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Fear of a red Moon?

China’s Shenzhou-9 mission, now winding down with a landing expected later this week, has not made than big of an impact on the American political psyche, it appears. Whether it’s because Americans are distracted by other issues, or because the Chinese achievement—including the first crewed docking with a proto-space station—doesn’t seem that impressive, there hasn’t been that much hand-wringing about China overtaking the US in space, beating the US to the Moon, or other concerns.

“China is not overtaking the United States in space. It is, however, advancing,” wrote Joan Johnson-Freese in an essay for CNN. That advance is slow, she noted, but could pose a risk if the US shows impatience regarding its own long-term plans for human exploration beyond Earth orbit. “The real danger for the United States is in ceding space exploration and leadership to China because it lacks the political will to proceed at a steady, supportable pace. This will have broad strategic implications.”

One op-ed that has raised concern about China’s plans is an essay in Foreign Policy by John Hickman, who worries about China’s long-term plans to eventually send humans to the Moon could lead them to claim lunar territory—perhaps the entire Moon—as their own. “Even if it seems like science fiction, though, the ramifications are so vast that the possibility needs to be taken seriously,” he warns. “If Beijing did decide to annex the moon, or even just part of it, doing so would undermine the current international legal regime in space, encouraging other countries to annex their own extraterrestrial territory.”

That claim was pooh-poohed by the Chinese publication Global Times in a commentary there Tuesday. “This ludicrous, aggressive perspective discloses the distorted mentality of a few Americans facing the rapid rise of China,” wrote Han Zhu. “They actually see the moon, where the US put a man four decades ago, as US territory where other countries can’t venture. This is a minority view, but a disturbing one.” Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow expressed similar concerns about China claiming the Moon last year, while top US experts on China’s space program said there was no evidence China was interested in making territorial claims on the Moon.

On of those experts, Dean Cheng of The Heritage Foundation, will be speaking at a Marshall Institute event Friday on “China’s Space Program: Assessing the Implications for the U.S.”, along with Kevin Pollpeter and former House staffer Leslee Gilbert. In a blog post shortly before the Shenzhou-9 launch, Cheng reviewed China’s space ambitions, both human and robotic, and concluded, “For the U.S., the question is whether there will be a coherent response to the Chinese challenge.”

136 comments to Fear of a red Moon?

  • James

    China already has taken leadership in Space; They have a plan, they are committed to it, they are executing it.

    The US does not have a plan for HSF, is not committed to anything, and is wallowing around in a sea of diffuse activities that are designed to make a lot of noise, allow politicians to ‘look good’, but achieve nothing.

    Can’t say that about China.

    Having said all that, if China wants to plant a red flag on the moon, then great. Good for them. Now I’ll go back to my reality TV show.

  • Vladislaw

    How has China taken the leadership in space? Are they launching more times per year than the Russians?

    Are they putting up more unmanned probes than the US?

    Is their commercial aerospace sector bigger than the US?

    Is their government spending more that the West in general, the US in particular?

    What is this “plan” they are committed to and what is the future funding levels to finance this plan?

    The United States is committed to aquire multiple commercial cargo service companies and to aquire multiple commercial crew service companies. Tell me, what other nation on the planet is going to have that, along with a commercial destination company like Bigelow?

  • amightywind

    They actually see the moon, where the US put a man four decades ago, as US territory where other countries can’t venture. This is a minority view, but a disturbing one

    It is my view certainly. It is clear that Russia and China fear this above all else, which is why I am flabbergasted that the Obama and his leftists decided to abandon the goal of a return to the moon. You play the ‘great game’ to win.

    China’s space program is a monument to perseverance. The US must make a competitive response before it is too late. Restart Constellation!

  • vulture4

    The decision for the US is whether we will work with China in space, or against China. Geopolitics is not a zero-sum game. If we choose to work against China, we will lose, even if China also loses the race to the moon or Mars, because China is playing a different game. If we choose to work with China, and help to promote world stability and avoid another cold war, then we will win, and the world, including China, will also win.

  • Robert G. Oler

    James wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 7:50 am

    “China already has taken leadership in Space; They have a plan, they are committed to it, they are executing it.”

    Really? The execution of the plan is so slow as to almost make it indistinguishable from random motion.

    What are they flying humans at? Once every what three or four years?

    AT best the Chinese plan would not have them on the Moon until sometime in the 2020′s…And it is unlikely that conditions then will be as now so plans will likely change.

    You and others probably are sure what their plans are…but they dont seem to be executing them all that fast RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    , Cheng reviewed China’s space ambitions, both human and robotic, and concluded, “For the U.S., the question is whether there will be a coherent response to the Chinese challenge.”

    what a goofy paper.

    here is the great leap of logic

    “The Shenzhou-IX mission will provide China with badly needed experience in both docking and prolonged exposure to microgravity. Both are necessary elements for the Chinese space program, which has indicated that it will field a space station by 2020 and announced “studies” in a crewed mission to the moon. The latter is a clear signal that Beijing intends to eventually have its astronauts plant the flag of the PRC on the lunar surface.”

    translation from right wing babble “The Chinese are doing a study so it is a clear indication that they are going to do whatever they are studying…sometime in the next decade maybe”

    The joy of the nuts in American policy since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union has been inventing things which conjur up the notion of superpower confrontation. This is particularly true of the right wing which cannot in troglyte fashion think outside of the superpower cold war box…

    So Sadam becomes Hitler, when he is proven to be a paper tiger we invent more in Iran and North Korea (really this time they are!) and now it is the chinese running to the Moon so the question is “do we mount a coherent response to them”

    Coherent responses start with coherent understanding of the situation. RIGHT NOW it is impossible to ascertain Chinese intentions in terms of their human spaceflight…unless like Saddam you are predisposed to substitute “your” intentions for what they are actuall y doing.

    Second say the chinese are trying in the next 20 years to send humans to the Moon. Why would that bother us? The Soviet/US “race” iwas in the context of the cold war. There is no (Hickman aside) evidence that they would in 10-20 years attempt some notion of claiming parts of the Moon…

    Third, we should mount efforts in space that we determine to benefit the US…and let the Chinese mount a coherent effort against that.

    We actually are doing that. Developing rockets with the cheapest launch cost on the planet…is the foundation of a space breakout.

    SpaceX and it looks like now Virgin Galactic are moving toward that goal. With cheap launch you can afford to do anything.

    understand that and you then understand who will rule space in the next 20 years RGO

  • So, amightywind, if China announced they plan to send astronauts to Venus, should we scramble to mount a similar mission to address the Red Menace’s “threat”?

    What would we accomplish in the “great game” by returning to the Moon before China gets there? This would stop them from attempting to claim lunar property as their own?

    Our Congressionally imposed policy to thwart any interaction with China has done nothing to slow their progress in space. It has only served to feed the paranoia of China hawks like yourself. Wouldn’t it be wiser to promote careful collaboration? (Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer!)

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 9:46 am

    The decision for the US is whether we will work with China in space, or against China>>

    Not so much. We are already working with China and various corporations to destroy the US economy.

    What the US needs to decide is “whose” self interest our policies/policy will promote because the Chinese will clearly promote theirs. Then we can talk.

    RGO

  • amightywind

    Oler, vulture4, Vladislaw, and others’ message is. Ignore the stagnation of the last 3.5 years, and toss absurd accolades to Obama’s donors. Don’t worry, be happy. Even as we are clearly losing ground. America isn’t buying it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://spaceflightnow.com/china/shenzhou9/120626cost/

    if any of this is true the US is “doomed” if it tries to compete with the Chinese on an SLS/Orion basis.

    According to our Chinese brothers the Chinese space program so far has consumed 6 billion dollars and 3 billion of that is for the current program.

    AT this rate the Chinese are spending about 1 dollar for every oh 3 or 4 dollars that SLS/Orion are spending. They are also not deficit spending (at least we are told) so they have money to do more.

    I am dubious of the Chinese figures but in the end it is clear that the Chinese have the capability to do to us in various military and space expeditures what we did to the Soviets in the 80′s…outspend us without breaking their economy.

    and get more bang for the buck…

    I am sure the chinese would love a US race with them to the Moon…they would win in any event. (at least if done with SLS/Orion style spending) RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I am sure people in the Soviet Union made the same goofy argument in the 1980′s.

    Having cheapest access to space on the planet is not losing ground. It is owning it RGO

  • amightywind

    What would we accomplish in the “great game” by returning to the Moon before China gets there? This would stop them from attempting to claim lunar property as their own?

    You chose to ignore the threat of Chinese imperial expansion when it is accelerating. In the last century the Chicoms seized Tibet and Turkestan. They covet Taiwan. They have made aggressive claims to Japanese territory. They have made expansive and absurd claims to large swaths of the South China Sea including the exclusive zones of Vietnam, Philippines, and Maylasia. Rational people can’t ignore this. Consider the Ares rockets to be the strategic equivalent of carrier groups in the South China Sea. To paraphrase General Patton, “the problem with you is you always leave another war to fight.”

    Our goal is not to hobble the Chinese it is to expand our own overwhelmingly.

  • JimNobles

    I don’t really think China believes they are in any type of space race with America in regards to the moon. I suspect they realize that they would lose such a race and indeed have already lost it. I also suspect that they realize that they could beat a Constellation type architecture in a race to the moon but would have no real chance to beat a SpaceX/NASA type architecture to the same destination.

    There’s a lot of apparent chaos and fear in those interested in the American space program right now but I think that’s mainly due to the upheavals associated with the translation from a soviet based launcher procurement system to a more free-enterprised based commercial launcher procurement system. It’s easy to see why some people are frightened but the new way is the better way to go. A commercial launcher procurement system has much more potential for growth and efficiency than the old way.

  • common sense

    “America isn’t buying it.”

    For sure, America is bankrupt. Can’t buy anything with GOP policies.

    Oh well.

  • DougSpace

    What is of primary importance on the Moon? Initially it is the volatiles in permanently-shadowed craters. But there are so many shadowed craters that China cannot send taikonauts to claim all of them. BUT there are a very limited number of Peaks of Eternal Light. If China lands at one of them, it would be reasonably tempting for them to claim that that area is for their exclusive use.

    It is not unreasonable to expect that they might be tempted to pull out of the Moon Treaty and do just that. As Bib Bigelow has said, we have no indication from them that they plan to do that (though if they did you wouldn’t expect them to say so) but that it is reasonable to consider that possibility.

    However, commercial space is progressing rapidly enough by multiple players along multiple lines that I think that America’s combined government and commercial space development will be a good match for China in the foreseeable future.

    It seems logical to me that a great and nationalistic country like China would want to not just study but actually send its taikonauts to the Moon. What, would they be content to stay in LEO forever? Of course not. After they master human spaceflight, it is easy to imagine that they will increase their pace of said flights. A circumlunar flight around the Moon would be a logical next step which would almost have to be followed by a Moon landing.

    Landing on the Moon would be a huge nationalistic event for China, BUT in order to overcome the inevitable unfavorable comparisons to what America did decades ago, they would be tempted to say that what they are doing is different and better than what the US did because they are going to the Moon to stay — something that the US is unable to do at present. So landing a taikonaut is so close to establishing a permanent base on the Moon that it is reasonable to expect that they would do this. The Peaks of Eternal Light is the logical place for this. Claiming those areas for its protected base of operations is not inevitable but not improbable either.

  • A M Swallow

    Within a month NASA is going to have the Morpheus lunar lander test bed flying around the Kennedy Space Centre.

    The world will either ignore these flights or take it as a signal. The signal will say “NASA has returned and is going back to the Moon”.

    We need to have our story straight when asked about it.

  • DougSpace

    I don’t think that the fundamental issue of potential Chinese claims on the Moon are either the militaristic “ultimate high ground” nor even control of lunar resources. There is too much of the later and any Chinese claim on the entire Moon would be rejected by all other countries, would launch an anti-Chinese space race (which they would lose), and would be unenforceable on their part. Is China really going to commit an act of war by killing Americans landing at another shadowed crater?

    Rather, a Chinese claim would only be done in order to secure the best lunar property. This claim would not necessarily be the result of pulling out of the Moon Treaty but based upon the lesser right to protect one’s base of operations out to a certain distance.

    The problem with cooperating with the Chinese is two-fold. China’s manned space program seems to me to be primarily to serve national pride goals. They can’t achieve this as a (junior) partner to others. So I don’t think that they want to tango.

    Secondly, there are enough Americans (usually of the Republican bent) that want to see mankind’s spread of humanity to be based upon the political and economic values of the West. These would be your “frontier” advocates including many of the leading space advocates (e.g. Zubrin, Tumlinsin, Spudis, etc).

    So I don’t see a significant partnership happening between China and others. I could be wrong but probably not.

  • Vladislaw

    Doug, I do not believe China signed the Moon treaty. They did sign the OST *outer space treaty*.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Folks in space policy circles have to stop seeing the China question through Cold War and Apollo-era lenses. This leads to ahistorical, non-sensical, and dead-end propositions about human lunar races that the U.S. won decades ago and which China is still a couple decades away from fielding a competitor at their rate of development (if ever) or lunar “resources” that had no value then and will have no value for decades to come (if ever).

    The question that should be asked is how does the U.S. space program fit into and help advance the U.S. government’s larger strategy on China?

    As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, the Obama Administration has “pivoted” foreign policy and military resources towards the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions as a “hedge” against a belligerent China.

    http://thediplomat.com/2012/02/24/can-china-crash-u-s-pivot-party/

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/is-obamas-pivot-to-asia-really-a-hedge-against-china/258279/

    Under a Romney Administration, this “hedge” is likely to turn into outright “containment” with greater resources applied to limit China’s status to that of a regional power.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204880404577225340763595570.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57379184-503544/romney-obamas-asia-pivot-will-fail/

    In both cases, the White House after the election will be seeking to cement alliances in the region, strengthen allies, and isolate and counter Chinese power.

    How does the U.S. space program fit into this strategy?

    There are many nations on China’s periphery with space programs. They include small actors that operate small satellites, launch sounding rockets and/or conduct research, such as like Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. They also include major actors with indigenous orbital launch and satellite manufacturing capabilities and human space flight ambitions, such as India and Japan. There are also international space organizations in the region that the U.S. should seek to influence, such as the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum.

    One could imagine NASA engaging the space programs in these countries in a range of activities, from ground asset, remote sensing, research, and ISS agreements with the smaller actors to major deep space initiatives that play on the interests of the larger players in the Moon (India) and asteroids (Japan).

    Either a second-term Obama Administration or a first-term Romney Administration could use NASA programs to help cement alliances, to build up allied capabilities, to serve as a quid pro quo for concessions from allies in other areas, and otherwise isolate China and deny it certain tools of soft power in the region. This would help create a hedge against (Obama) or outright contain (Romney) China. If China’s space program has no partners to work with and must compete at different levels with a dozen other space programs on its doorstep, it will be that much harder for China to emerge as a world power.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert Oler wrote:

    “am sure the chinese would love a US race with them to the Moon…they would win in any event. (at least if done with SLS/Orion style spending)”

    It would really depend on how a program like a return to Luna was organized. If an Administration announced the return I would like it to be with a straight out:

    “The federal government wants to put 8 americans on the Lunar surface per year, what is the per seat cost?”

    “The Federal government needs space for Astronaut housing on the Lunar surface, how much per month per astronaut?”

    “The Federal government needs to lease a lunar rover that is self contained for 14 days. How much to lease them per month?”

    That is what I would like to see. Rather than another space “program”. NASA utilizing commercial services to the maximum extent possible. Then let the Lunar geologists and engineers loose and see what they come up with on ISRU.

  • Consider the Ares rockets to be the strategic equivalent of carrier groups in the South China Sea.

    What a monumentally and hilariously stupid analogy.

  • G. Howard Harris

    I am not convinced that the Chinese are going to the moon-yet. They are having the same discussions and argumentation and floating ideas for going there, versus other possibilities, just as we have done here in the US. Right now they are content to advance their capabilities with women in space, human guided docking, and their first space station. They are still a few years away from sending people to the moon.

    The US does not now have the capability, the leadership, or the political support to send people back to the moon, regardless of whatever we did in prior centuries. Constellation was a great demonstration of the US nation’s failings in this regard. After spending billions of dollars and several years, virtually nothing was accomplished; not even providing a suitable mission model and proper rationale for the program. Today the Orion capsule is further away from carrying people than at the time of Constellation’s cancellation, at least based on the estimations of the Constellation Program Manager and Orion Project manager in front of Augustine. Basically it reflects the inability of the NASA management to lead us anywhere.

  • @A M Swallow
    “Within a month NASA is going to have the Morpheus lunar lander test bed flying around the Kennedy Space Centre.

    The world will either ignore these flights or take it as a signal. The signal will say “NASA has returned and is going back to the Moon”.

    We need to have our story straight when asked about it.”
    First step of a truly serious effort to return to the moon: cancel SLS. Concentrate on depots/gateways and follow one of the economically practical nonSLS plans for returning to the moon developed by NASA and industry while completing a lander based on the Morpheus.

  • vulture4

    “In both cases, the White House after the election will be seeking to cement alliances in the region, strengthen allies, and isolate and counter Chinese power.”

    What are we going to do – send a carrier into the Taiwan Straights? China would laugh. Every Taiwanese company does a large part of its business on the mainland. Even the KMT is setting up offices there. Most Taiwanese that I know see reunification as inevitable; they simply want to delay it until their political and economic rights are better assured. Australia, which recently accepted US troops as a show of “containment”, is in reality completely dependent on China as a market for its raw materials and has no intention of changing.

    After the election the Romney (or Obama) administration will have to either cut military spending, substantially raise taxes, or vastly increase the national debt. Military spending is going to take a substantial hit, allowing wealthy Americans to keep more of their hard-earned billion and invest them – in China, where they can create jobs and hire better-educated workers for less money. It isn’t US policy that is exporting our industry, it’s the policy of the owners of American industry, the job-creators, the entrepreneurs. They have no allegiance to our country. Walmart, GE, HP, GM, Apple, even KFC are moving to China as fast as they can. Partly as a result China will soon surpass the US in total GDP, as it already has in total manufacturing.

    American manufacturing workers are still more productive on a per person basis, but we have few manufacturing jobs and no industrial policy. NACA was created just for this purpose, to support American industry, not for geopolitical grandstanding. We need to return to our roots.

  • amightywind

    at least based on the estimations of the Constellation Program Manager and Orion Project manager in front of Augustine.

    Please don’t appeal to the corrupt Augustine committee. It was created by Obama for the express purpose providing Obama a fig leaf to dismantle NASA. Sadly, it did this admirably. It produced the malaise and confusion of which the Chinese are now taking full advantage.

    The US does not now have the capability, the leadership, or the political support to send people back to the moon

    A country that can launch Space Shuttles and build the ISS can go back to the moon, despite the weasel words of you nattering nabobs of negativism.

  • mr. mark

    Restart Constellation? Huh…..It was already determined that it was not executable with the desired budget and timetable.

  • There should actually be more fear of a Red Earth. China is already the second largest economy on Earth. And America’s growing trade deficit with China is estimated to have cost the US nearly three million jobs.

    The ruling oligarchy in China is determined to economically dominate both the heavens and the Earth!

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Explorer08

    All this political blather is laughable. The US is making no progress anymore because its citizenry doesn’t give a fig about space exploration. We in the US forgot long ago how to “take the long view.” Long-range strategic thinking and planning is dead concept here. With space exploration you need exactly that: long-range thinking; very long-range thinking. Vision, mission, strategies, and tactics. The Chinese have got it and have had it since 1992. Slow and steady wins. Who amongst us can articulate anything even pretending to be a strategic plan covering more than a year or two? Anyone? Hello?

  • Anne Spudis

    Explorer08 wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    “Who amongst us can articulate anything even pretending to be a strategic plan covering more than a year or two? Anyone? Hello?”

    http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Cislunar.pdf

    http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Bibliography/p/102.pdf

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “What are we going to do – send a carrier into the Taiwan Straights?”

    No, you fight the war by other means and via proxies. The former is what Kennedy did with Apollo, and the latter is what all U.S. Presidents did throughout the Cold War. And it’s clear from articles and op-eds that this is the strategy that Obama is pursuing and Romney will pursue.

    For space policy purposes, it’s just a question of whether the post-election White House aligns NASA with this hedge/containment strategy or not. Probably not, but given Apollo and ISS history, the precedent certainly exists to put NASA in service of the nation’s top foreign policy goals. In fact, one could argue that the only time NASA’s human space flight programs have been marginally successful is when they have been aligned with these goals.

    “After the election the Romney (or Obama) administration will have to either cut military spending, substantially raise taxes, or vastly increase the national debt.”

    Which is all the more reason to use all the tools at the White House’s disposal. If the President has to drop $17B/yr. (or $15B/yr. after sequestration) on NASA, he should align at least some portion of that spending to support his larger domestic and foreign policy goals.

    “NACA was created just for this purpose, to support American industry, not for geopolitical grandstanding.”

    The two are not incompatible. In fact, for its programs to be relevant on politically and geopolitically useful timeframes, NASA is going to have to continue give more responsibility to industry. A joint lunar program with ISRO, for example, can’t wait until the 2030s for all the U.S. elements to show up. You’d have to drop SLS/MPCV in favor of Falcon 9 Heavy/Dragon or EELV Phase 2/CST-100 so that there would be funding and schedule left to build the transfer stage and lander within a ~4-8 year timeframe. This would have the added benefit of generating private sector jobs, which, as you point out, will also be an important goal for the White House after the election.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “http://www.spudislunarresources.com/Cislunar.pdf”

    This is not a strategic plan that addresses national goals. It’s a self-serving advertisement to give a small portion of the space community a certain flavor of human space exploration program that they’ve wanted since Apollo ended. It’s a hammer that’s been searching for a nail for decades. Instead of flowing from national goals like “contain China” or “create jobs”, it’s all about fixing a perceived “crisis” in the space program, which does nothing for the ~300 million Americans not employed by the program or their political leadership.

    If we want clear political support and taxpayer funding, we space cadets have to articulate our relevance to pressing national needs, and align our goals, plans, and programs accordingly. Slapping the “leadership in space” slogan for the umpteenth time on the latest recycling of same old plan isn’t going to make anyone care outside our community.

  • common sense

    @ Dark Blue Nine wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    “If we want clear political support and taxpayer funding, we space cadets have to articulate our relevance to pressing national needs”

    If our government finds a way to create a “space” market, and a sustainable at that, then we will have answered some of our national needs/priorities. Everything else will look like ghosts of the past. In the mean time we just have to wait and waste budget on unaffordable projects…

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    “This is not a strategic plan that addresses national goals. It’s a self-serving advertisement to give a small portion of the space community a certain flavor of human space exploration program that they’ve wanted since Apollo ended. It’s a hammer that’s been searching for a nail for decades. Instead of flowing from national goals like “contain China” or “create jobs”, it’s all about fixing a perceived “crisis” in the space program, which does nothing for the ~300 million Americans not employed by the program or their political leadership.”

    I know it is too much to ask that you actually read and think about the subject before attacking in such strident terms, but for anyone interested in more background on how cis-lunar space development could fit into supporting many desirable national goals here is a starting point to think the subject over

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/moon/2011/04/a-rationale-for-cislunar-space/

    For the rest flame on as usual.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “There should actually be more fear of a Red Earth. China is already the second largest economy on Earth. And America’s growing trade deficit with China is estimated to have cost the US nearly three million jobs.

    The ruling oligarchy in China is determined to economically dominate both the heavens and the Earth!”

    Then when are you going to get serious about it? Supporting SLS and holding off Chinese supremacy in space are mutually conflicting goals. Building SLS just gives them extra time to close the gap when we could be widening the gap now using other methods. You and others need to decide which one of those issues is truly important to you and the longer you wait, the worse it gets.

  • common sense

    “For the rest flame on as usual.”

    So much for leaving this forum…

  • pathfinder_01

    “I know it is too much to ask that you actually read and think about the subject before attacking in such strident terms, but for anyone interested in more background on how cis-lunar space development could fit into supporting many desirable national goals here is a starting point to think the subject over”

    Ah in the case of Spadis, there is no market for Lox/Hydrogen in space. In the early automobiles you had a choice of: electric, ethanol, gasoline, diesel and a choice of 2 stroke engines, 4 stroke engines, and of course diesel and battery powered. As well as air cooled and water cooled engines. Who in could have known that by the 20ies most cars would be 4 stroke, water cooled, gasoline burning?

    That is the problem behind the Spadis plan a bad rational for going to the moon(propellant that of a type we may not use for going further out..i.e. there is Hypergolic, Lox/methane , Argon…ect and may not be economical for doing so), using levels of automations we don’t have yet on earth(we don’t yet have factories without people….), at high launch costs.

  • pathfinder_01

    “The two are not incompatible. In fact, for its programs to be relevant on politically and geopolitically useful timeframes, NASA is going to have to continue give more responsibility to industry. A joint lunar program with ISRO, for example, can’t wait until the 2030s for all the U.S. elements to show up. You’d have to drop SLS/MPCV in favor of Falcon 9 Heavy/Dragon or EELV Phase 2/CST-100 so that there would be funding and schedule left to build the transfer stage and lander within a ~4-8 year timeframe. This would have the added benefit of generating private sector jobs, which, as you point out, will also be an important goal for the White House after the election.”

    Amen, notice Kennedy didn’t say before the 70 or 80ies were out, this nation will commit itself to landing on the moon. He said before the decade was out. Apollo may have been a flash in the pan, and took too much funding but it had a reasonable time frame. Most NASA plans do not start with reasonable time frames they are always the 20-30 year plan. 20-30 years ago if I needed to record a show, I would have used a VCR…today the VCR is outdated technology.

    They also used what they had on hand to the greatest extent they could. They developed the Saturn 1B out of the Saturn 1A. The F1, J2, and the shape of the Apollo capsule were all in development before Kennedy made his Challenge. Last time NASA wasted years on developing Ares-1 and is wasting more time with SLS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    They have made expansive and absurd claims to large swaths of the South China Sea including the exclusive zones of Vietnam, Philippines, and Maylasia.>>

    Considering the claims that Bush43 and his band of idiots made about Iraq previous to a botched invastion anyone or anyother countries claims seem pale.

    ” Rational people can’t ignore this. Consider the Ares rockets to be the strategic equivalent of carrier groups in the South China Sea.”

    Rational people should ignore you but I’ll break for these two statments.

    SAdly for you there really is no strategic equivalent of carrier battle groups…much less a project that had so far consumed enough money to build oh what 2-3 of them depending on how one counts and had absolutely no chance of ever doing much else.

    And that brings us to the ultimate part of the discussion. IF the chinese had motives on the Moon which were dangerous to the US, we would not put in charge of countering them idiots who have taken 20 billion dollars and turned it into nothing (Ares and SLS/ Orion) or whose best effort at such a plan will only consume a lot more money and is sstill decades away.

    For that matter if the effort were important we would do what we did in the 60′s…spend 5-6 billion dollars on a program called Gemini (in current dollars) that was tightly focused on whatever the problem is.

    But then of course that would require a rational mind. (Please dont paraphrase Patton it makes those of us who like him ill) RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    joe wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Most of us here (including DSN) have read the plan and dismissed it as the rantings/ravings of an individual who is so out of touch with reality that it is not a plan for anything.

    Spudis belongs to a group that is trying to redo the 60′s (ie large scale government human spaceflight programs) with no rationale other then some pie in the sky dream.

    F minus RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Explorer08 wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    All this political blather is laughable. The US is making no progress anymore because its citizenry doesn’t give a fig about space exploration. We in the US forgot long ago how to “take the long view.”>>

    EH?

    the US spent at least three decades building a space station. How much longer are you thinking? RGO

  • joe

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    The usual content free “ranting and raving” that can be expected from you.

    As previously stated:

    “For the rest flame on as usual.”

    Good night.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anne Spudis wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    sorry the plan has not aged well…it seems more goofy every day RGO

  • Explorer08

    Oler wrote: EH? the US spent at least three decades building a space station. How much longer are you thinking? RGO

    So what? Can you even begin to articulate what the next 30 years is all about for US space exploration? ISS is in the past, done by 2020. Tell us, the general electorate, where the US is headed over the next three decades. What’s the vision, what’s the plan? The general electorate in the US is all about today, tomorrow, and maybe the day after tomorrow and not much else.

  • Explorer08

    @ Anne Spudis who wrote at 4:25PM – -

    Well, that’s fine but the general electorate is devoid of any viewpoint on space exploration. Their representatives and senators know this and respond in kind – - with nothing.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I know it is too much to ask that you actually read and think about the subject before attacking in such strident terms, but for anyone interested in more background on how cis-lunar space development could fit into supporting many desirable national goals here is a starting point to think the subject over”

    The “justification” contained in the “starting point” that you linked to is still a space-centric, self-licking ice cream cone. Since when did building “satellites… as big and as capable” as possible become a foreign policy goal? Since when did an “avenue for routine human interplanetary flight” become a domestic policy priority? The space cadet in me is all for exploring and testing the potential of lunar resource, but the rationale for doing so provided in that “starting point” is more unjustified space activities.

    The argument that we should go to space so that we space cadets can do more stuff in space has been a perennial loser for decades. Nothing in that “starting point” addresses any pressing national needs.

    Again, it’s just a hammer in search of nails — and all it’s finding is more hammers. It’s a “how”. It’s not a “why”.

    You have to start with the “why” and the “why” can’t be more space stuff.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Explorer08 wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    “So what? Can you even begin to articulate what the next 30 years is all about for US space exploration? ”

    well mostly thank goodness (and the Creator on high) no.

    If the drill was going to be SLS/Orion I can. they will spend another decade or two trying to build the darn thing; it will be to expensive to fly and we wont build anything else…

    BUT the good news is that with cheaper access to space dawning…the possibilities are unlimited.

    Look in 1920 try predicting aviation in 1950, or in 1950 aviation in 1980 or in 1980 aviation in 2010 and you would fail…

    that is a good thing …RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “So what? Can you even begin to articulate what the next 30 years is all about for US space exploration? ISS is in the past, done by 2020. Tell us, the general electorate, where the US is headed over the next three decades. “

    Multiple commercial cargo launch companies.
    Multiple commercial crew launch companies.
    Multiple commercial space stations.
    Commercial asteroid mining.
    ISS extended to 2028.
    Human Lunar orbital trips.
    Human Lagrange point trips.
    Human asteroid trip.
    Human Mars orbital trips.
    Human Phobos landing.

    I believe we can safely say those will be in place in the next thirty years.

  • DCSCA

    “Fear of a red Moon?….”

    “Watch what we do, not what we say.”– John N. Mitchell

  • A M Swallow

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Ah in the case of Spadis, there is no market for Lox/Hydrogen in space. …

    That is what I though until a possible market for hydrogen appeared – the XEUS lander. Masden Space Systems are trying to creating a medium lander by taking a Centaur upper and adding 4 vertical thrusters.

    The return fuel and oxidiser to the Earth-Moon Lagrange point spacestation could be made on the Moon.

    Note: Morpheus landers would be used for small cargo (half a tonne) where as the more expensive XEUS landers would carry people and big machines.

  • @Robert G. Oler;…..Your comment, 6:53 pm., June 27th; is a correct assessment: To get Project Apollo to work effectively, you needed a Project Gemini to precede it and work out the bugs in the operative system. An intermediate goal. The U.S. of the 1960′s did NOT go straight from Mercury to the grand Moon-landing program, without grapling with something that was in-between in terms of complexity. The Gemini project fit this bill. Hence, this generation’s intermediate-range manned space goal should be the Moon. Yes: we go back with an expanded scope of plans for our manned missions. Sure, it’ll start out with just exceeding the agenda of the final “J” class Apollo landing missions. (The first 21st century landing should be at the very least, a four-day geologic survey expedition including a mooncar rover.) But with the notion that after the first few sortie expeditions to geologically intriguing sites, we must evolve and move on to longer & longer surface stays, utilizing an unmanned-landing variant to our lunar lander vehicle, to emplace supplies & provisions ahead of a landing crew.

  • @Chris Castro
    And all of that stuff you mentioned that occurred in the 1960s was done with a virtually unlimited budget spurred by the urgency of the Cold War. You are not old enough to remember the constant fear that nuclear war would bring an end to civilization any minute. Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo were one of the psychological comforts we pursued to convince ourselves that we were better than the other side and thus had a chance of surviving. That driving fear of imminent destruction no longer exists. Get over it.

    Without the essentially carte blanche budgets which that fear spawned, the only way we can return to the Moon is using economically practical methods. First step, get rid of SLS so that we can develop the practical technologies (such as fuel depots) we need for the return and keep going back. ProSLS people need to get real, or the dreams of returning to the Moon of both you and the other resident of Planet Marcel will continue to be fantasies. I also want America to return to the Moon and go beyond, but I don’t have a favorite launch vehicle that I’m obsessing over that is keeping it from happening.

  • @A M Swallow
    “Note: Morpheus landers would be used for small cargo (half a tonne) where as the more expensive XEUS landers would carry people and big machines.”
    A point that is only relevant if we can get those landers to the Moon in an economically practical and thus indefinitely sustainable manner.

  • A M Swallow

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 8:02 am

    @A M Swallow
    “Note: Morpheus landers would be used for small cargo (half a tonne) where as the more expensive XEUS landers would carry people and big machines.”
    A point that is only relevant if we can get those landers to the Moon in an economically practical and thus indefinitely sustainable manner.

    Morpheus – the smaller Project M lander was sized to fit on an Atlas V, if this is still true then the mission cost is
    about $200 million + $lander + $payload

    Getting XEUS to the Moon will depend on what launch vehicles we have. Using existing ones will require several launches for payload, XEUS and the fuel. I suspect that the system will be assembled in LEO and refuelled at Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1.

  • joe

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ June 27th, 2012 at 10:02 pm
    Since when did building “satellites… as big and as capable” as possible become a foreign policy goal?

    That would depend on what those satellites were intended to do. If you did not note one of the purposes would be improved communications. I do not know about you, but I live in a hurricane zone. In the last big storm that came through a lot of cell phone communication was lost. That cell phone communication was at that point not a luxury; it was being used to coordinate families worried about friends and relatives. That is not a foreign policy goal, but as far as I am concerned it should be a domestic one.

    Since when did an “avenue for routine human interplanetary flight” become a domestic policy priority?

    You seem to be intentionally inversing the issues (nice debating trick – but it did not work). This would not be a “domestic policy priority”, but if other nations are pursuing lunar return, it would certainly be a foreign policy one.

    As for the rest:
    - self-licking ice cream cone
    - space cadet

    You claim to be “space cadet” yourself. In past experience, people who are favorable to a subject generally do not go out of their way to string together derogatory terms to describe the subject.

    Have a nice day.

  • Coastal Ron

    A M Swallow wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    The return fuel and oxidiser to the Earth-Moon Lagrange point spacestation could be made on the Moon.

    Or supplied from Earth.

    In order to supply fuel and oxidizer from the Moon, the Spudis-Lavoie plan referenced above originally called out for $87B and 17 years before production would be up and running.

    If you didn’t have have $87B, or you couldn’t wait 17 years, one alternative would be to use Falcon Heavy, which can get 16,000kg of payload to Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) for $128M ($8,000/kg).

    And that’s the challenge any lunar water mining facility has in that they are competing with a source that can get their water at an extremely low price (i.e. Earth), and is making good progress in continually lowering their transportation costs out of Earth’s gravity well.

    The four laws of Supply & Demand don’t disappear when we leave Earth, so why would you buy supplies from a much higher priced supplier if you didn’t have to? That’s the challenge proponents of lunar resource extraction face.

    That is the situation of today. Somewhere in the future there can be enough demand and supply to make lunar sources the least expensive choice, but we are many decades away from that. Until that point, we need to make sure NASA’s small budget is spent wisely.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “That would depend on what those satellites were intended to do. If you did not note one of the purposes would be improved communications. I do not know about you, but I live in a hurricane zone. In the last big storm that came through a lot of cell phone communication was lost. That cell phone communication was at that point not a luxury; it was being used to coordinate families worried about friends and relatives. That is not a foreign policy goal, but as far as I am concerned it should be a domestic one.”

    Why? Just buy yourself an Iridium or Globalstar handset. Both constellations have been around for 12-14 years now. A lot of emergency services around the country have had their handsets for years.

    Or petition your cell provider to install backup diesel generators at their cell towers so they’re not dependent on local utilities and downed power lines in emergencies. Or if they’re losing cell towers in hurricane-force winds, petition them to reinforce or build stronger cell towers.

    Why should taxpayers pay tens to hundreds of billions of dollars (at least) on a lunar/big space platform program just to provide a communications service that existing LEO/MEO satellite constellations already deliver with no taxpayer investment? Or to solve a problem that some thousands of dollars of investment (taxpayer or corporate) in diesel generators and common sense cell tower design would take care of?

    I’m sorry, but “self-licking ice cream cone” is not a derogatory term for an argument that justifies a huge taxpayer expenditure based on making more of that same expenditure, instead of providing a useful benefit commensurate with the cost involved. And that’s exactly what you’re arguing.

    “if other nations are pursuing lunar return, it would certainly be a foreign policy one.”

    You appear not to have read the “starting point” that you linked to. That document argues for a lunar return in order to build an “interplanetary superhighway” to Mars and other destinations. The “interplanetary superhighway” is not between the Earth and Moon.

    And again, it’s a self-licking ice cream cone. The justification for going to one space destination (the Moon) is to go to other space destinations (Mars, etc.). There’s no articulation of benefits that come from going to the Moon in the first place that are commensurate with the tens to hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that are going to be involved.

    Music to the ears of space cadets like us. Utter senselessness to the ears of 99% of taxpayers and voters and their elected representatives.

    “You claim to be ‘space cadet’ yourself. In past experience, people who are favorable to a subject generally do not go out of their way to string together derogatory terms to describe the subject.”

    I didn’t string anything together. “Self-licking ice cream cone” is a common term that been used especially in reference to NASA programs for at least 20 years now:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-licking_ice_cream_cone

  • A M Swallow

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    In order to supply fuel and oxidizer from the Moon, the Spudis-Lavoie plan referenced above originally called out for $87B and 17 years before production would be up and running.

    If you didn’t have have $87B, or you couldn’t wait 17 years, one alternative would be to use Falcon Heavy, which can get 16,000kg of payload to Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) for $128M ($8,000/kg).

    1. Mankind has thousands of years.

    2. You may have just killed off the lunar mining settlement.

  • joe

    A M Swallow wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    “The return fuel and oxidiser to the Earth-Moon Lagrange point spacestation could be made on the Moon.”

    Since there seems to be a bit of misinformation floating around. You might want to consider the following.

    - The Spudis-Lavoie Plan calls out for $87B, but includes estimated development cost for the specialized upper stages required to do the rendezvous/docking maneuvers required to do fuel transfers and the development of the orbital propellant depots themselves (as far as I have been able to determine the only place this has even been attempted). These costs appear to have been left out of the “analysis” by the individuals trying to advise you.

    - The quoted launch cost for the Falcon Heavy of $128M is interesting when compared to the current quoted launch cost for the smaller Falcon 9 (9 engines in the first stage as compared to 27 engines in the first stage among other things). The Falcon 9 is currently listed at $140M per launch. But that may be because when the Falcon 9 was at a similar stage of development it was asserted to cost $35M per launch (a quadrupling of cost). Look for similar cost increases when and if the Falcon Heavy gets closer to reality.

    While I am sure these are innocent oversights on the part of your advisors, the differences should be taken into account.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ The Falcon 9 is currently listed at $140M per launch. But that may be because when the Falcon 9 was at a similar stage of development it was asserted to cost $35M per launch (a quadrupling of cost). Look for similar cost increases when and if the Falcon Heavy gets closer to reality.”

    Nope. 54 million for launches paid for by 2012 for Falcon 9(their website..) and 128 million for FH prices paid for by 2012. They would get major lawsuits if the price on the website is different from what they charge. They could have other fees(like integration) that bring the total up, but for $140 million you could buy an small Atlas flight.

    Your numbers sound like the ones for a COTS mission with dragon. Those cost that much (1.6 billion/12). Once you add in space craft the costs do go up.

  • SLS is nice but not essential, if GOP wants to cut NASA, cutting that one program would preserve NASA capabilities as they are now at least. Not a bad thing as the commercial crowd starts launching, esp SpaceX’ heavy.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Look for similar cost increases when and if the Falcon Heavy gets closer to reality.”

    Maybe, Maybe not. I am expecting cost increases but the Falcon 9 cost increase were from a company that was still developing the product and developing its first product. FH is based on Falcon 9 technology and that should keep cost increases modest.

    “The Spudis-Lavoie Plan calls out for $87B, but includes estimated development cost for the specialized upper stages required to do the rendezvous/docking maneuvers required to do fuel transfers and the development of the orbital propellant depots themselves (as far as I have been able to determine the only place this has even been attempted). These costs appear to have been left out of the “analysis” by the individuals trying to advise you.”

    Your costs also include lunar ISRU, development of lunar landers as well as long term surface storage of LOH. Trust me developing a propellant depot and a tanker is going to not be a $87 billion dollar project. Developing all that plus landers, robots, lunar factory much more expensive.

    In addition use of the FH doesn’t bet the house on Lox/LOH as a propellant. He could just as easily move the easier to store and better for
    Mars ISRU Lox/methane, the better for electric propulsion Aragon gas, yee old stand by hypergolic(which don’t boil off and are denser than lox/loh and could be a better choice for lander propellant because of that fact). In fact I will bet that you could do all of that for less than $87 billion.

  • @A M Swallow
    “Getting XEUS to the Moon will depend on what launch vehicles we have. Using existing ones will require several launches for payload, XEUS and the fuel. I suspect that the system will be assembled in LEO and refuelled at Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1.”
    I concede your point. However, I have a concern that some people in influential positions will insist SLS is needed for that purpose whether it is or not.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    The Falcon 9 is currently listed at $140M per launch.

    What are you smoking Joe? According to the SpaceX website, Falcon 9 costs $54M, not $140M.

    Maybe you are confusing “Falcon 9″ price with “Dragon CRS” price? Even so, the two are completely different services.

    But that may be because when the Falcon 9 was at a similar stage of development it was asserted to cost $35M per launch (a quadrupling of cost).

    I guess you haven’t noticed that they have been increasing their payload capability too? The uprated Falcon 9 v1.1 at $54M/launch would be the equivalent of a $43M Falcon 9 of the current version.

    The bottom line is lowering the cost to access space, and by using $/lb as a measurement, SpaceX continues that trend with their upcoming Falcon 9 v1.1, and later with their Falcon Heavy.

    Spin that anyway you like it is still a fact.

  • joe

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    “Nope. 54 million for launches paid for by 2012 for Falcon 9(their website..) and 128 million for FH prices paid for by 2012. They would get major lawsuits if the price on the website is different from what they charge. They could have other fees(like integration) that bring the total up, but for $140 million you could buy an small Atlas flight.”

    Nope initially $35M then $54M and then (at least currently) $140M.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/22/153308652/although-private-spacex-still-involved-with-nasa

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/another-first-for-the-space-program-first-commercial-spacecraft-joins-international-space-station

    As far as the bargain prices if you buy in 2012 goes. How many Falcon Heavy (a vehicle that does not yet even exist) launches are you planning to buy in 2012? If the answer is none then the “deal” is useless. What will the asking price be when and if the vehicle gets closer to reality ($512M maybe?)?

    The part about how they may have “have other fees(like integration) that bring the total up” is priceless. It is more likely the $140M fee is the asking price for a Falcon 9 after 2012 (other fees – or like in the used car business tires – extra).

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Nope initially $35M then $54M and then (at least currently) $140M.”

    Your statement is a dishonest apples and oranges comparison. Specifically, its compares a Falcon 9 satellite launch ($54M) with a crewed Dragon/Falcon 9 launch ($140M).

    Regardless, seven crew in a Dragon comes to $20M per seat, which is less than a third of what NASA is currently paying per Soyuz seat. Even if NASA chose to fly only three crew per Dragon launch like a Soyuz, Dragon’s seat price would still come out about $15M lower than Soyuz.

    And Dragon/Falcon 9 is astronomically less than the $2-3B it would cost per launch to position crews using SLS/MPCV.

  • Nope initially $35M then $54M and then (at least currently) $140M.

    It’s already been explained to you once. The $140M is not the price of a Falcon 9 flight — it is the price of a crewed Dragon flight. Falcon 9 price remains $54M.

  • Coastal Ron

    joe wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Nope initially $35M then $54M and then (at least currently) $140M.

    You are either being intentionally dishonest (i.e. repeating a lie and hoping it becomes the truth), or you have trouble comprehending facts. Which is it Joe?

    You also assume that prices only go up, however last year SpaceX priced the current version of Falcon 9 at $59.5M, but has now increased it’s performance and lowered it’s price by $5.5M. Prices went down and value went up. Who else in the launch world is doing that?

    How many Falcon Heavy (a vehicle that does not yet even exist) launches are you planning to buy in 2012? If the answer is none then the “deal” is useless.

    What “deal”. The price they list is the current price – as when you buy a product at the store. Maybe it will be the same next time you go, maybe more, maybe less. You see this as nefarious, but their customers would disagree I’m sure.

    However SpaceX prices are public, and their competitors are not. In fact one of the major complaints about ULA is that they don’t have standard prices, that they change their pricing for every buy. Is that what you are advocating for – secret pricing?

    Like DCSCA, you are more known for what you are against than what you are for.

    Suck it up Joe and stop using false info.

  • joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    “It’s already been explained to you once. The $140M is not the price of a Falcon 9 flight — it is the price of a crewed Dragon flight. Falcon 9 price remains $54M.”

    Actually I have had a lot of mutually exclusive things “explained” to me, including that the $140M is for “a COTS mission with dragon” (that is cargo not crew).

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
    “Your numbers sound like the ones for a COTS mission with dragon. Those cost that much (1.6 billion/12). Once you add in space craft the costs do go up.”

    So why would integrating a cargo version of Dragon to the Falcon 9 cost $86M ($140M – $54M, so we do not get confused). 60% more that the supposed cost of the launch?

    Why would integrating a complex satellite onto the Falcon 9 be so much less expensive, actually 0 if you assume (as you stated) that” Falcon 9 price remains $54M?

  • Actually I have had a lot of mutually exclusive things “explained” to me, including that the $140M is for “a COTS mission with dragon” (that is cargo not crew).

    It’s the same price either way. $140M for a CRS mission, or seven times $20M per astronaut for crew.

    So why would integrating a cargo version of Dragon to the Falcon 9 cost $86M ($140M – $54M, so we do not get confused). 60% more that the supposed cost of the launch?

    Why would integrating a complex satellite onto the Falcon 9 be so much less expensive, actually 0 if you assume (as you stated) that” Falcon 9 price remains $54M?

    Ummmmm…because the customer provides the satellite, whereas SpaceX provides the Dragon?

    Are you being deliberately obtuse?

  • Bob

    “So why would integrating a cargo version of Dragon to the Falcon 9 cost $86M ($140M – $54M, so we do not get confused). 60% more that the supposed cost of the launch?”

    You’re forgetting the cost of the Dragon itself, Joe.

  • joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 5:42 pm
    “It’s the same price either way. $140M for a CRS mission, or seven times $20M per astronaut for crew.”

    So the crewed version of the Dragon (yet to be fully developed) is going to cost exactly the same as the cargo version of the Dragon (including all integration cost).

    That is a fascinating assertion. It will be interesting to see how it holds up to actual numbers.

  • So the crewed version of the Dragon (yet to be fully developed) is going to cost exactly the same as the cargo version of the Dragon (including all integration cost).

    No, it’s going to have the same price. No one but SpaceX knows what it costs, and it’s no one’s business except theirs. And I don’t know why you get so hung up on “integration cost.”

  • Coastal Ron

    Bob wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    You’re forgetting the cost of the Dragon itself, Joe.

    Joe is not that dumb.

    He knows what the real numbers are – he just doesn’t like SpaceX, or the fact that they are making the Spudis-Lavoie plan (or any lunar exploitation plan) unnecessary.

    But Joe is persistent, so it’s still necessary to call him out when he proffers FUD.

  • pathfinder_01

    “So the crewed version of the Dragon (yet to be fully developed) is going to cost exactly the same as the cargo version of the Dragon (including all integration cost).”

    90% of the systems are the same on both, The only thing a crewed version of dragon needs are LAS system(which doubles as landing system and since it has use as landing system expect it to be used on Dragon Cargo), Lifesupport system, Seats, Controls, Docking port.

    Now there are some possible extra’s like training and I don’t know how insurance will be handled as it is not government but that is that.

  • DougSpace

    @ Chris Castro
    ” we must evolve and move on to longer & longer surface stays,”

    Why not first have the cargo variant deliver that equipment needed to exploit polar volatiles as well as telerobotically prep a shielded habitat? Then, with the manned variant of the lander, humans arrive not on a short sortie but for an indefinite stay. Every delay in sending people back to Earth means either one less expensive & risky sortie or a larger number of people on the Moon at any given time.

  • joe

    To the same statement: “So the crewed version of the Dragon (yet to be fully developed) is going to cost exactly the same as the cargo version of the Dragon (including all integration cost).”

    Two responses

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 6:38 pm
    “90% of the systems are the same on both, The only thing a crewed version of dragon needs are LAS system(which doubles as landing system and since it has use as landing system expect it to be used on Dragon Cargo), Lifesupport system, Seats, Controls, Docking port. “

    Those are the only differences:
    - Launch Abort System
    - Life Support System
    - Crew Impact Attenuation System (which for some reason you guys insist on calling Seats/Couches – as if all you needed to do is buy some Lazy Boy Recliners)
    - Controls (meaning cockpit and cockpit design)
    - Docking Port

    And you do not see any possibility of cost growth in there. Amazing.

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 28th, 2012 at 6:09 pm
    “No, it’s going to have the same price. No one but SpaceX knows what it costs, and it’s no one’s business except theirs.”

    When you guys figure out a consistent answer, send out a meeting notice.

  • Jeff Foust

    Since we all seem to be in agreement now that the price of a baseline Falcon 9 launch has not gone up from $54 to $140 million, let’s move the discussion back to topics closer to that of the original post. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Just recently a lot of people were huffing and puffing that the Europeans and the Russians were going to the Moon, and now people are huffing and puffing that China is going to the Moon.

    Sure, some day. Is there a big ticket program being funded to do that right now? Not in Europe, and not in Russia. Even in China the progress they are making publicly is significant, but so far all they have said is that they plan to have their space station operational by the end of the decade.

    Some have speculated that when the Chinese do go to the Moon, that they will have to do something “bigger” than what the U.S. did back in 60′s. For instance, they would go there to set up a permanently occupied outpost. And that would make sense, although the way they are doing space operations today would suggest that they won’t be going there at a pace reminiscent of our Apollo program. And if they are smart, they won’t repeat our Apollo program, since it was pretty expensive.

    What gets lost in all of this is what we (the U.S.) are doing in the meantime. We have a large cadre of experienced astronauts, and we continue to add more. We have an operational tempo, an operational space station, and later in this decade we likely will have a capability that no other nation has – redundant launch systems, redundant crew vehicles, and redundant supply vehicles.

    Having redundant capabilities in place in advance of a lunar exploration effort is huge. It means we can, on a far smaller budget than what the Constellation program would have taken, go to the Moon in a reasonably short time and be able to sustain it for far less than what could have been done in the past.

    Of course just because we can doesn’t mean that Congress will fund the effort. But it would also mean that a non-governmental entity could use the same hardware and attempt it themselves. THAT is what the real game changer is – not another country going to the Moon, but a non-country going to the Moon. THAT will be the Pandora’s box that gets people excited.

  • Frank Glover

    “China already has taken leadership in Space; They have a plan, they are committed to it, they are executing it.”

    James, merely ‘having a plan’ does not by itself make you a leader. Actually executing one (depending on the plan in question), just might.

  • Frank Glover

    “If we choose to work with China, and help to promote world stability and avoid another cold war, then we will win, and the world, including China, will also win.

    Vulture4, ‘working with’ China will bring all that? I’m still waiting for the ‘world stability’ that’s traceable to ASTP or ISS…

  • Frank Glover

    2 almightywind:

    “You chose to ignore the threat of Chinese imperial expansion when it is accelerating. In the last century the Chicoms seized Tibet and Turkestan. They covet Taiwan. They have made aggressive claims to Japanese territory. They have made expansive and absurd claims to large swaths of the South China Sea including the exclusive zones of Vietnam, Philippines, and Maylasia.”

    And they had affordable access to every one of those places.

    “Rational people can’t ignore this. Consider the Ares rockets to be the strategic equivalent of carrier groups in the South China Sea. ”

    ?? I would say something about affordable access (and lack thereof) here too…if I could stop laughing long enough.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “So the crewed version of the Dragon (yet to be fully developed) is going to cost exactly the same as the cargo version of the Dragon (including all integration cost).”

    No. SpaceX’s CRS contract is $1.6B for 12 missions. That’s $133M per Dragon cargo mission.

    “- Launch Abort System
    - Life Support System…
    - Docking Port”

    The crewed Dragon’s LAS utilizes the RCS from the cargo Dragon.

    The cargo Dragon already has to maintain a pressurized N/O2 atmosphere at room temperature and humidity.

    The cargo Dragon has a “docking port”. Otherwise, it would not have been able to dock with the ISS on the COTS 2/3 demo mission, and the current ISS crew would not have been able to unload/reload it.

    Back on topic…

    Now that the mission is almost over, it is remarkable how little coverage Shenzhou-9 received, at least in the US. When I Google “Chinese launch”, I get “China to launch Netflix-like movie service”. When I Google “Chinese mission”, I get restaurants. Even “Shenzhou-9″ fails to bring up articles from major U.S. outlets, only British and Indian ones.

  • Vladislaw

    “So why would integrating a cargo version of Dragon to the Falcon 9 cost $86M ($140M – $54M, so we do not get confused). 60% more that the supposed cost of the launch?”

    I believe that the CRS contract that SpaceX was awarded called for a new Dragon capsule for each flight. SpaceX would not be allowed to reuse them for the CRS. Musk stated it would make the costs higher but NASA was satisfied with it.

    Do you believe, if SpaceX reuses those Dragon capsules for resupply flights to a Bigelow Facility, they are still going to cost 133 million?

    I would imagine Bigelow Aerospace will get cargo resupply flights for 70-80 million a pop.

    With NASA crew flights priced at 140 million I believe SpaceX could do 105 million a flight for the Dragon crew capsule reused for a BA 330.

  • A M Swallow

    Bring this thread back to the Moon.

    Can Morpheus set up regular lunar landings in 4 years or 5?

    What do we want to put in our 500 kg (1100 lb) payloads?

  • pathfinder_01

    What amazes me is how you fear China’s slow and steady program but don’t see the slow and steady one going on in the US. You guys want to whip up space race II, but the space race is over.

    Dragon was designed with an eye towards being manned. Here is my response

    Launch Abort System: Doubles as a landing system enabling landing on land. Such a system should reduce recovery costs(recovery by sea is more expensive than by land) and help in terms of reusability (not dipped into salt water and you can use your LAS again.). Both crew and cargo dragon will have this.

    Life Support System- Already commercially available. You do know that Apollo era tech is not state of the art anymore and that similar tech is used aboard subs? Anyway the same company that got the contract for Orion is helping them design their own.

    Crew Impact Attenuation System- A couch on springs/shock abosorbers. I don’t think that suspension technology is beyond commercial’s ability.

    Controls (meaning cockpit and cockpit design)-It was designed to have a cockpit and controls to begin with. It was designed from the start to fit 7 people, a control panel, and everything else. It is much cheaper to install or design the thing when they are planned for ahead of time. Sure it is going to take them time to figure out how to lay out the controls, make the software for displays and what not but that is that. Heck even Orion didn’t bother to reinvent the wheel here as they borrowed software from the 767!

    Docking system. It would use the NDS which has already been developed. It would only be a matter of intergration of the system into dragon.

    Sure they could have cost over runs, but even at $50 million a seat they would be cheaper than SLS/Orion, The shuttle, and Soyuz.

    Here is how we stay competitive with China. Stop reinventing the wheel (Ares -1 and to some degree SLS/Orion), put projects where they belong (HLV if needed should be designed and operated by industry not NASA. Designing a rocket was state of the art…..30-50 years ago), Give NASA the freedom to make decisions (i.e. not Congress). Worry about the next step or next couple of steps and beware plans that exceed a decade. For all we know the US and China could make a moon landing together one day.

  • vulture4

    MFW: “The ruling oligarchy in China is determined to economically dominate both the heavens and the Earth!”

    Spend a few years there before you make such a claim. China is no longer motivated by ideology of any kind; they want stability and economic growth, just like everyone else. in fact, they don’t seem that different from us. China has given free access to companies that want to expand markets there from Walmart and KFC to GM. Chinese I know are not interested in the “ruling oligarchy” if it even still exists. They see no more difference between the Communists and the KMT than we see between Democrats and Republicans.

  • William Mellberg

    Congratulations to the crew of Shenzhou-9 (Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang) on their successful 13-day mission and their safe return to terra firma. The joint flight of Shenzhou-9 and Tiangong-1 represents another significant step forward in China’s maturing space program. The pace of Chinese human space flights will quicken over the next few years with a return visit to Tiangong-1 by the crew of Shenzhou-10 next year, followed by the launch of the larger Tiangong-2 (also in 2013) and Tiangong-3 in 2015. Manned visits to those stations will become more routine, and the Chinese presence in space will become more pronounced as they establish a firm foothold in Low Earth Orbit. Of course, the Chinese also have their sights set on the Moon. Chang’e-3 is scheduled to land on the lunar surface next year.

    As an article in today’s Guardian noted:

    “China is far from catching up with the established space superpowers, the US and Russia. But Shenzhou-9 marked China’s fourth manned space mission since 2003, and comes as budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back US manned space launches. The US will not test a new rocket to take people into space until 2017 and Russia has said manned missions were no longer a priority.”

    Speaking about the success of the Shenzhou-9/Tiangong-1 mission, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said:

    “The success of the docking mission also constitutes a new achievement in China’s effort to build an innovation-driven country, a new significant step in China’s scientific development, and an important contribution to human exploration of the outer space. This is of major and far-reaching significance to boosting China’s comprehensive national strength, invigorating the nation, and inspiring the whole nation to strive for new victories in building a moderately prosperous society in a all-around way and pushing forwad the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The contributions of Chinese aerospace scientists and working staff will be remembered by the country and its people. The pursuit of scientific progress is a never-ending journey, and there remains a long way to go in exploring outer space.”

    Wen added that more efforts will be made to boost the “leapfrog development” of China’s space program.

    Following the Soviet Union’s early string of ‘firsts’ at the beginning of the Space Age, Wernher von Braun joked that when American astronauts landed on the Moon, they would be “passing through Russian Customs.”

    It could be that the next time American astronauts land on the Moon, they will be passing through Chinese Customs.

    As an aside …

    I had dinner last night in my favorite Chinese restaurant — a small, but popular local establishment owned by a family from China. They always have their television tuned to CCTV (China Central TV). And they always have Chinese newspapers laying on the counter for their Chinese customers to read. Several Chinese patrons were in the restaurant last night. They were all talking about Shenzhou-9, and newspaper photos of the launch and crew had been taped to the wall (with pride of place going to Liu Yang, China’s first woman taikonaut). They had obvious pride in China’s latest space achievements … more pride than I’ve seen Americans showing for a long time in our own space program. Therein lies part of the value of the Chinese space program to the leadership in Beijing.

  • @William Mellberg
    “They had obvious pride in China’s latest space achievements … more pride than I’ve seen Americans showing for a long time in our own space program. Therein lies part of the value of the Chinese space program to the leadership in Beijing.”
    I saw a lot of that pride return in America recently with Dragon’s successful cargo trip to and from ISS. I think you’ll see it in multiples of that when a crewed private spacecraft reaches the station. Yes, the Chinese can put people in orbit too, but by their own admission they can’t match SpaceX launch prices.

  • Vladislaw

    Ya, I bet it would be near impossible to find a shuttle photo on a wall of a restaurant in florida or texas. Or find any space memorabilia that ever even gets a visit at a museum in the U.S.

  • William Mellberg

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    “… but by their own admission they can’t match SpaceX launch prices.”

    They don’t need to. The Chinese regime isn’t answerable to the Chinese people. Therefore, cost is not as important to them as it is to us in terms of their human spaceflight effort.

    Here is an interesting interview with Yang Liwei, China’s first taikonaut, about the Moon, a Communist Party branch in space and related matters:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDZjBiKYOT8&feature=related

    Rick Boozer also wrote:

    “I saw a lot of that pride return in America recently with Dragon’s successful cargo trip to and from ISS.”

    I don’t think the average American could have cared less about Dragon. NewSpace proponents were justifiably excited. I was impressed, too. But delivering groceries to the ISS meant very little to the average American, just as the ISS itself means very little to the average American.

    But average Chinese people seem to be very proud of China’s latest space achievement, as demonstrated by the photos of the Shenzhou-9 crew that were taped to the wall at my local Chinese restaurant, and the excited tone of the Chinese patrons while talking about the return of Shenzhou-9. They have a sense of pride that is based on China assuming a position as an equal to the other great space powers. Which, as Yang Liwei notes, is based in part on the traditional role of the Moon in Chinese culture. Therein lies the difference between the Chinese reaction to their space program and the American reaction to our space program.

    Moreover, delivering groceries to the ISS isn’t going to excite a population that was accustomed to Americans flying to the Moon and servicing the Hubble Space Station.

    China’s space program, in the minds of average Chinese, is moving forward.

    America’s space program, in the minds of average Americans, is going backward.

  • William Mellberg

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “Ya, I bet it would be near impossible to find a shuttle photo on a wall of a restaurant in florida or texas. Or find any space memorabilia that ever even gets a visit at a museum in the U.S.”

    You miss the point. Chinese people halfway around the globe feel proud of the taikonauts. Here in a Chicago suburb, a small, family-owned Chinese restaurant is celebrating China’s space achievements with newspaper clippings about Shenzhou-9 on their walls and the latest news accounts of the mission on their television. Far from mission control in Beijing or the launch center at Jiuquan, average Chinese people have followed the events in space with keen interest these past two weeks.

    I don’t think you’d find too many pictures of Dragon delivering groceries on the walls of small-town family restaurants here in America. Most people yawned. But there is a genuine air of excitement among Chinese people about China’s space program. And that, in part, is what is driving the regime in Beijing to reach for the Moon.

    China’s maturing manned space program is inspiring China’s people.

    I can’t say the same for America’s space program. Many people saw the last flight of Atlantis one year ago as the end of America’s space leadership.

    I dare say, many Chinese saw the Shenzhou-9/Tiangong-1 mission as the beginning of an exciting new era in China’s human spaceflight program.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo-LrlTz-JI&feature=relmfu

    These scenes impressed me, as well.

  • William Mellberg

    Dark Blue Nine wrote:

    “Shenzhou 9 had a less than perfect landing …”

    It looked nominal to me. Three out of the four manned Shenzhou spacecraft have tipped over upon touchdown, as have Soyuz spacecraft. And the crew of Shenzhou-9 emerged smiling and waving.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4NhZqt1O_I

    Here is Shenzhou-5, which tipped over …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvUEspSSm8c

    And Shenzhou-6, which touched down upright …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVgsJt2AfYE

    And Shenzhou-7, which tipped over …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CgUUgqiOD8

    So Shenzhou-9′s landing did not look so unusual.
    despite what Marcia Smith suggested.

  • William Mellberg

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/28/world/asia/china-space-discovery-stout/index.html

    “And what a mighty week it has been. China has witnessed the return of a manned spacecraft that successfully docked with the Tiangong 1 space lab — a first for the nation. China is also still on a high after the deep-sea diving record set on Sunday by a Chinese manned submersible in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. And while China’s achievements in sea and space are impressive, do they stir more than just national pride? The Shenzhou-9 may be a stellar status symbol for Beijing but is it awakening a real hunger for adventure among the Chinese people? According to Chinese explorer Wong How Man, the answer is an emphatic yes. ‘We’re in space … not just making cellphones,’ he told CNN.”

    “China is embarking on a new age of discovery.”

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Following the Soviet Union’s early string of ‘firsts’ at the beginning of the Space Age, Wernher von Braun joked that when American astronauts landed on the Moon, they would be “passing through Russian Customs.”

    Yes, and look how that worked out.

    It could be that the next time American astronauts land on the Moon, they will be passing through Chinese Customs.

    Unlikely, but if it’s true, they’ll be able to stop at a Starbucks in the terminal. ;-)

    The next big revolution in my mind is not which country will do this or that, but which non-government organization will do this or that.

    The trend started with the first commercial satellites being lofted by commercial launchers, and it has progressed in fits and starts to the present, where the latest example was the SpaceX COTS C2+ flight. Next up is Orbital Sciences with their Cygnus spacecraft, SpaceX with their Falcon Heavy, and then after a little break we’ll get into the Commercial Crew vehicles. All owned and operated by companies, not countries.

    Ten years ago, who would have thought that a rocket company startup with little experience would be the leader on so many fronts of space technology and business. Governments can’t move that quickly without massive amounts of taxpayer money, yet SpaceX was able to do what they did on $200M of initial investment.

    With the commercial capabilities maturing relatively quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team of space-minded entrepreneurs decides soon that the Moon really isn’t that far away anymore, and that if they pooled their capabilities they would be able to land on the Moon themselves.

    That is the paradigm shift to be waiting for. Not which country with $Billions of their citizens money will decide they want to go the Moon – that’s already been proven to work. But individuals and companies? That’s what will break open space. And it’s getting closer.

  • Paul b

    They say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. Imagine a world in which Americans didn’t feel compelled to pick a fight. Didn’t feel driven to prove they are blessed by god as some special people. Were cooperative partners who used their undoubted skills to advance unselfish goals. I can only dream.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Three out of the four manned Shenzhou spacecraft have tipped over upon touchdown, as have Soyuz spacecraft.”

    The question isn’t whether the capsule fell over, but how hard it hit the ground. Other sources are reporting that the landing was rougher than it should have been.

    “the Shenzhou-9 touched down in daylight in what appeared to be a rather bumpy landing”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/shenzhou-9-successfully-returns-to-earth/

    Not a big deal, but the landing was less than perfect.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 11:16 am

    China is also still on a high after the deep-sea diving record set on Sunday by a Chinese manned submersible in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

    They dived to 7,000 meters, which is a remarkable success.

    However, to the point I just made in my earlier post, James Cameron just went to 11,000 meters earlier this year, and he funded the effort himself.

    As long as U.S. individuals are able to out-innovate countries like China, I don’t have much to worry about. Let’s focus on how we can continue to encourage U.S. innovation.

  • @William Mellberg
    Just in the realm of orbital cargo transport, we are already far ahead of China, Russia, Europe, Japan, India, etc. as Dragon recently proved. Yes, Russia, Europe and Japan have cargo spacecraft, but none of those allow significant return of cargo from space and none of those cargo spacecraft are reusable. When you add the fact that we can launch them more cheaply, well no contest.

    Now turning to crewed spacecraft, we will still be very far ahead:
    Crew capacity: CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = 7 Shenzhou=3
    Reuable? CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = Yes Shenzhou=No
    Cheaper to launch: Dragon = Yes on F9, CST-110, Dream Chaser on Atlas=NO, Shenzhou=No for Dragon, Yes for CST-110, Dream Chaser

    If we could just get a fraction of what is being wasted on SLS applied to technologies for deep space travel, we can get way ahead of China in deep space too. But we have to wait for now as SLS spends money going nowhere until it finally commits economic suicide. So as far as deep space is concerned, we’re currently foolishly giving China extra time to catch up.

  • Oops, made a mistake here:
    “Now turning to crewed spacecraft, we will still be very far ahead:
    Crew capacity: CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = 7 Shenzhou=3
    Reuable? CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = Yes Shenzhou=No
    Cheaper to launch: Dragon = Yes on F9, CST-110, Dream Chaser on Atlas=NO, Shenzhou=No for Dragon, Yes for CST-110, Dream Chaser”
    Should be:
    “Now turning to crewed spacecraft, we will still be very far ahead:
    Crew capacity: CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = 7 Shenzhou=3
    Reuable? CST-100, Dragon, Dream Chaser = Yes Shenzhou=No
    Cheaper to launch: Dragon = Yes on F9, CST-110, Dream Chaser on Atlas=NO, Shenzhou=No”
    Accidentally did an insert on the end.

  • E.P. Grondine

    As Musk has stated, the next key to lowering launch costs is reusability.
    My guess is that China will attempt that technology in in 2020 planning cycle.

    As far as the “Why?” part of their manned space effort goes, China has their own answers for that question, and they have been quite public about them, but few “space enthusiasts” here listen because they are not the answers they do not want to hear them.

    This is not a race, and China will seek international partners and colleagues for their effort.

    IMO, the Wolf amendment as it stands is unconstitutional, an infringement on the executive’s ability to conduct the foreign policy of the US. If the legislation was reworded to require explicit Congressional approval of any engagement, but not conversation, it could stand, but not as it is now.

  • E.P. Grondine

    read “the answers they want to hear”. (Stroke)

  • Vladislaw

    William Mellberg wrote:

    “You miss the point. Chinese people halfway around the globe feel proud of the taikonauts. Here in a Chicago suburb, a small, family-owned Chinese restaurant is celebrating China’s space achievements with newspaper clippings about Shenzhou-9 on their walls and the latest news accounts of the mission on their television. Far from mission control in Beijing or the launch center at Jiuquan, average Chinese people have followed the events in space with keen interest these past two weeks.”

    I did not miss the point. Chinese, like Americans, like firsts. If you watch and listen to one of the earliest press confrences of Administrator Bolden, when he introduced the CCDEV companies, will illustrate this. Admin. Bolden stated that polling showed that America’s interest in space, although broad, was not very deep. The one thing that really brought eyeballs to space was when NASA, or any country’s space program, produced a first.

    Bolden said the President wanted take advantage of that and said the funding for NASA was going to do that, produce a lot of firsts. He listed a bunch of them, I would have to dig to find all that he mentioned. He said that recently NASA had not been doing a lot of that because basically they were running a freight company rather than exploration.

    The Chinese have only launched four times in ten years. Each of those events were, because the huge time lag in between them, exactly that, events. With America four flights came a lot faster, in fact, we were producing firsts with the Mercury through Apollo programs at lightning speed. Add in what Chuck Yeager and the boys were doing and it was a golden age for America. China is going to go through their “firsts” period too, although it seems at a much slower pace, and if China follows NASA’s history, people will get bored with it when it comes down to hauling frieght to their space station, once it is up and running 2020.

    “I don’t think you’d find too many pictures of Dragon delivering groceries on the walls of small-town family restaurants here in America. Most people yawned. But there is a genuine air of excitement among Chinese people about China’s space program. And that, in part, is what is driving the regime in Beijing to reach for the Moon.”

    You may not see a picture of the Dragon delivering groceries on the walls of small town family restaurants here in America put how many wall papers are there on computers in America? How many images flooded the planet on the internet about the Dragon?

    I do not know about the yawning part but every online news service was flooded with articles about SpaceX, NASA and the Dragon for a couple weeks leading up to that historic first for a commercial firm. You saw the same thing with the Chinese story of their first docking, first female et cetera.

    As I said at the start, the Chinese love firsts as much as Americans, but I highly doubt they are going to be excited about chinese cargo craft hauling groceries to their space station.

    “China’s maturing manned space program is inspiring China’s people.”

    Four flights is “maturing”? Would you have said the same thing about the Mercury program after the four orbital manned flights?

    I believe their program will be maturing when their station is completed.

    As far as inspiration, I do not believe SpaceX, Virgin Galatic, Bigelow Aerospace, The Space Ship Company, Stratolauncher, Planetary Resources, XCOR, et cetera are finding it hard to locate inspired talent. These companies are the future and are going places.

  • William Mellberg

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “Four flights is ‘maturing’? Would you have said the same thing about the Mercury program after the four orbital manned flights?’

    Vladislaw, four flights absolutely represent maturation when the first one carried one man for one day, the second carried two men for four days, the third carried three men and included an extended spacewalk and the fourth carried three (two men and a woman) for two weeks and included a docking with a prototype space laboratory.

    The four Mercury program orbital flights were all solo missions, going from three orbits to three orbits to six orbits to 22 orbits. None of the spacecraft could be maneuvered in space.

    Let’s compare the Chinese program with the Soviet Union’s early space program. It took the Soviets four years to go from Vostok-1 to Voskhod-2 and the first spacewalk. It took the Soviets eight years to go from Yuri Gagarin’s one orbit flight to the Soyuz-4/Soyuz-5 mission in 1969. It took the Soviets ten years to go from Vostok-1 to Soyuz-11. Thankfully, the Shenzhou-9 mission did not end in tragedy like Soyuz-11. But the point is that Soyuz-11/Salyut-1 mission was basically the same as Shenzhou-9/Tiangong-1. The Chinese followed the same path in less time and with far fewer flights. Of course, as Yang Liwei pointed out, the Chinese program was built on the foundation of the Soviet, American and European space programs.

    SpaceX started to develop Dragon in 2004. It first flew in 2010. It first flew to the ISS in 2012. It is expected to start ferrying crews to the ISS in 2017 — thirteen years after development had begun, and seven years after the first flight.

    I would say the pace of the Chinese space program has been comparable to the others. But they have reached their benchmarks with fewer overall missions and launches.

    Why is it so difficult for some people to acknowledge China’s accomplishments and to recognize that the pace of their space program is accelerating?

    I don’t believe in having a second “Space Race” with China. But I do wonder what the geopolitical impact will be of China’s rapidly maturing space program? What will a future NASA Administrator say when Congressmen and Senators and citizens ask why Chinese taikonauts are living and working on the Moon? “But we’re supplying the aging ISS at less cost with commercial vehicles.” Somehow I don’t think that answer will suffice — especially if it is becoming more and more costly (and time-consuming) to keep the aging ISS operational.

    Of course, none of us has a crystal ball, and none of us can predict with any high measure of accuracy just what the Chinese are actually planning to do in space during the next decade. But it is clear that they are gaining prestige both at home and abroad with their increasingly more sophisticated space missions. They are advancing their technological base, as well. As that gentleman said, they aren’t just building cell phones anymore. They’re building space stations.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I don’t think you’d find too many pictures of Dragon delivering groceries on the walls of small-town family restaurants here in America>>

    You would if the entire space effort were “new”.

    I agree with you (perhaps) on one fine point. The Chinese and all people Chinese (and that includes those Americans with Chinese heritage) are enjoying nee basking in the notion of Chinese nationhood and China as a power.

    China is an “old” country that really is “new”, actually newer then the US in some respects. The folks who did the cultural revolution did a pretty good job of rebooting the entire notion of China…and they are in many respects where the US was in thee 1960′s …starting to feel the tugs of being a “power’.

    Space (human spaceflight) would not play much of a role in that in the US anyway since “WE” have done human spaceflight for 50 years and the only token of it that most Americans have…is that it doesnt affect them much.

    But the US is dealing with other issues which are tugging at our national strings now. The GOP right has in many ways sucked the life out of the notion of nationhood as it has babbled on about “succession” or “who is and who is not” an American. And right now that the federal government does things at all, it is not important that it accomplish things…jsut that the various corporations be paid.

    This is SLS/Orion. If one assumed that the US gave NASA and the contractors the 3 billion per year they want…SLS/Orion wont carry a sole until sometime in the next century. So how would Americans be impressed by that?

    It is a good time for China with their flight…the US with its free market (hopefully once we get rid of GOP croniism) had a better day with Dragon RGO

  • William Mellberg

    It seems the U.S. media is taking notice of China’s achievement …

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/chinas-first-female-astronaut-returns-from-space/2012/06/29/gJQAEJHfBW_blog.html

    And as I write this, it’s the top of the page story (with photo of the returned crew and spacecraft) on The Drudge Report …

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/79401dec-c1ab-11e1-8e7c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1zEBN6UEC

    Human spaceflight has just become a little more interesting.

  • Frank Glover

    “Moreover, delivering groceries to the ISS isn’t going to excite a population that was accustomed to Americans flying to the Moon and servicing the Hubble Space Station.”

    Sorry that the logistics of off-Earth human presence aren’t entertaining (don’t you think there will be the equivalent of ‘grocery runs’ to the Moon, too, once something permanent is established there? Even the Chinese need to eat.) But we know what happens without them…nothing. Or at least only more flags and footprints.

    And the public adjusted to Lunar missions pretty damn quick. What makes you think they won’t do it again, this time?

    Again, any entertainment (or even inspirational) value, is purely coincidental to what we really want to do out there.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Vladislaw, four flights absolutely represent maturation when the first one carried one man for one day, the second carried two men for four days, the third carried three men and included an extended spacewalk and the fourth carried three (two men and a woman) for two weeks and included a docking with a prototype space laboratory.”

    Mercury was rather like Apollo, designed to get men into space soonest. (I.e. it came from the Man in space soonest program). Mercury could not support spacewalks, docking, more than one person in space, and was battery powered. In fact if Alan Sheppard had been the first man is space I rather doubt project Apollo would have been undertaken. In fact some flights of Mercury were canceled to free resources for the lunar program. The Chinese craft has had all of that thing along with solar panels built in (heck improvements in battery technology and electronics alone would give much longer missions today than Mercury.). Making the space flight is impressive, the rest less so. They designed in all the things you need to do spacewalking, carrying a crew of three, and it is know that short stay in space are survivable.

    “Why is it so difficult for some people to acknowledge China’s accomplishments and to recognize that the pace of their space program is accelerating?”

    One launch every two years accelerating? I would rather see a thousand launches to LEO and no one on the moon than suffer a space program that launches a few select people, every few years, indefinitely (CXP). I want to see spaceflight expanded to the whole of humanity, not be the domain of nations only.

    “I don’t believe in having a second “Space Race” with China. But I do wonder what the geopolitical impact will be of China’s rapidly maturing space program? What will a future NASA Administrator say when Congressmen and Senators and citizens ask why Chinese taikonauts are living and working on the Moon? “But we’re supplying the aging ISS at less cost with commercial vehicles.” Somehow I don’t think that answer will suffice — especially if it is becoming more and more costly (and time-consuming) to keep the aging ISS operational.”

    Ah, no. You don’t seem to see the advances being made right now. Honestly there will be no one living or working on the moon unless the prices come down and China’s plans till 2025 are LEO space stations.
    Those LEO vehicles in the case of dragon/falcon at least represent ways of going BEO cheaper than NASA. The FH could match an Apollo mission with two launches and both those launches would be cheaper than a shuttle launch. The FH exists because we have the Falcon 9 which itself has a role beyond human spaceflight. No President has the power to cancel the FH, unlike Saturn V. The work of Blue Origin, Space X, and Armadillo is transferable to things like Landers. Even dream chaser’s hybrid engines could make for the perfect technology for a reusable lander.

    If you can lower the price low enough there could be someone other than the government who could buy say lunar propellant (say lunar tourist or lunar scientist funded by foundations, NSF and not 100% by NASA) or have a use for lunar water. The work of Ad Adstra is transferable to electric propulsion which could be a cheaper way to move both propellant and cargo about and and Ad Astra’s efforts are supported by the ISS (It has the electrical power to spare) and Space X’s dragon(cheaper to get there).

    Instead of betting the house on one front CXP or the spaudis plan we are developing new technologies that have applications beyond the moon. The mistake of Apollo was to develop something that was useless for just about any other purpose than going to the moon and depending on the government to fund 100% of it indefinitely.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    “Why is it so difficult for some people to acknowledge China’s accomplishments and to recognize that the pace of their space program is accelerating?”

    Accelerating is relative…they almost cannot go slower. As for acknowledging it…yeah as I said it is interesting not impressive. Its old hardware with an enormous numbers of limitations that is very very expensive to operate…compared to Dragon it is downright primitive.

    It is about like someone today redoing J. Cash’s songs…nice but nothing like The Man in Black. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    “I don’t believe in having a second “Space Race” with China. But I do wonder what the geopolitical impact will be of China’s rapidly maturing space program? What will a future NASA Administrator say when Congressmen and Senators and citizens ask why Chinese taikonauts are living and working on the Moon? “

    It is quite clear that this hypothetical situation will not occur for at least a decade and maybe more likely two or who knows.

    Nor is it really clear that “Taikonauts” or “astronauts” or “cosmonauts” or whatever the Indians will someday call their folks living and working on the Moon would accomplish much more then astronauts and cosmonauts or whatever the Japanese and Europeans and Canadians call their people…are on ISS.

    You will find that very very quickly the “hoopla” over the Chinese human space program peters out everywhere but China..it will stay high there for a bit longer in large part because the government will plug it hard…but the rest of the world will go back to what it is doing very very quickly.

    Maybe we will all tune in if the Reds fly a panda…they have now exhausted the national first. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://phys.org/news/2012-06-japan-major-rare-earth-deposits.html

    so much for this being a reason to go to the Moon…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    It seems the U.S. media is taking notice of China’s achievement …

    Although notice what the headline is:

    China’s first female astronaut returns from space

    The media also noticed that Liu Yang (the female astronaut) had her own separate sleeping area and even her own separate toilet. The Chinese have come quite a ways technology-wise, but they have a ways to go in the equality of the sexes.

    And as I write this, it’s the top of the page story (with photo of the returned crew and spacecraft) on The Drudge Report …

    Curated news aggregation sites are hardly good indicators of what is or isn’t popular or trending.

  • Vladislaw

    “Let’s compare the Chinese program with the Soviet Union’s early space program. It took the Soviets four years to go from Vostok-1 to Voskhod-2 and the first spacewalk. It took the Soviets eight years to go from Yuri Gagarin’s one orbit flight to the Soyuz-4/Soyuz-5 mission in 1969. “

    It is my understanding that the chinese vehicle was capable from first flight to carry three people. They chose one. It was also my understanding the chinese vehicle was capable from first flight to multi day trips to LEO, they chose not to.

    The U.S. and the Soviet Union were doing their firsts with vehicles going through upgrades as they flew. The US designated the changes in the vehicle number by adding an A or B to represent upgraded vehicles.

    It my understanding that the Chinese have basically the same vehicle that they started out with and nothing prevented them from coming right out of the block with a 3 person multi day flight, they chose not to. Also it was my understanding there was nothing in the program that prevented faster flights. They were not having to solve new huge issues between flights or vehicle redesigns.

    The mercury flight that carried shepard was may 1961. The first lunar landing was 1969. It is hard to say four flights of a virtually completed vehicle in ten years is maturing when the US went from three totally seperate vehicles from LEO to the moon in the same time.

    China has a ways to go before they are maturing in space operations. Like maybe 4 manned flights in the same year rather than a decade.

  • Robert G. Oler

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ June 29th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    “Mercury was rather like Apollo, designed to get men into space soonest. (I.e. it came from the Man in space soonest program). Mercury could not support spacewalks, docking, more than one person in space, and was battery powered. In fact if Alan Sheppard had been the first man is space I rather doubt project Apollo would have been undertaken”

    interesting and correct point (about Sheppard)…I would add this…If Al had been the first person in LEO I doubt Apollo would have happened, but I would bet money Gemini (Mercury Mark2) would have RGO

  • Vladislaw

    China’s space history getting press … what exactly have they been doing that was getting press.

    1st manned flight
    2nd flight .. first time 2 astronauts . first eva
    3rd flight .. first time 3 astronauts.
    4th flight .. first time they docked to tai-1, first time a female. first manuel docking.

    Everyone of their flights was designed to present a first in space for their program.

    There lunar probe.. their first to map the moon. another first
    Launching the Tai-1 space test article to practicing docking. A first for them in launching a human habitat.

    Just about every single launch they have made as been to create a first.

    We will see when the firsts start drying up, like they did with NASA, if the same press will be as interested when they are flying their grocery missions to their space station.

  • William Mellberg

    Frank Glover wrote:

    “And the public adjusted to Lunar missions pretty damn quick. What makes you think they won’t do it again, this time?”

    Except that the American astronauts quickly came and went. This time, if the Chinese actually build a permanent outpost on the lunar surface, people around the globe will look up at the Moon for two weeks out of every month and think to themselves, “There are people living and working up there right now.” Which is bound to inspire people worldwide.

    How many people even know when the ISS passes overhead? When I pointed it out to some folks in a post office parking lot a while back, the general reaction was, “That’s an airplane.”

    There will be no mistaking a “red Moon” in the sky.

    Frank Glover also wrote:

    “Again, any entertainment (or even inspirational) value, is purely coincidental to what we really want to do out there.”

    Which, according to Elon Musk, is to turn us into a multi-planetary species. And the Chinese could be the first to do so with an outpost on the Moon while the Americans argue about the cheapest way to reach Low Earth Orbit.

    Take a look at what Miles O’Brien and Leroy Chiao have to say about all of this …

    http://milesobrien.com/?p=3442

    O’Brien: “If you are not impressed with the Chinese space program, you are not paying attention.”

    Chiao: “After that, they have alluded to plans, to land astronauts on the moon. They’ve put up no concrete plans to do that, but I have to believe they’re aiming for the moon because the moon culturally is such an important thing to China and to all Asian countries … I’ve heard a lot who say, ‘Oh, big deal, they got in space. We did that in the ’60s, so did the Soviet Union.’ Well, that’s true, but look, the fact is now China can do it too and that enables them to do all of these other things. Their technology, I’ve seen their technology up close and personal and it is good stuff. I mean, they’re very advanced. They’re very capable. They’ve got plans to, like I said, build cryogenic rockets. They have more capabilities.”

  • William Mellberg

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “China has a ways to go before they are maturing in space operations. Like maybe 4 manned flights in the same year rather than a decade.”

    If you were more familiar with China’s space program — or, if you had read all of my posts in this thread — you would know that the Chinese are about to ramp up their flight rate with the launch of Tiangong-2 next year and Tiangong-3 in 2015.

    Vladislaw also wrote:

    “Everyone of their flights was designed to present a first in space for their program.”

    No, every one of their flights was to gain further operational experience with their vehicles, just like Falcon and Dragon.

    BTW, the first Chinese spacewalk occurred on Shenzhou 7, not Shenzhou 6 as you suggested.

    Vladislaw further opined:

    “Just about every single launch they have made as been to create a first. We will see when the firsts start drying up, like they did with NASA, if the same press will be as interested when they are flying their grocery missions to their space station.”

    Ditto for Dragon. But in China’s case, they will be doing ‘firsts’ that others have never done, such as creating a permanent outpost on the Moon and exploring and exploiting lunar resources. Which ought to generate more excitement than delivering groceries to an elderly space station.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ The media also noticed that Liu Yang (the female astronaut) had her own separate sleeping area and even her own separate toilet. The Chinese have come quite a ways technology-wise, but they have a ways to go in the equality of the sexes.”

    Not that equality and human rights are big in China, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. Tiagong-1 only has two sleeping quarters, someone has to sleep in the transport spacecraft. The transport spacecraft if is like Soyuz has it’s own toilet and like Soyuz visitors to the ISS have had to sleep in it due to insufficient number of crew quarters early in ISS assembly. Also it is a good idea to have more than one toilet on a space station as they can breakdown(ISS has two plus the ones in the Soyuz(which are almost never used)).

    Tiagong-1 is sort of like the ATV or HTV, meant for resupply not really long term occupation. It is a nice quick, cheap, easy way to do a space station mission and test technology but you kind of want/need more in a station. It would be rather like using a Cygnus as a space station and using say Soyuz as your crew transfer possible but space in the Cygnus would be pretty limited.

  • pathfinder_01

    “interesting and correct point (about Sheppard)…I would add this…If Al had been the first person in LEO I doubt Apollo would have happened, but I would bet money Gemini (Mercury Mark2) would have RGO”

    Actually the plan pre-Apollo was run Mercury longer then switch to a more advanced capsule. It would have had the Apollo shape because they were interested in its lift to drag. It would have been Apollo like but not lunar focused.

    Apollo was started before Gemini, but they realized they needed to test some key technologies docking, fuel cells spacewalking and see if man could survive the length of the trip to the moon in space. Modifying Mercury into Gemini was the fastest way to test those key technologies and Gemini is self had flights cancelled to support Apollo.

    The Chinese like Space X and new space are benefiting from past knowledge (i.e. first time you ever do something hard, one hundredth times much easier).

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    “Except that the American astronauts quickly came and went. This time, if the Chinese actually build a permanent outpost on the lunar surface, people around the globe will look up at the Moon for two weeks out of every month and think to themselves, “There are people living and working up there right now.” Which is bound to inspire people worldwide.”

    except that is not what happened nor what will happen.

    let us start with history.

    American and world interest in the Apollo landings ceased after Apollo 11. When 12 got there there was literally no audience for the “extended coverage” the landings went on for another two yeas at a rate higher then the Chinese folks are flying…and by the time 17 went up it was barely a reader on the evening news.

    The problem which you and others seem reticent to discuss is that neither the Apollo program or the space station effort by the various nations on ISS (and I suspect the Chinese program as well although we will have to see) can do anything right now to justify their existence other then the excersize of great power functions.

    It is going to be harder on the Moon actually because “jaunts” on the Moon consume enormous amounts of “stuff” and that is about the only thing that would separate a Moon base from ISS…

    Second of course there is no evidence that the Chinese are going to the Moon.

    Third if they went to the Moon at the rate it is taking them to really build a space station they wont be doing it as a “permanent” thing until 2030 or so. A LOT happens by then.

    The reality is that all the nations of the world who do human spaceflight are struggling with finding a reason to do it…and that seems to include the REds RGO

  • William Mellberg

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “Second of course there is no evidence that the Chinese are going to the Moon.”

    Which, of course, is what Walter Cronkite once said about the Soviet Union.

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Well said. You know precisely what the perception of a ‘Red Moon’ would be to the world. What’s more interesting for our times, is the perceptrion of such a reality on American society today. The nation that took 8 years to reach the moon in the 1960s is not the same nation that took a decade to rebuild a 110 story building in skyscraper filled Manhattan in the 2000′s. Vividly recall, doring the Apollo march to the moon, watching the Brits taking five years to build a 20 story building across the street from our flat in London. And we chuckled. In that era, Americans would have put it up in less than a year. Not so, today. But then, their ‘moonshot’ at the time was Concorde— and now it, along w/Apollo and shuttle, are museum pieces as well. The PRC deserve praise and kudos for their accomplishments thus far. The difference is, they’re marching to their own drummer. And Luna is a goal- if only to hallmark this century as theirs.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “except that is not what happened nor what will happen. let us start with history.”

    Not a strong point w/you… as evidenced as follows-

    “American and world interest in the Apollo landings ceased after Apollo 11. When 12 got there there was literally no audience for the “extended coverage..” ”

    Wrong.

    Although American media truncated coverage in lieu of more proft-driven programming- ratings again-, foreign media did not. Apparently your knowledge base of times Apollo is quite provincial or limited to the American persepective or a perusal of DeGroot’s book, which has some errors as well.

    American public interest fluxuated between the 40%-60% interest level, depending on timing and the way the polls were worded, but world interest remained high and is well docuimented– even in the USSR (saw it first hand post 14 in Moscow) — and 12′s ‘extended’ coverage stateside was abbreviated due to Beano burning out the TV camera– if you knew your history. In fact, in Britain, ‘extended coverage’ flourished w/t audio carried as frustrated BBC anchors literally moved plastic astronauts around on a simulated moonscape in tandem w/the audio. =eyeroll=

    “Second of course there is no evidence that the Chinese are going to the Moon.”

    Except there is =yawn= But you go on believing there isn’t. It’s endlessly amusing.

  • Which, according to Elon Musk, is to turn us into a multi-planetary species. And the Chinese could be the first to do so with an outpost on the Moon while the Americans argue about the cheapest way to reach Low Earth Orbit.

    Americans aren’t arguing about the cheapest way to reach LEO. Elon and others are actually making it affordable. I predict that an American company will be back to the moon before the Chinese government.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    “Ditto for Dragon. But in China’s case, they will be doing ‘firsts’ that others have never done, such as creating a permanent outpost on the Moon and exploring and exploiting lunar resources.”

    that assumes that the Reds do that. And while you are free to make that assumption, it is not one that is valid anyplace but ‘your” mind…

    What I find ‘entertaining” is that people like you (but you are not alone) are advocating that the US meter its policies and that our space politics circle around that assumption…and that somehow the US must respond to that assumption as if it were fact or supported by more then just wishful thinking.

    This is a residue of post Apollo thinking. every post you make talks about the “media” aspects of the Chinese flights are if they are something that really mean anything…thats Apollo style “first” type thinking…

    It is, if I were the reds exactly what I would want an aging superpower with right wing nuts arguing for a threat behind every rock…to think. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “But in China’s case, they will be doing ‘firsts’ that others have never done, such as creating a permanent outpost on the Moon and exploring and exploiting lunar resources.”

    I would need to see more proof that China is putting a base on the moon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    “Americans aren’t arguing about the cheapest way to reach LEO. Elon and others are actually making it affordable. I predict that an American company will be back to the moon before the Chinese government.”

    sigh zounds chagrin…I agree completely with you. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “Second of course there is no evidence that the Chinese are going to the Moon.”

    you replied “Which, of course, is what Walter Cronkite once said about the Soviet Union.”

    that is not quite accurate…I would have to go looking for the quote exactly… And today we know a lot more about what the Red Chinese are doing then we knew in that era about what Ivan was.

    The reality of course, and I suspect like the Chinese, the USSR was never really close to a crewed expedition to the Moon. And it wasnt just the N1 but the production issues with the N1 were symptomatic of that problem.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    “American public interest fluxuated between the 40%-60% interest level, depending on timing and the way the polls were worded, but world interest remained high and is well docuimented– even in the USSR (saw it first hand post 14 in Moscow) — and 12′s ‘extended’ coverage stateside was abbreviated due to Beano burning out the TV camera– if you knew your history. In fact, in Britain, ‘extended coverage’ flourished w/t audio carried as frustrated BBC anchors literally moved plastic astronauts around on a simulated moonscape in tandem w/the audio. =eyeroll=”

    LOL. After 11 public interest never really got about 50 and probably was nicely settled in the 30-40 percent. R. Landus has done a pretty good analysis of the polls.

    One sure indication of the lack of American interest is that the “for profit” media dropped it quickly when they realized that the interest in the “people who made the profit” was not there. Had the people been watching they would have kept it on 24/7

    As for 12. WAsnt it CBS who resorted to actors in space suits trying to redo after the 12 camera died…anyway that was the last mission. 13 cranked some coverage but then it was toast…one reason I was glad to have one of the first “TVRO earth stations” we watched the bird feed… still have the parametric amp. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Which, of course, is what Walter Cronkite once said about the Soviet Union.

    I don’t know why you would put so much stock in what a news reporter has to guess about what was happening within the borders of a closed country. Maybe if he had infiltrated the Soviet Union as a spy he would have had some sort of unique perspective, but otherwise it was a closed country and we had crude spy satellites through which to gather data.

    Three things though:

    1. Even with the firsts China has been accumulating, it still hasn’t attained the least sought after first – the first of their countrymen to die. Will they have the same stoic-ness that the Soviet Union and the U.S. have had? Likely, but likely too is that their space program will react to that loss of life.

    2. The hardware the Chinese are using today is not the hardware they are going to the Moon in. So far they have been perfecting the usage of LEO hardware, and have not unveiled any of the space hardware needed to support a concerted effort on the Moon – which is what those that fear China are afraid of their doing.

    3. As far as we know, China’s military is directing their space program. If their space program leaders are like their military leaders, then they are a bunch of old guys with lots of ribbons on their blouses. In that case, they haven’t had the benefit of the experience that comes with hard fought successes and failures, and they would be running their space program as they run any slow paced military program. Any one of our space entrepreneurs could run orbits around them given the same resources, and some are outpacing them today on far meager budgets.

    Absent any REAL hardware or progress in space, it sure seems like they are taking their time getting to the Moon. I’d say at least 20 years given their current pace, in which time one or more of our commercial companies will have beat them there and will be ready to offer them Starbuck’s tea. ;-)

  • josh

    china’s space program is boring and insignificant and will be as long as they don’t focus on lowering the cost of access to space. until they manage to do that it will just be a repeat of the failed efforts of the west and the russians.

  • vulture4

    China is not interested in a space race, which would irritate their export customers and undermine economic growth, which is “Red” China’s primary ideological goal. If they are not invited to join ISS they will invite the Europeans (and perhaps others) to collaborate on their space station. They want to be recognized as “one of the club” of world leaders.

    “Vividly recall, doring the Apollo march to the moon, watching the Brits taking five years to build a 20 story building across the street from our flat in London. And we chuckled. In that era, Americans would have put it up in less than a year. ”

    Here is a video of a Chinese company building a 30-story hotel from the ground up – in 15 days!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjGhHl-W8Wg

    Next question?

  • William Mellberg

    DCSCA wrote:

    “The PRC deserve praise and kudos for their accomplishments thus far. The difference is, they’re marching to their own drummer. And Luna is a goal- if only to hallmark this century as theirs.”

    Agreed (see Leroy Chiao’s comments below).

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “I predict that an American company will be back to the moon before the Chinese government.”

    I very much hope that you are right.

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “… the USSR was never really close to a crewed expedition to the Moon. And it wasnt just the N1 but the production issues with the N1 were symptomatic of that problem.”

    The USSR was certainly close to a manned voyage around the Moon utilizing the Zond spacecraft and Proton rocket. In fact, Soviet censors slipped up at the time of the Apollo-Soyuz mission and released a photo of Valeri Kubasov training inside a Zond simulator. But I assume you’re referring to a lunar landing mission.

    The Soviet LK lunar lander was tested in Earth orbit three times, and all three missions (Cosmos 379, 398 and 434) were successful. The LOK lunar command ship was based on Soyuz. The Krechet lunar EVA spacesuit had already been fabricated and tested. And crews were in training for lunar missions.

    The major stumbling block, as Boris Chertok described in Volume IV (“The Moon Race”) of his monumental memoir, “Rockets and People”, was the N1 carrier rocket with its plumber’s nightmare of thirty (30) 1st-stage engines. It’s as if NASA had the Apollo Command/Service Module, the Lunar Module, the spacesuits and all the rest ready to fly … but the Saturn V kept blowing up.

    The point is, the Soviets were very serious about landing cosmonauts on the lunar surface, even after they had lost the “race” to the Moon.

    Oh, yes … Walter Cronkite DID say that the Soviets didn’t lose the Race to the Moon because “they had never been in it.” He made that remark during the space segment of a retrospective program that covered his broadcast career. Needless to say, he was wrong. Cronkite based his comment on Soviet statements of the time which claimed that their focus had been on robotic lunar explorers and Earth orbital space stations. Most journalists swallowed that Party line.

    As for the Chinese … who says they are providing us with ALL of the details of their future plans? As with the ‘Sovietologists’ of a bygone era, it is sometimes necessary for China analysts to read between the lines of Chinese statements.

    Once again, speaking with Miles O’Brien, Leroy Chiao made the following well-informed points:

    “… they [the Chinese] have alluded to plans, to land astronauts on the moon. They’ve put up no concrete plans to do that, but I have to believe they’re aiming for the moon because the moon culturally is such an important thing to China and to all Asian countries. It’s hard to imagine that they’re not planning to do that. They’re planning unmanned missions there, Rover missions, things like that, and of course they’re building their Long March 5 rocket, which is an advanced cryogenic rocket that they have. Their first large-scale liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engines in the first core stage. They’re building their launch facility in Hainan Island. I understand that’s going to be where they’re going to move with all their human operations. So at 19 degrees latitude Hainan is an ideal place to launch to the moon.”

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    “As for 12. WAsnt it CBS who resorted to actors in space suits trying to redo after the 12 camera died…anyway that was the last mission.”

    Except it wasn’t. Wrong again.

    The CBS tandem sims were SOP in their Apollo coverage w/mock-ups for the LM and CSM in use from the contractors. Leo Krupp represented the contractor and went through the CSM ops on camera, w/ Grauman personnel helping out w/LM ops. CBS used their sims for sure through 15, complete w/a rover on set. But as early as Gemini 9, Cronkite had some M/D engineers in Gemini garb on camera going through the motions as relayed by Cernan and Stafford’s audio, including simulating the spacewalk above a rotating Earth, suspended from cables around a Gemini mock-up. Perhaps the most amusing use of sims was NBC’s use of Gemini scale models available to the general public afixed to small electric train cars with the tracks layed out on the studio floor to demonstrate rendevous. CBS used a very early computer display to demonstrate same.

    “Had the people been watching they would have kept it on 24/7.”

    Except they wouldn’t. First, it was not televised 24/7- unless you wanted to air color bars… hence the need/use of the sims and, of course ‘television’ from the lunar EVAs in ’69 was only a few hours total of 11 and 12- (12′s was no more than half an hour of EVA ops on camera- color BTW) w/a 14 month gap between 12′s truncated telecast and 14′s EVA broadcast. The public moved on from mid-1969 to early 1971. Overlay events- Nam, Kent State, etc… The Apollo broadcasts on CBS were chiefly sponsored by the Bell System, w/some spot buys by General Foods (Tang commercials) and during 11, Kellogg’s and several others who wanted to be associated w/11. NBC’s Apollo coverage throughout the program was sponsored by Gulf Oil. The spot buys by advertisers on the nets were made for entertainment programming, not news/special events coverage, and those advertisers paid for the time accordingly to reach that audience, an audience which cost more to reach.

  • @Rand Simberg
    “Americans aren’t arguing about the cheapest way to reach LEO. Elon and others are actually making it affordable. I predict that an American company will be back to the moon before the Chinese government.”
    Include me as a fellow prognosticator with that prediction, Rand. And of course, you mean an Apollo 8 type event, Apollo 11ish landing, and possibly even a Moon base. Evidently, Administrator Bolden is bold in this regard (pun intended :) ), since I saw the transcript of an interview he did on Australian television a couple of months ago wherein he stated that there would be a moon base in the near future, but it would be put there by commercial entities.

  • DCSCA

    @William Mellberg wrote @ June 30th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Oh, yes … Walter Cronkite DID say that the Soviets didn’t lose the Race to the Moon because “they had never been in it.”

    That’s Cronkite in rye retrospect, 30 years on, opining his summation w/t knowledge base of 20/20 hindsight, the N-1 mishaps, etc. Review realtime transcripts/broadcasts from the period and he very much reported the Soviets and Americans were racing to the moon and mentioned it often in scripted pieces and ‘spacial segments.’

    Most of those ‘anchors’ of tha era, as you most likely know, were prone to errors in their live space reporting. Cronkite mispoke more often than most space enthusiasts like to recall during his off-the-cuff-comments in unscripted moments of ‘live space coverage’ – usually out of excited exuberance at the expense of accuarcy- as he was quite familiar w/t hardware and flight ops which makes the errors all the more charming in retrospect. Among some personal favorites are his expectant chatter as a high contrast, first color television image he believe to be a full Earth swam into view and his strained efforts to identify land masses for a few minutes in what was actually a straight on spherical view of 10′s disgarded S-IVB, post TLI– Cernan had not yet swung the camera over to the Earth. Another was his perplexed on-air questioning of a b/w image of fuming, steaming rechtangles– he simply could not recognize it– a producer told him the image was one of the b/w cameras from the pad tower staring down at the launch pad not long after after a Saturn V had passed the camera, and the deck was steaming and smoking in the wake of the Saturn’s flaming tail.

  • They post those photos in Facebook and they receive a lot of good comments.
    When you listen to music, look at a journal or even viewpoint a commercial on the road,
    this is all because of photography. Essentially, photographs under such category must highlight the company product or service, and not merely the individuals working behind the veil.

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