Congress, NASA

Warm reactions (mostly) from politicians to CCiCap awards

Friday morning NASA announced the winners of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) funded Space Act Agreements, with Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada Corporation receiving agreements valued at $460 million, $440 million, and $212.5 million, respectively. Given all the political attention that the program has received, particularly in recent months in the debate about how many companies should receive such awards, the reaction from Capitol Hill has largely been positive.

“Today’s announcement shows that NASA has put together a thoughtful selection of companies and capabilities that we anticipate will culminate in a domestic capability to launch astronauts to the International Space Station,” Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said in a statement. “This is consistent with the approach several of us in the Congress urged NASA to take, to ensure that the limited funds available are spent on developments that have a strong probability of success.” She added that the CCiCap awards “should keep development of commercial crew capability on a schedule to launch as soon and as safely as possible while on a realistic budget.”

“Today’s exciting news is the next step toward launching our U.S. astronauts to the space station on an American vehicle safely, and doing it as quickly as possible,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said in a statement distributed by email. “Congratulations to the winners and all of the companies willing to invest in American space exploration and making this new industry a reality.”

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee, went the senators one further: he said he plans to visit Boeing and SpaceX facilities on the West Coast on an upcoming trip. “The new spacecraft will end the outsourcing of human spaceflight with the added bonus of creating high paying American jobs,” he said in support of the awards. Fattah added he will also be at JPL for the Mars Science Laboratory landing Sunday night.

Not every is as happy as Sens. Hutchison and Mikulski and Rep. Fattah. “I am disappointed and disheartened by the news that NASA has excluded ATK from the companies” selected for CCiCap awards, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) said in a statement. Bishop said he understood that Liberty ranked “very high” in technical merit and was the “lowest-risk option.” (NASA has not yet released a source selection statement with details about its decision-making process, but indicated this morning it would do so in the next week to week and a half.) “I will be joining with Senator [Orrin] Hatch, Senator [Mike] Lee as well as the rest of the [Utah] delegation to further investigate every detail of how NASA arrived at today’s disappointing decision.” ATK, of course, has a major presence in Utah, including the manufacturing of the solid rocket motors that would serve as the first stage of Liberty.

96 comments to Warm reactions (mostly) from politicians to CCiCap awards

  • Googaw

    This is a terrible day for the cause of lower launch costs.

  • JimNobles

    ” Bishop said he understood that Liberty ranked “very high” in technical merit and was the “lowest-risk option.””

    I don’t see how he could think that. As a first stage the Liberty system was to use a 5 segment SRB derived from the STS 4 segment SRBs. Confidence is high that the motor would perform but it is completely untested in flight. The second stage of the system was to be derived from the Ariane. But it wasn’t a direct plug-and-play solution. Some non-trivial re-engineering has to be done on the design to make it usable for Liberty. Plus ATK has really never built a launch system before, just components. Stap-ons.

    Compare that to the other two launch systems involved, Atlas 5 and Falcon 9 which are already operational.

    As for the manned payload part of the system, Liberty’s proposed composite is nowhere near as far along as Dream Chaser, CST-100, or Dragon.

    It was no contest. ATK was really never in this competition. The main worry in the Space Cadet universe seemed to be that ATK might sneak in, with a sub-standard proposal, just based on political influence. But it looked like that didn’t happen.

    ATK has indicated they would keep on going with Liberty if they didn’t get an award. I hope that’s true but that’s the sort of thing all the competitors are expected to say.

    If ATK could bring their Liberty system to market at a competitive price (doubtful in my opinion) it looks like it could add significant capability. I’m not a fan of ATK or even launching people or solids but I hope they stay in the game.

  • Overheard at the Utah delegation meeting to discuss their “investigation”:

    “Oink. Oink. Oink. (grunt) Oink.”

  • Mary

    So basically you have 600 million going to a Russian powered Atlas V? That’s supporting American jobs? Gosh, how much was ATK’s take on the Constellation program, ten billion?

  • Bennett

    The Utah delegation can “investigate every detail” and still fail to see that ATK doesn’t have anything other than a monstrously huge SRB, a supposed contract with Arianespace (or whomever) for the second stage which was not designed as such, and an untested composite capsule still years away from validation.

    Congratulations to the NASA team that stood its ground and made the right decision for the CCiCap awards.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) said in a statement. Bishop said he understood that Liberty ranked “very high” in technical merit and was the “lowest-risk option.” (NASA has not yet released a source selection statement with details about its decision-making process, but indicated this morning it would do so in the next week to week and a half.) “I will be joining with Senator [Orrin] Hatch, Senator [Mike] Lee as well as the rest of the [Utah] delegation to further investigate every detail of how NASA arrived at today’s disappointing decision.”

    yeah ATK has flown no hardware, has to develop a capsule, a second stage from something overseas…etc etc all low risk…

    ATK lost…yeah RGO

  • josh

    thanks to bishop and hatch for making it completely obvious once again that atk is 100% dependent on political lobbying to get contracts. sometimes common sense beats out corruption though. today was such a day.
    looking forward to crewed flights starting in 2016. by then sls will hopefully have been cancelled.

  • josh

    “So basically you have 600 million going to a Russian powered Atlas V? That’s supporting American jobs? Gosh, how much was ATK’s take on the Constellation program, ten billion?”

    yes mary, you see, there is a slight difference between “million” and “billion”…
    btw: a small fraction of the money is going to the atlas v part of the program. falcon 9 is all american btw:D

  • josh

    “This is a terrible day for the cause of lower launch costs.”

    the exact opposite is true. but you live in bizarro word, so that’s hardly surprising..:P

  • Coastal Ron

    Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX were the three competitors that were the furtherest along with complete systems, and by virtue of the proven rockets they all were using (Atlas more so than Falcon 9, but it has flown successfully so far), all NASA had to worry about was the spacecraft.

    As to ATK, they can challenge the lack of an award under Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). However once NASA makes their source selection statement public, I don’t see how anyone will believe that it was a close decision and that ATK has merit enough to challenge. They have an untested rocket that has no other customers besides Commercial Crew, and they have a conceptual capsule that is bigger than what NASA needs – and both together will likely cost far more than the systems they did choose.

    I don’t think ATK will file a protest, but that won’t keep their political lackeys supporters from trying to change things…

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    This is a terrible day for the cause of lower launch costs.

    Yes, we know. According to you adding more launches for Atlas V and Falcon 9 only raises prices and lowers operational tempos…

    See what happens when you use voodoo dolls and zombies as your anchors to reality?

  • Lars

    Googaw wrote:
    This is a terrible day for the cause of lower launch costs.

    And exactly who was it that lost out that would have lowered launch costs?

  • DCSCA

    Good borrowed money hurled after bad, wasted on contracting for redundant access to a doomed-to-Pacific-splash, increasingly obtuse, 20th Century Cold War era aerospace works project that’s no more relevant to our 21st century economic and geopolitical times than the Berlin Wall, Minuteman missile silos, rotary phones or the typewriter.

    LEO is a ticket to no where. All hail the accolades chanted for the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision. A decade from now, a half-century after the sixth, and last, Apollo lunar landing, as the bulk of the ISS vaporizes heading toward it’s watery grave, America’s HSF program will be no further up, out and away than it has been since 1981; stuck going in circles, headed no place fast for fifty years. PRC, Luna awaits new generations, fresh footprints and flags.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    “ATK lost…yeah RGO”

    No. America lost, because Americans are lost in space.

  • DCSCA

    “ATK has indicated they would keep on going with Liberty if they didn’t get an award.”

    They will of the right-wing Utah rocket boys really believe in free market capitalism w/o the safety net of a government contract to socialize the risk on the many to benefit the few. If they believe they have a better product, than their competitors, build it.

  • DCSCA

    @josh wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    the exact opposite is true. but you live in bizarro word, so that’s hardly surprising..:P

    “Except it’s not.”

    =yawn= You’re whistling past the graveyard. NASA, a stand-alone agency and Cold War era relic, is a sitting duck in these new geopolitical and economic times, condemned to a slow, tortured, spiral down into irrelevancy as it is bled to death by ten-thousand paper cuts. The desperation is increasingly blatant; the press pronouncing Curiosity NASA’s summer ‘spectacular’ (as if it was a re-release of ‘Jaws’) and despeate NASA/JPL dweebs making a mini-movie a la Hollywood to label the MRL;s entry ‘seven minutes of terror’… that’s where NASa is at- clamoring for attention from a nation that has stopped looking with wonder and started looking w/an eye at the bottom line.

  • Two to six manned American launches to the ISS per year by probably at least three launch companies is not going to lower cost. Plus using the ISS as a $3 billion a year make work program for Commercial Crew companies is certainly not going to help NASA’s ability to finance beyond LEO missions.

    The key to the success of commercial crew efforts will be high demand for commercial manned missions by private industry, not the extremely low demand for tax payer supported big government manned missions.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Googaw

    And exactly who was it that lost out that would have lowered launch costs?

    Obviously nobody would have: it’s an HSF program, and a government one to boot. The huge problem here is that CCiCap and its aftermath will substantially raise the costs of Atlas V, and even moreso of its low-cost competitor Falcon 9, for all customers, as Boeing and SpaceX neglect their real space commerce businesses to add bells, whistles, and safety dances to Atlas and Falcon for their now much more lucrative NASA customer and its wildly unaccountable economic fantasies.

    The astronaut cult’s last economic hallucination, the Space Shuttle, severely damaged space commerce and security in the 1980s. Now they’re back to take the quite good cargo rockets Atlas V and Falcon 9, and destroy their economical engineering for the sake of their heavenly heroes.

  • Mary

    “The key to the success of commercial crew efforts will be high demand for commercial manned missions by private industry, not the extremely low demand for taxpayer supported big government manned missions.”

    Thank you Marcel.
    What flavor of capsule will they launch next…no matter as long as Atlas V has a purpose.

  • Anyone know how much each company was expecting to win?

  • James

    Regarding Utah Investigation of selection process.

    If this was FAR based, they can only argue/protest if the government followed the process.
    Can’t argue with scoring, can’t even argue the selection team was incompetent.

    Tis all a good show for the constituents.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Two to six manned American launches to the ISS per year by probably at least three launch companies is not going to lower cost.

    Per passenger cost will go down. Let’s do the math:

    The Russians will be charging us $753M for transporting 12 crew to the ISS by 2016, which works out to about $63M/seat.

    SpaceX has already stated that they would offer a price of $140M per crew flight, which if there were seven passengers would equal $20M/seat, but if NASA flies the same number of crew as Soyuz it works out to $47M/seat. However NASA wants to increase the ISS crew size up to seven (what it’s currently designed to support), so the cost would drop to $35M/seat.

    Boeing stated at their CCiCap press conference that they plan to offer prices significantly lower than Soyuz, though what number of passengers that’s predicated on is not known. However all the Commercial Crew awardees offer capabilities that are above and beyond Soyuz, so comparing everything to Soyuz will soon be less than meaningful.

    Bottom line though is that NASA will be able to spend the same amount on crew transport and be able to transport more crew than they could with Soyuz. More capability for the same price – that’s a good thing.

  • pathfinder_01

    Err, no Marcel. It is very possible to lower prices a bit. You now have more rockets to spread your costs over. It is the secret of economies of scale. Rockets have very high fixed costs(i.e. it costs a lot to keep the capability up) but relatively low variable costs(i.e. more material more labor ect.)

    This is part of what made the shuttle so expensive. If the shuttle could have flown 20 times a year as projected it very well may have come closer to meeting its promise but instead the system was incapable of flying that much (more like 4-6 flights a year max). At 4 billion a year that would be 600 million a flight at 6 flights (rare). At the same 4 billion it would be 200 million a flight at 20. It is also what makes SLS stupidly expensive(i.e. there is about zero demand for HLV outside of NASA) and it is not capable of flying more often than the shuttle within the same amount of money.

    In the case of Atlas DOD, NASA Unmanned flight, and the occasional commercial flight make up it’s current manifest adding two to six flights gives ULA more flights to spread its fixed costs over and NASA HSF isn’t supporting Atlas 100%.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    The huge problem here is that CCiCap and its aftermath will substantially raise the costs of Atlas V, and even moreso of its low-cost competitor Falcon 9, for all customers…

    Well let’s see, before the CCiCap announcement SpaceX had lowered the price of Falcon 9 from $59M to $54M, and they had increased GTO capacity by about 30%.

    I just checked the Falcon 9 webpage and their prices haven’t changed, so apparently your fears are unfounded.

    So instead of running around like Chicken Little, try using facts – who knows, maybe you’ll make it a habit… ;-)

  • Ferris Valyn

    Coastal Ron – in point of fact, they can’t challenge under the FAR – this is SAAs, which is OTA, outside of FAR

  • cj

    I’m not sure why people keep claiming ATK’s 5 segment is untested… It’s the same 5 segment from the Ares I…. If anything I’m surprised NASA didn’t invest money into ATK as the same 5 segment motors will be used in the proposed SLS launcher

  • pathfinder_01

    “I’m not sure why people keep claiming ATK’s 5 segment is untested… It’s the same 5 segment from the Ares I…. If anything I’m surprised NASA didn’t invest money into ATK as the same 5 segment motors will be used in the proposed SLS launcher”

    Ares 1 never made a test flight. Ares 1-x which used a 4 segment shuttle leftover did.

  • Fred Willett

    cj wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 1:37 am
    I’m not sure why people keep claiming ATK’s 5 segment is untested… It’s the same 5 segment from the Ares I
    Ares 1 never flew. The Ares-1X was a 4 segment motor with a dummy fifth segment. But on the positive side there have been 2 or 3 captive tests of the 5 segment motor so it is not totally untested.
    Compare this to SpaceX which has been testing their Merlin engines for several years at an average rate of almost once a day….
    Oh wait. Solids are so safe they don’t need testing, do they?

  • Curtis Quick

    CJ, NASA did not choose to invest more in ATK because NASA is trying to find the most cost-effective approach to getting crew to orbit. ATK is years behind SpaceX, Boeing, and even SN in this regard.

    The Liberty rocket will need a lot of funding and time to get going. The 1st stage has not flown. The 2nd stage has not been re-designed for an in-flight engine ignition. The capsule is hardly past the drawing board stage. The abort system is not developed nor considered safe (the US Air Force considered the risk of crew loss in abort from a SRM failure to unnacceptably high).

    The Falcon9 has flown three times and will have flown more than a dozen times before crew ride her to orbit. The Dragon capsule is “human-rated” as astronauts have already flown aboard her at the ISS. All that is needed for crew-capability, is astronaut seating, human interface controls, more robust life-support, and abort system testing. All things that do not cost the big bucks (compared to developing the launcher and spacecraft).

    The Atlas-based systems (Boeing and SN) only need to make sure their already mature launcher is “human-rated” by adding sensors to detect a launch malfunction and properly initiate abort procedures. They do have more work to do on the spacecraft (especially SN) than SpaceX, but still they are way ahead of ATK. And that’s for both the launcher and the spacecraft.

    NASA is putting it’s limited resources to best use by helping these nearly mature systems over the last hurdle. It would take far more time and money to get ATK to that point. ATK has barely begun the race and has many more hurdles to jump before it gets to where the CCiCap winners currently are.

    Good investments must be cost-effective. In comparison, ATK is just not a good bet for quick and cost-effective crew capability.

  • Fred Willett

    James Doehring wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 10:57 pm
    Anyone know how much each company was expecting to win?
    I don’t think anyone can know. Obviously NASA would indicate the what they wanted, the time frame and stuff like that. Maybe a ball park of what funds might be available. Then you just put in your best bid and hope.
    Though the guy from Boeing did say they slipped their proposed schedule by several months to bring the cost down from $480M to $460M to line up with what NASA was willing to pay. I guess that would have been in the last weeks when NASA and the 3 companies were trying to negotiate bids into actual firm contracts.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It’s the same 5 segment from the Ares I

    Which hasn’t been tested in flight… If ATK had used the proven 4 seg Shuttle SRB you wouldn’t be hearing that particular complaint, it would easily have been the most proven first stage. The fact that it’s a solid would still have been a concern, but not its lack of a track record.

    The 5 seg booster is totally new and has never flown.

  • Fred Willett

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 9:10 pm
    Two to six manned American launches to the ISS per year by probably at least three launch companies is not going to lower cost.
    This year has 7 Atlas V launches scheduled. Last year was 4, the year before 5. Adding 2-6 would be a significant boost, almost doubling Atlas V launch rate, and as some one from ULA said (I think it was Sowers, but don’t quote me) increased launch rate lowers prices.
    Even if half the launches go up on Falcon 9 it can be a big boost to the business of both ULA and SpaceX.
    And this doesn’t take into account any possible non NASA business that may come along.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I’m not sure why people keep claiming ATK’s 5 segment is untested”

    Because it’s true. No 5-segment has ever been flight-tested, even as a booster, nevertheless in the single-stick configuration.

    “It’s the same 5 segment from the Ares I”

    Which never flew. Ares I-X employed a 4-segment motor.

    “If anything I’m surprised NASA didn’t invest money into ATK as the same 5 segment motors will be used in the proposed SLS launcher”

    Even if the 5-segment motors were flight-tested, Liberty carried lots of technical and cost/schedule unknowns that the winning proposals did not, including whether a lower-stage LH2 engine like the Vulcain could be modified to reliably start at altitude (and at what cost — it certainly didn’t work with the SSME on Ares I), whether the Ariane lower-stage could be reworked into an upper stage (and at what cost), and whether an Orion-sized crew capsule could reliably be made from composites (and at what cost).

    Those came on top of all the known negatives associated with the 5-segment booster, including: the high likelihood that heat released during deflegration in an early abort event would melt a capsule’s parachute and cause it to plummet to the ground, killing the crew (or the large complexity, performance, and cost penalties imposed by the huge LAS necessary to avoid this scenario); the inability to turn off an intact lower stage during an abort event and the likelihood that the high-thrust motor would chase/impact the capsule during early abort (or the penalties imposed by the huge LAS necessary to avoid this scenario); and the complexity, performance, and cost penalties imposed by the thrust oscillation countermeasures (reduced structural integrity from c-clamp rings, unproven scale of LOX bellows, active instead of passive mass dampers, etc.).

    And on top of all that, the ATK proposal wasn’t cost-competitive. It only promised to keep pace with Soyuz seat prices, not drive prices lower, which the other proposals did.

    Despite all the heat generated by ATK’s publicity campaign, they were never in the running as long as NASA didn’t succumb to political pressure. Even if NASA had succumbed to political pressure, an award to the ATK proposal would have been reversed in the courts. Based on the criteria for the competition, the ATK proposal had no legs to stand on.

  • Regarding the Utah delegation’s false allegations …

    During yesterday’s media event (click here to watch on YouTube), Charlie Bolden said the selections were made by Bill Gerstenmaier, and that he was informed only a couple days before.

    The implication was that this was to insulate Charlie from allegations of political favoritism.

    Many of us recall that, after Charlie announced the Shuttle orbiter award winners, the porkers representing the losing districts demanded an investigation, claiming that Charlie was playing politics at the behest of the White House. The Office of the Inspector General found that the only political interference had come from the losing districts.

    Since the chain-of-command goes through Charlie to the White House, if Charlie isn’t involved, then the White House isn’t involved.

    But we’ve already read one space-related web site allege the White House interfered to deny ATK the award. Of course, the accuser offered no evidence to back it up.

  • From today’s Salt Lake Tribune:

    In a statement Friday, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he was “disappointed and disheartened by the news.”

    “I have been concerned that favoritism may be playing far too prominent of a role in NASA’s decision-making process, especially with regards to companies closely tied to key NASA officials,” he said. “ATK is a proven leader and their track record is beyond exemplary. It was my understanding that ATK’s Liberty proposal ranked very high in technical merit, and was the lowest-risk option.”

    Bishop’s concerns about favoritism stem from alleged relationships he says President Obama and NASA administrator Charles Bolden have with Musk.

    Bishop provided no evidence to support his claims, of course.

  • Bennett

    @cj wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Well, to be fair, it has been tested horizontally, but never in flight. The 1-X was a four segment booster IIRC.

  • Ferris Valyn

    cj

    A 5 segment has never FLOWN. Ares I never flew, and Ares I-X was not a 5 segment.

  • I'll never tell

    The ATK 5 segment booster passed CDR and sufficient testing to be flight certified. That part is good to go. The biggest change for the upper stage is the Avionics. That is coming from Honeywell. The next NASA Admin or Presidential administration will fund ATK and the Liberty launch system. They will get a contract and be providing services before 2016.

    The yearly NASA traffic model, as I have seen it (starting in 2016) is 2 US Orion flights per year (and not all to ISS), 3 US commercial crew rotation and 4 cargo launches. This does not include HTV, ATV, Soyuz and progress launches.

    One last note, the Boeing COTS-D spacecraft is using the original NASA developed Ares 1 flight software and avionics architecture. Why is that not being shared with every commercial provider?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Bishop provided no evidence to support his claims, of course.>>

    there is of course no evidence but it doesnt matter because the right wing of the GOP does not need evidence to feed its paranoia about Obama….or in the case of space policy…well about Obama and his space policy.

    As you know for the most part the discussion via the right wing has left reality based programing and is in to simply attaching words to issues the words of which excite the right wing trogolytes. It is easy to call the commercial crew and resupply “subsidies” but to ignore what SLS is (for some anyway).

    The fact that Ares eh sorry Liberty is mostly a model rocket modeled by models is irrelevant to the fact that they just dont like Obama. He is not in their 50′s world RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    cj wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    I’m not sure why people keep claiming ATK’s 5 segment is untested…>>

    People have already knocked this down…but what I wonder is what level of information you are working at? Seriously are you just a space fan ie someone with not a lot of knowledge or are you a political hack?

    RGO

  • @Fred Willett

    Adding just one or two flights to the schedules of probably at least three companies: ULA, ATK/Astrium, and Space X will not significantly increase flight demand for these companies. Plus the ISS program will probably be decommissioned after 2020 just as they’re getting started trying to routinely transport humans into orbit.

    There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to increase the manned flight rate for commercial crew companies than using the $3 billion a year ISS as a big government make work program.

    And again, continuing to spend this large amount of money on LEO seriously hurts NASA funding for manned beyond LEO efforts. But, of course, that may be Holdren and Obama’s plan since they didn’t want NASA to develop any beyond LEO capability in the first place:-)

    Marcel F. Williams

  • vulture4

    “All hail the accolades chanted for the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision.”

    Call it realistic vision. Going to Mars as a $400B stunt will do no more than Apollo, a moment of glory we cannot afford to sustain. We need to bring the cost of human spaceflight down to a level that makes it practical, not just possible.

  • vulture4

    Most of the opposition to commercial crew comes from politicians like Posey who dislike Obama so intensely that they reflexively oppose anything he supports. Of course, Posey simultaneously claims credit for commercial space when it succeeds.

    Success in space (or in any endeavor) demands a more mature outlook.

  • Coastal Ron

    I’ll never tell wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 11:57 am

    The next NASA Admin or Presidential administration will fund ATK and the Liberty launch system. They will get a contract and be providing services before 2016.

    What drugs are you taking?

    What program is the “Liberty launch system” supposed to support?

    Are you just talking the rocket? Because if so, then who needs it? The DoD/NRO use Delta IV Heavy, and there is no way the Air Force is going to change launch systems before an alternative has flown enough to prove it’s reliable (and no, pieces flying does not qualify, only full-up rockets). And the Falcon Heavy will be flying long before the Liberty, and costs 2/3 the price for double the payload.

    Why would anyone buy the Liberty rocket? And so far no one has.

    If you’re suggesting that NASA will be told to re-compete the CCiCap program, you truly are on drugs. Once the government awards a contract, any change to that contract – without a contractual basis for the change (like failure to perform) – will be viewed as being done for political reasons. And there is no way the ATK team could do what Boeing and SpaceX are doing for the same amount of money. No way.

    The yearly NASA traffic model, as I have seen it (starting in 2016) is 2 US Orion flights per year (and not all to ISS), 3 US commercial crew rotation and 4 cargo launches. This does not include HTV, ATV, Soyuz and progress launches.

    I don’t believe you know what you are talking about, and here’s why.

    The Orion/MPCV program is not budgeted to fly twice a year starting in 2016. And what is it supposed to fly on – Unicorns?

    As of now for just cargo, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are contracted to make a total of five cargo deliveries per year (3 for SpaceX, 2 for OSC), and that is in addition to HTV, ATV and Progress. Your number of 4 cargo launches is too low, especially considering that the last ATV flight is in 2014, and the last HTV flight is in 2015. The U.S. will need to increase cargo flights to replace ATV and HTV, so the number of cargo flights will have to increase from 5/year to more.

    If you want to be an anonymous poster, great. But if you want to be believed, you have to do better than trying to pretend you have inside information.

  • Egad

    The next NASA Admin or Presidential administration will fund ATK and the Liberty launch system. They will get a contract and be providing services before 2016.

    When you find yourself posting things that make it seem as if you think you can foresee the future or read minds, you need to be really sure you can back them up.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Luna awaits new generations, fresh footprints and flags.

    No, I think Luna could care less.

    ISS has taught us an enormous amount about living, working, and operating in space. Before ISS, we hadn’t much of a clue about operating for the extended period of time required to BEO destinations beyond the Moon. (No, the human factors research on Skylab was pretty minimal). But also AR&D, in-space construction and maintenance, space supply chain and comm management. Lots more than that. But I guess if you’re simplistic, or given to jerking knees, you can brand it as “going round and round”. Nothing wrong with that observation. That’s surely part of what it’s doing. Yes, it would be nice to go farther than LEO, but ISS is teaching us what we need to know to have some confidence in our ability to do it, and ideally how to do it most economically. It’s hugely sensible to do that while you’re going round and round. Nope, Apollo sure didn’t teach us that stuff! In many respects, Apollo is what happens when you don’t have the kind of background we’ve been getting from ISS. You consume such HUGE amounts of money going places and in such a risky way that you’ll never go back. Haven’t we learned that lesson?

    A metric for success of how far you’ve gotten, in kilometers from the Earth, is simply dumb. We could send humans to Neptune, which would be awesomely far away, but they might not be alive by the time they got there.

    CiCAP is a critical component of using ISS to learn the things we need to learn, and to do it in an economical way. It’s part of a sensible path to reach out BEO with some reassurance of sustainability and permanence.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    “SpaceX has already stated that they would offer a price of $140M per crew flight..”

    =yawn= Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Space X has flown nobody; Space X has failed to launch, orbit and safely return any crew(s) aboard their hardware from LEO.

    Soyuz works– for decades; is operational; is reliable; is routine.

  • josh

    @ I’ll never tell

    is that you, windy? whoever you are you take the level of delusion on here to a whole new level:)

  • Vladislaw

    Stephen C. Smith wrote:

    From today’s Salt Lake Tribune:

    Did you read the comments? There was about 70 of them … just a couple in support of ATK. Most said that Utah brought it on themselves by their politics.

    I was actually surprised.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA reporting from his yurt in siberia wrote:

    “Soyuz works– for decades; is operational; is reliable; is routine.”

    Except it’s not.

    Nothing like relying on a foreign government’s global monopoly space program to provide America it’s human space access.

    Man .. I can just see those prices falling like a rock the more times and the longer we used them .. gosh .. can you imagine how much innovation that would lead to in the U.S.?

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Soyuz works– for decades; is operational; is reliable; is routine.

    And is Russian.

    What part of “domestic & redundant capability” don’t you understand? If Russia decides to stop giving us rides to the ISS, what do we do? Go begging to China? Where do you loyalties lie?

    Besides, Soyuz is too small to expand humanities footprint out into space, and the Progress is too small to support anything that requires equipment bigger than 1255mm in diameter (Progress & Soyuz hatch diameter).

    just like the DC-3 is no longer a dominant transport, soon the same will be said about Soyuz and Progress. Too bad Russia doesn’t have the money to build their successor…

  • I'll never tell

    Wow. I hit a nerve or two. OK. Orion has the same production rate as Ares I under CxP, 2 flight sets a year with the option to ramp up to 6 sets after 18 months notice. That’s not changed and that’s what they will deliver. Orion will fly crewed on a Delta IV. Maybe an Atlas V, both can do it. That’s just analysis.

    ATK is building a good vehicle/spacecraft using private money and leveraging off the investment made by the US Government. Smart. I believe the next administration will embrace ATK (and they have good sponsors in the Congress/Senate).

    Remember SpaceX once shared the cargo contract with someone else. Would NASA recomplete anything? I don’t know. Do other methods exist to get ATK money? Absolutely!

    ATK has a winning design, I see them as a player in the years to come.

    On the other parts about the traffic model, that’s also analysis. Its based on a 6 person crew rotation, needed up and down mass, that NASA can not compete with commercial providers and a need to forward position spares and consumables. I excluded the international partners because the ATV is going away and the Soyuz will most likely spend more time doing commercial (tourist) transport.

    That’s my two Kopecks worth.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Adding just one or two flights to the schedules of probably at least three companies: ULA, ATK/Astrium, and Space X will not significantly increase flight demand for these companies.

    I’m not sure why you mention ATK/Astrium, but since they have ZERO customers, one flight would be pretty momentous for them. But I doubt anyone will decide to take a chance on them.

    For SpaceX and ULA, you keep forgetting how expensive rockets are. SpaceX charges $54M for Falcon 9, and ULA charges somewhere above $110M – that is serious revenue just for one launch. Every additional launch they can add to their schedule means that many more launches they can spread their overhead across, which especially for ULA is a big thing.

    Maybe $Millions in potential profit means nothing to you, but real business people would disagree.

    There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to increase the manned flight rate for commercial crew companies than using the $3 billion a year ISS as a big government make work program.

    Congress wants the ISS, and has designated it a National Laboratory. And since Congress has also been highly skeptical about both the COTS & CCDev programs, your claim that commercial transport drives the need for the ISS is completely unfounded.

    Besides, we all know your idea for increasing flights – have the government pay for a space tourism lotto. Yep, the Republicans in Congress will die laughing when they hear that.

    If we want to eventually live and work in space, then the ISS is the perfect facility (and in the perfect place) for doing that.

    And again, continuing to spend this large amount of money on LEO seriously hurts NASA funding for manned beyond LEO efforts.

    There is a philosophical debate going on here, and this is how I see the contrast:

    - You only want to do flags & footprint type exploration – temporary outings that leave no lasting capabilities. Build an outpost in space, occupy is infrequently, but abandon it after using it for a short time. Leave nothing behind to keep your foothold.

    - I (and others) want to build outposts in space that endure, and can even be expanded. Each one is a stepping stone for the next, so that we are building up the number of people that are in space.

    - You rely on government funding exclusively, and reject commerce of any type.

    - I (and others) want space to keep up it’s slow transition of being driven by market forces. The satellite industry drives most of the launches around the world today, and once commercial cargo and crew are in place, that will start pushing people and supplies out into space. NASA can contract for what transport needs they have, but the era of NASA being the primary driver of putting people into space and keeping them there is close to ending – they will be a customer, operating on the edges of our capabilities.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel wrote:

    “Adding just one or two flights to the schedules of probably at least three companies: ULA, ATK/Astrium, and Space X will not significantly increase flight demand for these companies.”

    Have you heard of marginal analysis?

    “An examination of the additional benefits of an activity compared to the additional costs of that activity. Companies use marginal analysis as a decision-making tool to help them maximize their profits.”
    http://www.answers.com/topic/marginal-analysis-in-accounting

    Each single additional launch, unless it is actually going to cost more to build and launch an additional rocket, will lower costs and increase the profit margin. This is especially true when you are talking about products that cost in the millions and only a handful are produced per year. The idea that one or two more launches will not help the bottom line is you being extremely silly.

    “Plus the ISS program will probably be decommissioned after 2020 just as they’re getting started trying to routinely transport humans into orbit.”

    Here again .. you just being stupidly silly because, as been pointed out to you about 500 times. The odds of ISS being splashed in 2020 is EXTREMELY low as every space agency involved wants to push it to 2028 if possible. It is more likely probably going to be extended, then probably be splashed.

    Yet .. here you go .. saying it again .. like it is ‘probably’ fact.

    You are playing the dumb clown when you post things that everyone and his brother knows is a plain and simple dumb comment.

    “There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to increase the manned flight rate for commercial crew companies than using the $3 billion a year ISS as a big government make work program. “

    Yes there is.. chop the billions being wasted on SLS/Orion and use it to fund a Natilus – X.

    10 BILLION for a gem encrusted, golden, disposable capsule .. NOW THAT is quality spending that will take us BEO …. LOL.

    And when it does get canceled .. you can cry your big crocodile tears and rant how if ONLY it got another 100 BILLION more because it was so grossly underfunded .. it would have worked.

  • I think we all overlooked in our calculations how yesterday’s awards affect Bigelow Aerospace.

    Credit our host for sending out a tweet this morning with a link to this article in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    The big winner yesterday may have been Bigelow, because their two partners get the two “full” awards.

    To excerpt from the article:

    Robert Bigelow, owner and president of Bigelow Aerospace, called the funding “more aggressive” than prior NASA contracts and said he was “very happy” about the ramped-up investment, which will nearly double the workforce at his North Las Vegas plant …

    Bigelow said he has marked 2016 as a year when spacecraft availability will meet growing customer demand, and things really take off for the business.

    “This is an embryonic situation where we’ve been in research-and-development mode for the last decade,” Bigelow said. “As with anything you’re trying to create from scratch, it takes a while to finally get to a point where you have something that’s marketable. We are starting to approach that point in our little company.”

    That’s the big story out of yesterday’s awards, boys and girls. Thanks, Jeff, for sending out the link.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Adding just one or two flights to the schedules of probably at least three companies: ULA, ATK/Astrium, and Space X will not significantly increase flight demand for these companies. Plus the ISS program will probably be decommissioned after 2020 just as they’re getting started trying to routinely transport humans into orbit.”

    Err no. ATK didn’t get funding and I would be very surprised if they got the contract. They have way too much technical risk as well as business risk. It would be 4 flights spread between Falcon 9 and Atlas or 4 flights on Atlas. CST-100 and Dreamchaser plan to use Atlas. Dragon Falcon 9. There are also plans to keep the ISS till 2028 in the works.
    In addition once you have the capability of commercial crew in place, you can use it for other purposes(like constructing a mars craft, crewing a BEO mission ect…).

    “There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to increase the manned flight rate for commercial crew companies than using the $3 billion a year ISS as a big government make work program.”

    There is currently no other destination in orbit besides China’s Tiagong-1 to go to. Bigloew needs commercial crew because it is way too risky and expensive for him to do both a space station and transportation to it. It would be like Walt Disney attempting both to build an amusement park and run an airline to get to the amusement park. Lots more cost and risk than simply building a tourist attraction and using existing transportation systems. Heck even Orlando’s international airport started off as an air force base in the 1940ies, then shared facilities with commercial airlines in the 60ies before the air force stopped using it in 1975. Rome was not built in a day and humanities’ voyage into space will be more of small steps than great leaps.

  • josh

    “Plus the ISS program will probably be decommissioned after 2020 just as they’re getting started trying to routinely transport humans into orbit.”

    uhm, no. the probably outcome is an extension to 2028. i bet it will still be operating in the 2030s…

  • josh

    *probable

    @jeff

    this blog badly needs an editing function for the comments.

  • josh

    “Space X has flown nobody; Space X has failed to launch, orbit and safely return any crew(s) aboard their hardware from LEO.”

    failure implies trying. spacex didn’t try so far. a basic understanding of language might help resolve some issues for you, dcsca…

  • numbers_guy

    Funny how everyone is hyperventilating here with wild guesses when the numbers whittle down possibilities real fast.

    From the NASA FY 13 budget, Commercial Crew is a $406M program this year, with fiscal year 13 of the Presidents at $830M (and steady at that projection thru 2017).

    The NASA top-line in the same budget projection DROPS by a little, so naturally it’s worth looking at where the money gets taken out of somewhere else to increase the commercial crew budget this much. It appears the Science, Aero and Space Ops parts go down so that Exploration and Space Tech can go up. Good luck with that.

    So just follow things here a minute and think of the Commercial Crew program as pretty much lucky to be a $500M a year program in a NASA top-line that if anything may drop in dribs and drabs here and there in years to come. I hear frozen is the new increase.

    If we look at two crew launches a year, let’s take out maybe 5% for the program office, leaving $475M for the eventual contract. (Mango’s org is pretty small and the overhead charges are running pretty lean. Usually this would be as high as 10%).

    So get out the calculators…let’s see…

    So $475 / 2 = apx. $238M a launch, what the winner has to do this for. Well isn’t this is interesting…Space-X launches of cargo went for $133M a pop, while Orbitals cargo runs were awarded for $238M a piece. Both of those cargo runs are VEHICLE PLUS SPACECRAFT contracts. Now ummm….an Atlas with NO spacecraft goes for $200M to $300M. Clarifying here, just for the VEHICLE (and related). Google Atlas prices or Atlas costs or recent contracts and the news about where Atlas prices are heading. We are talking the small end job, not even the biggest Atlas with the most solids.

    So let’s say Boeing can build the CST-100 for $100M a pop. On $200M Atlas’s. Woop’s this probably just exceeded the entire yearly Commercial Crew program budget a few years from now. (Hence the program offices talking about how the program is hard if the budget does not go up as requested -again, good luck with that). The Sierra math does not look much better, because they depend on guess who-that Atlas, with that cost per launch.

    Except wait a minute! Here’s Space-X, which already signed up for a bunch of $133M a piece cargo contracts – figure about 50/50, vehicle and Dragon? Now up that for crew to about $200M something a piece.

    Guess who can “fit” inside the Commercial Crew program budget for 2 and maybe 3 launches a year?

    Space-X has one thing going for them here at least that the others have not – they have shown they can (A) read budget documents, (B) divide by 2, maybe even 3, and (3) allot to vehicle and spacecraft, and (4) read the budget tea leaves.

    So you see outcomes are VERY predictable.

    A-The office does nothing eventually-citing lack of budget. Stays with Soyuz.

    B-The office awards to Space-X and tries for 2 crew flights a year.

    C-The office awards to Boeing or Sierra knowing full well the budget is not there for the 2 flights a year-maybe not even one a year, due to the Atlas effect, and waits to see what happens.

    D-(Oh, and non-linear event, the office gets that $800M a year…which doesn’t change the math too much you know).

  • vulture4

    “Soyuz works– for decades; is operational; is reliable; is routine.”

    Soyuz has had several narrow escapes recently suggesting deteriorating quality control and there is no evidence the problems with failure of the critical explosive bolts between the descent and service modules have been solved. Without competition, its cost has tripled. And it cannot allow the ISS crew to increase beyond six.

  • Justin Kugler

    I could not have said it better, Heinrich. This is about building sustainable, affordable in-space infrastructure, not simply flags-and-footprints missions.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The ATK 5 segment booster passed CDR”

    This statement is factually wrong. Ares I never reached CDR. Heck, it didn’t really pass PDR:

    “The integrated vechicle review did not present the element design issues (RIDs) so it was difficult to know if the parts added up to a rocket that will fly”; “The review occurred to close to the element PDRs, This did not allow for some of the element level rids to addressed or predeclared in documents”; “Much of the documentation presented for PDR was not mature enough for PDR. This limited an effective of these documents and left the impression that the PDR was rushed.”; “The RID screening rules and procedures seemed to change from day to day, like we were making it up as we went along.”; “Insufficient time was allotted to review the documents.”; “Not allowing RIDs to be written against the SRD and declaring it a finished document prior to the PDR was just arrogant and wrong. This was further evidenced and confused by the introduction of two version of the SRD, showing that it was in fact being changed behind the scenes.”

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1310

    “and sufficient testing to be flight certified.”

    This statement is a oxymoron. A vehicle can’t be flight certified unless it has flown and flown in the relevant environment. The Ares I design, with 5-segment lower stage and operational J-2X upper stage, never flew. Ares I-X had a 4-segment lower stage and a dummy upper stage and never flew to orbit.

    “The biggest change for the upper stage is the Avionics”

    No, the avionics are comparatively trivial. Ares I-X flew with Atlas V avionics.

    The biggest challenge for Liberty’s upper stage is getting its Vulcain engine, a LOX/LH2 engine that was designed for ground starts (as part of Ariane V’s lower stage), to start during flight (as part of Liberty’s upper stage). It’s never been done before.

    In fact, it was this very issue — getting a lower-stage LOX/LH2 engine to reliably start in flight as an upper-stage engine — that doomed the original 4-segment/SSME version of Ares I and forced NASA to shift to the 5-segment/J-2X version. If NASA couldn’t figure out how to make that happen after a long year of tough work, it’s doubtful ATK and it’s European partners could.

    “The next NASA Admin or Presidential administration will fund ATK and the Liberty launch system. They will get a contract and be providing services before 2016.”

    For better or worse, there may not be a new President or NASA Administrator until 2016.

    “One last note, the Boeing COTS-D spacecraft”

    There is no Boeing “COTS-D spacecraft”. Boeing never won a COTS award.

    “is using the original NASA developed Ares 1 flight software and avionics architecture.”

    Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft is a crew capsule, not a launch vehicle. It would not use flight software and avionics from Ares I or any other launch vehicle. In fact, CST-100 doesn’t even have any heritage — software, avionics, or otherwise — from the Orion crew capsule that was suppossed to fly on Ares I.

    “Why is that not being shared with every commercial provider?”

    Because no one wanted or asked for it.

  • Coastal Ron

    I’ll never tell wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Wow. I hit a nerve or two.

    Not even close. We’re still trying to figure out if you’re under the influence of drugs, or just an uninformed space enthusiast. The jury is still out.

    Orion has the same production rate as Ares I under CxP, 2 flight sets a year with the option to ramp up to 6 sets after 18 months notice. That’s not changed and that’s what they will deliver.

    That would be news to NASA.

    Orion will fly crewed on a Delta IV. Maybe an Atlas V, both can do it. That’s just analysis.

    There are no plans to fly the Orion/MPCV with crew on anything but SLS. And no funding.

    Remember SpaceX once shared the cargo contract with someone else.

    Nope. They were awarded one of the two COTS contracts, and then one of the two CRS contracts. They haven’t shared their contracts with anyone.

    On the other parts about the traffic model, that’s also analysis.

    My analysis is that you don’t know what you’re talking about…

    Soyuz will most likely spend more time doing commercial (tourist) transport.

    Not only do you make stuff up about NASA, but you’re making stuff up about Russia too.

  • Coastal Ron

    numbers_guy wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    If we look at two crew launches a year, let’s take out maybe 5% for the program office, leaving $475M for the eventual contract.

    I too like to dissect the numbers to see how things add up, and encourage you to keep dissecting numbers.

    However, the ~$500M/year CCiCap budget is for development only, not for launches.

    If you look at the NASA budget, Commercial Cargo and Crew development is covered under the Exploration part of the budget, and Cargo and Crew transportation to the ISS is covered under the ISS portion of the Space Operations budget. The requested transportation budget is about $1.8B/year, but we’ll have to see what Congress authorizes.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I’ll never tell wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Wow. I hit a nerve or two.>

    The entire post falls under the notion of “If it is said then it must be accurate” …sorry that works on Fox Noise or News but not here RGO

  • numbers_guy

    Good observation Coastal Ron, yet let’s look at the numbers there for ISS “ISS Crew and Cargo Transportation”. Yes, in the FY 13 budget proposal, the FY 12 numbers for this are $1185.7M, going to $1739.6M in 2015 then $1914.8M in FY 2017.

    Now let’s think about this very simply – for one, the agency can only transfer to the “ops” part of commercial crew what ended in any phasing out of the “development” part of the same.

    Let’s look at this numbers game a few different ways. Indulge me.

    Now the budget is going “up” in the ISS “ops” part through 2015. That can’t be going up because of the commercial crew “ops” because the “ops” type contracts won’t be in place by then.

    So it’s hard to assume that “plus up” is commercial crew ops after 2015 right? It’s safe to assume something else seized it, and it’s not available to commercial crew ops post 2015, no?

    Now is this because of what we get transferred there from the Shuttle line winding down? Probably part, judging from the Shuttle line going from $556.2M in FY 12 to only $70.6M in FY 13. But only a small part transfers, because the commercial crew and cargo only goes up $100M in the same year over year. In FY 13 that line and it’s “up” then is really to pay for the commercial cargo contracts as they deliver, and for Soyuz, as regards crew, like in the name of the item and its description. That’s $1284.8M for facts on the ground that happen near term, FY 13, our US commercial cargo and crew on Soyuz. That’s “taken”.

    Follow that train of thought to a transition point again – I can only “transfer” into the ISS commercial cargo and crew line as much as I free up from ending commercial crew development, or displacing Soyuz launches/seat payments, or from transferring from other NASA lines then (not now). Transfers occurring in the near term would be “taken” for those other near term purposes, hence the up-ticks as Shuttle ends and as commercial cargo flights pick up.

    Sure enough, the balance of funds in the ISS ops side line of “ISS crew and cargo transportation” is supposed to reach $1,914.8M in 2017, but again you can only grow into that number what you had in commercial crew development, or transfer from other NASA lines. That’s assuming a “flat” NASA top-line.

    So we see today that $400M in commercial crew (development) and we also see that $556.2M in Shuttle ops, of which, even as it drops to $70.6M next year ONLY $100M gets transferred to ISS. And that’s my point – that’s the easy $500M that can go from development, to ops for commercial crew. The other part that’s TBD being any displaced Soyuz flights.

    Or let’s do it yet another way, as if in 2017 already. (Realize we have to award new cargo contracts by then, but use today’s contract terms). The $1,914.8M in 2017 might want 4 cargo launches (let’s say 2 Space-X and 2 OSC) and that will be about $750M right there. Then let’s pay for 2 Soyuz a year, at $65M a seat (assuming internationals pay their seat, and the other is Russian) and that’s another $130M. Leaving the 1914.8-750+130=1042.8. But wait, that’s pretty much the development ending, transferred over, and that development amount assumes – you guessed it, transfers from many buckets. If even half those transfers end up not happening, we end up back in the numbers I described earlier. And all those transfers, well, good luck with that.

    I think the numbers end up quickly at:

    $1914.8 (the 2017 ISS commercial crew and cargo “ops”) – 1284.8 (the near term real cargo and crew / Soyuz costs in 2013) + 130 (some freed up Soyuz money) = $760M for 2 to 3 US commercial crew launches. And that’s the “high end” case, because it buries many little transfers (each a battle) and assumes a “flat” NASA budget (which could be optimistic).

    So again…who in the current commercial crew development seems to be doing this little math game? Any plan with Atlas blows this math out of the water real fast, unless Atlas/ULA is about to cut a “special deal” at less than half their vehicle (alone) costs on the horizon. Or we end up barely flying US commercial crew, which just transfers money back to Soyuz.

  • Am I the only one who sees SpaceX’s business model as just like Apple’s? Think about it…they keep subcontractors to a minimum, preferring to do more in house. They are building both launch vehicle and capsule, so they will naturally be optimized for each other. I know they might offer to launch someone else’s capsule on a Falcon 9, but I suspect they will tempted to offer a “bundled” service or no deal. This will draw customers into SpaceX’s “ecosystem” and create an economic moat, just like Apple did.

    Musk even designed Tesla’s stores to be like Apple’s stores..

  • ATK is building a good vehicle/spacecraft using private money and leveraging off the investment made by the US Government.

    ATK is looking for money (according to the people at the Liberty booth at Planetfest yesterday). They’ll have to find someone to invest in it.

    Smart. I believe the next administration will embrace ATK (and they have good sponsors in the Congress/Senate).

    There is no reason to believe that.

    ATK has a winning design, I see them as a player in the years to come.

    Apparently NASA disagreed. So do many others, including ATK, since they aren’t willing to put their own money in it. You would seem to be delusional.

  • @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to increase the manned flight rate for commercial crew companies than using the $3 billion a year ISS as a big government make work program.”
    Should read:
    “There are a lot more efficient and much cheaper ways to get the U.S. back to the vicinity of the Moon and beyond than using the $3 billion a year SLS/MPCV as a big government make work program. “
    There, fixed that for you!

  • josh

    liberty is deader than dead. well, it was a zombie from the start (resurrected ares 1) so no surprises here..

    the whining and gnashing of teeth will go on for a while but eventually reality will set in even for our group of hardcore atk fans…

  • Coastal Ron

    james doehring wrote @ August 5th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Am I the only one who sees SpaceX’s business model as just like Apple’s? Think about it…they keep subcontractors to a minimum, preferring to do more in house.

    Um, Apple doesn’t build anything themselves – they use contract manufacturers to build everything for them.

  • Coastal Ron

    numbers_guy wrote @ August 5th, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Any plan with Atlas blows this math out of the water real fast, unless Atlas/ULA is about to cut a “special deal” at less than half their vehicle (alone) costs on the horizon. Or we end up barely flying US commercial crew, which just transfers money back to Soyuz.

    Once commercial crew companies get approved, NASA won’t be buying any rides from Russia.

    As to the rest of your post, again it’s good to see financial analysis, but I think you have too many assumptions and not enough insight into what’s behind NASA’s numbers.

    Two comments:

    1. NASA’s budget numbers only cover NASA, and do not include any money for flying ISS partners – they cover that themselves when buying rides from Russia, and I expect they will also pay for their own rides from U.S. commercial crew providers.

    2. NASA isn’t spending all this time and effort with Boeing to not use them, or to end up effectively relying on a U.S. monopoly (no matter how benign it might be). Just as NASA is OK with paying higher prices for non-SpaceX cargo, they will be OK with non-SpaceX crew providers. And if Sierra Nevada comes online, I will expect they will give them part of the business too. NASA wants redundancy, and the only way to have that is to fly two or more operators.

  • DCSCA

    @josh wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    =yawn= Space X has expressed intent- repeatedly- enough times to have felled a forest of trees for the paper press releases– and to date has failed to follow through. Accept it.

    Friday’s award gives them guaranteed government financing (as if they’d do it on their own) — 42 cents of every dollar borrowed by the government– not Space X– to finance upgrades to produce a redundant system to access a doomed space platform. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Gregori

    Where is amightywind?

    Wasn’t the downselect to one provider iminent?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    “Soyuz works– for decades; is operational; is reliable; is routine.” “And is Russian.”

    So?

    Mercedes are German. Anheiser-Busch is owned by a Belgian firm; the gas in you car comes from across the sea… TVs are Chinese; IPads, too. You wanna wave the flag these days you’d better check the label== chances are it ain’t made in the US of A.

    vulture4 wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    It works. It’s reliable, it’s operational. it’s routine. .

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Except it is. And it’s been operating in LEO for four dacades.

    “Nothing like relying on a foreign government’s global monopoly space program to provide America it’s human space access.”

    =yawn= The “I” in ISS stands for international– and it is a doomed space platform; a Cold War relic from an era long, long past. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where fast– all the more reason to pay the fare for a few years and press on toward BEO HSF ops.

  • I'll never tell

    You guys are funny.

  • Vladislaw

    Not one single example you provided was a State funded global monopoly for the US. The Nation will not be flying on any chinese spacecraft anytime soon so Russia has a monopoly.

    Can you show some actual examples where the United States has invested 100 billion into a lab or other facility and then relies exclusively on a foreign provider for transportation to and from that facility and does not invest in it’s own domestic transportation capability.

    Stop trying to compare apples to oranges. If you want to make that arguement than try comparing ACTUAL true comparisons not the silly items you listed.

    The Nation has no alternative to Anheiser? To any of the ones you posted? Post some monopolies then you can talk.

  • Vladislaw

    dcsca yawned …

    “Space X has expressed intent- repeatedly- enough times to have felled a forest of trees for the paper press releases– and to date has failed to follow through. Accept it.”

    Except they haven’t. Accept it.

    They have repeated said, 3 years from the day they sign the contract. They are about to sign the contract. If they are not flying by Sept of 2015 only then can you say ‘told you so’

  • DCSCA

    @Heinrich Monroe wrote @ August 4th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    “Before ISS, we hadn’t much of a clue about operating for the extended period of time required to BEO destinations beyond the Moon (No, the human factors research on Skylab was pretty minimal.)”

    Except ‘we’ did.

    And ‘we’ (the human species) in addition to Skylab ops data (which is extensive BTW), have Saylut, a decade-plus of MIR data, multiple long dutraton shuttle flights and over a decade of ISS ops as is. Indeed.on whole HSF has a half century deep data base of on orbit (and a few days of lunar surface-stay data of value ) along w/multiple decades of data on human survivabilty methods and procedures– even hardware development- in environmental extremes from the Antarctic ops to as submarine ops, etc.

    “… ISS is teaching us what we need to know to have some confidence in our ability to do it, and ideally how to do it most economically.”

    Except it’s not.

    What did they do up there today? FYI, lunar surface ops in Apollo were caluculated out to be costing taxpayers roughly $1 million/minute and pretty much all activities were tasked and timed accordingly w/cost/value/time in mind. In fact, the ISS is a $100 billion piece of splendid engineering that is, in fact, an economic and political dinosaur- a multi-decade aerospace works project as Deke SLayton labelled it, announced nearly three decades ago in a Reagan SOTU speech, amidst the chill of the 20th century Cold War, an era long, long past. The ISS has more in common w/the Berlin Wall, Minuteman missile silos and typewriters than it does w/the economic/geopolitical realities of our times.

    ISS has successfully served (and outlived) its political purpose and has failed to come anywhere close to justify the expense a0ntinued expenditures as a LEO space ops platform, going in circles, no place fast. It is, as Googaw calls it, an ‘orbiting zombie.’ The ISS would have better served as an exploration/exploitation hub and the political and economic realities of the era had it been firmly anchored to the Ocean of Storms, 240,000 milesaway rather than doomed to a Pacific splash from 240 miles up. It would have been an easier sell for NewSpace servicing and further government HSF ops. More’s the pity as Lori Garver, back in her NSS lobbying days, opposed a return to the moon.

    “It’s hugely sensible to do that while you’re going round and round.”

    Except its not. Not in 2012; not to the people paying the freight- the cash strapped taxpayers who watch their government borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends.

    “In many respects, Apollo is what happens when you don’t have the kind of background we’ve been getting from ISS.”

    The only thing the ISS has in common w/Apollo is the use of a geopolitical rationale for initiating each respective project.

    “A metric for success of how far you’ve gotten, in kilometers from the Earth, is simply dumb.”

    Except it’s not. Especially to the people who you pitch to pay the bills and who, for the most part, still measure distances along the highways and vyways of their lives in miles– and success in life’s endeavors by ‘how far you’ve gotten.’ =eyeroll= .

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Where is amightywind?”

    His promises of fire, brimstone, and retribution after the election were made in the wrong thread (the prior one).

  • Vladislaw

    numbers_guy wrote:

    “let’s do it yet another way, as if in 2017 already. (Realize we have to award new cargo contracts by then, but use today’s contract terms). The $1,914.8M in 2017 might want 4 cargo launches (let’s say 2 Space-X and 2 OSC) and that will be about $750M right there. “

    Unless they decide to fund more HTV’s and ATV’s those will both be done by 2017. They cost considerably more than what progress and dragon cost will ESA and Japan turn to Russia or the US for cargo runs?

    Also, will the U.S. still buy additional progress flights once we have domestic capability? If not I do not see only four cargo flights per year. It will probably more like 4-5 dragon and 2 or 3 Orbital flights with Orbital acting as the trash can on the way down.

    If NASA decides that SpaceX can reuse the Dragon capsule I believe you will see a significant drop in price from the current 133 million to 80 – 100 million?

    Another item is that by 2017 SpaceX will have been testing the reusablity of the Falcon 9 first stage for almost 5 years. It should, by that time, prove that lower prices are coming … or not.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ August 5th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Except they have. More’s the pity for the trees. Tick-tock, tick-tock. and with government contracting to finance the folly of a redundant system to a doomed platform, it’s all the more wasteful. All hail the Magnificent Importance of Diminished Vision.

  • numbers_guy

    Well…we will await the numbers as they evolve further.

    Realize my numbers already account for reducing Soyuz payments to transfer those funds to Commercial Crew.

    It’s just basic, the amount available to commercial crew ops contracts, not the program, keep that straight, gets out of line real fast using Atlas, if projected Atlas prices are an input. Even trying to cut the numbers optimistically.

  • Gregori wrote:

    Where is amightywind?

    We downselected the number of trolls on this forum. :-)

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ August 5th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Mercedes are German.

    You really don’t know how analogies work, do you?

    First of all, you can’t buy a Soyuz – you can purchase a ride on one if Russia let’s you, but they don’t have to. Do you understand that?

    Secondly, in case you haven’t noticed, there are other car options if Mercedes doesn’t want to sell you a car, and other beer options if AB doesn’t want to sell you beer. That’s called choice, which we don’t have right now. Do you understand that too Mr. Putin lover?

    Sheesh, what a maroon.

  • Friday’s award gives them guaranteed government financing (as if they’d do it on their own)

    Friday’s award only gives them government financing if they meet their specified milestones, unlike traditional NASA contractors, who get paid regardless of results. There is nothing “guaranteed” about it.

    Are you stupid, or just ignorant?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Ah, the wit of DCSCA … Whose comments about why “it’s not” are the same old tired ones. Let me answer directly to one of the more hilarious “nots” we’re here instructed about.

    Especially to the people who you pitch to pay the bills and who, for the most part, still measure distances along the highways and vyways of their lives in miles– and success in life’s endeavors by ‘how far you’ve gotten.’

    How lovely. Taxpayers measure success in life’s endeavors in miles (oops, kilometers), do they? I hope everyone has measured the success in their lives in units of length. By that token, marathon runners would score high. Actually, airplane pilots would be hugely successful. Truck drivers too, maybe? Are you just a yardsticker, or are you maybe a tape measurer? Do we teach this important metric in schools?

    That’s a real howler. =howl=. What’s a “vyway” anyway? =smirk=.

    This is one of the more astonishingly naive statements of space policy I’ve ever heard, frankly.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Unless they decide to fund more HTV’s and ATV’s those will both be done by 2017. They cost considerably more than what progress and dragon cost will ESA and Japan turn to Russia or the US for cargo runs?”

    Japan plans to continue HTV. ESA is another barrel of fish as they plan to stop ATV by 2016, but don’t have clear plans to start anything else as they need something to trade for the ISS partnership.

    “Also, will the U.S. still buy additional progress flights once we have domestic capability? If not I do not see only four cargo flights per year. It will probably more like 4-5 dragon and 2 or 3 Orbital flights with Orbital acting as the trash can on the way down”

    The US plans not to use Progress once commercial cargo comes online. Anyway Space X has 12 flights and Orbital 8 flights. It is more like 2-3 Dragon and 1-2 orbital flights a year unless NASA buys more. In addition each commercial crew craft is supposed to be able to transport a small amount of cargo instead of crew as well.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    Show the documents where SpaceX said they would fly a human, on their own dime by:

    2004
    2005
    2006
    2007
    2008
    2009
    2010
    2011
    2012

    Unless you can show me statements from SpaceX where they said they were prepared ON THEIR OWN DIME to fly humans by a date that has already passed then you are a liar. They have stated repeatedly they can fly humans three years after signing a contract, which they are just about to do.

    SpaceX said they will, on their own dime, launch humans .. but it will take a longer if it is self financed.

    So put up or shut up.

    AND by the way, still waiting for your proof, by way of documents that the:

    FAA was ready is issue license and regs for private citizens to launch humans on rockets starting in 1961. Waiting 3 years and counting tick tock tick tock

    Dept of Transportation was ready to provide regulations for private citizens to build and launch humans on rockets starting in 1961. Waiting 3 years and counting tick tock tick tock

    The DOD was willing to allow private citizens to build rockets and launch humans on them in 1961. Waiting 3 years and counting tick tock tick tock

    The Congress was willing to pass legislation that would allow private citizens to build and launch rockets with humans on them in 1961. Waiting 3 years and counting tick tock tick tock

    That the Whitehouse was willing to push for private citizens to build their own ballistic missiles in their backyard and launch humans on them. Waiting 3 years and counting tick tock tick tock

    The only tick tocking in reality is your constant lying and misrepresenting space issues.

    Show the documents …. tick tock tick tock.

  • amightywind

    None of these decisions are likely to stand. The days of NASA’s leftist leadership are numbered. Like Senator Mikulski I am outraged that the the strong ATK proposal was discarded. But the selection process wasn’t about merit. It was about Obama’s campaign contributors.

  • JimNobles

    amightywind wrote: Like Senator Mikulski I am outraged that the the strong ATK proposal was discarded”

    The ATK proposal wasn’t strong, it was weak. If it was strong it would have been one of the winners.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 6th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Like Senator Mikulski I am outraged that the the strong ATK proposal was discarded.

    You are confused:

    “Today’s exciting news is the next step toward launching our U.S. astronauts to the space station on an American vehicle safely, and doing it as quickly as possible,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said…

    And what was supposedly “strong” about about the ATK proposal? Their untested frankenstein rocket? Their powerpoint spacecraft? Their unknown ability to be a launch provider?

    All three CCiCap winners use operational rockets, which means there is less risk than what ATK was proposing, and all three have had NASA pouring over their designs for three years or more, whereas ATK’s Liberty spacecraft is still at the concept stage (i.e. just a shell).

    If you disagree, fine, but show us some quantifiable evidence that ATK had a proposal that was anywhere close to what the winners had for a COMPLETE crew transportation solution.

  • josh

    i was wondering if windy could abstain from embarrassing himself yet again with another contrafactual rant. he couldn’t:(

  • Googaw

    If it was strong it would have been one of the winners.

    This is the one and only NewSpace orbital HSF customer we are talking about here. They are the market and they can never err!

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>