Congress, NASA, Other

Briefly: Mars funding advocacy, clarifying Armstrong

A member of the House normally not involved in space issues is asking her colleagues in the Senate to provide additional support for NASA’s Mars exploration program. In an op-ed published in the Pasadena Sun late Friday, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) describes the importance of the Mars exploration research done at JPL in particular, but raises concerns about the budget for that, citing the most recent proposed cuts in the program in the administration’s FY13 budget proposal. Those cuts, she notes, could lead to layoffs at JPL.

Since the House has already passed its appropriations bill “that substantially increased funding” for Mars exploration, she calls on the Senate to do even more, although she doesn’t quantify how much additional funding it should add to the bill. She instead argues that “the two chambers of Congress must come together so we don’t undercut future advances” in Mars exploration. “Senators have proposed funding for JPL, but they need to provide even more,” she writes.

While Chu doesn’t speak much on space issues, there is some local interest at play here. Her current district, the 32nd, covers much of the eastern part of the San Gabriel Valley, east of Pasadena. However, after redistricting, she is running this year in the reconfigured 27th district, which now includes most of Pasadena (although it’s not clear from the resolution of the available maps if JPL itself is just inside or outside the district.)

Also yesterday, the Houston Chronicle’s Eric Berger published a clarification on the “60 Minutes” piece on SpaceX provided by its host, Scott Pelley. The clarification specifically addressed the perception in the piece that Neil Armstrong “had testified against commercial space flight”, to use the Pelley’s words Pelley in a question to SpaceX founder Elon Musk. “We should have made it explicit in our story that, while Armstrong was ‘not confident’ that the newcomers could achieve safety and cost goals in the near term, he did want to ‘encourage’ them,” Pelley writes (emphasis in original), citing Armstrong’s prepared testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee in May 2010.

This letter was prompted by reaction to the re-airing of the “60 Minutes” segment earlier this month by Chris Kraft, who argued that the segment distorted the views of Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and others. As I earlier noted, this criticism came only after the second airing of the piece, in the wake of SpaceX’s successful test flight to the ISS. The original airing, back in March, included those same views, but Kraft and others didn’t appear to claim then that their views had been mischaracterized—or, at least, they weren’t able to get the media’s attention back in March.

124 comments to Briefly: Mars funding advocacy, clarifying Armstrong

  • Vladislaw

    In Mr. Armstong’s testimony he states:

    “President Bush, after reflection, proposed such a vision: finish the International Space Station, return to the moon, establish a permanent presence there, and venture onward toward Mars. After completion of the very detailed Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), that vision became a Program known as Constellation. A high level panel of human space flight veterans and a highly experienced independent review team vetted the ESAS conclusions.”

    Like Paul Harvey we need to hear the rest of the story. The Vision for Space Exploration as presented in Feb of 2004, called for no new launch vehicles for NASA. They were going to utilize existing rocket. It also was going to drastically reduce heritage hardware, systems, and labor. It was also a technical roadmap calling for modular design, assembled in space, with fuel depots.

    How Neil can compare the Vision to the corrupt ESAS is beyond me. Everyone knew this was a hack job with how EELV’s were rated for safety and costs.

    ESAS was not “vetted” in any way shape or form, it was rammed through and documents were withheld until the spending for funding the pork train to nowhere was started. The L2 forum finally posted the documents that were withheld on EELV’s.

    He then states:

    “Three years later, after a change in Congressional control, the policy was once again approved, although it was still not adequately funded.”

    It was adequately funded. Ex – Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin stated in congressional testimony more than once that the Constellation program was going to be a “Pay as you go” program… it is impossible to underfund pay as you go. Dr. Griffin even closed down programs to move more funding into that trainwreck Ares I. Including the Promethus Project that would have finally given us better power and propulsion.

  • Oink, oink, oink … Judy Chu doesn’t tell us specifically why this mission is so important to the future of humanity. It’s just to protect jobs in her district. Otherwise, she’s never cared a fig about NASA.

  • Joseph

    I have an issue with Ms. Chu. What does she mean “could lead to layoffs at JPL”? There have been layoffs going on for almost two years, and the staff has probably been reduced by 10% to 15%, and probably more. The layoffs are suppose to continue through the rest of this fiscal year, and continue next year. And this is BEFORE the effects of the reductions in the Mars program have met the budget.

  • amightywind

    The leftists routinely distort and misrepresent the views of the GOP. There is nothing new in their treatment of Armstrong. SpaceX is trying to position itself for a future where their cover by Obama is stripped. Good luck with that. A lot of NASA traditionalists will be out for blood.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    ” A lot of NASA traditionalists will be out for blood.”

    Yes thsoe people who sit around and talk about space. the ones Newt had in mind? RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    A lot of NASA traditionalists will be out for blood more MONEY.

    I think that’s what you really meant. Or at least that is the truth.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.citizensinspace.org/2012/06/historical-note-the-space-operations-center-2/

    aside from the statement (which should be on the forehead of every “Traditional” NASA Person) ie “There was no question that the combined station was going to be expensive: more expensive than the fiscally conservative Reagan Administration was likely to go for. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable political problem, NASA Administrator James Beggs and his staff fell back on a classic Washington solution: they lied. “:

    the lying aside…

    there is an interesting discussion of a Space Operations Center/Complex which in large measure I think is going to be what Bigelow does to actually make some money.

    Good ideas wait for the right time. NASA would have fracked it up anyway RGO

  • Rhyolite

    “A lot of NASA traditionalists will be out for blood.”

    Work harder everyone, there are people in Alabama who need pork.

  • Majormajor42

    If Armstrong meant to encourage commercial space flight, why was his testimony so discouraging? Supporters of SpaceX, employees and Musk himself were right to feel disappointed, let down, by Armstrong’s testimony. Armstrong doesn’t get to just backpeddle on this. Trying to react in this case is not enough. He should be proactive and go down to Hawthorne, smiling, shaking hands, and saying “good job” to those kids who want to love him again. That would mean a lot.

  • Sad to see what our national space program is in be it FED or commercial.

    NASA driven solely to prop up programs like HLV that keep the current NASA pork based jobs program alive and well. Needless to say funded just to maintain the jobs not to secure a successful program….it will fail as all have during the past 40 years. Only two programs emerged and they were little more than money pits to nowhere. sShuttle was no exception underfunded concept from day one. ISS the same…spam cans in space.

    Then the commercial sector. Yes SpaceX is a fave of Obama…due to Elon’s electric car business being a “green” company which Obama bailed out with millions in cash to keep it afloat. Then Garver teamed up with Augustine to ensure NASA current manned space program was completely undone….”FLEX”. Which ensured Elon had clear path ahead for commercial.

    So I have no doubt SpaceX is viewed with some disdain by the “old” NASA guard. So all the politicing aside NASA and commercial are both underfunded and destined to a very shakey future. For certain funds are not there to provide a clear path forward for both. One must go and the most likely to survive and be successful based on future funding is the commercial sector SpaceX.

    Looks to me like JPL Mars program could be robust if the NASA HLV program were cut. SpaceX a couple other commercial companies could also flourish on the remaining funds. But fat chance of that happening due the entrianed NASA pork shuttle derived jobs. They must go on….so the under funded doomed to fail saga will continue.

    Newt would face a firestorm of congressional pushback if he were to privatize NASA there by threatening the PORK HLV program. The situation is griom and proves that BIG government programs like NASA should have a very limited life span. let run for more than few years and they become dark holes sucking in tax dollars and returning little other than jobs for votes.

  • Martijn Meijering

    He should be proactive and go down to Hawthorne, smiling, shaking hands, and saying “good job” to those kids who want to love him again. That would mean a lot.

    Too late for that. Armstrong has chosen to besmirch his reputation. His call, his loss.

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 23rd, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    “The Vision for Space Exploration as presented in Feb of 2004” was a set of objectives (including a return to the Moon and learning to use its resources). It was not an implementation plan and thus did not dictate:
    - “were going to utilize existing rocket”
    - “was going to drastically reduce heritage hardware, systems, and labor”
    “modular design, assembled in space, with fuel depots”

    - You may be confusing the VSE with the open ended trade studies (that actually reached no conclusions, but at one time talked about all those things and more) run by Steidle while O’Keefe was still Administrator. When Griffin took over that process had reached no conclusions and no architecture (specifying anything) was yet available (only an ever expanding set of trade studies). That is the reason the ESAS was begun.

    Hate the ESAS results as much as you want, but your statements as to what the VSE was are inaccurate.

  • James

    @ Doug: “Looks to me like JPL Mars program could be robust if the NASA HLV program were cut. SpaceX a couple other commercial companies could also flourish on the remaining funds”

    Funding for programs that are cancelled don’t always stay in Control of NASA to put elsewhere.

    GEMS was just cancelled, and the future funds laid out for GEMS are no longer in the NASA budget; something that has surprised NASA Mgmt. Ouch!

  • Vladislaw

    Joe, I disagree, they were about to make the awards when suddenly O’Keefe and EELV’s are out and Griffin and heritage hardware was in.

    http://exploration.nasa.gov/documents/reports/orlando_1-2005/steidle.pdf

    “CEV RFP process initiated with target award date of Aug 05″

    Under O’Keefe and Stridle they were about to make awards for the CEV which would launch on a EELV.

    “The initial CEV “procurement strategies” under Sean O’ Keefe would have seen two “phases” of CEV design. Proposals submitted in May 2005 were to be part of the Phase 1 portion of CEV design, which was to be followed by an orbital or suborbital fly-off of technology demonstrator spacecraft called FAST in 2008. Downselect to one contractor for Phase 2 of the program would have occurred later that year. First manned flight of the CEV would not occur until as late as 2014. In the original plan favored by former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, the CEV would launch on an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), namely the Boeing Delta IV Heavy or Lockheed Martin Atlas V Heavy EELVs.

    However, with the change of NASA Administrators, Mike Griffin did away with this schedule, viewing it as unacceptably slow, and moved directly to Phase 2 in early 2006. He commissioned the 60-day internal study for a re-review of the concepts — now known as the ESAS — which favored launching the CEV on a shuttle-derived launch vehicle. Additionally, Griffin planned to accelerate or otherwise change a number of aspects of the original plan that was released last year[when?]. Instead of a CEV fly-off in 2008, NASA would have moved to Phase 2 of the CEV program in 2006, with CEV flights to have commenced as early as June 2011″
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_Systems_Architecture_Study

    If you want to argue that a CEV launched on a EELV was going to take longer than Ares 1 fine with me. But the powers that be in congress were not going to fund anything that did not involve all that heritage hardware and labor .. the pork train was going to continue or else.

  • Robert G. Oler

    James wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    “Funding for programs that are cancelled don’t always stay in Control of NASA to put elsewhere.”

    of all the reasons to continue a failed program the above is about the worst.

    If the money is being badly spent then cancelling it is no great loss even if the money goes out of the particular agency budget (ie here is a budget reduction). Actually agencies should be penalized for bad management of programs.

    I dont know about you but waste is waste…and we should be against it in any form.

    The GOP is mostly not true to that. Pete Olson will rave about the horrible things at Planned Parenthood and then stand up and defend SLS or Orion which is spending far more then Planned Parenthood..and the later actually does something valuable to people. SLS and Orion just provide a paycheck to technwelfare people RGO

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Since you did not mention the subject, I will assume you accept that the VSE did not do the things you attributed to it.

    I do not want to go too far down memory lane here, but I have friends who were part of the Steidle process and know how frustrated they were by the lack of decision (whatever Wikipedia says).

    Note that the Wikipedia quote you use refers only to LEO, nothing about BEO (or propellant depots). If the propellant depot approach had been selected in a timely manner, the initial contracts would have already been out for bid by the time of Griffin’s arrival. Under those circumstances, it is doubtful Griffin could have gotten White House/Congress to change course even if he wanted to. So in a very real way you have Steidle to thank for ESAS.

    As far as EELVs not having political supporters, it should be remembered that the DoD would have directly benefited if EELV had been chosen as it would have reduced their annual overhead cost for maintaining the dual (Delta IV/Atlas V) launch capability. The last time I checked the DoD had a lot more political clout than NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Then the commercial sector. Yes SpaceX is a fave of Obama…due to Elon’s electric car business being a “green” company which Obama bailed out with millions in cash to keep it afloat. Then Garver teamed up with Augustine to ensure NASA current manned space program was completely undone….”FLEX”. Which ensured Elon had clear path ahead for commercial.”

    I dont agree with those “facts” at all…but I would say this.

    The role of The President of The United States is to move The Republic in a direction which he/she thinks ensures a future that is better then the present. You and I might at times disagree with that “direction” but that is the job of The President. It wasnt always that way…the 1800′s have a bunch of non leaders as President EXCEPT on very few occasions when a crisis demanded it and then as soon as it was gone then the status quo settled back with mostly Congress driving the national horse.

    That changed with TR and finally with FDR as most Presidents recognized the power of the bully pulpit. No President drove The Republic more “personally” then Ronald Wilson Reagan, and just as I am good with BHO driving it, (or any other one that is why we elect them) I was good with RWR doing it.

    In pursuit of that Presidents have selectively made sure industries or companies survived; or perished. Cheney and his buddies had no issue with Grumman going out of the fighter plane business. They were produced in Blue New York and pretty well known as a Democratic company…they also of course made the premier line of Navy fighters including the best fighter in the world, the F-14…and the fact that Naval aircraft since then have bordered on the absurd (the F-18 made in the Red Midwest) has not bothered any of the right wing “hawks”. It doesnt seem to bother the Hawks either that the F-35 made in red Texas has spent far more billions then a few fighter programs combined which actually went on to produce planes…and is going no where fast…its deploy date is “to be determined”.

    At the very least in the Commercial cargo/SLS and Orion debate…the notion of commercial cargo/crew has the potential to do something SLS will never do…and that is create a launch industry in the US for commercial satellites…

    You and others should think of that. If either SpaceX or OSC (my bet is in SpaceX but OSC could do it) evolve a launcher which draws in commercial satellite launchs it will be the FIRST time in this country that a space industry which has gone offshore…has come back.

    That is an important note and if that is all we got out of commercial cargo then we should fall down on our knees and be happy.

    On the other hand what we might have also shown for the first time is a process in developing space vehicles and rockets that is cost effective…and if that is the case then the door is wide open to all the things that space junkies say that they want.

    I dont know enough about the electric car business to know what Musk got and didnt get. But in the scheme of things if all it took was millions when we give the folks building teh F-35 billions for a weapon system that simply wont work…then it was worth it.

    Why do people like you gripe at money sent to forward looking things and yet dont blink at the F-35? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 12:05 pm
    ” it should be remembered that the DoD would have directly benefited if EELV had been chosen as it would have reduced their annual overhead cost for maintaining the dual (Delta IV/Atlas V) launch capability.”

    to make a few points here.

    first where is Ed Wright?

    Ed more or less got this one correct. I advocated the EELV approach both in policy forums and papers (and some speeches). Ed cheefully and tirelessly (grin) pointed out several flaws in that notion; flaws which I was aware of, but flaws which given the benefit of hindsight I suspect that he was more “right” then I was. (I normally do not run away from policy issues in the past, say like Whittington, I do try and explain them…at that time with the failure of Beal I didnt think a new launch vehicle was in the cards…moving on).

    DoD in my view was rightly concerned abotu NASA getting involved in the EELV process; they were an are having a difficult time managing EELV cost and management..and they viewed NASA interference as the kiss of more expense. If NASA had moved to human rate one or both of the EELV’s before long the manufactors would be arguing that “for cost” they should only build one version of the EELV, the NASA one and those cost would be higher; it shouldnt be; but the cost would have in my view just exploded.

    The best thing that ever happened to people who want a different space policy then the one we have had for the last 30-40 years was Mike Griffin.

    Had they kept with EELV development for crewed and cargo lift…unlike Ares1 they would have eventually made it work; but the cost would be not much less then the shuttle …and we would be stuck with just another version of government operated and controlled lift.

    This is the part that Ed got really correct.

    I use to think that Lockmart and Boeing would try and branch out their customer base; but now am quite certain that assumption was completely wrong. USA would soon be back in the business of managing ULA rockets, NASA would resume ops just like they did under the shuttle and the world of turpor and timidity would have just chugged on.

    With of course escalating prices since it was all sole sourced.

    There would have been no real room for a SpaceX or Beal or anyone else…

    I should have seen more of this…the story of Brannif and SWA is one I have used a lot…the established airlines really do not want upstarts for the same reason that ULA and USA and NASA HSF are all (or were in the case of USA) happy with chugging along with all the pins lined up…dynamic environments are things that burecracies do not handle well and there is nothing innovative in the soul of Lockmart or Boeing rocket plants anymore.

    Unlike NASA there is a small but growing core in DoD that recognizes it is being strangled by the military industrial complex. Now these people are routinely ground down by the Pentagon corporate machine…but still its growing.

    Anyway the move to EELV’s would have been for policy reasons a bad one…unless you want another 30 years like the last 30.

    RGO

  • common sense

    “Hate the ESAS results as much as you want, but your statements as to what the VSE was are inaccurate.”

    More nonsense from the expert who does not speak of which he does not know.

    At least those of us who live in reality know where to look to find the supporting evidence and not the delirious daydreaming nonsense of others.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    “Cheney and his buddies had no issue with Grumman going out of the fighter plane business. They were produced in Blue New York and pretty well known as a Democratic company…”

    Ever thought why LMT won the CEV contract over NG/BA??? If not, you’re on the right track…

    FWIW

  • josh

    “NASA traditionalists”

    You mean angry seniors about to be made irrelevant? It’s biology, windy…

  • joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 1:38 pm
    The underlying reason that Steidle (a Navy Admiral) and O’Keefe (a former Undersecretary of the Navy) so strongly supported reliance on EELV (and potentially EELV derived heavy lift) was because it would reduce DoD cost for the EELV program.

    It was also the reason that O’Keefe wanted EELV launch of the Orbital Space Plane (OSP).

    Actually I do not think there is anything inherently wrong in that motive. Even though I believe it would have been a bad decision technically their intentions (to gain overall efficiency) were good.

    So O’Keefe/Steidle disagreed with you.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    As far as EELVs not having political supporters, it should be remembered that the DoD would have directly benefited if EELV had been chosen as it would have reduced their annual overhead cost for maintaining the dual (Delta IV/Atlas V) launch capability.

    In the whole scheme of things, that support cost is not much considering the DoD budget, and it also ensures that the DoD is the main focus of their supplier.

    But regardless, Griffin painted an inaccurate picture of the use of EELV’s to support BEO exploration in order to justify the Ares I, and the Ares I was needed to cover part of the cost of the massively expensive Ares V. Griffin decided on his architecture and then changed the facts to support his decision.

    Spin that anyway you like it is still a fact.

  • Vladislaw

    From the Feb 2004

    The Vision for Space Exploration:

    “For cargo transport to the Space Station after 2010, NASA will rely on existing or new commercial cargo transport systems, as well as international partner cargo transport systems. NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.”

    NASA was not supposed to build any new rockets, especially the Ares I. Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin had spiral development plans to upgrade the lift capacity for both the Delta IV and Atlas V, their plans were under 6 billion. There was absolutely no reason for the Ares V and the VSE clearly laid this out.

    President Bush made it clear in ‘A Renewed Spirit of Discovery’ where he stated under the Goals of the VSE:

    “Promote international and commercial participation in exploration”

    He went on writing that NASA was to:

    “Acquire cargo transportation as soon as practical and affordable to support missions to and from the International Space Station; and Acquire crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, as required, after the Space Shuttle is retired from service.”

    The very last item in ‘A Renewed Spirit of Discovery’ was:

    “Pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the International Space Station and exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit”"

    O’Keefe was onboard with this and said:

    “This plan is guided by the Administration’s new space exploration policy, “A Renewed Spirit of Discovery”

    O’Keefe summed it up with:

    “I cannot overstate how much NASA will change in the coming years as this plan is implemented.”

    A part of that change was getting rid of the 200 million per month labor bill for the shuttle workers. That 2.4 billion per year was going to fund a lot increases in TRL’s along with new technology like the Promethus project.

    Again this was clearly fore shadowed in the VSE:

    “In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring . For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused , have systems that could be applied to more than one destination , and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews . NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly, that could enable these kinds of vehicles.”

    No more large ground crews.
    No more large monitoring crews.
    Reusable vehicles.
    Flexible path – more that one destination.
    Require only small ground crews.
    Modular designed systems.
    Fuel station – pre positioned propellants.
    In Space Assembly of modular, reusable vehicles.

    If you can not see that is what was spelled out in the VSE then I can’t help you.

  • Vladislaw

    If you review the last times that O’Keefe testified before Congressional committees you will find they kept asking him, how many jobs were going be lost. He stated from 3,000 to 4,000. They hammered him on this. Then look at Griffin’s first testimonies with congressional members asking him how many jobs could be saved under his ESAS scheme.

    Congress was not interested in NASA doing things a new commercial way as laid out in the VSE.

  • joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “But regardless, Griffin painted an inaccurate picture of the use of EELV’s to support BEO exploration in order to justify the Ares I, and the Ares I was needed to cover part of the cost of the massively expensive Ares V. Griffin decided on his architecture and then changed the facts to support his decision.

    Spin that anyway you like it is still a fact.”

    Once again you say something so “interesting” that I (on a one time basis) suspend the rule about not responding to your Bravo Sierra.
    I do not need to spin anything, but you need to talk to Robert Oler. He seems to think that what you characterize as Griffins “inaccurate picture” on use of EELV for LEO crew launch is correct:

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    “DoD in my view was rightly concerned abotu NASA getting involved in the EELV process; they were an are having a difficult time managing EELV cost and management..and they viewed NASA interference as the kiss of more expense. If NASA had moved to human rate one or both of the EELV’s before long the manufactors would be arguing that “for cost” they should only build one version of the EELV, the NASA one and those cost would be higher; it shouldnt be; but the cost would have in my view just exploded.”

    I hope you have a nice time discussing all this, as I am now leaving this conversation, which has gotten so far off its original intent (which was what was specified in the VSE) as to make the original point mute.

  • Malmesbury

    You and others should think of that. If either SpaceX or OSC (my bet is in SpaceX but OSC could do it) evolve a launcher which draws in commercial satellite launchs it will be the FIRST time in this country that a space industry which has gone offshore…has come back.

    Have a look at the SpaceX order book. Already happening. OSC has, so far, shown no ability to offer lower prices, though.

    Not just “a space industry” – maybe the first time an industry is coming back full stop. Due to making a product cheaper in *California* than it can be made in *China*.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it….

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    He [Oler] seems to think that what you characterize as Griffins “inaccurate picture” on use of EELV for LEO crew launch is correct

    I know this surprises you Joe, but Griffin’s fudging of the EELV data to support his Ares architecture has been long known and widely accepted. And now that we have the lens of history to look into the past, we can more clearly see how absurd Griffin’s decisions were.

    For instance, why ignore a perfectly good existing liquid-engine launcher (Delta IV Heavy) to build a limited use solid-fueled crew-carrying rocket (Ares I)? How fiscally insane was that? Not to mention questionable from a crew safety standpoint – the exclusive use of a solid-fuel motor for the 1st stage added so many complications to the rocket that it ultimately drove the Constellation program to be cancelled.

    I am now leaving this conversation

    Always the drama queen. You say that so often and STILL keep posting. Most people just stop posting and don’t add the theatrics, but hey, if that’s your style (i.e. drama), I guess you have to go with what you know. ;-)

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
    “From the Feb 2004
    The Vision for Space Exploration:
    “For cargo transport to the Space Station after 2010, NASA will rely on existing or new commercial cargo transport systems, as well as international partner cargo transport systems. NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.””

    And that in no way is at odds with the Ares I/Ares V architecture since neither was intended to deliver cargo to the ISS (yes I know there was a backup plan to use the Ares I/Orion for cargo delivery, but that was a backup plan to be used only if the commercial cargo plan failed – would you have preferred there be no backup plan?)

    “Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin had spiral development plans to upgrade the lift capacity for both the Delta IV and Atlas V, their plans were under 6 billion. There was absolutely no reason for the Ares V and the VSE clearly laid this out.”

    By your own quote above the VSE noted Heavy Lift as “critical”, but it does not direct how that heavy Lift capability is to be provided. It says – “NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.” Since there were no currently existing Heavy Lift Vehicles in either the “commercial or military systems” the VSE left such development to NASA. If NASA (Steidle) had chosen to select an EELV derived Heavy Lift he could (as he could have selected orbital refueling approach) but he did not.

    “President Bush made it clear in ‘A Renewed Spirit of Discovery’ where he stated under the Goals of the VSE:
    “Promote international and commercial participation in exploration””

    And that has what to do with this subject?

    “He went on writing that NASA was to:
    “Acquire cargo transportation as soon as practical and affordable to support missions to and from the International Space Station; and Acquire crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, as required, after the Space Shuttle is retired from service.””

    And that in no way is at odds with the Ares I/Ares V architecture since neither was intended to deliver cargo to the ISS (yes I know there was a backup plan to use the Ares I/Orion for cargo delivery, but that was a backup plan to be used only if the commercial cargo plan failed – would you have preferred there be no backup plan?)

    “Again this was clearly fore shadowed in the VSE:
    “In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring . For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused , have systems that could be applied to more than one destination , and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews . NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly, that could enable these kinds of vehicles.””

    All noble long term goals and in no way at odds with the initial implementation proposed by ESAS. Again if you would have preferred orbital tank farms to be a part of the initial VSE implementation, take it up with Steidle, he is the one that did not select them when he had the chance.

    Enough of this, if you think the VSE called for the simultaneous development of:
    - the Delta Clipper
    - Orbital refueling systems
    - Nuclear Electric Propulsion (and by the way Prometheus was cancelled when it was discovered that it would require a Heavy Lift Vehicle to launch some of its components)
    - Etc.

    That is your privilege, but it is simply not the case.

    Have a nice evening.

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
    “The underlying reason that Steidle (a Navy Admiral) and O’Keefe (a former Undersecretary of the Navy) so strongly supported reliance on EELV (and potentially EELV derived heavy lift) was because it would reduce DoD cost for the EELV program.”

    sorry Joe, I was not clear…try again.

    I am quite certain thaat Steidle and O’Keefe firmly believed that…I AT ONE TIME BELIEVED THAT. But in retrospect it is Clear that Craig and O’Keefe both knew to little about the NASA method of operation to make a reasonable judgement.

    IF (and I think that this is a big IF) either the Atlas or Delta in their current configurations ever are crew rated…one of two things will be true.

    Either the crew rated version will be so expensive that it will simply be unaffordable in terms of moving the ball outside a NASA cost center…or the entire cost of that particular line of rockets (ie either the Atlas or Delta) will convert to that configuration and the cost will go up for all users.

    That would have been even more accurate if outside of a true economic based competition the notions of crew lift and cargo lift had simply transferred to one of the rockets in a shuttle mode of operation.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 4:21 pm
    “Not just “a space industry” – maybe the first time an industry is coming back full stop. Due to making a product cheaper in *California* than it can be made in *China*.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it….”

    this is actually the internal “greatest fear” at NASA…that what happened at SpaceX can be duplicated on other aspects of space endeavors…and the price and infrastructure with the effort can come way down…

    Look the sad reality is that most if not all of the NASA knowledge acquired during shuttle operations is basically useless. It never was cost or performance metriced…and as a result really has nothing to offer someone or group who is cost and performance metriced.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    “I hope you have a nice time discussing all this, as I am now leaving this conversation,”

    we all are shot through the heart at you leaving but will somehow manage to move forward. sigh sad really upset (not so much but hope you get the feelings sent your way) RGO

  • Fly Bye

    Joe, VSE was and still is a laughable excuse of a prior and now obsolete space policy, and very few people besides people who are just like you are still enamored with it after its obvious failure. Very few. Just like you.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Since there were no currently existing Heavy Lift Vehicles in either the “commercial or military systems” the VSE left such development to NASA.

    What Griffin did was the equivalent of calling a meeting and not telling anyone. Did NASA put out a Super-HLV RFP? Did NASA bring together industry and academia to see what the best rocket architectures would be for meeting the goals of the VSE? He looked around the room and saw that only his plan was being presented, so he chose it. Big surprise.

    NASA was in the midst of building a 450,000 kg modular space station, so one would think that the technologies and techniques we had learned from building the ISS could be reused for the beyond-LEO architecture.

    For whatever reason, Griffin did not seek out the best and brightest, and luckily Constellation was cancelled before it did too much damage to our space efforts (and the taxpayers wallet).

  • Vladislaw

    Joe wrote:

    “And that in no way is at odds with the Ares I/Ares V architecture since neither was intended to deliver cargo to the ISS (yes I know there was a backup plan to use the Ares I/Orion for cargo delivery, but that was a backup plan to be used only if the commercial cargo plan failed – would you have preferred there be no backup plan?)”

    I already went over this with you and provided a link to Bill Gerstenmaiers testimony. Prior to Congress ending the funding for the Constellation program, Ares I was plan A .. NOT a backup plan. The additional milestones to mitigate risk were added to COTS and I showed you that.

    The VSE stated no new launch vehicles unless it was for a critial need. Ares 1 was not heavy lift and wasn’t a critical need. But it was predicated on the fact that commercial would provide the service. To try and argue that commercial could not provide a heavy lift launch vehicle and only NASA could is beyond silly.

    So there was no justification for a NASA designed, developed cost plus nightmare like Ares 1 and V that was years over schedule and budget.

    “And that has what to do with this subject?”

    Because commercial was mentioned quite a few times in the VSE and by President Bush. There were upgrade plans for the EELV’s and Griffin made sure the commercial firms would not get a chance. It would be heritage hardware at cost plus. What did our 12 billion get us what? Not even one single orbital test launch.

    To try and defend that budget nightmare, the Ares 1 and V over what the taxpayers could have got for those billions is …..

  • joe

    Fly Bye wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 5:22 pm
    “Joe, VSE was and still is a laughable excuse of a prior and now obsolete space policy, and very few people besides people who are just like you are still enamored with it after its obvious failure. Very few. Just like you.”

    Yes a run on series of ad hominem insults. Guaranteed to make you feel really, really cool – if you are a not particularly bright eight year old.

    On the outside chance that you really have problems with the VSE, you should address them to Vladislaw since he is the one who brought up the Vision for Space Exploration (in the first post on this subject). I guess that means he must be one of the “Very few. Just like” me.

    - Vladislaw likes the idea of using EELV
    - Robert Oler used to like the idea of using EELV, but doesn’t anymore (but does not assert what, if anything he does like)
    - Coastal Ron likes EELV (unless you try to pin him down to a concrete position)
    - Fly Bye just thinks the VSE is “laughable”

    Sure would be interesting if you guys could ever come up with a coherent idea of what you actually support, instead of repeatedly expressing your visceral hatred for a program that does not even exist anymore.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    to be at least honest to Mike Griffin…

    the reality is that none of the things anyone wants to do in human spaceflight…none of it is affordable as long as the traditional contractor model/government oversight model is used.

    had NASA gone the EELV route what “joe” seems not to grasp is that at some point along the way, it would have turned into a Ares/SLS procurement effort.

    Robert G. oler

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    “I already went over this with you and provided a link to Bill Gerstenmaiers testimony.”

    Did you really. The only links you have provided are in this articles postings were in your post Vladislaw wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 11:21 am:

    http://exploration.nasa.gov/documents/reports/orlando_1-2005/steidle.pdf

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

    Neither are links to testimony by Gerstimeyer.

    Like I said have a nice evening.

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    “- Robert Oler used to like the idea of using EELV, but doesn’t anymore (but does not assert what, if anything he does like)”

    Ah you are approaching both the third adn fourth rule of losing an argument on the internet(s)

    Robert Oler has many flaws but one of them is not being vocal about “what I like” particularly in space politics and policy. These pages as well as my facebook page and some other sites are filled with my pontifications about my policy likes and dislikes…As Bush41 would say “watch, listen, learn” *as he held up his right hand counting them out)

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Coastal Ron likes EELV (unless you try to pin him down to a concrete position)

    You haven’t asked me any questions about EELV’s. Are you referencing an imaginary conversation you had with me?

    …instead of repeatedly expressing your visceral hatred for a program that does not even exist anymore.

    Just to be clear, what I didn’t like was the Griffin implementation of the VSE, which he described as “Apollo on steroids”.

    And even more specifically, his version of the Constellation program reused nothing of our existing space infrastructure, and created a new infrastructure that could only be used and sustained by increasing NASA’s budget (and not allowing budget decreases).

    Griffin’s plan was financially unsustainable, and even though his architecture was technically underwhelming, it was the wasteful money aspect that I disliked the most – the man had no appreciation for taxpayer money.

  • byeman

    Statement that have no basis in fact.

    “Anyway the move to EELV’s would have been for policy reasons a bad one…”
    “had NASA gone the EELV route what “joe” seems not to grasp is that at some point along the way, it would have turned into a Ares/SLS procurement effort”

    Once again, you show that you don’t what you are talking about.

  • It amazes me that some people put so much effort into slinging mud over a dead-and-buried space program.

    Constellation has gone the way of the dodo. NewSpace is here. Move on, already.

  • Robert G. Oler

    byeman wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 3:26 am

    explain how that would not have happened? RGO

  • Fly Bye

    Fly Bye just thinks the VSE is “laughable”

    Laughing is the best alternative to crying – for men and women who understand that returning to the moon and going to Mars without proper funding and in obsolete legacy equipment with no coherent or intelligent planning lead by a petty authoritarian has no (as in zero) national value.

    History is on the side of the adults here, joe. Flags and footprints don’t work.

  • Vladislaw

    Ah Joe… it was awhile ago.. I stated about COTS having additional milestones and you said you didn’t know that there were added milestones, It was then I provided the links. I am sure other readers were aware of it as it was part of the converstation. I an not going to do the due dilligence again and dig the links out.

    Needless to say though is that Bill G did tell congressional committee that Ares 1 was plan A up until the constellation program ended and I did provide the links at that time.

  • Egad

    IF (and I think that this is a big IF) either the Atlas or Delta in their current configurations ever are crew rated…one of two things will be true.

    If RS-68A, which is about to fly, were to be upgraded to RS-68B like NASA was looking to do for the Ares V, how far would that go toward crew rating Delta IV?

    BTW, is the current RS-68A also the RS-68A+ which, AIUI, was supposed to incorporate USAF wishes for less hydrogen leakage, helium use etc, or is that yet to come?

  • Ben Joshua

    Armstrong’s testimony may have been written for him, by a skilled PR pro. Armstrong’s authoritative voice gave it more respectability than it deserved. The string of generalities, glossings-over and sidestepping lead us back to the cacoon of NASA-speak that lends cover to the status quo.

    A courtesy visit to SpaceX by Armstrong & Cernan might still be a good thing, but I would be surprised if NASA’s good soldiers, steeped in the culture of Apollo and NASA-ocracy, will be stopping by soon.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    “Well done Rand. RGO”

    Agreed.

    And it is nice to see that some one actually realizes the futile exercise, and expensive at that, that a dedicated escape system actually is. Especially after we flew for so long a vehicle that did not have any and yet was intrinsically dangerous, unlike a capsule.

    Wow. The world must have skipped a turn or two when I wrote “agreed”. ;)

  • If RS-68A, which is about to fly, were to be upgraded to RS-68B like NASA was looking to do for the Ares V, how far would that go toward crew rating Delta IV?

    I wish that people would understand that “crew rating” EELVs has nothing to do with their reliability or performance capability.

  • pathfinder_01

    “If RS-68A, which is about to fly, were to be upgraded to RS-68B like NASA was looking to do for the Ares V, how far would that go toward crew rating Delta IV?”

    None of the commercial crew plan to use Delta. It is more expensive than Atlas. I remeber watching someone from NASA once mentioned it was fine with the Delta as is in terms of launching crew. Which leads me to suspect that a fair amount of “man rating” is in the eye of the beholder. Anyway why would you want to crew rater Delta?

    Even if the growing ever more mythical Orion were used, you could launch it unmanned to the ISS(or maybe a futre bigleow station) and use commercial crew to man it on a crew rotation.

  • joe

    Fly Bye wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    “History is on the side of the adults here, joe. Flags and footprints don’t work.”

    Since I have never been a proponent of “Flags and footprints”, the “adults here” need to get there facts straight and then find someone else with which to argue.

  • joe

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    “Ah Joe… it was awhile ago.. .,, It was then I provided the links. I am sure other readers were aware of it as it was part of the converstation. I an not going to do the due dilligence again and dig the links out.”

    “Needless to say though is that Bill G did tell congressional committee that Ares 1 was plan A up until the constellation program ended and I did provide the links at that time”

    I never before had a discussion with you (or anyone else) concerning the relative priority of Orion vs. COTS in ISS cargo delivery. I know at one time (while Griffin was still Administrator) I was working on Orion cargo delivery capabilities and that work was defunded, because (we were told) that headquarters did not want Orion seen as competition for COTS.

    I have no idea of what you may believe Gerstenmayer may have said at one point or the other, and if you choose to use the “dog ate my homework excuse” it’s fine by me as this discussion has gone so far beyond the original topic (which if you can recall was the limits of what the VSE mandated) as to be both pointless and ridiculous.

  • MrEarl

    “Well done Rand. RGO”
    “Agreed. Wow. The world must have skipped a turn or two when I wrote “agreed”. CS

    Indeed it has!!! :-O

    I’m all gun-ho, Right Stuff, as the next person but I think sending up a crewed Dragon or CST without a well designed and tested LAS is foolish. Let’s be realistic, a loss of life from a launch malfunction that could have been prevented (Loss of Life not Malfunction) by an LAS would end SpaceX as a company. You two are starting to sound like Windy and DCSCA!!!
    Musk and SpaceX have followed a deliberate and most of all successful path so far and I’d like to see them, Boeing and all other competitors for CCDev to continue to follow that path.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW,

    “Revenge”?

    Sorry, but no one can wish large solid grain combustion oscillations away.

    There is more to our nations aerospace industry than ATK.

  • DCSCA

    @Majormajor42 wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 6:00 am

    If Armstrong meant to encourage commercial space flight, why was his testimony so discouraging? ”

    Experience.

    Knowledge.

    Wisdom.

  • DCSCA

    @Ben Joshua wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 11:53 am

    “A courtesy visit to SpaceX by Armstrong & Cernan might still be a good thing”

    There’s nothing they could be shown they haven’t seen before.

    They’ve seen satellites up close and personal. and they’ve cllown a manned craft similar to Dragonl– 40 years ago.

  • DCSCA

    @josh wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Age discrimination is not a wise pitch for NewSpace dweebs to make and only reinforces Cernan’s truism that, in fact, you truly “don’t know what you don’t know, yet.”

  • Any member of Congress speaking pro-NASA ain’t all bad, I welcome Rep Chu to those ranks!

    NASA old guard obstructionists back peddles…who cares? Good for Armstrong that he recognizes the need for spin on what he’s said and done.

  • DCSCA

    “… clarifying Armstrong.” ???

    Mr. Armstrong’s testimony does not need any clarification. His statements past and present remain articulate and concise on matters space.

    This has nothing to do with what Armstrong said before Congress and everything to do with television, how CBS News producers and editors operate and how NewSpace tries to spin same.. Ratings matter in television. Accordingly, the timing and context in which Armstrong’s edited, selective fragments from his lengthy testimony were used does warrant clarification.

    These news packages have a limited shelf life in television, a voracious medium always hungry for fresh programming, so maximizing the use of an costly piece w/a limited shelf life is suit smarts by budget savvy CBS execs. Editorial control of that piece was solely in the hands of the CBS/60 Minutes produvers up at W. 57th St.. We have no idea how much of Musk’s comments were left on the cutting room floor to edit the package down for broadcast whereas we have the full text of Armstrong’s comments to Congress from which his few comments were lifted as well as the video to see how they were delivered on the Hill.

    CBS first aired the package in March (in the middle of March Madness BTW), a high ratings period when 60 Minutes was still in production for the season and timed the telecast to a few weeks before the repeatedly delayed Space X launch was again announced to finally fly before it slipped schedule again and- was delayed until May. During the week of the May flight, Pelley used pieces from the package during the CBS Evening News to maximize use of the footage again as ‘B-roll’ to supplement his reports. And, as the 60 Minutes season ended, the timing was appropriate to re-air the package after the outcome of the Space X flight, which squeezed the last practical use of the package but skewed the context of the edited comments between pre-flight March and post-flight May even more. CBS failed to update the piece (not cost-effective) or expand on the few seconds of comments by Armstrong and Cernan before Congress, initiating an appropriate response by Kraft– who waited until the flight was over, to issue a statement.

    The experienced Apollo era people are correct on this issue. NewSpace spinners are not, reinforcing Cernan’s assertion that NewSpacers ‘don’t know what they don’t know, yet.” Context is everything. One can find plenty of people in NASA, in government– in industry and in the media -ho went on camera and on the record who stated within 24 hours of losing Challenger that the agency would never compromise safety. Except it did– as the Rogers Commission clearly revealed. Mr. Armstrong was part of that commission and helped pen that report in 1986– when Musk was all of 15 years old. =yawn=

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Nonsense.

    Shills of a feather flock together: “But SpaceX has now flown two flights with its Dragon capsule, one of which went to and from the ISS a couple weeks ago. On both of which, astronauts would have done just fine, with couches and a life-support system.”

    There is no independent data to verify such an assertion by Simberg; it’s a commercial; a press pitch, because Space X has flown nobody– and won’t unless the risk of failure is outweighed by the value of success or that failure risk can be shifted from Space X to NASA- which is precisely what would happen if a commercial crew is killed a crew servicing the ISS. NASA would say they’re a private company but the press and the public would say ‘but you, NASA, are charged w/overseeing HSF ops to your ISS. Which dovetails with this even more disturbing statement:

    “There are doubtless astronauts who would be willing to fly such a mission and show that, like their predecessors in the sixties, they too have “the right stuff,” willing to risk their lives for their nation. Safety improvements could come along later, as they always do (there are never absolutes in such things).”

    First, those military test pilots assessed the odds, volunteered, and accepted a calculated risk in that Cold War battlefront, a geopolitical conflict BTW, as a career move in their milirarty service, not a business enterprise, with experimental hardware that included an acceptable safety envelope in a field that remains very unforgiving to human error. And when ‘go fever’ took hold and compromised safety for schedule, they got burned- literally, w/ Apollo 1. What Simberg is advocating now is a return to compromising safety to accelorate a for profit business venture, a redundant system to service a doomed government facility no less, which again only increases the unfavorable odds in calculating the risk- a risk not taken by military test pilots but civilians– purely for financial gain. NHe is on record advocating the value of hardware over the people who ride it. And if a mishap occurs in such an accelorated program, it is not Space X which will catch heat, but NASA, for greenlighting such folly, calling into question the same management problems which fueld the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia accidents. Musk himself has publicly stated he’d never compromise safety for profit which conflicts with Simberg’s positiobn. Just as NASA management once said it never would compromise safety, too- until schedule and budget pressures did just that. People will die in human spaceflight ops. NASA has the scars to show for it. So do the Russians. Minimizing the danger to an acceptable flight risk is smart policy. Simberg’s is clearly nothing more than advocating compromising safety to secure contracts and make a buck. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Yes right on the money Rand. Pity that DCSCA decided to add his / her two cents worth of nonsense but reading the comments after the article, it wasn’t the worst by a long shot and that’s saying something.

  • @ Mr Earl
    “Musk and SpaceX have followed a deliberate and most of all successful path so far and I’d like to see them, Boeing and all other competitors for CCDev to continue to follow that path.
    I’m going to agree with Mr. Earl. Amazing ain’t it? ;)

    Granted I would be willing to fly in Dragon without SLS because the odds would greatly be in favor of my safe return. However, I think a fatal accident without LAS would be viewed by the public in a much worse light than such an accident with LAS. Even if the accident is not one where an LAS would have saved the crew, in the public’s mind it would be indicative of an overall irresponsible cavalier attitude on the part of both SpaceX and NASA. Please, notice that I said in the public’s mind, not that that would be the actual situation in reality considering the odds would favor a safe flight at this point.

    No, I don’t think a fatal accident would be likely, but at this point let’s not start taking extra risk (no matter how little extra risk it is) with the lives of crew until we can say we took all of the practically implementable safety precautions we could think of. As Mr. Earl implies, one fatal accident without LAS could spell the end of Commercial Crew and I might add maybe the end of American human spaceflight in general.

    As I have already stated, in a situation where the accident is of a type where LAS would not have allowed survival, there would still be an outcry that launching the craft without LAS was a symptom of overall carelessness and a cavalier attitude toward safety (even if that were not so). For that reason I am for taking the extra time to add LAS, even though I know it does not greatly lessen the risk. If something serious happens with Soyuz in the meantime, then it might be worthwhile to reconsider that position.

    Anyway, due to the newness of Dragon and the political climate, I see a crewed launch of Dragon without LAS as being about as likely as an actual launch of SLS: with a probability that I would guess is very nearly zero.

  • Sorry meant to say in my first sentence “I would be willing to fly in Dragon without LAS” instead of “I would be willing to fly in Dragon without SLS”

  • Fly Bye

    I never claimed you were an advocate for anything other than VSE, SLS and Orion, joe, which absent a lander, isn’t even a flags and footprints mission.

    None of it passes the smell test, that’s how bad the whole concept looks.

  • Egad

    I wish that people would understand that “crew rating” EELVs has nothing to do with their reliability or performance capability.

    Well, yes I do understand that, but NASA, which looks to be the principal customer for US launchers used for manned flights for the next few years, does seem to think that the term means something. Sadly, NASA’s opinion is more relevant for the moment than is mine. If NASA says “we won’t buy tickets from you unless you meet CREW_RATING_CRITERIA”, than that’s something the launch providers need to take into consideration, no matter how arbitrary and unnecessary C_R_C may be.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi BJ –

    “A courtesy visit to SpaceX by Armstrong & Cernan might still be a good thing”

    They are pretty secure shops, for proprietary reasons. They have no need to raise additional funding.

    The likely effect would be Dr. Armstrong trying to place some of his more promising students with SpaceX.

    For that matter, it is more likely that either one of Dr. Armstrong’s more promising students may get clearance to give him a brief strictly confidential private overview over coffee somewhere someday, or that one of his fellow astronauts will, at some point. Perhaps Dr. Aldrin. Or Administrator Bolden.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Musk himself has publicly stated he’d never compromise safety for profit”

    As a businessman in this field, with a long range business plan, it would make absolutely no sense for him to do so.

    That said, manned spaceflight is still experimental, and there is always that snake hidden somewhere in the grass that will bite you in the butt.

    I wonder how China will react when they finally get bitten. While everyone can work their hardest, it is almost a certainty that someday they will. Its the nature of the beast.

  • amightywind

    Excellent argument DCSCA.

    On both of which, astronauts would have done just fine, with couches and a life-support system.

    The on pad aborts and the infamous ‘roll control anomaly’ would have made such flights sporty, that’s for sure.

    SpaceX PR is at it again with a recent engine test:

    “An enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built”

    Remarkable, considering the engine uses kerolox and a gas generator cycle (rolls eyes). Crude.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    People will die in human spaceflight ops.

    Which is the point that Rand makes. People die every day doing mundane things, like driving a car, flying on airplanes, walking down the street, and engaging in many forms of dangerous recreation. And that doesn’t stop us.

    And apparently you keep forgetting that the Dragon vehicle that just flew was likely more safe to fly on for a hitchhiker astronaut than any Space Shuttle flight, and they never had a problem finding willing passengers and crew for the Shuttle even though they all knew there was no backup system in case of failure. The cargo version of Dragon does have an RCS that could push the capsule away from a failed rocket section, and the capsule does have a parachute – way more failure protection than the Shuttle had.

    The point though is that if Russia decided to stop letting us ride their Soyuz to the ISS today, the U.S. does have a path to space on a modified cargo version of the Dragon vehicle. Sure it would be a higher risk flight than flying on a fully qualified crew version of the Dragon, but again to Rands point, there would be a long list of astronauts that would be willing to take that risk in order to keep the ISS going.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    First, those military test pilots assessed the odds, volunteered, and accepted a calculated risk in that Cold War battlefront, a geopolitical conflict BTW, as a career move in their milirarty service, not a business enterprise, with experimental hardware that included an acceptable safety envelope in a field that remains very unforgiving to human error.

    Apparently you are unaware that companies have test pilots too, and that many of them have died specifically because they were paid to be test pilots. In fact many industries have job categories that are clearly hazardous.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but a friend of mine is a professional diver who works exclusively for one company. He’s the dive master, and every deep dive they make carries the chance that someone on their company dive team will die. Yet the team continues to dive anyways.

    You really don’t know what you are talking about. Maybe you should get out of your basement, fly back to American soil, and talk to real people.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    “I think sending up a crewed Dragon or CST without a well designed and tested LAS is foolish.”

    May I dare say it is because you don’t understand why? I have many times tried to explain why a LAS is not a panacea. Increased complexity of the overall vehicle can lead to a situation where your LAS is not worth much. In the case of Orion a LAS escape might lead to loss of crew even though you might recover the capsule. Just the escape. Okay the main reason is the ever firing SRB but a LAS on its won is no guarantee of crew survival. It may even decrease the safety of the overall vehicle. Disclaimer: I am not a safety expert but I have been part of design(s) long enough.

    “Let’s be realistic, a loss of life from a launch malfunction that could have been prevented (Loss of Life not Malfunction) by an LAS would end SpaceX as a company. ”

    No it would not. The primary market for SpaceX is satellite launch, not crew launch. And satellite are insured in case of malfunction.

    “You two are starting to sound like Windy and DCSCA!!!”

    Now that is below the belt.

    “Musk and SpaceX have followed a deliberate and most of all successful path so far and I’d like to see them, Boeing and all other competitors for CCDev to continue to follow that path.”

    Sure. But SpaceX is developing, primarily, a rocket landing system not a dead weight LAS that has an iffy chance of saving a crew… Keep up my friend ;)

  • common sense

    @ BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    “Pity that DCSCA decided to add his / her two cents worth of nonsense ”

    If only they were two cents… Feels like they let him out of the padded room to vent and then back. :)

  • common sense

    @ Rick Boozer wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 8:50 am

    The public has no idea whatsoever what a LAS is or is not. It is not an argument. The public flies airplanes everyday that have no ejection seats. They do not dispute airplanes that crash, it is a matter of life, and death. 100% safe does not exist, a LAS does not necessarily increase safety, it might even decrease it.

    FWIW

  • MrEarl

    This is really getting weird! Boozer get’s it but Common Sense does not.
    How much or even whether an LAS adds to the safety of the crew is not the issue here, it’s the perception that’s important. Airlines are the safest mode of transportation we have but there are millions of white knuckle fliers out there.
    If SpaceX is perceived as being nonchalant about the safety of astronauts by not even including a some way to try to escape a malfunctioning launch vehicle their whole reliability as a launch services provider comes into question in the public mind. You can be sure they’ll never fly passengers again and I’m also sure that they would lose half of their future satellite business.
    There’s just too much at stake IF there is a failure to not have a way to escape a malfunctioning LV.

  • Ersnt Shackleford

    “An enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built”

    Remarkable, considering the engine uses kerolox and a gas generator cycle

    150 to 1 T/W and 147,000 sea level thrust is something you can design around windy. I foresee personal rockets real soon now, Falcon 1e stuff. Newspace engines could easily land one of these things, at thrust levels that can double as second stage, reentry, landing and orbital maneuvering.

    Won’t be long before these things start showing up demanding berths!

    Get with the program windy!

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Remarkable, considering the engine uses kerolox and a gas generator cycle (rolls eyes). Crude.

    Yet you still drive a combustion-powered four-wheeled pickup (rolls eyes). Crude. ;-)

    You need to learn what “disruptive innovation” means, and how it differs from “disruptive technology”. The Merlin 1D is an example of disruptive innovation, and part of the reason SpaceX can offer so much value to their customers.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    “This is really getting weird!”

    makes life interesting now does it not?

    “Boozer get’s it but Common Sense does not. How much or even whether an LAS adds to the safety of the crew is not the issue here, it’s the perception that’s important.”

    I “get it” but what you don’t get is that the “public” you refer to only is a small fraction of the general public hence it is not such a big deal as you want it to be.

    “There’s just too much at stake IF there is a failure to not have a way to escape a malfunctioning LV.”

    What really is at stake right now is for SpaceX to make sure they have a reliable system before they ever fly a passenger which is precisely what their plan is.

    I am willing to accept I am wrong but I think you are making too much of the LAS issue. If SpaceX has a catastrophic failure in the coming launches is more at issue. Not for the passenger rides but for the whole commercial endeavor. This such a failure would be a lot more damaging than one in 3 or 4 years down the road. Because by the time they actually fly anyone we may have the other entrants flying as well. And if SpaceX goes the way of the dodo then the others will still be around. If SpaceX fails now before the others are around is what would kill everything.

    Perception is everything, that much I agree.

  • If SpaceX is perceived as being nonchalant about the safety of astronauts by not even including a some way to try to escape a malfunctioning launch vehicle their whole reliability as a launch services provider comes into question in the public mind.

    This wouldn’t be about being “nonchalant about the safety of astronauts.” It would be about being realistic, and getting the country to grow up. SpaceX wouldn’t claim that the system was as safe as it could be — they would simply say that if Congress and NASA were interested in flying it for the national interest, they would do their patriotic duty and offer it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    are you a speech writer for Mitt Romney?

    “to service a doomed government facility ”

    LOL I am sort of imaging the Fox News headline “Anger over Obamacare forces asteroid out of Ort Cloud headed straight for ISS dooming the facility, its all Obama’s fault”

    ISS might be a “Doomed government facility” but absent some green slime attacking it or that asteroid I mentioned or some fatal flaw which over a decade has yet to reveal…we are just dealing with your opinion being passed off as fact.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Simberg can defend himself…but I would note this in terms of the responses you have on this thread.

    I understand what you are saying…but I think Simberg is more correct then you are here in his understanding of how the politics would play out…at least among the American people. I have no doubt that Congress people who routinely supported the shuttle flying without a LAS and with faulty management etc…would jump right on SpaceX losing a vehicle and say with a straight face “how can we subject our astronauts to the peril of flying on a vehicle that does not have a LAS just to crew ISS”.

    But those idiots aside.

    If it is worth having ISS, then the risks associated with flying to it without an LAS would probably be accepted by the American people as “the cost of doing business”.

    We lose American service personnel routinely in combat that most of the American people now dont support and yet you are not seeing large “pull the troops out now” demands…airliners go down and people fly the next day…we lose people on oil rigs and it hardly makes the papers. More people will die in Houston traffic this week aand people will still drive.

    In the end the notion of all of this is explaining cost and value AND the belief that the people had who were doing what they were doing that it was worth their lifes.

    I was opposed to the war in Iraq…but the dumbest thing people on the left use to say was “wait until the death total gets above 9/11 then wow the American people will be upset”…it was stupid the instant someone said it and was stupid 1 death larger…

    I am not saying your comments are stupid, far ffrom it I think they are actually quite good. I just dont think however that people would react the way you think that they would. RGO

  • DCSCA

    @BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ June 25th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    ‘Yes right on the money Rand’

    Except he’s not.

    Simberg advocates a return to compromising safety simply as a means to establish market share, secure contracts and make a buck. It’s poor policy and a bad management practice. And in the space viz, bad management clearly kills- both people and programs.

  • @Common Sense
    “The public flies airplanes everyday that have no ejection seats. They do not dispute airplanes that crash, it is a matter of life, and death. 100% safe does not exist, a LAS does not necessarily increase safety, it might even decrease it.”
    I agree with all of that. But as we have seen, the public seems to put a lot more store by death in space versus death on an airliner. I agree it’s stupid. The amount of national grief outpourring for Challenger and Columbia was far out of proportion for what it is for an airline accident. Yes, it’s stupid, but its true.

    Once orbital spaceflights occur frequently (with other than government missions) with lots of regular people and not just guys who are perceived as national heros, I think this mindset will change. When that day comes, spaceflight tragedies will be treated on the same level as airline tragedies, but we aren’t there yet because nongovernment astronauts are not extensively flying. It’s a dumb unthinking mass psychological perception, but that perception does exist in the public mindset. As a scientist it really tees me off that most people don’t form their opinions through enlightened investigation of the facts, but it’s true. Usually, the sensible attitude eventually prevails; however, we have to give it enough time to become the predominant meme while it gradually works its way through the public consciousness as they slowly come to see that spaceflight is just another form of transportation that shouldn’t be given any greater consideration than other forms.

    Indeed, the public won’t know exactly what an LAS is and it won’t take their understanding what it is. All it takes is some numbskull anti-Commercial politician to announce to the mass media that (what they consider) a key safety feature was left out.

    @Mr Earl
    It amazes me and many others that you don’t get a lot of things that have to do with SLS. Particularly when a mountain of evidence is presented to you.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    It just got hit my MMOD and all that because this WH has not implemented an effective orbital debris removal plan.

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/cupola-minor-mmod-strike-shutter-closed-evaluations/

    And as we all know the Moon never ever gets hit by anything…

    Oh yeah and considering that DCSCA and amightywind tend to agree more times than not despite their claims to opposite political views one has to wonder the creatures lurking behind their pseudonyms…

    Maybe we need DCSCA/amightywind to highlight the absurdity of some people’s thoughts?

  • Malmesbury

    A few points….

    Firstly, there is no evidence of any interest in flying without a LAS from either Boeing (Orion) or any of the Commercial Crew contenders.

    The reason that a LAS was problematic in the past was that an escape system for the Space Shuttle would have required (basically) new orbiters. This was the reason that the “split cargo and crew” concept came up – as margins shrank during shuttle design, the escape systems were descoped to save the cargo capability.

    Secondly, to comment on the activities of company without taking up the opportunity to actual view in detail, from the inside, what they are actually doing is not a wise decision. The Commercial Crew vehicles are just as radical (in fact often more so) than Orion, and apart from mostly being capsules bear little resemblance to anything flown before.

    Thirdly, to comment on a contracting method *and include in your comments you don’t know much about the contracting method in question* is rather interesting. Why not find out first?

    Fourthly, Merlin 1D is a perfect example of a paradigm shift. For decades the mantra in government has been “design the most incredible, advanced X ever seen (using brand new, undeveloped technology), and do it in one development cycle”. See JWST…

    Merlin was developed by building *something that worked* – and then steadily improving it.

    Interestingly, the Merlin aircraft engine went from 740hp to 2060hp – while many 2000hp “super-engine” designs failed…..

    It is worth remembering that the RL-10 has still not been replaced. Why? Well, all the replacement programs to date have fallen down the cost hole.

  • @Rand
    “This wouldn’t be about being “nonchalant about the safety of astronauts.” It would be about being realistic, and getting the country to grow up. SpaceX wouldn’t claim that the system was as safe as it could be — they would simply say that if Congress and NASA were interested in flying it for the national interest, they would do their patriotic duty and offer it.”
    I totally agree with you that the public needs to be realistic and grow up to the point where they accept death in space as an occasional occurrence just like they due airline deaths. I am talking about the public’s perception of nonchalance not actual nonchalance. The perception that both you and I have based on hard cold facts is not anywhere near to being universal.

    You said, “It would be about being realistic, and getting the country to grow up.” In my response to Common Sense, I am saying that the growing up you speak of will take some gradual adjustment that will not change as fast as you or I would like. But I also give reasons why it will take place albeit slowly as human spaceflight becomes more routine.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    How much or even whether an LAS adds to the safety of the crew is not the issue here, it’s the perception that’s important.

    The only perception that matters is the customers, and right now the only known customers are space agencies that used to send people up on a vehicle that had no safety backup in case of failure.

    As it stands today, without an LAS the Dragon is likely more safe than the Shuttle was, so if NASA had a need to get to the ISS without using the Russian Soyuz, I have no doubt they would find lots of willing astronauts.

    However this is a theoretical discussion for now (or until the Russians stop liking our money), but the point is, how much risk would NASA astronauts take to keep the ISS in operation? People die for our country every day, and the public understands that, so three more people taking calculated risks to preserve the huge investment taxpayers have made in the ISS would be understandable.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 11:44 am

    what we are really discussing here is “can the US sustain deaths in space” and go on. And the answer is “OF COURSE”

    In the US life has over the last bit…become pretty cheap. How many per year are “KIT” (killed in traffic)? 20-30K? More? most Americans dont blink an eye over the 100-300K Iraqis who died in our “Freedom” movement…just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.as one Reverend said about this recently. “Freedom aint free”…..How many oil field workers got smoked on the BP Oil rig? Lets move on. Gun on gun family violence? “I need my second amendment rights”. Incompetent Pilots spin in over Buffalo, well we got to have those cheap airline tickets.

    The only Reason Bush43 made a speech about the folks who went under with Columbia is that he was trying to channel Reagan. Otherwise? We were in that time span losing as many folks KIA in Iraq every week as the Columbia number. Reagan could honestly do what he did about Challenger…he had made the same “deal” about the Marines who died in Lebanon (and then said “no more” and left).

    What does raise an eyebrow or two about “death” in the US is when the person or persons who got smoked were “pretty” or “notable”…and then only if there is incompetence involved. So Pat Tillman could have died of Friendly fire (one of the oh hundred or so as we were “freeing” people) but what raised an eyebrow or two is that the Army couldnt admit that so it took a tortuous course for the lies to come out…

    The GOP is all for the death penalty but you know get Karla FAye on the needle and she is pretty, born again and well lets save her. This brings us to space for the masses…if anyone today remembers anything about the two shuttle “oops” it is “wow the teacher was on it” (which one not for sure).

    The good news is that most “space deaths” are pretty quick (at least for the public…NASA is very careful not to talk about the length of time it took on Challenger or Columbia) …here now smoke the next instant…what might kind of change the equation is the “death on TV” meaning the first time people die on a sort of Marrooned type effort where some of the networks and all of the cable shows are pushign their political hot buttons with that effort and their agenda. This was one reason the video from Iraq was pretty carefully screened…dont want to see our boys and girls dying with a lot of pain. Then we would need a lot of “I am proud to be an American cause at least I know I am free”…and of course one reason Rummy kept Delaware off limits for the cameras. “Death is messy” as he put it (coffins were in the Rummy era “Personal remains containers”) .

    But for the most part my view is that as long as it is a “switch” event…ie here and gone. It wont be much different in public affairs then the guys who just bought it on 610 here in Houston. who were they?

    The reason Arbusto shut down the space shuttle program after Columbia…is 1) the cost and 2) they were afraid of more. both big concerns.

    RGO

  • common sense

    All right boys and girls.

    So what if there is a LAS and yet the crew perish. What then? What will our dear public infer? What will the perception be? “We did all we could but we were as incompetent as before.” See the crew perished despite an escape system that we claimed would make the travel to orbit “safe”.

    Argument goes both ways.

  • common sense

    One of the big lesson we learned over 50 years, you would hope, is that space travel is not safe, unlike what most, including at NASA, made others belief.

    It’s not so much that it is “hard”. It is just not “safe”. There is no such thing as “safe” travel. But it can become “safe” or safer. Just like aviation did.

    How do you associate BEO exploration with “safe”? Do you think that we will never lose a crew on its way to Mars? NEVER? EVER? Even on a NASA designed vehicle? And what if we do? Shut down the whole thing? What if we only lose 1/2 the crew? We stop the mission(s)? Repatriate the Moon colony?

    Please.

    It would be better to educate people rather than let them mistake their feelings for facts.

  • Simberg advocates a return to compromising safety simply as a means to establish market share, secure contracts and make a buck.

    Almost every word in that sentence is a lie.

  • You said, “It would be about being realistic, and getting the country to grow up.” In my response to Common Sense, I am saying that the growing up you speak of will take some gradual adjustment that will not change as fast as you or I would like.

    I am not proposing a “gradual adjustment.” I am calling on Congress to have serious hearings on this subject, and make a decision. If they tell SpaceX and Boeing, “OK, we understand that the vehicles aren’t as safe now as they will be later, but there is no absolute safety, and we need to fly now. So we won’t hold you responsible — we accept the responsibility, because it is important to eliminate our dependence on the Russians as soon as possible.”

    It’s not a likely thing to happen with the current Congress, but it’s possible in the next one, if we start to get them to think about it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    One of the big lesson we learned over 50 years, you would hope, is that space travel is not safe, unlike what most, including at NASA, made others belief. >>

    Yikes.

    not really.

    Space travel is no more or less dangerous then say riding in a nuclear sub at XXX feet…if anything what space travel has proven in the last 50 years is that given decent management systems that it is as safe or safer then other types of “efforts” that use advanced machines in complex environments.

    WHat we dont really know, Oberg might but I am not for sure, is have the Russians had their equivalent of the Challenger/Columbia accidents…ie deaths caused by sheer and utter incompetence. they have in the submarine force…but not for sure in their space efforts. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    “Maybe we need DCSCA/amightywind to highlight the absurdity of some people’s thoughts?”

    Most of the time I scroll. what caught me here was that if one did not read carefully one would think that what he was quoting were my thoughts…so I got sucked in, and then started laughing at the “doomed” facility.

    Thoughts of Gamma Hydra 4 and Green Slime started going through my head…then my wife came out in her uniform and that was it for abit…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    A few points….

    Firstly, there is no evidence of any interest in flying without a LAS from either Boeing (Orion) or any of the Commercial Crew contenders. ”

    I agree but still I appreciate Rand’s point…(Rand must be choking here).

    Anyway I found the comments you made on the Merlin interesting and quite (as the res of your post) on target.

    If one looks carefully the main criticism you will find I make of spaceX many years back is the Merlin engine. Aside from the cluster effort (which I was kind of shy about) the notion of a lot of small engines seemed counter intuitave to my aviation background…

    Mark Ruckman (where is he?) and another person who will remain completely nameless because he wants it that way took me aside and did some thoughtful educating…and almost immediately the light bulb came on about why what they were doing and how they were doing…was very important….and quite impressive.

    Like the piston engine, it will be interesting to see the limits of the Merlin. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    How do you associate BEO exploration with “safe”? Do you think that we will never lose a crew on its way to Mars?

    Because of the danger involved, that’s why I’ve never liked the Mars mission proposals that were just one vehicle. Of course first we have to figure out how to keep our volunteers alive for the duration of the mission and in good enough shape to survive a few more years back on terra firma, but I think it makes sense to send out multiple ships on an exploration mission – a force of some sort, not unlike the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria when Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

    There are certainly many strategies that can be used for safety. Spend all your money trying to make sure a rocket never fails is one, but making a rocket failure survivable is likely the more reliable alternative. So it would be with a BEO mission, where you can only anticipate so much, but if you have multiple vehicles then one can take over for the failure of another.

    This plays into the redundancy argument too. Relying on only one system or one vehicle is leaving open the opportunity for a 100% shutdown after a failure, which is one of the reasons why I want to see at least two Commercial Crew systems to complement the two Commercial Cargo systems.

    The other way to look at this was with the Shuttle accidents. After Challenger exploded, the fleet was depleted by 25%. Then we built Atlantis, but Columbia effectively & permanently reduced the fleet back down to three ships, which is not enough to have a robust transportation system. By contrast, SpaceX will have 12 Dragon capsules with 90% of their useful life each after the initial CRS deliveries, all built for less than the cost of one Shuttle orbiter. Just from a hardware standpoint, SpaceX is making the loss of a vehicle a survivable event from a operations standpoint, whereas the loss of a Shuttle required an act of Congress to overcome.

    So for BEO missions, we need to make the loss of an individual vehicle a survivable event, one that doesn’t end the mission. And by doing that, we also raise the likelihood that the mission crews will have a higher probability of survival. Win-Win.

  • pathfinder_01

    “So what if there is a LAS and yet the crew perish. What then? What will our dear public infer? What will the perception be? “We did all we could but we were as incompetent as before.” See the crew perished despite an escape system that we claimed would make the travel to orbit “safe”.”

    People like to know that systems are as safe as they reasonably could be. They know no form of transportation is 100% safe. I don’t think there is much savings or point of fling without and LAS, we have already booked Soyuz till 2016 and it takes 2 years typically for ULA to build a rocket to launch(not sure about Space X). There is plenty of time to develop one.

    People understand limits. Launching crew without an escape system would be like sending pilots to fight without an ejector seat. Not that ejector seats, are 100% safe, but it gives the pilot an reasonable chance and war planes are often shot at. With commercial air travel ejector seats would be problematic. They mass a lot and take up room in the aircraft (increasing price). The forces involved would kill small children and elderly people. How would you train the public to use it and who decides when to eject? Even the time it would take to get hundreds of seats to eject could be a problem. They give little benefit. Now if you could build an emergency transporter (like star trek) and could beam everyone to a safe location and such a device was practical to carry then there would be regulations requiring it.

    It is sort of like the Titanic. Lifeboats (at least the open kind) are not much good in storms and storms can be common causes for loss of ships. However would you ride in a ship without enough lifeboat capacity? Sure there are good arguments that in a sinking you won’t have time to evacuate the whole ship and Titanic barely got it’s lifeboats off but doing so dooms people in the event of a slow sinking in good weather and caring enough lifeboats is not a huge problem for the ship or passengers.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ The other way to look at this was with the Shuttle accidents. After Challenger exploded, the fleet was depleted by 25%. Then we built Atlantis, but Columbia effectively & permanently reduced the fleet back down to three ships, which is not enough to have a robust transportation system. By contrast, SpaceX will have 12 Dragon capsules with 90% of their useful life each after the initial CRS deliveries, all built for less than the cost of one Shuttle orbiter. Just from a hardware standpoint, SpaceX is making the loss of a vehicle a survivable event from a operations standpoint, whereas the loss of a Shuttle required an act of Congress to overcome.”

    Small correction Atlantis was built before the accident, Endevour is the replacement.

    Those Dragons might not be as interchangeable as you think. They could be modified or there maybe too many changes between dragon CRV that splashes down and Dragon Rider to be worth the modifications. I know Space X is going to minimize difference between the two models, but Dragon itself is probably still evolving. I do agree with your last statement. Having two providers means loss of cargo/loss of crew is much easier to handle.

    I don’t think you need to make loss of ship survival for BEO. Most likely Colmbus had three ships just to carry cargo for the crew(i.e. consumables) and to carry the expected spices. Although I have seen some intresting concepts using two spacecraft for mars exploration( Ad Astra’s plan) but they would not have saved a crew midway to Mars or Earth.

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Awesome analysis. I love the comparison to the voyage of discovery using three ships. From your lips to Elon’s ears.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    “…[T]he risks associated with flying to [the doomed ISS] without an LAS would probably be accepted by the American people as “the cost of doing business”.”

    Nonsense.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    “…one would think that what he was quoting were my thoughts”

    =yawn= If one thinks, one- or ten thousand and one,- would never quote any of your thoughts at all, RGO. But it bears noting your endorsement of Simberg’s flawed proposal- “Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 24th, 2012 at 11:56 pm “Well done Rand. RGO”— no mistaking that. Shills of a feather… a quick read.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Except it’s not.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    “I am calling on Congress to have serious hearings on this subject, and make a decision. If they tell SpaceX and Boeing, “OK, we understand that the vehicles aren’t as safe now as they will be later, but there is no absolute safety, and we need to fly now. So we won’t hold you responsible — we accept the responsibility, because it is important to eliminate our dependence on the Russians as soon as possible.”

    And Congress would call you insane.

    Congress never accepts responsibility for anything. The blame would fall squarely on NASA. You advocate accelorating a business venture using substandard hardware w/responsibility for failure shifted to the government to CYA, simply to secure contracts cloaking the pitch using the emotional ‘flags and footprints’ pitch- patriotism- the last refuge of a scoundrel BTW. Read ‘All My Sons.’ When a crew has a bad day on a bird sold under such a clear compromise of safety, the public will blame NASA, the agency charged w/overseeing HSF ops, not Congress, for greenlighting a flawed policy that relieved the contractor of any responsibilities and buying into ‘go fever’ again w/mamagement akin to Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia. You’re a veritable space-age Tyfoil Mary, Simberg, spreading ‘go fever.’ It’s short term profiteering at the expense of compromising safety- and bad policy- especially to access a doomed space station destined for a Pacific grave in 2020 or so w/a supplemental system redundant to the Progress/Soyuz sytem already in place and operating.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    “not really”.

    Yes, really.

    “Space travel is no more or less dangerous then say riding in a nuclear sub at XXX feet…”

    Except it is.

    Especially if you’re travelling at 17,500 mph, not 25 knots, at XXX miles up, not XXX feet below- and, of course, distances to the surface of the sea are hindreds of miles, not hundreds of feet. But do let us know if you’ve radioed the taikonauts from your Texas radio shack and told them you’re unimpressed w/their hardware.

  • Malmesbury

    Space travel is no more or less dangerous then say riding in a nuclear sub at XXX feet…if anything what space travel has proven in the last 50 years is that given decent management systems that it is as safe or safer then other types of “efforts” that use advanced machines in complex environments.

    What we have learnt is that travelling to and from space is very risky. LOM seems to be of the order of 1 in 200. Or less. Hence a LAS is a good idea to try and keep it a LOM and not a LOC.

  • Vladislaw

    pathfinder_01 wrote:

    “Those Dragons might not be as interchangeable as you think. They could be modified or there maybe too many changes between dragon CRV that splashes down and Dragon Rider to be worth the modifications.”

    I do not believe those used Dragons are going to be for Crew capability, but what it does mean is SpaceX has 12 capsules that are going to be paid for and when it comes time to delivering cargo to a Bigelow facility. They will beable to do cargo runs for the cost of the rocket alone or somewhere close. No other company will beable to come close to the price they can offer bigelow because of those free capsules. I bet they could do, in the neighborhood of, 80 million a shot versus the 133 million that NASA is paying and still get a healthy return.

    That will definitely make a difference for Bigelow’s operations.

  • Vladislaw

    Joe, my apologies, I did a search, it was googaw not you. He had stated Ares1 was going to be a backup, I provided him a link where Gerstenmaier testified before a congressional committe that Ares 1 was plan A and after it was canceled by congress COTS was moved to Plan A and milestones were added to mitagate and retire some risk.

  • @pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 8:33 pm
    You get it, pathfinder.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 2:12 am

    “What we have learnt is that travelling to and from space is very risky. LOM seems to be of the order of 1 in 200. Or less. Hence a LAS is a good idea to try and keep it a LOM and not a LOC.”

    No. the US has not lost an astronaut in the launch sequence that good management would not have prevented. A LAS would have had no affect on Columbia…good management would have. RGO

  • I don’t think you need to make loss of ship survival for BEO. Most likely Colmbus had three ships just to carry cargo for the crew(i.e. consumables) and to carry the expected spices.

    Magellan had five ships, specifically for redundancy. Only one made it all the way around.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    “Space travel is no more or less dangerous then say riding in a nuclear sub at XXX feet…if anything what space travel has proven in the last 50 years is that given decent management systems that it is as safe or safer then other types of “efforts” that use advanced machines in complex environments.”

    You are not really disproving my point. For the average Joe diving in a nuclear submarine is as dangerous, at least, as flying onboard a rocket. Re-read what I said. The notion of safety is all relative. As I said there is no proven need for a LAS as there may not be a need for escape pods on a sub. As long as you understand the dangers you can minimize them to a manageable situation. If you put a LAS on a rocket you imply that you just don’t understand the system(s) you are dealing with. It may have been true in the 50s and 60s but most LVs are reliable by the nature of their payloads, even if not human. Military airplanes have ejection seats because no one can predict, not really, the outcome of combat. It is a last resort method to try and save a crew in an unpredictable chaotic rapidly developing situation. This is not quite the same as launching a rocket, even though there are safety issues associated with it. Again it does not mean it is “safe”. What is safe? How do you define it?

    “WHat we dont really know, Oberg might but I am not for sure, is have the Russians had their equivalent of the Challenger/Columbia accidents…ie deaths caused by sheer and utter incompetence. they have in the submarine force…but not for sure in their space efforts. RGO”

    I think that at least in some instances the Russians suffered from the Moon fever or similar (Soyuz fatalities and N1 failures) that I assume you can associate with management failures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_spaceflight-related_accidents_and_incidents

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    A strategy may be “safer” than another one. It does not make it “safe”. And again a LAS is not necessarily safer.

  • common sense

    @ pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    “People like to know that systems are as safe as they reasonably could be. They know no form of transportation is 100% safe. I don’t think there is much savings or point of fling without and LAS, we have already booked Soyuz till 2016 and it takes 2 years typically for ULA to build a rocket to launch(not sure about Space X). There is plenty of time to develop one.”

    Not sure I get this point. Soyuz has an escape system that I believe only worked (well) once in its many years of ops. Does that mean it is safe?

    “People understand limits. Launching crew without an escape system would be like sending pilots to fight without an ejector seat.”

    Well no, absolutely not. See my post above. You have an ejector seat because of unpredictable events in combat.

    “Not that ejector seats, are 100% safe, but it gives the pilot an reasonable chance and war planes are often shot at. With commercial air travel ejector seats would be problematic. They mass a lot and take up room in the aircraft (increasing price).”

    Same thing for a rocket! Added dead mass and structural issues. SpaceX is NOT developing a LAS. They are developing a landing system!! So that they can eventually land on Mars. And that’s it.

    “The forces involved would kill small children and elderly people. How would you train the public to use it and who decides when to eject?”

    I thought we were going to expand the space frontier to the public. Who is going to survive an 11-to-15 Gs escape? In as many axis as possible? There is a reason why early astronauts were fighter pilots.

    “However would you ride in a ship without enough lifeboat capacity?”

    How many people were saved in the entire Titanic?

    “Sure there are good arguments that in a sinking you won’t have time to evacuate the whole ship and Titanic barely got it’s lifeboats off but doing so dooms people in the event of a slow sinking in good weather and caring enough lifeboats is not a huge problem for the ship or passengers.”

    You do not escape a failing LV and compare this with “a slow sinking in good weather” ship. Nor can you make the comparison with a commercial airliner.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Not sure I get this point. Soyuz has an escape system that I believe only worked (well) once in its many years of ops. Does that mean it is safe?”

    Twice, once in flight and once on the ground both times the crew was saved. Now there are failures that an escape system cannot fix( such as a damaged heat shield). No craft is 100% safe. Heck the shuttle once had an APU failure on landing as well as an electrical fire on a different flight…lf the APU had failed much earlier in the same flight the crew would have been dead and luckiliy the electric fire burned itself out.

    “Well no, absolutely not. See my post above. You have an ejector seat because of unpredictable events in combat.”

    Launch failures are unpredictable and don’t always result in the instant loss of crew. In the case of Challenger it is known that the crew survived the “explosion”(aerodynamic forces are what did challenger in). The shuttle’s computer also detected something was wrong and were attempting to shutdown the main engine duel to loss of pressure in the ET. A member of the crew saw the ET fuel gauge drop as the video camerea operated for a slit second more. Switches were found to be out of position (moved by a crew member) and someone activated an oxygen system for the pilot. It suggests that a well designed system could have been triggered by either the computer or possible the crew. It may or may not have worked, but it would have given them a better than a non-zero chance.

    “Same thing for a rocket! Added dead mass and structural issues. SpaceX is NOT developing a LAS. They are developing a landing system!! So that they can eventually land on Mars. And that’s it.”

    No they are developing a LAS system that doubles as a landing system for Earth. Saving mass and enabling reusablity. All of the commercial crew craft are going with pusher abort systems that can have double use. CST-100’s can either be used to escape or reboost the ISS. Dream chaser’s is for escape, but it would use the same thrusters in space and if needed for powered flight during flight in the atmosphere. I don’t know what Blue Origin is doing but suspect it is like Space x.

    Orion is going with the puller one. I do know they add dead mass(quite a bit on Orion) and they do add structure isusses and safety issuses( in the case of Apollo you could not go to the moon with the LAS attached or reenter properly if it did not jettison). It is sorta which is more likely to happen the rocket explode or the LAS not jettison and would a space walk fix the latter?

    “I thought we were going to expand the space frontier to the public. Who is going to survive an 11-to-15 Gs escape? In as many axis as possible? There is a reason why early astronauts were fighter pilots.”

    Due to the need to escape a SRB, Orion’s system is more over powered than the rest but yes you can survive 11-15G if the forces are applied for a short enough time. I don’t think many children or elderly people will be flying into space yet and I agree that once we reach a certain point escape system maybe useless(i.e. a craft designed for 20) but we have not reached that point yet. In the case of Orion so far they have found that a crew would have survived the abort after testing.

  • Due to the need to escape a SRB, Orion’s system is more over powered than the rest but yes you can survive 11-15G if the forces are applied for a short enough time. I don’t think many children or elderly people will be flying into space yet and I agree that once we reach a certain point escape system maybe useless(i.e. a craft designed for 20)

    It’s not at all obvious that we aren’t already there. Or at least at the point where it makes no economic sense. But we can’t know until we start to think about it rationally. An astronaut’s life doesn’t have infinite value. We have to decide what it’s worth in order to know how much we should spend to save one.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    “Magellan had five ships, specifically for redundancy. Only one made it all the way around.”

    And Magellan himself didn’t make it ‘all the way around’ at all– something he most likely would have preferred to have accomplished. So your statement only reinforces your persistently disturbing preference for hardware survivablity over the crews that carry them. Stay away from HSF. .

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ June 26th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    “Because of the danger involved, that’s why I’ve never liked the Mars mission proposals that were just one vehicle.”

    My God- a point of agreement. If you recall your history, the Viking unmanned landing missions were, in fact, planned with the ultimate redundancy- a second spacecraft- on purpose in planning (as was Voyager and more recently, Spirit & Opportunity based on the airbag success of the tiny Sojourner). Sending two spacecraft, anticipating a bad day w/at least one– for instance, alighting on a boulder-with a second as a back up- was smart planning and as luck would have it, they got two safe landings and a plethora of data. An integrated manned Mars expedition will really have to involve mission planners developing a ‘Cadillac profile’ where at least two separate, crewed spacecraft are launched out as a level of redundancy with a third if not fourth unmanned package previously launched and landed, beacheading a Martian site w/supplies- even a sophisticated ‘ER’ for medical emergencies. They can’t really take all this on a single spacecraft. A ‘one-off’ akin to the short stay Apollos is simply not pragmatic given the distances involved, let alone the 20 minute comunications lag, along w/t necessity for long term supply and medical needs. The expedition is going to have to be more or less autonomous and self-reliant than anything experienced in HSF to date. Which is why developing the hardware and confidence there in along w/methods, procedures and operations in cislunar space (akin to what Gemini did for Apollo ops) and testing/developing long-stay facilities/ops on the extremes of the lunar surface- including developing a space ‘ER’ of sorts- with a three day return, is a logical path to develop confidence for preparation and a precursor for crewed spaceflight out on a Martian expedition. This is what Kraft et al proposed.as a ‘HSF program’ for the next 40 years or so. And it is the way it will happen– if Mars is even deemed worth the trip. A one-off crewed Mars flight today is a virtual suicide mission at this point. But the reality is at this point, the robots increasingly have the edge– and are making a better case that a crewed Mars expedition would be a waste of resources in this era. Assuming the ‘Rube-Goldberg-styled’ descent sequence for Curiosity is a success in August, landing increasingly sophisticated rovers on Mars to do on the spot analysis is a much more cost-effective method to gather knowledge- and eventually samples for return- than sending crews out in this era. The wise investment in the Age of Austerity may be to ‘bring Mars to Earthmen’ rather than sending ‘Earthmen to Mars.’ Anf golly-gee, we can watch it all on our Chinese-made, flat-screen TVs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I dont think we disagree much…and you hit on it with the notion of the “seat” in most military aircraft…its there for combat…not because of the issues with the planes…now it works if ANYTHING goes wrong but it like the chute…are there for combat.

    SImbergs point (and I am not meaning to be negative Rand ) in my view is a valid one, the issue is what is it worth to have that capability which takes lots of mass and whose survivability is problematic IF we are moving into an era where launchers are pretty “safe” (which is another word here for predictable)

    So a reasonable issue to compare this with is “lifeboats on a ship”. Naval vessels (at least US ones) do not really have enough “boats” for everyone or really anyone. What they have are personal flotation devices and lots of rafts that are suppose to go popping off…and again they are for battle. Crews are expected on ships to fight hard to save teh ship (or boat) including taking casualties to save the ship. Some of the highest awards for bravery went to the black gang on the USS Franklin which went BACK into the engine room as the ship was in peril to try and save her (they did). We lost people on Lexington, Yorktown, Hornet and Wasp who either stayed to fight the fires/flooding or were trapped as they did so…during WW2.

    Ocean liners have lifeboats and in theory drills to make sure everyone gets to their seats…but that has not always worked out either (BTW the Titanic had lifeboats with room in them).

    Any “non LEO” vehicle will not have an ACRV, I dont see why the station has an ACRV…

    We flew the shuttle for a couple of decades without a valid launch escape system…(the pole etc was useless)…I go back and forth on the Challenger post mortem as if a LAS would have saved the crew (ie had there been something on the shuttle…I dont think it would have…a non shuttle capsule on top of the rocket is a different thing).

    I think (gasp) that the entire notion of an LAS is one whose time has past. RGO

  • pathfinder_01

    “ It’s not at all obvious that we aren’t already there. Or at least at the point where it makes no economic sense. But we can’t know until we start to think about it rationally. An astronaut’s life doesn’t have infinite value. We have to decide what it’s worth in order to know how much we should spend to save one.”
    Ah, life is irreplaceable. Even in war. I love the Patton quote “It is not your duty to die for your country; it is your duty to make sure some sob dies for his.”

    It is just that I do not see a LAS project as being so expensive or the need to get to the ISS so pressing it is impossible to do for a capsule commercial or otherwise. Apollo, Soyuz, and Mercury have escape systems. Gemini, the flight of Enterprise and the first four flights of Columbia had ejector chairs (with their limited use). Removal of the ejector chair was done because of the need to fit a crew of 7-8 people(it also saved mass on the remaining orbiters as the floor didn’t have to be so strong….but that mass savings didn’t equate to more performance crew wise..).

    I mean today there are parachutes for small planes if they get in trouble, but of course such a system would not work on a large aircraft.

    You cannot protect against everything, but would you be willing to buy a ticket on a plane without say oxygen masks because the risk of depressurization is lower than the risk of a rocket explosion? Removal of seatbelts and airbag (which also can do harm) because automobiles have a lower fatality rate than the Shuttle, Apollo, or Soyuz?

  • pathfinder_01

    “Any “non LEO” vehicle will not have an ACRV, I dont see why the station has an ACRV…”

    Any station in earth orbit will have some sort of capacity to return crew. In the case of the ISS the ACRV was cancelled and Soyuz takes its place. NASA needed the ACRV because the shuttle can only do 2 week missions, but the station has longer missions (3 months). The Bush administration canceled the ACRV and handed that function over to Soyuz which limits ISS crew to 6. Soyuz unlike the shuttle can stay in space 3 or 6 months I think. With a military sub there probably is no practical way to design an escape pod in. The sub would flood faster than you could get to the pods and I have no idea what they would do to the design of the sub.

    A vehicle traveling BEO beyond the moon might not have an escape capacity because there is no point. It would take weeks or months to return if you even could return without going all the way to your destination first. It is not like Soyuz where you use it both as a crew transfer vehicle (earth to LEO, LEO to earth) and if needed a crew escape vehicle (i.e. just have the ability to remain viable for X days and start within X amount of time).

    Now if you have a vehicle capable of landing on earth(you carried a capsule) and you are within a few days of earth(very lucky) then you might be able to leave a stricken BEO craft.

    Anyway for a space station the need to evacuate has not always been for technical reasons. In fact no space station has killed a crew yet. However medical reasons are a problem. In the case of low g, it seems to aid in the formation of kidney stones (Russians have had to cut a mission or two short for this reason). Also psychological reasons too (Russian cut one mission due to the mental state of a crew member).

    “We flew the shuttle for a couple of decades without a valid launch escape system…(the pole etc was useless)…I go back and forth on the Challenger post mortem as if a LAS would have saved the crew (ie had there been something on the shuttle…I dont think it would have…a non shuttle capsule on top of the rocket is a different thing).”

    The shuttle was designed with the arrogance that Titanic was designed with and the cost of adding one after the design phase was not trivial. They thought they could design a spacecraft safe enough that the risk of an LAS was greater than the reward. In addition the Shuttle’s side mount design was driven by the need to carry cargo as well as it’s lifting capacity. The Shuttle was not designed first and foremost to be a crew carrier. The ccdev craft are.

    I can understand why Navy ships don’t have the boats (i.e. they could block gun placements which interferes with the very function of the ship).

  • DCSCA

    “I think (gasp) that the entire notion of an LAS is one whose time has past. RGO.”

    Except it hasn’t.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    a point of agreement.

    I guess sooner or later it had to happen. Unfortunately your single paragraph response is kind of ‘dense’ (i.e. number of words per inch). Maybe my eyes are getting too old, but they blur out less than halfway thru.

  • You cannot protect against everything, but would you be willing to buy a ticket on a plane without say oxygen masks because the risk of depressurization is lower than the risk of a rocket explosion?

    In all the person-hours on airplanes, have oxygen masks ever saved a single one?

    My answer is, “yes.”

  • common sense

    “They thought they could design a spacecraft safe enough that the risk of an LAS was greater than the reward. ”

    The LAS on the sidemount monstrosity was useless junk to say it mildly. It was the same for a LAS on Shuttle. A LAS would not have said anyone on Challenger. A beefed-up pressurized sections with chutes might have. But the problem of a vehicle as complex and unique as Shuttle do not even come close to the simplicity and well-understood design of an inline LV.

    Sorry, a LAS on its own means nothing, much.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    DCSCA wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    “a point of agreement.”

    I guess sooner or later it had to happen. Unfortunately your single paragraph response is kind of ‘dense’ (i.e. number of words per inch). Maybe my eyes are getting too old, but they blur out less than halfway thru. Or maybe your attention span is shortening. ;=)

  • pathfinder_01

    “In all the person-hours on airplanes, have oxygen masks ever saved a single one?”

    The answer is yes. Flight Aloha Airlines 243, Qantas Flight 30, Southwest Airlines Flight 2294, Southwest Airlines Flight 812 and probably more. Not to mention the crash that was advoided because the crew had oxygen.

    In the case of an LAS there is justification for it(it has worked two times saving two russian crews from certain death). And the new designs have MORE than one function so they are not total dead weight. Plus there is no way or need to launch a crew that much faster. Musk is the one furthest ahead and he thinks he can be ready by 2014 at the earliest.

  • Not to mention the crash that was advoided because the crew had oxygen.

    I was referring to passengers, not crew.

    Plus there is no way or need to launch a crew that much faster.

    Sure there’s a need. Ending our costly dependence on Russia.

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