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Senate Commerce Committee to revisit commercial spaceflight next week

Last month’s successful test flight by SpaceX to the International Space Station was a major milestone for commercial spaceflight, and also for public and political perceptions of the industry. The Senate Commerce Committee will reexamine the industry in a hearing Wednesday, June 20, titled “Risks, Opportunities, and Oversight of Commercial Space”. The hearing, according to the committee’s announcement, will examine the commercial space industry and review ISS commercial cargo and crew efforts. Scheduled witness include:

  • Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations;
  • Pam Melroy, a former NASA astronaut who now works at the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation;
  • Gerald Dillingham of the Government Accountability Office;
  • Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace; and
  • Michael Lopez-Alegria, another former astronaut who is now president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

This likely won’t be the only hearing on commercial spaceflight this summer. Last week, in a statement praising the agreement between NASA and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a key House appropriator, on the future of NASA’s commercial crew program, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, said his committee would hold an oversight hearing on that program “later this summer”.

114 comments to Senate Commerce Committee to revisit commercial spaceflight next week

  • And so they fall all over each other trying to latch on to the glory.

    Let’s see if anyone raises the question of giving NASA the full $835 million requested by the White House for commercial crew in FY13.

    (That would seem to be the job of Michael Lopez-Alegria …)

  • DCSCA

    Last month’s successful test flight by SpaceX to the International Space Station was a major milestone for commercial spaceflight, and also for public and political perceptions of the industry.

    The flight, a success. The rationale was not. The perception, rightly seen, that a commercial firm duly contracted to deliver goods and services, failed to deliver same w/repeated schedule slippages and w/contractual modifications remains valid. To date, hundreds of millions spent and just 1,000 pounds of sundries delivered– late.

  • As much as I would love to see the $835 (will save money in the long run), I am fairly confident that the figure will be the Senate’s $525 out of conference, regardless of a pre-election budget finale, or post november election winter finish.

    Yes Stephen, it is catch the Dragon tail and try to become master! I don’t think the Capitol cage can hold it.

    Jeff, I am hoping to make final arrangements by tomorrow night to take a night stay-over for Wednesday’s hearing.

    Gary Anderson
    TPiS

  • vulture4

    Republicans in Congress have long opposed commercial space, not beccause the program is contrary to their ideals, but rather because it is supported by President Obama, and they instinctively oppose anything President Obama supports. Now they have a problem because commercial is getting more popular, so they have settled on continuing to oppose it but also claiming credit for its accomplishments.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Sorry. Your post has no credibility whatsoever. Apply the same rules to Constellation, JWST, MPCV, and any number of cancelled NASA projects.
    Late, billions over budget, nothing actually delivered, etc, etc.
    Come back to us when you’ve got a real case.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Gary Anderson wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:12 pm
    vulture4 wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Agreed. They left the barn door open that little bit too long and now someone’s escaped – thank the gods!

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    thats accurate in my view plus another thing is at work. The GOP is hearing what I am hearing SLS is sliding in schedule and budget. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/bolden/posts/post_1339701558744.html

    good words by Charlie and some good pictures…Bravo Zulu General RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1206/14bolden/

    some more pictures of General Bolden, DRagon and Dr. Evil…sorry Elon Musk RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Now this is the kind of panel of space experts that will have relevant perspectives on where we’ve been recently and what our next steps should be.

    Of course it still may not matter what they know and what they say, since Congress has been known to ignore good advice.

    Nevertheless it’s a clear indication that “New Space” is gaining believability, and that “Old Space” is not the only way to space.

  • josh

    at least the line-up looks better than for last year’s farce…

  • amightywind

    DCSCA’s summary is accurate. I would rather stand the NASA leadership up at the hearing to explain the progress, or lack thereof, of SLS/Orion. Still not sure what they are building. But that can’t happen because they are all on a junket with their fellow Obama supporters at SpaceX in Texas. Let all the newspace chimps enjoy a nice friendly hearing and pat each other on the back. It will be one of their last.

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 1:30 am
    josh wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Those were my first thoughts as well, and then my second thought was “What? Where’s Mike Griffin’s name?”

    With a wry smile of course…

  • Vladislaw

    “a commercial firm duly contracted to deliver goods and services, failed to deliver same w/repeated schedule slippages”

    Ask who Edison was and people do not say .. “That bastard tried for years to make that freakin’ light bulb and he was really late for when he said it would be ready”

    Carnagie … late on steel production?
    Ford .. late on the model T?
    Apple ,, late?
    IBM … late?

    No one gives a crap about a commercial firm being late .. as long as they have nailed down the process and are gearing up. You will be that lone wolf howling in the wilderness, because a decade from now, when SpaceX is delivering cargo to multiple destinations in space, no one will give a #$@#.

    And yes, there is a difference between NASA being late, it costs the taxpayers hundreds of millions for the work force to stand down around delays and NASA finally getting a project done rarely means a positive fundamental change in transportation.

    What are you going to be tic tocking about in the next decade because no one will even remember your posts about a new start up being late for delivering a new product to the market.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW, DCSCA –

    In regards to SLS, I want to remind both of you that we cvould have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems for the money wasted on ATK’s Ares 1.

    The same holds today: we could have had DIRECT (the NLS) already flying but for ATK’s desire to enter the medium heavy lift market.

    As far as SLS delays go , the same holds true today.

    Having watched ATK’s chicanery for many years now, it is very difficult for me and takes quite an effort to retain an objective view of solid fuel technologies. (Which do have their uses).

  • Ben Joshua

    At some point, a reporter or news outlet will have the naive affrontery to pose the SLS cost and schedule question, especially with FH orbiting payloads for paying customers in the not too distant future.

    Before Falcon and Dragon became real in the public mind, graphic renderings of SLS were sufficient PR. Now SLS graphics are just toss-ins for “Our Future in Space” type re-runs at 2am on the Science Channel.

    This hearing may not be entirely friendly or accepting, but the list of notables bespeaks a quiet but significant change in the public face of spaceflight. It is fine to praise past glory, but some of today’s pioneers are showing up at this hearing. Just their presence will begin to balance perceptions, and the COTS double mission success lends credence to their words.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ben Joshua wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 10:22 am

    well written. The problem with SLS and Orion is that there is particularly in the case of SLS no there there…there is no real program that is doing anything…it is a jobs program. The schedules are already slipping and the cost growing RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/nasa-teams-evaluating-iss-built-exploration-platform-roadmap/

    even the folks at NASA have started to figure out that SLS is not going to happen…a total waste…

    RGO

  • DCSCA

    @BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Except it does.

    A for profit, private enterprised commercial firm duly contracted to deliver goods and services, failed to deliver same w/repeated schedule slippages and w/contractual modifications remains valid. To date, hundreds of millions spent and just 1,000 pounds of sundries delivered– late.

  • Paul

    Kraft comes out against SLS (and against Mars before the Moon):

    http://www.voanews.com/content/space-program-us-mars/1211331.html

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    A for profit, private enterprised commercial firm duly contracted to deliver goods and services…

    No one is going to remember that, and it’s barely a footnote in all the voluminous press coverage.

    When you’re flying on a Boeing 787 do you care that it was 3 years late? No.

    It’s minutia relegated to the dustbin of history. Just like most of the stuff you argue about.

  • amightywind

    but some of today’s pioneers

    At some point a the new (NASA generation will supercede the titans of spaceflight by attrition. But the words of the clods they have lined up for this hearing carry zero weight for me.

    The same holds today: we could have had DIRECT

    ATK was a critical element of DIRECT as they are of SLS. I am a fan of DIRECT.

  • Malmesbury

    Nice to see that SpaceX doing business in Texas is upsetting the usual suspects….

    Is Rick Perry an Obama supporter?

    Musk met with Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday to discuss the site.
    “The governor talked with the company about what the state could do to encourage them to pick Texas as a place for its spaceport,” said Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “The governor’s office is going to continue working with SpaceX to try and bring them here.”

  • GetItRight

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012

    amightywind wrote @ June 15th, 2012

    You two have absolutely no credibility. My company actually competes against SpacceX for future commercial crew business,so I don’t really care to see them be wildly successful.

    Having said that, and having worked in NASA human spaceflight for over 20 years, I contend that it is irrefutable that what they have accomplished has been done so for an order of magnitude less government funding than has ever been done before.

    If NASA had to build a rocket and spacecraft from the ground up (and I mean facilities, staffing, engines, i.e. everything), and fly it to ISS in 6 years, it would cost multiple billions of dollars. To date SpaceX has received on the order of $500M from NASA and maybe $300M from other government agencies.

    Your comments are a joke and reflect your desire to maintain the status quo by sole desire to trying to manipulate peoples opinions.

  • amightywind

    I contend that it is irrefutable that what they have accomplished has been done so for an order of magnitude less government funding than has ever been done before.

    Seems to me after 50 years this development process should be quite polished. But congratulations, SpaceX is cheap…and slow, and limited technologically.

    Your comments are a joke and reflect your desire to maintain the status quo

    No joke. I want a return to sanity in space policy. You newspace yahoos hijacked the space program, instituted a petty one, and have little to show after 3 1/2 years. You will never convince me that less is more.Election Day is coming!

  • MrEarl

    “even the folks at NASA have started to figure out that SLS is not going to happen…a total waste…RGO”

    What are you smoking Oler?
    One of the bigest arguments you have agenst the SLS is that it has no mission or roles.
    This gateway or Exploration platform does just that, from deployment of the SEP tug in 2019 to staging missions to the moon and NEO’s in the early 2020′s.
    You need to start thinking about reading/computer glasses. ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Seems to me after 50 years this development process should be quite polished.

    Then why does it take $8B for NASA and Lockheed Martin to build an scaled-up version of a 40 year-old Apollo capsule? Your ignorance on this subject is astonishing.

    You newspace yahoos hijacked the space program

    If you were a true conservative then you would be applauding the transfer of responsibility from “Big Government” to “the private sector”. You apparently are an advocate of cronyism.

  • Rhyolite

    “To date, hundreds of millions spent and just 1,000 pounds of sundries delivered– late.”

    As opposed to Cx/Orion/MPCV/SLS, which have delivered nothing for billions of dollars more. Cancel them now.

  • Rhyolite

    “If NASA had to build a rocket and spacecraft from the ground up (and I mean facilities, staffing, engines, i.e. everything), and fly it to ISS in 6 years, it would cost multiple billions of dollars.”

    No, all of the evidence suggests that they couldn’t do it that fast with unlimited funding. How long has Orion been going?

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ June 14th, 2012 at 9:05 pm
    “To date, hundreds of millions spent and just 1,000 pounds of sundries delivered– late.”

    I don’t think the contract specified the number of pounds they needed to deliver. It wasn’t about delivering pounds. The contract was about achieving capability of cargo delivery. It was a demonstration investment. SpaceX achieved that. That achievement was worth hundreds of millions. Pretty much the price of a single EELV launch, which would not have included any hardware development. The payments were milestone-based. Although regrettable, the causes of the delays (relative to the original 2006 contract) were shared by SpaceX and NASA.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “One of the bigest arguments you have agenst the SLS is that it has no mission or roles.
    This gateway or Exploration platform does just that…”

    Not really:

    “With the modules ranging from only 11mt to 13mt in mass, most Exploration Platform concepts cite the use of existing launch vehicles for lofting the hardware to the ISS.

    Atlas V medium (5X1 series) performance suited to estimated module mass,” cited one presentation. “Augmentation for orbital operations (Launch Mission Kit) estimated mass is approximately 3mt. Centaur upper stage provides flexible accommodations for kit.

    … A Russian Proton was also shown as a potential candidate to launch the international module.”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/nasa-teams-evaluating-iss-built-exploration-platform-roadmap/

    An EML2 gateway provides more work for existing intermediate launchers than it does future heavy launchers (SLS or otherwise).

    And an EML2 gateway by itself isn’t really a mission. It’s just a way-stop, not a destination. You wouldn’t want to build a gateway unless you were certain of the resources to actually use it in exploration missions.

    “This gateway or Exploration platform does just that, from deployment of the SEP tug in 2019 to staging missions to the moon and NEO’s in the early 2020′s.”

    At the rate Congress is funding SLS and MPCV, they won’t be finished until the 2030s. And it’s going to get worse in the coming years, whether through sequestration or other budget tightening measures. There won’t be any funding for a gateway, nevertheless lunar landers or NEO missions, as long as NASA is forced to spend tens of billions of dollars on SLS and MPCV and kept at roughly current or lower budget levels.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    “What are you smoking Oler?
    One of the bigest arguments you have agenst the SLS is that it has no mission or roles.”

    there is not a single “role” in this exploration “portfolio” that cannot be accomplished by lift vehicles that are flying now…or will be flying soon ie the Falcon heavy.

    SLS is predicated on an Apollo like effort ie launch from the earth and expend all the way back to a non reusable capsule…and then do it all again. That is NEVER going to happen again. It is not affordable even in the operation of the system much less in the development of it.

    There is a notion of having the appropriate tool for the job; but first you have to understand what the job is. We are looking at an SLS that Under the best of circumstances doesnt launch until 2017, that with an uncrewed payload and then doesnt do anything again until 2022 which is merely a crewed redo of the uncrewed launch. and in that 10 years SLS will spend (at best) a constant 1.5 billion a year…so thats 15 billion.

    Now you take your 15 billion which you claim is affordable and I’ll take 15 billion…and in the process I could get that L station …and probably a lunar lander that is reusable. But then I succeed at things that I am tasked to do, or people are hung. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    a soft breeze blew:

    “Seems to me after 50 years this development process should be quite polished. But congratulations, SpaceX is cheap…and slow, and limited technologically.”

    Yes it is, SpaceX announced the Falcon 9 in Nov of 2005 and they made their first successful orbital launch in Dec of 2008 and they did it with about 230 million from the government. A very polished development.

    Now lets compare your fantasy rockets Ares 1 and Ares V that also started in 2005 and was funded with 12 billion from the government plus all the infrastructure in place. No orbital launches. Gosh, what happened did they run out of polish?

    “I want a return to sanity in space policy. You newspace yahoos hijacked the space program, instituted a petty one, and have little to show after 3 1/2 years. You will never convince me that less is more.Election Day is coming!”

    You mean like spending 12 billion and not even getting one single orbital test launch? Ya .. if only they would have dumped 50 billion into the effort, then we could have gotten a test launch like SpaceX did. Ares 1 was underfunded by 40 billion, everyone knows that.

    Election day is coming and you are going to be disappointed by whoever wins. If President Obama wins you of course are anti anything from this President do it doesn’t matter what he does. But if Governor Romney wins, you will be even more heartbroken when he destroys any hope you have of a monster rocket.

  • amightywind

    If President Obama wins you of course are anti anything from this President do it doesn’t matter what he does.

    Too, true.

    But if Governor Romney wins, you will be even more heartbroken when he destroys any hope you have of a monster rocket.

    I think you underestimate the ‘Neil Armstrong wing’ of the Republican party. But I agree Romney is moderate and is likely to be adventurist with NASA if left to his own devices. Fortunately, in a world turning right, I don’t think he’ll have that freedom. His current space council suggests he will outsource NASA as Obama has to Holdren. Mike Griffin would make a great science adviser.

  • @Mr Earl
    “What are you smoking Oler?
    One of the bigest arguments you have agenst the SLS is that it has no mission or roles.
    This gateway or Exploration platform does just that, from deployment of the SEP tug in 2019 to staging missions to the moon and NEO’s in the early 2020′s.

    Just because SLS can be used in a particular role doesn’t mean it is the only launch vehicle that can be used and neither does it mean that it is the best for the purpose as is indicated here in this article about the gateway of which you speak. http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/nasa-teams-evaluating-iss-built-exploration-platform-roadmap/

    Which says, “Alternative concepts – citing the use of propellent depots – do exist, both with and without SLS’ involvement.”

    Whatever you are smoking must be some much stronger stuff than Oler’s. Come now, share it with the rest of the class, please! Now we know the source of your delusions. ;)

  • Ben Joshua

    An oversight or appropriations committee considering MPCV progress and funding might be interested in a comparison of the upgrade from Apollo to MPCV, to say, the MD upgrade from Mercury to Gemini.

    An oversight committee considering commercial space might want some elaboration on what we’ve read in comments on this site, that Dragon is no big deal, just a Gemini, so what? Is Dragon just a Gemini, or does its specs and future capabilities extend well beyond Gemini? (And Gemini seems an amazing development program for its own time, understated in history.)

  • Malmesbury

    Is Dragon just a Gemini, or does its specs and future capabilities extend well beyond Gemini? (And Gemini seems an amazing development program for its own time, understated in history.)

    Gemini – spacecraft for 2 with no space to move around.
    Dragon – 7 people for short duration (to ISS) or 4 for longer.

    Gemini – LEO only
    Dragon – designed to be BEO capable – long duration life support via solar arrays etc.

    Gemini – no cargo capability
    Dragon – cargo version can rendevous with a space station, carrying tons of supplies. Manned version has the space to carry cargo in the 4 person version.

    etc etc.

  • Why doesn’t the GOP just pray for space to happen like their Southern governors pray for rain instead of instituting recycling and conservation policies?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I think you underestimate the ‘Neil Armstrong wing’ of the Republican party.

    Who would that be?

    I think this hearing is an indication that the 15 minutes of recent fame and attention Armstrong and Cernan have had is waning. SpaceX has proved the “Yes We Can” attributes of New Space despite the “No They Can’t” chants from the Apollo cultists.

    Besides, the U.S. Congress will never allocate enough money to NASA to enable Apollo-style exploration programs. By their very nature they will implode after a short period of time without massive injections of unplanned funds. Constellation proved that point, and despite the great program management that Bolden is providing on SLS, and by virtue of how Congress defined the SLS it is inevitable that it will implode too.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    I think this hearing is an indication that the 15 minutes of recent fame and attention Armstrong and Cernan have had is waning. SpaceX has proved the “Yes We Can” attributes of New Space despite the “No They Can’t” chants from the Apollo cultists.

    Exactly.

    No Armstrong, no Cernan, no Lovell.

    The politicians invited them in the past so they could attach themselves like remoras to famous astronauts.

    Now, they want to suckle upon Elon Musk and the other NewSpacers because those are the folks now in the media limelight.

    Even more so that it’s an election year. They figure SpaceX will fly again in September, and maybe Orbital before election day. So they want to be attached to the NewSpacers in the eyes of the public as the campaigns go down to the wire.

    I for one will be interested to see if Elon Musk endorses anyone in the presidential election. It would be Obama, of course, but if Romney wins then it would be bad for business — in more ways than one. Romney couldn’t care less than space and is likely to pick someone like an ATK executive to run NASA, which means the death of NewSpace.

  • common sense

    @ Brian Altmeyer wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    “Why doesn’t the GOP just pray for space to happen like their Southern governors pray for rain instead of instituting recycling and conservation policies?”

    An environmental policy based on science and facts might cost the jobs of several spiritual leaders. Another sort of jobs programs…

  • Rhyolite

    “‘Neil Armstrong wing’ of the Republican party”

    Ah, the ‘Big Pork wing’ of the Republican party wraps itself in the flag and looks forward to the day when they can go back to ‘deficits don’t matter’. There are needy aerospace corporations that are looking for an ROI on their campaign contributions. Hang on to your wallets everyone.

  • Doug Lassiter

    MrEarl wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
    “What are you smoking Oler?
    One of the bigest arguments you have agenst the SLS is that it has no mission or roles.”

    It doesn’t have any roles that we can afford on anywhere near the launch rate that would make SLS even halfway economical. Know how much 70mT of space architecture costs? But of course we can always invest in shielding for BEO applications. Then we could just launch an inexpensive 10mT spacecraft, and 60 mT of bricks (or water). What a concept!

    A Gateway is a big hunk of space architecture, but it can be lofted in pieces. The idea of piecewise assembly of a space habitat has been validated in some detail.

  • Vladislaw

    a soft breeze added:

    “I think you underestimate the ‘Neil Armstrong wing’ of the Republican party. But I agree Romney is moderate and is likely to be adventurist with NASA if left to his own devices.”

    I think you OVER estimate this wing. When congress was deciding if they were going to fund Constellation, Neil Armstrong appeared before Congressional committees and he was STRONGLY in favor of Congress fully funding the Constellation program to the tune of an additional 3 billion a year.

    A Bi partisan congress then voted on funding for constellation, they said no and the program was canceled…. so where was this Neil Armstrong wing of the Republican party when it came time to vote for funding? Like the polish… they seem to have ran out.

    In one of the first republican debates a rare shocker took place, there was a space/NASA question and they were asked which of them thinks NASA should get cuts. ALL of them raised their hands, including Governor Romney, I highly doubt he is going to come out in favor of new funding for any missions for SLS. If he does win, he will probably just let it run it’s course when congress no longer wants to fund it. Even Newt raised his hand, which kinda surprised me.

  • 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.

  • Bennett

    Vladislaw wrote “Even Newt raised his hand, which kinda surprised me.”

    Nah, Newt knows how bloated NASA became during the Shuttle Years, and it irks him as much as me, which is why I voted for him in my state primary.

    Not that I necessarily admire the man or think he has been particularly straight with his posturing or legislative accomplishments (or lack thereof), but of the choices I had (given what I think is he wisest course for or species), I went with my gut. Newt won out over Willard’s dispassionate self service.

  • DCSCA

    @Ben Joshua wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Gemini seems an amazing development program for its own time, understated in history.

    It was.

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

  • DCSCA

    @GetItRight wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    “…having worked in NASA human spaceflight for over 20 years…”

    Which made you part of the problem- shuttle era deadwood, so crowing about transferring the skills borne out of that sloppy managment culture to a private firm is nothing to crow about. And in case you need reminded, over that “20 years” you managed to kill 7 astronauts and lose a very expensive orbiter, Columbia, thanks to some pretty lousy management practices. Challenger, per your own posting, it seems, was before your time, but if you tally the toll of that disaster, fueled by the foolish notion of applying business practices to commercializing shuttle ops, into the management culture you perpetuated it adds up to 14 dead astronauts, two lost orbiters, hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs for reengineering not to mention costly and lengthy schedule slippages and lost customers, as well as delays to ISS completion — all due to sloppy, lousy management.

    “If NASA had to build a rocket and spacecraft from the ground up (and I mean facilities, staffing, engines, i.e. everything), and fly it to ISS in 6 years, it would cost multiple billions of dollars.”

    Except it doesn’t. Strawman argument, because it would be a useless redundancy w/Soyuz nad Progress operating to the ISS- and the’I” in ISS stands for international. It’s a LEO international space platform- a doomed to splash platform by decade’s end as well. And w/your hypothetical, the facilities existed, born out of an earlier age and modified for use in construction of and access to the ISS w/the shuttle, which flew for three decades. Soyuz has been servicing LEO space platforms for four decades and Progress has been supplying LEO platforms for over 35 years. They work- and can dock automatically. They’re reliable. They’re operational. And safe. Space exploitation is not space exploration and LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where fast.

    To date SpaceX has received on the order of $500M from NASA and maybe $300M from other government agencies.”

    And it rec’d tax dollars for pad refurbishment as well. And for those costs to date has flown two test flights, 17 months apart, one carrying a wheel of cheese and the other grappled by a researcher not doing science, but grabbing a satellite, delivering 1,000 pounds of sundries– to a doomed space platform destined for a Pacific grace by 2020 or so. It’s a waste of dwindlng resources.

    You should have learned w/your ’20 years’ that space exploitation is not space exploration– and tally up how many years of that two decades was down time to fix problems due to bad management. And the commercialists in NASA, the Garverites, are part of the problem, not a source for solutions, and the faster they’re weeded out of NASA, the better.

    @Rhyolite wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Apples. oranges. Space exploitation is not space exploration.. And the exploitation element is a business matter, pure and simple. A commercial firm was contracted to provide goods and services on time and failed to meet its own published schedules even w/conractual modifications in their favor. . THere’s no difference between Space X being contracted by NASA to deliver sundries on time to the ISS than FedEx being contracted by NOAA to deliver sundries to a government weather station on a melting iceberg.

  • vulture4

    ISS is essential because if we can’t achieve practical and productive human spaceflight in LEO we will never achieve it on the moon. If ISS is abandoned we will not be stuck in LEO. We will be stuck on the ground.

    SpaceX received about $30M from the state of Florida for pad refurbishment, which was only a portion of what they spent on Complex 40 and just a drop in the bucket for the total program. SLS/Orion/Constellation has spent tens of billions and has not even achieved orbit.
    SpaceX and CST-100 are essential because the cost of Soyuz has gone through the roof, because Sooyuz has no downmass, and because Soyuz has serious quality control and safely problems including tank damage from overpressurization and two failures of critical descent module-service module separation pyrobolts.

    Obama and Romney both want to cancel SLS and probably Orion. While Obama increased the NASA budget, Romney has said he will cut the NASA budget. He has to, since he promises to cut taxes and most of it must come out of discretionary spending. And unlike Obama, Romney has directly derided moon bases, in Florida, without getting any criticism for it.

    Those who think Romney will rescue SLS/Orion should ask him directly. They won’t like what they hear.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Apples. oranges. Space exploitation is not space exploration.. And the exploitation element is a business matter, pure and simple. A commercial firm was contracted to provide goods and services on time and failed to meet its own published schedules even w/conractual modifications in their favor. . THere’s no difference between Space X being contracted by NASA to deliver sundries on time to the ISS than FedEx being contracted by NOAA to deliver sundries to a government weather station on a melting iceberg.”

    However without those supplies being delivered in an effcient and cost effective manner there is no way you could have said weather station (which by the way nowadays most weather stations are automated….).Why did Hitler loose the battle of Stalingrad? Because he was unable to deliver supplies to his army. If you can not send supplies in a cost efficient manner there is no such thing as exploration. You simply can’t afford to go. If it cost a much to send supplies to the Antarctica as it does to the moon, there would be no bases there.

  • Das Boese

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 15th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I for one will be interested to see if Elon Musk endorses anyone in the presidential election. It would be Obama, of course, but if Romney wins then it would be bad for business — in more ways than one. Romney couldn’t care less than space and is likely to pick someone like an ATK executive to run NASA, which means the death of NewSpace.

    If Romney wins, what happens to NASA and NewSpace will be the least of your worries.

  • Doug Lassiter

    DCSCA wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 6:09 am
    “Apples. oranges. Space exploitation is not space exploration.”

    I love that phrase “space exploitation”, which the nouveau space crowd considers their mantra. When I hear it, whether we’re talking NASA or commercial, I think of the economic exploitation of the taxpayer in the name of, well, exploration. In Marxist thought, we’d be talking about the oppression of the proletariat taxpayer for the benefit of the bourgeoise. Hmm. Let’s call the latter ATK for short, maybe? Space exploitation isn’t apples or oranges. It’s rotten tomatoes.

  • amightywind

    Ah, the ‘Big Pork wing’ of the Republican party wraps itself in the flag and looks forward to the day when they can go back to ‘deficits don’t matter’.

    No. We cannot defy economic reality. But that won’t stop the GOP from reforming NASA and altering it drastically. Newspace political cover will soon be striped. ISS will come down.

    If Romney wins, what happens to NASA and NewSpace will be the least of your worries.

    Well, unemployment has been over 8% for all of Obama’s term. The nation’s borders have been thrown open to welfare seeking illegals. Our fiscal outlook is as bad as Greece. America and the rest of the world will breath a sigh of relief when the Bolsheviks are routed. Your countrymen seem to think otherwise. Angela Merkel is no fan of Obama.

  • DCSCA

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    However without those supplies being delivered in an effcient and cost effective manner there is no way you could have said weather station

    Except you’re wrong. It’s a simple matter of fulfilling contracted services– and it is supplemental, as the proverbial international ‘fishing trawler’ routinely servicing the floating outpost has been making reliable runs for decades. Safe. routine– just as Soyuz and Progress have been servicing LEO platforms for decades, and the international space station as well.

  • DCSCA

    “To date SpaceX has received on the order of $500M from NASA and maybe $300M from other government agencies.”

    So ‘to date’ that tallies to $800 million- and at $60 million/seat on Soyuz, that’s roughly 13-14 astronaut round trips- and w/two a year, one ever six months, rotated to the ISS, that covers six years of U.S. crewing- which would put the calendar into 2018– with an ISS splash probable by 2020 or so. Funding Space X w/dwindling government resources is a massive waste and redundant to a proven, reliable system already in place- Soyuz and Progress.

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    “ISS is essential…”

    Except it’s not.

    “SpaceX received about $30M from the state of Florida for pad refurbishment…” In fact, they rec’d Federal funding as follows:

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

    That-there ‘hydro-seedin” is a costly critter, eh.

  • Malmesbury

    On Gemini vs Dragon – Dragon has already demonstrated capabilities that Gemini never had. Lifted more and has an unmanned rendezvous capability.

    On Musk endorsing candidates – he won’t. He will give money to both parties as before.

    On the politics of commercial crew and cargo, look to see a big change from the Republican side.

    The move to a Texas launch site is interesting – it will give SpaceX freedom of operations, reduced range cost. It also has the possibility of building a manufacturing site near the launch site… Which would enable build much larger cores for heavy lifters. At the moment transport of finished stages creates size limits.

    All of which feeds into the politics of this. Rick Perry is already backing the Texas launch proposal (via his spokesperson at this stage). Bringing space launch to Texas would be popular with those in Texas angry about the end of Shuttle, Houston vs KSC etc.

    Expect to see a proposal for the manufacturing site soon after the launch site is approved… I would bet the politicians have been briefed on that already.

  • Malmesbury wrote:

    Bringing space launch to Texas would be popular with those in Texas angry about the end of Shuttle, Houston vs KSC etc.

    It’s about 350 miles from Houston to Brownsville. The only people in Texas “angry about the end of Shuttle” are the space workers in Houston who thought they had a guaranteed government contractor job for life. Outside of that, nobody cares.

    The rumor around KSC is that SpaceX has lost interest in 39A, but like most things it’s only a rumor. A ULA source told me they have no interest in 39A or 39B, that the Atlas V’s for commercial crew will launch from LC-41.

    I should note that SpaceX is working on an expansion of their horizontal integration facility at LC-40 to accommodate the larger Merlin engines coming in future flights. I haven’t been by LC-40 in a while but I can see them from the causeway building an expansion to the facility.

  • vulture4

    The overhead costs for operations from LC-39 are immense and there is no simple way around them. The VAB is almost 50 years old and impossible to air condition. The MLPs and crawlers are huge and complex, and require considerable maintenance. Simply moving a vehicle from the VAB to the pad takes an entire day. ULA and SpaceX can man-rate their existing pads and operate them for a fraction of the cost. They would in my opinion be extremely unwise to take on the cost of operating LC-39 unless they had no alternative.

    At the primary debate Mr. Romney blamed Mr. Obama for all the shuttle-related job losses while also endorsing the Ryan budget proposal, which will reduce the budget for spaceflight by about 6%. Romney presented no actual plan for space but if he is elected he will form a panel with the military and industry to decide NASA’s mission. He believes NASA should be funded in part by private industry. At no time did he mention the moon except to say that he opposed spending tax dollars on manned lunar exploration.

  • Das Boese

    amightywind wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Angela Merkel is no fan of Obama.

    I’m no fan of Angela Merkel
    (Like the majority of my fellow citizens, btw).
    Funny enough that you bring her up though, as in America she’d be rated a far-left liberal.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I should note that SpaceX is working on an expansion of their horizontal integration facility at LC-40 to accommodate the larger Merlin engines coming in future flights.

    Just to clarify, the engines per se are not larger, but they are more powerful. Because of that SpaceX is able to lengthen the body of the Falcon 9 (i.e. the need for a longer building) and lift more mass to orbit.

    Space Launch Report has details and diagrams here. Once online, the uprated Falcon 9 will eat into more of the Atlas V market (which Falcon Heavy did by default anyways). More bad news for ULA, and likely more bad news for ESA’s Ariane 5 market too.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 16th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    In fact, they rec’d Federal funding as follows

    The landlord (the U.S. Government) paid for tenant improvements to an old facility – happens every day virtually everywhere. SpaceX doesn’t own the improvements, and they don’t take them when they leave.

    You’ve been schooled on this before. How ignorant can you be???

  • Malmesbury

    “I should note that SpaceX is working on an expansion of their horizontal integration facility at LC-40 to accommodate the larger Merlin engines coming in future flights.”

    AKA Falcon 9 v1.1

    I think you are misunderstanding my Texas comments – there would be much broader support politically for SpaceX building a launch site there than just (ex-)workers at Houston. There’s a supporting community that thinks that Texas got the unpleasant end of the stick from NASA.

    Holding out the carrot of building rockets in Texas – which would be needed for a single stick follow on to Falcon Heavy, for instance – would have the politicians salivating.

    You’d have to be mad to transition from the existing fairly lean SpaceX ops to using the VAB etc. IMHO. I can’t see why anyone would use that setup unless they had to.

  • Paul

    The move to a Texas launch site is interesting – it will give SpaceX freedom of operations, reduced range cost. It also has the possibility of building a manufacturing site near the launch site… Which would enable build much larger cores for heavy lifters. At the moment transport of finished stages creates size limits.

    If they can get stages to the Texas coast, they can barge them to Florida.

    I wonder if once they prove the vertical landing capability of the first stage cores, if they’ll be able to recover them in Florida after a Texas launch.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Except you’re wrong. It’s a simple matter of fulfilling contracted services– and it is supplemental, as the proverbial international ‘fishing trawler’ routinely servicing the floating outpost has been making reliable runs for decades. Safe. routine– just as Soyuz and Progress have been servicing LEO platforms for decades, and the international space station as well.”

    Except progress and Soyuz are not international. In fact fishing trawlers and ships are not international either (a ship must have a registered port and a company has its head quarters somewhere). Like most countries the US would prefer to pay companies located in its boarders for the task. Notice the Japanese don’t use Progress and ESA uses ATV. The US government will not use Lufthansa airlines over say United, if United goes to the same destination. Nor would it be in our best long term interest never to develop our own appropriate cargo and crew ability.
    Not to mention Soyuz is lacking. It can only hold 3, the US section has room for 4. It can only bring down about 100 pounds worth of stuff, Dragon brought down 1,400 pounds on that test flight. Soyuz and Progress production are linked meaning the factory can only turn out so many of each and at times they were near capacity. Progress has no ability to return anything, holds less volume than dragon, carries less mass and has a smaller hatch than dragon.

    The only reason why the US was forced to use Soyuz was because the Bush II administration cancelled the ISS’s lifeboat. Otherwise the plan was to use the Shuttle for cargo and crew (until Columbia fell in pieces to the ground). Although the shuttle did have issues when it came to on time performance as one poor person got stuck on the ISS an extra month and NASA latter had to take the Shuttle off crew transfer duty(It’s work on construction often interfered with bringing personnel back on time).

    Anyway what you fail to see is that Space X is not that far from being able to supply a station at l1/l2 orbit or even the moon. By having the Falcon 9 in production and in use, it makes the FH more economical, and the FH has enough power to throw cargo to a station at l1/l2 and could probably land a cargo Lander on the moon.

  • Rhyolite

    “No. We cannot defy economic reality.”

    But some how we can afford purposeless pork rockets. Make up your mind.

  • Rhyolite

    “…Romney has said he will cut the NASA budget. He has to, since he promises to cut taxes and most of it must come out of discretionary spending.”

    Um…or he could just run ever larger deficits like the last couple of tax cutting presidents.

  • Rhyolite

    “If it cost a much to send supplies to the Antarctica as it does to the moon, there would be no bases there.”

    Conversely, if it did cost as much to send supplies to the moon as it does to Antarctica no one would have a problem with setting up a moon base.

    Ironically, the porkers wouldn’t be interested in the moon if it could be done on the cheap.

  • Rhyolite

    “Apples. oranges.”

    Apples: contractor delivers, contractor gets paid.

    Oranges: Contractor slides, contractor still gets paid. Contractor overruns, contractor gets paid more. Contractor never delvers.

    Cancel the oranges. Buy more apples.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rhyolite wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    “Um…or he could just run ever larger deficits like the last couple of tax cutting presidents.”

    Willard would end up doing what Bush43 did and that is exploding the deficit at elast for a couple of years until the people reigned him in by cycling through the Congress…

    We are going to have a taste of that this summer as the debate over sequestration heats up…and it will heat up starting August and Sept if not earlier thanks to the defense industry.

    The industry that puts a lie to the GOP notion that the federal government does not create jobs, the defense industry is warming up to send layoff notices about 4-6 days before the election….and we will see that in the space industry as well…as corporations try to save their pork and their phoney baloney jobs.

    Willard is doubtless going to argue for stopping the entire process and supporting the notion of killing social programs to fund the pentagon or will retreat to the Ryan budget which is a source of comfort for the Obama political machine…what will Obama do?

    Anyway the GOP is incapable of balancing a budget…they cannot cut the corporate welfare machine. and as long as they funnel money to the “well off” the American economic engine will stall. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    “I think you are misunderstanding my Texas comments – there would be much broader support politically for SpaceX building a launch site there than just (ex-)workers at Houston”

    actually both of you have good comments. There will be little or no support for a SpaceX facility by “ex” space industry workers in Texas. Musk wont employ enough of them to matter (he cant and stay a lean mean machine)…and the job is not really a commute job…

    There is enormous support in the Valley area for this project however. this could be a real game changer for that area….it doesnt have a lot of hard industry and a successful launch facility will bring that.

    Plus…I suspect that there will be a lot of US government work there in the future. Musk is aiming (in my view) for three customers with this place…the first is the geo launch industry, the second is any private space stations that develop, and the third is a “space repair” industry that I think is going to be the first real space industry to come from cheaper launch.

    Both the military/spook shops and private industry are going to see larger and larger “rafts” develop up in Geo…and they are going to move to being able to service those…

    The question really is how to maintain the relevance of NASA JSC now. RGO

  • amightywind

    Funny enough that you bring her up though, as in America she’d be rated a far-left liberal.

    Her kind doesn’t exist here, a fiscally conservative liberal. In America the left are lootters, like the Greeks. She is good friends with GDub which should tell you something.

  • Malmesbury

    actually both of you have good comments. There will be little or no support for a SpaceX facility by “ex” space industry workers in Texas. Musk wont employ enough of them to matter (he cant and stay a lean mean machine)…and the job is not really a commute job…

    Short enough distance that it’s a re-locate rather than a migration – but true enough.

    If SpaceX has its own launch site/range on the Texas coast, the temptation to move the manufacturing to feed that site there will be substantial. If they go the route that I suspect they will – follow on FH with a single stick capable of 60 tons to LEO/14 tons to GTO – think bigger diameter. If FH is a success, such a vehicle could be justified as a simplification + performance improvement. But think what the heavy version of *that* could do…..

    All of that would depend of having easy access from the factory to launch site. Shipping 10m cores cross country would be fun…

  • DCSCA

    @athfinder_01 wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    “Except progress and Soyuz are not international.”

    =blink= Except they are. Certainly from the U.S. perspective, and, of course, they’ve carried many crews from the international community, including the U.S. and the base design of the spacecraft was obtained and modified for use by the PRC.

    “Anyway what you fail to see is that Space X is not that far from being able to supply a station at l1/l2 orbit or even the moon.” Another press release. After two test flights, 17 months apart, it has delivered 1,000 pounds of sundries to LEO– late. You fail to see this is strictly a business matter. A firm contracted to deliver goods and services failed to meet its schedule even w/contractual modifications in their favor, and delivered 1,000 pounds of sundries- late, to a doomed-to-splash platform by the end of the decade or so. The irony is had the ISS been permanently anchored to the floor of the Ocean of Storms (a return to the moon which Garver oppsed in her NSS days) as a lunar exploration/exploitation hub rather than doomed to a Pacific splash in 8 years or so, and commercial firms were today encouraged to compete for contracting to shuttle supplies to the moon and back, the concept would have been an a wiser investment and easier sell for support to both exploitation and exploration camps. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, headed no place fast.

  • pathfinder_01

    “There will be little or no support for a SpaceX facility by “ex” space industry workers in Texas. Musk wont employ enough of them to matter (he cant and stay a lean mean machine)…and the job is not really a commute job…”

    Politically speaking they are beginning to matter less and less as more of them move/find jobs outside of the NASA. Esp. as many of them are getting to realize that even if SLS is produced it will be years before their skills would be needed. Only the fraction of them that still have jobs in aerospace doing less shuttle related things or working on SLS are going to keep supporting SLS. Plus frankly SLS is rather bad for JSC as Chris Kraft suggested.

    “The question really is how to maintain the relevance of NASA JSC now.”

    Commercial crew plans to do training at JSC. However I am not sure about operations. Space X’s control room is in Florida and they said they only plan to add a flight surgeon when they do crew. Also there are some potential ISS missions that could keep them relevant (I know your no fan of the ISS). The trouble right now is outside the pittance given to commercial crew, huge sums are given to SLS. A rocket that really isn’t needed, costs too much to do any meaningful work, and takes far too long for its first mission. JSC really got sold short when it came to FY2011.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ Nice to see that SpaceX doing business in Texas is upsetting the usual suspects….

    Is Rick Perry an Obama supporter?”

    Not sure if you were joking or not since you are not in the states, but Rick Perry is NOT a Obama supporter. He recently tried (and failed) to get the Republican nomination to run against Obama for President. When it comes to bringing private industry jobs to a state, it matters not the party of the Governor or President.

  • Malmesbury

    Not sure if you were joking or not since you are not in the states, but Rick Perry is NOT a Obama supporter.

    I was employing sarcasm.

  • Coastal Ron

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    If SpaceX has its own launch site/range on the Texas coast, the temptation to move the manufacturing to feed that site there will be substantial. If they go the route that I suspect they will – follow on FH with a single stick capable of 60 tons to LEO/14 tons to GTO – think bigger diameter.

    The Texas site may be a good place to build and launch a Falcon X or XX, but there isn’t a market for a rocket of that size, and SpaceX hasn’t run the upgrade course of their current Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

    I see them concentrating on perfecting reusability (if it’s possible), which will change the market substantially without having to go bigger than what a Falcon Heavy can lift.

    The only way I see that changing is if the U.S. decides to cancel the SLS and put the requirement out for competition. SpaceX would likely win that competition, but I’m sure there would be a big competition between Florida and Texas for where it would be built and launched.

    But since the only reason for the SLS is to employ people in certain states, I don’t see the U.S. needing a government-owned HLV after the SLS is cancelled. However I do think politicians will start putting together pretty enticing tax-payer funded incentive packages to woo SpaceX to build their new launch site in their state and not somewhere else.

  • A M Swallow

    JSC is mission control. It needs a manned moon base so it has plenty of mission to control.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    In America the left are lootters, like the Greeks…

    Apparently you know nothing of the stock crash in 1929 led by conservstive banksers and speculators, the right wing policies of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover which precipitated same and the melt-down in 2008 of the banking system, fueled over 30 years by persistent deregulation of protections instituted by FDR, not to mention the collapse of the American auto industry- all championed by conservative, right wing businessmen and bankers in both eras. Sober up, Windy.

  • [Romney] believes NASA should be funded in part by private industry.

    Why would private industry do that? Certainly Scott Pace and Mike Griffin don’t believe that.

  • pathfinder_01

    DSCS, Here are the things you learn in LEO, and why down mass can be important:

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/home/food_storage.html

    The space environment does not seem to degrade food/supplements faster than on the ground. However it does degrade medicine faster.

    http://io9.com/5792860/medicine-doesnt-work-properly-in-space

    Both have implications for BEO spaceflight in terms of duration (How long is the food good for?) Spacecraft design (Do I need a radiation shielded medicine cabinet?) What foods should I bring along and how should I test them (i.e. You can probably test reliably on the ground for food, no radiation needed. With medicine you probably should test with radiation if on the ground).

    It is a lot cheaper to do this kind of work in LEO than say on the moon or mars and I would rather learn that the antibiotic might not work in LEO than travel to the moon, need said antibiotic,after 2 days find out it is not working(went bad in three months), and I have at least a 3 day trip home from the moon.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    There will be little or no support for a SpaceX facility by “ex” space industry workers in Texas. Musk wont employ enough of them to matter (he cant and stay a lean mean machine)…and the job is not really a commute job…

    It should also be noted that SpaceX has shown a general inclination *not* to hire the older generation that worked in the NASA bureaucracy. They want young minds with fresh ideas. We learned last month that the average age of a SpaceX employee is 30. The last thing SpaceX wants is some lifelong NASA bureaucrat grousing about coffee breaks and why a standing army of contractors is needed to screw in a lightbulb.

    One reason the space worker union members here in Brevard County hate NewSpace so much is that they’re finding out the private sector is much more efficient than a government bureauracy. It’s not about perpetuating jobs to get re-elected. It’s about the bottom line.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 6:58 am
    “It should also be noted that SpaceX has shown a general inclination *not* to hire the older generation that worked in the NASA bureaucracy.”

    IN large measure this will be a successful path for SpaceX and might be the difference in the long run between say Orbital and SpaceX.

    When SWA started they were (and still are) pretty careful who they hire but at least at the start they were pretty adamant about hiring “old airline” people…they had some “experienced hands’ but for the most part they started fairly early the “good old person” network that without today you still cannot get a job at SWA…It wasnt so much that these were bad people (the ones they didnt want) it was just for one reason or another they detected some inflexibility in how those people “thought” in terms of operations.

    We had a pretty large party here yesterday and some NASA folks were down…I’ve hung out before but it was interesting to me to listen to the “well they got this far but it will be hard to go farther” from the same people who didnt think that they would get this far.

    But here is the takeaway from a few things (in my view).

    First the sum of money that it takes to build a human capable space vehicle/launch system is probably close to 2.4 billion dollars. What that means if you can put together the right people with the right technology almost any developed country and most large US “aerospace” corporations could do it…problem is as SWA illustrates that might be harder then just spending the money…ie replication might be hard.

    Second; I will bet you any currency you want…that the Reds spent more money putting together their launch system and copy of Soyuz…on the order of say 10 to 20 times what SpaceX has spent so far.

    this is important because it proves what has been known since a long time ago or at least in aviation since the DC-3, the P-51, the B-17 and say the J-3 cub…that in a near mature technology the US can outdo any other country with the proper “mix” of public private effort.

    Three…NASA is out of the launch business. It is going to take sometime to figure that out; but in the end the old ways have simply ground their entire process to a halt.

    It is both a difficult and exciting time RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    @amightywind wrote @ June 17th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    In America the left are lootters, like the Greeks…>

    LOL

    the biggest looters in America are the various industrial complexes that have lined up at the public trough all while spouting the values of free enterprise.

    From the Banking industry which Bush bailed out to the military industrial complex which sucks at a bloated GOP driven defense budget to the space industrial complex which sucks at a smaller budget these are “horses that eat but dont work”

    the only thing that has kept them afloat is the notion that they appeal in rhetoric to a low information base. the goofballs who sing “I am proud to be an American” all the while producing inferior products and lying to everyone. For instance people like Palin who beat up on national health care…but have it themselves…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/06/17/the-space-race-shifts-gears/

    this is a typical right wing nut job site (one of the people who post there beats up on anchor babies and she is one)…but it is an interesting take on the Chinese launch.

    the reality is that the “uberpower” space advocates the ones who talk about going to the Moonetc are kind of becoming like solar power station people….no one outside their little group takes them seriously.

    What is entertaining to me…is that we cannot pursue a space (or military) policy anymore that is like the past, simply because we can thanks to the various industrial complexes afford it at any price. We are spending almost 3/4 of a trillion dollars on defense and yet we get little for it…we cannot even maintain some of our ships…or Fix the F-22 Oxygen system…
    we are spending 3 billion ayear on SLS/Orion and making no real progress.

    that is not a money problem.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/18/red_moon_rising?page=0,0

    this article is a lot of “maybe’s” chasing a conclusion. read carefully the writer never says “why” the Chinese would try and annex parts of the Moon…except a few vague references to Alaska and such…that are out of historical context. It is a lot of conjecture…for instance he has the Japanese planning a lunar base by 2020. RGO

  • common sense

    Robert I agree with you on the most part you’ve written. I think you have a good handle as to the SpaceX hiring policy and why.

    I think China may (I cannot know fore sure but it would not surprise me) have spent a lot more than SpaceX if not close to a NASA like project. But a lot of people do fail to understand the motivation. China is not in trying to build a new market but rather to assert its position as superpower. It is therefore their obligation to their people to demonstrate they are a superpower, even though it is futile, as we have learned. But they probably have as many “right wing” ideologues as we do (percetage-wise of course…).

    What I find pretty idiotic is how many fail to understand that it does not matter, to us, whether they set foot on the Moon or anywhere in space.

    It does matter however that we create an environment in which the people, primarily of the US, of the world can access space as they see fit – within some constraints of course, e.g. no WMD in the Sea of Tranquility ;).

    We, the US, and the world, including China, will be much better off if we succeed in showing that space is relevant for the bettering of our society(ies).

    Not who has the biggest d… err rocket.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    “What I find pretty idiotic is how many fail to understand that it does not matter, to us, whether they set foot on the Moon or anywhere in space. ”

    all countries are balancing acts because all countries consist of multiple (and growing) constituencies which must be balanced in their demands etc. The Chinese leadership is in large measure trying to work their way into “nationhood” as a major power on the world stage while trying to balance a series of competing needs mostly domestically.

    I dont see any evidence that the Chinese are moving into the Soviet Union model of world power projection; indeed the only two countries I see trying to fill that vacumn is the US and Israel. Both are trying to use superior military power as more a threat then an inducement and in my view it is to our (and the Israelis) detriment.

    I sort of view the Chinese effort as you mentioned; sort of a “wow folks at home we are great” kind of an Olympic gold medal thing…the effort is not getting wideplay on the US media markets nor really those of the world….and the Chinese spending money on hospitals in Africa is doing far more for them then anything else.

    Where the real space powerhouses are going to be in the future is the same as on earth…the people/nation who can control their resources are going to be the real powers…access to space is a resource.

    RGO

  • josh

    “ATK was a critical element of DIRECT as they are of SLS. I am a fan of DIRECT.”

    lol. could you make it any more obvious that all you care about is your job? i think not.

  • josh

    “You apparently are an advocate of cronyism.”

    make that blatanly obvious advocate for cronyism and i agree.

  • josh

    “Well, unemployment has been over 8% for all of Obama’s term. The nation’s borders have been thrown open to welfare seeking illegals. Our fiscal outlook is as bad as Greece. America and the rest of the world will breath a sigh of relief when the Bolsheviks are routed. Your countrymen seem to think otherwise. Angela Merkel is no fan of Obama.”

    have you ever left the us. the rest of the world hates romney and the gop. i’m german and i can assure you that merkel would be considered a “bolshevik” by your ilk (ofc you don’t know the first thing about german politics). that’s because she is a sane person and not a sociopathic, ideologically twisted corporate shill like 80% of the modern gop.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    “I will bet you any currency you want…that the Reds spent more money putting together their launch system and copy of Soyuz…on the order of say 10 to 20 times what SpaceX has spent so far.”

    Conjecture in the dark, of course. Apples, oranges as well. The PRC also invested in constructing their own ‘Cape Canaveral’ for their ops as well, but then you’re unimpressed with them anyway and surely have radioed up to them your dismissall of same by now from your Texas radio shack as they passed overhead. And, of course, the PRC investment is a government expenditure for geo-political purposes unlike Space X, which is a contracted, for hire, for profit, private enterprised set-up. A set-up which in case yo need reminding, has failed to launch , orbit and return any crews safely. The PRC has. You’re comparing a government expenditure for geo-political purposes, like a U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, to hiring the S.S. Minnow for a three hour tour. Hence, you’re lost at sea when commenting on space ops policy in the ‘New Ocean’ of space.

  • vulture4

    “I dont see any evidence that the Chinese are moving into the Soviet Union model of world power projection”

    I have no way to know for sure, but based on the perspectives of some friends from there, I would suggest this: China does not forget its centuries of foreign occupation, first by the West and then by Japan. The government of China feels compelled to prove to its citizens that the country is strong and respected. Some do indeed look to military power as a way to achieve this. But others feel military expansion would endanger the overarching goals of political stability and economic growth. They promote Chinese leadership in space, not as a projection of military force as some in the US believe, but as a substitute for it, much as Kennedy saw a race to the moon as a substitute for the nuclear arms race. Except that, ironically, China does not want to race the US to the moon but rather to be invited to join the ISS program, a move that would develop trust and confidence between potential nuclear adversaries and show that China has arrived as a world leader.

    Of course the xenophobic hostility towards China of Congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the committee that controls NASA appropriations, doesn’t help the situation. It’s ironic that Virginia is spending a lot of time and money trying to build exports to China.

  • amightywind

    make that blatanly obvious advocate for cronyism and i agree.

    No. Rather I am opposed the the lies of newspace and their over hyped, quotidian designs.

  • Bennett

    “quotidian” Ha! Had to reach for your thesaurus for that obvious cry for attention, eh?

    Oh wow damn he’s smart.

    I gotta laugh as I watch NASA try to do (and they are making progress) with Morpheus what Maston Space has been doing for years with its RLVs.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Rather I am opposed the the lies of newspace and their over hyped, quotidian designs.

    This from someone that likes a rocket that is based on 40-50 year old designs? Not to mention a capsule that it’s designer calls “Apollo on steroids”.

    Quotidian indeed.

    As to “lies”, it’s the lies about being on-budget with multi-$Billion programs that concern me most, which is why I like the milestone programs so much – no progress, no payment.

    Meanwhile, after over $5B spent there still isn’t a capsule from Lockheed Martin that can fly. That is real taxpayer money that hasn’t produced anything of value except jobs in certain political districts.

    The lie about the SLS and MPCV is that they are worth the money. They’re not.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “Well, unemployment has been over 8% for all of Obama’s term. The nation’s borders have been thrown open to welfare seeking illegals. Our fiscal outlook is as bad as Greece. America and the rest of the world will breath a sigh of relief when the Bolsheviks are routed. Your countrymen seem to think otherwise. Angela Merkel is no fan of Obama.”

    repeating lies often enough is what passes for GOP truth and has since the Karl Rove era started but …

    unemployment was rising when Obama took office; it was rising as the US economy collapsed under 8 years of mismangement and one tax gift after another to the uber rich…

    The US outlook is no where near as dire as Greece, it is goofy to even make such a statement. It sounds good to the uninformed voters who node in agreement to everything Rush says but its a lie

    The borders are far more secure then when Bush left office.

    Willard Mitt Romney is thought of as an idiot outside the GOP right wing. His babbling on the “immigration issue” is simply incoherent…did you hear his reasoning on FAce the Nation as to why he wanted to be POTUS? I posted about two minutes of it on my facebook page it is well like the sstuff you spew. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    that is really in my viewpoint well said…and quite timely.

    I am sure that the period of foreign occupation (which was not all that long ago doubtless some very old people remember it…I saying I heard a lot in China was ” today is wonderful compared to my Grandparents”) and you did the math and you knew it was…) has a real impact on their concepts of nationhood…old memories die hard particularly when you were screwed like the Chinese were (this is one issue that the Vietnamese had) …

    I am not for sure however that becoming a partner in ISS is their game. It might be but the Reds junior partner badly and while we might deal with them very nicely once we got over the idiots like most of the GOP, the Russians would not.

    I really dont care to make them a partner. My guess is that they are headed for a sort of “asian space station”…Anyway good thoughts on your part. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    “No. Rather I am opposed the the lies of newspace”

    you mean lies like “The Falcon9 second stage is spinning out of control”? Lies like that? LOL RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 18th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    “I dont see any evidence that the Chinese are moving into the Soviet Union model of world power projection…”

    That’s because, as evidenced by your multitude of errant postings, you’re blind to geopolitcs and the interpretations of same.

  • josh

    @windy

    thanks for proving my point.

  • josh

    @dcsca

    if only they’d let you run the state department or some high powered foreign policy think tank…lol
    instead you’re begging for attention on the internet, sad…

  • common sense

    @ josh wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 6:31 am

    “@dcsca

    if only they’d let you run the state department ”

    Come on, I realize that the GOP has created some animosity in Germany but wishing something like this to us is not germanly.

    Then again we may end up with the Union of Socialist Americans uniting with the PRC, People’s Republic of Capitalism in a major space program run by S(cott). Pace X.

    Argghh.

    Oh well.

  • have you ever left the us. the rest of the world hates romney and the gop.

    Yes, we understand that most outside of the U.S. are massively ignorant about U.S. politics.

  • I’ve posted on YouTube the webcast of today’s commercial space hearing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmNymaDj2UQ

    You won’t be surprised to find out only three senators showed up, and they were the usual suspects — Bill Nelson, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and John Boozman.

    Hutchison went off on another one of her SLS rants …

  • Hutchison went off on another one of her SLS rants …

    Fortunately, we won’t have to listen to them starting next year.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Stephen,

    Frankly, what was far more newsworthy than her SLS statements, was how she (and only she) was of the opinion that ISS will end in 2020.

    That, is frankly somewhat stunning

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Careful, goes both ways.

  • Ferris Valyn wrote:

    Frankly, what was far more newsworthy than her SLS statements, was how she (and only she) was of the opinion that ISS will end in 2020.

    As someone observed in a tweet to me, now that they can’t kill commercial crew by cancelling it, they’ll kill it simply by removing the destination.

    No matter. Hutchison retires at year’s end, so she can go off to her padded cell.

    Nelson was just as adamant that it will be extended, although by 2020 he may be retired too.

    I was glad to see someone from Bigelow finally invited to these hearings, although Mr. Gold could be a bit overbearing. He’s a lawyer and behaved like one.

  • Nelson was just as adamant that it will be extended, although by 2020 he may be retired too.

    He may be retired in November.

  • pathfinder_01

    “He may be retired in November.”

    Most polls put Nelson ahead.

  • Most polls put Nelson ahead.

    That’s why I said “may.” He doesn’t have an opponent yet, and a lot can happen between now and November.

  • josh

    “Yes, we understand that most outside of the U.S. are massively ignorant about U.S. politics.”

    actually it is you who is ignorant about the politics of your own country. that is the only explanation for supporting a party that is so clearly corrupt, consistently advocating for corporatism/cronyism, advancing fiscal policies that are bankrupting your country (more tax cuts for the rich while raising taxes on the lower and middle classes and increasing an out-of-control military budget), waging war on women’s rights, introducing creationism in the class room, introducing xenophobic immigration laws, hating on the president because he is black…the list goes on.
    today’s conservatives are rotten to the core and need to be stopped.

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