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Examining Chinese space advances and challenges

Within the next few days China will launch Shenzhou-9, its fourth crewed mission but the first since 2008. The spacecraft wil ferry three people, including the country’s first female astronaut, to the Tiangong-1 experimental lab module that China launched last September. The mission will likely trigger another round of hand-wringing among some commentators in the US, expressing concern that China is catching up to, or even surpassing, the US in space, with adverse impacts for both national prestige and national security. A couple of recent white papers offer a more nuanced view of China’s capabilities, though.

“The PRC [People's Republic of China] has made significant advances in its space program and is emerging as a space power,” concluded China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests, a white paper prepared by the Project 2049 Institute for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and released in late April. Chinese space technology is not as advanced as the US and other major space powers, but “China’s relative advances are significant,” the report notes. In particular, it warns that China’s capabilities pose a security threat to the US by enhancing Chinese military systems while threatening to disrupt or disable US space systems in a conflict. “China’s space ambitions are in part peaceful in nature. Yet technologies can also be used with ill-intent,” the report states.

However, the report also notes that space planning policy is spread out among a range of government entities that could create coordination issues. “Senior civilian leaders within the party and government view space as a national priority and therefore direct significant resources toward the country’s space-related technology base. However, space policy, planning, and program management appear fragmented and loosely coordinated among a range of military and civilian players,” it states. While the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is billed as the Chinese equivalent of NASA, it lacks NASA’s influence within the government and “functions in large part to facilitate international exchanges and cooperative programs with other space-faring nations.”

Last month the Defense Department issued the 2012 edition of its annual report on China’s military capabilities. Only about half a page of this year’s report (starting on page 8 of the printed document) is devoted to space issues, briefly discussing China’s growing space capabilities. However, it also suggests that Chinese space programs “are facing some challenges in systems reliability” based on recent events. It cites the August 2011 failure of a Long March 2C launch and problems with the DFH-4 communications satellite bus as evidence that a surge of Chinese space activity “may be taking its toll.”

126 comments to Examining Chinese space advances and challenges

  • amightywind

    The mission will likely trigger another round of hand-wringing among some commentators in the US

    You bet it will, and with good reason. In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress. At some point you newspace yahoos must be held accountable for your flaccid program and its lack of progress. You deserve all of the scorn that can be heaped upon you.

  • Malmesbury

    China is crawling along – much slower than commercial crew, on about 50x the budget. If your mission is to employ 200,000 people.

    Constellation succeeded in spending all the money it was given. Ares I succeeded in removing land landing, re-usability and a host of other functions from the Orion capsule. Griffin et al succeeded in preventing use of EELV for HSF using everything from reports with different G limits for NASA and non-NASA vehicles to abusing people face-to-face.

    Check out what Griffin did/said when he saw a ULA model of an ATLAS 5 carrying a manned capsule (for Bigelow IIRC).

    Constellation succeeded in producing a launcher (Ares I) which was suborbital – Orion SM would have to do a big burn to make orbit.

    It succeeded in producing a rocket that if it met it’s vibration targets would make it impossible to read the displays during the first stage burn. If it failed to do that, it would severely injure the crew.

    It succeeded in creating a schedule that was slipping more than 1 month for every month it went forward.

    I’m not so sure that NASA could have survive much more success of this kind.

  • MrEarl

    I love this line; ” While the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is billed as the Chinese equivalent of NASA, it lacks NASA’s influence within the government
    Riiiiight, because NASA wealds a great amount of influence in the US government.

    Yes Windy, China has made steady progress in manned space operations. Who knows, they may send a second crew to the Tiangong-1space station before the end of the decade.

  • pathfinder_01

    LOL, yes in 3.5 years China has made an unmanned docking(something the U.S.) has not done at the ISS! Has not yet made a manned docking and has launched an space station.

    The US has had astronaunts in space at the ISS for a decade now. Just launched a commercially procuded resupply ship and is working on replacing the outdated shuttle with something befitting this centuary.

  • @ablastofhotair
    “You bet it will, and with good reason. In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress. At some point you newspace yahoos must be held accountable for your flaccid program and its lack of progress. You deserve all of the scorn that can be heaped upon you.”
    Now how did I know that would be your response? :) I would say “you sound like a broken record”, but I’ll update it to “you sound like a corrupt mp3 file”. Especially since the word “corrupt” describes your position so much better.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:18 am
    “You bet it will, and with good reason. In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress. ”

    steady progress? What is their flight interval of people? 3-4 years…

    I am not really sure that the Reds are on the road to anywhere…both the US and the Chinese are working to recapture the abilities of the 60′s in Gemini but the question is have the Chinese come up with a system that is affordable even to them?

    If you did a “person to person” stack up with SpaceX and the Chinese national space agency, I suspect that there is a 10 to 1 or greater balance on the part of the Chinese…ie they are people heavy. Now their people work for a lot less…but they do not seem to be very nimble.

    I am really not at all impressed by either of their craft…They seem to have taken a lot of Soviet hardware and upgraded it internally but it seems to have the same limitations…

    Windy I have no doubt that you and the other right wingers including the drum beaters on Fox News will go into a “redthon” about the next Chinese flight. Maybe you can even get Whittington and Willard to drag up the battle of Midway again and try some really stupid analogies based on that.

    My greatest laugh at Willards speech in San Diego came when he mentioned that “The Battle of Midway showed the importance of a large Navy”. sure…the fleet with the smallest number of total ships…won.

    RGO

  • @Mr Earl
    “Yes Windy, China has made steady progress in manned space operations. Who knows, they may send a second crew to the Tiangong-1space station before the end of the decade.
    The ultimate irony is that your preferred solution does not increase the lead we have over China versus doing nothing at all. Meanwhile, their “steady progress” could allow them to catch up with us. But that just doesn’t sink in with you.

    I would say “doesn’t sink in with you for some reason”, but I have yet to see you state a valid reason backed by hard facts that take into consideration the economic realities of the current situation. Your position seems to be that financing of SLS will automatically take care of itself over time; therefore, you think you can ignore it.

  • Coastal Ron

    “The PRC [People's Republic of China] has made significant advances in its space program and is emerging as a space power,”

    And what makes a “space power”? For the military we think of “power projection”, which could be defined as:

    Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military and political science to refer to the capacity of a state to conduct expeditionary warfare, i.e. to intimidate other nations and implement policy by means of force, or the threat thereof, in an area distant from its own territory.

    Since we’re not at war in space it’s not a direct analogy, but the ability to do and sustain expeditions does relate.

    From a coalition standpoint the ISS partners have the complete package. A broad manufacturing base with in-depth technical knowledge and capability, a wide choice of mass lifters, a wide variety of cargo logistics vehicles, and currently one (albeit small) passenger vehicle. Everything needed to build and sustain a million pound space station, and to build just about anything else.

    However without the ISS partnership, the individual countries don’t all have the same “space power” quotient. Canada makes great robotic arms, but no vehicles. Japan and ESA make ISS modules and cargo resupply vehicles, but can’t transport people or return cargo to Earth.

    In the U.S. we just retired our Shuttle, which on the surface seemed to be a great passenger vehicle, but in truth it could only stay in space for two weeks, so it didn’t do much for “space power” in that regard. The MPCV will be able to keep us in space longer, but it will be the Commercial Crew vehicles that end up doing the grunt work of providing the U.S. with the ability to travel to space when we want.

    Only Russia can send humans to space on a regular basis today, but their Soyuz vehicle is too small to enable Russia to build a large presence in space, and Russia has lost the initiative to do anything new on their own.

    China is still figuring out what works and what doesn’t in space and space operations, and since their space technology is based on the Soyuz designs they also inherit Soyuz limitations. But China has lots of manufacturing capability, and they have mastered the basics of spaceflight and docking, so they could accelerate their presence in space fairly quickly if they wanted to (and could afford to).

    But the U.S. is still the major “space power” for the foreseeable future, and when Orbital Sciences gets their Antares/Cygnus system going, and when two or more Commercial Crew vehicles come online during the next 5 years, the U.S. will be back to having not only the complete capability to expand our presence into space, but a much more flexible one than we’ve ever had.

    Now we just need to cancel the SLS so we afford to do some “expeditionary space projection”.

  • Vladislaw

    Windy commented from an alternative dimension:

    “In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress. “

    Could you provide a comparative timeline for their space agency over the last 3.5 years and then a timeline for America’s space agency for the same time period?

    “At some point you newspace yahoos must be held accountable for your flaccid program and its lack of progress.”

    Ya … we know you drool over a towering, fully erect, 400′, phallic symbol like the Ares V or the Shelby Launch System. But isn’t funny that those are the programs that have remained flaccid?

  • MrEarl

    Wow Rick; do you feel the overwhelming need to go after everyone that disagrees with you or only me? I’m thinking it’s just me because you just came to Winedy’s defence.

    SLS and MPCV, along with the exploration path NASA is developing, using an EML2 gateway as a jumping off point for the exploration of the moon and NEA’s, using equipment already built for the shuttle and ISS programs and using joint missions between the US and international partners, will put us far ahead of any effort made by China and is economically viable with a flat NASA budget with only increases for inflation. I understand that the economic situation here and in Europe is shaky but as I’ve said before congress has shown a willingness to support a shuttle derived vehicle for 8 years and specifically asked for SLS and MPCV and twice increased budget allocations to them over what was asked by the administration.
    I have offered valid reasons based on hard facts for my support of SLS/MPCV. I can’t help it if you don’t agree with them. Many other well learned people have come to the same conclusion as me given the same set of facts, yet you seem to imply that the only valid point of view is yours. I propose a compromise; let’s agree to respect each other’s views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “do you feel the overwhelming need to go after everyone that disagrees with you or only me?”

    Nah just you. You’re an easy target. ;) Well actually at least you do not seem to be motivated by glory days from the past or someone-stole-my-scifi-dream or some semi fascist view of the world. So it makes conversation more interesting with you. If you could just see the reality face-to-face. Okay hope springs eternal…

    “I’m thinking it’s just me because you just came to Winedy’s defence.”

    Now who is Winedy???? Cannot be Windy+Kennedy can it? Wine-day? Scary, scary thoughts.

  • @Mr Earl
    “Wow Rick; do you feel the overwhelming need to go after everyone that disagrees with you or only me? I’m thinking it’s just me because you just came to Winedy’s defence.
    No, I am not coming to Windy’s defense. What I am saying is even though the Chinese are not much of a threat now or in the near future because of their plodding pace that you indicated, we can’t necessarily expect the situation to stay that way over the long term. Why give them any chance to make any headway against us now, no matter how small? To understand what I mean, see the following.

    “SLS and MPCV, along with the exploration path NASA is developing, using an EML2 gateway as a jumping off point for the exploration of the moon and NEA’s, using equipment already built for the shuttle and ISS programs and using joint missions between the US and international partners, will put us far ahead of any effort made by China and is economically viable with a flat NASA budget with only increases for inflation.”
    If by “economically viable” you mean we can make the development payments for SLS by keeping them down within each year’s budget and spreading them over a longer period of years (if needed) to allow us to keep those payments down, that is possible at least for a few years. But that kind of so called economic viability is not economically viability in the truest sense of the term, in that it does not get you to a working vehicle in a reasonable amount of time because the time keeps being stretched out each year to keep it within each year’s budget.

    So you probably will not see a finished vehicle if you keep stretching out the development time with that definition of economic viability. Again, I’m going by what the Booz-Allen report says about development being crippled when SLS’s budget can no longer support a reasonably rapid development at about five years out. I know of no credible source that supports your position to the contrary.

    Also as a hypothetical argument (since actual operability of SLS is not likely to be achieved), the projected huge cost per flight and extremely low flight rate again give us no advantage as far as staying ahead of the Chinese and is another opportunity for them to decrease our lead under the best of circumstances. Again, it may not allow them to get the actual upfront lead, but why help them close the gap even to a limited degree?

  • amightywind

    .. and when two or more Commercial Crew vehicles come online during the next 5 years, the U.S. will be back to having not …

    You would think that if we were within 5 years of the ‘commercial’ first flight we’d know who was going to make it. The first flight of a manned commercial spacecraft has been 5 years off for many years now. Admit it. NASA is led by bumblers with no intention of making an attempt to replace the shuttle. The end is coming for our faux space program. The wheels are coming off the Obama administration. NASA will be entirely replanned in 2013 by a new congress and a new President. Lord, I hope they reach deep down into the ranks of NASA and ‘clean out the stalls’ of all the political operatives there. The damage they have caused is incalculable.

  • @ablastofhotair
    “You would think that if we were within 5 years of the ‘commercial’ first flight we’d know who was going to make it. The first flight of a manned commercial spacecraft has been 5 years off for many years now. Admit it.”
    Reading comprehension is not your strongpoint. Look closely at the quote of which you are referring. It states “two or more Commercial Crew vehicles come online during the next 5 years.” Please note the word “two”. That means that the second vehicle of two will launch in five years, it has nothing to do with when the first vehicle launches any time in that time frame. Don’t worry, I know it is useless for me to ask you to admit that you are wrong! ;)

  • DCSCA

    ‘hand-wringing’ is a rather emotional term for assessing the new, emerging realities.

    “some commentators in the US, expressing concern that China is catching up to, or even surpassing, the US in space, with adverse impacts for both national prestige and national security.”

    Perception is reality in politics. Certainly prestige is a motivating factor and projecting an active space presence only reinforces the PRC’s detemination to hallmark this century as theirs and aid in projecting themselves as an emerging power on Earth. Manned spaceflight can do that for the Red Chinese just as surely as it did for the U.S. and the Soviets in the 1960′s. And crowing ‘been there, done that’ (a familiar refrain from the Obama team BTW) means little to fresh generations, hungry with intent on making their mark on the here and now. Moon landings half a century ago by now 80 year old Americans mean nothing to young Chinese – and most young Americans these days, hence the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision of LEO ops lauded by Newspace geeks..

    Red China should be rightly proud of their accomplishments in space, and inspite of RGO’s insistance it’s not, spaceflight is hard. The United States is increasingly taking on the characteristics of Britain on the wane as its ‘empire’ dissolved a hundred years ago- marking celebrations of grand achievements in centuries past with holidays, parades and flag waving while present competition rooted in the hear and now, looking toward tomorrow, is accelorating onward and outward; Luna awaits fresh flags and footprints, most likely from the PRC.

    Lofting a crew of three to an orbiting lab is Skylab/Salyut-esque and worthy of praise for a nation dismissed as backward by Western standards a generation or so ago. As Tom Lehrer quipped, ‘In German und in English I know how to count down; And I’m learing Chinese, says Wernher Von Braun.”

    @amightywind wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:18 am

    “In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress. At some point you newspace yahoos must be held accountable for your flaccid program and its lack of progress. You deserve all of the scorn that can be heaped upon you.”

    Now, now, Windy. Newspace is quaint– and a natural off-shoot for a capitalistic system. Of course, space exploitation is not space exploration. The problem, of course, is the focus on securing contracts (Garverism) for short-term gain and the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision rather than establishing a long term space policy and sticking to it, which is where the U.S. government keeps failing its citizenry. American space efforts have always been reactive, not proactive, and a fresh, aggressive competitor could be the very thing Americans need. But a war weary nation, nearly broke, struggling to keep it’s middle-class from disappearing (like Britain a century ago) tired of the expense, effort and seeing little value in being and staying ‘number one’ these days may simply not rise to the challenge, stay home, and watch it all on their flatscreen TVs—– made in China. But hey, America has a heck of a military, doesn’t it… Rule Britannia!

    @Malmesbury wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:08 am

    “China is crawling along – much slower than commercial crew…”

    Except they’re not.

    Especially as the PRC has actually launched, orbited, spacewalked and returned crew. Commercial, not so much- in fact, not at all. =eyeroll= .

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    You would think that if we were within 5 years of the ‘commercial’ first flight we’d know who was going to make it.

    We’ll know this summer. Apparently you don’t keep up with what’s going on with CCiCap, which now has the blessing of Republican’s in Congress to award up to 2.5 companies worth of effort. Chalk that up as a WIN for Obama and Bolden.

    The first flight of a manned commercial spacecraft has been 5 years off for many years now. Admit it.

    I’ll admit that the CAPABILITY has always been 5 years off, but until the Commercial Crew Program there hasn’t been a big enough customer or market. Now the capability for some service providers is as close as three years off.

    The end of the Shuttle unmasked the fallacy we’ve been living with, which is that the Shuttle didn’t support stays in space longer than two weeks. Commercial Crew, in concert with the ISS and future destinations in LEO, gives the United States that capability.

    NASA will be entirely replanned in 2013 by a new congress and a new President.

    For the last 40 years we have not left LEO because of one simple fact – it’s been too expensive.

    Now NASA has to live with an even more constrained budget, and all you seem to pin your hopes on is getting more money. If you think the Republican’s in the next Congress are MORE likely to boost NASA’s budget, they you are even more out of touch with your party than you realize.

    Just out of curiosity, just from a program standpoint, what would be your priorities and why?

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
    s, will put us far ahead of any effort made by China and is economically viable with a flat NASA budget with only increases for inflation.>>

    first…what effort being made by the Chinese…they are doing what two crewed flights in 3-4 years?

    Second who cares if they go to the Moon or insert place here…what possible “peril” can the US be in if the Chinese “go” and we do not.

    Second how is SLS economically viable…we are a decade plus away from any flight with people on it. We are probably a decade plus away from any flight of SLS RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    “what possible “peril” can the US be in if the Chinese “go” and we do not.”

    They might throw us a couple of golf balls back!!!

    “Let me swing among those stars…”

  • Doug Lassiter

    The words “Moon” or “lunar” do not appear in this report. To the extent that China is out to stomp on our flags on the Moon, as so many policy pundits seem to hallucinate about as a threat that we should meet, our Defense Department sure doesn’t seem to be concerned about it any more. Those words WERE in the last edition of this report. But they’re not in this one.

    They are making steady progress in many kinds of space technology. Perhaps the threat they pose is competition to our flexible path strategy, rather than where they’re determined to put footprints.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 10:55 am

    “I am really not at all impressed by either of their craft…”

    And they most decidely do not care what you think at all, as you prattle away about Midway, Breed. And as they pass overhead, and a taikonaut gets on the radio and says, ‘beep, beep, beep,’ down to you in Texas, they will simply smile. And you will wonder what Spruance would do. .

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Especially as the PRC has actually launched, orbited, spacewalked and returned crew. Commercial, not so much

    Golly gosh, China is the largest country in the world by population, the 2nd largest by GDP, has a space program that employs somewhere around 50,000 people, and is able to do something that will soon be replicated and improved upon by a U.S. company with only 1,800 people?

    Wow. You just keeping just keep digging the hole you’re in deeper and deeper, don’t you?

    Even more telling, why do you favor foreign countries over U.S. companies? Been living outside the U.S. too long?

    If anything SpaceX is showing that the U.S. mantra is still “Yes We Can”, and what’s even better is that there are other “New Space” companies that are doing the same. I’ll take our space industry over China’s any day.

  • amightywind

    Just out of curiosity, just from a program standpoint, what would be your priorities and why

    I’ve said this all before.

    Find an adult NASA administrator.

    Accelerate SLS/Orion. You can’t have a space program without rockets and a spacecraft. I’d also restore the 10m Ares V configuration.

    Terminate ISS. We need a source of funding for vehicle development in an era of shrinking budgets. ISS is one of the most egregious wastes in the US government budget.

    Divest NASA of non-core programs. NASA should move the majority of aeronautics to the military who do it better anyway. Transfer earth observation and sciences to NOAA and USGS. I would certainly preserve the planetary program at the expense of these.

    Institute a 10% RIF to get rid of the dead wood in the agency. This would enhance its competitiveness.

    Interesting that the X-37B is about to land just as the Chinese are ready to man their space battle station. They could soon be dropping bombs on us like rocks from a highway overpass.

  • Frank Glover

    “You bet it will, and with good reason. In last 3.5 years NASA has been on the road to nowhere compared to China which has made steady progress.”

    A mission every two years or so? (yes, they can skip some steps based on the experiences of others, that’s fine. But let’s see how much more ‘progress’ they make when doing what few or none have done before them.)

    Their next mission will be to a space station that isn’t even up to the Salyut series? We should apologize for that? (yes, they’ll ultimately do better…what do you think we’ll be doing by then? And better yet, exactly where do you think Constellation WOULD have been by now?? And be realistic. No ‘gut half of NASA and social programs for it’ miracles that even Apollo didn’t require.)

    Oh, and it’s just in ‘tired, stuck, boring, round and round, trapped, going nowhere’ (did I miss anything?) LEO that they’re doing. If Low Earth Orbit’s not good enough for us, WHY are you impressed they they’re doing anything similar? Go ahead, tell China that they should immediately splash it, favor of a big phallic launcher. Which leads me to…

    “At some point you newspace yahoos must be held accountable for your flaccid program and its lack of progress.”

    ‘Flaccid?’ How…Freudian.

    Now, if they start using their station as a refueling/assembly point to go farther out, instead of waiting for an HLV…Windy, that’s what we *have* been saying all along.

    And you most certainly have not.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    “And as they pass overhead, and a taikonaut gets on the radio and says, ‘beep, beep, beep,’”

    do you think that the Red Chinese talk like that? Yikes.

    My packet station can link into either of ISS’s packet stations whenever they need to…when a crewmember is on, with dual 22 element crossed polarized arrays for either 2 meters or 70 cm and 1 KW out on Class C FM…I can talk to them whenever I want to….and do. I have the 3 meter dish up and running…and I generally monitor the Chinese station when it comes overhead…I have managed to detect ISS Wifi system…which is quite a feat! WB5MZO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Why don’t you look up, listen and see when they pass overhead. =yawn= DCSCA has spoken to shuttle crews on orbit. Now go play w/your radio, Breed.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Most telling above all else is your persistent failure to learn that corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-states.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Golly gosh, please tell us about Space X’s manned spaceflights they’ve accomplished and their orbiting lab matching the PRC’s, Tiangong-1 experimental lab module that Red China launched last September… oh wait, there is none; no crewed flights and no lab, and BTW, corporations woe no loyalties to any nation states, and accordingly, Space X represents Space X and not the United States. =sigh= But you go on and keep NAySAing the PRC’s successes– we can all look forward to RGO radioing up to orbiting taikonauts from his Texas radio shack to tell them how unimpressed he is w/their spacecraft as they pass over, too. Beep-beep-beep, high time you got tuned in, Ron.

  • vulture4

    China’s space activities are a reflection of their economic power, not a means of projecting military power. In some respects space activities substitute for military activities in gaining world prestige.

    However you plot them, the GDP lines for the US and China are going to cross in about ten years. Major American companies from HP to Walmart are in the process of becoming Chinese. China will be the world’s largest economy for at least a generation. Military power ultimately reflects economic power. If the US attempts to confront China directly in the military arena, we will lose, not in battle, but through unsustainable debt. Our only real chance to move forward is to avoid a zero-sum, game, to create a world which we can win without China losing.
    Today cooperation in space, by inviting China to join us on the ISS, can be a key element in learning to live together on earth. This is nothing more than the policy Kissinger began forty years ago.

  • Coastal Ron

    An interesting set of conversations and contrasts.

    Windy, who fancies himself a conservative, thinks we should go against the wishes of Ronald Reagan (i.e. the Godfather of modern Republicans) by stopping the efforts to lower the costs to access space and rely instead on Big-Government programs to control our access to space. Oh, and he feels the only space program worthy of the U.S. is one that launches on the biggest rocket in the world.

    DCSCA, who worships at the feet of Apollo astronauts, believes that if a company hasn’t done something, it never can. And even if it shows that it can, that a U.S. company is less trustworthy for NASA to depend upon than a country like Russia, or even China.

    We haven’t heard from Googaw recently, which is OK, since he/she/it thinks space exploration is too hard for us current mortals, and we should let our grandchildren and great-grandchildren do it.

    To say the least, I disagree with these incognito entities.

    In contrast to Windy, I think a government space program should focus on what hasn’t been conquered, since government does best when it does thing people or companies can’t. If we’re going to expand our presence in space, then it won’t happen solely using NASA’s meager budget. Public/private partnerships are the best way to start the transition.

    In contrast to DCSCA, I do trust U.S. companies far more than foreign countries – far, far more. I also think the current generation of “New Space” entities has shown that it can do many things better than NASA and even “Old Space”. He/she/it can’t draw a straight line between where they have been and where they are going.

    And in contrast to Googaw, I think if we’re ever going to establish ourselves in space, now is as good a time as ever to start figuring out how to do it. No need to wait.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    RGO radioing up to orbiting taikonauts from his Texas radio shack to tell them how unimpressed he is w/their spacecraft as they pass over, too.>>

    NOpe if they pull out a amateur radio set…I will be impressed. I’ve had nice contacts with Mir, the shuttle, ISS…so if the Reds go active on the bands…you can count on Me trying to get a QSO…

    I’ll even resurrect some of my old Chinese from the days of teaching them how to fly microgravity parabolas WB5MZO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    ” Our only real chance to move forward is to avoid a zero-sum, game, to create a world which we can win without China losing.
    Today cooperation in space, by inviting China to join us on the ISS, can be a key element in learning to live together on earth. This is nothing more than the policy Kissinger began forty years ago.”

    I disagree completely.

    As it is the world right now is a zero sum game…the US is losing while the PRC is winning. Unless we reverse that before long no one who was alive 10 years ago will recognize the US and the relationship between the government and corporations; which is becoming more and more like the Chinese governments relationship with the corporations that function “there”.

    The “game” with the Chinese is not military as Wind/Whittington and some others would have one believe; it is economic. US corporations flush with cash from tax cuts and subsidies are investing what they are investing in places like China because of cheap labor, no regulations on their by products, and no real worker safety regulations. As a result the US middle class is imploding.

    I have spent sometime in Germany (and Africa) and both Germany and most countries in Africa ban chinese goods with an effective tarriff simply because they recognize that the minute the market is flooded with cheap goods then that is the end of their manufactoring class.

    In Germany for instance there are no tools from China in the hardware stores…the “cheap” tools are from the former Balkan nations. Even in Nigeria Chinese goods are simply not found…why? for the same reason…they are cheap and they would kill a infant manufactoring base that is emerging…same with South Africa…the only countries importing Chinese goods are well Zimbabwe is a good example.

    Fixing that has nothing to do with ISS…what the Europeans want the Chinese for on ISS is their money.

    Kissinger did not put us on the path we are on today. Clinton more or less started it and under Bush43 the freight train just took off and is just accelerating down the track in amazing fashion. With Obama having done little or nothing to stop it.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    the Chinese are ready to man their space battle station>>

    To quote “Buck Murdock” In Airplane 2 “I hope that they have the right stuff”…LOL RGO

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    ‘In contrast to Windy, I think a government space program should focus on what hasn’t been conquered, since government does best when it does thing people or companies can’t. If we’re going to expand our presence in space, then it won’t happen solely using NASA’s meager budget. Public/private partnerships are the best way to start the transition.’

    Interesting thoughts. Really this is the only way that government is going to make progress. It will be with commercial entities who are prepared to take risks with some government funding. Generally NASA is so risk-averse that they can no longer innovate.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Read Steve Cole’s book for yet another example. Corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state. And many operate like sovereign states themselves. But you go on believing otherwise.

    “I also think the current generation of “New Space” entities has shown that it can do many things better than NASA and even” “Old Space”.

    Except it hasn’t.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    “They could soon be dropping bombs on us like rocks from a highway overpass.”

    Who needs rocksm Windy- the overpasses are falling down on their own these days, such is the poor state of the national infrastructure. But a new bridge in SF is under contract for construction– by a Chinese firm.

  • josh

    oh windy, are you that desperate to keep your job at crappy atk? lol

  • @ablastofhotair
    “Accelerate SLS/Orion. You can’t have a space program without rockets and a spacecraft.”
    This alone is ridiculous for reasons that I indicated in my response to Mr. Earl. It only would make sense if SLS/Orion are the sole “rockets and spacecraft” being developed and flown (which is not the case). And you wonder why most people here don’t take you seriously.

  • Vladislaw

    Accelerate Orion? Lets see, they have already received 5 billion for a disposable capsule and they are going to get another billion a year until 2017 maybe all the way into 2021 for the first manned flight? Gosh.. I sure hope those American astronauts enjoy the gold, gem encrusted controls the Orion must be sporting.

    Now if we are going to spend about 10 billion and 12 to 16 years just to develop a disposible capsule .. how many more billions would it take to chop the schedule down to only ten years for a disposable capsule?

  • Interesting that the X-37B is about to land just as the Chinese are ready to man their space battle station. They could soon be dropping bombs on us like rocks from a highway overpass.

    I can never figure out if abreakingwind is really this stupid, or someone quite clever pretending to be to make supporters of the status quo look bad.

  • William Mellberg

    I recently re-read Iris Chang’s “Thread of the Silkworm” which tells the story of Tsien Hsue-Shen (Qian Xuesen), the father of the Chinese missile and space programs, as well as one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech. Chang’s account is a reminder of just how far China’s space program has come in the past half century. It is no surprise that the Chinese take great pride in their achievements, as well as in the legacy of Tsien. As this well-made biopic makes clear, the Chinese honor Tsien as a national hero (and deservedly so):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0TVeM3HqU4

    It serves no purpose to denigrate China’s space program, especially when one understands how important the Shenzhou missions are to that country’s national self-esteem. The launch of China’s first female taikonaut will be another source of pride, as will the docking of Shenzhou-9 with Tiangong-1 — assuming everything works as planned. Thus far, each of China’s human spaceflight missions has been a success. And each mission has built on the success of the ones before it. Moreover, the Shenzhou missions have generated prestige for China around the globe. While many people talk about the military implications of China’s space program, there are commercial implications, as well. Neither should be downplayed or overlooked.

    As for the Shenzhou spacecraft, it is a mistake to assume that it is just a Chinese copy of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. First of all, the Descent Module is somewhat larger than Soyuz, and it can (conceivably) carry up to four taikonauts. More importantly, the Orbital Module can be flown independently. Or, it can be left behind at the end of a mission — attached to a space station as a building block module. Likewise, the Service Module is an advance over the Soyuz design.

    The Long March 2F (CZ-2F) launch vehicle is a Chinese creation. The only similarity to the Russian Soyuz launch vehicle is the payload shroud and the launch escape system.

    China’s leaders recognize the importance of a national space program. It generates prestige at home and abroad. It also spawns technological and economic development.

    While some people in this forum have stated that they are “unimpressed” with China’s achievements in space, I think they (China’s achievements) are quite impressive. And it is no secret that the Chinese have their sights trained on the Moon — as do space proponents in other nations, as Paul Spudis notes:

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2012/06/everyones-gone-to-the-moon/

    Finally, those who underestimate China’s long-term goals and abilities ought to spend a few minutes with Bugs Bunny and Cecil Tortoise …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh2m3Dpqw_4

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Read Steve Cole’s book for yet another example. Corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state.

    It’s hard to believe how out of touch you are on this. Truly nuts.

    You say the U.S. should rely on Russia more than Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada Corp, and ULA? That U.S. companies run by U.S. citizens are less reliable to their fellow citizens than foreign countries?

    It’ hard to succinctly describe how really wacko you sound. No sane person believes this.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    It serves no purpose to denigrate China’s space program, especially when one understands how important the Shenzhou missions are to that country’s national self-esteem.

    Don’t confuse comparisons with other nations space efforts as denigration of the Chinese space program.

    There are those that say we should be afraid of the Chinese and their space program. I disagree, and I do that by comparing where they are at, which though further than the Soviets were at the same points in their initial space program, the Chinese have not shown any capabilities that would indicate they will be a dominant space power soon. Competent, yes, dominant, no.

    And that’s really the lens that needs to be used here. Are they a “threat”, and how are they doing in comparison to everyone else we consider our partners in space.

    Is the Shenzhou better than commercial crew vehicles that look like they will be online within a few years? Is it better than the MPCV? All of the vehicles have their own strengths, so direct comparisons are not really valid, so it’s more a matter of what they end up doing with their capabilities – and the same with us.

    I like the fact that we’re starting to move past the point of general purpose spacecraft like the Soyuz and the Shuttle, and on to vehicles that have specific strengths for crew and cargo transport. Less compromise and more efficiency.

    But since no one is partnering with China, China has to do everything itself, so general purpose spacecraft make a lot of sense. Some day that will change, and I look forward to the day when all nations can cooperate in space like we do with trade on terra firma.

    As to the Spudis blog, he gets excited whenever someone mentions they’d like to go to the Moon, but he forgets that no one has the money to go there.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR -

    “For the last 40 years we have not left LEO because of one simple fact – it’s been too expensive.”

    Put another way, the Shuttle failed to deliver low cost launch.

    It got worse, as the Shuttle’s boosters could not be used as independent launch vehicles.

    A large part of this failure, and the failure to move on, lies with ATK.

    Since I am no longer able to follow Chinese policy closely, I will limit my comments here.

    One of China’s goals in space is to obtain world class parityin all areas of space technology.

    China will make its Moon decision in the 2020 planning cylce.

    I believe that at that time they will devlop re-usable launchers based on the Zenit technologies, rather than larger launchers.

    I think that SpaceX will allow the US to maintain a world leadership role in space industries.

    I will add that the impact hazard is an international problem.

    We here in the US can not continue our economic development on a non-sustainable path, and I am pretty sure that China’s leadership understands that they can not develop an un-sustainable economic infrastructure.

    I thinkn that the US can take pride in its reaction to Japanese Militarism in the 1930′s.

    While I advocate no course of engagement, I do believe that the Wolf ammendment is an unconstitutional intrusion on the President’s ability to conduct the foreign policy of the US.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi WM –

    In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Russia did not release the details of L. Ron Hubbard’s work for the KGB before Tsien passed on.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    No doubt they can’t wait to hear from you – you can tell the Chinese how unimpressive their spacecraft are and the ISS crews they’re wasting their time and your tax dollars– all from your little radio shack in Texas. Quaint. .

  • common sense

    “I can never figure out if abreakingwind is really this stupid, or someone quite clever pretending to be to make supporters of the status quo look bad.”

    Depends on the level of chemicals in the bloodstream. Should be careful though not to be caught Typing Under the Influence!

  • common sense

    “Chang’s account is a reminder of just how far China’s space program has come in the past half century.”

    It really is a reminder how paranoia plays against us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Xuesen

    “During the 1940s Qian was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory[2] at the California Institute of Technology. During the Second Red Scare of the 1950s, the United States government accused Qian of having communist sympathies, and he was stripped of his security clearance[3] in 1950. etc”

    “It serves no purpose to denigrate China’s space program, especially when one understands how important the Shenzhou missions are to that country’s national self-esteem.”

    I think most here who have some understanding of China realize that. But they have nothing to do with US national security on their own.

    “While many people talk about the military implications of China’s space program, there are commercial implications, as well. Neither should be downplayed or overlooked.”

    Wow we may agree here on the commercial aspect but the military chinese space program does not lie with a few taikonauts going to space! Just like it is of no national security importance that we, the US, send 4 astronauts to the ISS or the Moon for that matter.

    “As for the Shenzhou spacecraft, it is a mistake to assume that it is just a Chinese copy of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.”

    Been awhile since a true engineer lectured some one here saved for me of course ;) It does not matter whether it is a scaled up version of Soyuz. What matters is they chose a design that works well and safely, unlike Orion.

    “The Long March 2F (CZ-2F) launch vehicle is a Chinese creation. The only similarity to the Russian Soyuz launch vehicle is the payload shroud and the launch escape system.”

    The escape system is not part of the LV per se. It is more related to the capsule itself rather than the LV but it is an integrated system so you are right but wrong. How cool is that?

    “While some people in this forum have stated that they are “unimpressed” with China’s achievements in space, I think they (China’s achievements) are quite impressive.”

    They are impressive for China but not as impressive as those of SpaceX…

    “And it is no secret that the Chinese have their sights trained on the Moon”

    Just like us. So?

  • @William Mellberg
    “Finally, those who underestimate China’s long-term goals and abilities ought to spend a few minutes with Bugs Bunny and Cecil Tortoise …”
    All the more reason to kill SLS and move on to other options that can increase our lead over China in the space arena rather than letting that lead gradually erode over the long haul.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    As a rule the bar to impress me when borrowing someone elses hardware or “mold lines” is pretty high. There are instances when contemporary efforts in product development turn out “similar” designs…the General Aviation Tomahawk and Skipper are on the outside “similar”; they shared some emerging NASA technological developments, some marketing requirements, and of course the economics of a trainer…but even those contemporary efforts are substantially different BECAUSE the two companies were headed after a unique market (even inside the trainer effort) AND had different legacy backgrounds.

    I am almost never impressed with some effort that borrows the mold lines of something that was done 20-30-40 or more years ago. Borrow someone elses technology product; sure you get a lot of the research done for you; but you inherit their operational issues along with the “main goal” (whatever it is) that the hardware was suppose to perform.

    The Chinese effort with their up/down craft and even their space station remind me of the evolution of the Ercoupe/Arcoupe/Cadet…

    The Chinese “carrier” is not very impressive to me. If you took CV/AVT 16 out of mothballs gave her modern electronics (and could somehow redo the 600 PSI Boilers)…it wouldnt even be a fair one on one…Lex would have far more capability then a carrier with well no airplanes! LOL

    (as an aside I think you will find some of the notions you have about Shenzhou outdated…I dont think that the orbital module is any longer capable of independent operations…as of 8 and I doubt very seriously there is a docking port on both sides of the module…)

    Of course I am not impressed with SLS for the very same reasons. The operational assumptions that drove the technology are well in the past…to keep the basic technology is limiting…and as the Falcon heavy might show (assuming it works) basically flawed.

    That the PRC has a human space program is entertaining but again not all that impressive. The country has come a long way since they tossed the more or less corrupt nationalist government out to the little island…but at an enormous cost in lives and other aspects…and other countries have come as far with as many difficulties with a lessor body count (although the continued performance of the “keen minds of the US South” makes one wonder if the notion of hanging all the successionist after the Civil War, while increasing the body count might not have been a bad idea!)

    The last time I was personally in China was the mid to late 90′s. I spent some reasonable time training pilots for some of their airlines, their military and their space agency in heavy Boeings. I have not been back since; but I keep in touch with people who have and I have three instructors there now.

    If one wants to be “impressed” with a countries technological development…try India or Brazil.

    “Impressed” is a high bar with me. I would say for the Chinese that I am “entertained” by what they hve done and are doing in a technological sense. I dont see much focus to MOST of it right now…and that includes their human spaceflight efforts.

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    One of China’s goals in space is to obtain world class parityin all areas of space technology.

    No doubt. However the pattern that China uses to gain parity in an economic or industrial area is to throw money and people at it. So far this has worked because they’ve had plenty of both, and the labor part has been inexpensive.

    That’s starting to change as things start to tighten up in China. Since outside of the satellite business space is an expensive investment with no certain payoff date, it remains to be seen how much they will continue to invest.

    The U.S. and it’s ISS partners have achieved a certain level of technological advancement that let’s them leverage off their technological abilities (ISS modules, transportation infrastructure, operational competency, etc.), but China still has a long way to go to match what the ISS partners have today – and ISS partners are not standing still either.

    Some people see this as a “race”, but I don’t. There is no finish line. We have to figure out what success is as we spend our way forward, whether that be becoming multi-planetary, or finding new resources to exploit, or whatever. I think the universe is big enough to accommodate all of us, so creating fictional friction is wasteful in my view.

    I’m all about lowering the cost to access space, since as you do that, then our economic and societal opportunities in space become more clear. China becoming more capable in space doesn’t detract from that, and could even help lower costs. We’ll see.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    all from your little radio shack in Texas.”

    Oh now that really cuts me to the quick! “little”.

    OK the “shack” at my old house in Clear Lake was “little” one of the bedrooms 15X15 was converted to the Ham shack …eventually some attic space was reclaimed to help with the equipment spread (and to give me skylights…

    But our new place is going to be a palace. The electrical people have dropped a separate 220 V 200 amp feed just for the “shack”…Little? There are two 90 foot crank up towers getting ready to go up (and qauite a few 50 footers)…Little?

    Shot the heart…WB5MZO

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Outstanding. Well said.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    “It’s hard to believe how out of touch you are on this.”

    Indeed, you seem oblivious to the corporate powers that be.

    “Truly nuts.”

    Except he’s not.

    In fact, he was an accomplished shuttle pilot and NASA administrator. But you go on believing otherwise.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    No, you said that. DCSCA reiterates that corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state.

  • E.P. Grondine

    One very significant feature of China’s space program is the amount of return they expect for the money spent:

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/20120614-change-2-toutatis.html

    Their manned program is carefully planned as well.

    As Mark Wade has covered the evoolution of China’s manned system quite well, I point you in his direction for discussion of Chinese purchases of peaceful space technologies from Russia.

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “I think you will find some of the notions you have about Shenzhou outdated … I dont think that the orbital module is any longer capable of independent operations … as of 8 and I doubt very seriously there is a docking port on both sides of the module.”

    Mr. Oler, with all due respect, I think your notions about Shenzhou should come from more than just a Wikipedia entry because your comments reflect a rather superficial familiarity with the Chinese spacecraft (and the Chinese space program) at best.

    The Shenzhou Orbital Modules have matched the various missions for which they were flown. The ones used for extended, independent operations were equipped with reconnaissance cameras. Which is why the OMs had their own maneuvering engines and solar panels. That capability (military reconnaissance) still exists, even if Shenzhou-7 was outfitted for EVA activity and Shenzhou-8 was equipped for docking with Tiangong-1. Shenzhou-9 is also equipped for docking with Tiangong-1 (Shenzhou-8 being an unmanned precursor mission).

    You might recall that the Soviets used the Salyut designation for both civilian and military versions of their early space stations. It should come as no surprise that Shenzhou (and Tiangong) can also serve a dual purpose, depending on the variant flown. The adaptability built into the basic Shenzhou OM is one of the more impressive aspects of the Chinese design.

    As for the Shenzhou OM having docking ports at both ends (so as to serve as add-on modules for Tiangong-1 and/or subsequent Chinese space stations), haven’t you heard of the Russian Pirs and Poisk modules attached to the International Space Station? Shenzhou OMs could be (and most likely will be) similarly modified to serve the same functions as Pirs and Poisk.

    The Chinese have methodically built their space hardware and infrastructure, giving them more and more capability to do bigger and better things. In addition to their manned space program, the Chinese are developing new, unmanned explorers. The Chang’e-3 lunar rover is now scheduled for launch next year, followed by sample return missions later in the decade.

    Mr. Oler, you might not be impressed with China’s growing space prowess. But I find it very impressive. Moreover, the geopolitical implications of China’s expanding space program cannot be denied — and should not be ignored.

  • pathfinder_01

    William, you should be cheering china along. Another potential partner to split the bill of deep space travel with.

    Anyway I was reading the space review article:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2095/1

    And, a comment mentioned that the Crown did not pay 100% for
    Columbus’s voyage. I looked it up and found that private investors paid 50% of the cost and his three ships were privately owned (the crown did force the owner to give up his ships…). No wonder there were repeat voyages and deeper and deeper exploration! It was affordable! The government didn’t need to build the ships. It didn’t need to pay 100% of the cost and there was potential for a return on investment.

    China on the other hand built a fleet of specially built junks. No wonder they stopped. The cost was enormous and all of it born by the government. Nothing they could have brought back was worth the pay of more than 1,000 sailors per voyage.

    Apollo is much more like the latter than the former. Future moon exploration maybe more like the first than the last no matter what county does it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Its OK you can be impressed I will be entertained. My bar is just a little higher.

    My belief is that the PRC is working to the same sort of capability that (I think) the X-37 is gearing for.. a quick upgrade module mostly for military and other signet stuff. Of course they just could be doing it because they have a lot of money to burn and for sometime a space effort has been the trapping of a great power…and if that is the case then I am even less impressed.

    you wrote:

    “. Moreover, the geopolitical implications of China’s expanding space program cannot be denied — and should not be ignored.”

    those would be what…in your view…just the top two or three. RGO

  • DCSCA

    China has launced its Taikanauts to their spacelab. Congrats, PRC, Go!

  • Now that Shenzhou 9 has launched, I’m waiting to see which politicians will now claim that U.S. security is at stake and will blame Obama.

    Early favorites are:

    * Frank Wolf (R-VA), who once claimed that the Chinese eat babies as a delicacy and has forbidden anyone at NASA from talking to anyone from China.

    * Bill Posey (R-FL), who claims the Chinese intend to conquer the Moon.

    * Sandy Adams (R-FL), who when she took office claimed that U.S. astronauts were being forced to fly on Chinese rockets.

    Any other candidates? Romney, of course, but if he doesn’t tell at least one fib a day he’s slacking.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 11:42 pm
    William Mellberg wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    “Its OK you can be impressed I will be entertained. My bar is just a little higher.”

    No doubt very wet and in your second floor rec room. You’ve produced no evidence to support your an absurd assertion.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Congrats, PRC, Go!

    Which former republic of the Soviet Union did you say you live in? I know you only get your news through “news packages” or foreign rebroadcasts of U.S. TV shows.

    Clearly you’ve chosen sides for who to root for, and it’s not your supposed former native land. Your delusion that Russia is a more reliable partner for NASA than U.S. companies confirms that.

    For instance, you didn’t deride the Chinese for the “been there, done that” of launching a women in space on a Chinese copy of a Soviet spacecraft, and you didn’t deride them for “going around in endless circles” in their Chinese copy of a Soviet space station.

    I guess as long as the Chinese are copying what the Soviets did you’re a happy Putin fanboi. ;-)

    Meanwhile, in America, Congress and the American public are celebrating American ingenuity and private enterprise with the success of the Dragon autonomous spacecraft. Congress is also now behind the development of at least two Commercial Crew spacecraft, which will provide a redundancy that no other nation has for getting people to space and supporting them while they are there – the foundation of our future ability to expand out into space. It’s a great time to be a space fan in America.

    And while the achievements of the Chinese space program are clearly laudable, they join in LEO the crew of another much larger & more capable space station that has been continuously occupied by U.S. personnel for 4,244 days.

    Do they have good shchi where you’re at?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Now you’re a ‘flags and footprint’ guy, eh, cloaking corporatism with the emotional shroud of nationalism even as the very corporatism you embrace owes no loyalties to any nation-state. Desperate, of course. Who would have suspected you could diss the safe success of any human spaceflight operations lofted by any nation, and in this case, a country which hold a great deal of American debt and is a large trading partner for the very corporations you embrace. Hilarious. But thank you for applauding government funded and managed space ops. Except, in the case of the ISS, it’s a Cold War relic, a $100-pluis billion orbiting zombie, as Googaw says, going in circles, no place fast. We’ll peg your grudging admiration to Apollo instead.

    “Meanwhile, in America, Congress is out of town and the American public is celebrating the return of the very retro-80′s ‘Dallas’ and Wallenda wire-walking across Niagara Falls- a thrilling 19th century-styled feat from the past, same night the PRC aimed at tomorrow and lofted three human beings, one a woman, into Earth orbit to the space lab.” There, fixed that for you.

  • Frank Glover

    @ DSCA:

    “Meanwhile, in America, Congress is out of town and the American public is celebrating the return of the very retro-80′s ‘Dallas’ and Wallenda wire-walking across Niagara Falls- a thrilling 19th century-styled feat from the past, same night the PRC aimed at tomorrow and lofted three human beings, one a woman, into Earth orbit to the space lab.”

    But, but…you mean that most of the American public isn’t as interested in these things as I am? I’m shocked!

    Sorry, I figured that one out when my age was in the single numbers. Yes, they ‘=yawn=’ at one more manned (and ‘womanned’ in this case) launch to a space station. Even if it is the ”tomorrow-aiming’ Chinese. They’ve seen it since Skylab and Salyut. Most of them have barely heard of X-37, either. Were it not for ‘the problem,’ (and who wants *that* kind of drama?) even Apollo 13 would have been just another Lunar mission. Even the next Dragon to ISS won’t get the press that the first one did, I fully expect that. A ‘conventional’ commercial Falcon sat launch may get no air time at all.

    The ‘bar’ above which the general public is impressed tends to be higher than anyone’s here. Short of a disaster, you may not get serious, more-or-less enduring public attention until somebody (no matter who it is) gets back to the Moon, and even then for the first few times. (Repeat this scenario for almost any solar system body where a manned landing is possible. Even ‘going someplace’ impresses people, and carries weight for just so long.)

    As I like to put it, crowds no longer gather in Paris because an airplane made a non-stop flight across the Atlantic.

    We get used to *anything,* sorry..

    And actually, frequent, regular (and very preferably low-cost) space access is something we *should* be able to take for granted.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    cloaking corporatism with the emotional shroud of nationalism even as the very corporatism you embrace owes no loyalties to any nation-state.

    According to you, the only alternative to the U.S. Government depending on U.S. companies is for the U.S. Government to depend on foreign countries that we can’t control. Hmm, such a hard choice…

    Let’s ask the average American on the street, shall we? Oh, that’s right, there are no American’s on the streets you live on, since you live in the former Soviet Union.

    OK, I’ll do it here in my coastal community. Here’s what I’ll ask:

    Q: Who would you rather your tax dollars go to pay for our access to space; A) Russia, B) U.S. companies that employ U.S. employees?

    Wow, you’re not going to believe this, but every person I asked thought it was a silly question, since they would choose American companies over foreign countries anytime.

    Oh, and since the U.S. Government depends upon American companies for national security-level type stuff, it has no problem with depending on American companies for routine access to space. Neither does Congress.

    So stop looking so stupid on this subject. No patriotic American is going to choose Russia over SpaceX or any other American space transportation provider.

  • DCSCA

    @Frank Glover wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Which makes you pretty young.

    You don’t recognize these incremental ‘sputnik moments’ when they pass before your eyes- or over your head.

    During the 1960′s and early 1970s, when it was ‘front page’ news, almost daily, 4% of the Federal budget was spent on space ops. By the Reagan era, less than 1%.

    “And actually, frequent, regular (and very preferably low-cost) space access is something we *should* be able to take for granted.” LEO satellite ops have been pretty routing for decades now. Barelty a head turns mor than a momoent when a satellite is lofted from Vandenberg these days.

  • @William Mellberg
    “Moreover, the geopolitical implications of China’s expanding space program cannot be denied — and should not be ignored.”
    Again, if that is true, then we need to abandon SLS, since other options can not only increase our current advantage over the Chinese, but do it relatively soon and more rapidly. So an expanding “Chinese space program” sure as hell isn’t an argument in favor of SLS. Either you are serious about Chinese competition, or you aren’t.

  • pathfinder_01

    “And actually, frequent, regular (and very preferably low-cost) space access is something we *should* be able to take for granted.” LEO satellite ops have been pretty routing for decades now. Barelty a head turns mor than a momoent when a satellite is lofted from Vandenberg these days.

    And they have been commercially run since the 1980ies! Also not all of them are LEO…

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “So an expanding ‘Chinese space program’ sure as hell isn’t an argument in favor of SLS. Either you are serious about Chinese competition, or you aren’t.”

    Mr. Boozer …

    Question: When did I ever make a suggestion that the Chinese space program was an argument in favor of SLS?

    Answer: Never

    In fact, I have rarely written or publicly stated anything about SLS. About all that I’ve ever suggested is that I would not mind having it (or some other heavy lift launch vehicle) should a commitment ever be made to creating a permanently manned lunar base. But I’ve also mentioned that such a goal could be achieved by other means, as Paul Spudis and Tony Lavoie have proposed:

    http://www.moonsociety.org/reports/Spudis_plan_endorsement.html

    Like Dr. Spudis, I’m not as worried about the hardware to be used as I am about the goal to be embraced.

    I have also stated that we cannot have two national space programs — one coming out of the White House, and the other coming from the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue (i.e., Capitol Hill).

    As for the geopolitical implications of China’s space program, here are some quotes from the Xinhua News Agency. They certainly reflect the Chinese view of what their space program means at home and abroad. And it is also clear that the Chinese are willing to invest large amounts of money in their space program and its future.

    Space Program Demonstrates China’s Power

    JIUQUAN, June 17 (Xinhua) — Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo said on Sunday that the current manned space program demonstrated the country’s ever-growing strength.

    “We can proudly say that the program has become a key indicator of the prosperous development of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, said Wu while greeting representatives of the ground crew of the mission.

    The Shenzhou-9 spaceship was successfully launched on Saturday and is scheduled to conduct the country’s first manned space docking with space lab module Tiangong-1 on Monday.

    The mission is important for the second part of China’s three-step manned space mission and will have profound influences, said Wu, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

    He extended congratulations from the central authorities to the personnel and called on them to focus on the mission to ensure success.

    Related:

    Foreign Space Experts Speak Highly of China’s Shenzhou-9 Launch

    BEIJING, June 17 (Xinhua) — The successful launch of China’s Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, intended to complete an automated docking procedure and a manual docking, has drawn great interest from foreign space experts who note the mission marks the growing maturity of China’s manned space program.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    “No patriotic American is going to choose Russia over SpaceX or any other American space transportation provider.”

    Except they have.

    Progress has been servicing LEO space platfroms for decades, including the ISS, for decades and U.S. personnel fly up aboard Soyuz. And your ‘flags and footprints’ pitch cloaks corporatism with the emotional shroud of nationalism even as the very corporatism you embrace owes no loyalties to any nation-state. but if you’re going to embract the ‘flags and footprints’ pitch, it’s nive to see you coming around and embracing government space ops. And Space X is not capable of carrying humans to LEO BTW. They have failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody. And it is an expensive and wasteful redundancy to a doomed-to splash-LEO space platform..THen y label American astronauts who ride Soyuz to the ISS “unpatriotic!!” Hilarious.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    DCSCA – Wrong actually. No-one has chosen Roscosmos’s services. They have had the advantage of a near-monopoly and political paralysis in the US to allow them to exploit it. Once (if) other options become available, Russia’s monopoly will weaken and vanish.

  • @William Mellberg
    “Mr. Boozer …

    Question: When did I ever make a suggestion that the Chinese space program was an argument in favor of SLS?
    Not necessarily directly, but implicitly. You have made no secret that you support SLS and have even stated it is a practical alternative to other options (when studies that compare SLS to alternatives clearly indicate it is not and the independent Booz-Allen report says SLS will probably blow its budget 4 to 5 years out). My point is, that since SLS is something that will not increase our advantage over the Chinese whilst even possibly decreasing it and you cite the Chinese closing the gap as a threat, then your support of SLS is counterproductive to your aim of not giving the Chinese any advantage.

    BTW, if you are sincere about that aim, then I share it with you. I just want to go with whatever will advance America along that road in the fastest, most economical and safest way; thus, I don’t have a loyalty to any particular launcher. If ULA, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, hell, if even ATK could show they could do it with greater efficacy, then I’m game. If SLS had any advantage over the rest, I would be for it. But the sad fact is, it doesn’t.

  • Dave Hall

    @DCSCA wrote:
    And Space X is not capable of carrying humans to LEO BTW. They have failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody.

    That’s just rediculous, SpaceX are well down the critical path towards flying crew on the twice-flown Dragon capsule, with or without more NASA funding. The thrice-flown Falcon 9 rocket is perfectly capable of carrying humans. The chances of success within three years are highly likely, including the building of a pioneering escape and landing system.

    As much as it must distress you, Musk is the man with the plan, and he’s always working on it. His credibility is growing at an accelerating rate. In a 19-minute audio-only interview in March with the BBC he declares that he’ll release his Mars strategy later this year …. that’ll be sure to generate heaps of debate.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17439490

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Listen Putin-boy, Russian monopolies, no matter how benign you think they may be, are still monopolies. As Ben rightly points out, we have no choice but to use Soyuz for crew.

    But we here in America want competition and choice, and you’re on the wrong side of history.

    American cargo now, American crew next.

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “You have made no secret that you support SLS …”

    I’ve offered no such support at any time in any forum. What I have endorsed on many occasions is the Spudis-Lavoie plan (which is SLS “neutral”). Put your acrimony on hold and re-read what I wrote above.

  • @William Mellberg
    Some months ago on this very forum you indicated that opposition to SLS was equivalent to opposition to U.S. flight beyond LEO. You said that was true because SLS was now NASA’s stated method for going beyond LEO and backed by the Obama administration; therefore, my anti-SLS position meant that I was against the U.S. going beyond LEO. I countered this proclamation from you by pointing out that what I and others supported was the original plan put forth by the administration before SLS was conjured up. That original plan had a provision for beyond LEO flight that did not include SLS; thus, your conclusion that opposition to SLS meant opposition to beyond LEO flight was false. I further informed you in the same comment that SLS was “a deal with the devil” that the administration went along with in order to get Commercial Crew funded.

    Now if your opinion of SLS has evolved beyond that in the interim, I commend you for it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 2:53 am

    posted a quote from a story that was

    ““We can proudly say that the program has become a key indicator of the prosperous development of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, said Wu while greeting representatives of the ground crew of the mission.”

    it is really thin gruel when the “how great we are” statements by nations or people are taken as any indication of the power of a particular effort. I have no doubt that the folks in the PRC are as a group watching this play out (I am enjoying watching the video) and sustaining both a great deal of pride in their country and a modicum of “we are great” as a nation sort of thoughts.

    These efforts tend to do that, and they are used by leaders to rev up the population both good and ill. Mr. Bush 43 landed on the CVN riding in a Navy Jet… and declared mission accomplished in large measure to generate the “Team USA” chants as well.

    None of these of course mean anything in terms of 1) the affect/effect outside of the intended audience and 2) long term history. Just as Bush43 declaring “mission accomplished” was a lie designed to chant up the war machine and only served to hide the truth for a bit…

    …I am a little kinder here…the entire Chinese space program at least as far as humans are concerned probably has no real mission other then to chant up the machine of the state and to try and paper over some of teh enormous challenges the “socialist regime” has.

    That is why I feel as I do about it. Actually it is not getting much press here in the US…not even the right wing zenophobes are pounding on it to hard…the inside shots of the “space station” seem to be “less” RGO

  • Frank Glover

    @Frank Glover wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    “Which makes you pretty young.”

    Maybe by redwood tree standards…

    Just so you know, I was born in 1954, you can do the math as to when my age was in the mid-single numbers, and I was a ‘space geek’ from then on.. I learned *early* on, that many people don’t care about these things as much as I, and if anything, attention spans seem ever shorter. This is not from historical accounts, this is what I’ve seen when it was current events. (and okay, I wasn’t around for Lindbergh, that *is* what books and history class are for)

    Any program built on constant public excitement, and not sufficiently low-cost as to be pretty much off the Federal funding radar (no one even asks what it costs to maintain human research in Antarctica…mature transportation technologies are a large part of that, in spite of being unavailable for the Antarctic winter), is doomed to be axed.

    ““And actually, frequent, regular (and very preferably low-cost) space access is something we *should* be able to take for granted.”

    “LEO satellite ops have been pretty routing for decades now. Barelty a head turns mor than a momoent when a satellite is lofted from Vandenberg these days.”

    Still not quite so much for manned flights. Those users are willing to bear high launch costs for their purposes. I’m still waiting for the lower costs, and the additional applications that can bring, that aren’t currently economical or practical. As has been said, you don’t design the capacity of a bridge, based on the number of people already swimming across the river.

    You’re discussing the swimmers.

    But more to the point, commercial launches don’t in any way *require* public interest, excitement, or support, just enough users of the service (often transparently…when did you last see a TV transmission captioned ‘via satellite?’) provided to be profitable. Manned space needs to get to that same point.

    No, ‘exploration is not exploitation.’ But unless ‘exploration’ is pretty affordable, if it comes from the public’s pockets, it’ll be short-lived. I saw (ans was as surprised as any ‘Child of Apollo’) the post-Apollo wind-down. But I came to understand that exploration and science were secondary to its geopolitical goals, which *were* met. (even if the then-Soviets denied ever having been in a ‘race,’ once it was clear that they could not win…and sadly, many people bought the lie, but that’s another story))

    If you want a human ‘exploration’ program today, it cannot be of a nature that requires Cold War based motivations and the deep government pockets that came with it..They aren’t there any more. This is not to say that we have no adversaries, of course we do. But the world *has* changed. Our current adversaries either don’t care about our space prowess, or have a fair amount of their own, and not as much to prove.

    ‘Exploitation’ at least tends to keep you out there on its own, and has more incentive to lower its own costs…for any user. Even explorers.

    But, what do it know? I’m ‘pretty young…’

  • DCSCA

    @Dave Hall wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 10:06 am

    “That’s just rediculous, SpaceX are well down the critical path…”

    Except it’s not. So save a tree and stop w/t press releases.

    This is strictly a business matter. A firm was cintracted to deliver goods and services and failed repeatedly to meet its own publish schedules as advertised even with favorable contractual modifications. It is mid 2012-to date they have lofted two test flights, 17 months apart, one carrrying a wheel of cheese, the other delivering 1,000 lbs. of sundries— late. And at a cost of over $800 million-plus this far.What’s worse, it is a redundant system as Progress and Soyuz are operational, routinely servicing LEO space platforms for four decades. Progress has been automatically docking to LEO space platfroms for over 34 years–including the latest orbiting zombie, as Googaw calls it, the ISS. And at a cost of over At $60 million/seat for round trips on Soyuz, that $800 million would finance 13-14 astronaut runs to the ISS, and w/2 a year for six month stays, that puts you into calendar year 2018 or so, to a doomed-to-splash LEO space platform headed for a Pacific grave by 2020 or there abouts. It’s a waste. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no place fast.

    “Musk is the man with the plan…”

    Except hes not, unless you advocate government subsidizing private firms, aka corporate socialism. But then he is planning to retire on ‘Mars’, isn’t he…. more likely Mars, Pennsylvania is the plan.

    What’s ridiculous is the Magnified Importance of Diminshed Vision hyped by NewSpace dweebs. In case you need reminding, Space X has failed to launch any crews aboard any Dragon spacecraft into orbit and return them safely.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 11:20 am

    “But we here in America want competition and choice…”

    Which is why Henry Ford instructed ‘Americans’ that they could have a Model T in any color they wanted as long as it was black. Peddling the contracts/corporatist line, as usual. You’re a regular Arthur Jensen, the consumate corporatist, playing at being Howard Beale. =eyeroll= You should have learned a hard lesson in 2008 about the college of corporations, ebb and flow, etc. . Apparently you didn’t. You’ve got a lot to learn about what you believe is ‘competition and choice.’

  • Vladislaw

    “DCSCA wrote:
    And Space X is not capable of carrying humans to LEO BTW. They have failed to launch, orbit and safely return anybody.

    Dave Hall responding:

    That’s just rediculous, SpaceX are well down the critical path towards flying crew on the twice-flown Dragon capsule, with or without more NASA funding.”

    It doesn’t matter how logical and conclusive results are, he simply moves the goal posts, next it will be Musk has never orbited the Moon, then he has never landed on the moon, then he hasn’t went to mars yet.

    Ole’ DC society for creative anacronms has a whole list ready to keep him going the next decade.

  • Coastal Ron

    Putin-boy (aka DCSCA) wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Which is why Henry Ford…

    … didn’t take over the world. Or haven’t you noticed?

    People want choice. And your car example proves MY point very well, since there have been over 180 brands of cars – and too many car models to count.

    You are really dense about this, huh?

    American cargo now. American crew next.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Which is why Henry Ford instructed ‘Americans’ that they could have a Model T in any color they wanted as long as it was black. Peddling the contracts/corporatist line, as usual. You’re a regular Arthur Jensen, the consumate corporatist, playing at being Howard Beale. =eyeroll= You should have learned a hard lesson in 2008 about the college of corporations, ebb and flow, etc. . Apparently you didn’t. You’ve got a lot to learn about what you believe is ‘competition and choice.’”

    Wow, a real live communist. I only knew one other. They are so rare.

    Anyway without competition and choice we’d still be driving around in model T’s! Competition in the case of the model T, brought about the whole aftermarket parts industry as people wanted choices/improvements on the Model T. In fact the Dodge brothers made their fortune making aftermarket parts for the model T and latter they started the Dodge motor company. Competition is what led to the end of the model T, when as its year over year sales dropped until one day it was the 2nd most sold car in the US and forced Ford to bring about the model A. Competition is what brought the rise of GM when it bought Chevy and put it against Ford.

    Lack of completion is why Soyuz, Progress, and the Shuttle flew and are flying so long with only modifications. In the case of Soyuz, it limits who can go to the ISS since you have to be able to fit into the capsule there are NASA astronauts who can’t do ISS missions because they are too tall. In Progress’s case it can’t bring down anything which limits science and engineering experiments. In the Shuttle’s case it was high cost due to high labor requirements.

    Without competition and choice things do not improve at all, see the trabant.

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “Some months ago on this very forum you indicated that opposition to SLS was equivalent to opposition to U.S. flight beyond LEO. You said that was true because SLS was now NASA’s stated method for going beyond LEO and backed by the Obama administration …”

    My point was that if the Obama Administration is serious about sending humans to asteroids (and I don’t believe they are), then NASA shouldn’t be foot dragging on the SLS. If the SLS is not the chosen vehicle for an asteroid mission, then NASA should identify some other launch system for getting astronauts to asteroids. But according to the NASA website, SLS is the way to go:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/646993main_SLS_Info_Sheet.pdf

    The question that still hasn’t been answered is: “Go where?” After more than two years, the Obama Administration hasn’t provided any details of the asteroid missions which supposedly replaced a lunar outpost as NASA’s next goal for human spaceflight Beyond Earth Orbit. The President praises SpaceX and Dragon, but he barely says a word about NASA and Orion. I find that curious.

    Mr. Boozer, I was playing devil’s advocate with my comments about the SLS in the thread you cite. You apparently took my tongue in cheek remarks literally. But you would be hard-pressed to find anything that I’ve said here or anywhere else that provides unequivocal support for the SLS. Again, the point I was trying to make is that the SLS is a vehicle without a mission, since (in my opinion) the Obama Administration’s 2025 “asteroid mission” is a sham.

    Rick Boozer also wrote:

    “I further informed you in the same comment that SLS was ‘a deal with the devil’ that the Administration went along with in order to get Commercial Crew funded.”

    Which is why I have repeatedly said that we cannot have two national space programs — one devised in secret at the White House and the other cobbled in confusion on Capitol Hill. The end result is a vehicle for which no genuine mission exists. It is the ineptness of President Obama and his minions (Holdren, Bolden, Garver) that has put them in the ridiculous position of touting a rocket on NASA’s website which they don’t really support:

    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/

    Rick Boozer further stated:

    “Now if your opinion of SLS has evolved beyond that in the interim, I commend you for it.”

    My opinion of SLS has been the same all along. IF (and that’s a big IF) we were to commit this country to the goal of building a permanently manned outpost on the lunar surface, I would be happy to have the SLS (if it were available). But since I don’t believe the Obama Administration is serious about human exploration Beyond Earth Orbit, there does not appear to be any current need for the SLS; and if President Romney doesn’t commit the United States to manned missions in deep space, it is obvious what the vehicle’s fate will be.

    However, should a growing sense of competition from the Chinese persuade the Romney Administration to reverse course and send NASA back to the Moon, the SLS (or something like it) could certainly be part of any new plan.

    The common thread running through ALL of these arguments is the inability of the Obama Administration to put together a space policy which could capture imaginations and garner widespread support. A small group of Obama political appointees who were adamantly opposed to lunar return (perhaps because it was associated with George W. Bush) failed to provide NASA with a coherent, alternative strategy to the Constellation Program. The end result for the past three years has been utter chaos and endless debate.

    I have no idea what the Romney Administration will do in terms of space policy. But given Mr. Romney’s past business experience, my guess is that his Administration will certainly do better than Mr. Obama’s in this regard — crafting a clear policy and enlisting the support of Congressional leaders BEFORE rolling out any new plan.

    Perhaps the thing that impresses me most about China’s space program is that they put together a plan more than a decade ago, and they’ve stuck with it ever since. That is what America’s space program so desperately needs. Sadly, we have been “lost in space” for the past 3-1/2 years.

    As Neil Armstrong said in his House testimony two years ago:

    “A normally collegial sector of society [the space community] was split into many fragments, some focused on contracts and money, some on work force and jobs, some on technical choices. All because a few planners, with little or no space operations experience, attempted an end run on the normal process. It has been painful to watch.”

    Indeed, it has.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    You have to haver players in a game to warrant moving ‘goal posts’ and in case yuo haven’t noticed. Space X has failed to launch, orbit and safely return any crewed capsules. The PRC has, but then, they have some skin in the game, don’t they. But then, they fly for long term geopolitical purposes. NewSpace is chasing contracts, going in circles, no place fast..

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Well said. You keep hitting home runs like this and we’ll have to call the Yankees and get you a set of pin-stripes. ;-).

    @Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 8:35 am
    Except they were chosen and locked in as the ISS designs were finalized for the umpteenth time.

  • Scott Bass

    Hi everyone…. Trying to catch up on the latest space politics as I have let it slide the last few week…. Politics in general really, got a question though…. Are there any likely events this summer that will public ally pin down a destination and date for SLS ….. Curious because I think it was last fall that speculated an announcement by the Obama administration this summer to stave off GOP criticism…. Now though that Romney does not have a plan either I wonder if both parties will just let it slide.
    On a lighter note, my kids got me a really cool dragon spaceX hat from the cape store for fathers day, it has the purple dragon on front and SpaceX on the back… Nice quality too, highly recommended, I was thrilled ;)

  • Dave Hall

    @DCSCA wrote:
    “What’s ridiculous is the Magnified Importance of Diminshed Vision hyped by NewSpace dweebs. In case you need reminding, Space X has failed to launch any crews aboard any Dragon spacecraft into orbit and return them safely”

    Repeating your favourite meme set over and over again in every posting like a fundamentalist preacher does not make them convincing. There is nothing diminshed about the goal of going to Mars and making life multi-planetary, which is the often stated purpose of SpaceX. Musk is fortunate to have America in which to steadily and step-by-step grow his vision and America (and the world) is fortunate to have Musk and his proven highly effective team to lead the way. It’s the dawn of a new era in both space exploitation and exploration. Another decade of accelerating progress and it will be midday.

    Musk has made it clear that the next critical path item before lifting crew is their pioneering escape and landing system … so labling SpaceX as a failure for not yet having reached that milestone is simply inaccurate. But that’s clearly your new favourite meme which will undoubtably be repeated as often possible until it’s proven false in a few years.

  • @William Mellberg
    “If the SLS is not the chosen vehicle for an asteroid mission, then NASA should identify some other launch system for getting astronauts to asteroids. But according to the NASA website, SLS is the way to go:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/646993main_SLS_Info_Sheet.pdf

    The link you cite merely says SLS is the chosen method and describes only SLS. Again, SLS was not chosen because it is the best way to go, but because it uses the existing shuttle base of hardware and workers. The link you cite is not a comparison of the relative merits of a shuttle-derived heavy lifter versus alternative architectures for doing deep space expeditions. Such comparative studies even by NASA that do a side-by-side break down of multiple methods for doing deep space flight show that using SLS is the least effective and least practical of schemes, as is pointed out in this NASA study that has been mentioned to you and others numerous times before.
    http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/21.jul2011.vxs.pdf

    There are other such comparative studies with similar conclusions that you and others have been told about at numerous times. You guys always just point to sources saying that SLS will do this or SLS will do that (like the link you posted), but you never point to extensive studies by NASA, industry, or universities showing side-by-side comparison studies that do a direct comparison of SLS versus other plans.

    As for Spudis ideas, they are all based on the central premise that access to lunar resources are a necessary first step for deep space travel. That may indeed be necessary in the long run, but before practical initial development of those lunar resources occurs there will need to be more economical ways of getting cargo and crew up from Earth’s surface; otherwise, the up-front costs of lunar in situ resource development will be too costly. Clark Lindsey points out some of the flaws in Spudis’ thinking here:
    http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=19233

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “You have to haver players in a game to warrant moving ‘goal posts’ and in case yuo haven’t noticed. Space X has failed to launch, orbit and safely return any crewed capsules. “

    Apple corp, like SpaceX, has also failed to launch orbit and safely return a crewed capsules. This could be because neither company has tried. Neither company has promised a date to try. But I guess that a company who has never tried anything can not use that as an excuse in your mind.

    In your mind, EVERY single company that has never said they were financing on their own, a human LEO product are still guilty for not doing it.

    Show me the quotes were SpaceX said they were working on getting a capsule launched, by X date on their own dime?

    They only started on the human side when CCDEV started. So Professor Gas Can tell me why they should have launched a product they had not planned on launching on YOUR timeline?

    EVERY company is guilty of not launching under your rules. Doesn’t matter they were not planning on it in the immediate future, they still failed.

    Why are you not howling at Boeing for not launching a capsule? They, like spacex, never said they were doing it before CCDEV but they are obviously as guilty as spacex. Actually all companies in the aerospace industry are equally as guilty as spacex, for failing to launch a capsule they never said they were planning on immediatlly launching.

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “As for Spudis ideas, they are all based on the central premise that access to lunar resources are a necessary first step for deep space travel.”

    Which is a premise I fully embrace since accessing lunar resources (water, in particular) can lead to a self-sustaining ‘space station’ (a lunar base) where every drop of water, every molecule of air and every morsel of food does not need to be carried up from Earth.

    BTW, you might want to check the latest ideas from Dr. Spudis about the geopolitical implications of China’s space program and its lunar ambitions at:

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/

    As usual, Dr. Spudis hits the nail squarely on the head.

    Back to the SLS …

    The reason I provided the link to NASA’s website describing the SLS is because this demonstrates the absurd position President Obama and his sycophants at NASA have put this country into … touting the development of a launch vehicle they actually oppose because of their political ineptitude (i.e., their inability to ‘sell’ their own space policy). Apparently, you still don’t understand that I am not endorsing the SLS. Rather, I am criticizing the Obama Administration for bringing us to the point where we have a White House space program and a Congressional space program. What an absurd and costly situation. But typical of this utterly failed presidency.

  • @ William Mellberg
    “Which is a premise I fully embrace since accessing lunar resources (water, in particular) can lead to a self-sustaining ‘space station’ (a lunar base) where every drop of water, every molecule of air and every morsel of food does not need to be carried up from Earth.
    And both you and Dr. Spudis seem to not understand that Lindsey, I and a lot of other people also think ” accessing lunar resources (water, in particular) can lead to a self-sustaining ‘space station’ (a lunar base) where every drop of water, every molecule of air and every morsel of food does not need to be carried up from Earth.” But reasonable cost to orbit for the people and initial machinery must come from Earth first. There is no other way around that particular “chicken and egg” conundrum. But there is no use talking to a true Spudite when the High Priest speaks.

    BTW, I do indeed understand NOW that you are not pushing SLS, but you made no comment at the earlier time that you were “playing devil’s advocate with my comments about the SLS in the thread you cite.” There was no indication of anything being “tongue in cheek”.

    Apparently, what you say is more about Obama bashing (btw I am not an Obamite) than it is about what is a technically rational way forward into the space frontier. There are a number of things about the administration of which I do not approve, but I am not talking election year politics.

  • Correction:
    “But reasonable cost to orbit for the people and initial machinery must come from Earth first”
    Should read:
    “But reasonable cost to orbit for the people and initial machinery that must come from Earth has to happen first”

  • common sense

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/

    “As usual, Dr. Spudis hits the nail squarely on the head.”

    Excerpt from link above:

    “What does this mean for the United States? To listen to many in the space press, nothing. A quick yawn and then back to propagandizing for more federal dollars to be passed on to new space companies.”

    Why is he so intent in destroying his credibility, whatever is left of it? Even if the rest of the article might have some sense this sentence above is pathetic. And I am not surprised as to who support such nonsense.

  • common sense

    “Apparently, what you say is more about Obama bashing (btw I am not an Obamite) than it is about what is a technically rational way forward into the space frontier. ”

    And this where the rubber hits the road. All he is saying has to do with that by his own admittance. Hell with the technical relevance, the economics and the rest.

    His point again:

    “Apparently, you still don’t understand that I am not endorsing the SLS. Rather, I am criticizing the Obama Administration for bringing us to the point where we have a White House space program and a Congressional space program. What an absurd and costly situation. But typical of this utterly failed presidency.”

    I wish the so-called advocates would just shut the heck up at least once in a while but hey what can we do?

    Oh well.

  • @Common Sense
    “Why is he so intent in destroying his credibility, whatever is left of it? Even if the rest of the article might have some sense this sentence above is pathetic. And I am not surprised as to who support such nonsense.
    Agreed. Clark noticed this latest statement in Paul’s latest AirSpace Mag article“”Many in the U.S. space community argue that the development of commercial launch services through federal subsidies is a goal”. http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/

    And Clark called him on that piece of GIGO thusly:
    “No, the development of commercial launch services will make goals in space affordable. There will be no practical use of the Moon without significant decreases in the cost of access to space from earth. The best route to achieving lower cost is through competition among innovative companies, all of which have large amounts of private investment at stake. NASA’s anchor customer role in encouraging this is a proper one that is specified in its charter. Furthermore, the agency desperately needs lower cost access to carry out its missions.”

    http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=38858

    In other words the idea behind commercial launch services is to give us the means of reaching goals in space (such as lunar resource utilization). Saying commercial launch services are meant to be an ultimate goal in and of itself is utter B.S. and borders on the idiotic.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Why is he so intent in destroying his credibility, whatever is left of it? Even if the rest of the article might have some sense this sentence above is pathetic. And I am not surprised as to who support such nonsense.

    Spudis is no doubt a smart and accomplished guy, but he is zealot for his beliefs and he severely dislikes anything that gets funding that is not directly supporting a return to the Moon.

    Obama doesn’t support going back to the Moon as NASA’s next beyond-LEO HSF mission, so Spudis disparages the Obama exploration goal. No big surprise, but he ends up being the exact kind of person that Armstrong talks about when he talks about the space community being fractured. How ironic.

    Of course what he and many others forget is that there was no plan to go back to the Moon for 30 years before the VSE, and the more universal goal is reaching Mars – the Moon is just some sort of stop along the way. That’s why MSL stands for “Mars” Science Laboratory, not “Moon”.

    Bottom line though is that Spudis feels that if government money is going to be spent, then it should be spent on subsidizing the extraction of lunar resources. It doesn’t matter how expensive that may be in competition to other resources – the laws of supply and demand are to be suspended. Hard to argue with someone that won’t consider money to be important…

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “But there is no use talking to a true Spudite when the High Priest speaks.”

    Mr. Boozer, neither I nor Dr. Spudis have a problem with lowering the cost of access to space. That ought to be obvious. In fact, if you’ve read the Spudis-Lavoie plan, you know that Paul Spudis would welcome the opportunity for “commercial” space to play a role not only in lunar development, but also in the creation of a cislunar transportation system.

    The point Dr. Spudis and I keep making is that PARALLEL with the development of “commercial” space should be the early stages of lunar development. Go back and read the Spudis-Lavoie plan. It’s all about “affordability.”

    Your reference to me as a “Spudite” and to Dr. Spudis as a “High Priest” does nothing to raise the level of this exchange. Should I be calling you a “Musketeer” or Clark Lindsey a High Priest? Give me a break.

    There is room here for an adult conversation. But not when people resort to childish name-calling.

  • @William Mellberg
    “Mr. Boozer, neither I nor Dr. Spudis have a problem with lowering the cost of access to space.”
    That may be so, but repeated statements by Dr. Spudis (such as the one mentioned in my previous post), seem to indicate that he thinks it has very little to do with going back and establishing a presence on the Moon. I repeat, the initial part of the endeavor (shipping a sufficient amount of equipment to the Moon to get things started, as well as people even if they come later) can only happen in an economically practical and sustainable manner after the access to LEO costs go down.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    neither I nor Dr. Spudis have a problem with lowering the cost of access to space. That ought to be obvious.

    Spudis has been dismissive of commercial efforts of lowering the cost to access space for many years now.

    I’m sure you’re aware of the term “NewSpace” and how it can be used in a derogatory or dismissive fashion – and that’s the way Spudis uses it. Which is funny, since Boeing, Orbital Sciences and Sierra Nevada could hardly be called “new” to the space industry.

    I think part of the reason Spudis doesn’t like the efforts of companies like SpaceX is that it takes away the economic rationale for mining anything on the Moon. Lowering the cost to access space is antithetical to his goal of setting up mining on the Moon because it takes away the need for resources from the Moon. Why spend $87B to mine water on the Moon when you can ship it from Earth for far less than that?

    Spudis is part of the reason there is a schism in the space community, in that like Zubrin for Mars there is no middle ground, no give. They are both goal oriented, which historically has proved to be a very expensive way to do exploration.

    The alternative that I and many others support is a capability-based exploration plan, which long ago was epitomized by the “spiral development” proposals that Griffin dumped. Commercial cargo and crew supports that, in that it moves the starting point for missions off of Earth and into LEO (or even beyond).

    We can never build a big enough rocket to take care of our exploration needs, and we shouldn’t. We do the vast amount of our construction and exploration here on Earth using fungible forms of transportation, and we can do it in space too if only we could stop the fratricide that is going on between the various destination supporters.

  • common sense

    “this demonstrates the absurd position President Obama and his sycophants at NASA have put this country into”

    And of course this is adult language, non inflammatory and with no name calling.

    What is it they about the kettle and the pot?

    Comedian is it not?

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    ” I repeat, the initial part of the endeavor (shipping a sufficient amount of equipment to the Moon to get things started, as well as people even if they come later) can only happen in an economically practical and sustainable manner after the access to LEO costs go down.”

    Mr. Boozer, I think a legitimate question is: How far do you want those “access to LEO costs” to go down before we go back to the Moon … or beyond? What is an “affordable” price to pay for launch services? How long are we supposed to wait before we explore the potential for utilizing lunar resources (e.g., with robotic spacecraft) or bring samples back from Mars?

    This is why I believe a PARALLEL path should be followed — creating more cost effective launch systems for accessing LEO (and beyond) while beginning the process of deep space development (starting with robotic explorers at the lunar poles).

    The Obama Administration talks about exploring deep space. But it has turned a blind eye toward the Moon and recently dropped out of ExoMars.

    http://www.universetoday.com/93512/experts-react-to-obama-slash-to-nasas-mars-and-planetary-science-exploration/

    To quote from the above article:

    “Ed Weiler is NASA’s recently retired science mission chief (now replaced by Grunsfeld) and negotiated the ExoMars program with ESA. Weiler actually quit NASA specifically in opposition to the Mars Program cuts ordered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and had these comments for CBS News … ‘To me, it’s bizarro world,’ Weiler said an interview with CBS News. ‘Why would you do this? The President of the United States, President Obama, declared Mars to be the ultimate destination for human exploration. Obviously, before you send humans to the vicinity of Mars or even to land on Mars, you want to know as much about the planet as you possibly can. You need a sample return mission. The president also established a space policy a few years ago which had the concept of encouraging all agencies to have more and more foreign collaboration, to share the costs and get more for the same bucks. Two years ago, because of budget cuts in the Mars program, I had to appeal to Europe to merge our programs. That process took two long years of very delicate negotiations. We thought we were following the president’s space policy exactly. Congressional reaction was very positive about our activities. You put those factors in place and you have to ask, why single out Mars? I don’t have an answer.’”

    Nor do I.

    “Mars rover scientist Prof. Jim Bell of Arizona State University and President of The Planetary Society (TPS) told Universe Today that ‘no one expects increases, but cuts of this magnitude are cause for concern.’”

    Indeed, they are.

    And even some of President Obama’s supporters are expressing their disappointment …

    “Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, said in a statement, ‘When you cut NASA’s budget in this way, you’re losing sight of why we explore space in the first place.’”

    That is what a lot of us think.

    NASA has lost its way under the Obama Administration.

    Meanwhile, China follows its slow, but steady course.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Lowering the cost to access space is antithetical to his goal of setting up mining on the Moon because it takes away the need for resources from the Moon. Why spend $87B to mine water on the Moon when you can ship it from Earth for far less than that?”

    Ron, once a lunar base has been established and water ice is being harvested, there will be no need to ship resources from Earth. The Moon is a natural “space station” where water can be tapped, oxygen can be produced and food can be grown.

    Two of the most important resources in building new settlements in the Old West were potable water and arable land. Potable water and arable land will be important on the Moon, as well (and on Mars). If we are to fulfill Elon Musk’s dream of becoming a multi-planetary species, potable water and arable land will be needed, as will oxygen and hydrogen.

    The Moon is the logical place to develop and prove the technology and hardware needed to live off the land on other worlds.

    Which is why, as Spudis and Lavoie have proposed, we should start by sending robotic explorers to the Moon to further evaluate the availability and accessibility of water ice at the lunar poles. We have the launch vehicles today to do that sort of thing. All we’re lacking is the will.

    Meanwhile, China is planning to send Chang’e 3 to the lunar surface next year.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    The Obama Administration talks about exploring deep space. But it has turned a blind eye toward the Moon and recently dropped out of ExoMars.

    The Moon is not deep space, so why do you even mention it?

    And have you forgotten the asteroid mission Obama proposed? THAT is deep space. Moon advocates don’t like that though, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

    Nor do I. [why ExoMars was cut]

    Congress is not giving NASA more money, so what would you trade in the budget for ExoMars?

    JWST? It’s what caused the ExoMars program to be cancelled.

    SLS? There are still no funded requirements for this rocket, so why not push it out? Remember Obama originally didn’t want to build it right away, but Congress wanted to save jobs.

    You blame everything on the President, but Congress has some responsibility – in some cases a much larger responsibility with small departments like NASA that get rolled into much more “important” budgets. Congress could have funded ExoMars, but didn’t – what does that say?

  • @Coastal Ron
    “The Moon is not deep space, so why do you even mention it?”
    I have to disagree with you on that one, Ron. Though the Moon orbits within the Earth’s gravity well, it is outside of the radiation protection of the van Allen belts to the same extent as interplanetary space. So from the point of view of human space travel, that would be deep space. If a CME snagged a crew on the way to the Moon, they would be just as dead as if it happened on the way to Mars. The Apollo astronauts had both a solar minimum and luck on their side.

    The rest of your comment regarding budget cuts is spot on.

  • @William Mellberg
    “This is why I believe a PARALLEL path should be followed — creating more cost effective launch systems for accessing LEO (and beyond) while beginning the process of deep space development.
    Such a PARALLEL path was exactly what was originally proposed before SLS was added to the mix, though not specifically back to the Moon as an ultimate goal. And don’t hand me that crap about Obama should not have compromised. It’s a question of picking the battles that you can win at any particular time. The administration knew it couldn’t get everything it wanted, so it settled for most of what it wanted knowing that some time down the line (as commercial proved itself and SLS became more and more of quagmire) that a more sane path of going beyond LEO would eventually get adopted.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Though the Moon orbits within the Earth’s gravity well, it is outside of the radiation protection of the van Allen belts to the same extent as interplanetary space.

    That would be one aspect, just as once you leave the Earth’s surface you start accumulating more and more deleterious attributes such as less gravity, heating & cooling issues, and more radiation.

    But the Moon is only a couple of days away from Earth, so from the standpoint of distance (when compared to going to an asteroid or traveling to Mars) the Moon is not “deep space”.

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    “The Moon is the logical place to develop and prove the technology and hardware needed to live off the land on other worlds.”

    “Logical”. What is logical about our Moon? I wonder the kind of logic that is. The resources on our Moon are the same as those on Mars for example? The landing on the Moon is in any way similar to that of Mars? The distance for signal reception between the Earth and the Moon is the same as that with Mars? Where does ISS stand in this logic? Does it have a place? What about a station at some L point?

    Rick, you know, with some people there is hope and it is worth conversing in a more or less cordial or heated fashion.

    With others…

  • @Common Sense
    That wasn’t my comment you quoted, it was Mellberg’s.

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 11:41 am

    “@Common Sense
    That wasn’t my comment you quoted, it was Mellberg’s.”

    I know. I was just trying to expose the issue(s) with him…

  • pathfinder_01

    “Ron, once a lunar base has been established and water ice is being harvested, there will be no need to ship resources from Earth. The Moon is a natural “space station” where water can be tapped, oxygen can be produced and food can be grown.”

    Not quite. In the case of food plants need Nitrogen to produce amino acids. The moon is low on that element, there is some ammonia in the craters but. In short you may need to ship in fertilizer. There are also so health questions about living in a 100% oxygen environment long term: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/72299.php so again you may have to bring in Nitrogen. Which will cost how much when shipped from earth? On Earth we have the Nitrogen cycle.

    The moon also lacks oil without which you don’t get plastics, synthetic rubber, and other materials. How do you repair your space suite or airlock without a rubber seal? Can you imagine a world without plastics(something we have been using in one form or another for 100 years).

    Even in the case of food generation some plants are not pratical to grow in a green house. For instance apples, peacans, walnuts, alomonds, lemons, and figs all come from trees. Which might have a problem fitting in the green house and likewise what do you do for products made of wood?

    In short you’re going to be importing stuff to the moon for a long time unless star trek like technology (the replicator) gets invented.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    “Obama doesn’t support going back to the Moon as NASA’s next beyond-LEO HSF mission…”

    Except he did. While he was Candidate Obama. Which makes Obama disingenuous, a typical pol or just an outright liar. More likely, he has no interest in space and delivered a statement at KSC in 4/10 based on policy recomendations from contract-loving commercialists like Garver.putting space in the out box for Term 1 and moved on to more pressing economic problems. Poor decision. Bad policy. No vision. He has no interest in space exploration.

    “I’m sure you’re aware of the term “NewSpace” and how it can be used in a derogatory or dismissive fashion – and that’s the way Spudis uses it. Which is funny, since Boeing, Orbital Sciences and Sierra Nevada could hardly be called “new” to the space industry.”

    As a corporatist, you need re-schooled and reminded that these firms are, true to form, following along, cashing in where they can. Which is not leading the way in this field. That is the history of commercial space ops. It has never led the way, but always followed along in the wake of government space exploration efforts, cashing in where it could. Their goal is to secure contracts and make a buck, not advance space exploration. Your beloved Space X is no different. Space exploitation is not space exploration. Find a resource on Luna to exploit for profit, and they’d take off–well… like a rocket. See 1950′s ‘Destination Moon’ for a business plan. It was a good one- provided you find uranium outcrops in the craters. Today, it may very well be water, instead.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    once a lunar base has been established and water ice is being harvested, there will be no need to ship resources from Earth.

    So you’re saying that our Antarctic base should be self-sufficient because all they need to survive is the ice outside their building? No food needed, no spare parts, no consumables?

    I think you are either very naive, or you’re knowingly being misleading.

    The Moon is the logical place to develop and prove the technology and hardware needed to live off the land on other worlds.

    The Moon is the logical place to learn how to live on the Moon, but not the logical place to learn how to live on Mars. And Mars seems to be the goal that everyone has their eye on.

    Look, I think it will be a long and iterative process to learn how to survive off planet Earth. So far we’re still trying to figure out staying healthy in LEO for short periods of time, so we have a long ways to go.

    I look forward to us establishing a foothold on the Moon, asteroids and eventually Mars. But using false propositions is not the way to do it, and claiming that humans only need water to survive on the Moon is clearly false.

    Which is why, as Spudis and Lavoie have proposed, we should start by sending robotic explorers to the Moon…

    I’ve told Paul that I like the robotic exploration part of his plan, and I favor a robotic exploration program. But the rest of his proposition is not economically sound. Why you and him want to ignore money as a HUGE factor is beyond me.

    We don’t need water from the Moon to start exploring space, and we don’t even need water from the Moon to start exploring the Moon. Once we get to the Moon, the economics of the day will determine whether it makes sense to invest serious money in lunar resource extraction, but trying to guess the future value of commodities is impossible.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    As a corporatist…

    How is the shchi in Cloud Cuckoo Land? ;-)

  • William Mellberg

    pathfinder_01 wrote:

    “In short you’re going to be importing stuff to the moon for a long time unless star trek like technology (the replicator) gets invented.”

    So how is Mr. Musk going to “retire on Mars” and keep all of those “average people” supplied with food, water and air when he sends them to the Red Planet?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17439490

    I hear all sorts of talk about Musk making us a “multi-planetary” species. But you suggest that it can’t be done on the Moon, which is just three days away. So how will Musk do it on Mars which is many times more distant? Is he going to find oil beneath the martian surface? Will walnuts and lemons grow on Mars?

    It never fails to amaze me that some of the same people who make endless arguments against a lunar outpost find no problem with Elon Musk’s claims that SpaceX will make it possible to colonize Mars — in our lifetimes, no less.

    Meanwhile, water ice inside Shackleton Crater is back in the news today:

    http://www.space.com/16222-moon-water-ice-shackleton-crater.html

    Yes, you’re right. We’d be carrying supplies to the Moon for quite some time. But not every drop of water, as is the case with the ISS. Not every morsel of food, as is the case with the ISS. Not every molecule of oxygen, as is the case with the ISS.

    It was very costly to supply new towns in the Old West. Just about everything had to be shipped by rail to each little hamlet until they grew into communities and started exporting goods, as well as importing them. Likewise, it would take some time to make a lunar outpost fairly self-sufficient. But if you think it can’t be done on the Moon, how will Elon Musk ever achieve his goal of making us a “multi-planetary” species? Where is he going to find pecan nuts and rubber seals on Mars?

    The fact of the matter is that IF we are to become a multi-planetary species, the ideal place to get a first foothold is on the world next door … the Moon.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    So how is Mr. Musk going to “retire on Mars” and keep all of those “average people” supplied with food, water and air when he sends them to the Red Planet?

    In case you haven’t noticed, everything he is doing with SpaceX is focused on dramatically lowering the cost to transport stuff to space. If he can perfect some degree of reusability (and he admits it may not happen), then he can lower the cost of getting goods to space and enable the shipping of the massive amount of supplies it will take to establish and sustain people on Mars (or the Moon, or on asteroids, etc., etc.).

    It never fails to amaze me that some of the same people who make endless arguments against a lunar outpost find no problem with Elon Musk’s claims that SpaceX will make it possible to colonize Mars…

    No one is arguing against lunar outposts per se. The conversation is whether spending $87B to set up a lunar water refining capability is worth the effort. I don’t. I do look forward to humans returning to the Moon, but not for unsustainable reasons.

    …”in our lifetimes, no less.

    His lifetime – he’s 41 years old. I think you’re a little older. ;-)

    But not every drop of water, as is the case with the ISS.

    They recycle water on the ISS, and recycling will likely be SOP for everyone in space. Do you know what percentage of the ISS resupply effort is devoted to delivering water? Not much I’d wager.

    It was very costly to supply new towns in the Old West.

    Read history and you’ll see that even when colonies were situated in lush fertile areas they still collapsed. And they didn’t have to worry about water and air.

    Calculate how much water and oxygen will cost to transport up from Earth for an outpost of six, and you’ll see why spending $87B (the Spudis-Lavoie estimate) is a non-starter.

    Where is he going to find pecan nuts and rubber seals on Mars?

    At the local store in his community, of course. Delivered via the transportation system he is trying to build. Although I would imagine he could order them from Amazon and have them delivered too…

  • pathfinder_01

    “So how is Mr. Musk going to “retire on Mars” and keep all of those “average people” supplied with food, water and air when he sends them to the Red Planet?”

    The same way you would do so from the moon, imports and ISRU(which Mars actually is a little better in the case of ISRU than the moon). However the difference between Spudis and Musk is that one works toward low cost spaceflight which in turn leads to lower cost imports and the other does not care a thing about how expensive spaceflight is or how economical it is.

    Spudis has a plan set in concrete in need of massive government funding for 100%. Musk has some private funding and the ability to change his mind when things don’t work as planned (see sea recovery of Falcon stages). One works towards something that helps the many (lower cost spaceflight makes all sorts of applications possible). The other has a fixed, frozen vision of the future, but as the saying goes “The best laid plans of mice and men….”. For all we know in thirty years humanity may by pass the moon and mars for a Nigerian owned space station at SEL-1 or we may give up spaceflight altogether! If musk were to die far short of Mars, a drunkard in some seedy hotel on earth, at least he made an effort that moves the whole of mankind towards being multi-planetary. Spudis just published papers.

    Here is the rub. If I need to spend $1.17 billion (the cost of a Saturn V launch today) to resupply a moon base, it will never be. That sum is too costly for anyone outside of the federal government to come up with and too costly even for NASA at its present budget as it does not include a lander and other spacecraft.

    If you bring the cost down some (which the cost of spaceflight has come down a bit since the 60ies) to say $128 million (the cost of a single Falcon Heavy launch) then it becomes much more doable. At this price a launch is about the price of an airliner.

    Let’s say he masters partial reusability of his first stage and brings the cost down to say $80 million. It becomes ever more possible to have moon bases and make a profit doing something. It becomes more possible for private investors; it becomes more possible for significant public/private funding.

    Lower the cost of space travel and humanity will follow.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ They recycle water on the ISS, and recycling will likely be SOP for everyone in space. Do you know what percentage of the ISS resupply effort is devoted to delivering water? Not much I’d wager.”

    Actually they need quite a bit. The ISS turns water into oxygen for the crew and no recycling system is 100%( there are losses). Basically the need of water is about 3 gallons per astronaut per day (that adds up fast). Another interesting problem is clothing, since an in space washing machine has not been built. It causes them to need to take up enough clothing for the stay at the ISS(although items are worn more than once).

  • Coastal Ron

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Basically the need of water is about 3 gallons per astronaut per day

    Facts! OK, now we can do some estimates on cost.

    Three gallons per day for a crew of six staying 6 months at the ISS would be about 12, 264 liters, or 12, 264 kg. Let’s double that to a year, and round it to 25,000 kg of water per year for a crew of six.

    The U.S. plans to have five CRS deliveries per year (3 for Dragon, 2 for Cygnus), so that would average 5,000 kg of water per trip. That sounds like more than they are contracted for, and likely that’s because Progress will still be delivering supplies (and water), as will the remaining ATV and HTV vehicles.

    What could we do with dedicated water deliveries? If deliveries were made with a Falcon 9, it can now deliver 13,150 kg to LEO for $54M. So with two launches, that could be as low as $108M per year to supply water to the ISS. I haven’t seen a breakout on the supply costs for the ISS (other than the yearly budget), so it’s hard to estimate what they currently spend.

    If we assume the same consumption for a crew of six on the Moon, then we’re talking about what the cost of delivery would be from LEO to the surface of the Moon. Considering the gravity well differences, how about we the same cost from LEO to the surface of the Moon as it was to get to LEO, so $216M total to support a crew of six on the lunar surface with water for one year.

    So the big question would be – “What would it cost to produce the same amount of water using ISRU?”

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “His lifetime – he’s 41 years old. I think you’re a little older. ”

    Longevity runs in the family. My Father just celebrated his 92nd birthday. (I’m his youngest son.) Most of my older relatives have reached their 90s. One aunt made it to 100. Another just passed away at 93. So I’m expecting to be around for quite some time!

    As for Dr. Spudis …

    Note these passages from the lunar exploration-exploitation proposal that Paul Spudis and Tony Lavoie released in Decemeber 2010:

    “The development of a heavy-lift vehicle adds capability to our architecture but is not an absolute requirement for early missions, although we recognize that other strategic considerations (such as preservation of HLV infrastructure) may require the near-term development of such a vehicle … Once we have established a foothold on the Moon and have the capability to at least partly supply ourselves from lunar materials, the need for a very heavy lift vehicle lessens. In fact, the best time for the creation of propellant depots is after we are able to supply them with lunar propellant. Such an approach makes human planetary missions easier; the dead weight of propellant (at least 80% of the total mass of the spacecraft for a human Mars mission) need not come from the deep gravity well of Earth.”

    “Much of the current debate about launch vehicles stems from the mission or objective of human flights beyond LEO. We believe that the fundamental objective of such flight is to extend human reach and presence from its current limitation in LEO to all levels of space beyond. To that end, WE ARE AGNOSTIC [emphasis added] on the need for any specific launch vehicle solution; our goal is to make complete dependence on such vehicles unnecessary as rapidly as possible through the use of off planet resources. If a heavy lift vehicle is available early in the program, we will use it. If one is not, we will use other launch vehicles.”

    Other launch vehicles would include Falcon Heavy or other suitable commercial rockets.

  • pathfinder_01

    “The U.S. plans to have five CRS deliveries per year (3 for Dragon, 2 for Cygnus), so that would average 5,000 kg of water per trip. That sounds like more than they are contracted for, and likely that’s because Progress will still be delivering supplies (and water), as will the remaining ATV and HTV vehicles.”

    That is because a large percentage of that 3 gallons is recycled. The US recycling system can recycle about 93% of all input water:

    http://www.tapitwater.com/blog/2011/01/nasa-makes-recycling-water-out-of-this-world.html

    ISRU on the moon is probably worth it for life support, but I think the cost to develop a system that needs to put out say a litter of water a day (to make up for losses in the life support) will be smaller, cheaper, and easier to develop than a system that needs to make 100 tons a year for propellant. It is low hanging fruit compared to the propellant. You don’t need industrial sized bulldozers to move a few grams around.

    I mean assuming you had Shakelton crater at 22% water. At 22% water, all I need to do is move 4.5 grams of soil to get 1 litter of water. If need 100 tons, I need to move much more. I need to move 454MT of lunar material or 1.2 tons a day! And this estimate does not cover inefficiencies in the ISRU process(meaning for both cases you will need more material).

  • pathfinder_01

    I mean at 4-4,000 grams of material needed, I can imagine a small MER sized rover going out into the crater and scrapping the soil into an insulated container for transport to the base and processing. A MER sized rover isn’t going to move 1.2 tons a day. Things like that can determine what functions are and are not economical to do given launch costs, spacecraft costs and technology.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Longevity runs in the family. My Father just celebrated his 92nd birthday.

    Good wishes to him – the wonders he has seen in his lifetime.

    My mothers father lived to 97 (as did his youngest brother), and my dad’s mother lived to 99. Having already lived to see people walking on the Moon (and I hope to see it again in HD), I’m hoping to be around long enough to see people walking on Mars. Wouldn’t it be nice for the two of us to discuss the state of our efforts in space at that point? :-)

    As for Dr. Spudis …

    I’ve had the “pleasure” of debating the merits of HLV’s directly with Paul (both here and on his blog) prior to his publishing the Spudis-Lavoie plan. I know his perspective on the subject, as well as his perspective on “NewSpace”.

    Oh, and I’ve read the Spudis-Lavoie plan, and I’ve even told Paul that I liked the robotic exploration part of it. However the cislunar transportation system part of the plan is kind of like “Step Two” in this example.

    Suffice it to say that I think the plan lacks sufficient detail and relies on the false assumption that spending $87B over a 17 year period for a water production facility on the Moon is the best use of our scarce NASA budget allocation.

    For instance, ISRU is just one of many, many priorities on the Future In-Space Observatory (FISO) working group study called “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities“, but it doesn’t even make the top ten list.

    I’m not the only one that is not persuaded.

  • William Mellberg

    Speaking of food …

    Thanksgiving on the Moon: A Lunar Feast

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2009/11/thanksgiving-on-the-moon-a-lunar-feast/

    “Haskin’s argument is very simple. Take a cubic volume of soil (about 1 meter in dimension) from anywhere on the Moon. In that volume of soil (weight about 1600 kg), there is enough hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen – the principal volatile elements implanted by the solar wind – to make lunch for two.”

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “I’m hoping to be around long enough to see people walking on Mars. Wouldn’t it be nice for the two of us to discuss the state of our efforts in space at that point?”

    Yes, I’d like to see that, too. I’ll buy the first round when that day comes.

  • swatcher

    China will take back position #1. The population is large, economy will be large & overtake US. In fact, the shifting has begun. 40 or 50 years lead is nothing, where a nation think in terms of thousands of years….space race is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

    You can see it in Olympic games, you see in the economic market size, you see it in growing military, science factor & so on. You need a large engineering & technical base to support space program, lotsa cash as well.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I mean assuming you had Shakelton crater at 22% water. At 22% water, all I need to do is move 4.5 grams of soil to get 1 litter of water. If need 100 tons, I need to move much more. I need to move 454MT of lunar material or 1.2 tons a day! And this estimate does not cover inefficiencies in the ISRU process(meaning for both cases you will need more material).”

    To be clear, the situation with respect to lunar polar ice is still much worse than this. The technique used in yesterday’s announcement can only verify a reflected signal indicative of 22% water ice in the top _micron_ of regolith. A micron is only 0.000039ths of a inch. Put another way, 22% of almost zero is still almost zero.

    It’s worth investigating further with surface robots to see whether this signal is actually coming from water ice, whether the percentage of water ice holds at depth, and whether the water ice is collected in minable concentrations.

    But you would not want to make a multi-ten to -hundred billion dollar decision about a human lunar return effort based on an indication of 22% of almost zero water ice. More data is needed from multi-million dollar robotic explorers before jumping to that level of expenditure.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Haskin’s argument is very simple. Take a cubic volume of soil (about 1 meter in dimension) from anywhere on the Moon. In that volume of soil (weight about 1600 kg), there is enough hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen – the principal volatile elements implanted by the solar wind – to make lunch for two.”

    Sorry took me so long to respond. ? One of my hobbies is vegetable gardening but don’t have much space for it. Do you know how much 1,600kg is? That is 3,500 pounds. You would need a pickup truck to move it and that only contained one meal!! One meter is roughly equivalent to a yard and forgetting about density (which at 1,600kg sound pretty packed on earth a cubic yard masses roughly 2,000 pounds-probably due to greater organic and water content).

    On earth most plants don’t have yard long roots (a cubic yard…). And does his estimate include the amount of inedible parts of the plant? Tomatoes, peppers, corn have quite a bit of plant that is needed, but you can’t eat. Here is a guide to how deep a container you need on earth:

    http://polk.uwex.edu/files/2011/01/Container-gardening.pdf.

    Something like oh, 6-18 inches worth of soil so basically on earth that cubic yard worth of soil could be put into about 3 containers each 1 yard long and 1 yard wide and 12 deep. Some plants need more than 12 inches/some less. The smart move would be to cut the containers in half to a 1/3 since most plants need rows and if your plants get disease or pest it will be easier to control…plus options for having different crops ready at different times.

    So say we have 9 containers each one yard long, one foot wide and one foot deep. One containers could easily fit nine lettuce plants. One to Two such containers could be enough to provide salad for lunch for two indefinably (cause you can just pick the leaves off the plant and not harvest the whole) or at least till the soil is exhausted or the lettuce gets to warm and sets to seed. You can even cram more in at the earlier stages!

    You could fit about 27 carrot plants in another container. Enough beans for one large pot of beans in another. One large tomato plant in each (and 3-4 of such could give two people more than they could eat in a summer and tomatoes keep going till the frost kills it.). And I still have one container left over.

    Of course your harvest will depend on soil fertility, but on earth that amount of soil is almost a banquet(esp. as I have not optimized it for root deep…you could grow even more in shallower pots) and you can even buy a little box of Miracle Grow that masses 680g, does not take up a about a yard of volume and lasts at least half the growing season here(3-4 months) if not all season. I think the math is against trying to harvest nitrogen from poor lunar soil. The smart move would be to import and recycle.

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