Campaign '12, White House

Outsourcing and the space program

With all the debate in the presidential campaign to date about outsourcing jobs to other nations, it was only a matter of time before space policy got pulled in. Appearing on CNN on Monday, John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and national co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, brought up the issue and argued that President Obama had indulged in it himself while in the White House:

There is a huge difference. In fact, we had an event yesterday that wasn’t well-reported. We launched a U.S. astronaut up to the space station. But you know how they were — he was launched? She was launched?

She was launched on a Russian spacecraft because President Obama has outsourced a major portion of the U.S. space program to the Russians. That’s national policy. Taxpayer money.

Sununu was referring to Saturday night’s launch of a Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, whose crew included NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. And, in fact, Soyuz is the only means for NASA astronauts to access the ISS with the retirement last year of the Space Shuttle. However, as the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org describes in great detail, that policy predates the Obama Administration, outlining the decisions made by the George W. Bush Administration and NASA leadership of the time to retire the shuttle and create a several-year gap in human spaceflight. The Obama Administration continued part of that policy—the retirement of the shuttle—but the origins of the “outsourced” human spaceflight program Sununu complained about predate the current administration.

67 comments to Outsourcing and the space program

  • James

    Nothing new here, as all readers of the blog are aware. Outsourcing to the Russians to fly US Astro’s has been going on for quite some time. Old news.

    What hasn’t made the news, with respect to outsourcing, is a recent NASA Science Mission Directorate award, and Earth Science mission. The spacecraft bus was outsourced to Surrey of the U.K. If Obama, or Bush before him were serious about keeping US taxpayer dollars in the US for the creating of US jobs, NASA AO’s would preclude such an outsource.

    And this goes on all the time.

    Politicians, piggies. Ugh.

  • amightywind

    but the origins of the “outsourced” human spaceflight program Sununu complained about predate the current administration.

    Oh, I get it. It was Bush’s fault. Good luck with that argument. Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I. Obama killed that program. Wow, your memory is short.

    The space program, or the lack thereof, is a potent issue with which to bash Obama. It supports the narrative that Obama just doesn’t like America that much. With the dirty campaigning being done by Team Obama, kudos to Sununu for hitting back.

  • MrEarl

    Just remember the Clinton 1992 mantra……..

    It’s the economy stupid!!!

    In the end that’s all that matters.

  • Coastal Ron

    So much for the Romney camp knowing anything about space issues…

    Of course Sununu conveniently leaves out that Obama has been pushing for a commercial crew transportation system that is both low-cost and redundant – something that the Constellation program would not have provided.

    And admitting that Obama is supporting space policy that Reagan had been pushing is not good for the Romney camp, especially when it highlights that Romney appears to be supporting the space policies of that recent Republican President (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). How’s that for a contrast? ;-)

  • This is just the GOP message machine(s) in total meltdown.

    Willard has retreated with his tax return issue into a Diablo canyon. YOu know tht they have polled on whatever is ‘in” his tax returns and found that the campaign faces Armageddon if “that” comes out (ie something like no taxes paid in several yeas)…and with more and more “conservative groups” (Rich Lowry is the latest at NR) to call for Willard to do what he cannot do…they are stuck with the old GOP fallback “the other guy does it to and in fact is worse”.

    Sununu is taking his message cues now from Limbaugh and this is part of that.

    The reality is of course well known here…the shuttle was stopped under Bush43, by the time he left office Cx was as is true of almost everything his administration touched “off track” (a big shout out here to Griffin who bungled almost everything)…and there is a big difference between agreements between governments on joint projects and a guy who will screw anyone to make a buck Willard “the liar” Romney.

    There will be more of this. There is no where for Willard to go as long as he wont release his tax returns; he has to try and slime everyone…my sense is that last Friday when Willard made his sweat filled announcements on the major networks, was when he lost the campaign

    RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I.”

    No, it wasn’t. President G.W. Bush’s speech at NASA HQ referenced CEV and so did the Bush II White House’s post-Columbia space policy.

    Griffin wasn’t yet Administrator, ESAS hadn’t happened, and Apollo-on-steroids was still a year or two away from announcement. Bush and his White House never publicly endorsed Ares I (or Orion) beyond annual budget documents, and both projects were opposed by Bush’s own Office of Management and Budget.

    “Obama killed that program.”

    Any new White House would have done the same. This would have been doubly true for a fiscal hawk like McCain. Development costs had ballooned to $35-40 billion, and the schedule had slipped by a half-decade at least.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    You still don’t get it. It was not Bush’s fault, it was Griffin’s and ATK’s.

    Bottomline one, the combustion oscillations of large grain solids were known going into Ares, but that engineering fact was “overlooked”. I still don’t see how Ares (Liberty) can work commercially with .7G oscillations.

    Bottomline two, we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems for the money wasted on Ares.

    With no disruption to our tech base.

    And at this point none of us knows for sure what the hell was Griffin thinking. My guess is that he had supporting some manned Mars mission with his choice in launchers, but that is just a guess. The saddest part is that with DIRECT we would be well on our way to both the Moon and Mars, within the money the public allots to NASA annually.

    Bottomline 3, IMO, ATK is simply a crummy company which could not deliver a crummy rocket anywhere near on time or on budget.

  • common sense

    “Oh, I get it. It was Bush’s fault.”

    Actually was but not just his fault. VSE was a good idea, the spiral implementation was the right approach (same as FlexPath). Constellation was the major failure.

    “Good luck with that argument. Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I. Obama killed that program. Wow, your memory is short.”

    This is idiotic. It never was Bush’s vision to replace Soyuz with Ares I. Never ever. It was “his” vision to replace Shuttle with new systems, originally based on EELVs. When Griffin chose Ares LVs the vision went down the drain. It was most likely Congress’ vision to replace Shuttle with the idiotic Ares systems. And Bush? He could not care less. He gave instructions, others chose to not follow them. He did not have time to deal with such nonsense and he let go. And that is coming from *me* who do not think highly of your friend Bush. But at least I can see some of the reality, unlike you.

    “The space program, or the lack thereof, is a potent issue with which to bash Obama. It supports the narrative that Obama just doesn’t like America that much. With the dirty campaigning being done by Team Obama, kudos to Sununu for hitting back.”

    This idiotic, again, rhetoric will not work my friend. And the space program is NOT a potent issue when people look for work, lose their health care coverage, their retirement, their homes, etc.

  • Ben Joshua

    The Obama (Reagan?) commercial policy is giving our nation cargo and crew capability (operational) years before a first real test flight of Ares 1/ Orion would have taken place.

    Much food for thought in that simple fact.

    P.S. For dessert, compare costs and other development and operational factors of Ares 1 / Orion and Falcon / Dragon.

    Obama’s space policy is a happening thing, not a maybe someday thing, and amazingly, made in America.

  • amightywind wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Oh, I get it. It was Bush’s fault.>>

    you are getting it then. Think of almost any problem we have today and just add “its Bush’s fault” and for the most part the 99 percent of it…you will be correct.

    unless of course you believe Jay B and think Ares 1 was close to flying…

    RGO

  • guest

    While Bush made a decision, Obama certainly was free to make changes to the decision.

    Bush decided that Shuttle should be terminated and replaced by a new vehicle which for awhile was a space plane and later became Orion and Ares 1. Orion and Ares 1 were well known to be on a schedule that would have had them flying with crew no earlier than 2017. Duirng the Augustine commission, the Constellation and Orion managers both testified that they’d have a crew in orbit on Constellation in 2014. Augustine’s people looked seriously at the schedule and decided 2017 to 1019 were more likely dates. That is essentially the schedule we are on today, so Augustine was correct and accurate. Knowing we had nothing available prior to 2017, decisions could have been made to do something different like spacing out Shuttle flights to a couple per year, decreasing Shuttle operations costs considerably, maintaining US manned orbital capability, and with essentially no change to the baseline safety issue. NASA and the Obama Administration chose to do nothing and so are fully culpable as far as the situation in which we are now. Bush initiated the COTS and commercial crew programs, and with some luck and perseverence, these will be successful and perhaps will get Americans into orbit on an American vehicle ahead of Orion but there are no guarantees.

    The US human space flight program is in a hell of a mess. The mess is largely of its own doing. There was no reason why, with proper management and attention, new vehicles could not have been flying much sooner, or alternatively that Shuttle could have continued to fly for several years. Bush instigated the change originally. When things did not go according to plan, changes should have been made. Obama’s inaction and his and his NASA Administration’s lack of leadership has caused irreparable harm to the program. .

  • common sense

    @ guest wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Utter nonsense. On the Obama responsibility. Must be working at KSC…

  • amightywind

    Augustine’s people looked seriously at the schedule and decided 2017 to 1019 were more likely dates. That is essentially the schedule we are on today, so Augustine was correct and accurate.

    There is no Ares I equivalent with the SLS. I’m still not sure what use the Ares IV configuration is in the current SLS architecture. If you ignore the lost 2 years of progress left in the wake of the nakedly partisan Augustine Committee, then yes, they were highly accurate.

    When things did not go according to plan, changes should have been made. Obama’s inaction and his and his NASA Administration’s lack of leadership has caused irreparable harm to the program.

    We are in total agreement. There was no attempt to restructure Constellation. One week we read about rumors of suspected problems, the next the program is gone.

  • @Mr. Earl
    “It’s the economy stupid!!!”
    Something SLS supporters ignore when they push for a system that is not economically practical. What good is starting something you can’t finish or even if it was finished would not be affordable to use at reasonably high launch rates, regardless of which candidate wins the next election?

  • guest wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Little of that is accurate, and almost nothing of it is relevant.

    HERE is what John “I love to take military jets on personal business” Sununu said

    “She was launched on a Russian spacecraft because President Obama has outsourced a major portion of the U.S. space program to the Russians. That’s national policy. Taxpayer money. ”

    It would not have mattered if the shuttle was flying 1 time a year at 3.x billion per flight or whatever combination of that you want …assuming it could hvae been restarted after the change in administrations and thats not likely.

    THE REALITY that Sununu and YOU Ignore is that “she/he” meaning Captain Williams USN would have still been launched “on a Russian spacecraft” because the Soyuz is the ACRV and will be until some US vehicle is designed which can stay up at the space station for the length of the crew tour.

    SO UNTILYOU WILL ACKNOWLEDGE this reality then you are as much of a political FLACK as John “I love to take military airplanes on personal business” SUNUNU.

    Sununu can push that lie on the GOP right wing because aside from being politically inbred they are mostly ignorant as well. You cant pass that horse droppings off here without being called on it.

    RGO

  • pathfinder_01

    “There was no reason why, with proper management and attention, new vehicles could not have been flying much sooner, or alternatively that Shuttle could have continued to fly for several years.”

    COT-D was not funded. NASA had no funded commercial crew program before Obama. All eggs were in the Orion/Ares basket in terms of crew. Space X only had to develop as far as COTS-C(unmanned delivery and return of cargo from the ISS).

    Flying the shuttle is like pouring money into an old beater car that needs to be replaced. I.e. if you keep putting money in it you get no closer to having the money to replace it. Flying the shuttle does not solve the “it needs to be replaced” problem.

    By 2008 the shuttle is well into shutdown. There are parts that take 2 years to make (like the ET) and parts that would require a recertification program (NASA started canceling contracts in 2004!). Bring the shuttle back would have involved some sort of delay and would have cost even more money as it would have been a project in itself by 2008.

    Not to mention that CXP was expecting to use the money being spent on the shuttle to speed up its lethargic development. To keep Cxp and fly the shuttle would have required a big budget increase. Droping CXP(and the whole outdated concept of shuttle derived) while going on to commercial crew/cargo and developing some new technology was the best that could be done with NASA’s budget.

    However doing that does not employ enough people in the right districts and employing enough people in the right districts costs so much that you can’t afford to do much more than build a rocket( with no missions and very little other hardware).

  • Vladislaw

    A mighty wind prevaricated:

    “Oh, I get it. It was Bush’s fault. Good luck with that argument. Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I. Obama killed that program. Wow, your memory is short.”

    Once again windy … nice try … but once again, you are wrong.

    From The Vision for Space Exploration:

    C. Space Transportation Capabilities Supporting Exploration

    • Develop a new crew exploration vehicle to provide crew transportation for missions beyond low Earth orbit;

    « Conduct the initial test flight before the end of this decade in order to provide an operational capability to support human exploration missions no later than 2014;

    • Separate to the maximum practical extent crew from cargo transportation to the International Space Station and for launching exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit;

    « Acquire cargo transportation as soon as practical and affordable to support missions to and from the International Space Station; and

    « Acquire crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, as required, after the Space Shuttle is retired from service.”

    PR E S I D E N T G E O R G E W. B U S H
    J A N U A RY 1 4 , 2 0 0 4

    From the very start President Bush wanted the soyuz replaced by commercial providers not the Ares I. What is even more telling about your lies and inability to report the truth. The VSE flat out stated there wasn’t even supposed to be an Ares I. The future CEV was supposed to launched with existing rockets. NASA was instructed NO NEW ROCKETS.

    The usual porkonauts in congress wouldn’t hear of that though .. they needed the Ares I that cost a billion per launch to keep feeding that porktrain to nowhere.

    When you lie, you should always include a small kernal of the truth. In your case, you BOLDLY lie, even when a two minute search on the internet shows you are lying.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Bush initiated the COTS and commercial crew programs”

    No. Bush II gets credit for starting COTS. But there was no commercial crew program under the Bush II Administration. The Obama Administration started commercial crew.

    “Bush instigated the change originally. When things did not go according to plan, changes should have been made. Obama’s inaction and his and his NASA Administration’s lack of leadership has caused irreparable harm to the program.”

    The Obama Administration did make changes. They terminated Constellation after an independent, blue-ribbon review found the program had experienced at least a half-decade worth of schedule slips and was in need of billions of more dollars per year that were not in the political offing just to stick to that irrelevant schedule. They also started the commercial crew program.

    They proposed to make major investments in exploration technologies to set up a decision on an architecture at the beginning of their second term. They also set out human exploration goals to a NEA by 2025 and Mars by the 2030s. These investments and goals were ambushed by Congress’s 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which instead continued Orion (MPCV) and invested less in a more complex rocket (SLS) based on the same Shuttle/Ares infrastructure/workforce/contracts that proved so unaffordable under Constellation. Assuming no further schedule slips or cost growth on SLS/MPCV (unlikely) and assuming further no erosion in NASA’s budget (from sequestration or otherwise), SLS/MPCV leaves no money on the table to build actual exploration systems until the latter 2020s and will only be capable, at best, of lunar flybys.

  • sc220

    If Bush hadn’t made the mistake of bringing Griffin onboard as NASA Administrator, then we probably never would have been in the jam we’re in. VSE would very well have remained alive, and we would be conducting the first flights of a CEV/EELV system now. I agree with most of the other posters that Ares I doomed VSE and the development of a U.S. replacement for access-to-space.

  • amightywind

    unless of course you believe Jay B and think Ares 1 was close to flying

    I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X. With the rest of the world I was also puzzled when the program was cancelled less than 6 months after.

    From the very start President Bush wanted the soyuz replaced by commercial providers not the Ares I….

    These are non-sequitur statements from your VSE citation. It does not support your fanciful claims. Until 2009 I thought we had great post-shuttle plans. I had never dreamed that they would become so politicized. I thought the greatest threat to Constellation was Direct. Heck, I admired those guys. They made technical proposals. Somehow they lost mind share in the debate to the Newspace monkeys.

  • For the greater good of all mankind, I think the US should be engaged with other governments and other sectors, with regards to space exploration. US taxes are still a powerful driving force of economic development and the advancement of science.

    Ideally, the budget for space would be increased and contracts would reach both American workers and our international friends. Capital diversification would seems to strengthen our global economy and balance risk.

  • Coastal Ron

    guest wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Knowing we had nothing available prior to 2017, decisions could have been made to do something different like spacing out Shuttle flights to a couple per year, decreasing Shuttle operations costs considerably, maintaining US manned orbital capability, and with essentially no change to the baseline safety issue.

    Sure we could have done that, but you ignore the reason why we didn’t – the lack of huge sums of money!

    As John Shannon (the last Shuttle PM) stated, the Shuttle program required $200M/month regardless if anything flew. Where was that money going to come from?

    You also apparently forgot that the Constellation program required the end of both the Shuttle and the ISS programs in order to allow the Constellation program to ramp up it’s development activities, so any stretch-out of the Shuttle program would have ended up stretching out (and increasing the program cost) of the Constellation program.

    As to the safety concerns, the Shuttle required a large contingent of highly trained and retrained personnel to keep it flying safely, and flying one flight every year or so is a recipe for disaster, since no one would be able to maintain any sort of operational tempo.

    Once the Shuttle had finished it’s mission last year, there was no reason to fly it any more – there were no Shuttle-specific missions that merited $200M/month in funding.

    There was no reason why, with proper management and attention, new vehicles could not have been flying much sooner

    You mean Congress sees no reason to have new vehicles flying sooner, since the Administration has been clear in it’s support of getting two or more Commercial Crew systems operational by 2016. Heck, do you think it will take 4 years for SpaceX to add crew specific upgrades to their Dragon spacecraft in order to carry crew? They have already tested their abort motor, and everything else that is needed is based on current levels of technology, so it’s more a matter of funding than anything else. Boeing’s CST-100 is only a little further behind, and it could be accelerated too if enough funding was provided.

    We don’t lack ways to transport American astronauts on American vehicles to space – we lack Congressional support for the funding. Talk to Boehner about why the U.S. keeps sending money to Russia, not Obama.

  • Vladislaw

    Dark Blue Nine wrote:

    “These investments and goals were ambushed by Congress’s 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which instead continued Orion (MPCV) and invested less in a more complex rocket (SLS) based on the same Shuttle/Ares infrastructure/workforce/contracts that proved so unaffordable under Constellation. Assuming no further schedule slips or cost growth on SLS/MPCV (unlikely) and assuming further no erosion in NASA’s budget (from sequestration or otherwise), SLS/MPCV leaves no money on the table to build actual exploration systems until the latter 2020s and will only be capable, at best, of lunar flybys.”

    Can you just hear the apologists when the SLS schedule starts slipping? Oh wait .. it already has.

    Mark W. will cry his big crocodile tears over SLS’s schedule slips because it is underfunded because all those millions going to “crony capitalism ” commercial crew, instead of being added to the BILLIONS that is being spent on SLS.

  • @ablastofhotair
    “I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X. With the rest of the world I was also puzzled when the program was cancelled less than 6 months after.
    That is a hilarious statement and more of your ridiculous B.S. The so called Ares I-X was a dog and pony show slapped together to get something flying that looked like a real Ares I before the first Falcon 9 launch to prevent the prime proponents of Ares I from losing face as badly. However as Buzz Aldrin said here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/buzz-aldrin/why-we-need-better-rocket_b_351335.html
    “Yes, the rocket that thundered aloft from NASA’s Launch Pad 39B sure looked like an Ares 1. But that’s where the resemblance stops. Turns out the solid booster was literally bought from the Space Shuttle program, since a five-segment booster being designed for Ares wasn’t ready. So they put a fake can on top of the four-segmented motor to look like the real thing. Since the real Ares upper stage rocket engine, called the J-2X wasn’t ready either, they mounted a fake upper stage. No Orion capsule was ready, so – you guessed it – they mounted a fake capsule with a real-looking but fake escape rocket that wouldn’t have worked if the booster had failed. Since the guidance system for Ares wasn’t ready either they went and bought a unit from the Atlas rocket program and used it instead. Oh yes, the parachutes to recover the booster were the real thing — and one of the three failed, causing the booster to slam into the ocean too fast and banging the thing up.”
    The vehicle that flew that day was no more Ares I than an Estes model rocket is a spaceship.

  • Vladislaw

    Windy prevaricated:

    “I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X. With the rest of the world I was also puzzled when the program was cancelled less than 6 months after.”

    You can read about the “successful test” here:

    Parachute failure causes damage to Ares 1-X booster

    As you said you watched it, then you can watch the failure here:

    Ares 1-X Launch Parachute Failure

    Here you can watch another failure, separation and recontact:

    ares 1x separation & recontact

    Here you can learn about another failure when the rocket damaged the launch pad.
    Damage to Ares 1-X booster and LC-39B

    Remember how you HOWLED at SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launches, how they were failures? The third Falcon 1 launch had a separation and recontact and that was a failure, when the Ares 1-x did the same thing… that test is a success?

    Parachutes fail and the booster is damaged .. that is not a failure but a success?

    Windy, you must not have been watching the same flight as the rest of the planet. NASA has still not released the data about that flight that I am aware of, unless you can provide a link.

  • Vladislaw

    Windy broke wind:

    “These are non-sequitur statements from your VSE citation. It does not support your fanciful claims.”

    “non-sequitur” statements? Do you even know what the word means?

    Exactly what “fanciful claims” did I make?

    You wrote:

    “Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I.”

    You are telling the audience what President Bush’s vision was, namely that Soyuz was going to be replaced by Ares 1.

    I responded by showing you a quote from President Bush’s forward to the, published in Feb 2004, Vision for Space Exploration.

    So a quote from the Author of the VSE, that shows you are in error, is a conclusion that does follow from the premise?

    When President Bush presented the VSE in Jan 2004 and then published in Feb, there wasn’t even an Ares 1 in existence. You do understand that much don’t you? When Griffin parachuted in with the 60 day study that produced the ESAS which gave us the Ares I and Ares V.

    You are starting to sound like Gaetano Marano, you can not seem to get a fact right.

  • common sense

    “I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X.”

    Don’t watch under the influence then! For crying out loud.

  • DCSCA

    “John H. Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and national co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign…” This cracked goose egg was also WH Chief of Staff for Pappy Bush… so GOP stupidity at high levels of government is spotlighted all the more when he forgets that it was Pappy’s son, Dubya, that ‘outsourced’ the apace ops in question by terminating shuttle and underfunding Constellation, hence the ‘gap.’ Oh, BTW, John, le’s keep the head fakes going– the news failed to report that South Korea car makers will have their 2013 Sununus in American show rooms just in time for the GOP convention! ;-).

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X. With the rest of the world I was also puzzled when the program was cancelled less than 6 months after.”

    It shouldn’t be surprising, given that Ares I-X didn’t test Ares I’s first-stage, had a dummy upper stage, and flew lead in place of Orion. Even if it had been 100% successful, Ares I-X proved little with regard to Ares I systems.

    And it wasn’t 100% successful. One of the few Ares I systems on Ares I-X, the parachutes, failed. Heck, thanks to its Atlas V avionics, Ares I-X was more a test of the modularity and adaptability of that system than anything for the Ares family.

    “These are non-sequitur statements from your VSE citation. It does not support your fanciful claims”

    The other poster is right. They quoted directly from the Bush II Administration’s policy, which directed NASA to “acquire” cargo and crew transport to the ISS, not design, develop, test, build, or operate vehicles for those purposes. Brett Alexander, who was one of the authors of that policy in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Bush II White House, is on the record about this.

    “Until 2009 I thought we had great post-shuttle plans. I had never dreamed that they would become so politicized.”

    There’s nothing political about good governance that terminates failing programs that are slipping year-for-year and looking at multi-ten billion dollar cost growth.

  • amightywind wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    “I watched with the rest of the world the successful test of Ares I-X.”

    ah the right wing is easily fooled. Ares 1-X had as much in common with Ares 1 as a Delta 2 has in common with Thor. the 1-X flight was an expensive shiny toy (about 3/4 billion) designed to distract the stupid.

    “Until 2009 I thought we had great post-shuttle plans.”

    and you probably thought Saddam was going to attack the US or give WMD to AQ or that Willard has paid his taxes or that the Falcon 9 second stage was spinning out of control.

    The right wing is easily fooled. RGO

  • amightywind

    @ablastofhotair
    Windy prevaricated:
    Windy broke wind:

    I didn’t mean to kick the Ares dead horse again. My point was just that I did not foresee the political strength of Newspace as late as 2009. I had always believed the threat to Constellation was the Direct crowd. I didn’t associate Newspace with the democrat patronage machine. I think a lot of Constellation supporters were caught flat footed. Think about that. It was as if Rome were suddenly sacked by a flash mob of Visigoths. I think we can all agree that NASA won’t be stable or unified for the foreseeable future.

  • common sense

    “My point was just that I did not foresee the political strength of Newspace as late as 2009.”

    Because you did not see the utter failure that Constellation was turning into. They filled the vacuum left by your friends.

    ” I think we can all agree that NASA won’t be stable or unified for the foreseeable future.”

    No we cannot agree. Nothing more than usual. Unfortunately. Thank your supporters in Congress for that.

  • amightywind wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    ” My point was just that I did not foresee the political strength of Newspace as late as 2009.”

    it is not so much the strength of the new space crowd as it is the terminal weakness of the old space group which has simply stopped performing.

    The “excuses” of old space were pretty good right up until Ares 1X when the cheering started to stop andnow with SpaceX having done what a lot of them said could not be done…its Armageddon.

    When Obama gets his second term the complete transformation of the US space program (and the country) can start. How much you want to bet Willard paid no taxes in 2009? RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    My point was just that I did not foresee the political strength of Newspace as late as 2009.

    What political strength? It’s hard to tell if by “Newspace” you mean just SpaceX (like lots of people do), but SpaceX had no political strength back in 2009, and meager political abilities today. If you want to disagree, fine, but back up your claims with data (I won’t hold my breath).

    I didn’t associate Newspace with the democrat patronage machine.

    So I guess you associate “Oldspace” with the Republican patronage machine? You know, companies that in 2010 received $Billions in government money like Lockheed Martin ($3,586,946,390), Boeing ($2,742,231,083) and ATK ($710,967,241)?

    You are so weird.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    “How much you want to bet Willard paid no taxes in 2009?”

    Must be because he did not “earn” any money…

    Oh well…

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “I didn’t mean to kick the Ares dead horse again. My point was just that I did not foresee the political strength of Newspace as late as 2009.”

    I could have agreed with you if we were talking about late in 2007 up to mid 2008. SpaceX had three failures in a row with the Falcon 1 and were making big promises with the Falcon 9.

    SpaceX announced they were starting on the Falcon 9 in Nov. of 2005 they made their first launch in Dec of 2008. For me, that sealed the deal. They reminded me of what the old NASA did in the 60′s with programs like Gemini.

    So for me, New Year’s day of 2009 was a new era in spaceflight. Granted SpaceX wasn’t burning up the strip with more launches but I knew they were on the right track.

    There is disruptive technologies and distruptive innovations. I believe we are entering an era where we are going to be seeing both, in spaceflight, over the next couple decades. I hope NASA is the pump primer, the enabler, rather than a vehicle for congressional largess.

    “I had always believed the threat to Constellation was the Direct crowd. I didn’t associate Newspace with the democrat patronage machine.”

    Direct may have a couple bucks cheaper, but you were still feeding the same contractors at the trough with old heritage hardware, systems and labor. It still was going to be too expensive in the long run to fund anything to do in space.

    The business of America is business and, in general, they really do not care which political party’s palm has to be greased to do business. SpaceX came out of a Republican DOD, now it is Democrat, next year it might be back to republican. Patronage comes in both colors.

  • Tom Billings

    “I had always believed the threat to Constellation was the Direct crowd.”

    As did most of those who sneered that anyone not inside NASA or the NASA Contractor’s Club was “an amateur”. The hubris contaminating an entrenched government trough makes the pigs’ eyes swell shut.

    ” I didn’t associate Newspace with the democrat patronage machine.”

    And you still don’t have the courage to admit that patronage was the only thing that birthed Constellation in the first place. It is neither purely Republican nor Democrat patronage that does it in NASA. It is geography, not Party, that controls money flows, because Congress is geographical in identification, and Congress controls the budget that is actually passed.

    “I think a lot of Constellation supporters were caught flat footed.”

    Then they were “surprised with their eyes wide shut”. The space activist community had begun heavy criticism of Constellation, in print, as early as 2007, which community is what NewSpace is truly identified with, not any single Party.

    “Think about that. It was as if Rome were suddenly sacked by a flash mob of Visigoths.”

    Only if you remember Stirling’s description of the reality of the Roman Empire, …”Imagine a hob-nailed boot on a neck, grinding a citizen’s face into the ground for a thousand years”. The biggest reason the barbarians won in the West was that their exactions were lighter than Imperial taxes, and people knew it.

    That thousand years is how long the current NASA/Congressional Complex would take to settle the Solar System at the rates we were seeing from Constellation, even if they could last as long as the Roman Empire of Constantinople.

    The rest of the Republic is throwing off the boot. The fact that Obama happened along at the time this took place is almost irrelevant. Obama found his only rational step was to ape the policies of GW Bush in WW4, if less competently. Our great hope for spaceflight is that the Romney administration, when confronted with real numbers, instead of Tinkerbell fantasies, will continue opening up the socialist construction Lyndon Johnson made of NASA into a group that can encourage free men and women to settle the rest of the Solar System, …no matter that this started under Obama.

  • vulture4

    « Acquire crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, as required, after the Space Shuttle is retired from service.”

    PR E S I D E N T G E O R G E W. B U S H
    J A N U A RY 1 4 , 2 0 0 4

    Just to clarify, this statement referred to George W. Bush’s approval for purchasing crew launch services on Soyuz, not the development of commercial LEO crew capability, which he did not fund, or even NASA managed LEO capability, as he cancelled the Reusable Launch Vehicle and Orbital Space Plane programs. It is ironic in the extreme to see my GOP colleagues who fought with such determination against commercial crew now simultaneously trying to claim credit for it.

  • guest

    As John Shannon (the last Shuttle PM) stated, the Shuttle program required $200M/month regardless if anything flew. Where was that money going to come from?

    That number assumed that Shuttle would be kept working as it had been with little or no reductions, other than the marginal cost per launch. For some reason, when USA put their pencil to paper, much too late,they said they could reduce that number by about half which got the continuing Shuttle number down to about $1 billion a year.

    As I said, there were different options that could have been assessed but management was so focused on Griffin’s version of the Vision that all was lost.

  • Three cheers for President Obama for supporting President Bush’s 2004 decision to cancel the Shuttle. The CAIB report made it very clear that “the Shuttle is a complex and risky system.” Every mission was not only hideously expensive, but also unnecessarily dangerous because of its inherently flawed design — placing the crew vehicle on the side, eliminating any practical escape system and exposing the vehicle to falling debris.

    Three more cheers for President Obama for cancelling Constellation. That program was going to be funded by de-orbiting the ISS in 2016. Yet Constellation’s Ares I was being built to fly astronauts to the ISS starting in 2017. Ares I was being built to fly to a place that would no longer exist when it was finally ready.

    How stupid it would be to build a rocket that had nowhere to go. (Hmm, that sounds like Congress’ plans for SLS, but I digress.)

    President Obama saved the ISS by cancelling Constellation, and he closed the gap in which we’d rely on Russia by juicing the commercial programs begun under Bush. We’d have commercial crew by 2015 for sure if Congress hadn’t cut the budget the last two years. Even so, SpaceX and Boeing say they hope to have crewed test flights by 2015.

    If we dumped SLS and focused instead on a heavy-lift competition (easily won by Falcon Heavy), we’d have a NASA program that made sense for the first time since the Eisenhower administration.

  • vulture4

    Tom Billings: Obama found his only rational step was to ape the policies of GW Bush in WW4, if less competently.

    Not sure I follow you. Obama wanted to cancel SLS and Orion as well as Ares I. He couldn’t because Congress would not allow it. Why would Romney be any different? Constellation will never be cancelled, but it will be strangled by budget cuts in three or four years regardless of the outcome of the election.

  • tom hancock

    –* That is a hilarious statement and more of your ridiculous B.S. The so called Ares I-X was a dog and pony show slapped together to get something flying that looked like a real Ares I before the first Falcon 9 launch to prevent the prime proponents of Ares I from losing face as badly.*–

    No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.

  • Tom Billings

    Vulture4 wrote:

    “Tom Billings: Obama found his only rational step was to ape the policies of GW Bush in WW4, if less competently.

    Not sure I follow you. Obama wanted to cancel SLS and Orion as well as Ares I. He couldn’t because Congress would not allow it. Why would Romney be any different? Constellation will never be cancelled, but it will be strangled by budget cuts in three or four years regardless of the outcome of the election.”

    Sorry, …I was being too cryptic.

    I was noting that, just as Bush’s policies in war were followed by Obama, if less competently, we might well see Obama’s policies in Space followed by Romney. Both of those would happen because when they actually get into office, they find the propaganda numbers fed them by supporters were not congruent with reality. Romney will face harder budget problems than Obama, but he will hopefully have a Republican Congress facing them with him.

    Also, it will be a congress in which the key Texas delegation will be more aware, starting this month, that the growth of NewSpace is more important to their State’s long-term economy than the immediate programs that keep shuttle-experienced managers in their positions at JSC and its local contractors. Line engineers can be employed in multiple projects at JSC that support space settlement. Shuttle-experienced managers mostly maintain their pay-grades using shuttle-related technologies on large projects that have no hope of giving us the deeply lower costs we need to settle the solar system. That distinction should become more evident in as a Romney administration proceeds.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.”

    We know that from 200-odd SRB firings during Shuttle program launches. There was never a question of whether the casings and seals could survive ignition, especially in the four-segment SRB. Even when compromised, as happened on Challenger, they’ll stay together well into launch.

    There were and remain questions about whether five-segment SRBs would reliably stay together in flight as resonances built up (including after a transition to composite casings), whether a capsule could reliably escape the heat of a deflagrating SRB (or an intact but still thrusting SRB) during a launch abort, and whether five-segment SRBs could be routinely recovered for reasons of economy and tracking safety indicators — at least without heroic efforts that compromised cost or the safety/performance/cost of the LOX/LH2 upper stage and capsule.

  • pathfinder_01

    “No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.”

    ah Most rockets don’t need to make such a test. The first flight is usually all up(i.e. all stages present). Also wouldn’t the fact that you are using a 4 segment SRB instead of a a 5 segment one with different propellant make a huge difference(Or atleast enough difference that you would prefer to use a more relevant rocket as you are not testing a 4 segment version).

    Ares-1x smells like “Quick, make it appear like we are doing something.”

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.

    I don’t think anyone is against testing. However the Ares 1-X test cost the U.S. Taxpayer $445M.

    To put that in perspective, SpaceX developed their Falcon 9 rocket and the cargo version of their Dragon spacecraft for $396M in U.S. Taxpayer money, and the U.S. Taxpayer gets the Falcon Heavy developed for free!

    The Ares I was also an unneeded system to develop, since both Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V Heavy were available far earlier and could have been upgraded for carrying humans for a fraction of the cost of Ares I. However Griffin needed the Ares I to shoulder part of the development cost of the Ares V, so bad idea or not (and safe idea or not) it was going to be built.

    I think what SpaceX has shown is that American ingenuity still exists, and that public/private partnerships can provide NASA with the routine capabilities that they need for a fraction of “OldSpace” ways of doing business.

    The lesson from Ares I is that the government doesn’t need to pay $15-40B for a rocket that can be easily built and operated by the U.S. commercial aerospace industry for 1/10 that cost. I would suspect that Atlas V Heavy could be finished and ready for flight for far less than $4B, and Falcon Heavy is available to NASA for essentially $0 of development cost – both are far more capable than Ares I, and both would have far more launches to keep costs down and operational tempo (a key component of safety) up.

  • guest wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    “That number assumed that Shuttle would be kept working as it had been with little or no reductions, other than the marginal cost per launch. For some reason, when USA put their pencil to paper, much too late,they said they could reduce that number by about half which got the continuing Shuttle number down to about $1 billion a year. ”

    this doesnt change who flies in Soyuz’s or not.

    Having said that and that should be well understood, a point you seem reticent to acknowledge..

    it is unclear how USA would get the cost down. They put pencil to paper but those excersizes have never quite worked out…USA was a major cost driver of the shuttle program…and besides who cares…ifit cost a billion a year to maintain the standing army, that is 1 billion a year to much.

    END technowelfare. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Vulture,

    Why would COTS, which was going to take care of the “aquire cargo transportation, include capability D, the crew part for “aquire crew transportation”

    If it was going to be soyuz, and not domestic crew, there would have been no need for capability D in the COTS program.

  • @tom hancock
    “No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.”

    That was the outward excuse. But a lot of people (and apparently Aldrin is one of them) don’t buy it. For one thing the column of gases (supplied by burning of the fuel) in the core of a 4 segment booster is shorter than the the column of gases in the core of a 5 segment booster. The longer column lowers more of the harmonic vibrations into the infrasonic (those responsible for intense shaking) in a true Ares I compared to the so called Ares IX, so the test of a 4 segment booster on the the I-X would not have been a valid test of what would happen with a 5 segment booster on a true Ares I. Think about a child’s slide whistle, pulling out the slide increases the column of air and lowers the sound vibrations giving a lower tone. Same principle.

    Furthemore, as pathfinder_01 indicates, there would be differences in propellant grain size and formulation, resulting in a different amount of gases produced per unit ignition area in the stock Shuttle booster used on the I-X versus the 5 segment booster.

    Also, nothing related to the performance of a powered second stage was tested, since the second stage of the I-X was a dummy.

    Given all of the above facts, it’s understandable that a lot of us are skeptical as to the stated purpose of that launch. But judging by the perception of you and others, the launch at least partially accomplished what it was designed to do. They were counting on a lot of people making their judgements based on superficial appearances.

  • Oops, instead of saying, “per unit ignition area” in my previous comment, I should have said, “per unit combustion area”. Oh, well it’s early in the morning and I have yet to have my caffeine injection.

  • vulture4

    “Tom Billings: Romney will face harder budget problems than Obama, but he will hopefully have a Republican Congress facing them with him.”

    The last time I looked it was (with one exception, Nelson) the Republican congress that is forcing the administration to continue Constellation. Romney would be more likely to go along with them than Obama.

    Perhaps Congress will come around when SpaceX can match the lobbying dollars from the older contractors. Whoever can afford to be the most corrupt wins. Boeing is playing both sides of the street with CST and X-37 as well as Constellation, so it is not strictly newspace vs oldspace, but rather the Griffin vision vs the Garver vision.

  • vulture4

    The problem with Ares (and SLS) is not dynamic vibration but cost of processing. The hazardous transport of heavy loaded fuel segments, the tedious hours of critical crane lifts, the working under suspended loads, the huge facilities and massive MLPs and crawlers required to move the assembled thousand-ton stack. It was never even clear whether the SRBs would be recovered or reused. Apparently they were to be recovered but then disposed of. The one-piece Atlas SRBs are marginally affordable until some sort of reusable booster is available; large segmented solid fuel boosters are simply not cost effective. As to Ares 1-X, like the upcoming Orion test it served its purpose of showing that the program was moving forward; well worth the half bil.

  • MrEarl

    Same fight….
    Different day.

    Always comes down to:
    SLS/Orion …. BAD
    Anything commercial …. GOOD
    (except if it’s ATK) ;-)

    Barbree is stuck in 1965 and should probubly retire.

    Who killed the shuttle Obama or Bush?
    Does it really matter now that they are museum peices?

    Very few voters even consider space policys as a reason to vote for or ageinst a candidate and the candidates know this.

    Untill the economy greatly improves, and probubly later, NASA’s direction will be shaped by the various committies in Congress that oversee it, not by presidential direction.

  • MrEarl wrote @ July 19th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I dont see that as “My” discussion (grin).

    What I see as a pivot point isi what changes America for the good and what either does not change it or changes it for the worst.

    RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “Who killed the shuttle Obama or Bush?”

    Actually, we can do the time warp again…

    President Johnson closed down production for the Saturn V and President Nixon gets credit for killing Apollo.

    President Bush Ordered the Space Shuttle to be retired and the parts lines start shutting down and President Obama gets credit for killing the shuttle program.

    History repeating itself?

  • DCSCA

    Vladislaw wrote @ July 19th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    “President Johnson closed down production for the Saturn V and President Nixon gets credit for killing Apollo.’

    Inaccurate. LBJ suspended S-V production. Nixon closed down/terminated Saturn production as directed by Paine (who resigned soon after) and terminated Project Apollo- and with flight-ready hardware leftover, already bought and paid for. All NASA needed was operational funding to fly which the Nixon Administration denied. So they’re the most expensive lawn ornaments ever produced.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    “Oh, I get it. It was Bush’s fault. Good luck with that argument. Bush’s vision was to replace Soyuz with Ares I. Obama killed that program. Wow, your memory is short.”

    Except he didn’t. Bush ended shuttle on the recommedation from his people- and it was a correct decision- but failed to adequately fund Constellation (funny how he found financing for several wars though- off the books of course.) And the lousy design of Ares by the von Braun wannabe Griffin didn’t help. Nevertheless, the overwhelming bulk of the messes facing the United States today lay squarely with Dubya. WE know it. He knows it. Chaney knows it. And history shows it.

    @tom hancock wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 9:09 pm
    –* That is a hilarious statement and more of your ridiculous B.S. The so called Ares I-X was a dog and pony show slapped together to get something flying that looked like a real Ares I before the first Falcon 9 launch to prevent the prime proponents of Ares I from losing face as badly.*–No, Ares I-X was designed to verify the models and assure the stack could take the loads @ launch. A lot of energy traveled up the stack at ignition. Good to make sure.”

    Engineering aside, if you review the optics from events of the day when the bird was lauinched, President Obama was literally giving a speech in the Rose Garden at the moment of ignition through ascent. He had no interest. His administration had already decided to scuttle the Ares so it essentially was little more than a dog-and-pony-show.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 19th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    LBJ suspended S-V production.

    Tomato, tomahto. In manufacturing there is not much of a difference between “closed down” and “suspended”. Other than the disposition of tooling, you still end up either reassigning the workers or letting them go.

    So they’re (unused Saturn V) the most expensive lawn ornaments ever produced.

    Nope. The real cost of any extra Saturn V’s is just the cost of manufacturing (not much compared to the development costs), since the full-up costs were born with Apollo 11. You forget what Kennedy’s goal was:

    I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.

    The goal of the Apollo program was accomplished when Apollo 11 returned safely, so Apollo 12 and beyond were just bonus – backups in case they were needed.

    Why the Apollo program was terminated after Apollo 17 can most likely be attributed to the same reason we haven’t gone back in 40 years – the Moon is an interesting place to visit, but not worth the huge expense without some sort of “National Imperative” driving the need. And there isn’t any.

    Even the notional goal of going to Mars is clearer to the public (another place for humans to live), but it’s still not a significant factor when the costs are compared to paying down the national debt, health care, military spending, national parks, etc., etc. Short of a big asteroid scare, NASA will have to live within it’s current budget profile and be happy that it isn’t being cut as much as other federal agencies.

    Hence the need to cut unnecessary programs like the SLS, which WILL produce the most expensive lawn ornaments ever produced unless cancelled soon.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    The goal of the Apollo program was accomplished when Apollo 11 returned safely, so Apollo 12 and beyond were just bonus – backups in case they were needed.

    Exactly.

    I’m currently reading a book on the history of Skylab. Its origins were in a realization at Huntsville in the mid-1960s that, once boots were on the Moon, the massive layoffs would begin. They cast about looking for a new make-work project to give everyone something to do, and came up with the idea of a space station.

    For a long time, the project floundered because these engineers were interested only in self-preservation, not in any actual science. It took them a long time to ask scientists for some legitimate research that could be done in microgravity, and even then the scientists had little faith in the engineers because they were more interested in building the beast to save their jobs rather than actually accommodating science.

    So to claim that a decision was suddenly made in the late 1960s to cancel Apollo, a decision that blind-sided everyone, is simply factually untrue. The pendulum for JFK’s end-of-decade clock swung both ways. Boots on the Moon by 1970 — but nothing was ever said about after that.

    We’ve spent more than 40 years trying to figure out what to do with this massive government infrastructure built to perform a publicity stunt. We still don’t have the answer.

  • DCSCA

    “Tomato, tomahto. In manufacturing there is not much of a difference between “closed down” and “suspended”.”

    Except there is.

    As any employee of General Motors knows all too well. You’re just crankin’ to crank.

  • DCSCA

    “So they’re (unused Saturn V) the most expensive lawn ornaments ever produced.” Nope.

    Uh, yep. Now run along and play

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 19th, 2012

    As any employee of General Motors knows all too well.

    Which means what exactly? All you’ve done is blurted out a name. Show how your example is relevant.

    For all practical purposes, “suspended” means that the production lines are shut down, which is the same end result as “termination” – nothing is being built. It would have been a different story if they had slowed down the production lines (i.e. a stretch-out), but they didn’t. You sound like a politician trying to parse words.

    As to the value of an unused Saturn V, as I have already shown, the extras would only be valued at the cost of manufacture. To put their production value into perspective, an empty Saturn V weighs about as much as an empty 747, but a 747 is far more complex, so while a Saturn V looks big, aluminum cans are not that expensive to build compared to sophisticated aircraft.

    Also, while one big lawn ornament may impress you, apparently you’ve never seen the boneyards of Mojave or Tucson – now there is money lying around!

    Your obsession for all things Apollo blinds you to reality.

  • pathfinder_01

    “As any employee of General Motors knows all too well. You’re just crankin’ to crank.”

    Not to be mean but you have no background in manufacturing or not much experience with factories. Factories are expensive and experienced workers are important. You can’t stop a factory for a year or two and then just start it back up with ease. There are costs associated with keeping a factory on idle and it takes time and money to rehire the workers.

    When they suspended production they likely lay off workers (who went on to find different jobs) or reassigned workers elsewhere. Tooling and machinery also does not like to sit around (i.e. it needs cleaning and maintenance and improper storage could led to damage) not to mention the space it takes up(which the company could use for other purposes).

    When an auto company lays off odds are the factory that produces the car is not going into total shutdown. It is either retooling to make a new model (or a different model) OR reducing shifts (i.e. instead of 3 eight hour shifts there will be 2 ten hour shifts or 1eight hour shift). Only when they close the factory will they lay everyone off, but factories that close rarely reopen.

    Once you suspend production of the Saturn V, then almost everyone in the factories where it was assembled would be out of a job and the factory itself turned over to different purposes.

    This is why Heavy lift is often so dang expensive. You must keep the facilities running or else lose the capability. This is also why things like Falcon Heavy or Delta Heavy are much more efficient than a monolithic booster like Saturn V. You can keep them in production without needing to drain NASA’s limited budget.

  • niksus

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 18th, 2012 at 11:37 pm
    “To put that in perspective, SpaceX developed their Falcon 9 rocket and the cargo version of their Dragon spacecraft for $396M in U.S. Taxpayer money, and the U.S. Taxpayer gets the Falcon Heavy developed for free!”
    “…Falcon Heavy is available to NASA for essentially $0 of development cost…”
    Stop it. Right now Falcon Heavy is a paper rocket without even production capacity of Space X to fly more than one experimental launch in some future date. They have 27 rocket engine and 3x the problems with that design (Remember H-1 Soviet rocket with 30 engines on 1st stage and a lot of explosions of it right after the start). When and only when they’ll have real payload on Falcon Heavy launched you can say anything as bold. And that’s not 0$ of development – SpaceX will possibly develop it of the funds provided by COTS and commercial launches (which are as well must be delivered by SpaceX). Right now I see only a possibility of those guys to handle development of Heavy, Grasshoper, Falcon 9 1.1(Merlin D), CCdev, and big production line of engines (>100/year) at the same time. And don’t forget the commercial satelite agreements they must fullfil, as well as Bigelow, Falcon V for Stratoulaunch, something for Planetary Resources, Mars One etc. To manage all that staff in 5-7 years ahead they need to be much bigger company than now, and to have more market share to harvest enough $ from. Imho they become something like Boeing and their prices realistically drop to 1000$/kg and 10M/seat. Mass fraction of rockets in 25-30 range as well as high cost of infrastracture/labor prevents it from being a really low cost solution even with fully reusable vehicle.

  • Vladislaw

    You are wrong, the Soviet heavy lift was the N-1. You are honestly going to try and compare that late 50′s soviet technology with today’s? SpaceX uses a 9 engine cluster. How many engines have blown up so far on the Falcon 9 launches?

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    niksus wrote @ July 23rd, 2012 at 5:02 am
    Well I’d agree that the FH is at present, not a production vehicle. However, given the SpaceX record of achievement so far, I would say that the odds are definitely in their favour wrt final success.
    The N-1 comparison has already been debunked so I’ll not add to that.
    Wrt pricing, SpaceX already has sufficient data to appropriately price production systems and to estimate future vehicles since they handle nearly all their design, manufacturing and operations in-house. Any arguments suggesting that they don’t are null and void and lack substance in fact.
    In addition, you purport to understand the SpaceX business better than they. Perhaps you’d like to share the details surrounding what is clearly extensive experience in the industry and particularly space launch vehicle design, manufacturing and operations?

  • Dewey STREETMAN

    I have read the above comments and find it amusing some blame President Bush and some blame President Obama for the space program demise. I have never been a big fan of the program but thought it fascinating that we are able to build such a product. It is sad that both presidents, congress and NASA dropped the ball. As usual, the workers are the ones that suffer with no jobs. Congress and the presidents all still have jobs. If I am not incorrect, closing of the present shuttle program was not a surprise. President Bush and congress had eight years to correct the problem and President Obama and congress have had almost four years, they made no effort to save the program or the jobs lost. No matter what the reason the program has been outsourced with loss of jobs. It seems with a little forethought and true caring by politicians from both sides of the isle the jobs could have been saved and the money kept at home to help our economy. Seems all the promises and statements about jobs are political for both parties. Job outsourcing has been going on for years with no presidential or congressional concern until we are in a crisis or it sounds good in a political sound bite. Both democrat and republican.

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