Campaign '12, Congress, White House

Paul Ryan’s (very thin) space policy dossier

Early this morning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his choice for running mate: Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). While the decision may, as the Washington Post article linked to above suggests, offer a “stark choice” on fiscal issues, it sheds little, if any light, on the niche issue of space policy. Ryan has said virtually nothing on space issues, and it’s not a local issue in his southeast Wisconsin district. His House web site is virtually devoid of references to NASA, beyond a link on his “Students and Kids” page to the “NASA Kids’ Club” site.

In terms of recent roll-call votes, he did vote against the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 in September 2010, legislation that did pass the House and was signed into law.

Ryan is better known as chairman of the House Budget Committee, and in that role he has offered budget proposals that included sigificant cuts in non-defense discretionary spending. The Ryan budget does not go down into the details about specific agencies, like NASA, but instead is at the “account” level, which can cut across not only the usual divisions of the appropriations process but also across agencies. As SpacePolicyOnline.com noted earlier this year, most of NASA, as well as NOAA, are accounted for within account 250, “General science, space, and technology”, but NASA’s aeronautics program is part of account 400, “Transportation”.

What the Ryan budget does show is a modest decrease in science and space spending in his budget. His ten-year (fiscal years 2013-2022) budget would spend about 6.5 percent less on that account versus the administration’s own ten-year budget, which you can compare by looking at the charts at the end of the House budget resolution with this table from the Office of Management and Budget. (This Excel file compares the two budgets on that one particular account.) This doesn’t necessarily mean he would cut NASA’s budget by this amount: he could choose to spare it and cut other programs by a correspondingly greater amount, or vice versa. And, of course, it doesn’t mean that a Romney Administration would necessarily adopt something like this in its budgets for FY2014 and beyond.

155 comments to Paul Ryan’s (very thin) space policy dossier

  • Robert G. Oler

    The Romney campaign is already sinking…Fox News has them 9 points down…the only thing unique about Ryan is that it shows that Romney has adopted the same campaign strategery that both Dole and McCain carried to glorious defeat in 96 an d08 appealing to a shrinking base.

    This will tie Willard hook line and sinker to the Ryan budget which is hated in the US more then Willard is RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    I take a long view. One is not going to see any increase in space spending as long as there are trillion dollar deficits an 1 percent growth. Get the deficits down and the growth up (and hence tax revenue) then there will be more money for space exploration.

  • Robert G. Oler

    As usual Mark is wrong. One is not going to see an increase in space spending at NASA (there is continual increases in space spending in the military/national intel means field) until NASA proves that it can spend money that has some direct influence on the course of The Republic and its economy.

    Civilian space spending at NASA absent a few key uncrewed programs have been almost as wasteful as military excess spending…ie it keeps technowelfare programs going but doesnt change the economic picture.

    We are finally seeing however with commercial crew and cargo startup indusries which are coming into play with the excess capability. Dale Gray was right on the money here RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Get the deficits down and the growth up (and hence tax revenue) then there will be more money for space exploration.

    Assuming that ever happens, unless NASA’s budget grows far faster than the rate of inflation, it still won’t be big enough to do big ticket human exploration missions. And certainly not big enough to expand our presence in space (talking # of people).

    If the U.S. ever wants to be a space-faring nation, then the only way that will happen is through the private sector. And the best way to do that is for NASA to support the private sector through technology & industry development, like NACA did in the pre-NASA days.

    The vision of NASA owning and operating everything in space is pretty silly.

  • James

    The Romney camp wants us to believe that its time for America to make a stark choice about the fiscal future of the country; indeed Ryan’s budget proposal reflects such dramatic decision making.

    However, the American public has no appetite for making big decision, and is still addicted to Government spending. So, one should expect Obama to win, and no big decisions on either our fiscal future, or NASA’s budget.

    Indeed, we see the ‘kick the can down the road’ mentality with what the actual goals of HSF should be.

    Americans want it all, without having to pay for it. This is exactly the problem at NASA; their congressional supporters want everything, but never pony up the money for it; insisting NASA operate and do all the things on it’s plate with meager funding. That is a recipe for delays, disasters, and eventual demise.

    As goes NASA, so goes the nation.

  • amightywind

    I agree with Mr. Whittington. Until federal spending is radically reformed and America returns to the tradition of growth NASA cannot prosper. No pain, go gain. And those who are on the federal dole are gonna feel pain. We may be looking at the executive leadership for the next 16 years!

    The reliable Rasmussen poll has Romney up 2 and surging.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Oler is being as silly as usual. Romney is ahead in Rasmussen and tied in the Gallup tracking poll. His predictions about NASA are as laughable as his ongoing obsession with George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. I suspect that there will be some reform in the Solyndra-like commercial crew program and a renewed space exploration push under Romney/Ryan, including a non-zany lunar base.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    amightywind wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    “The reliable Rasmussen poll has Romney up 2 and surging.”

    LOTS OF LAUGH Rasmussen has not gotten an election correct in a long time, even Fox News dropped them as the poll of choice. In the plethora of polls pre the pick of Ryan, Romney was down and fading in all of them; fading because of his refusal to follow even his fathers advise and release his taxes, doubtless which will show him a tax cheat…and the bain misyears…

    Those gifts will keep on giving and they will be added to by the most hated Budget in the history of the country, the Paul Ryan budget.

    Even the Fox News poll shows Willard in serious trouble with the greatest spread of them all.

    In the end the “save our past” campaign of Willard/Ryan will not deal much with space policy just as they wont deal with much specific because they do not want to outline the real affects of the “pander to the rich” budget or Ryan…but in the end they will lose because of it.

    its like Planet X “wind”…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 1:32 pm
    “His predictions about NASA are as laughable as his ongoing obsession with George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.”

    but unlike your predictions about Iraq and NASA mine were correct…you might think it is an obsession of mine to continually point out how flawed you and Mr. Bush were about NASA, Iraq and almost everything; but all I do is look at it as an attempt to keep you from lying to much RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    “a renewed space exploration push under Romney/Ryan, including a non-zany lunar base.”

    How would Willard do that? He has threatened to fire anyone who mentions it? Or is that just another lie. How sad the state of the GOP these days…RGO

  • The Romney campaign is already sinking…Fox News has them 9 points down

    Since when do you trust Fox News?

    Rasmussen has Romney up by four.

    The only solid data we have is that Ryan voted against the 2010 authorization. It would be nice to know why — I hope it was because of the SLS/MPCV pork.

  • The last three grafs in the above post were mine.

    I suspect that there will be some reform in the Solyndra-like commercial crew program

    No matter how many times it is repeated, it remains profoundly ignorant to think that there is anything remotely “Solyndra-like” about commercial crew.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Solyndra-like commercial crew program”

    How idiotic. There’s nothing “Solyndra-like” about commercial crew.

    Solyndra is one company. Commercial crew is a program with three companies competing.

    Solyndra received a loan from a private bank guaranteed by the Department of Energy regardless of performance. Companies competing in the commercial crew program are only paid by NASA if they achieve agreed-to milestones.

    Solyndra lived or died as a company based on its solar array sales. All the competing commercial crew companies have diverse launch, aerospace, and/or defense revenue streams. NASA could disappear tomorrow and they would all continue as viable, profitable corporations.

    “a renewed space exploration push under Romney/Ryan, including a non-zany lunar base”

    How dumb. Romney stated that he’ll fire anyone who suggests a lunar base. Ryan voted against the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. (And Obama doesn’t want to go back to the Moon, either.)

    Stop smoking lunar dust, Tinkerbell. No one in or running for the White House wants anything to do with astronauts on the Moon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    The Romney campaign is already sinking…Fox News has them 9 points down

    Since when do you trust Fox News?

    Rasmussen has Romney up by four.>>

    Rasmussen is so bad not even Fox will use it, it has not produced a correct analysis of an election picture in a long time…and it is an outlier poll…ie it is the only one saying that Willard is “up”.

    I dont trust Fox News but I do trust their current polling organization (they change a lot) and the poll matches at least four other major polls that show Willard slipping and “why”. The “why” has been apparant for amonth or so now if you read the poll books; as in any shift it just takes awhile to work through the system.

    What is apparant about Reverse squared (Romney/Ryan) is that what they are advocating is a return to the Bush theories of almost everything but particularly economics…and on the “cuts” that they promise Willard has the same ethics there as about his taxes…ie he wont share them with the rest of us…because well they will kill him politically.

    It is hard to see the Ryan choice appealing to the areas where Willard is hemorrhaging support…but …

    the choice this year is as stark as ever…and when the people decide the losers ought to shut up and let the winners try their fix…either way.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    sorry Lorelei helped me send this to fast

    …the choice this year is as stark as ever…and when the people decide the losers ought to shut up and let the winners try their fix…either way.

    If Willard loses after having banged his drum for a long time Mike Griffin should go and put a bag over his head and shut the frack up…if Obama gets a second term we should pursue what he/Bolden/et al want to do in human spaceflight without the loud carping from the people who 1 screwed it up and 2) will have lost a second campaign..

    RGO

  • My guess is that Ryan voted against the 2010 authorization in “autopilot” because it was from Obama and thus automatically “evil,” knocking off full dedication to Constellation (leave aside that that was too expensive to survive any “Ryan” budget, I did say “autopilot”).

    A lot of education will be needed to get Ryan (or Romney) to look at space at all beyond the autopilot approach that would put Griffin or Pace in charge and demolish the free enterprise initiatives presently operating. Remember, space is wholly unimportant. And I have no doubt that ATK will throw all it has now at saving SLS and its jobs in Utah for the initial Romney budget, and have a lot easier time getting to Romney than space free enterprise advocates. They’re already saying “we really weren’t that interested in ‘Liberty’ after all.”

    Whether an effort to turn their heads in favor of free enterprise space can succeed at all is a big question, however ironic the situation. Maybe if Dana Rohrabacher gets his chairmanship back that will help. But expect a bumpy ride for any NASA work with commercial space, particularly CCP and Technology (i.e. from the Obama policy) if Romney gets in.

    Right now, maybe the better bet is Shackleton Energy’s projected return to Luna in 2019, per their presentation at NewSpace2012.

  • vulture4

    Although Obama may win the general it will be a Pyrric victory if both House and Senate go to the GOP. Nothing will be decided.

    Ryan has said that his plan to balance the budget is to cut taxes. This would be a reasonable plan only if the budget had a huge surplus. If Ryan/Romney wins the NASA budget will be axed.

    Without a tax increase the space program will have to be substantially descoped. It’s just possible that even with a GOP congress Obama could negotiate dropping Constellation and continuing Commercial Crew. But I won’t hold my breath.

  • NASA’s tiny budget has absolutely no significant effect on the deficit! You could totally eliminate NASA’s $7 billion dollar a year manned spaceflight related budget (SLS/MPCV, ISS, and CCd) and it would still take more than two thousand years for those savings to pay off the 16 trillion dollar national debt.

    And even if you totally eliminated NASA, those savings would still take nearly a 1000 years to pay off the debt. But, of course, since our investment in space technology actually creates more wealth than it consumes (such investments created a multihundred billion dollar a year satellite based global telecommunications industry), we would actually be increasing the national debt by eliminating NASA spending.

    Serious debt reduction will require major reforms in Medicare and Medicaid spending, welfare and unemployment insurance reform, plus serious reductions in the $1 trillion a year that this nation spends on defense and national security. Anything else is simply shuffling chairs on the Titanic.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Not had the chance to look-up the Congressional vote, nonetheless, I wonder how Paul Ryan voted on the NASA budget floor amendment cutting funds (by a single vote) earlier this year? That may be a more telling vote.

  • Jeff Foust

    Jack:

    I’m not sure what specific amendment you’re referring to (there were several associated with the floor debate on the CJS appropriations bill), but Ryan did vote against the amendment to transfer over $100 million from NASA’s cross-agency support account to a community policing program:

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/05/09/appropriations-amendment-cuts-126-million-from-nasa/

  • Egad

    >The reliable always-predictable Rasmussen poll has Romney up 2 and surging.

    Fixed that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The politics of this are fairly simple.

    If Reverse squared (Romney Ryan) does not come up with a space policy then two things will happen 1) Obama and his campaign surrogates will continue to do what is happening in FL now…ie calling the romney campaign out on not having a space policy and 2) Obama can be free to use his commercial space policy as part of a “forward thinking” approach while Willard is stuck with dolts like Griffin advocating a return to Bush type thinking.

    This wont gain Obama any votes among most of the “space illuminatee” because they are mostly social nuts who will vote based on the misrepresentations that are made about Obama (he killed the space shuttle dont you know)…but it will have an impact at least marginally in places where new space is starting to blossom,

    In general politics it is clearly a choice between going backwards into the Bush43 era or trying something new. You can see how this is illustrated by Whittington’s dimwitted hope that ““a renewed space exploration push under Romney/Ryan, including a non-zany lunar base”

    It is not going to happen…but all that hope is is a return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, put the nation in reverse to the past that folks like Whittington have created out of fiction (he writes it after all) and not acknolwedge the changes that have happened in the world.

    There is no reason to send Americans or anyone else on “voyages of exploration”…they are jokes.

    it is a great choice for America…RGO

  • Yes, my error. Looked at wrong “Ryan.” Thank you for the correction.

  • Googaw

    there will be some reform in the Solyndra-like commercial crew program and a renewed space exploration push under Romney/Ryan, including a non-zany lunar base.

    Talk about a case of Stockholm Syndrome. Romney boots Newt Gingrich out of the primary by criticizing his call for a lunar base…so now we will go begging to Romney for our cherished lunar base!

    BTW, what is a “non-zany lunar base”? Is that something like a “non-spherical globe”?

  • What is apparant about Reverse squared (Romney/Ryan) is that what they are advocating is a return to the Bush theories of almost everything but particularly economics

    More Bush derangement from the usual source.

    Ryan has said that his plan to balance the budget is to cut taxes.

    No, Ryan’s plan is to cut tax rates to promote economic growth. That is not the same thing as cutting taxes. His plan is to also get the budget under control.

  • Rhyolite

    “Although Obama may win the general it will be a Pyrric victory if both House and Senate go to the GOP. Nothing will be decided.”

    The Bush tax cuts will be partially or fully rolled back unless the GOP wins all three. There is no chance they will have a veto override majority.

    “Ryan has said that his plan to balance the budget is to cut taxes. This would be a reasonable plan only if the budget had a huge surplus. If Ryan/Romney wins the NASA budget will be axed. ”

    Or they’ll just run an ever larger deficit. Given the last 30 years of history, where do you want to place your bets?

  • Googaw

    A lot of education will be needed

    In other words, you have your work cut out for you trying to pump economic fantasies into the heads of practical people.

    and demolish the free enterprise initiatives presently operating.

    Romney and Ryan want to destroy the comsat business?

  • Googaw

    NASA’s tiny budget has absolutely no significant effect on the deficit!

    Every bureaucrat has a small budget. And that’s what they all say to defend it.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Although it’s a pretty old bill, Ryan did vote to support Roharbacher’s 2004 bill — the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 which was actually passed by Congress and signed by the President. That was actually a remarkable feat in the height of the Constellation era, though there is no evidence that Ryan put any skin into the game.

  • DCSCA

    As far as space community goes, you’ve got the Obama/Biden plan which is slim and the Romney/Ryan plan which is nothing.

    A little bit of something is a whole lot better than a whole lot of nothing.

    The lesser of two evils means space will be ‘Obama/Biden time’ until Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, as she has a personal interest in space- something lacking at the top levels of government for decades.

  • My two cents’ worth … Vice-presidential picks matter very little at the polls. George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle (or as those with a dark sense of humor called him, “Life Insurance”) and got elected anyway.

    Similarly, Rep. Ryan’s attitudes towards space (which seem to be as non-existent as Romney’s) won’t matter either because it’s Romney’s administration, not Ryan’s. The only way it matters is if he succeeds Romney.

    It should be noted, however, that traditionally the vice-president is the nominal head of the space program. If Romney continues that tradition, then in theory a future NASA administrator would report up the chain of command to Ryan.

    I think the dam is about to burst on Romney. The CNN story a couple days ago on the “Son of Boss” tax shelter scam is going to do him in. Bain Capital was mainly boorish. “Son of Boss” is only going to rachet up the demand he release his tax returns. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if, as the election heads into October, you see a lot of Republican congressional delegates trying to distance themselves from Romney.

    Worst case scenario … If the GOP formally nominate Romney only to have the evidence break that he committed a crime with illegal tax shelters, one has to wonder how much damage that will do to Republican congressional delegates. Maybe none at all. Maybe enough to flip the House back to Democrat. Probably somewhere inbetween.

    Anyway, the next couple months are going to be very interesting. NASA will be an unimportant issue on the campaign trail … although I will point out that the next SpaceX launch is in October, which would make a nice campaign stop for Obama to declare victory for his space policy.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    But, of course, since our investment in space technology actually creates more wealth than it consumes (such investments created a multihundred billion dollar a year satellite based global telecommunications industry), we would actually be increasing the national debt by eliminating NASA spending.

    Any effect NASA had on the satellite industry ended decades ago, so raising or lowering NASA’s budget won’t have any effect on that industry today. None.

    And in general, NASA really doesn’t affect the fortunes of any market segment, other than government contractors. The NIH probably affects the national GDP far more percentage-wise than NASA does.

    For instance, as of 2003, the NIH was responsible for 28% – about US$26.4 billion – of the total biomedical research funding spent annually in the U.S., with most of the rest coming from industry. NASA contributes nowhere close to the same stimulus effect.

  • adastramike

    Oler dribble:

    “There is no reason to send Americans or anyone else on “voyages of exploration”…they are jokes.”

    You like to make blanket statements like this based on your poor history and poltical analysis skills (which amounts to viewing everything in terms of bias against one particular party). Pretty narrow minded and childish.

    First, if you seriously don’t believe missions to Moon or Mars or elsewhere in the solar system won’t ever happen, your living under your comfortable rock. Even if they don’t happen now, by govts, they will happen. It’s just a matter of technology progressing and time. Maybe you have a hatred of HSF because of failed promises, or because you yourself aren’t smart enough in math, engineering, and science to design even a bolt for a space mission.

    Some reasons for US HSF (not in order of importance):

    1. Science that robots can’t achieve alone
    2. Inspiration for youth to study science, technology, engineering, math
    3. Research and technology development in software and hardware
    4. Contributions to the aerospace industrial base (economy)
    5. Future space mining
    6. Future launch bases on the Moon, to produce rocket fuel, drinking water, breathable oxygen
    7. Technological innovation and leadership
    8. Space tourism in LEO
    9. Geopolitical prestige
    10. Diplomacy and international cooperation
    11. Commercial activity in cislunar space
    12. Jobs for engineers who don’t want to work in defense
    13. Technological spinoffs

    Im sure this could be articulated better with more time to research the specifics, but just my take…not that any of this would alter an ogre’s viewpoint…

    I was infuriated when I read you statement. It’s idiots like you who would keep back scientific and technological progress because YOU simply can’t see future potential and discovery. Stick to whatever boring, uninspiring work you do.

    Good thing you don’t have any influence on space policy and will soon yourself recede into the past. Don’t make us wait.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    @ adastramike

    The usual list of mostly sad reasons for human space flight. Let’s pick ‘em apart.

    1. Science that robots can’t achieve alone

    There are vastly fewer science missions that can’t be achieved by robots alone then there used to be. Most of the advantage humans on site have now is time delay, and you don’t even quite have to have humans on site for that. Of course, getting humans close is a good reason for some kinds of human space flight.

    2. Inspiration for youth to study science, technology, engineering, math

    There has been no, I mean ZERO, serious study of the efficacy of spending money on human space flight in order to get students to study science, math, and technology. No question that it does that, but spending $7B/yr on science, match and technology education might well do vastly more. Give each and every kid $250/yr if they’ll study science, match, and technology. Give the ones that do $1000/yr!

    3. Research and technology development in software and hardware

    R&D in “software and hardware? Um. What “software and hardware” would that be? Oh, “software and hardware” to do human space flight, right? Ya got me there.

    4. Contributions to the aerospace industrial base (economy)

    “Contributions” are nice. So glad that the country is going to be so generous. We should contribute to other economic sectors similarly. No, the question is, what are we buying from the aerospace industrial base that’s worth it?

    5. Future space mining

    Space mining has no intrinsic priority. If there was something hugely useful and economically sensible to mine, maybe it would. Let the resource development industries have at it. If someone wants to be a billionaire by harvesting unobtainium in space, let ‘em at it.

    6. Future launch bases on the Moon, to produce rocket fuel, drinking water, breathable oxygen

    And this is useful … why? Oh, to support human space flight! To paraphrase the ISS-haters, we now think about space with circular reasoning. Round and round.

    7. Technological innovation and leadership

    Human rated rockets and space ECLSS systems offer no technical innovations or leadership that anyone outside the human space flight business needs. Technological innovation and leadership is important, but doing that by shooting humans into space is hardly the only way to get it.

    8. Space tourism in LEO

    This is a reason for federal investment (taxpayer dollars) in human space flight? Get real. I’m paying money out of my pocket so rich people can buy trips?

    9. Geopolitical prestige

    If you mean “soft power”, perhaps. Have we garnered $100B of geopolitical prestige from ISS?

    10. Diplomacy and international cooperation

    Only a space nerd would believe that human space flight is a productive way to foster this. Would you have us spend $7B/yr on the U.N.?

    11. Commercial activity in cislunar space

    Self referential. There is nothing intrinsically valuable about commercial activity in cis-lunar space, any more than commercial activity at the South Pole.

    12. Jobs for engineers who don’t want to work in defense

    Oooh. You mean if you’re an engineer, you need to work in Defense or human space flight? Who would have guessed?

    13. Technological spinoffs

    That’s just spin. $7B/yr gets you what technological spinoffs?

    I’m sorry, but we have to do better. These are simplistic reasons that, if you scratch their surface, there isn’t much underneath. Settling for trite, simple rationale doesn’t make this enterprise look very good.

    Paul Ryan is a pretty smart guy, whether you accept his strategies or not. If would be interesting to see which if any of these he’d fall for. I’m sorry, but for someone committed to cutting the federal budget, these seem like great reasons to use NASA to help do so.

    Im sure this could be articulated better with more time to research the specifics

    Yep, you got that right.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    No, Ryan’s plan is to cut tax rates to promote economic growth.>>

    Bush43 tried that it failed RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Although Obama may win the general it will be a Pyrric victory if both House and Senate go to the GOP. Nothing will be decided.>>

    the pick of Ryan is significant because it COULD remember I said COULD put the House in serious play on this election (and help the Senate stay Dem)

    Willard has so far avoided being tarred with the GOP House, but now with taking on the guy who is its “budget” genius…he has firmly anchored himself with the GOP House which is nationally one of the most unpopular institutions around.

    IF The Dems are successful in tying Romney to the House and in making the case that the House is one reason we are stuck…this could give impetus to a wave election. There is some polling (mostly Charlie Cook) that indicates this is starting to work.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    adastramike wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 6:50 pm
    ..at least this time you got my name correct…you are learning.

    “12. Jobs for engineers who don’t want to work in defense”

    Human spaceflight and human space “exploration” is not a social safety net for engineers …

    I’ve always found most human spaceflight employees an odd lot. They use to come to the school board meetings and beat up on teachers having health care…and they had the same health care from the US government (more or less).

    blanket statements are of course mostly wrong; and I should have been more careful (grin) but in reality there is nothing “now” or in the foresseable future other then technowelfare that argues for humans setting out on voyages of exploration of the solar system.

    Lets take (my words but close to your thoughts) “rocket fuel and water from the Moon”. the worst thing that could happen to make that a future is to concentrate on sending humans to look for it…they cost far to much money to keep alive and return little in terms of the cost of keeping them there…uncrewed vehicles do far more for far less. One day we might get the cost of humans in space down to say 10 times people at the South Pole and have used robotics to find something useful for them to do…and then the economics might work.

    until then all it is is technowelfare.

    “will soon yourself recede into the past.” sadly for you on the average I probably have another half century to go…sadly for you people have already tried to “do me in” and while I enjoy gazing up at the body armor that adorns my “I love me wall”…there is nothing as joyous as having been shot at and survived….ok someone else said that (grin)

    Are you a NASA or NASA HSF contractor employee? Just checking to see if you are a technowelfare person RGO

  • “Googaw wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    NASA’s tiny budget has absolutely no significant effect on the deficit!

    Every bureaucrat has a small budget. And that’s what they all say to defend it.”

    NASA has a relatively tiny budget. Medicare, Medicaid, and defense spending are titanic budgets.

    And America is certainly not it debt because it spending too much money on science and technology– it is much richer because it does spend money on science and technology. And America would be a much poorer country if it had no satellite based telecommunications industry.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • “Any effect NASA had on the satellite industry ended decades ago, so raising or lowering NASA’s budget won’t have any effect on that industry today. None.”

    That’s only true if the satellite industry is no longer making money for the US and the world. But the satellite based telecommunications industry continues to generate wealth for the US and the world.

    Our current investment in space will eventually give us access to the astronomical amounts of wealth in the New Frontier. A permanent industrial colony on the Moon will probably dominate the satellite manufacturing and launch industry well before the end of this century and could be at the core of clean energy production on Earth if space solar power satellites are manufactured and launched from the lunar surface before the end of this century.

    Additionally the total wealth of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is probably worth hundreds of quadrillions of dollars. Our continued investment in space will make future generations much much richer that we could possibly ever imagine!

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Googaw

    if you seriously don’t believe missions to Moon or Mars or elsewhere in the solar system won’t ever happen

    Typical of the astronaut cult to apocalyptically turn a half century to a century into “[n]ever”. And of course to just say “missions to the Moon or Mars” when referring specifically to astronaut missions, when all missions to Mars and the vast majority to the moon have been unmanned, and indeed all such missions not involving bizarre Cold War circumstances to such bodies have been sans local crew.

    These people are very far lost in their hallucinations.

  • Googaw

    And this is useful … why? Oh, to support human space flight! To paraphrase the ISS-haters, we now think about space with circular reasoning. Round and round.

    That’s a pretty good summary of a great deal of HSF cult “thinking”.

  • Googaw

    I was infuriated when I read you statement. It’s idiots like you who would keep back scientific and technological progress

    No astronauts, no progress. Wow why didn’t I recognize their heavenly powers?

  • Googaw

    America would be a much poorer country if it had no satellite based telecommunications industry.

    Unmanned space industry is important. Therefore we must spend hundreds of billions of dollars more on astronauts. QED!

    BTW, NASA’s role in the birth of the comsat industry ranged from irrelevant to mostly negative. They had a government-enforced monopoly on launching civilian payloads: if you wanted to launch a commercial satellite in that era, you had to go through them. The technologies for comsats and their launchers were primiarly (1) derivatives of missiles (IRBMs and ICBMs) developed by defense contractors for the DoD, and (2) a variety of technologies such as semiconductors (for solar cells and miniaturized circuitry) and radio/microwave receivers and transmitters developed by the private sector, sometimes with funding from the DoD.

    What NASA was doing in the 1960s was largely irrelevant and the rest primarily negative to the birth of the comsat industry.

    And NASA has squandered hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money since then without giving rise to any other significant space industry — despite the astronomical number of promises and implications and coy suggestsions about how NASA was leading the way towards space industrialization. GPS was also the work of the DoD.

    That’s what happens when your economic expectatons are dreamed up by central planners (or planner wannabes) based on the fantasies of pulp science fiction.

  • Googaw

    Additionally the total wealth of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is probably worth hundreds of quadrillions of dollars.

    There are far more minerals underneath our feet than in the entire asteroid belt. Of course, most of it is about as affordable to mine as the asteroid belt is.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    That’s only true if the satellite industry is no longer making money for the US and the world. But the satellite based telecommunications industry continues to generate wealth for the US and the world.

    Maybe, but we could zero out NASA’s current budget and it wouldn’t affect the revenue generated by the current satellite-related industry.

    You fail to provide any examples that prove your assertions.

    A permanent industrial colony on the Moon will probably dominate the satellite manufacturing and launch industry well before the end of this century…

    You can tell you’ve never worked in manufacturing. I have, in both high-tech DoD and consumer products, and the supply chain and personnel needed for satellite manufacturing off-world ain’t happenin’ in your stated timeframe, and there would be no reason to build on the Moon when it’s so much less expensive here on Earth.

  • Vladislaw

    Real Clear Politics Average Obama +4.6

    Rasmussen Tracking ——- Romney +2
    Gallup Tracking ————— Tie
    IBD/CSM/TIPP —————— Obama +7
    CNN/Opinion Research —- Obama +7
    FOX News ———————— Obama +9
    Reuters/Ipsos —————— Obama +7
    Democracy Corps (D) — Obama +4

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

  • Mary

    Heinrich Monroe wrote,

    “6. Future launch bases on the Moon, to produce rocket fuel, drinking water, breathable oxygen and new strains of medical marijuana…”

    Why waste our time and money exploring space? Teach our youth to create and be more dependent on government welfare programs.

  • Mary

    Lets pose a real question. Why are the Chinese developing a space program?

  • Why are the Chinese developing a space program?

    For national prestige.

  • Jeff Foust

    Folks, a reminder that the topic of the post is not about general US electoral politics and polls, or China’s space program. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping the discussion on topic.

  • DougSpace

    My view is that we won’t get nor do we need increased funding for NASA. When Falcon Heavy launches, it will be apparent that a path is opening for relatively inexpensive sizable operations (two FH payloads docked at LEO nearly approaches Apollo mass).

  • Mary

    At this time It looks as if the Mittens / Rye ticket won’t be making NASA and subsidized commercial space a priority if elected. The NAA was a flawed bill to begin with.

  • vulture4

    V4: Ryan has said that his plan to balance the budget is to cut taxes.

    Rand: No, Ryan’s plan is to cut tax rates to promote economic growth. That is not the same thing as cutting taxes. His plan is to also get the budget under control.

    V4: Many candidates including Mr. Ryan have suggested that tax rates could be cut while eliminating “loopholes” and thus stimulate the economy without increasing the deficit. There are three weaknesses in this claim.

    First, neither candidate has actually identified any major loopholes they would plug. Probably the only ones that would really increase revenues are repeal of the mortgage interest deduction and the unfairly low capital gains tax rate, both of which provide millions in benefits to Mr. Romney himself.

    Second, the macroeconomic effect of taxation is obviously dependent on total revenues, not on the theoretical tax rate. Those who benefit from the loopholes claim they act as stimuli, though in reality houses are overbuilt and most capital investment goes overseas.

    Third, there is no evidence that tax rate reduction or spending cuts act as an economic stimulus in a period when corporate profits and cash reserves are already at record levels. Apple alone has $50B in the bank. How would it help to give them $100B? A corporation does not pay income tax on money it invests in expansion, therefore a high corporate income tax stimulates reinvestment. Slow growth results not from lack of capital but from lack of money in the hands of consumers. Many are teachers, police and firefighters laid off due to budget cuts, who lack the income to pay significant taxes and thus will not benefit from tax cuts.

    Romney and Ryan do propose spending cuts the GOP will support in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, which will reduce disposable income in the hands of taxpayers, and plan major cuts in discretionary programs, which include NASA.

  • Vladislaw

    According to spacepolicyonline this is everything NASA related.

    “Ryan voted aye on the 2000 NASA Authorization Act (P.L. 106-391) when it passed the House in his first months in office in 1999 during a period when the House was under Republican control. The bill passed 259-168.

    There was no recorded vote on the 2005 NASA authorization bill (P. L. 109-155). This bill generally endorsed President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration at a time when the House and Senate were under Republican control.

    The 2008 NASA authorization bill (P.L. 110-422) was similar to the 2005 bill, but passed when the House and Senate were under Democratic control. It passed 409-15 and Ryan was one of the 15 who voted against it.

    The 2010 NASA authorization bill (P.L. 111-267) also passed under Democratic control, but by a smaller margin, 304-118. The bill was quite controversial in the House and opposition to its passage was led by the Democratic chairwoman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), wife of then-NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. She and Ryan were among the 118 House members who voted nay.

    As for the 2004 Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments (P.L. 105-492), which passed under Republican control, Ryan voted aye. The bill passed 264-120.”
    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/romney-veep-choice-paul-ryan-voted-against-last-two-nasa-authorization-bills

    I was surprised he voted against the 2008 funding bill. One of only 15.

    Was it the funding overall he was against or the bloated Constellation program?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 12:34 am
    “BTW, NASA’s role in the birth of the comsat industry ranged from irrelevant to mostly negative. They had a government-enforced monopoly on launching civilian payloads: if you wanted to launch a commercial satellite in that era, you had to go through them. The technologies for comsats and their launchers were primiarly (1) derivatives of missiles (IRBMs and ICBMs) developed by defense contractors for the DoD, and (2) a variety of technologies such as semiconductors (for solar cells and miniaturized circuitry) and radio/microwave receivers and transmitters developed by the private sector, sometimes with funding from the DoD.”

    NO

    little of that is accurate.

    There is a path to telecommunications satellites without NASA and it is hard to see “where” It goes but it is a path. AT&T and RCA were working with low altitude comsats (or medium altitude ones) in the cases of Telstar and Relay respectively…and it doesnt take to much of a blink and an imagination to see how that could have “taken off”.

    And evolved.

    the role NASA played was in the geo market…and it was a thoughtful role as opposed to the military notion of Advent.

    The syncom series of satellites should be thought of as in the mold of the commercial crew/cargo efforts today…and Advent should be thought of as the precursor of large useless military (and NASA) Programs that promise a lot and actually do little.

    What the debate is really over is the various legislation that came out of the Congress in the early 60′s regarding satellite communications and the creation of the various quasi government/private organizations that sort of held sway in communications technology until the mid 70′s.

    Over the decades I have more or less reversed my thinking on these acts and find them more or less a hindrance rather then a good thing.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 10:55 pm
    “NASA has a relatively tiny budget. Medicare, Medicaid, and defense spending are titanic budgets.

    And America is certainly not it debt because it spending too much money on science and technology”

    that is not very thoughtful.

    NASA has a tiny budget in the comparisons you list BUT it has an enormous budget in terms of space development…

    we as a nation will not fix the budget situation unless the money the federal government spends in its efforts is leveraged correctly to help create private infrastructure which properly regulated then creates commerce for all citizens and wealth for private individuals.

    NASA is doing that with commercial crew and cargo, that example should be followed. RGO

  • A corporation does not pay income tax on money it invests in expansion, therefore a high corporate income tax stimulates reinvestment.

    This is drifting off topic again, but corporations don’t pay income tax at all — they only collect it from shareholders, customers and employees. A “corporate income tax” reduces disposable income for those people, which you claim in the next paragraph is a bad thing for NASA.

  • vulture4

    Sorry Jeff I was off topic. I notice the spreadsheets do not give units but I assume millions. The Ryan budget cuts a $30B budget (more than half NASA) by about $2B/yr, increasing year to year. Since only contractors get fired, this will mostly come from cuts in NASA contracts. If SLS/Orion were actually completely terminated the remaining programs (ISS, SMD, Aero, CCCP) could survive and even get a little more than they do now. But with Griffin as White House advisor this isn’t likely.

  • At this time It looks as if the Mittens / Rye ticket won’t be making NASA and subsidized commercial space a priority if elected.

    In what basis do you say that (not that purchasing needed services is a “subsidy.” Do you consider the billions that we’re sending instead to the Russians a “subsidy” to them?)?

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 11th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Nah. When the hype settles out, this will be seen for what it is, 90 days out from the general- a ‘Hail Mary’ by a candidate on a downward arc in the polls w/zero principles to give him any lift. It’s the few swing states that matter. And people vote for the top of the ticket. Ryan’s a devotee of Ayn Rand- and as a ‘Ran Man; of the John Galt ethic, would not take kindly to subsidizing the likes of an Elon Musk. It’s Obamaspace through 2016, ’til Hillary gets in office.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    “This is drifting off topic again, but corporations don’t pay income tax at all — they only collect it from shareholders, customers and employees.”

    that is rhetoric not reality or policy.

    Taxpayers both corporate and individual do pay income tax that reflects their decisions in the year for which taxes are paid…thanks to an income tax system that is a series of deductions and laws governing how money is spent…rather then a flat tax.

    in simple terms the taxable income of a corporation or an individual reflects the choices THAT PERSON (or persons if individuals filing jointly) have made during the tax period.

    This is one reason I oppose a “zero gee zero tax” policy. It is essentially a financial windfall investors…what we should have is tax policy which is an incentive toward investment in capital goods and equipment…ie there is a difference in capital that simply is used to enrich Willard Mitt Romney as a private individual and capital which someone like Elon Musk (or either as corporations depending on which one Willard thinks he is these days) makes and then reinvest in a new business…and the tax code should reflect that.

    Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society; and yes Obama is/was correct in that anyone who built a business did not build it without the infrastructure which was provided as a public good or if you will “the general welfare” (which is how The folks who wrote the Constitution used the phrase).

    the tax code should differentiate (as it does for both corporations and individuals) toward wealth that is used for the public or the private good…ie my contributions to my church are tax deductible and we want individuals to buy homes so is the mortgage deduction….these are all the choices we make.

    Your statement is nonsensical. It is Fox News blather…RGO

  • James

    @RGO

    Howq would duplicate the commercial crew model to other parts of NASA, and do u think Obama and/or Willard would support such a transformation?

  • As for the 2004 Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments (P.L. 105-492), which passed under Republican control, Ryan voted aye. The bill passed 264-120.

    The CSLAA was not a spending bill. It was an update to a regulatory bill that enabled the creation of the commercial reusable suborbital industry.

  • More Fox News derangement from RGO.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    …won’t be making NASA and subsidized commercial space a priority if elected.

    ULA is subsidized via a $1B Launch Capabilities Contract, which is mainly DoD related. I don’t know of any NASA subsidies for transportation services.

    The Commercial Cargo & Crew programs are certainly not subsidized, nor is the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II a subsidy.

    Unless you’re changing the meaning of the word “subsidy“.

  • Martijn Meijering

    ULA is subsidized via a $1B Launch Capabilities Contract, which is mainly DoD related.

    Nope, it’s not a subsidy any more than CRS is a subsidy. ULA is providing a vital service that the DoD needs, at a fair price. Currently it is the only company capable of offering such a service, which in part explains the high price tag. Note that ULA is not making excessive profits on it however.

    In the future, such a contract could go to SpaceX too. In that case increased competition may cause the price for that service to drop, and in the long run it may no longer be necessary to have an ELC at all.

  • Googaw

    America is certainly not it debt because it spending too much money on science and technology

    “America is certainly not it debt because it spending too much money on [insert my favorite projects here]”

    Again, that’s what they all say. Yawn…………..

  • Googaw

    The Commercial Cargo & Crew programs are certainly not subsidized

    It’s a “necessity”, don’t you know. I refer to that $100+ billion largely useless laboratory, costing an additonal $3+ billion per year, which is the sole rationale for CC & C (besides the cult daydreams of a UFO hunter). Therefore 100% government funding of this “market” is not a subidy.

    Words don’t mean what they used to — they have special meanings now just for NewSpacers. Get with the program you OldSpacers!

    Of course if your favorite projects are being funded by government that is indeed a subsidy. Your projects are not “necesssities”. You OldSpace people will just have to catch on to this NewSpace jargon. Where government contracts are “commerce”, NASA is “the market”, and with cosmic magic they work just like real commerce and markets.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 5:12 pm
    ‘Unless you’re changing the meaning of the word “subsidy“.’

    Yes well that’s what certain posters do!

    Anyway, although there seems to be a bit of a push to save the Mars Program (whatever that means!), my take is that the NASA budget bottom line will remain flat. In effect, a cut since aerospace inflation seems to be a bit higher than other industries, and reading the tea leaves, not the polls (although thanks Vlad’), seems to me like Obama’s a shoe-in at present.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “One is not going to see an increase in space spending at NASA (there is continual increases in space spending in the military/national intel means field) until NASA proves that it can spend money that has some direct influence on the course of The Republic and its economy.”

    Either next year or 2017.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Nope, it’s not a subsidy any more than CRS is a subsidy.

    I think you need to look up the definition of subsidy too.

    The Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract is a fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.

    Currently it is the only company capable of offering such a service, which in part explains the high price tag.

    No, their launch prices are entirely independent of their subsidy.

    Note that ULA is not making excessive profits on it however.

    That’s impossible to know, unless you’re Boeing or Lockheed Martin, since ULA is a joint venture of the two.

    In the future, such a contract could go to SpaceX too.

    Unlikely, since Congress is looking at eliminating the ULA subsidy, and they’ll go back to having launch providers put all their costs in their launch prices. That is the most transparent way for the government to determine what the best launch value is.

    Now at some point, if ULA decides not to try and lower prices, or otherwise can’t compete with SpaceX on their value proposition, then Congress will have to decide if it’s worth subsidizing a non-competitive company in the name of choice. Remember that until recently Congress was perfectly fine with launch monopolies, and even subsidizing the company that had the monopoly, so who knows, SpaceX could end up with a subsidy in the future. But I hope not, and I think our current Congress would be loathe to provide new subsidies to anyone.

  • Mary

    When the OldSpacers talk about “subsidy” , they’re really talking about losses. If something happens to SpaceX ( a private company ), guess who picks up the tab. This is an inherent flaw of public, private partnerships.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Words don’t mean what they used to — they have special meanings now just for NewSpacers.

    I use dictionary definitions for words, which don’t change.

    Now maybe you don’t know how to use a dictionary, and if that’s true then you shouldn’t be trying to judge what people are saying.

    Therefore 100% government funding of this “market” is not a subidy.

    I always think it’s funny when non-business people try to understand how business works.

    Let’s take your example – you infer that no business should ever start a new service if they don’t have more than one customer. Of course that ignores that you can never get a 2nd customer unless you have your first.

    Also, let’s test your theory about “government payment for services = subsidy”. Take any service that the government pays for (like cargo delivery), and substitute “Apple Inc” for “U.S. Government”. Does that still meet the definition of what you call “subsidy”? No, of course not.

    Chicken Little fails to impress again.

  • Robert G. Oler

    James wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    @RGO

    Howq would duplicate the commercial crew model to other parts of NASA, and do u think Obama and/or Willard would support such a transformation?>>

    I dont know but doubt that the GOP and Willard would support such a transformation. My belief is that if (as seems likely) Obama gets a second term this could be come the standard way of doing business at NASA…and none to soon.

    The Commercial crew/cargo model can in my view be used as a template for almost everything from suborbital to Lunar flight. There are few unknowns there anymore and while there is some R&D needed for such projects, the main part of it concerns how to make the resulting hardware cost effective.

    There is for instance no reason a lunar lander could not be done under the Cargo crew model…

    The trick is to involve commercial companies as providing a service to keep cost in line and to make surplus capability that can be sold by that company to actual private enterprise groups.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    My belief is that if (as seems likely) Obama gets a second term this could be come the standard way of doing business at NASA…and none to soon.

    Good luck convincing Congress of that.

    Congress has fought the commercial competition model every step of the way because it puts an end to the pork gravy train.

    We got rid of Hutchison, but we also have to get rid of Nelson and Mikulski and Shelby and Hatch and the rest of the porkers.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “If something happens to SpaceX ( a private company ), guess who picks up the tab. This is an inherent flaw of public, private partnerships.”

    This is a red herring at best and ignorant FUD at worst.

    First, SpaceX’s launch backlog is a pretty diverse one, much more so than any other US launch company. A lot of satellite companies and foreign agencies would have to all go belly up at the same time to put a serious dent in SpaceX’s non-NASA revenue.

    Second, if SpaceX (or another commercial cargo/crew company) did fold, there’s no tab to pick up as long as there’s competition. If a nuclear blast leveled SpaceX’s Hawthorne manufacturing facility tomorrow, NASA could still turn to Boeing, OSC, and Sierra Nevada for cargo and crew transport.

    And even if NASA had to have Dragon cargo resupply or crew transport and SpaceX was belly up, NASA has march-in rights under all the commercial cargo/crew agreements. Taking over the private part of a cost-effective public/private partnership is much preferable to spending 10X that amount developing and operating an all-government system.

  • Paul Bryan

    Imagine the year is 2032. Since 2012, the following major milestones have been achieved in space (but nothing more). I want you to tell me whether you’d be satisfied with this level of progress, and whether you think it is realistic or unlikely.

    The ISS flew till 2029 and has now been de-orbited. During that time NASA successfully tested a 40 foot Nautilus X habitable centrifuge demonstrator and believes the technical challenges for creating a centrifuge double the size are known, understood and mastered. The Ad Astra company tested the first prototype solar powered VASIMR engine on the ISS in 2019. By 2030 the first testing of a nuclear powered VASIMR engine took place and is still in process and may be the chosen candidate for a future manned mission to Phobos.

    Bigelow are operating a fleet of 3 inflatable space stations of various sizes roughly equating to BA 330. Their stations are serviced by 3 US private aerospace companies, 1 state funded European competitor, the Russians and the Chinese and are hired out to private companies and international states.

    Nasa developed and tested the first propellant depot by 2023 and by 2030 there are now two depots serviced by private aerospace companies. These depots are primarily used by privately operated space tugs which refuel orbiting satellites

    The controlled de-orbiting of defunct satellites has been tested and mastered and a fledgling private sector business starts offering orbital clean-up services from 2027 financed by a tax on satellites operators. The US, European and Asian space industries reach common agreement on the tax structure but there main many countries who refuse to sign up to the agreement.

    The Europa Jupiter System Mission as currently conceived flies in 2028 and has just started making its first discoveries in 2032.

    Nasa’s SLS-Orion system has not returned man to the moon, though lunar flyby’s have taken place, and some first efforts at teleoperation of rovers on the lunar surface have been tested. US astronauts have flown to various Lagrange points and have tested small scale radiation shielding shelters. Man’s longest mission outside of earth orbit is 3 months but no landing on a near earth object has yet been attempted (only flyby’s). Preparations are now in place for a manned 2040 mission to Phobos.

    Reaction Engines have successfully developed the Sabre engine and the first Skylon spaceplane is in production for a first flight in 2034 as joint Euro-American project.

  • Justin Kugler

    Paul, I’d actually be quite happy with that level of progress. There are two things that I don’t think are going to happen, though.

    First, a solar-powered VASIMR is not likely to be tested on the ISS. The ISS cannot provide enough power for continuous testing, so a VX-200 test article would have to fly its own battery array and be so massive as to require its own truss site. This also means that you can’t do true life cycle testing on the ISS because the test article would only be able to do short bursts. None of the existing cargo vehicles or upcoming commercial crew vehicles can carry it to Station, either, so you’d need some kind of purpose-built transfer bus. We haven’t even gotten into the installation and EVA costs yet.

    It makes more sense, IMO, for Ad Astra to do life cycle characterization in a ground test facility and operational testing on a free-flyer.

    Second, in the absence of any funding for missions or mission systems, the SLS-Orion system isn’t going to take us anywhere. Nor is there much rationale for keeping SLS around if we have a functioning system of fuel depots. We could get more total mass into space (and sooner) using existing boosters.

  • Mary

    Dark Blue Nine wrote,

    “Second, if SpaceX (or another commercial cargo/crew company) did fold, there’s no tab to pick up as long as there’s competition.”

    No, If SpaceX fails we still have to pick up the tab, so we are not really privatizing space exploration and limiting competition at the same time.

    .

  • Coastal Ron

    Paul Bryan wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I want you to tell me whether you’d be satisfied with this level of progress, and whether you think it is realistic or unlikely.

    Because of the amount of public & private money available, this may be a good guess as to what could happen.

    As to would I be satisfied, except for the SLS part (which in your scenario is not doing much), sure, I’d be more satisfied than unsatisfied.

    For instance, if I could adjust the parameters, I would not have de-orbited the ISS, but broken it up for building other structures in space like an EML1 station, or for use with the Bigelow modules. I also would have assumed that the SLS would have been shut down well before 2032 after Congress finally figured out that they couldn’t afford to build missions for it fast enough for it to be necessary.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    When the OldSpacers talk about “subsidy” , they’re really talking about losses.

    I agree with DBN – you’re not talking reality here, or at least not with regards to ULA.

    If something happens to SpaceX ( a private company ), guess who picks up the tab.

    No tab to pick up, since their competitors take over their service contracts. That’s the beauty of having two or more providers.

    This is an inherent flaw of public, private partnerships.

    I don’t see such a flaw in public/private partnerships. This has been the flaw with government-only systems like the Shuttle, which shut down completely when there are accidents, and has resulted in the U.S. being shut out of space for years at a time. Hence the need for redundant transportation systems.

  • Mary

    Dark Blue Nine wrote,

    “Second, if SpaceX (or another commercial cargo/crew company) did fold, there’s no tab to pick up as long as there’s competition.

    No. If SpaceX fails, we still have to pick up the tab. This is not privatizing space exploration and it limits others the ability to compete if the government is doling out millions to preferred companies. That’s why private companies should assume supporting roles when they have proven themselves ready.

  • amightywind

    The controlled de-orbiting of defunct satellites has been tested and mastered and a fledgling private sector business starts offering orbital clean-up services from 2027 financed by a tax on satellites operators. The US, European and Asian space industries reach common agreement on the tax structure but there main many countries who refuse to sign up to the agreement.

    Sounds like the climate change con! What is it with you leftists and global taxes? Never! You realize that deorbiting a large satellite in geosync requires the same immense energy that put it there. And then there’s the spent rocket stage and assorted nuts and bolts. Good luck with that. I could see the US military needing to deorbit satellites under risk of being hijacked by Chinese ‘scavenger’ sats.

    Nasa developed and tested the first propellant depot by 2023 and by 2030 there are now two depots serviced by private aerospace companies.

    The US military and NSA may be refueling their polar orbiting satellites long before this. In fact it may already be happening.

    Reaction Engines have successfully developed the Sabre engine and the first Skylon spaceplane is in production for a first flight in 2034 as joint Euro-American project.

    How fanciful! It is hard to imagine Europe being an equal partner in such an effort. The US military has the only real need for a hypersonic craft. They will be used unmanned by the US as a substitute for strategic bombers by the coming neocon administration.

    You are a very silly person. But thank you for making my morning.

  • Anyway, although there seems to be a bit of a push to save the Mars Program (whatever that means!), my take is that the NASA budget bottom line will remain flat.

    If they’re lucky.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    My belief is that if (as seems likely) Obama gets a second term this could be come the standard way of doing business at NASA…and none to soon.

    you replied:

    Good luck convincing Congress of that.”

    We are here in the season of our discontent on the brink of I think 87 days of the battle for The Republic…and if Obama wins (as I suspect he does) then the entire world will change…including breaking the back for at least a moment or two of congress simply being obstructionist to everything.

    Obama will, if he choses to use it be one of the few Presidents who had the opportunity again to make “the world anew” …he had it at the start of his first term and blew it…so if he picks up the mantle he can redefine the entire nature of The Republic…and that includes space policy and politics.

    We have as nation inflection points where things chnage…and one way or the other this election will seriously change things…RGO

  • Googaw

    I use dictionary definitions for words, which don’t change.

    The dictionary from what planet? Show me where a dictionary excludes

    a fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.>/i>

    from its definiton of “subsidy”. I won’t hold my breath.

    you infer that no business should ever start a new service if they don’t have more than one customer. Of course that ignores that you can never get a 2nd customer unless you have your first.,/i>

    Therefore, in the logic of your vacuum brain, businesses routinely start projects where over 99.5% of the revenue has for the entire history of said “market” (here over 50 years) come from civilian government agencies, doing X (here launching astronauts) for the sake of X for 50 years, and routinely hallucinate that suddenly, due to cosmic magic , rather expecting that the vast majority of their revenues will also come from said agencies, a new private market will spring forth into existence from said vacuum.

    If you have more business experience than I, it would would have to have been in some very intense radiation belt.

  • Mary

    Paul Bryan wrote,

    “Imagine the year 2032″.

    Yes, there are a lot of future concepts being considered including Nautilus X ( new and improved…) and a while before VASIMR and others are developed. In the mean time we can use what we have to move forward.

    Now I don’t know what Romney or Ryan have planned for the future but I think we should hold off on Mars for a bit and return to the Moon first, ( go for Whipple? ) to prove we can set up shop before moving on.

    This next idea may sound far fetched and expensive of course, but I think its time we launch a new Voyager space craft for a destination beyond our solar system. Of course we won’t be around to hear about it.

  • Googaw

    errata: My own text above starts again “from its” at “Therefore,…”., Coastal’s starts again at “you infer…”

  • E.P. Grondine

    Paul –

    “Cloudy the future is to see”

    Everyone keeps dumping the ISS power truss into the Pacific, when it could be moved into lunar orbit.

    Aside from that…

  • E.P. Grondine

    Vlad –

    Thanks for the vote information, but you’d probably have to go to the local newspapers to find out Ryan’s views on space, and I don’t think they matter, as ATK is in Utah.

  • Googaw

    There is for instance no reason a lunar lander could not be done under the Cargo crew model…

    It being purely political funding, there is no reason any arbitrarily idiotic scheme could not be done under that government contract model…except of course any traditional limits on the irrationality of Congress.

    A fixed-price government contract, no matter how much NewSpacers abuse attractive terms like “commercial” and “market”, doesn’t magically transmogrify an economic fantasy into something else.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract is a fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.

    So are you arguing it is a subsidy? I’d say it isn’t just as ELC isn’t.

    “Currently it is the only company capable of offering such a service, which in part explains the high price tag.”

    No, their launch prices are entirely independent of their subsidy.

    It’s a package deal. DoD pays for the infrastructure and incremental costs of a fixed number of launches. They may have an option on more launches, I’m not sure. And for any commercial launch that Boeing and LM manage to sell the DoD gets a rebate on its fixed costs payment.

    That’s impossible to know, unless you’re Boeing or Lockheed Martin, since ULA is a joint venture of the two.

    Or the USG, which went over their books with a fine comb. ULA is not getting an excessive ROI. That does not rule out they are working inefficiently, but at least they are not getting much higher profit margins thn other industries.

    Unlikely, since Congress is looking at eliminating the ULA subsidy, and they’ll go back to having launch providers put all their costs in their launch prices. That is the most transparent way for the government to determine what the best launch value is.

    In the mean time they still need assured access to space and for now SpaceX doesn’t have enough of a track record to offer that.

    Now at some point, if ULA decides not to try and lower prices, or otherwise can’t compete with SpaceX on their value proposition, then Congress will have to decide if it’s worth subsidizing a non-competitive company in the name of choice.

    As soon as SpaceX establishes a sufficient reliability record and demonstrates EELV Heavy launch capability and after the ELC expires, it can be recompeted. Just as CRS can and likely will be recompeted once it expires.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “No. If SpaceX fails, we still have to pick up the tab.”

    What “tab”? If SpaceX has “failed” (whatever that means — financial, technical, or otherwise), they can’t charge NASA, especially under the pay-for-performance milestones defined in their COTS and CCDev agreements and per the march-in rights in those same agreements. By definition, there will be no “tab”.

    “it limits others the ability to compete if the government is doling out millions to preferred companies.”

    What “preferred companies”? SpaceX — and Blue Origin and Boeing and OSC and Sierra Nevada — all won development agreements in open competitions against other firms. There’s a huge difference between these open competitions, and, for example, the multiple, uncompeted, sole-source contracts for practically everything on SLS.

    “That’s why private companies should assume supporting roles when they have proven themselves ready.”

    And that’s how the commercial cargo and crew programs work. Once companies prove themselves (e.g., the Dragon flight to ISS), NASA activates follow-on service contracts.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Now I don’t know what Romney or Ryan have planned for the future but I think we should hold off on Mars for a bit and return to the Moon first, ( go for Whipple? ) to prove we can set up shop before moving on.”

    For better or worse, Romney is still not impressed or interested in new U.S. lunar achievements:

    “On the campaign trail in Florida – home of the Space Coast – Monday, Romney taunted Chinese plans to land an unmanned probe on the on the moon in 2013. Romney:

    ‘This is still the greatest nation on earth. I know there are people around the world who are always critical of America, have something negative to say, say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney… You also just saw we just landed on Mars and took a good look at what’s going on there. And I know the Chinese are planning on going to the Moon and I hope they have a good experience doing that and I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago.’”

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/romney-taunts-chinese-moon-landing-plans

    Like Obama, it appears that Romney is interested in other planetary targets, like Mars.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “A fixed-price government contract, no matter how much NewSpacers abuse attractive terms like ‘commercial’ and ‘market’, doesn’t magically transmogrify an economic fantasy into something else.”

    No, it does not. But if the government is going to engage in purely exploratory activities with little promise of economic return, it’s better to do so under the most efficient procurement instruments possible to reduce the taxpayer’s burden for these activities. And if those instruments also closely resemble private sector agreements, they also maximize the probability that some element (e.g., F9) of those exploratory activities can be used commercially.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Sounds like the climate change con! What is it with you leftists and global taxes?

    Then who pays for cleaning up local space? This is always the failure of anti-tax types – they want everything, but they don’t want to pay for it.

    Putting the financial burden of cleaning up dead satellites on the companies and countries that put those satellites up there sure makes a lot of sense to me. What’s your idea – bake sales?

    Sheesh.

  • If SpaceX fails, we still have to pick up the tab.

    Since you keep repeating this, despite the fact that it makes no sense, please explain what the “tab” is in the unlikely event that SpaceX “fails.” What do you imagine that either of of those words mean in the context of this discussion?

  • Rhyolite

    Mary wrote @ August 12th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    “When the OldSpacers talk about “subsidy” , they’re really talking about losses.”

    Then they have no idea what they are talking about. A subsidy is money granted by the government to reduce the price of a commodity to below its market price.

    For example: Ethanol production receives a 51-cent/gallon subsidy in the US. The government gives money to producers so they can sell it to the market at a below market rate.

    Buying a service at a market rate (lowest bidder) is not a subsidy. The consequences of breach of contract (“losses”) are not a subsidy.

    Incidentally, if “losses” are such a concern, then Oldspace model of cost-plus contracting, where the tax payer is on the hook for all overruns, should be your greater worry.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    So are you arguing it is a subsidy?

    Let’s define “Subsidy”:

    A subsidy is assistance paid to a business or economic sector.

    So a subsidy is not paid for work performed or a product, but as assistance.

    The CRS contract is for services performed, specifically cargo resupply services. That is not a subsidy.

    The interesting thing here is that subsidies of this type usually are paid to companies that are in competitive markets, but ULA has virtually no competition – none for DoD/NRO launches. So it’s curious why they don’t just roll their total overhead into their launch costs like every other service provider. That’s why a subsidy for ULA really makes no sense.

    Or the USG, which went over their books with a fine comb.

    Hardly. From a recent SpaceNews article:

    A report by the Defense Contract Audit Agency said the Pentagon lacks sufficient information about the EELV subcontractors to negotiate “fair and reasonable prices” with United Launch Alliance, the prime contractor on the program, the GAO said.

    So no, there is no way to determine how profitable ULA is, if at all, unless you’re Boeing or Lockheed Martin.

    In the mean time they still need assured access to space and for now SpaceX doesn’t have enough of a track record to offer that.

    A subsidy for a monopoly isn’t needed – all they have to do is charge what they like.

    As soon as SpaceX establishes a sufficient reliability record and demonstrates EELV Heavy launch capability and after the ELC expires, it can be recompeted. Just as CRS can and likely will be recompeted once it expires.

    The ELC (i.e. EELV Launch Capability contract) is not needed in a competitive launch marketplace. It is a holdover from the monopolistic way Boeing and Lockheed Martin have been operating their launch services through ULA. If Congress wants to pay SpaceX extra money, I’m sure they’ll take it, but otherwise SpaceX will adjust their prices to cover their overhead costs.

  • DCSCA

    @Mary wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    “No, If SpaceX fails we still have to pick up the tab, so we are not really privatizing space exploration and limiting competition at the same time.”

    Correct- except, of course, that space exploitation is not space exploration. Musk only has $100 million of his own at risk. A paltry sum in the circles he moves in- and the circles of LEO ops, which, of course, go no place, fast.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 11:19 am

    “I don’t see such a flaw in public/private partnerships.”

    Then you should get some glasses- eye care is covered under Obamacare. ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    The dictionary from what planet? Show me where a dictionary…

    Done in my post above. Of course you have failed to offer up an official definition of “subsidy” that supports your claims, nor have you shown how a service contract is a subsidy. You have a lot of work ahead of you.

    Therefore… businesses routinely start projects where over 99.5% of the revenue has for the entire history of said “market” (here over 50 years) come from civilian government agencies, doing X (here launching astronauts) for the sake of X for 50 years, and … a new private market will spring forth into existence from said vacuum.

    Sure. Prove it can’t.

    More importantly though, how else will a formerly government-only market transition to being partially commercial? Didn’t this already happen with the satellite market? And the launch market?

    If you have more business experience than I…

    And what is your business experience?

  • Googaw

    Imagine the year is 2032…VASIMIIR…Bigelow… propellant depot…

    Every major NewSpace dogmatic cliche included, but nothing either original or probable. Fantasy markets-of-the-future eerily similar to the “visions” of NASA contractors, but radically differrent from actual space commerce, spontaneously erupting out of vacuum. Ladies and gentlemen, the NewSpace “imagination” at work. :-(

  • Googaw

    a fledgling private sector business starts offering orbital clean-up services from 2027 financed by a tax on satellites operators.

    What a despicable proposal — putting extra taxes on real space commerce to subsidized phony government contract “commerce.”

    The redefinition of “commerce” and “market” as synonyms for government central planning has reached new lows. Not satisfied with the failure of this disgustingly phony “commerce” to attract private sector customers, you now plan take money from real space commerce whether they like it or not, and drag them down to economic failure with you.

    What a sick and twisted ideology this is based on. Give me blatant old space pork over this delusion and dishonesty any day.

  • Googaw

    I am now coming out in favor of SLS. I formerly opposed it as the waste of money it is. But it is a waste of money that will divert funds away from this sick ideology of dogmatic hallucinations about centrally planned and funded government “commerce.” A typical straightforward waste of taxpayer’s money on obviously frivolous goals is far superior to crony capitalism that pretends to be real capitalism but actually destroys it.

    Therefore I am now supporting SLS, and missions extravagant or otherwise to the Moon and Mars, and any other projects that take money out of the hands of this despicable cult. Simply cutting the NASA budget to eliminate “commercial” projects without funding the more normally wasteful projects would be preferable, but I’ll settle for second best.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    A fixed-price government contract, no matter how much NewSpacers abuse attractive terms like “commercial” and “market”, doesn’t magically transmogrify an economic fantasy into something else.”

    Agreed and anyone who says it does is either a fool or naive…

    There are some things which simply cannot be done on a fixed price contract in large measure because the definition of the problem and hence the solution (technological or otherwise) is almost impossible. For instance in 1962 it would be almost impossible to define the technology and cost of putting a person on the Moon and returning them safely…and it would be pretty hard in 1939 or 40 to define the total cost of the “gadget” (atomic bomb) program…we just simply were not smart enough and technology had not developed enough to do such a thing…and in both cases there was a political need to do so. This is an accurate statement in a lot of things…

    but for most of what is done in the DoD and at NASA today it is not. Today in both groups “cost plus” contracts have become a mechanism to “invent” technology and capability some of which is needed some of which is not but almost none of which is actually debated in terms of cost…because the US is comfortable in so many areas of deficit spending.

    Even during teh king of cost plus contracts (WW2) the US government kept a tight reign on programs that were “not performing” and ended or descoped them quickly…An excellent example of that (although not the only one) was what became the Midway/Coral Sea class of carrier…the Navy wanted to replace Essex class production in 46 (assuming the war went to 50 which was the then estimate) with the “BattleCarrier” but both Admiral Rockford and FDR said no…they got three of them which was three more then the Montana Class battleships which both Rockford and FDR stopped…

    Today well the last major defense contract to stop because there was not enough dollars in Christondom to make it fly was the A-12…now its just open season. Cx is a good example, F-35 is another, the list is endless.

    So Fixed price contracts would on their own be an improvement if coupled with some reasonable reviews along the way which decide if the cost is just a little more hence we should go on…or well the cost is ballooning out of control and hence we should stop…

    None of this makes a fixed price effort a commercial spinoff…but what can make that happen is sound policy decisions.

    I think a lunar lander could be done on a fixed price contract …but for the life of me I cannot think of a reason why we should as a nation spend the money to do that…now. There might come a time but for right now we could do fixed price lunar landers of the uncrewed variety and do what we need to do in terms of exploration and it be affordable. I dont know if that would spin off into anything commercial…in fact I doubt it, but it would at least get the cost under control.

    (to be fair cost plus can be kept under control as well, but its harder. New Horizons did a pretty solid job of doing that).

    With some thought however you can define fixed price contracts for service that will have spinoffs into the commercial world. That is why it is important who is making policy.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Paul Bryan

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Imagine the year is 2032…VASIMIIR…Bigelow… propellant depot…

    Every major NewSpace dogmatic cliche included, but nothing either original or probable. Fantasy markets-of-the-future eerily similar to the “visions” of NASA contractors, but radically differrent from actual space commerce, spontaneously erupting out of vacuum. Ladies and gentlemen, the NewSpace “imagination” at work. :-(

    No problem. This is a thought experiment. Come up with your own suggestions for where you think the space industry will be in 20 years. I look forward to reading it.

  • Mary

    Googaw wrote,

    “A typical straightforward waste of taxpayer’s money on obviously frivolous goals is far superior to crony capitalism…

    SLS is crony capitalism, as was Constellation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    but for most of what is done in the DoD and at NASA today it is not.

    I disagree. Cost-Plus contracting will always be around, mainly because there will always be products or services the government needs that it can’t define well enough for Fixed-Price contracting.

    And sure, abuses happen with Cost-Plus contracting, but they do too with Fixed-Price contracting – you just don’t see it as easily (I’ve seen it from the inside). Other than smart management (and there are only so many smart managers), there is not much change to expect here. Expecting otherwise is like believing we’ll win the War on Crime, or the War on Prostitution.

    With some thought however you can define fixed price contracts for service that will have spinoffs into the commercial world. That is why it is important who is making policy.

    If there isn’t a market for the product or service, it doesn’t matter if it was designed for creating spin-offs. Maybe in rare cases, but otherwise I don’t see that happening as a usual outcome.

    Commercial Crew has a good chance of expanding out beyond just the ISS needs because it leverages a few things:

    1. An initial customer with defined demand that likely will be for years (3-5 year contracts likely)

    2. Compared to what it’s cost to do stuff in space previously, relatively low startup and overhead costs (existing rockets and simple spacecraft).

    3. Lots of interest in space, as shown not only by the number of ISS partners, but also the number of countries that signed MOU’s with Bigelow Aerospace.

    If Bigelow doesn’t get his space station business going until sometime in the 2020′s, or some other demand doesn’t materialize right away, that won’t bankrupt SpaceX, Boeing or SNC. They have the luxury of time to see how the market develops, and potential customers can assess how much risk is associated with starting businesses that leverage crew transportation to LEO. We also haven’t seen full-blown marketing efforts brought to bear, which companies employ even for known markets.

    Now all of that is not because of smart policy decisions from NASA or the Bush/Obama administrations, it was smart business choices by SNC, Boeing and SpaceX.

  • Googaw

    >> A fixed-price government contract, no matter how much NewSpacers
    >> abuse attractive terms like “commercial” and “market”, doesn’t
    >> magically transmogrify an economic fantasy into something else.

    Agreed and anyone who says it does is either a fool or naive…

    Alas, they are legion.

    BTW, I have nothing against fixed-price government contracts for mature and regular products or services needed for necessary government functions. I have huge problems with turning the meanings of words on their heads by calling them “commercial” and “market”. What’s worse, this confusion between real and concocted markets is accompanied by twisted delusions of fantasy markets-of-the-future while they ignore or even actively attack actual space commerce.

    And all those swine farming remnants they expect the American people to swallow. These dogmatic hallucinators urge us to lobby for the spending on their pet projects of tax dollars and debts placed on our children. And what are their pet projects? Economic fantasies inspired by the Cold War extravaganzas of the last century. Then not satisfied with squandering ever greater sums of government money, extra taxes are now to be taken from the real space commerce that these grandiose crackpots have not been able to win as actual voluntary customers.

    Seldom has a more twisted ideology gained hold on substantial tax moneys. I aim to stop it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The CRS contract is for services performed, specifically cargo resupply services. That is not a subsidy.

    Agreed, which is why I mentioned it. I don’t understand what you were getting at with your reply. I would contend that ELC is no different in this regard. ULA provides a service and charges a fee for it.

    “A report by the Defense Contract Audit Agency said the Pentagon lacks sufficient information about the EELV subcontractors to negotiate “fair and reasonable prices” with United Launch Alliance, the prime contractor on the program, the GAO said.”

    So, at worst, EELV subcontractors, not ULA itself, might be price-gouging. But that’s not related to the issue of having an ELC, just with the terms and conditions that go with it. Still doesn’t make it into a subsidy. And I find it hard to believe that ULA would be worse at managing and negotiating with subcontractors than the USG. Their involvement with XCOR seems like a smart move for instance.

    A subsidy for a monopoly isn’t needed – all they have to do is charge what they like.

    That would be true if ULA had been commercially viable without DoD business at the time it was formed, but it wasn’t, and in fact that is part of the reason it was formed. The USG has enormous negotiation power in this monopsony situation and that is what led to the ULC. The USG wasn’t going to pay more than fixed costs of a minimal launch capability + variable costs of the launches it needed (carefully audited, going several years back) + a modest markup, and with a rebate if there were any commercial sales of launch services.

    The ELC (i.e. EELV Launch Capability contract) is not needed in a competitive launch marketplace.

    Which doesn’t exist yet in the EELV Heavy class.

    It is a holdover from the monopolistic way Boeing and Lockheed Martin have been operating their launch services through ULA.

    It’s a consequence of that fact ULA would fold without DoD business. I don’t see the fundamental problem you have with separating prices into a fixed and variable part, it’s not as if it adds up to a different number. ULA needs a fixed number of launches in order to be able to survive. Until there is a competitor that can (and so far there isn’t), that’s just the way it is.

    There’s nothing unjust about that, especially in view of the rebate. The USG is simply paying for a service it needs and that no one else can supply, and it imposes controls to ensure it doesn’t pay an excessive price. At worst you could argue that some of these controls are less effective than they might be, if you believe subcontractors (not ULA) are making excessive profits.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I have huge problems with turning the meanings of words on their heads by calling them “commercial” and “market”.

    Of course you never provide your own definitions so others can compare and critique. No surprise as your rants are usually all emotion and no verifiable facts. Emotion is not a bad thing, but since not everything can be decided by emotion (nor should it when money is an important factor), you end up with incomplete arguments.

    I aim to stop it.

    People don’t listen to people that don’t sound rational, and using the words like “hallucinators” and “zombies” in your persuasive speech isn’t likely to make you sound rational. Just sayin…

  • Googaw

    SLS is crony capitalism, as was Constellation.

    AFAIK, they are not pretending that it’s capitalism(*). They are not referring to their activities as “commerce” or “market”. Nor are they proposing an extra tax on real space commerce to fund it. It’s just traditional government contracting, straightforwardly sold as such. Thus given a choice between the straightforwardly governmental SLS and the fraudulent “commercial” contracts, and the ideology of corruption, delusion, and deceit that goes along with them, I will choose SLS any day.

    Of course, with Romney & Ryan, or even Obama after a close election, a budget cut that takes out this infection of our body politic is both more likely and preferable.

    (*) “Liberty” of course is a difference ball of wax — ATK trying to get in on the federal budget loot increasingly being gathered by this crackpot cult of anti-commerce. I oppose that just as strongly.

  • vulture4

    MM: “So, at worst, EELV subcontractors, not ULA itself, might be price-gouging.”

    It’s a fine point, but LM and Boeing are _not_ EELV subcontractors. ULA is a single company owned jointly by LM and Boeing, with LM having the controlling interest. ULA has no choice but to make as much money as it can or the stockholders will throw out the management, so naturally as a monopoly supplier they charge as much as they can. The DOD’s only alternatives are to take the deal it is offered or not to fly. So it is generally in ULA’s interest to demonstrate that costs have increased and pass on these “increased costs” while adding overhead.

    SpaceX of course makes the point that allowing real competition for DOD launches would change the situation completely. It would give ULA an incentive to lower costs, which might actually make them more competitive.

  • Googaw

    Coastal, I strive and I usually succeed in using the most accurate words in the English language to describe the things that I describe. It’s not easy when describing cult beliefs since they are often light-years away from the realities that language was intended to describe. But since my language is actually English, rather than cult-speak, normal people can comprehend it. If you can’t, perhaps you should start wondering why.

    Newt Gingrich is an object lesson in what happens when a politician tries to communicate in cult-speak as if it was based on reality.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    AFAIK, they are not pretending that it’s [the SLS] capitalism(*).

    SLS supporters are pretending that the SLS is more than just a jobs program though, even though no one has been able to show any demand for it, who would use it, and how they would pay for it.

    Nor are they proposing an extra tax on real space commerce to fund it.

    I hope you “eat your own dog food”, so to speak, and not use any services that are a direct result of public or industry taxes.

    Oh course we know you do, so stop pretending that asking the entities that leave dead satellites in dangerous orbits shouldn’t be asked to pay into a fund to dispose of them or the debris from their accidents. Who else would you have pay for that? Santa Claus?

    See, that’s the thing. You have so much “rage”, yet you have no suggested solutions. None. Oh spiteful solutions like now supporting the SLS, but you’re not FOR the SLS, you’re against something else.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    “but for most of what is done in the DoD and at NASA today it is not.”

    you wrote:

    “I disagree. Cost-Plus contracting will always be around, mainly because there will always be products or services the government needs that it can’t define well enough for Fixed-Price contracting.”

    well my point was not that cost plus contracting will not always be around it is that MOST of what is done in the DoD and at NASA today is not such that it cannot be defined…(OK I sort of said that).

    SLS for instance is not some cutting edge product where there is a lot of technology to be developed or engineering to understand; the reason it is cost plus is that it is a gravy train for the contractors and a way for NASA management to hide its mistakes…or goofiness take your pick

    Other then the notes about commercial crew (which I agree with) I am not sure what the point of the rest of the post was (sorry it must be the heat here I have been outside working on my power trenches but the rain might start the lightening has anyway)

    RGO

  • josh

    @googaw

    take a chill pill. and take a look at the facts. then maybe you’ll see that spite is not a substitute for actual solutions.
    as for your support of sls over ccp: i said it before, you live in bizarro world.

  • josh

    hmm, or maybe you just fear the success of ccp, then your rants would actually make some sense..

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    SLS for instance is not some cutting edge product where there is a lot of technology to be developed or engineering to understand…

    Cutting edge or not, it’s not a defined product, which is what would trigger Cost-Plus contracting to be used – at least on portions of the program. The portions of the SLS that are well defined would be handled under Fixed-Price contracting, but I suspect that would be a minority of the total program cost.

    It’s all a matter of determining risk. If NASA came to you and said “build me a rocket bigger than Saturn V”, but didn’t tell you what size or what technologies, then you could create your own specs and make a Fixed-Price bid.

    But that’s not what the SLS is. The SLS is being imagined by NASA, for use by NASA, and NASA has final say over what is acceptable and desirable. Under those conditions no sane company would submit a Fixed-Price bid, especially when it hasn’t even had a Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

  • josh

    hehe, just read an article on nsf about the state of orion’s development: cdr in 2015. after more than 10 years of development. ‘nough said.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Googaw:

    “SLS is crony capitalism, as was Constellation.

    AFAIK, they are not pretending that it’s capitalism(*). They are not referring to their activities as “commerce” or “market”. Nor are they proposing an extra tax on real space commerce to fund it. It’s just traditional government contracting, straightforwardly sold as such.”

    Accepted. Though neither Constellation nor SLS is cost-effective to their seeming goals, and that’s something to reasonably expect of ‘commercial’ or ‘traditional government contracting,’ particularly when time is not a constraint as it was during Apollo.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “It’s just traditional government contracting, straightforwardly sold as such.”

    No, it’s not. In traditional government contracting (e.g., defense weapons systems procurements), there’s a competition at least at the paper level, and often all the way through prototype development and testing.

    Except for a future iteration of its boosters (maybe), SLS has no competition. Practically everything is sole-sourced. There’s no review of competing paper proposals, there’s no R&D testing, and there’s no prototyping or test flights before downselecting to a single provider in each major subsystem. SLS is the ultimate in cronyism (capitalistic or otherwise). The performers, contracts, and workforce that are to receive its $30 billion worth of largesse through the early 2020s were dictated by Congress in statute.

    You’re fooling yourself if you think SLS more closely resembles traditional government contracting. It’s a monstrous perversion. You may quibble with the term “commercial”, but the commercial cargo/crew programs are much closer to traditional government contracting with open competition and clear downselects through major stages of development.

    “Thus given a choice between the straightforwardly governmental SLS and the fraudulent ‘commercial’ contracts, and the ideology of corruption, delusion, and deceit that goes along with them, I will choose SLS any day.”

    No, you’re choosing between strong competition (the commercial cargo/crew programs) and little to no competition (SLS).

    As for “corruption, delusion, and deceit”, which do you think is more “corrupt” — a system designed and sole-sourced by Congressional staff or systems that must prove themselves all the way through flight testing to win NASA service contracts? Which do you think is more delusional — a system that is given a fraction of what was going to be spent on a smaller launcher (Ares I) but must be ready loft a payload 3-5 times heavier with less schedule, or a system that has flown all the way to the ISS? Which is more deceitful to the American taxpayer — a heavy lift system that costs upwards of $30 billion to field (at least) sometime next decade or a heavy lift system that cost the taxpayer nothing to field in the next few years?

    Your obsession with narrow definitions of the word “commercial” — especially when elements of the commercial cargo/crew systems (e.g., F9) do have legitimate, non-fraudulent private customers, investors, and business anyway — is causing you to throw away common sense and cut off your nose to spite your face.

    “Of course, with Romney & Ryan, or even Obama after a close election, a budget cut that takes out this infection of our body politic is both more likely and preferable.”

    Whether through a 6%+ cut in the Ryan budget or an 8%+ cut through sequestration, the only way NASA can absorb hits that large to its topline is by deferring or terminating SLS/MPCV. Everything else in early development, including the commercial cargo/crew programs, is too small.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    “SLS for instance is not some cutting edge product where there is a lot of technology to be developed or engineering to understand…”

    you replied:
    Cutting edge or not, it’s not a defined product,

    that is my point it should be or we should not be building it. RGO

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Frank Glover wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    No can’t agree that it’s expected of ‘traditional government contracting’ which may have many drivers, cost control or cost efficiency (not the same thing) not necessarily being one of them. Just look at the Cx or now SLS as an example.

  • DCSCA

    @Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    “I am now coming out in favor of SLS. I formerly opposed it as the waste of money it is. But it is a waste of money that will divert funds away from this sick ideology of dogmatic hallucinations about centrally planned and funded government “commerce.”

    You’re catching on.

  • Googaw

    SLS supporters are pretending that the SLS is more than just a jobs program though

    They are pretending that there will be future large-scale missions of national glory — what Mike Griffin honestly calls cathedrals in space. AFAIK, the movers and shakers in SLS are not loudly prophecying to anybody who has the misfortune of straying upon this insanity that it will give rise to wonderfully cosmic markets-of-the-future, thereby grossly distorting economic expectations. They are not proposing to intefere with existing cost-effective satellite launchers and tie them down with bells, whistles, and safety dances for the benefit of our belovedly diapered heroes. They do not AFAIK countence as you do imposing extra taxes on real space commerce for the sake of phony government-planned-and-funded “commerce.” But if you can show that they are doing any of these things, to anywhere near the extant that the anti-commercial “commerce” people are, then I will be happy to withdraw my support of SLS.

    even though no one has been able to show any demand for it

    They have been able to show this about as well as the Dragon riders and the UFO hunter have been able to show future demand for their “products” — practically zilch, outside of hoped-for future NASA contracts. At least on their part they admit they are lobbying for NASA contracts, rather than doing the same kind of lobbying while calling their government funding “unsubsidized commerce” and regaling us with sci-fi markets-of-the-future that magically are supposed emerge when government funds and plans our future according to the dogmatic cliches of NewSpace.

    In other words, their level of delusion and dishonesty is far lower. They basically admit it is a jobs program and building cathedrals of national glory, not central planning of and interference with our economic future in space. So in a choice between phony government-planned-and-funded “commerce” that tries to horn in on and thereby damages a real space commerce it doesn’t understand, and a relatively honest cathdedrals-n-jobs programs that leaves real commerce alone, as a strong supporter of real space commerce I’d far sooner support the make-work cathedrals.

    Of course, a budget cut would be even better still, and adding Paul “grandma killer” Ryan to Mitt “Newt you’re fired” Romney’s ticket has only increased the likelihood of that. They need flashy budget cuts to divert attention away from “throwing gramma over a cliff”, and both SLS and CC&C are prime candidates for flashy cuts. And Obama increasingly has higher priorities of his own. So happily, either way the election comes out the probability is rising that this discussion is academic. Meanwhile, though, I am supporting the lesser of two evils.

    spite

    Defense of real space commerce from the delusions and dishonesties of a cult is hardly “spite”. It is defense, pure and simple, from an extremely offensive attack.

  • Googaw

    Incidentally, it’s no coincidence that of these two groups of projects:

    (1) { Mercury, Gemini, Pioneer, Apollo, Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, Deep Impact, Sojourner, Pathfinder, Opportunity, Curiosity }

    (2) { Skylab, Shuttle, National Aerospace Plane, ISS, CC&C }

    neutral observers will say that group (1) projects were generally more popular, exciting, and important for the tax dollar than group (2) projects. The main difference being that group (1) projects were or are honest missions of national glory — engineering spectaculars that makes us proud, often but not necessarily with some science thrown in.

    Group (2) by contrast were or are attempts at government central planning of our economic future in space. These projects were or are supposed to give rise to spectacular new space industries — promises, cleverly dropped hints and wild hand-waving now conveniently forgotten among the NASA and NASA contractor set, except for the latest round of hype regarding CC&C. The Shuttle and ISS have depressed us with their burdensome combination of massive expenditures and boredom, mired ar below expectations. But the interference and the hype respectively severely damaged and distorted our expectations for real space commerce. CC&C despite the fraudulent labels of “commerce”, “market”, “private”, “free enterprise”, etc. is cast in the same mold as Shuttle and ISS — tons of wild speculations and phony promises of dazzling markets-of-the-future to justify projects that are still planned by the President, Congress, and NASA, and still get over 99.5% of their revenues from that bizarre Cold War product, a civilian government agency that transports people to nowhere for the sake of transporting people to nowhere.

    At least with the national cathedrals-of-glory crowd their otherwise largely pointless projects are exciting, and make us proud, and sometimes produce some fascinating science, while being far less distorting and damaging to real space commerce.

  • Mary

    @ Googaw:

    “It’s just traditional government contracting, straightforwardly sold as such.”

    ATK would not only agree with you but would probably ask you to spend the night…

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    They [SLS supporters] are pretending that there will be future large-scale missions of national glory — what Mike Griffin honestly calls cathedrals in space. AFAIK, the movers and shakers in SLS are not loudly prophecying to anybody who has the misfortune of straying upon this insanity that it will give rise to wonderfully cosmic markets-of-the-future, thereby grossly distorting economic expectations.

    So markets are bad, but mindless government spending is good?

    Where did you learn about business – the Soviet Union?

  • Paul Bryan

    Googaw wrote @ August 13th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    “Then not satisfied with squandering ever greater sums of government money, extra taxes are now to be taken from the real space commerce that these grandiose crackpots have not been able to win as actual voluntary customers. Seldom has a more twisted ideology gained hold on substantial tax moneys. I aim to stop it.”

    OK, you obviously take exception to the idea that Satellite operators should contribute to the cost of decommissioning of their own products. The question I have for you then is, ‘do you believe the growth of space junk to be a problem?’ If not, why not? And if yes, what would you propose to do about it as an alternative plan?

    I’m all ears. If there’s a better plan for dealing with the growth of debris in orbit, I’m open to it. But my gut tells me that those who make a mess should be responsible for clearing it up. Is that so controversial an idea?

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Googaw wrote @ August 14th, 2012 at 12:41 am
    ‘At least with the national cathedrals-of-glory crowd their otherwise largely pointless projects are exciting, and make us proud, and sometimes produce some fascinating science, while being far less distorting and damaging to real space commerce.’

    Hardly. Just wasteful exercises producing very little of worth. This is exactly why the U.S. is in the dire straits that it is. To paraphase DCSCA (ye gods!) when you’re borrowing 43cents in the dollar … I’ll add, you’d want to be adding value exceeding that 43cents in the dollar. So far, very little in NASA programs is doing that. COTS and CCDev now CCiCap being notable exceptions.

  • Paul Bryan

    Here’s an interesting article from Scientific American on the growth of Space Junk and US Airforce’s efforts to develop a new radar system to track it.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=orbital-debris-space-fence

    Interestingly, it claims that “The size and complexity of the problem will very likely require significant intergovernmental collaboration, perhaps on the scale of constructing the International Space Station. Such cooperation would only be fitting, considering that space junk itself is global—of the catalogued debris now in orbit, 37 percent is Russian or Soviet in origin, 29 percent is American and 28 percent is Chinese. The 2009 Cosmos–Iridium collision, involving a Russian satellite and a satellite owned by a U.S. corporation, demonstrated that the consequences of a polluted orbital environment will be international as well. ”

    So if the problem of space junk generates cost for space users in terms of developing $6billion plus radar tracking systems, evasion maneouvres, replacement satellites and possibly even property damage and fatalities on the ground don’t you have to question a business model that is based on not covering the true costs of your product’s lifespan? I don’t see anything artificial in a market that is set up to deal with this. Aren’t there companies which offer oil slick cleaning services when organisations like BP ruin the marine environment? And oil producers are certainly expected to cover the cost of clean up operations. What I do see in terms of space junk is a virtuous cycle of technological advancement and the solving of a problem which will increasingly hinder all future space operations, which will also generate increasing private sector investment in space. What’s not to like? I mean, we’ve all seen Wall-E, right?

  • Justin Kugler

    Googaw,
    You’re very good at hurling insults and telling us what you don’t like. Frankly, I don’t think it makes much sense to be full of such vinegar for programs that are developing needed capabilities for NASA at less cost to the taxpayer just because you don’t like the terminology or the perhaps-overly-optimistic dreams of company owners like Elon Musk.

    What are you actually for, though? Do you have a competing vision to offer? Something to work towards and reach common ground on? Why not discuss an alternate path instead of trapping yourself in false dichotomies like SLS vs. CCiCap? If you really think both are bad, offer something better.

  • numbers_guy

    The differing world-views here are just amazing.

    It’s as if there are three groups that camp out here.

    First, the “problems would all be solved with more budget” camp.

    Second, the “problems don’t have to do with the budget” camp.

    Lastly, a recombinant version of these, the “have to get more than just government investment into the equation” camp.

    Now to that first camp that actually thinks a change of administration will change NASA, and that talk about how NASA’s budget should follow the “penny” rule, or the meanderings about the extra 3 Billion a year that will fix it all – what are you smoking? Is it the Vicodin? Ok…I’m sure whatever it is, it’s medicinal and good for your circulatory system.

    Get real. Look at the demographics of the US ahead of us. Aging baby boomers. Significant shifts in ethnicity. Want to really put numbers on this – realize that we’ll have 10’s of millions of people in septa- and octogenarian groups by 2050, where once this was unheard of. As the decisions loom about DoD vs. Medicare, or Medicare vs. more immigration (young immigrants who can broaden the tax base), which way do you really think this will trend till it’s a given?

    At least the 2nd camp and the 3rd camp have some empirical evidence of late, showing how even when times were good and budgets were rising, the projects undertaken, like Constellation, quickly shifted into delay after delay, and cost over-runs rising faster than the updates could be documented.

    It’s time the 3rd camp went into high gear, as a way to end the war sooner and save millions of lives (as Hari Seldon might say). As long as major portions of the NASA budget are locked in the inertia of thinking like SLS, and Orion, or expensive Atlas launches for our science payloads, while waiting for the good ol’ days and some “leadership” (code-word for lots and lots more budget!) to return, all we’ll see is the lockup of resources in these projects delaying the inevitable admission that camps 2 and 3 have it right. Worse, the inertia locking up massive amounts of the current budgets this way could mean a slow demise for NASA from the inaction over the next decade avoiding new ways of thinking in the resources they did have.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It’s a fine point, but LM and Boeing are _not_ EELV subcontractors.

    I didn’t say they were.

    So it is generally in ULA’s interest to demonstrate that costs have increased and pass on these “increased costs” while adding overhead.

    That still doesn’t make them or their shareholders a lot more money.

  • Vladislaw

    googaw worships at the altar of the robot cult. You know .. the ones that hates humans and worships robby the robot. He thinks humans are noisey, dirty, methane producing wastes of skin who are just too expensive to waste money on in space. Humans should be chained to the couch so robby the robot can run things. For the robot cultists Robots don’t need wages, food, water or air, they will work overtime for free and just better than those messy bags of skin. If only goo could sideline 99% of humans and increase robots by 99% his world would be nervana. Maybe you could invent a robot to do that for you goo, powered by solent green.

  • Googaw

    Such cooperation would only be fitting, considering that space junk itself is global—of the catalogued debris now in orbit, 37 percent is Russian or Soviet in origin, 29 percent is American and 28 percent is Chinese.,

    In short, the vast majority of it is due to governments, not due to real space commerce. You then conclude that we need an extra tax on that commerce in order to fund another government-planned program, to channel more money to your favorite contractors.

    It is uttterly despicable that, failing to finding real private customers to buy into your fantasy markets-of-the-future, you now propose to put extra taxes on this real space commerce instead. It reveals what actual support of actual free enterprise exists among the NewSpace insiders — none. “Commerce”, “market”, and “free enterprise” for them are mere buzzwords to apply to themselves in order to keep themselves on the government dole, at the expense of real commerce.

    CC&C — Crony Capitalism and Corruption. Brought to you by dishonest and delusional haters of actual commerce, actual markets, and real free enterprise.

  • Googaw

    What are you actually for, though?

    How clueless does one have to be to ask this question, having read what I’ve just written? Or are you just mindlessly repeatedly the straw man arguments of your fellow cultist? I am strongly for real space commerce, for example the large and growing communications satellite industry, and defending it from the pathological intentions of the cult of phony government planned-and-funded “commerce.”

    From NASA give me instead exciting programs that do not interfere with space commerce.

  • Googaw

    Martijn, the bottom line with Coastal is that when government funds his favorite programs, it’s not a subsidy. When it funds yours, it is.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 15th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    In short, the vast majority of it is due to governments, not due to real space commerce.

    Nope. You should have read the article. They were talking about origin, not ownership. And the example they gave was a Russian satellite smashing into an Iridium satellite – Iridium is a commercial satellite.

    Plus the idea of a tax or fee would apply to all satellites launched, not just commercial ones. In other words, the entities using the orbital space, who also benefit from not having to worry about collisions if the space is clean.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 15th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    How clueless does one have to be to ask this question, having read what I’ve just written?

    Apparently not as clueless as the person who thinks they answered my question… ;-)

    What you “just wrote” by looking at this comment list is a comment about who should pay for cleaning up the debris field in orbit around Earth.

    Why don’t you just say what you are for?

    Is that a hard question for you to answer?

    Or are voices in your head not letting you answer?

  • Googaw

    Nope.

    Yep.

    You should try learning space development history 101 some time.

  • Googaw

    Why don’t you just say what you are for?

    My answers would just get chopped up, turned backward, and ultimately lost in your blender of a mind, just as they have all the many previous times I have answered this question.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Googaw wrote @ August 17th, 2012 at 1:43 am

    Yep, great cop out! I believe you recently said you were
    ‘strongly for real space commerce’
    then go on to say that you
    ‘support SLS’
    and then also say
    ‘From NASA give me instead exciting programs that do not interfere with space commerce.’ Ahem, SLS?
    Well come on, which one is it?

  • “My answers would just get chopped up, turned backward, and ultimately lost in your blender of a mind, just as they have all the many previous times I have answered this question.”
    A most inventive excuse for keeping us in the dark as far as your true motives are concerned.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ August 17th, 2012 at 1:43 am

    My answers would just get chopped up, turned backward, and ultimately lost…

    You sound like Romney explaining why he won’t release any more tax returns… ;-)

    A piece of advice – if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Politics, including the space variety discussed here, is a contact sport, with words the only weapons. If you’re not able to fortify your weapons with context – i.e. why someone should believe you – then you’re going to continue to be perceived as having weak arguments.

    Another way to look at it. The art of persuasion is not in yelling the loudest, but of being heard the most.

  • Googaw

    ‘From NASA give me instead exciting programs that do not interfere with space commerce.’ Ahem, SLS?

    How does SLS intefere with space commerce? It’s designed for a completely different form factor, for a completely different set of missions. It doesn’t try to pretend to be what it’s not — it’s just a jobs program and an exciting big rocket astronaut fantasy, pure and simple. With the SLS crowd we find none of the obsessive aspirations of usurping real commerce, and little of the bizarre twisting of thought and language, that we find with the NewSpace sect of the astronaut cult.

    When it succeeds in getting federal funds out of the hands of that pathological sect — when Crony Capitalism & Corruption is cancelled — when the imposition of bells, whistles and safety dances on Falcon and Atlas for our useless heavenly pilgirms are terminated — then SLS will have finished its useful life and I will then be in favor of mercifully shutting it down.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Steve –

    Thanks for the link –

    I always asked everyone here how they throught ATK would fare under Romney.

    And the answer is very well, though the nation as a whole not so well.
    I just wonder what ATK would try to do to screw SpaceX.

    Ron, sometimes even politicians have to face facts and deal with them.

    Facts like .7 G oscillations.

    Googaw –

    No business wants to loose their satellite either.
    And they also don’t want them subjected to .7 G oscillations.

    My guess is that after the Longf March 5 is operational, China will focus on re-usability, similar to that proposed for the Zenit launcher many years ago.

    Googaw –
    von Braun’s world did not have transistors nor fiber optics, and its robotics were very limited.

    One design feature von Braun had in his architecture was re-usability, and he knew by 1964 that the Saturn 5 was too expensive to continue in long term use.

  • Googaw

    No business wants to loose their satellite either.

    They want to keep their insurance rates low, anyway.

    Nowhere within light-years of the politics of astronaut safety.

  • Vladislaw

    “How does SLS intefere with space commerce? It’s designed for a completely different form factor, for a completely different set of missions.:

    Because the government should be just buying the lift capability it wants rather than WASTING taxpayer’s tax dollars. By definition they are interfering with space commerce by not UTLIZING space commerce which NASA is MANDATED to use to the maximum extent possible.

    sheesh.

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