suez…it is a military effort without any effort at diplomacy and as a result it showed the limits of our power not our strength.

    SLS/Orion is another measure of the US going through repeated Suez moments as the notion of a nation acting like it did in the 80′s flounders. Kay simply cannot live in a world where those things no longer work…and thats why she is leaving.

    Even if you ignore the failed notions of design and stakeholders…SLS/Orion are things that are done which have no impact on the strength of the US except to diminish it…

    The future was on display with Charlie Bolden and Elon Musk at McGregor. Rush to be part of it. RGO

  • Egad

    Quite possibly I’m confused, but isn’t the “180 Day Report” intended to respond to a mandate in the FY2012 Appropriations bill?

    Exploration destinations and goals. — The conferees believe that NASA needs to better articulate a set of specific, scientifically meritorious exploration goals to focus its program and provide a common vision for future achievements. Consequently, the conferees direct NASA to develop and report to the Committees on Appropriations a set of science-based exploration goals; a target destination or destinations that will enable the achievement of those goals; a schedule for the proposed attainment of these goals; and a plan for any proposed collaboration with international partners. Proposed international collaboration should enhance NASA’s exploration plans rather than replace capabilities NASA is developing with current funds. This report shall be submitted no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.”

    That sounds as if the Committee was asking for something moderately specific that could be used to get a handle on needed funding levels. If you say, “We’re going to X, do Y when we get there, and here’s the schedule for developing the capabilities and executing the mission(s), that’s getting closer to something you can hang a budget on than the generalities currently available.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I have started and stopped and started again (grin) at an effort to try and put the space “argument” that is taking place in some sort of perspective much like I did for the anniversary of the Apollo landings in 1999 for TWS.

    There is a space story to be had, but as someone noted on the last thread; space politics are really about local politics and they sort of mirror a larger trend that is ongoing. This was true in 99 and it is accurate in my ivew today (as it was in the 50′s and 60′).

    Kay is a 2nd tier pol and Olson is really a 3 or 4th tier pol…but their comments are illustrative to me of what the majority of GOP pols think in the political arena that they must swim in (Kay was badly burned by the GOP Gov campaign here in Texas). Including the politics of where the nation and space are going.

    We are at the end of the superpower era…that doesnt mean that we are at the end of being a Great power, even the worlds largest power as a nation; what it does mean is that the model that has worked since the 1940′s no longer works now (Historically the superpower era is bookend in my view by FDR and RWR)…I’ve mentioned it elsewhere Iraq and Afland were our “Suez”…and SLS/Orion are mostly superpower type projects in an era where they dont mean squat.

    There are issues with SLS/Orion that in my view are fatal…but the biggest one is that even if they were built and affordable…they would do things that other then the people who benefit by the program no one cares about or actually is repulsed by.

    I’ll put those quotes out somehwere but right now they are forming the pieces of my article…hope you are well. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Egad wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    “If you say, “We’re going to X, do Y when we get there, and here’s the schedule for developing the capabilities and executing the mission(s), that’s getting closer to something you can hang a budget on than the generalities currently available.”

    In what way will this be any different from VSE/Constellation? They had “goals and a timeline”. Regardless of whether it made sense or not, they did not have a commensurate budget. Why will they this time around?

    What is it that is so difficult to understand?

  • Egad

    What is it that is so difficult to understand?

    A question better put to the Appropriations Committees, who are the ones who want the information and who, at the end of the day, provide the money.

  • SLS will not outlive Kay’s time in the Senate. Sequestration is going to both kill it and probably reelect Obama

    More inadvertent comedy from Oler.

  • Tom Billings

    Windy wrote:

    “NASA’s insane preoccupation with international tie ups has got to end.”

    Rather, using them as a substitute for cooperating with companies that are not under FAR cost+ contracts, so we can lower costs for value received, has got to end. It has only the virtue of disguising the singular unitary state nature of the intended handout of funds, so that funds to US constituents can flow more reliably.

    Many of the “International” operations actually cost the US *more* than doing the project alone, because we add extra bureaucracy to get approvals through in addition to NASA’s, in the other countries. Too much of the “value” that NASA sees in international ties with a program is that argument in Congress they can then make at budget time, …that we will be “deserting our international partners”, if the project budget does not pass.

    “How can the US cooperate with Russia on the ISS while they support the slaughter of innocents in Syria and enable Iran’s nuclear program? You can’t.”

    Except we were doing so from 1993 onwards, with waiver after waiver to the applicable laws being granted to keep Russian oligarchs from backing even more hardline policies against US interests, so as to legitimize themselves thereby. In Russia the vast preponderance of backing inside the bureaucracies for spaceflight funding is from the need to legitimize the authoritarian government. Without that, even more conflict with the US will be needed to legitimize Putin’s rule. So, our detachment from the butchers will be a long slow process. The next step in that after commercial cargo is commercial crew. After that, privatizing the ISS, …and then?

    “There entire foreign policy is organised around overt opposition to US interests. We need to face facts, folks. Russia is the enemy, again.”

    A halfhearted and palsied enemy, if that. Other than their nuclear arsenal, Russia is no more able to effectively oppose the US outside UN councils than is Saudi Arabia. That’s why they are now blatantly opposed to BMD, having shifted from their position in the first Bush administration, when they were within 6 months of signing a treaty for a joint BMD in January of 1993, when the Clintonistas round-filed the project. They are a rentier state, based on oil wealth. Worse, unlike SA, Russia is in demographic collapse. They have no basis to oppose us across the board anymore, either in domestic production potential, or in supporters across a broad spectrum of the left inside the US.

  • common sense

    @ Egad wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “A question better put to the Appropriations Committees, who are the ones who want the information and who, at the end of the day, provide the money.”

    You are making my point. It is not about the plan’s quality in any way. You inferred that this plan was better fit to hang a budget on. The fact of the matter is it is not. VSE was a well written plan. Spiral approach was the well thought out response. Constellation was not. Constellation was not funded to support the VSE. Maybe the WH priorities were not quite those of Alabama or Texas. The fact is it does not matter.

    What you need is a supporter or rather an advocate. Preferably both in the WH and in Congress. I believe they had both for the VSE at least originally.

  • Egad wrote:

    That sounds as if the Committee was asking for something moderately specific that could be used to get a handle on needed funding levels. If you say, “We’re going to X, do Y when we get there, and here’s the schedule for developing the capabilities and executing the mission(s), that’s getting closer to something you can hang a budget on than the generalities currently available.

    Well, again, all it does is tell NASA to write a report. It doesn’t require Congress to do anything with that report.

    Read through the various Space Acts and authorization bills over the years, and you’ll find plenty of directives requiring NASA to produce this or that report. It doesn’t mean they’ll do anything with it. They’re just trying to make it look like they’re doing something.

    Also keep in mind that we have a national election in November, and a new Congress to be seated in January. The new Congress may have entirely new priorities, and probably won’t care about this report. Several of the politicians who are on the Appropriations and Space committees now won’t be there come January.

    The politicians who gave birth to SLS — Kay Bailey Hutchison, Richard Shelby and Bill Nelson — rarely ever say anything about what they intend to do with it. Their justification was always saving jobs in their states. They cloud it in rhetoric (cited by Robert Oler), invoking national security or protecting the space industrial base (why we should is never specified). But they’ve never said why it’s actually needed, or why they chose to dictate to NASA its basic design.

    And if Romney becomes President, he’s already made it very clear he has no interest in space. He claims he’ll fire anyone who proposes a lunar colony, and he’s said that if China goes to the Moon we should ask them to bring back our artifacts. That is not someone who will embrace deep space exploration.

  • And here’s a P.S. for Egad …

    Check this out:

    http://history.nasa.gov/90_day_study.pdf

    This is the report directed by the first President Bush after he gave a speech on July 20, 1989 (the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing) proposing the Human Exploration Initiative.

    The report was written, published, delivered to Congress … and disappeared into a black hole.

  • vulture4

    common sense wrote: VSE was a well written plan. … Constellation was not.

    I am not sure you can distinguish between them.VSE provided no strategy to reducing the cost of human spaceflight to a sustainable level. Constellation was presented to Congress in Jan 2004 under the same administration.

  • MrEarl

    @ Rick & CS:
    I’m sure there are many plans available to get to the moon by modes of transportation as varied as swans and anti-gravity devices. Each one has its pros and cons, supporters and detractors. One may indeed be better generally than the rest.

    Congress has specifically asked for one utilizing components and systems from the Shuttle program and as we know he who has the money makes the rules. It’s well past time to stop tilting at windmills to get your preferred path to the solar system. Even if takes a few more years and $30 billion more to use SLS rather than your favorite path it doesn’t make a difference for a space exploration program stuck in LEO for 40 years and a defense department that budgets $30 billion for Misc.and an annual federal budget of over $3 Trillion. Congress would fight about it for the next 5 years while NASA would spend $30 billion on other more wasteful projects anyway.
    With an announcement of missions and schedules in November and a supporting budget submitted in February, if Congress baulks at this it’s highly unlikely they would have supported any other plan either.
    In the meantime, commercial space will be proving it’s worth providing cargo service to the ISS and with their advancements in delivering crews to the ISS also.

    @RGB:
    I always find it amusing to hear you accuse anyone of having no vision for the future when you yourself can’t see past 1985.

  • Vladislaw

    “That sounds as if the Committee was asking for something moderately specific that could be used to get a handle on needed funding levels. “

    I thought this was about Congress accusing the Administration and NASA on “foot dragging” on Constellation’s replacement?

    They wanted dates on a timeline so they could see what NASA was actually working those numbers.

  • Coastal Ron

    Egad wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    A question better put to the Appropriations Committees, who are the ones who want the information and who, at the end of the day, provide the money.

    The 180-day study will be flawed because of it’s assumption that the SLS must be part of the exploration plan they propose. NASA has to include the SLS, since it is directed to build it and use it by Congress, but that one assumption is what drives the cost basis for the rest of the plan.

    Instead Congress should task NASA to seek out exploration ideas from all segments of the space community – universities, science community, industry and enthusiasts – and come up with the top choices. Ideally there would be an open competition that encourages teams created from all interested parties to make proposals, and then pick the top two or three proposals.

    The result would be proposed plans that are the most exciting to the space community, the most thought out, and likely the least expensive and fastest to implement. It’s the peoples tax money that is funding NASA’s exploration plans, and the people that have the most enthusiasm about space exploration should be allowed to present Congress with the best plans to choose from and fund.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 6:49 am
    ‘Now that the commercial model has proven viable,’

    Except it hasn’t.

    Government subsidizing it w/seed moies and govenment as a customer and government subsidizing the faux market as a destination ain’t a free market commercial model at all.

  • amightywind

    Congratulations to the space entrepreneurs at Orbital Sciences and their historic launch of NuSTAR. It is a new era. Pegasus XL is a game changer.

    A halfhearted and palsied enemy, if that.

    Fine. Then why on earth would we want to give them status on ISS way beyond their merit? Collaboration with the Bolsheviks is our space program.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    The report was written, published, delivered to Congress … and disappeared into a black hole.

    =yawn= It was simply not funded by Congress, and openly challenged by leading Democrats of the time including Gephardt and Panetta, now Obama’s Sec. of Defense.

  • DCSCA

    amightywind wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 8:11 am

    ‘How can the US cooperate with Russia on the ISS while they support the slaughter of innocents in Syria and enable Iran’s nuclear program? You can’t.’

    Except you can.

    The same way US firms did business w/Hitler’s Germany well into 1940. The same way the US did wheat deals w/t Soviets in the ’70s, etc., etc. Bone up on your Godfather, Windy, its not personal- it’s business.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
    It’s well past time to stop tilting at windmills to get your preferred path to the solar system.”

    there is no path for human exploration of the solar system right now period. Ask Newt Gingrich RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Pegasus XL is a game changer.

    More like an incremental evolution, and an expensive one at that – $30M for up to 980 lbs to LEO, or about $30,000/lb. It’s a niche solution in a niche market. You get excited about the oddest things…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mr. Earl…sorry the post got away from me a bit…I should add this

    There is about 100 billion in MISC in the defense budget when you sum up all the accounts particularly operations.

    But that needs to change. We need to rethink the DoD budget and move quicklly back to a 2000 budget adjusted for inflation.

    Any reason to do human exploration of space passed LEO (or GEO) needs to start with the answer to the question “why”? Now one answer to that is the South Pole answer “Its really cheap period” not “it is really cheap compared to other wasted spending”…

    But there is no real answer to the question when SLS and other expensive toys are factored in.

    Besides sequestration is coming and SLS will go with it. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 8:11 am

    ‘How can the US cooperate with Russia on the ISS while they support the slaughter of innocents in Syria and enable Iran’s nuclear program? You can’t.’>>

    Oh sure we can.

    We loved Saddam until he got upset at the Kuwaitis cross drilling in the southern Iraqi oil fields. We let him gas Kurds, helped him gas Iranians, we were even pretty quiet when he almost sank the USS Stark (and we sank most of the Iranian Navy for him).

    We love The Red Chinese. They off people all the time; of course most of them are their own people…but as Don Rumsfeld said about the Iraqis we killed in liberating their country for us…”there are so many”.

    besides that you wouldnt like the Syrians who came after Little Assad anyway…more Muslim Brotherhood.

    We love The Israelis…and wow they kill Palestinians like I do mosquitos…even the little ones called children.

    OSC ground breaking? Seesh…go back to the comics RGO

  • vulture4

    DSCCA: “It was simply not funded by Congress”

    Can you present any evidence that it was seriously proposed to Congress by Geo. HW Bush?

    Hey, guys, i worked on that study. At least it gave an _honest_ assessment of the cost. Bush Sr. took one look at it and decided it was unaffordable. He put it on the shelf, and I give him credit for that.

    Bush Jr. somehow thought that all it takes to become great is pounding on your chest. He proposed going to Mars but said nothing about total cost and claimed it would be funded “free” by tossing out Shuttle and ISS. Then he cancelled Shuttle. Obama had no parts to fly Shuttle and no money to finish Ares I or the moon lander.
    My friends on the other side of the aisle responded by claiming that “strong leadership” could get them another Apollo and tax cuts at the same time. When I try to introduce them to actual costs and benefits their eyes glaze over and they repeat “STRONG national leadership will solve all our problems”. Romney says anyone who proposes a moon base will be fired. The GOP will vote for him and if they win will continue to blame the Dems for their failure. Some things never change.

  • common sense

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    “I am not sure you can distinguish between them.VSE provided no strategy to reducing the cost of human spaceflight to a sustainable level. Constellation was presented to Congress in Jan 2004 under the same administration.”

    Yes you can distinguish. The first implementation of the Vision was the spiral approach a far cry from Constellation. You should know that. VSE had a plan to include commercial space. I already published some links. Marburger also advocated it. Read this from Dennis Wingo at http://nasawatch.com/archives/2011/07/jack-marburger.html

    http://www.nss.org/resources/library/spacepolicy/marburger1.html

    “President Bush’s vision also declares the will to lead in space, but it renders the ultimate goal more explicit. And that goal is even grander. The ultimate goal is not to impress others, or merely to explore our planetary system, but to use accessible space for the benefit of humankind. It is a goal that is not confined to a decade or a century. Nor is it confined to a single nearby destination, or to a fleeting dash to plant a flag. The idea is to begin preparing now for a future in which the material trapped in the Sun’s vicinity is available for incorporation into our way of life.”

    It was VERY different from Constellation.

  • common sense

    “Then why on earth would we want to give them status on ISS way beyond their merit? Collaboration with the Bolsheviks is our space program.”

    You answered it. And would you rather have former soviet scientists work in Iran, Pakistan, North Korea making a living or on the ISS? ISS was implemented at the end of the Cold War while the Soviet Union was imploding. Not 2 weeks ago.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Tss tss.

    “It’s well past time to stop tilting at windmills to get your preferred path to the solar system.”

    I am not advocating any particular plan any more. I know that the one developed around SLS will inevitably fail. I complain at the wasted expenditure though.

    My preferred plan is ongoing. It is called CCDev and its successors. I wish it be better funded.

    But don’t expect me to support something I actually oppose.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    “You answered it. And would you rather have former soviet scientists work in Iran, Pakistan, North Korea making a living or on the ISS? ”

    the former actually…and ISS did not stop a single former soviet from going to one of those countries. OK maybe 1 or 2. There is always a statistical out RGO

  • Egad


    The 180-day study will be flawed because of it’s assumption that the SLS must be part of the exploration plan they propose. NASA has to include the SLS, since it is directed to build it and use it by Congress, but that one assumption is what drives the cost basis for the rest of the plan.

    And I suspect that’s why the 180-day study was not unveiled in April.

    It’s still too early to say that the delay isn’t due to routine bureaucratic problems in coordination and production, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the study report hasn’t been released because it found that

    A) There’s no meaningful program that uses SLS that stays within the anticipated funding levels

    and/or

    B) Programs that use SLS can be executed less expensively and possibly more quickly using man-rated Atlas/Delta/Falcon

    Neither A) nor B) could be tolerated by the SLS stakeholders, and so the report may just be consigned to the memory hole or sent back to Mr. Shannon for extensive revision.

  • vulture4

    Mr. Marburger’s talk is extraordinarily vague, He says nothing about any actual strategy. His statements on cost (essentially a level NASA budget) make it unrealistic to propose any near-term program for BEO flight. His assumptions about the value of lunar materials are predicated on continuing today’s high-cost launch technologies. His statement that the NASA space science budget is equal to the NSF budget is a shocker.

  • @Mr. Earl
    “It’s well past time to stop tilting at windmills to get your preferred path to the solar system. Even if takes a few more years and $30 billion more to use SLS rather than your favorite path it doesn’t make a difference for a space exploration program stuck in LEO for 40 years and a defense department that budgets $30 billion for Misc.and an annual federal budget of over $3 Trillion. “
    My talking about other alternatives that probably won’t happen is no different from you talking about a plan with SLS, because that won’t happen either. I mention more practical alternatives (whether they stand a chance of being implemented or not) just to indicate what a rip off SLS is.

    Defense department budgets and the total federal budget have nothing to do with NASA’s budget and never did. Why do you keep bringing that up as if it is a point in favor of your position? That is nuts. You will not see the SLS budget increased to $30 billion regardless of the number of years it is stretched. It amazes me and others here that you actually think that can happen. Talking about a windmill tilter, that is you in spades.

    Again, in a situation where neither can happen, SLS has the same effect with worse added. At least if SLS is cancelled it will no longer waste billions of taxpayer dollars. So what if the waste of SLS is a fraction of the entire budget? It’s still waste because it will never give us a practical and sustainable deep space system.

  • Ben Joshua

    Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is leaving the Senate stage as one of the old guard. Her words put the best light possible on a less than coherent approach to NASA funding and space policy, to put it diplomatically. A portion of this mess is her handiwork.

    Her corporate political supporters though, are satisfied by her legislative actions, and may reward her in the future, in a number of time honored, under the radar and legal thankyous, for her putting contractor priorities above those of the nation. (Perhaps Sen. Hutchison thinks, “What is good for the space cartel is good for the nation,” but I doubt it.)

    As for the notion that it makes no difference whether we explore BEO with SLS or other launchers, the order(s) of magnitude differences in development and operation may indeed make a difference, by more than a few years and destinations.

    It will be interesting to see who steps into leadership as the Congress turns over. It would also be interesting to see, many years from now, how Congress reacts to using an “operational” SLS (if it makes it that far), many times more expensive than available alternatives of that time. Will they pusue the fallacy of sunk costs or will they prefer launching more often for less money, and going more places. Perhaps to keep from rocking the cartel boat, they will do a little of both.

    Maybe we can name one a stretch of crawlerway, “Hutchison Causeway.” (Speed Limit, .3 mph)

    I take heart in the potential of the newspace privat sector, and am just sad for NASA’s next decade.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Egad wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 5:29 pm
    “It’s still too early to say that the delay isn’t due to routine bureaucratic problems in coordination and production …”

    The “Voyages: Charting the Course for Sustainable Human Space Exploration” document, that was drafted last year but just formally published last week (which happens to be almost 180 days after the legislation was approved) really looks to be exactly what Congress asked for, and it comes straight out of SAID. (Except it doesn’t have a schedule.) If this isn’t the 180-day study that Congress asked for, what’s it for?

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/whyweexplore/voyages-report.html

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 5:08 pm
    DSCCA: “It was simply not funded by Congress”

    “Can you present any evidence that it was seriously proposed to Congress by Geo. HW Bush?”

    Seriously, suggest you start revisiting July, 1989- start w/July 20 and the fanfare on the steps of the NASM w/Quayle, Truly, Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and President CHWB Bush’s televised comments in the nostalgic days of 11′s 20th– (the ‘blue orb’ line still makes you chuclke) and the reaction by Congress (Gephardt and Panetta were opposed on cost alone) within hours by Congressional members not to mention the presser Truly held where he was peppered w/questions on funding after is meeting w/GHWB. . The network news covered it, CNN aired it live as did CSPAN and the papers as well not to nemtion the news weeklies.

  • Doug Lassiter wrote:

    The “Voyages: Charting the Course for Sustainable Human Space Exploration” document, that was drafted last year but just formally published last week (which happens to be almost 180 days after the legislation was approved) really looks to be exactly what Congress asked for, and it comes straight out of SAID. (Except it doesn’t have a schedule.) If this isn’t the 180-day study that Congress asked for, what’s it for?

    I checked with a “reliable source” who has knowledge of such things. He replied that he “thinks” this is the mandated report.

    The only problem I see with this is, as Egad cited above, the appropriations language required the report to include “a schedule for the proposed attainment of these goals.” This document contains no schedule.

    Not that the Congresscritters really care …

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    The network news covered it, CNN aired it live as did CSPAN and the papers as well not to nemtion the news weeklies….

    …. and nothing became of it. You keep focusing on the hype, but you ignore reality.

    Gephardt and Panetta were opposed on cost alone

    Apparently they weren’t the only ones that thought the cost was not worth the effort since the Congress of the day didn’t fund that effort, and that point was validated again by the 2010 Congress when they cancelled Constellation.

    We know how to go to the Moon – we’ve done it six time successfully. We just haven’t known how to do space exploration affordably, and that has been reflected in a lack of funding from Congress for any beyond LEO HSF.

    Lower the cost to access space and NASA will have more money to do exploration. Keep raising the cost to explore space (ULA’s constant price increases, the $30B SLS fiasco, poor management of JWST, etc.), and we’ll stay bound to LEO – where we’ve been for the last 40 years.

    As Albert Einstein said:

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Stop encouraging insanity.

  • vulture4

    @DCSCA
    You may wish to reread the chronology:
    http://history.nasa.gov/seisummary.htm
    Bush’s speech came first, then came the NASA study and the price estimate of $500B over 30 years, which was reasonably unbiased given the serious underestimates on several major programs since then. The national Academy of Sciences reviewed the report and concurred. But as soon as the cost was revealed the White House completely stopped supporting the plan and never presented it to Congress. It’s pretty tough to blame the Democrats for this when the cost estimate was realistic and Bush Sr. himself decided it was too much.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 9:00 pm
    “I checked with a “reliable source” who has knowledge of such things. He replied that he “thinks” this is the mandated report.”

    Yes, the timing and the content would seem to argue that it is. Usually such mandated reports refer explicitly to congressional direction, but that reference could also be conveyed in a cover letter. It’s also a bit strange that John Shannon, who was, I thought, going to responsible for that report, isn’t called out as an author.

    I think Congress cares about the report. They asked for it, of course. But what they care about is having crosses on which to crucify the agency. What the agency says it intends to do in such a report are exactly those.

  • thomas m hancock III

    KBH wants to see Americans back on the moon and later to Mars. Works for me. Once we have the ability to reach Mars the rest of the solar system is open to us.

  • Egad

    I checked with a “reliable source” who has knowledge of such things. He replied that he “thinks” this is the mandated report.

    Well, the people whose opinion matters as to whether it is or isn’t are in the Appropriation Committees and their staffs. Have they gotten what they were asking for in the FY2012 bill, haven’t they, or do they care? An enterprising space reporter should call them up and ask about it.

    FWIW and IMO, without a schedule it seems pretty useless in terms of budget planning. Which is something you’d think the appropriators would be interested in.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Congress has specifically asked for one utilizing components and systems from the Shuttle program… Even if takes a few more years and $30 billion more to use SLS…”

    Congress is only spending $1.5 billion per year on SLS and that’s going down to $1.3-1.4 billion per year in the outyears. At those spending rates, a $30 billion-plus SLS won’t come online until 2032-2035 at the earliest. (And that ignores the inefficiencies of being held to a flat funding level, which will bump out the schedule even further.)

    That’s not a “few more years”. That’s 11-14 years later than the first scheduled manned SLS launch in 2021. And it’s 15-18 years later than the first scheduled unmanned SLS launch in 2017.

    Congress, at least the parts that actually pay attention to NASA, isn’t interested in getting SLS built over the next decade, plus or minus a few years, because the rate at which they’re funding SLS won’t get it built for another two or three decades.

    They’re just interested in preserving Shuttle jobs and votes over the next year (or three). And that costs much less than actually building SLS.

  • Daddy

    @Oler,
    FINALLY something we can agree on… Let’s take a hard look at the DoD budget. I think your estimate is about right – about $100B routinely wasted each year by DoD. That’s over 5 times the NASA budget!!! It would answer a lot of problems the beleaguered space agency is faced with.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/657307main_Exploration%20Report_508_6-4-12.pdf

    OK I did a little re reading of this…you know here is the basic question.

    Which pol Willard or Barry do you think is going to adopt this?

    Do you think that this is saleable in the country which is starring at a depression now?

    If you think so then you must believe Jamie Dimon of JP when he says that the 2-4 billion loss was “an isolated incident”. Seesh RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    You’re missing half the conversation, as usual. Gephardt and Panetta weren’t alone, just on camera within minutes if not hours of the public presentration on the 20th and the Democratic Congress stalled it. =eyeroll=

    “We know how to go to the Moon – we’ve done it six time[s] successfully. We just haven’t known how to do space exploration affordably, and that has been reflected in a lack of funding from Congress for any beyond LEO HSF.” Hmmm. President Obama’s rationale is the famed ‘been there, done that’ as well. Insanity indeed, for space exploration in this era will be expensive- that’s why governments do it and private industry has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. As Armstrong has noted, a large percentage of Luna remains unexplored. But you go on pitching six trips covers it– we enjoy the laughter. =eyeroll=

    vulture4 wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Right- back to the moon, this time to stay and on to Mars and the solarsystem. as GHWB said. Reviewed the weeks video of same last summer. That’s all a matter of record- and Truly was peppered w/questions on costs from the get go in the WH briefing room around the announcement. The Democratic Congress all but tabled and buried it– Gephardt and Panetta notable on camera within mintes/hours of the NASM presentation. As a precursor, Dukie and GHWB had space policy positions and were broadcast in NOVA special in the autumn of ’88. It’s old history now but the fact remains that Bush did little w/Congress to get his 7/20/89 proposal moving through Congress. Rgwn came the cratering economy, then the first Gulf War. He was no LBJ. Like father, like son.

  • Malmesbury

    Bush’s speech came first, then came the NASA study and the price estimate of $500B over 30 years, which was reasonably unbiased given the serious underestimates on several major programs since then. The national Academy of Sciences reviewed the report and concurred. But as soon as the cost was revealed the White House completely stopped supporting the plan and never presented it to Congress. It’s pretty tough to blame the Democrats for this when the cost estimate was realistic and Bush Sr. himself decided it was too much.

    The reason that this happened was that the program was presented as a single lump – no flexibility or options.

    Going to the Whitehouse and saying “Gimme $500B” was politically insane. And unworkable. To the point that some have suggested that it was an act of self-sabotage by NASA…..

  • thomas m hancock III
    “KBH wants to see Americans back on the moon and later to Mars. Works for me. Once we have the ability to reach Mars the rest of the solar system is open to us.”
    It would work for most of the rest of us here too (including me), as long as SLS is not involved. Otherwise, it won’t work at all because SLS is not economically practical or sustainable; whilst other alternatives could be implemented that would both get it done sooner and stay within budget. But thinking with an obsolete 1960s Apollo type mentallity of “do it all at once with a BIG M___ F____ Rocket” (represented by SLS) is a recipe for failure. It’s time to implement space exploration that fits the 21st century and not try to relive the past.

  • Vladislaw

    “Congress is only spending $1.5 billion per year on SLS and that’s going down to $1.3-1.4 billion per year in the outyears.”

    The shuttle workforce was costing about 200 million a month or 2.4 billion a year. If most of them were transitioned into the SLS program this looks like they are just getting the labor funded .. not any real hardware. So for the usual suspects in congress, this is perfect, jobs get funded for decades, doesn’t matter if a rocket comes out of it.

  • Egad

    A comparison between the Appropriations bill language mandating a 180 day report and NASA’s description of the Voyages: Charting the Course for Sustainable Human Space Exploration, document does not, to my eye, reveal total congruence.

    Appropriations bill:

    Consequently, the conferees direct NASA to develop and report to the Committees on Appropriations a set of science-based exploration goals; a target destination or destinations that will enable the achievement of those goals; a schedule for the proposed attainment of these goals; and a plan for any proposed collaboration with international partners.

    NASA:

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/whyweexplore/voyages-report.html

    This report articulates NASA’s multi-destination human space exploration strategy using a capability-driven approach. NASA is ensuring that the United States fosters a safe, robust, affordable, sustainable, and flexible space program that is independent of dynamic political and economic changes.

    By developing a set of core evolving capabilities instead of specialized, destination-specific hardware, NASA’s innovative, capability-driven approach challenges the way we think about human space exploration and sets the stage for a new era of discovery.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    @Oler,
    FINALLY something we can agree on… Let’s take a hard look at the DoD budget. I think your estimate is about right – about $100B routinely wasted each year by DoD. That’s over 5 times the NASA budget!!! It would answer a lot of problems the beleaguered space agency is faced with.>>

    The problem is, and I am sure that this is where we will part agreement is that the same forces in the DoD that waste 100 billion a year would if given the money at NASA do the same.

    There are two routes of waste in technical government programs. (ie non “social programs” which actually have comparatively low overhead and low “waste” functions)

    The first and worst is institutional waste directed at badly oriented programs.

    A good example of this (from the past) is the institutional programs in WW2 which built the Alaska class “Large cruisers”, Iowa Class battleships and were trying to build the Montana class battleships. These ships consumed enormous steel and yard time; and had almost no value in terms of what else could have been built for them. At least they managed to shut the Montana class “super battleships” off before significant work was done on them…but each Iowa class wagon consumed the same amount of materials that 4 Essex would have taken. YOu can do the math…

    These are just legacy programs from prior years that really cannot justify themselves in battle or any other metric…they exist because well “we have always done them”.

    The second group is simply badly managed technical programs. These are efforts that fail due to technology or simply bad or conflicting requirements that never quite are whats the modern term “compromised”.

    There are lots of WW2 examples of this; but most of them got shut down pretty quick as the Admiral Rockford did a more or less fine job of prioritizing things…an example from my childhood is the TFX…it was the first time we tried to find an airplane purposely built for the one Air Force and multiple air arms that the US has…and it pretty much floundered. Note there have been some airplanes which had multi service roles…the F-4 Phantom comes easily to mind…but they were happenstance and were not really designed that way.

    NASA is stuck with both maladies and seems to be unable to find its internal way out. There is strong institutional support to “redo Apollo”…and then when there is no real political support for doing that the vehicles that emerge are sort of bends to the only pressure that matters…and thats keeping all the political “i” and “t” s crossed to make sure political support continues.

    The Space station is what you get with this. I am amused when I read here people who say “lets just get on with SLS even with the cost” and explore the solar system. HAH

    The space station was SLS…and it is doing almost nothing of what it was intended to do.

    THE DoD is bloated and needs a serious prune. We need to role back to a 2001 standing armed force; par down some missions which never made sense; get some serious handles on weapon systems , and have some political balls to figure out what the role of the US military is in the future…but instead we just spend money…as we are doing at NASA

    RGO

  • John Hancock

    about $100B routinely wasted each year by DoD. That’s over 5 times the NASA budget!!! It would answer a lot of problems the beleaguered space agency is faced with.

    It’s too bad that not enough money isn’t NASA’s problem, but rather it’s a fundamental core competency problem.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 2:01 am

    First you said:

    You’re missing half the conversation, as usual. Gephardt and Panetta weren’t alone, just on camera within minutes if not hours of the public presentration on the 20th and the Democratic Congress stalled it.

    Then you contradicted yourself and made my point as well as validated what vulture4 has stated by saying:

    It’s old history now but the fact remains that Bush did little w/Congress to get his 7/20/89 proposal moving through Congress.

    And, of course, you’ve provided no evidence that the proposal was anything more than any of the many – and I mean many – expensive space plans that have no chance of surviving (which Constellation proved).

    Once again you prove you’re here to argue, not to contribute.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    FINALLY something we can agree on… Let’s take a hard look at the DoD budget. I think your estimate is about right – about $100B routinely wasted each year by DoD.

    You guys are nuts if you think that 1) you can wave a magic wand and eliminate government “waste”, and 2) the money saved from “waste” would be targeted to go to NASA.

    In any case, the first place to look for waste to fund NASA is NASA itself.

    We can leave LEO and start exploring space within ten years with our current budget IF NASA was allowed to spend their money wisely. For instance, in the Project Management Triangle you can only pick two of these three choices – Fast, Good and Cheap.

    Today Congress is not interested in “Cheap”, so we get what they think is “Fast” and “Good”. But we can’t afford that. If instead NASA were allowed to do the “Good” and “Cheap” way of space exploration, we could be building exploration hardware now instead of a useless mega-rocket, and we could be leaving LEO before this decade is out.

    So stop looking at the size of the pasture your neighbor has, and start trying to figure out how to make yours more productive.

  • common sense

    @ vulture4 wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    “Mr. Marburger’s talk is extraordinarily vague, ”

    Marburger I believe was talking in support of the VSE, a policy, not Constellation. He is advocating bringing our solar system into our economic sphere. He did not have to provide any specific detail. That was NASA’ role when they implemented the VSE.

  • John Hancock

    Marburger I believe was talking in support of the VSE, a policy

    That’s the way it was with those guys, all hat and no cattle.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Nobody is even debating the ’89 initiative- it has zero relevence today. It was grandiose- back to the moon, then on to Mars and settling the solar system– and was delivered by the U.S. presdient laced w/nostalgia, prepped by GHWB w/Graham -Rudman looming and left Truly hanging to fend off cost questons literally in the wake of the presentation. It has no bearing on today and, aS ususal, you’re just cranking to crank.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Egad wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:37 am
    “A comparison between the Appropriations bill language mandating a 180 day report and NASA’s description of the Voyages: Charting the Course for Sustainable Human Space Exploration, document does not, to my eye, reveal total congruence.”

    As noted, what’s not congruent is lack of explicit schedule. The word “schedule” isn’t even echoed in this document, which is a compliance killer. But other than that, it’s pretty much dead on. Betcha NASA will come out with a few pages that correct that oversight. This isn’t from HEOMD or SMD, but straight from the horse’s mouth at SAID.

    The Executive Summary is a bit different than the text you pulled out, and focuses better on what Congress asked for.

    “This report articulates NASA’s multi-destination human space exploration strategy using a capability-driven approach. NASA is ensuring that the United States fosters a safe, robust, affordable, sustainable, and flexible space program by developing a set of core evolving capabilities instead of specialized, destination-specific hardware. These core capabilities allow NASA the flexibility to conduct increasingly complex missions to a range of destinations over time. By expanding human presence throughout the solar system, we increase our scientific knowledge, enable technological and economic growth, and inspire global collaboration and achievement.”

    This request came out of the Senate CJS report language, although the House CJS report asked many of the same questions.

  • Egad

    As noted, what’s not congruent is lack of explicit schedule. The word “schedule” isn’t even echoed in this document, which is a compliance killer.

    I take your points and think we’ll just have to wait and see what comes out after this. However, the schedule/compliance thing reminds me of the famous line, “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

    I do agree that the various elements in the Voyages document would likely be parts of an actual program/schedule, but that’s like saying that a box of Christmas tree ornaments are parts of the Christmas tree. You have to have a tree and then put the ornaments on it to have a Christmas tree. And, of course, figure out how to buy the ornaments and do the decorations.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 13th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Congratulations to the space entrepreneurs at Orbital Sciences and their historic launch of NuSTAR. It is a new era. Pegasus XL is a game changer.

    And you wonder why no one believes your predictions…

    Pegasus XL may be shut down for lack of orders, especially after the cancellation of the NASA GEMS program. I think you jinxed them.

  • Vladislaw

    From Coastal Ron’s link:

    “NASA paid Orbital approximately $36 million for the just-completed NuSTAR launch. Next year’s IRIS launch, which was put under contract in 2010, will cost about $40 million.”

    $80,000 dollars a kilo is a bit of an insane price to pay for launching 450 kilograms. The next flight is going to cost even more. No wonder people want to do secondary payloads with SpaceX … they will be dirt cheap compared to this.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 12:00 am
    “Pegasus XL may be shut down for lack of orders, especially after the cancellation of the NASA GEMS program. I think you jinxed them.”

    The SLS advocacy community is ready for it. SLS will be able to loft 200 NuStars in one launch! The science community is overwhelmed with delight. That’s a lot of black holes. Why, to build and operate all those satellites should only cost, er, $15 billion. Tack on another $1B for a launch and hey, you’re good to go.

  • Kay Bailey Hutchison published an opinion column Sunday in the Houston Chronicle:

    “American Taxpayers Must Invest in NASA”

  • Egad

    > Kay Bailey Hutchison published an opinion column Sunday in the Houston Chronicle:
    > “American Taxpayers Must Invest in NASA”

    The first sentence of which is

    Since it first became a possibility for man to reach the stars, America has been the leader in space exploration.

    Moon, stars, whatever.

  • Paul

    $80,000 dollars a kilo is a bit of an insane price to pay for launching 450 kilograms. The next flight is going to cost even more. No wonder people want to do secondary payloads with SpaceX … they will be dirt cheap compared to this.

    I wonder why Falcon 1 didn’t grab some of this market. It could put 670 kg in LEO.

  • common sense

    @ Paul wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “I wonder why Falcon 1 didn’t grab some of this market. It could put 670 kg in LEO.”

    Not enough of a market, not a priority.

    FWIW.

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I wonder why Falcon 1 didn’t grab some of this market. It could put 670 kg in LEO.

    Apparently Falcon 1 didn’t attract enough orders, which likely is because there isn’t much demand for these types of small payloads.

    The other factor is that SpaceX wants to concentrate on the aspects of their business that reinforce their core service, which is Falcon 9, it’s three-core derivative Falcon Heavy, and the reusable versions of Falcon 9. Falcon 1 production tooling would likely take up too much room in their packed Hawthorne manufacturing building, and it wouldn’t make sense to add a new building for a product that suffers from a lack of orders.

    Falcon 1 was a learning product for them, but their ultimate product is the bigger Falcon 9 (which is getting even bigger in it’s v1.1 configuration).

  • Vladislaw

    I believe it may be that most of the sat launch orders on the manifest might have room for secondary payloads. The margins would look better hauling it as secondary payload and allows a more concentrated effort on the Falcon 9 line.

  • Pat

    With businesses choosing no taxes, how can any one nation afford the luxury (which some see as technological necessity) of space exploration and the multitude of product innovations made possible by such efforts?

    Business has virtually chosen to be the American enemy in this regard despite the years of innovation they have captured because of past years of discovery and effort. That is truly a shame, and shows why, today such a headstart on the future should not so easily be dismissed regardless of whether corporates and lobbyists have the foresight to appreciate the past in order to have a future.

    America doesn’t need the blind leading the blind; it needs leadership with inspiration, hope, foresight, and courage, and has benefited much from those attributes in the past. Deep diving into technological poverty is not the way, or wave of the future.

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