Congress, NASA, Other

Briefly: Hutchison’s goals, lobbying for GEMS, and possible confusion over an FAA/NASA MOU

As previously noted here, retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) sees NASA in a “good position” to both make use of the International Space Station and explore beyond Earth orbit, a position she reiterates in an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday. “America should have two goals,” she writes. “First, to ensure manned access to the International Space Station,” to make use of the station, citing specifically the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) on the ISS. “Second, to achieve manned space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, places where no human has ever been.” “NASA is an investment, not an expenditure,” she argues, whose funding should be supported.

Earlier this month NASA announced it was canceling a small astronomy mission, the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS), citing cost overruns of 20-30 percent on a mission that had been cost-capped at $119 million. That decision especially hurt Orbital Sciences Corporation, which was contracted to both build GEMS and launch it on its Pegasus XL rocket. Space News now reports that Orbital is lobbying Congress to restore the mission, claiming NASA’s cancellation decision was based on “an erroneous and incomplete set of cost, schedule and technical data”. It also warns the cancellation of GEMS may result in the layoffs of up to 150 people currently working on the satellite, and even retirement of the little-used Pegasus XL, which launched last week for the first time since October 2008 with only one other mission on its manifest.

On Monday the FAA and NASA announced a memorandum of understanding about how the two agencies will cooperate on regulation and oversight of commercial cargo and crew missions. The contents of the MOU were not that surprising, and most of the news came from the comments that NASA administrator Charles Bolden made about the status of the commercial crew program and when awards for the its next phase will be made. Nonetheless, the MOU got an endorsement from an unexpected source. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) told Dayton TV station WDTN that the agreement could lead to local jobs. How? “We know that with the Air Force they have the experience, expertise on unmanned, operating unmanned vehicles,” he told the TV station. “NASA of course has the issue of space, and FAA has the ability working with the commercial sector. As we get all of them cooperating and working together we know that it could mean jobs back here at home.” From his comments, and a speech he made last month, he may have been confusing the FAA/NASA MOU on commercial spaceflight with efforts to get FAA, NASA, and the Air Force to cooperate on UAVs.

106 comments to Briefly: Hutchison’s goals, lobbying for GEMS, and possible confusion over an FAA/NASA MOU

  • vulture4

    “Second, to achieve manned space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, places where no human has ever been.”
    That would exclude the moon, since humans have been there. OTOH since Congress is going to cut the discretionary budget after Romney is elected, it isn’t clear how NASA will get anywhere BEO. And since Congress will block anything Obama supports, even LEO will be accessible only by hiching a ride with the Russians. If not for Wolf we would at least have the choice of riding with the Chinese. It’s curious that Congress never questions the DOD space budget.

  • common sense

    “he may have been confusing the FAA/NASA MOU on commercial spaceflight with efforts to get FAA, NASA, and the Air Force to cooperate on UAVs.”

    I have no idea of why he said what he said but the upcoming technology for crewed vehicles will most likely transition to a vehicle without “Pilot in Command”. There will possibly be a System Manager but the notion of someone actually “piloting” one of those vehicles will eventually be retired. Goggles and scarf will take a different path. So even though the vehicles may not be literally “unmanned” they may not have any one actually controlling them with a stick and rudder. So the work on UAVs may eventually feed into the work on commercial space for certification and the like.

    FWIW.

  • Rhyolite

    “Earlier this month NASA announced it was canceling a small astronomy mission, the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS), citing cost overruns of 20-30 percent on a mission”

    What’s the overrun on MPCV and JWST? Anyone want to venture what the overrun will be on SLS? Too bad they don’t apply this criteria across the board for canceling programs.

  • ArtieT

    Astrophysics doesn’t have the money to cover the over runs on GEMS. They are broke. A larger issue for NASA is , what if “Commercial Space” Orbital decides demands for the Pegasus are too low to make money, and they cancel production of Pegasus? Then what will small missions get launched on? There is no more Delta II either….not good.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rhyolite wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    “What’s the overrun on MPCV and JWST? Anyone want to venture what the overrun will be on SLS? ”

    It is already 1 billion and about 18 months. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    “NASA is an investment, not an expenditure,” she argues, whose funding should be supported.”

    the problem is of course that she is wrong. there is little or no data to support a claim that NASA is an investment any more then any federal spending is. NASA HSF has not developed a product for the dollars spent that can be labeled on investment.

    Jeff Bingham is just repeating previous nonesense. RGO

  • yg1968

    What did Bolden say about commercial crew?

  • Coastal Ron

    ArtieT wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    what if “Commercial Space” Orbital decides demands for the Pegasus are too low to make money, and they cancel production of Pegasus?

    The GEMS mission was one of only two forecasted missions for the Pegasus XL, and the launch that just occurred was it’s first since 2008. It doesn’t sound like it will affect anyone if it ceases to be available.

    Then what will small missions get launched on? There is no more Delta II either

    As to alternatives, Delta II is still available from ULA, although I don’t know if the price is comparable or even affordable.

    Boeing is targeting the 100 lb market with their proposed air-launched reusable system, and depending on where the payloads need to go, maybe their best bets (and least expensive options) are to be secondary payloads?

  • Coastal Ron

    The agreement with the FAA should be the last major open question from Congress that NASA had to answer, and they have answered all of them successfully.

    - Milestone programs are cost effective – the most NASA capability for the least taxpayer money.

    - Private industry is up to the challenge.

    - NASA will be in charge of validating commercial transportation providers are safe for government personnel to use.

    Unless Congress wants to keep sending money to Russia, there is no longer any reason to not fully fund the CCiCap program.

  • amightywind

    America should have two goals,” she writes. “First, to ensure manned access to the International Space Station

    Senator KBH is a lame duck. I maintain that not setting a top priority is no decision at all, which is the crudy status quo. Manned access to ISS is now not likely to exist before 2018. Obama has blown another year! ISS will shutdown 2 years later. What’s the point?

    to make use of the station, citing specifically the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

    What a laugh. An unmanned AMS mission would have been far simpler and produced better results.

    a memorandum of understanding about how the two agencies will cooperate on regulation and oversight of commercial cargo and crew missions.

    I get queasy just reading this.

    That decision especially hurt Orbital Sciences Corporation, which was contracted to both build GEMS and launch it on its Pegasus XL rocket.

    Boo flippin’ hoo.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    NASA HSF has not developed a product for the dollars spent that can be labeled on investment.

    NASA Planetary Science hasn’t developed a product either after sending many explorers beyond Earth’s orbit, yet we still do it. Probably the same for every telescope, institutional and amateur, including yours.

    If we don’t know when we’ll see a ROI, then in my mind it’s an investment with an indefinite date for payback. That happens throughout the science community, so the only difference here is that it’s the science of survival – how do we survive off planet Earth?

    Now granted that’s an implied goal, but every HSF program is essentially based on our desire to learn how to leave, survive and do things off planet Earth, no matter the length of time. Not everyone agrees with that goal, but I’m fine allocating a small amount of my tax dollars for it, just as I want a small amount of my tax dollars to go towards medical research and military research.

    Who knows what they will learn or discover, and whether it will ever matter to me. But it might someday, to either me or my descendants. That’s why it’s an investment.

  • Robert G. Oler

    ArtieT wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    “Then what will small missions get launched on?”

    that is a real issue, but the hope is that with excess capability on Falcon 9 and Heavy launches…the Sherpa system and other innovative ideas (like spaceX has room on the second stage) will come to the fore.

    pegasus is an expensive dead end.

    RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    The reason that JWST was not cancelled at its 2008 confirmation review was that the review concluded that the project was not 20-30% over the costs the project presented. Of course, as is now well known, that review was wrong. I have to assume that given the problems with the JWST confirmation review that led to a seriously underfunded project going forward, this confirmation review of GEMS was done more carefully.

    It is truly astonishing that, except for the international partnership on Astro-H, there are NO NEW astrophysics research missions on the books for launch until JWST is launched in 2018. That’s the cliff that JWST has pushed NASA astrophysics over. Or maybe that’s the cliff that the astrophysics community has thrown themselves over.

    Of course there will be a downselect for an Explorer mission next year, which might result in an astrophysics mission. But it might not. In any case, such a mission would likely not be launched until around when JWST is launched.

    The argument against GEMS cancellation based on job layoffs is kind of hilarious. Um, you mean NASA thought they could cancel a program without pulling people off jobs? What a concept! Yep, you cancel projects to save money, and the #1 way to save money is by not paying people. Welcome to the real world.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    NASA Planetary Science hasn’t developed a product either after sending many explorers beyond Earth’s orbit, yet we still do it.”

    I understand that….and I think that Planetary Science should work smarter…BUT

    HSF takes more billion both on a yearly basis and a cumlative basis then Planetary Science and it has not even produced the “not product” results that Planetary Science has.

    We know far more about various solar system bodies thanks to uncrewed exploration then we knew before it…I dont follow the other “science” efforts all that much…but I assume we know more about those then we did before.

    We have spent 100′s of billions on human spaceflight since Apollo ended…and yet the basic fundamental questions about long duration human spaceflight and even human spaceflight in general still remain.

    So on a “lets figure out how to do it” and “lets get something for doing it” page…there is a big goose egg or not a large number (this is doubtless going to be misused by someone…grin).

    RGO

  • Justin Kugler

    The ISS will not shut down in 2020. That’s just how long the current agreement between the International Partners runs. Talks have been underway for some time now about joint use of the ISS for BEO exploration efforts and continued utilization throughout the engineering lifetime of the ISS.

  • Paul

    A larger issue for NASA is , what if “Commercial Space” Orbital decides demands for the Pegasus are too low to make money, and they cancel production of Pegasus? Then what will small missions get launched on?

    Falcon 1e? It can put a metric ton in LEO.

  • I get queasy just reading this.

    We get queasy reading everything you write.

    Just kidding. We just laugh.

  • common sense

    @ Justin Kugler wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Any one working on replacing existing nodes with inflatables? As the ISS hardware becomes obsolete or deteriorates that might be a way to keep it going for much longer…

    BTW it is funny that “Talks have been underway for some time now about joint use of the ISS for BEO exploration efforts”. I believe that the original plans of a shuttle/station infrastructure was just that.

    What goes around, comes around. Or something like this ;)

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Falcon 1e? It can put a metric ton in LEO.

    I’d be surprised if that rocket goes back into production.

    Instead I think the market will go over to Stratolaunch (which SpaceX is a partner in), which likely will offer lower prices than Pegasus XL and more capacity to LEO.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Justin Kugler wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    The ISS will not shut down in 2020. >>

    I plan to live long enough to call my present age “mid life”…ISS will be around long after I am done…in some form or fashion. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    admit some lack of knowledge here…what is the STratolaunch target for pounds to LEO? RGO

  • amightywind

    Falcon 1e? It can put a metric ton in LEO.

    Oh yeah. And it excretes Tiffany cuff links as well.

  • Robert G. Oler

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

    this is actually one of Paul’s weakest pieces and that is saying a lot since they have been going downhill for several years.

    It starts with presenting a few facts and then leaps to a conclusion which is essentially the Chinese are going to take over the lunar polar water…and we (the US) must have a plan to stop them…

    There are no facts to back the complete statement of Spudis up

    “In contrast, China is conducting an incremental, step-wise effort to gradually but inexorably extend their reach and influence in space, first into low Earth orbit and then into cislunar space and beyond. ”

    there is no evidence to back this up Paul…you simply have none.

    Paul’s plan of course is a government run mimic of Apollo a “20-30 year” plan which he argues that the Chinese are doing (in total absence of anything but his own ravings).

    The reality is that such a plan in the US, even if it were needed (and there are no facts for that) is undoable . There is no political support for such a plan, absent any clear reasons for it, and worse the US government sponsored space infrastructure has deterorated to such a point, that at 20-30 year plan…is incapable of producing results.

    Cx and SLS have run for 8 or so years, spent tens of billions…and produced nothing of value.

    and then there are the flat out errors.
    “Many in the U.S. space community argue that the development of commercial launch services through federal subsidies is a goal.”

    so far the effort to develop commercial crew or cargo has received no subsidies. Subsidies Paul are what you want for your plan. F minus

    RGO

  • josh

    “It is already 1 billion and about 18 months.”

    interesting. where did you get this info? if true nasa and atk are staying true to form, i.e. failing miserably.

  • Justin Kugler

    @ common sense: Nothing entirely new under the sun, my friend. :)

    And, yes, there is interest in doing inflatables demonstrations on the ISS. Bigelow has proposed such a demo and NASA has its own new designs that might be tested there.

  • pathfinder_01

    “interesting. where did you get this info? if true nasa and atk are staying true to form, i.e. failing miserably”

    EM-1 mission was supposed to by DEC FY-2017:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/02/exploration-mission-1-sls-orion-debut-mission-moon-outlined

    Now looks like Dec FY2018:
    http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Geyer_6-6-12/

    not a lot so slippage all things considered, but still a year. However, I fail to understand why in that power point presentation after slipping to 2018, they still think the manned mission can be done by 2021? If you slip a year usually everything else slips a year too.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    admit some lack of knowledge here…what is the STratolaunch target for pounds to LEO?

    6,100 kg (13,500 lb) payload into low Earth orbit, price unknown.

    I don’t know if that is the maximum they could do (i.e. non-reusable stages) or that is the plan with reusability.

    As a comparison, Pegasus XL can put 450 kg into LEO for $40M, and the vertically launched Falcon 9 (13,150 kg / 29,000 lb to LEO) currently costs $54M.

    If you’ll note, the Falcon 9 figures reflect the new Falcon 9 v1.1 capacities now listed on their website. ULA just lost more future business.

  • common sense

    “Nothing entirely new under the sun”

    Nothing ever really is…

  • ArtieT

    NASA continues to offer up SMEX missions to prospective PI’s. If/when Orbital drops the Pegasus, those missions will be put in a holding pattern, waiting for industry to fill the gap, if there is a market for small missions.

  • Das Boese

    ArtieT wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    A larger issue for NASA is , what if “Commercial Space” Orbital decides demands for the Pegasus are too low to make money, and they cancel production of Pegasus? Then what will small missions get launched on? There is no more Delta II either….not good.

    SpaceX seems to have put Falcon 1e on ice for now, but I’m fairly certain they could put it back in production in a heartbeat if the demand was there.

  • vulture4

    I would suggest the supporters of science missions contact their legislators and point out that it is time to bring down the wall between manned and unmanned missions in funding decisions. SLS and Orion should be compared to science missions for funding priority and sanctions for overruns.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Das Boese wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Falcon 1e never flew and none of the proposed stretched hardware was to the best of my knowledge ever built. It’s therefore a ‘stretch’ (sorry) to say that it could be put back into production.
    IMHO it never will. F1 will be seen as a development learning exercise – well worth while and a worthy technical pathfinder for F9 and the Merlin engines.
    If there is demand, then it will fly on F9 1.1 or FH.

  • ArtieT

    @ BeanCounterfromDownunder: “if there is demand, then it will fly on F9 1.1 or FH.”

    The problem with your suggestion is that the F9, or FH are of course way too much LV for a small tiny SMEX. Using these vehicles will require NASA to share a ride between two missions; That would require NASA HQ Management to think hard, plan appropriately – including creating two mission funding streams that come together at the right time; In short, you’re asking the Agency to invent a new way of doing business. I don’t see that happening.

    Having said that, there have been a few ride shares: Calypso/CloudSat (a great debacle if there ever was one); and LRO/LCROSS (Very successful); so it can be done.

  • vulture4

    AFAIK the orbital Taurus is still in production. But the low Pegasus flight rate does not make it particularly expensive; Orbital has to compete for each launch, and the total market fr small LEO payloads is not large.

    That said, back in the 70′s we spent a lot of time talking about how astronomical payloads would go up in the Shuttle and co-orbit with the Space Station, allowing maintenance if needed. Maybe that can be done with the Dragon.

  • MrEarl

    @ Pathfinder,
    That’s not a year slippage. You’re getting Fiscal Year and Calender Years mixed up.
    The SLS flight on Dec. 17th 2017 is in fiscal year 2018.

  • Paul

    Falcon 1e never flew and none of the proposed stretched hardware was to the best of my knowledge ever built. It’s therefore a ‘stretch’ (sorry) to say that it could be put back into production.

    Ah, my mistake. But even Falcon 1 can put more payload into LEO than Pegasus XL.

  • common sense

    @MrEarl wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 7:57 am

    “The SLS flight on Dec. 17th 2017 is in fiscal year 2018.”

    In what calendar is that going to happen? I wonder if Nostradamus ever predicted that one ;)

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 7:57 am

    It is going to slip soon into calender year 2018. they are trying to hold it off until the budget thing is worked out…but the slip is coming RGO

  • @Common Sense
    “In what calendar is that going to happen? I wonder if Nostradamus ever predicted that one ;)”

    Nah, a calendar in an alternate universe where the laws of economics were designed by Lewis Carroll:
    “Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    – from Alice In Wonderland
    8) ;)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 19th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    thank you…I am curious what the Stratos people will charge?

    I have never understood why Pegasus is so expensive; it has always not been cheap…and it should be.

    Anyway Falcon9 is going to hopefully really shake things up. Thanks again RGO

  • MrEarl

    @RGO

    You’ve been saying that for a long time Oler and yet SLS and Orion continue, on time and with congressional support.
    You know you have to tap your ruby slippers three times when you make these wishes. ;-)

  • @Mr Earl
    “You’ve been saying that for a long time Oler and yet SLS and Orion continue, on time and with congressional support.”
    Oler may have been saying that for a long time, but that is just his opinion. It will take longer than that and most of us realize it. Probably after the launch of the Falcon Heavy when people will start asking themselves, “If SpaceX can make a heavy lift vehicle with 75% of the payload capacity of the first model 70 mt payload SLS with no taxpayer money spent, what could they do with just a fraction of the money being spent on SLS?” Even if the FH is a year late that’s 2014, two years late and that’s 2015. In the latter case, that’s still a long time before 70mt SLS launches.

    Dream on little broomstick cowboy.

  • Robert Oler's IPAD

    Mr Earl. No I have not said “it is dead THIS year”. But this year it will be. Watch. RGO

  • Clarification of previous comment. Oler has been saying in various comments in earlier threads that SLS will end relatively soon and I thought he had reiterated that thought in this thread. I see now that the Oler comment Earl was referring to here was about an SLS schedule slip. The main part of my comment regarding cancellation of SLS still applies. Serves me right when I post a comment while I’m rushed.

  • Rhyolite

    “I have never understood why Pegasus is so expensive; it has always not been cheap…and it should be.”

    Low flight rates, I would speculate.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “You know you have to tap your ruby slippers three times when you make these wishes.”

    How do you know what I am wearing today?

    Scary.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    You’ve [Oler] been saying that for a long time Oler and yet SLS and Orion continue, on time and with congressional support.

    There is an argument to be made for a MPCV type vehicle, but it’s useful lifetime is not long. I think it will survive longer than the SLS, and may even see some limited use while being launched on Delta IV Heavy or Falcon Heavy.

    For the SLS, it’s still a very young program, and the factors that will lead to it’s demise are just getting going. You have to remember that the Constellation program wasn’t in danger until they started falling further and further behind schedule-wise, and the budget needs started exploding past the level Congress was willing to give NASA.

    The tipping point for the SLS will likely come when Congress sees the schedule starting to slip and also realizes that they have to start funding uses for it. The proposed programs will all come in around the $10B range – for each launch – and Congress will soon realize that they can’t afford it. That may cause them to slow the program down instead of canceling it outright, but slowing it down will still lead to it’s eventual cancellation.

  • I have never understood why Pegasus is so expensive; it has always not been cheap…and it should be.

    Because it has high fixed costs, and high marginal costs, with a low flight rate. There is no reason to expect that it would ever be cheap, at least on a per-pound basis, and it was never sold on that basis.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=37502

    lets cancel Orion and send a rover. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Clarification of previous comment. Oler has been saying in various comments in earlier threads that SLS will end relatively soon and I thought he had reiterated that thought in this thread. I see now that the Oler comment Earl was referring to here was about an SLS schedule slip. >

    I dont think its ‘relatively soon” although I think it will go this year, Orion might survive but not SLS. It will go a victim to sequestration and the failing performance of the NASA team trying to build it.

    There is a schedule slip coming. plus they are over budget (the two go hand in hand) I know this by various reasons and documents none of which I feel comfortable releasing. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rhyolite wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    OK more data hunting here.

    Is OSC marketing its still to fly new rocket? What is the price for that? RGO

  • @Common Sense
    Still think he’s not as delusional? :)

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Time, Quality, Cost. Pick any two. They all impact directly on each other. Slip the schedule, blow the cost. Increase quality, blow cost and / or schedule, etc, etc.
    NASA has consistently underperformed and underdelivered. SLS will be no different. MPCV is already there but being ignored for the moment possibly since there may be uses for it on other launch vehicles. SLS, no such case.

  • Byeman

    “ULA just lost more future business.”

    Nah. Jeesh, talk about overrated hype and nonsense. Just like Oler’s comment about secondary opportunities replacing Pegasus. Not! Secondary opportunities are for payload that just need to get into space and not payloads, like most of those on Pegasus, which have specific requirements.

  • ArtieT

    In 1998 Pegasus cost ~$14M. Now its $40M.

    If you take $14M in 1998 dollars, and adjust for inflation of 3% per year, it would be around $19.5M today. Much of the cost increases are due to paying for the cost of meeting additional requirements on the rocket. Throw in a decreased flight rate (not enough money to for more frequent flight rate) and can’t spread those fixed costs around so much.

    SMEX Missions, like GEMS, in 1998 were cost capped at $50M, and that included the rocket. Now, it’s capped at $120M w/o rocket. The prices go up because lessons learned always point to needing more money to keep up with the explosion of requirements and reviews etc. etc. etc.

    The cost of doing business at NASA is going up, while the available budget is going down (no inflationary increases). This leads to a decrease in flight rate and demand for rockets, which leads to an increase in rocket costs, which leads to less missions, etc. etc. etc.

    Clearly this is a recipe for NASA going out of business as we are witnessing today. I give it 20 years, before its officially shut down.

    NASA was young once, like SPACE X is now; NASA’s time in the sun is at an end.

    Its now up to the 1% er’s to use their boodles of cash to go out and explore, or create asteroid hunting missions, or search for resources on the moon, etc. etc. etc.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Byeman wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    The point being made is that as missions are cancelled there goes the business. New missions are not being brought on-line to replace the cancelled ones – period.
    Secondary payloads can have specific requirements. Just check out the European Arianne launches. Most have been dual not single launches. This will become the norm for U.S. launches as well and why SpaceX FH will pick up the business. Cheaper, greater lift capability with more flexibility. ULA’s owners are not investing in the business. They don’t see it as long-term and they’re not trying to fight SpaceX in the market which they would if they were serious about long-term future for ULA. That horse has bolted.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Byeman wrote @ June 20th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    “Nah. Jeesh, talk about overrated hype and nonsense. Just like Oler’s comment about secondary opportunities replacing Pegasus. Not! Secondary opportunities are for payload that just need to get into space and not payloads, like most of those on Pegasus, which have specific requirements.”

    which can be attained or at least come close with on board propulsion.

    Even the amateur satellite community has at least “tried” this. Propulsion of a significant amount was used on Oscar 10, 13, and 40 to make large changes in orbits.

    There are propulsive units (Sherpa) being developed for secondary payloads on Falcon9 and heavy.

    Also on another subject you have no idea if X-37 has or has not deployed a cubesat sized payload or deployed and retrieved it. RGO

  • Malmesbury

    “ULA just lost more future business.”

    I think this was referring to the improved performance of Falcon 9 v1.1

    The cost of doing business at NASA is going up, while the available budget is going down (no inflationary increases).

    Precisely – The Senate Launch System will be the last gasp… to be fair to NASA it is exactly the same comedy that occurs throughout government around the world.

    In the UK (where I am at the moment), it was suggested that catapults should be added to the new carriers. The carriers had been specifically design to allow this as an option. The quoted price? $3 billion (£2 billion). Just to add catapults The result? no catapults.

  • MrEarl

    @Oler;
    I’m not sure what documents you are referring to but the people I’ve talked to in Houston and DC tell me that the Dec, 2017 initial launch of SLS Block 1 has 7 to 8 months of margin built in. Boeing and MSFC have agreed that risk is low to work in the production drawings while the DAC and PDR are being worked from now through December as the figures for the Block 1 and Block 1B configurations are pretty static at this time. You may be referring to documentation stating that the Block 2 A/B and advanced boosters are being slipped but if the Gateway plan is accepted they won’t be need till much later for Mars excursions if they are needed at all. They also said that the budgets allocated for SLS by congress so far have been tight but adequate for the job.

    As for Sequestration, and this is just my opinion based on conversations I’ve had with a few staffers, congress is already well on it’s way toward kicking that can down the road again.
    The key, from what I’ve heard, is congressional acceptance of the working plan to deploy an Exploration Gateway/Platform at EML2. I haven’t been privy to any cost estimates but It’s being kept as low as possible (for a government program) by re-using parts from the ISS and Shuttle programs and brining in international partners to provide new elements like re-usable landers and an FCB. Without the platform, missions become much more expensive because of the need to build new equipment every time you want to take a sortie to the moon or an NEA. With the platform, lunar landers and NEA ships are kept there to be re-supplied and used again.

  • Coastal Ron

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 5:28 am

    I think this was referring to the improved performance of Falcon 9 v1.1

    I was, in that Falcon 9 v1.1 covers more of the Atlas V capacity matrix than it did before.

    Regarding secondary payloads, the one thing is clear – as SpaceX drives down launch costs, customers can respond by building or packaging their payloads in different ways. It will take a while, since these types of programs take years, but it will happen. Maybe some of them hold their hardware costs the same and choose to use the launch savings to build more low-cost hardware for the same launch – two for one, so to speak. We’ll see, but with the dramatic cost differences, something will change.

  • Ferris Valyn

    RGO – FYI, Ms. Smith did get some details wrong.

    It was only KBH who talked about ISS being deactivated in 2020, NOT Nelson or Boozeman. Nelson and Boozeman BOTH talked about ISS doing operations post 2020

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 11:12 am

    “Regarding secondary payloads, the one thing is clear – as SpaceX drives down launch costs, customers can respond by building or packaging their payloads in different ways”

    Yeap and that comment shows you get it.

    The joy of lift based on economics is that as the economics improve then private enterprise is able to respond to that by providing a product with “excess capability”

    What is Dale Gray doing? Dale use to hang out on the Compuserve forum and was a historian at one of the northern western states…I should go looking for him.

    Anyway he is the one who clued me onto this (that was a good forum actually much like this one)…when private enterprise has excess capability to whatever its main purpose is then the natural goal is to try and sale that capability at “some” price (because the main purpose pays the real freight, and this price is almost all “profit”…hence an industry springs up to make use of that excess capability.

    it will be that way with secondary payloads RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 9:10 am

    nice post, you and I frequently disagree but you discuss in an honorable professional way and I hope you feel the same thing with me.

    First let me say that I am “intrigued” by the L point station. Sadly I dont think that it will happen in the next 10-12 years nor do I think it will have any international participation when it happens. It is a neat idea with absolutely no compelling reason to happen other then its just a cool thing to do. It keeps the people employed and keeps NASA doing what it does best, planning and building…and allows all the reason for ISS to not do anything to be shoved in the background (that is not your fault).

    the L station wont be built for under 10-15 billion dollars and that does not include in my view launch cost. That alone is a stopper…Orion and SLS combined are the only real build money the agency has and it is going to take every dime to continue to build those…Now if they stop (and this is why I suspect one will) there is some money…but I doubt its enough to get another project station going.

    Second I dont think that sequestration is going to be “kicked down the hill”.

    There is a political wedge/issue here…and with his stewardship of the economy such as it is; Obama cannot afford to let that one go by. He has to use sequestration as a hammer to force Willard into chosing the priorities of the Ryan/GOP House which are amazingly unpopular. The entire thing is on a countdown to detonation which is almost unstoppable…unless Obama caves (and that is certainly possible) there will be budget cuts.

    From what I have been reading SLS is already eaten up the 8 month margin and is moving toward a 2018 launch date. That is just what I read and I cannot make that public…we will see.

    SLS is really a wedge that is preventing almost anything else from happening…secondly I dont see any real public support for any more money to be spent to do a L station…and it would take more money.

    in the end NASA is just going to have to settle for running a space station….they ought to try and make a go at that before anything else. RGO

  • @Mr Earl
    “Without the platform, missions become much more expensive because of the need to build new equipment every time you want to take a sortie to the moon or an NEA. With the platform, lunar landers and NEA ships are kept there to be re-supplied and used again.”
    True, and even cheaper if you don’t use SLS for gateway construction. As I said before, even with considerable schedule slips, Falcon Heavy would be done long before the end of 2017.

    As I also said before, once FH appears, the days of SLS are numbered. That is assuming it is not cancelled before that, but either way it will be cancelled. If you think anything else, then you are fooling yourself.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 11:52 am

    RGO – FYI, Ms. Smith did get some details wrong. >>

    thanks I thought she might have. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 5:28 am

    “Precisely – The Senate Launch System will be the last gasp… to be fair to NASA it is exactly the same comedy that occurs throughout government around the world.”

    exactly RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 9:10 am

    The key, from what I’ve heard, is congressional acceptance of the working plan to deploy an Exploration Gateway/Platform at EML2.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but two years ago a did a costing study to see if it was possible to build, deploy and staff an EML1/L2 facility for one year and not spend over $10B. It turns out that my version was not too far off from what Boeing announced later.

    I assumed using new-build ISS modules and components (cupola, airlock, robotic arms, etc.), and I also assumed using existing launchers (Delta IV Heavy & Falcon 9). I also assumed using Dragon for moving crew back and forth to the EML1/L2, but since the MPCV will likely be available, the plan could easily be changed so that once construction is done in LEO, crew transfers are done using Delta IV Heavy to get an empty MPCV to the ISS (doesn’t need to be human-rated), then the crew will fly up on a Commercial Crew vehicle to embark. It doesn’t change the overall costs much, especially if Falcon Heavy is used instead of Delta IV Heavy for some of the fuel flights.

    Bottom line is that with commercial cargo and crew, using existing ISS assemblies and technology, and using existing launchers, we can establish a way-station near the Moon for as little as $10B. And except for the MPCV, the hardware and rockets are only 2/3 of that cost. No need to wait for the SLS.

    Now for all those that are concerned about China’s space plans, what would the world think if NASA (with or without it’s ISS partners) was able to set up a new reusable outpost at EML1/L2?

    $10B is just 7 years of SLS funding, and green-lighted this fiscal year we could be sitting at EML2 by 2020 plotting out our next incremental destination – either down to the Moon, or out towards deep space.

    That’s what the SLS is stopping us from doing. Real space exploration.

  • MrEarl

    “True, and even cheaper if you don’t use SLS for gateway construction” Boozer
    Actually, you should like this, SLS is NOT used for gateway construction. EELV’s, Proton and Arian5 will be the launchers carrying the components to LEO to be assembled and tested at the ISS. Construction could start in 2014. There is talk of using SLS to lift a SEP or chemical stage to insert the gateway to L2. The international partners from the ISS have expressed a great deal of interest but of course getting budget to participate is the real challenge.
    This is what SLS brings to the table that FH cannot, single launch per mission/sortie. SLS Block 1B being developed has a capacity of ~105mT to LEO. This allows the launch of the Orion, TLI stage and descent stage/ascent fuel all at once. I know that’s not important to you but… you have to go with what congress is willing to pay for and right now that’s SLS. If at some time in the future that is not the case, Orion on an Atlas5 or Delta 4 and cargo on a FH works too.
    “once FH appears, the days of SLS are numbered.” Booze
    Because FH is more economical? This is the US congress we’re talking about! Keeping people employed in their states in a bad economy is WAY more important than whether 2 or 3 Falcon Heavies are more economical than 1 SLS.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 12:46 pm
    Thanks, I do feel that same about you. I appreciate that you and CS can see when I’m being a little “tongue in cheek”. Now when I feel the discussion gets too heated I’ll just stop and pick a new thread.
    Lately you seem to be looking at the political side of things where as my contacts are almost all at the working end so I think that explains a lot of the discrepancies we have. Once this election cycle is over we should see a lot of things come to a conclusion (one way or another) that “politics” is preventing now.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “the Dec, 2017 initial launch of SLS Block 1 has 7 to 8 months of margin”

    That’s only 10% schedule margin. A program of this magnitude and complexity and at this early stage should be running with 20%+ schedule and budget margin, at least.

    (And even in the unlikely event that the 2017 launch holds for the next half decade, SLS has still blown the 2016 readiness date mandated by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act by a year.)

    “the Block 1 and Block 1B configurations are pretty static at this time.”

    Not true. They still havn’t figured out how many second-stage engines SLS will use on its second (EM-2) launch.

    http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2012/06/royal-start-and-debris-and-int.html

    Regardless of what block nomenclature you’re using, there’s no way that the designs are “static” at this time if they havn’t figured out engine configurations. That’s among the most fundamental of launch vehicle characteristics.

    Moreover, the program hasn’t even gotten to its preliminary design review (PDR), and designs aren’t set until critical design review (CDR) anyway. System requirements were finally set down this spring, but the project is only now “evaluating cost, schedule and risk involved”, and in the likely (for any program) event that any of those don’t look good, there will be more design cycles before PDR.

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

    “the budgets have been tight but adequate for the job.”

    If flat to slightly declining budgets meet your definition of “adequate”, then there’s no argument.

    But historically, flat budgets for large development project (aerospace or otherwise) force hugely inefficient spending on the project managers, resulting in large budget overruns and schedule delays. Two prime examples are Ares I/Orion and ISS.

    “congress is already well on it’s way toward kicking that can down the road again.”

    Not according to today’s New York Times article on sequestration:

    “… little attention has been turned to the impending cuts to nonmilitary programs… some administration officials have testified that the cuts would be harmful to government programs, few lawmakers have seized on their remarks and run with them… because certain programs like Social Security and Veterans Affairs have been exempt from the cuts, there is a feeling among some Democrats that they have less at risk than Republicans…”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/22/us/politics/pentagon-gets-attention-but-planned-cuts-range-far-and-wide.html?hp

    Outside the military committees, no one on the Hill is focusing on sequestration.

    “… plan to deploy an Exploration Gateway/Platform at EML2. I haven’t been privy to any cost estimates but It’s being kept as low as possible (for a government program) by re-using parts from the ISS and Shuttle programs”

    ISS cost $60-100 billion, depending on what you include in the total. Even in some imaginary world where another space station built from the ISS technical base could cost a small percentage of ISS, you’re still looking at a handful of billions of dollars that would have to be added to NASA’s budget (or taken from within the NASA budget) to build that station.

    Per the New York Times article above, nondefense discretionary — the part of the federal budget that NASA competes in — is looking at an ~8% cut through sequestration or some other mechanism unless revenues are raised.

    With a $17+ billion total budget, it’s much, much more likely in this fiscal environment that NASA will be cut by $1.3-1.5 billion annually than have a billion or two more added to its budget.

    “brining in international partners to provide new elements like re-usable landers and an FCB”

    There’s almost no expertise overseas in landers, nevertheless reusable ones. The only existing reusable lander expertise lies with new U.S. companies focused on VTVL launchers (Armadillo, Blue Origin, Masten, maybe SpaceX). And setting them aside, the domestic robotic planetary infrastructure (JPL, LockMart) has oodles more current planetary lander expertise than anyone overseas. (I’m struggling to name a successful foreign planetary soft landing since the Soviets gave up on the Moon in the early 1970s.) And given the financial status of Europe and Japan, it’s hard to see them funding these elements even if they had current expertise. It’s also hard to see the Russians paying for another FGB given that their program relies on Soyuz and Progress payments from NASA.

    If this was part of some secret plan, it would be a really naive, dumb element.

    “Without the platform, missions become much more expensive because of the need to build new equipment every time you want to take a sortie to the moon or an NEA. With the platform, lunar landers and NEA ships are kept there to be re-supplied and used again.”

    I’m all for pushing reuse of in-space elements. But the savings won’t mean much if you can’t ever afford to build them because you’re spending practically all of your available budget on a super-expensive launch development like SLS. Or if you can’t afford to use them, because the launcher they ride on costs a billion or two per launch.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Actually, you should like this, SLS is NOT used for gateway construction. EELV’s, Proton and Arian5 will be the launchers carrying the components to LEO to be assembled and tested at the ISS. Construction could start in 2014.”

    Then why bother with SLS?

    “The international partners from the ISS have expressed a great deal of interest”

    They have?

    “This is what SLS brings to the table that FH cannot, single launch per mission/sortie. SLS Block 1B being developed has a capacity of ~105mT to LEO. This allows the launch of the Orion, TLI stage and descent stage/ascent fuel all at once.”

    So what? Is avoiding a rendezvous or two worth tens of billions of taxpayer dollars and years of HLV development?

    “If at some time in the future that is not the case, Orion on an Atlas5 or Delta 4 and cargo on a FH works too.”

    I’m sorry, but this is a goofy argument. We’re going to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars developing an egregiously expensive HLV that’s only good for the narrow application of avoiding a rendezvous or two in exploration architectures… and that’s okay because existing launchers like Atlas, Delta, and Falcon could do the job anyway.

    Really?

    “This is the US congress we’re talking about! Keeping people employed in their states in a bad economy is WAY more important”

    So? Keep those people employed doing something useful — like building your EML2 station, developing reusable human-scale landers, and creating efficient in-space stages — instead of wasting their talents and the taxpayer dollars that go to their salaries on an HLV that’s an order of magnitude more expensive than what industry could do.

    It’s not a question of keeping people employed. It’s a question of keeping them usefully employed, instead of wasting their careers on make-work projects like SLS and MPCV.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    “Thanks, I do feel that same about you. I appreciate that you and CS can see when I’m being a little “tongue in cheek”.”

    Unlike what others may think I respect opinions that differ from mine so long people eventually change to my point of view.

    You do have a point that Congress is somehow “supporting” SLS. A weak point nevertheless but a point. ;)

    And the ability to show concessions put you in a far different league from others too. And I think you can tell mostly by the language we use together. Whether we agree or not.

    Now back to our program, SLS won’t be built nor is MPCV. Let’s talk about commercial for BEO for crying out loud!

  • @Mr Earl
    “Because FH is more economical? This is the US congress we’re talking about! Keeping people employed in their states in a bad economy is WAY more important than whether 2 or 3 Falcon Heavies are more economical than 1 SLS.
    Not because the politicians represented by SLS supporters will want better economy, but that the much greater number of politicians who are benefiting either little or none from SLS will bring it down. Just like most of the public and politicians weren’t really concious of Falcon 9/Dragon until the run to ISS, a successful launch of FH with 75% of the payload capacity of SLS block I will bring it to their notice. I’ve run into a lot more average Joes lately that are actually excited about space again because of the Dragon to ISS flight. Even politicians who were antagonistic to Commercial are now talking nice about it since the ISS run. It’s going to be very obvious even to people who aren’t space wonks like us that SLS is a boondoggle.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Construction could start in 2014.

    Sadly, no. There is no money for it. Kill the SLS and there will be though.

    There is talk of using SLS to lift a SEP or chemical stage to insert the gateway to L2.

    It can be done for less money with existing rockets. Why pay more?

    SLS Block 1B being developed has a capacity of ~105mT to LEO.

    Which right now is overkill. No one needs that much capacity in one launch, and it puts a lot of pressure on the program to not lose so much if the launch fails.

    Better to break up the mission elements into replaceable chunks that can be lifted by low-cost rockets.

    you have to go with what congress is willing to pay for and right now that’s SLS.

    Let’s remember that Congress is only willing to pay for a rocket, not the use of the rocket. And let’s also remember that the same could have been said about the Constellation program in 2009, and look what happened to the Congressional support for it a year later. Nothing is impossible.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Now for all those that are concerned about China’s space plans, what would the world think if NASA (with or without it’s ISS partners) was able to set up a new reusable outpost at EML1/L2?”

    about the same thing that they would think if the Chinese tried to go to the Moon with people “are you nuts?”

    Look the notion of a station at an L point is intriguing but we should stop and ask “why”? and then “what would it do?

    Right now we have ISS up and running and they are doing Lego blocks there…What another station strikes me as is “we got good at building them lets continue with building more” RGO

  • Paul

    Look the notion of a station at an L point is intriguing but we should stop and ask “why”? and then “what would it do?

    It would demonstrate that we could build and operate a station outside LEO. Such stations would be useful as nodes for operations going to the moon, to Mars, or to near earth asteroids.

    The station would be a place to test radiation shielding, since it would be in a radiation environment very similar to that of a vehicle travelling to another planet. The thermal and chemical environments would also be more similar to interplanetary vehicles than ISS’s environment would be (ISS gets a larger thermal radiation input from the Earth, as well as periodic loss of sunlight).

    Technologies being discussed for assembling the station would also be useful for other missions, in particular SEP for moving components out to L1/L2, and possibly propellant storage.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Look the notion of a station at an L point is intriguing but we should stop and ask “why”? and then “what would it do?

    I do agree with that. And to me it means building infrastructure to easily extend our reach past LEO.

    But a way-station is not any good without the rest of the transportation system, so this gets back to everyone getting on the same page for what our HSF effort will be.

    I keep saying that I’m destination agnostic, and I am. I want to go everywhere (or at least through the experiences of others). But big-ticket custom-built exploration systems stink from a sustainability standpoint.

    I’ve outlined this before, but I’ll restate it again. What we need are independent transportation segments that can be accommodated by fairly basic systems. The Commercial Crew vehicles are good examples where they are designed for servicing LEO as inexpensively as possible.

    With a way-station at EML1/L2, we would also need a LEO-to-L1/L2 reusable transport. I would imagine it would aerobrake in Earth’s atmosphere and rendezvous with the ISS, Bigelow stations, China’s space station. Whoever. Since it’s a defined route, it would be open to anyone, which provides competition and redundancy. Another bonus is that upgrading this route is as simple as replacing the vehicle with another, and no doubt this vehicle is essentially a Earth-local capable vehicle, so it could range out beyond our Moon for short trips.

    With redundant Earth-to-LEO transport in place, an LEO way-station (the ISS for now), a LEO-to-L1/L2 transport, and a EML1/L2 way-station, the Moon is only one transportation segment away, and asteroids & Mars are that much closer.

    So with everything else in place, how much would it cost to develop a reusable lunar lander? ULA has proposed one based on their ACES-41 concept (horizontal landing, low to the ground, etc.), and it doesn’t look too complicated.

    When I look at the money being spent on the SLS, I keep thinking how probably for the same money, and the same amount of time, instead we could have a reusable transportation system all the way down to the surface of the Moon. It galls me to see such money & opportunity wasted.

    But we have a lack of focus in the space community, with no consensus on what’s the best way forward. Until that consensus happens, Congress will keep wasting money because they don’t know what to do, so they fall back on supporting their constituents.

  • Marc

    I will try one last time to put Robert Oler’s arrogance into perspective. In politics we must understand that politicians are all self serving no matter their party affiliation. The Republic would be very well served if we limited the terms of these self serving politicians to two terms. One term to serve the people honorable, or a second term in federal prison.

    If we put our house in order, we can use what resources we have to build an infrastructure to enable cutting edge technology companies to exploit opportunities and create wealth and jobs. This reflects the best of our past experience, and helps us to understand how government and private industry can work together to create a better tomorrw.

  • Vladislaw

    McEarl wrote:

    “Actually, you should like this, SLS is NOT used for gateway construction. EELV’s, Proton and Arian5 will be the launchers carrying the components to LEO to be assembled and tested at the ISS.”

    Are you including as many countries with launch capability to make it more international? If so shouldn’t we add Japan and India to the list?

    If international is not your intent would it be better to limit it to just a couple launch vehicles so they achieve a higher flight rate and the taxpayer gets a marginal break on launch costs?

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Are you including as many countries with launch capability to make it more international? If so shouldn’t we add Japan and India to the list?

    Japan could be contracted for their H-IIB launcher (41,000 lbs to LEO), but if they are going to be a partner they will want to contribute something more to the program. They know how to build ISS-type modules, so maybe that would be part of their contribution?

    As for India, their launchers are not quite big enough yet, but who knows, maybe they could offer something.

    As we discovered with the ISS, having a large number of partners does spread the financial burden, but it does make divvying up the work harder. However, if the goal is to build a reusable transportation system to EML1/L2, then that is far more modular workload-wise than a single space station like the ISS.

  • Das Boese

    MrEarl wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    The international partners from the ISS have expressed a great deal of interest

    That’s a bold faced lie.
    Interest in the SLS outside America is practically zero because it’s simply too damn large to be of any practical use.

    NASA may have the money to blow, but for everyone else, ISS is enough of a commitment at one time. There are no resources and no serious interest in another project of that scale right now, in addition to the somewhat waning trust in NASA’s ability to follow through on its promises.

  • DCSCA

    @Marc wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    “If we put our house in order, we can use what resources we have to build an infrastructure to enable cutting edge technology companies to exploit opportunities and create wealth and jobs.”

    Except it doesn’t.

    Space exploitation is not space exploration. Certainly not w/a laiszez-faire approach as ‘wealth and jobs’ for 99% of Americans has all but evaporated, as the past few decades has shown. But it’s been a ‘grand ol’party’ for corporatist cronies and 1%-ers.

    The only place with ‘wealth and jobs’ has risen- along w/a growing middle class market such broad expansion spawns– with marked significance is the PRC. Ka-ching. Trickle-down economics, aka Reaganomics, has been thoroughly discredited with the Americans.

    “This reflects the best of our past experience…”

    Except it doesn’t.

    ‘Best’ is incongruent w/Reaganomics, the ;worst; economic overlay since the days of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, It will never fuel the expansion of the human species out into the cosmos.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Actually, you should like this, SLS is NOT used for gateway construction.

    Not important, the real money would be for launching the required propellant to LEO and L1/L2. Just launching some modules will not make much of a difference. In fact, constructing the modules would likely blow the budget, even without SLS / Orion. We need to spend as little as possible on expensive payloads (even reusable ones), and focus on launching as much cheap bulk material as possible. That could be food, clothing, radiation shielding, raw materials and above all propellant. Of all these things propellant is about the only thing that is useful in large enough quantities, with radiation shielding a distant second.

  • @Coastal Ron
    “When I look at the money being spent on the SLS, I keep thinking how probably for the same money, and the same amount of time, instead we could have a reusable transportation system all the way down to the surface of the Moon. It galls me to see such money & opportunity wasted.”
    The nail has been hit on the head with that comment. My sentiments exactly.

  • byeman

    More nonsense
    “ULA’s owners are not investing in the business.”
    ” there is demand, then it will fly on F9 1.1 or FH”

    “check out the European Arianne launches
    Ariane has two primary payloads, which are GTO comsats, hence does not prove your point.

    “which can be attained or at least come close with on board propulsion. ”
    Not for major maneuvers or unique orbits such as Nustar’s

    reference X-37. Yes, I do know and it would be obvious if it did.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Paul wrote @ June 21st, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    interesting comments…trying to avoid “arrogance” let me respond.

    I am entertained by the L station concepts (there actually is a sci fi short story I wrote on the CSERVE forum about such a station)…the problem is I just dont see the reason for it now.

    First is cost. I dont have a clue what it would cost to build. In my view it should be doable for under 10 bills in about five years (or less) but NASA will take longer and spend more…and then we have to maintain it. Take ISS cost and multiply by two…so then that is the bottom bound on what the US will be spending to maintain two space stations…

    and then we still have the annoying question “what are we getting for that”.

    Right now ISS is not returning much of value. Maybe it will, maybe if we get some sort of new management structure with someone like Justin K. as the head of it…it would.

    But right now?

    Two things will happen as soon as the L station is finished…either we will then have to figure out what to do to keep the crew doing something or NASA will want to build another station somewhere…Now at Demos or Phobos…

    We need to pause and try and sort out how we run “space stations”…in my view RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/asap-certification-amid-praise-spacexs-success/

    favorite line

    At this point of the meeting, ASAP member John Frost added that the panel “want success in the upcoming commercial flights,” but that “interestingly, success could create friction”.

    “If the commercial partners have a number of successes and fly commercial crew successfully, some who don’t understand the process might think that there would be no need for NASA insight and certification,” noted Mr Frost…………………………..

    yes like completely unnecessary..RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    byeman wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    “which can be attained or at least come close with on board propulsion. ”
    Not for major maneuvers or unique orbits such as Nustar’s

    reference X-37. Yes, I do know and it would be obvious if it did.>>

    if you need a unique orbit for your vehicle, you need to pay for a unique launch…there are lots of secondaries that are not that picky.

    Second you have no clue if X-37 deployed a cubesat (or even Oscar 10 sized payload, did prox ops with it and then retrieved it. it would not be obvious to the amateur net that would expose it, it would not even be obvious to most countries tracking networks.

    think out of the box. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    The beginning of the NASA HSF end that I “predicted” months ago. NASA HSF will lead or will be assimilated. For now, budget-wise, NASA HSF is not leading. They are far behind. By the time they come to their senses there may be a Dragon on the Moon or Mars, without a NASA crew, then…

  • A M Swallow

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Two things will happen as soon as the L station is finished…either we will then have to figure out what to do to keep the crew doing something or NASA will want to build another station somewhere…Now at Demos or Phobos…

    After the EML spacestation the next construction item is the lunar base. The machines will transfer from launch vehicles to landers at the spacestation.

    After that the Mars moon spacestation can be constructed.

  • Vladislaw

    It would have been nice if he would expanded on how “NASA insight” is defined and the role it would play. If they were more like Aeronautics side in helping avaition create better aircraft there wouldn’t be problem. I imagine it would be more like a roadblock trying to maintain the status quo of only the government knows how to do manned spaceflight with congress trying to protect pork.

    In the Space Act it actually lays it out like that:

    “(d) Objectives of Aeronautical and Space Activities.–The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

    (2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles.”

    Helping commercial space companies create better products is a better role for NASA then being an developer/owner/operator.

    Once commerical firms have turn key, off the shelf products I would be more apt to support NASA as an owner. If they were to buy a white knight 2 and space ship2 MAYBE that could be operated with a cost closer to what a commercial firm ran it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    A M Swallow wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Do you think that there is support politically for that? money? RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    “Do you think that there is support politically for that?”

    Not in a million years.

    “money?”

    See above.

  • A M Swallow

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    By the time NASA is ready to build a Moon base we will have a different US President. So availability of the money could be either way.

    The ego of powerful men makes them want to leave a symbol of themselves behind. Normally schools and bridges but NASA has a history of naming space centres after presidents. The EML spacestation will need a name.

    An outsider cutting NASA back will either kill random programs or halve every budget. An insider may be able to negotiate a net reduction but with permission to spend the money on something new.

  • Robert G. Oler

    A M Swallow wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    z”By the time NASA is ready to build a Moon base we will have a different US President. So availability of the money could be either way.”

    that era died a long time ago RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anyone who thinks that there is going to be money from the US federal government for a lunar L station or a lunar station or any major project in the next 10-15 years is fooling themselves or has drunk from the right wing neo con Koolaide.

    The US elections will settle a few things and they will be things that will affect Federal space spending by virtue of where the priorities of the federal budget are set; but there is no real scenario where “more” Money is available for human space flight…

    the only people stuck on this fantasy are wind Whittington etc; people to whom space spending has taken on an importance that is simply not shared anywhere else.

    A more realistic plan is that we are going to figure out a way to make some things on ISS work better…and cheaper…and probably add a module or two in an attempt to do both some real science on it…and some technology experiments.

    But build a lunar L station? LOL and Lots of luck RGO

  • josh

    the only real progress in space we’ll see over the next decade is in the private sector. nasa can help the process along by spending a billion here and a billion there and otherwise staying out of the way. the apollo way of doing things is deader than dead.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    byeman wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    ‘More nonsense’ Evidence?

  • A M Swallow

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Anyone who thinks that there is going to be money from the US federal government for a lunar L station or a lunar station or any major project in the next 10-15 years is fooling themselves or has drunk from the right wing neo con Koolaide.

    The hard part is not doing it with new money but doing it with the current money.

  • josh

    anyone got the news? orion abort test slipped to 2018. this program is an unbelievable mess. billions spent on a scaled up apollo capsule and it will still take them 13+ years to get to a manned flight. lockheed martin should do us all a favor and get out of manned spaceflight, they’re a disgrace.

    take a good look windy, this is old space at work.

  • Robert G. Oler

    josh wrote @ June 22nd, 2012 at 6:43 pm
    josh wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    both of these (the first is on the previous thread if one is looking for it) are good post and intertwined in my view with each other AND signify the problems we have in both space politics and US politics in general.

    No matter if you support Orion or not; or SLS or not; there is no defense of the notion that these are programs of both old technology AND old methods of putting a program together.

    It is interesting to compare the Falcon9/Dragon program with the SLS/Orion effort. Falcon9/Dragon has been about a decade long effort which is a success…and for about 1.2 billion. Lets say it takes another 2 years and 1 billion (it wont) to put together a crewed version…thats 2.2 billion and say 12 years.

    Orion/SLS will take longer and will consume about 30-40 billion dollars so far over 20 billion has been dropped in both programs.

    It is hard to imagine how a group (NASA and the contractors) could spend that money for so little results; until you go back and Look at Ike’s speech on the MIC and see that we have finally gotten to those points. We now have industries whose sole customer is the federal government and whose sole venue is either the armaments industry or the space industrial complex.

    And it is protected mostly by the GOP…

    good thoughts on these two post. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    A M Swallow wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 am

    “The hard part is not doing it with new money but doing it with the current money.”

    it is not hard it is impossible some cost numbers for a L station and a moon station run about 7 to 10 billion a year to support RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “orion abort test slipped to 2018. this program is an unbelievable mess. billions spent on a scaled up apollo capsule and it will still take them 13+ years to get to a manned flight. lockheed martin should do us all a favor and get out of manned spaceflight, they’re a disgrace.”

    To be fair to LockMart, the big problems impacting Orion/MPCV do not originate with that company. LockMart had to redesign Orion ad nauseum because the throw weight on Ares I kept going down. That genius LV engineering originated with Griffin, Horowitz, and Cook, not LockMart. And this latest slip is SLS budget-driven. NASA is trying to fit 10lbs. of SLS potatos in the proverbial 5lb. sack and there’s nothing left over to finish MPCV development in a rational way. Congress is responsible for the brilliant budgeting in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, not LockMart.

    No doubt, LockMart corporate is sitting back and smiling at all these stupid moves. They’re happy to reap the additional cost-plus dollars as Orion/MPCV development keeps getting stretched out. (Who wouldn’t?) They’ve also clearly put their B- and C-team members, like Cleon Lacefield of X-33 infamy, on the project. But the idiocy that has driven Orion budget and schedule and continues to drive MPCV budget and schedule originated with NASA’s prior management and the current Congress, not with LockMart management.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    it is not hard it is impossible some cost numbers for a L station and a moon station run about 7 to 10 billion a year to support

    For a EML1/L2 station, I don’t see why the cargo support costs would be too much different than what they are for the ISS. Sure you have to push the cargo vehicle further out Earth’s gravity well, but that could be done using a dedicated tug. I think both Cygnus and Dragon could be used pretty much as is.

    For crew it would depend on whether the current Dragon offers enough protection for the passengers beyond LEO. I don’t know, but SpaceX certainly planned for it to go beyond LEO. If it can, then there too it would need a tug of some sort (likely a faster one than for cargo). I’m assuming CST-100 could be adapted as a secondary vehicle too.

    So using existing spacecraft, and just adding fast and slow tugs (or one that can do both), I think we could support a EML1/L2 station. It would have relatively low development costs, and the mission costs shouldn’t be too much more.

    For the lunar surface, if you already have a EML1/L2 station, then you could rendezvous with the lunar shuttle and transfer cargo and crew. The development costs would be for the lunar shuttle, and likely a fuel resupply system. I won’t add in the cost of the lunar outpost, but just from a resupply standpoint, we’re not talking about a really big new investment above what we need to support the ISS.

    I think the same as A M Swallow – if we cancel the SLS soon and replace it with this effort (one for one swap on the budget), then we could be on the Moon’s surface within 10 years.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    If all we had to worry about were cargo/crew flight cost and a “few” (meaning less then 100) people on Earth “overseeing” things then we might find the cost affordable.

    I would suspect that the NASA “support” staff for a L station would be counted in the thousands (1-2K) and same for a lunar effort…For Creators sake if there was a station on the Moon the number of people back here on Earth supporting it would simply be a pile on.

    when NASA gets ISS cost down to say 100-400 people on EArth then we can start talking about something else. RGO

  • A M Swallow

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    when NASA gets ISS cost down to say 100-400 people on EArth then we can start talking about something else. RGO

    How extensive are the redundancies at KSC, JSC and JPL?

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