Campaign '12, NASA

Making the case NASA is better off than four years ago

The opening session of the AIAA Space 2012 conference in Pasadena, California, on Tuesday was originally billed to include a “presidential candidates forum” on space issues, featuring representatives of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. However, no forum took place during that opening session, since AIAA could not get commitments from the two campaigns to take part. “It turns out we had lots of ‘maybes’ and lots of ‘we’ll get back to you’, but by Friday morning of last week we could not confirm both being here, so we canceled that part of the program,” AIAA executive director Robert Dickman explained. (The problem getting commitments to participate was with both campaigns, one person familiar with AIAA’s efforts explained later.)

However, a top NASA official did trumpet the strengths of NASA’s current policy compared to the agency’s state at the beginning of the current administration. In a luncheon speech, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said that, in effect, NASA was better off than it was four years ago. “What a difference four years makes,” she said. At the beginning of the administration, she said they had “inherited the decision of the previous administration to end NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle program” and that the overall human spaceflight program, in the words of the Augustine Committee report, was “on an unsustainable trajectory.” The current framework for NASA’s exploration programs, laid out in the 2010 NASA authorization act, is a far cry from the situation four years ago. “We have a very strong bipartisan commitment on the path that we’re on,” she said.

She also criticized those who have argued that the agency currently doesn’t have a firm direction forward. “Some have have claimed that we are adrift and with no clear spaceflight destinations and no plans for the future,” she said. “But nothing could be further from the truth. The perpetuation of this myth only hurts our entire industry and undermines our nation’s goals at this critical time period.”

As evidence of this, she revealed that NASA has recently delivered to Congress a “comprehensive report outlining our destinations, which make clear that the SLS [Space Launch System] will go well beyond low Earth orbit,” she said. “We’re going back to the Moon, we’re attempting the first missions to send humans to an asteroid, and are actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars.”

This report is the 180-day study on exploration destinations called for in NASA’s fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill. The report itself was delivered to Congress in the last week or two, but isn’t publicly available at the moment (I’m checking with NASA on when that report will be released.) NASA, though, did hand out hardcopies of the “Voyages” report to luncheon attendees. This document, released in June, is derived at least in part on the work done on the 180-day study for Congress.

Looking ahead, Garver also said that NASA is preparing for the worst-case scenario of budget sequestration. The administration still believes Congress will “do its job and pass a budget” before sequestration is triggered in January. If the cuts do go into effect, though, it would reduce NASA’s overall budget by $1.4 billion. “While we hope for the best, we certainly are planning in case the worse happens, and it will come at a great cost to the space program,” she said.

67 comments to Making the case NASA is better off than four years ago

  • Robert G. Oler

    It is amazing that Lori has this job…that was at least on paper one of the weakest speeches I have read recently (and considering I’ve been reading and listening to Willards speeches that says a lot).

    I am certain someone wrote the outline for her; but wow to me it is amazing all the same that she gave this…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dark Blue Nine

    NASA human space flight in general is better off now that there is an established domestic LEO cargo capability and multiple, budgetarily viable, domestic LEO crew capabilities are being vigorously pursued with first flights as early as 2015. That’s a vast improvement over an Ares I/Orion program that was slipping year-for-year with no end in sight.

    But NASA human space exploration beyond LEO is as broken now as it was before the current Administration. The SLS/MPCV budget is already billions below expectations and the schedule has already slipped a year, with the first flight barely holding onto 2017 with a December launch. This schedule is only going to get worse, with at least 4-8% cuts expected in the coming years to address the deficit, whether it’s done through a Simpson/Bowles-type agreement (4% cut), the Ryan budget (6% cut), or sequestration (8% cut). Moreover, there is no budget for in-space elements (transit stages, landers, etc.) through fiscal year 2025, putting a lie to the Administration’s 2025 NEO goal, regardless of whether SLS/MPCV first flies in 2017 or 2020.

    This is shameful because there are multiple, much less expensive alternatives to SLS/MPCV. The 50-ton Falcon 9 Heavy is being developed at no cost to the taxpayer, the 70-ton EELV Phase 2 was last priced at $2.3 billion to develop, and SpaceX has committed to a 150-ton super heavy launcher for $2.5 billion fixed price. Any one of these would cost less to develop than what is spent in one year on SLS/MPCV development, opening up billions and billions of dollars for actual exploration hardware development and operation, even after a 4-8% cut.

    Whether it’s an Obama or Romney Administration, the new White House faces a choice: continue to be complicit with Congress in a faux exploration program that is politically convenient but budgetarily unachievable, or terminate SLS/MPCV and put together a viable human space exploration program from the multiple, budgetarily viable alternatives available to the nation.

    I’d also note that the science program is as broken at the flagship class now as it was before the current Administration. JWST has still eaten WFIRST’s lunch, MSL and budget limits have still eaten all future Mars rovers until the 2020s, and there is still no Europa mission. Were SLS/MPCV terminated, some fraction of the funding should be used to restore these science priorities.

    And, although it was a noble initiative under this Administration, the Office of the Chief Technology and the Space Technology Program have lacked resources, clear priorities, and strong leadership. Their own National Academies survey placed in-space propellant management and storage as the most important/viable near-term technology to pursue, and they’ve got nothing significant going towards it. Instead, they’re blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on lighter composite tanks for SLS and dozens of other, small-fry projects with marginal system impacts. Some attention needs to be given to replacing this program’s scatter-brained, ineffectual, and field center-laden top management, getting it to follow clear, game-changing technology priorities, and then augmenting its resources from SLS/MPCV if it begins to show promise.

    My 2 cents… YMMV.

  • James

    Garver said: “and that the overall human spaceflight program, in the words of the Augustine Committee report, was “on an unsustainable trajectory.”

    When one is committed to a destination, along with a commitment for reaching that destination by a certain date, but doesn’t have the money to reach those goals, it is easy to conclude that program is ‘on an unsustainable trajectory”.

    If one avoids making any kind of commitment, that exists in time, and is clear on the what one is actually committing to, then it doesn’t really matter what one’s budget is – you can’t possibly be on an ‘unsustainable trajectory’, as there is no commitment that is at risk – no matter what one’s budget is. This is how Garver can say: ““What a difference four years makes,” (implying the path NASA is on is doing just fine).

  • “As evidence of this, she revealed that NASA has recently delivered to Congress a “comprehensive report outlining our destinations, which make clear that the SLS [Space Launch System] will go well beyond low Earth orbit,” she said. “We’re going back to the Moon, we’re attempting the first missions to send humans to an asteroid, and are actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars.”
    Evidently critisizing any part of NASA’s current budget (no matter how ridiculous that part is) is considered something that will cause an uproar among the Congress Critters who came up with the “the deal” for alllowing Commercial Crew to proceed. After all, the deal was: they get SLS, the administration gets Commercial Crew. But after the election, it’s just a matter of time as the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report indicates.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “When one is committed to a destination, along with a commitment for reaching that destination by a certain date, but doesn’t have the money to reach those goals”

    Constellation did have the money. ESMD actually received more funding than what was laid out in the first VSE budget. The NASA topline did not meet expectations, but Griffin protected Constellation. Too bad he didn’t bother to control the program’s costs.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    If one avoids making any kind of commitment, that exists in time, and is clear on the what one is actually committing to, then it doesn’t really matter what one’s budget is – you can’t possibly be on an ‘unsustainable trajectory’, as there is no commitment that is at risk – no matter what one’s budget is.

    If I understand what you’re saying, it is that if you commit to a destination, but not to a date, then that effort can never be considered to be unsustainable. True enough. You can keep shoveling money and never get there. We can easily sign on to a sustainable proposition of shoveling money. From the perspective of jobs, that’s precisely what Congress would like.

    But if you don’t shovel money fast enough, and I think this is what the Augustine committee was pointing out, you’ll just be propping up a marching army.

    Destination commitments without dates can be incredibly cheap. Let’s commit to landing humans on Europa, but let’s just not say when we expect to get there. Hey, that was easy! Let’s say we’re going to Titan too! Alpha Centauri, anyone? We can pledge to shovel money for hundreds of years.

  • James

    DB9 wrote:” JWST has still eaten WFIRST’s lunch,”

    JWST has eaten the lunch, breakfast, dinner, mid morning and after dinner snacks, and all the crumbs that fell on the floor (the poor hungry dog!) for all of Astrophysics for this decade (not just WFIRST), and threatens the mounting of any future flagship mission – as NASA’s credibility with being on time and on budget with large science programs is lost, until it is restored.

  • CharlesHouston

    Not much to add to the analyses of Dark Blue Nine, Rick Boozer, Robert Oler, and James. We could put in a footnote of Lori claims that: the US is going back to the Moon, attempting the first missions to an asteroid, and developing a plan to go to Mars – however, the precursors to all of those are briefing charts. How far along is the design for the Service Module for MPCV? Do we have a target asteroid? Etc.
    James Webb Space Telescope and SLS have huge appetites and there is not much money left over for any hardware that could take us beyond Low Earth Orbit.
    At least Lori could admit that these plans are for the far future!

  • Joe Russo

    Bottom line—flights beyond LEO are just a fantasy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    James wrote @ September 12th, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Garver said: “and that the overall human spaceflight program, in the words of the Augustine Committee report, was “on an unsustainable trajectory.”

    the problem is, and the weakness in the speech is that NASA is essentially on an unsustainable trajectory today…and in a “blow smoke up ones skirt (or pants)” speech even when the issues that are unsustainable are beyond ones control it is incumbent on the leadership to say just that.

    Commercial crew and cargo are a success (or as Bush43 administration officials use to say toward the end of their 8 years about OBL, “It is a success that hasnt happened yet” in terms of commercial crew) but they are on at least a manageable trajectory.

    It is clear that little else at NASA; planetary science, Webb, and SLS/Orion are not…now some of this is and is not the fault of Charlie and Garver but at least she should say so…instead of blowing smoke as if SLS/Orion is on track (see DS9′s analysis)

    As for all the destinations; well its like a professor once said “to end the paper just dont stop writing”.

    BTW I didnt like the 9/11 references either but that is something else. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    bottom line – flights beyond LEO with non reusable, non duel use, non space based, non fuel station refueling capability vehicles are just a fantasy.

    you can not toss a two billion dollar rocket and a billion dollar capsule away after every flight to LEO and call it a sustainable space program.

    That is insanity on a bun.

    Get NASA out of the transportation business and make them a freakin’ customer of a commercial transportation service for everything inside the million mile mark for Earth-Sun lagrange points.

    All they need to be is an anchor customer.

  • @Joe Russo
    “Bottom line—flights beyond LEO are just a fantasy.”
    A statement that is true only if we stick solely to SLS. And I don’t think Elon Musk is about to let that happen.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ September 12th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    This [an unaffordable SLS] is shameful because there are multiple, much less expensive alternatives to SLS/MPCV.

    Lots of people recognize this truth, but what has been missing is getting the more affordable alternatives in front of the leadership (the President, Congress, etc.) that can do something about it.

    Now part of this is obviously political in nature, because people like Senator Shelby have ZERO incentive to consider exploration plans that use existing rockets, even if some of those rockets would come from ULA (built in his state).

    I am one of those the believes that Obama agreed to the SLS because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to cancel Constellation, extend the life of the ISS, and get Commercial Crew off the ground. All things considered, I was OK with that, so from that standpoint I think we are far better off today than we were four years ago.

    However the SLS continues to be a massive barrier to human exploration, as many people have pointed out. There is just no money to build exploration hardware to get to an asteroid while the SLS is under development. None.

    So what I’m hoping will happen is that under a second Obama administration they will propose a significantly less expensive and quicker human exploration architecture, and use that to kill off the SLS. They can even frame the issue in terms of saving money, which could make it more palatable in Congress, regardless what the makeup is.

    A Romney administration could do the same, for the same budget motivated reasons, but we just have no idea which “principles” will make up the details of his space policy (or much of anything else, but I digress…).

    And I’ve said this before too – the space community should be coming together around an agreed upon plan or plans that provides alternatives to the SLS. We can bellyache all we want about “our leaders not knowing what to do”, but they are not the experts on space – the space community is. I know there are lots of groups working on plans, but until a large enough bloc of them come together and are recognized as representing a significant consensus, our government leaders will continue to lead by political motivations.

  • Miya

    The bottom line on SLS is that it’s still going nowhere fast, just like Constellation before it.

    At this point one wonders if the Administration is simply keeping up appearances (where SLS is concerned) until commercial crew starts flying and they can drop the whole charade.

  • JimNobles

    I suspect the real battle to cancel SLS won’t begin until the first Falcon Heavy is successfully launched.

  • DCSCA

    “Making the case NASA is better off than four years ago.”

    Space is long term, not to be measured in four year increments.

    Garver is incompetent. Fire her.

  • DCSCA

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ September 12th, 2012 at 9:33 am
    “NASA human space flight in general is better off now that there is an established domestic LEO cargo capability…”

    Progress has been flying for over 34 years; shuttle was flying for decades as well.

    Private enterprised space ops are a ticket to no place. Unless you asribe to the Magnified Importance of Diminished Vision.

  • Fred Willett

    …even when the issues that are unsustainable are beyond ones control it is incumbent on the leadership to say just that.
    In fact Bolden did. You might say he exceeded his mandate as NASA head when he commissioned the Booz-Allen report showing SLS was unsustainable. And congress, being congress, and having no shame, ignored the realities and insisted SLS be built anyway.
    At the end of the day Bolden has to do what he’s told. He was told to build SLS and he’s attempting to do just that. A good Marine will attempt to take the hill even when he knows in his heart the task is beyond his resources.
    The true worth of Bolden is shown in that inspite of the albatross of SLS he has managed to get CCiCap going and has sustained it as a SAA based program.
    When SLS finally collapses, as it will, we will be left with a lot of usefull stuff. Commercial Crew, Commercial Cargo and a thriving Commercial space sector.
    I think things are looking a lot better than they were 4 years ago.

  • vulture4

    Given the choice, the administration would have dropped the charade years ago, but Congress would not allow it. Maybe, once they are sufficiently shamed by the success of the administration’s commercial programs, Congress will relent and stop wasting our tax dollars.

  • Aberwys

    The difference that four years makes? Easy–Lori finally got what she waited for since the 80s–a chance to forgeahead w commercial spaceflight.

  • Bubba

    Come January SpaceX will discover just what happens when you upset several US Senators and your cover is out of office.

  • DCSCA

    @Joe Russo wrote @ September 12th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    “Bottom line—flights beyond LEO are just a fantasy.”

    No doubt that ‘fantasy’ will bring a few smiles tomorrow morning at a gathering at the National Cathedral in Washington. =eyeroll=

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA (aka Putin-boi) wrote @ September 12th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Progress has been flying for over 34 years

    You’re been schooled on this before:

    - Progress is Russian, not American.

    - The hatch on Progress is too small for carrying any large items.

    - Progress cargo capability is too small to support a large space station by itself. Haven’t you noticed that we’ve always supplemented Progress with other delivery systems, most recently ESA’s ATV and JAXA’s HTV?

    Pay more attention so you don’t look so ignorant.

    shuttle was flying for decades as well.

    What Shuttle? You mean the ones that retired last year? The ones that cost $1.5B to deliver 9mt of pressurized cargo to the ISS?

    The CRS service providers can deliver the same amount and size of pressurized cargo for half that price, and with more frequent deliveries.

    This is the 21st Century – we’re using new & better technology now.

  • Gary Warburton

    Vulture4 is right. They (congress) have only themselves to blame for that shame. Their Dog in the manger politics has backed them into a corner. Its going to be fun to watch them trying to weasel out of their sillness.

  • For those who missed yesterday’s Senate hearing on Mars, Kay Bailey Hutchison used it as an excuse to go off on another rant about how commercial crew is stealing money from SLS and that NASA should downsize to just one competitor.

    Can’t wait until January when “retired” is permanently affixed to her political résumé.

    Over on the House side, at the real SLS hearing, Dana Rohrabacher asked some pointed questions about how much SLS is going to cost. No one really knows. Dana was kinda muted for Dana, but he made the point that his colleagues really don’t care about how much money is wasted so long as they get their “monster rocket” to nowhere that protects jobs in their districts.

  • red

    “I’d also note that the science program is as broken at the flagship class now as it was before the current Administration. JWST has still eaten WFIRST’s lunch, MSL and budget limits have still eaten all future Mars rovers until the 2020s, and there is still no Europa mission. Were SLS/MPCV terminated, some fraction of the funding should be used to restore these science priorities.”

    We might be in slightly better shape with science flagships than we were 4 years ago. Back then there was still denial about the scale of the JWST problems, and now at least they are recognized. (Hopefully there aren’t even more …). Unfortunately the chosen solution was to eliminate other missions instead of replacing JWST with something more affordable. MSL is past its big budget days and now just needs to do operations and data analysis, so that problem could be considered to be resolved. The Europa mission still isn’t there, but they are talking about splitting it into 2 missions, flyby and orbiter, which might make it more feasible for 1 of them to happen.

    In spite of these slight improvements, I probably wouldn’t put funds from eliminating SLS/MPCV into flagship science missions first. Looking specifically at Planetary Science, much of the recent discussion has been on the upheaval in the Mars program and the lack of outer planet flagship missions. However, the smaller Planetary Science missions have also been hurt by JWST, SLS/MPCV, and budget cuts. The New Frontiers and Discovery programs are looking at much lower mission rates – maybe 1 New Frontiers per decade instead of 2, and maybe 2 Discovery per decade instead of 5 or more as we did before the Constellation days and as recommended by the Decadal Survey. Mars Scout is gone. Lunar Quest is gone. Robotic Precursors aren’t happening (4 years ago at least we got LRO/LCROSS). Flagship technology demonstration missions to other planets aren’t happening (as proposed around FY2011, e.g. to demonstrate aerocapture and SEP at/to Mars). The Decadal Survey also considered New Frontiers and Discovery to be high priorities. So, I’d probably restore funding to cheaper lines like New Frontiers, Discovery, robotic precursors, or planetary tech demos first.

  • red

    “Their own National Academies survey placed in-space propellant management and storage as the most important/viable near-term technology to pursue, and they’ve got nothing significant going towards it. Instead, they’re blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on lighter composite tanks for SLS and dozens of other, small-fry projects with marginal system impacts. Some attention needs to be given to replacing this program’s scatter-brained, ineffectual, and field center-laden top management,”

    The composite tank project talked about propellant depot applications, but it sure does look like an SLS project, run from MSFC with Boeing as the contractor. It probably should be funded from the SLS line rather than the technology one. Isn’t that where the SLS advanced booster development funding is from?

    I probably wouldn’t be as critical about the dozens of smaller projects. As you mentioned, Space Technology isn’t getting much funding. It really isn’t all that much more than in the going-out-of-business days of Constellation. I believe they were also directed by Congress to prioritize existing technology projects, which limits their flexibility. They restored NIAC, which I think is a good move, and that’s small projects. SBIR and STTR involves small projects. With FY2011 they always intended to have a strong small satellite technology development and demonstration effort, and they are following through with that with the Franklin/Edison lines, mainly for Cubesats. That doesn’t have much to do with BEO HSF, but it’s a promising field that I think should be developed. They have some other technology demonstration missions in the pipeline (atomic clock, laser comms, green propellants, solar sail, etc), all constrained by funding to be on small satellites, hosted payloads, or ISS, and with “skin-in-the-game” contributions from other areas or the contractors. They are doing what they can with flight opportunities on commercial suborbital platforms. Given their funding levels, I probably would do the same thing rather than put most of very limited resources into 1 or 2 bigger, more ambitious missions like the once hoped-for flagship technology demos. The small projects might not help BEO HSF much individually, but they can help the industries and technology areas they focus on, and with SLS/MPCV there isn’t much reason to expect BEO HSF to happen anyway.

  • @Bubba
    Come January SpaceX will discover just what happens when you upset several US Senators and your cover is out of office.
    Given all of the launch contracts from the commercial marketplace that SpaceX already has, losing NASA as customer would be a significant setback but likely not fatal by a long shot. That comment was as uninformed and ignorant sounding as your choice of nom de plume would indicate.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Over on the House side, at the real SLS hearing, Dana Rohrabacher asked some pointed questions about how much SLS is going to cost. No one really knows.”

    Do you have a time-stamp on a video link or other reference for that exchange?

    If Dan Dumbacher, the Deputy AA for Exploration Systems Development, can’t produce an estimate of SLS development costs when a congressman asks, the program is in even greater trouble than what the budget figures imply.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “So, I’d probably restore funding to cheaper lines like New Frontiers, Discovery, robotic precursors, or planetary tech demos first.”

    You have a fair argument. If the Decadal Surveys identify a minimum mission rate (e.g., one competition/selection every two years) for these programs, then that should be met before funding the flagships.

    “The composite tank project talked about propellant depot applications, but it sure does look like an SLS project, run from MSFC with Boeing as the contractor.”

    It’s a Langley/Marshall lightweight composite tank technology sandbox, first and foremost, that predated OCT and was stuck in OCT’s Game Changing Program. NASA HQ hired a DARPA manager, Preston Carter of Lunar Prospector fame, to try to fix the Game Changing Program and get it in line with the successful DARPA model of technology development. (Carter left about a year ago out of frustration.) One of many changes Carter tried to implement was to get each Game Changing project to identify a customer and reach an agreement on deliverables with them. For this composite tank project, SLS became the customer. However, SLS has no driving need for lighter propellant tanks and generally ignores MSFC/LaRC’s sandbox.

    Regardless, the project has nothing to do with in-space propellant storage and management — there’s no active/passive thermal control work being done, just lightening primary tank structure. In fact, composite tanks leak like sieves compared to metallic tanks, so they’re the last thing you’d want to use in a long-term storage application, like a propellant depot. It’s just false advertising when OCT claims that composite tanks are “required” for that application, like here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/game_changing_technology/game_changing_development/composite-cryotank.html

    It’s like saying that developing a lightweight composite structure for a Formula One racer is on the critical path for the next generation of 18-wheel tractor-trailer development. They may both use internal combustion and wheels, just like launchers and propellant depots both use tanks, but it’s just not true that they share a critical path.

    “Isn’t that where the SLS advanced booster development funding is from?”

    Yes, but this project has nothing to do with the advanced booster competition. If SLS ever pays attention and uses them, the composite tanks would be in the core vehicle.

    “I probably wouldn’t be as critical about the dozens of smaller projects.”

    To be clear, I’m not criticizing the scale of the projects. If you can get it done with a smaller amount of dollars, do it.

    I’m criticizing the small impact of these projects. The technologies picked are “small fry” in terms of the systems, capabilities, savings, etc. that they enable.

    For example, NASA has known for years and years that improving cryo boil-off cuts the mass of a manned Mars mission in half. It has a greater impact on planetary mission size (and thus launches and cost) than any other technology by a factor of three. See page 4 in this OCT presentation:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/457884main_OCT_town_hall_rev4.pdf

    It’s also technology that is ripe for demonstration. OCT’s own NRC “decadal survey” of technology priorities identifies “Cryogenic Storage and Handling” as one of two technologies that is at a “tipping point” and recommends “on-orbit flight testing”. See:

    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13354&page=8

    This recommendation has been known for almost two years now.

    So what technology did OCT prioritize in the last round of its Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) flight program? Cryo handling and storage, right? No, green propulsion. They have to be kidding. Green propulsion doesn’t even show up on the NRC technology decadal survey that OCT is suppossed to be following.

    Green propellants are good as far as they go. If they’re widely adopted and the existing hydrazine alternatives are eliminated (a big “if”), they’ll save NASA and the industry low millions to tens of millions of bucks on ground handling of dangerous materials.

    But these are marginal savings, at best, in secondary propulsion systems. Within limited resources, it’s goofy to prioritize this small-fry, low-priority technology over high-payoff, high-priority technologies like a cryo storage and handling demonstration.

    I’ll note that the other near-term demonstration priority from the NRC survey, ASRGs, is also nowhere in the OCT portfolio. Instead, OCT’s nuclear work is focused on a non-nuclear demonstration of the systems that would support a multi-ten kilowatt surface reactor for a lunar base that hasn’t been part of the agency’s planning since Griffin resigned. Over $10M a year is going to this non-nuclear “fission” project with no customer, instead of getting ASRGs tested and flown. Crazy.

    “Given their funding levels, I probably would do the same thing rather than put most of very limited resources into 1 or 2 bigger, more ambitious missions like the once hoped-for flagship technology demos.”

    Again, just to be clear, I’m not talking about flagship demos. I’m talking about high-impact demos.

    That green propulsion demo mission is going to cost OCT at least $45 million. See:

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/aug/HQ_12-281_Green_Propellants.html

    By contrast, ULA’s Cryote Pup and Cryote Lite missions (cryo handling and storage demonstration flights) come in at $50-100 million. See page 4 in this presentation:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=cryote%20mission%20cost&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CCwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fspirit.as.utexas.edu%2F~fiso%2Ftelecon%2FMcLean_3-2-11%2FMcLean_3-2-11.pdf&ei=xThSUK3IBoTm0QHR5IGYAg&usg=AFQjCNF1oOQKXa0XpUvY5qGOuuA5gklzTA

    Where do we want to put $50M in NASA tech demo resources? Low-priority green propellants that might save on the order of millions to tens of millions of dollars in hydrazine handling on secondary propulsion systems? Or high-priority cryo handling and storage that could obviate the need to spend billions to tens of billions of dollars on HLV development?

    It’s just nutty…

    “they are following through with that with the Franklin/Edison lines, mainly for Cubesats.”

    Honestly, this is another area where they’re screwing up priorities. It’s well-known in the smallsat community that the major, current, limiting factor on cubesat life and capabilities is batteries. Someone needs to flight-validate a couple, good sets of rechargeable batteries at the cubesat scale.

    So what were the technology priorities in the first Edison solicitation? Power systems, right? No, it was communication and proximity ops. Worse, the projects they selected are narrow in their application: integrated solar-/reflectarray and integrated optical comm/proximity sensors. Again, good as far as it goes, but even assuming your application requires the high-rate comm in the bandwidths these unique, expensive instruments will operate at, you have to have a good, long-life power system to make them worthwhile. None exists in a flight-tested form for cubesats.

    I think Mason Peck, the current Chief Technologist could be good, just as Bobby Braun could have been good. But they can’t have their Space Technology Program (STP) tied down by field center bureaucrats rotating through NASA HQ that are more loyal to the field centers than agency and national priorities and have no experience managing technology portfolios at this level. It’s killing the program with poorly prioritized, low-impact work.

    The next NASA Administrator or White House is going to ask what they’re getting for $6-700 million per year in NASA STP funding. When the answer is low-/no-priority, low-impact, and little-/no customer projects like green propulsion, a solar sail, a non-nuclear fission systems demo, and a dual-use cubesat solar/comm array, it’s going to lead to the program’s reduction or termination.

    (Of course, the SBIR/STTR work in STP will survive because of Congressional mandate, but that’s another issue.)

    NASA desperately needs a good, independent technology program. But NASA has to manage it with a bare modicum of competence such that the bulk of its limited resources go to high-priority, high-payoff technologies with important/multiple customers. That’s not happening currently.

    My 2 cents… YMMV.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ September 13th, 2012 at 6:54 am

    “Kay Bailey Hutchison used it as an excuse to go off on another rant about how commercial crew is stealing money from SLS and that NASA should downsize to just one competitor.”

    She’s right.

    _____

    Re- today’s memorial for Neil. To paraphrase Buzz:

    “Magnificent celebration.”

    The Presdient missed a golden opportunity– he was campaigning in Golden, Colorado, instead. .

  • Dark Blue Nine wrote:

    Do you have a time-stamp on a video link or other reference for that exchange?

    Rep. Rohrabacher starts at 57 minutes 32 seconds into the video. You can click here to go directly to that point:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gACyhupcV7E&t=57m32s

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ September 13th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    The Presdient missed a golden opportunity– he was campaigning in Golden, Colorado, instead.

    Bolden & Cernan spoke, and Diana Krall sang. I don’t think they missed the presence of a couple of politicians.

    In case you haven’t noticed, life goes on – as well as death – and Armstrong has been given his due. Only those very few that still think Apollo is an important part of our daily lives would be disappointed.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Rep. Rohrabacher starts at 57 minutes 32 seconds into the video.” Thanks, Stephen. I have to say that it’s shameful that Dumbacher doesn’t have anything more specific for the projected per flight cost for SLS than “more than a Delta IV”. We’ve spent $5 billion on SLS/MPCV so far, and the Deputy AA at NASA in charge of building them has no clue how much it’s going to cost to run them or even a target for what their per flight cost should come in at to be budgetarily viable. The program is running blind in terms of its operational goals. It’s like designing a car without knowing whether it should get 1MPG or 50MPG. I also have to say that I’m a little shocked that Dumbacher doesn’t have SLS and MPCV development budget figures on paper at his fingertips during a congressional hearing, if not tattooed inside his skull. The guy should be living and breathing the programmatics on these projects, and all he can provide in a meeting with Congress is two significant figures that he’s not even sure of? C’mon… And he’s forgetting to roll in the supporting ground systems? Cripes… What an empty suit. I hope he’s not representative of the project management underneath him. If he is, forget budget pressure or competing HLVs and capsules — the program is just going to collapse on its own out of sheer incompetence.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ September 13th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    =yawn= As usual you failed to hear one of Armstrong’s lasting and most familiar refrains- executive leadership from the WH is required. Mr. Obama has failed on this point. And Ares aside, he betrayed first cycle supporters by scuttling Constellation-albeit more the fault of the Garverites vs. the Griffinites. Garver’s departure from NASA can’t come quick enough. Of more interest to a Musketeer like you, of course, should be whether Elon bothered to attend the memorial for one of his self-described ‘heroes’ – see his weepy 60 Minutes seg for details. Even Buzz showed up- the same Buzz who went so far out of his way on his webste to repeatedly call Neil his ‘friend’ in his statement that it calls into question the validity of the assertion itself – Buzz doth ‘protest too much’– especially given Neil’s revelation in his bio that he was offered the chance to dump Aldrin from the crew by Slayton and replace him w/Lovell. Ever the team player, Armstrong kept Aldrin aboard– which in retrospect may have done Buzz more personal harm than professional good. Bolden carries the gravitas of a house plant at such gatherings. Nobody cares what he says. They might as well have sent Biden who is an upgrade to a mere potted plant. No sir, the CIC bailing out on this certainly speakis volumes. Attending a dead and long retired TV anchorman’s memorial may have been more his preference but it has lost this writer’s vote. Not that it has won one for Romney. But DCSCA wont be making a special trip vote for Obama this time ’round as Obama didn’t bother to make one for Neil.

  • Googaw

    No, green propulsion. They have to be kidding. Green propulsion doesn’t even show up on the NRC technology decadal survey that OCT is suppossed to be following.

    Oh noes! They deviated from the 10-year plan! Heresy!

    Oh noes! They chose to research a technology that has widespread real-world application! Less-toxic storable propellants, to improve on the toxic storable propellants that are very widely used by real space commerce and the DoD as well as NASA, instead of a technology targetted at a grand cryogenic taxpayer-funded heavenly pilgrimage of the future. Oh the humanity!

    Those dastardly heretics actually funded something practical. Something real space commerce and security and science could actually find useful. Something that violates our grand dogmatic hallucinations. They’ve infected our beloved fantasy plans with a dose of economic reality. They have to be kidding.

  • Dark Blue Nine wrote:

    I have to say that it’s shameful that Dumbacher doesn’t have anything more specific for the projected per flight cost for SLS than “more than a Delta IV”.

    Well, years ago I worked as a budget analyst for a municipality, and if one of its elected officials had asked me off the top of my head for an exact number I probably wouldn’t remember either. I would have the budget book with me, though.

    That said … The per flight cost doesn’t really matter. Congress ordered NASA to spend $3 billion per year on SLS to keep employed people in their districts. That’s what NASA is doing. Congress has never shown much interest in any missions.

    One year ago today was the press conference in D.C. that announced the SLS design. Click here to watch it on YouTube. The politicians said very little about what it would be used for. They mostly bragged about the size of the “monster rocket” and the jobs it would create.

  • vulture4

    With regard to the $400M+ to be spent on ground systems at KSC, I would note that at this point I cannot see any reason Atlas or SpaceX will ever use LC-39, leaving all the maintenance and operations cost for the VAB, MLPs, crawlers and pads logically under the SLS/Orion program.

    Regarding technology, there are at least two programs for zero-loss (active cooling plus insulation) cryogenic storage at KSC alone. I think we need to get all this depot technology up to our existing depot, the ISS. Maybe in the future we will have another station in lower inclination, but for now the ISS is perfectly adequate for technology development and of course it can use either cryo or solar-electric thrusters for orbital maneuvering.

    The big area of small projects we need and don’t have is multispectral earth sensing (and some astronomical sensing) for the ISS. We need practical benefits, and that means things on Earth. The only earth-sensor we are finally getting, after 10 years, is a very small camera behind thick glass inside the cupola. Sensors with continuous downlinks and scopes that can be directed would be more effective on the truss, and the amount of information they can gather about Earth would be almost unlimited and the data rate extremely high. Despite the presence of gas around the ISS some astronomical sensors such as UV solar and stellar telescopes would be inexpensive and produce useful data.

  • vulture4

    Regarding the “green propellant” initiative, it is not expensive and a pretty good idea as this would allow significant cost reductions in processing hydrazine monopropellant systems, since they are essentially a form of hydrazine with no respiratory hazard. But for bipropellant systems there is little benefit since there is no hypergolic storable oxydizer. My opinion is that there is little advantage to hypergolic bipropellants since even the smallest thrusters can easily incorporate electrical ignition, and it would be better to focus on designing efficient, reliable, low-cost thrusters using electrical ignition and storable (e.g. NO/propane) or cryogenic (e.g. LOX/methane) propellants.

  • vulture4

    Sorry, I meant there is no hypergolic oxydizer that is nontoxic and stable.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Oh noes! They deviated from the 10-year plan! Heresy!”

    First, it’s not a ten-year plan. It’s just a list of technology priorities. You might want to read a document before making knee-jerk statements about it.

    Second, regardless of whether you (or I) agree with the technology priorities, they are what they are and NASA OCT asked for them. If management can’t follow priorities that management itself asked for, then management is dysfunctional. That criticism stands even if you don’t like the priorities.

    “Oh noes! They chose to research a technology that has widespread real-world application!… Those dastardly heretics actually funded something practical. Something real space commerce and security and science could actually find useful.”

    Really? Because these green propellants have been around for over a decade (the ECAPS company was established in 2000 to push HPGP/ADN, for example), and no one has shut down any hydrazine production, processing (spacecraft or pad), or testing facility in favor of them.

    Heck, HPGP/ADN was even space qualified over two years ago (the Prisma tech demo mission) and no one has decided to mainstream it onto any “commerce, security, or science” mission.

    Green propellants remove the toxic dangers of hydrazine, but they add new dangers (easy detonation) and require an all-new infrastructure of their own (in addition to the costs of bringing down the hydrazine infrastructure). No one is biting. Forget priorities — even standalone, it makes no sense to pour another $50 million of taxpayer money into a technology that’s been a proven non-competitor for over a decade.

    Again, you might want to do some reading and think critically before you make a rah-rah comment about a technology that you perceive off-the-cuff as commercially viable when that’s actually not been the case for years and years.

    “instead of a technology targetted at a grand cryogenic taxpayer-funded heavenly pilgrimage of the future.”

    Look, I appreciate your point-of-view. I agree that human space flight to date and probably for a good number of years into the future has been a net drain on economies around the world. I think that skepticism bring a healthy dose of reality to the discussion.

    But goofy, knee-jerk rants that make the same point over and over and over in the absence of any new information or analysis are just a waste of your and everyone else’s time. Even worse, you’re now applying your ad nauseum argument to technologies and systems you clearly have no understanding or even knowledge of.

    Keep ranting if you want, but you’re not going to convince anyone that your viewpoint is the correct one when you sink your signal-to-noise ratio down to the level of other trolls like amightywind or DCSCA.

  • Vladislaw

    “As usual you failed to hear one of Armstrong’s lasting and most familiar refrains- executive leadership from the WH is required. Mr. Obama has failed on this point.”

    Can you explain to me where this President was going to lead the house republicans in 2010? Just exactly WHAT were the republicans in the house going to willing be led on .. what program or project? Even if he proposed pumping in 3 billion more for Constellation, it would have never went through the house. They would have just chopped it and called him a big spending liberal.

    So .. when the majority of the house, says they are catagorically NOT going to follow THIS President.. show me the leading part he could have did.

  • DCSCA

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ September 14th, 2012 at 12:12 pm
    =yawn= “But goofy, knee-jerk rants that make the same point over and over and over in the absence of any new information or analysis are just a waste of your and everyone else’s time.” Which pretty much sums up the hype and type in the reams of paper and streams of postings that pass for press releases from SpaceX.

  • red

    “If the Decadal Surveys identify a minimum mission rate (e.g., one competition/selection every two years) for these programs, then that should be met before funding the flagships.”

    For New Frontiers, the Survey gave a menu of 7 missions with 2 to be selected over the Decade. It didn’t specify particular Discovery missions, but it recommended a “preferably rapid (<= 24 month) cadence for Discovery AO releases and mission selections" with funding at the level of the time of the document adjusted for inflation. The first place the Survey looked in case of a less-favorable budget was descoping or delaying Flagship missions. Next is Discovery and New Frontiers, and highest priority is research and technology. In case of unexpectedly favorable budgets, Discovery is the first priority to increase.

    "Yes, but this project has nothing to do with the advanced booster competition. If SLS ever pays attention and uses them, the composite tanks would be in the core vehicle."

    I didn't mean that the composite tanks were related to the advanced boosters. It just seemed to me that, by analogy with the advanced boosters funded by SLS, the composite tank technology development should be funded by SLS. I had the impression that it's a fairly SLS-specific technology, an impression that's grown stronger given what you wrote about composite tanks and depots. OCT is supposed to work on technologies with multiple users (if only NASA Earth Science is interested in a technology, they fund it with their technology budget).

    "So what technology did OCT prioritize in the last round of its Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) flight program? Cryo handling and storage, right? No, green propulsion."

    I agree that something like the ULA depot proposals are a top priority technology to demonstrate. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if some sort of deal has been struck along the way to just not go there so as to not threaten SLS. Or maybe the center technology rotations don't want the headache of being the ones that funded a depot technology demonstration when they return to their center. Maybe ULA's owners are making the demo less attractive so as to not upset SLS/MPCV. Or maybe a mission is still quietly in the queue, since there's an OCT page under "technology demonstrations/current missions" for it:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/cpst/cpst_overview.html

    I don't know if it's up to date, but that page says "Led by NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the project is conducting technology maturation activities for a preliminary design review in 2013. It will fly on a Taurus II or equivalent rocket to demonstrate storage, transfer and gauging of a single propellant, liquid hydrogen. Launch is planned for 2016."

    I think some companies got a small amount of study money for depots earlier in the year.

    From the green propellant demo mission announcement, it sounds like there were some matching funds from some of the partners (Air Force, NASA centers, Ball, Aerojet). It would be interesting to know how much that was, from which partners, and why. As with COTS, I think a lot of these technology developments and demonstrations should be done on a "skin in the game" basis, where other partners are showing that they have a compelling need for the technology and expect to use it if it succeeds by contributing cash. Even if the dollar amounts and thus likely impact are less, it would be good to see some space technology demos run much like COTS.

    "Someone needs to flight-validate a couple, good sets of rechargeable batteries at the cubesat scale.

    So what were the technology priorities in the first Edison solicitation? Power systems, right? No, it was communication and proximity ops"

    One thing I'd be careful about with NASA technology demos is not doing a demo if someone (e.g.: in industry) is already planning to do one. I have no idea if that's the case here, but from your description it sounds like something where industry might already see an opportunity. Or … could it be done on the cheap, without a full free-flyer demo (e.g.: attached to the ISS)? Or does somebody need to start a cubesat battery demo Kickstarter campaign?

  • vulture4

    @DB9- You make some good points about the hydrazine substitutes and as I said they would only really help on monopropellant systems.

    On the other hand, the cost of handling toxic propellants at the launch site is higher than you might think with the emergency procedures, PPE, medical support, hazardous waste, and other expenses add up. A number of thruster failures, some (unmanned) catastrophic, have resulted from the corrosive effects of hypergolics on valves.

    There have been numerous ground tests with electrically ignited thrusters using ethane/NO, LOX and other nontoxic and nonhypergolic propellants. I think there is some inertia. Whoever changes to a new concept will pay in development and risk. But it would be worth it in the long run.

  • DCSCA

    September 13, 2012 was the public memorial for the late Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot on the moon, who passed away August 25. Held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the services were, to paraphrase Buzz Aldrin, a ‘Magnificent Celebration.’

    And Mr. Obama elected not to attend.

    On space, on history and most likely on other matters of statecraft and personal preference as well, it’s a small, but telling reveal on Mr. Obama’s attitudes and values.

    As President of the United States, Mr. Obama found time three Septembers ago to climb aboard AF1, jet to Manhattan, motorcade to Lincoln Center and deliver remarks at a public memorial held by a private firm for a long retired and then recently deceased television news personality; a journalist; anchorman, Walter Cronkite– one of many journalists of an era in print and broadcast with similar, respected career paths and distinguished legacies. Yet Mr. Obama could not muster similar motivations- or respect– yesterday to motorcade across Washington to the National Cathedral to pay tribute in person and deliver remarks at the public memorial for the first human being in the history of everything, an American no less, to set foot on another celestial body, the late Neil Armstrong.

    And make no mistake. As President of the United States, Mr. Obama clearly should have done so.

    Not only due to the significance of the event Mr. Armstrong’s steps represent, but particularly as Mr. Armstrong’s place in history was secured through a massive government financed project and not, as with Mr. Cronkite’s career, through private sector initiatives. A presidential predecessor, Mr. Nixon, was denied a pre-launch breakfast w/the Apollo 11 crew (fear of germs) yet Mr. Nixon not only telephoned the crew on the moon but flew to the Pacific to greet them personally when recovered aboard the USS Hornet. And Mr. Nixon had little to do with the Apollo program. It was, simply, smart statecraft, good politics– and good manners.

    In point of fact, at the time of the Neil Armstrong memorial in Washington, Mr. Obama was campaigning in Colorado. Which speaks volumes about his priorities and his political calculus as CIC. Yet Friday, Mr. Obama made a point of appearing at a very public, televised- and clearly politicized- but wholly solemn event to receive the returning remains of a slain U.S. diplomat and his three murdered comrades. But yesterday, no time for Neil. Never mind the remains of KIA service personnel from Afghanistan and other locales return stateside all too often sans the honor of Mr. Obama’s ‘welcoming’ presence.

    So it comes down to this perception: Anchorman, yes. Moonman, no. Servicemen, maybe.

    If your barn is blown down by an Ohio twister, Mr. Obama will show up w/a local TV news crew not far behind. If you’re a Florida pizza peddler who is a campaign activist raking in some dough, Mr. Obama will deliver- a cheesy photo op on the side. Both will make the nightly news. But if across town, you’re publicly honoring the memory of the first man on the moon– a one time in the whole history of everything event- who by doing so in passing outshines you– forgettaboudit. Because at such an assembly of luminaries, it’s not about Barry, it’s about Neil. And that may just be a tipoff to Mr. Obama’s attitude about space and other plans for tomorrow on his agenda– forgetable.

    No doubt there’s a rationale at the ready within the campaign if anybody cares to ask. Security issues. Time constraints. Previous tributes. World events, etc.

    Whatever it is, it is no excuse. And clearly no matter to him. Of course, Neil will be long remembered for centuries and for his accomplishments–long after Barry and his accomplishments are long-forgotten.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if some sort of deal has been struck along the way to just not go there so as to not threaten SLS. Or maybe the center technology rotations don’t want the headache of being the ones that funded a depot technology demonstration when they return to their center.”

    You may be right. It may be that NASA’s STP managers are politically posturing around cryo storage/handling rather than incompetently ignoring the priorities they asked for. But even if cryo storage/handling is off the table politically, why aren’t ASRGs or another priority from the NRC report being funded, instead of throwing $45 million at a technology (green propulsion) that does’t even appear on the NRC’s list of priorities? STP only had enough budget to solicit one TDM mission this year, and they picked something that’s not even on their list of NRC priorities? To me, this points to incompetent management of the technology portfolio, rather than careful political posturing. I try not to attribute to clever intent what can be attributed to stupidity. Banality of evil and all that.

    That said, even if this is the product of political posturing, I’d still argue that the situation is unacceptable. If the STP managers are incapable of navigating the political environment such that they can get their top couple or few priorities funded, then they’re not the right managers for job. Or, if the situation is truly, politically bankrupt and there is no way to get any top priorities funded, then there’s little point to having an independent technology program at NASA. Cut it or cancel it so we’re not throwing taxpayer money away on low-priority, low-payoff technologies.

    “Or maybe a mission is still quietly in the queue, since there’s an OCT page under “technology demonstrations/current missions” for it… I don’t know if it’s up to date, but that page says “Led by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the project is conducting technology maturation activities for a preliminary design review in 2013. It will fly on a Taurus II or equivalent rocket to demonstrate storage, transfer and gauging of a single propellant, liquid hydrogen. Launch is planned for 2016.”

    CPST gets a very brief project mention in the budget (see second paragraph p. 32 in link below), but it’s not an approved, funded flight mission (like the bullets on p. 28 or the TDM missions in the graphic on p. 31):

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/632690main_NASA_FY13_Budget_Space-Tech-508.pdf

    It may be the plan at the project level to aim for a flight circa 2016, but that’s not what’s been approved or funded at the STP level. From the STP budget documents I’ve seen (arguably heresay), CPST is just a low, level-of-effort activity at Glenn to keep some FTEs gainfully employed and maintain a “core competency”.

    And even if CPST was approved and funded for a flight demo, 2016 is a ridiculously slow schedule for what is suppossed to be a top priority from the NRC study. That’s 4 years from now. CRYOTE Pup and CRYOTE Lite, by comparison, are 1.5- to 2-year projects according to the ULA presentation I linked to above.

    Finally, even if CPST was approved and funded for a near-term flight demo (circa 2014), it makes no sense to fly it on a Taurus II. That vehicle costs $45-50 million per launch, potentially as much as an entire CRYOTE Pup or Lite demo. And unlike an EELV, it’s never going to use the technology for an upper stage.

    I’m sure CPST has some Glenn folks who are world experts on thermal management, but there’s no evidence that anyone is thinking critically at the system or programmatic level about how to do this demonstration in an efficient, relevant, and timely manner. It seems to be a very low priority with no adult supervision.

    “From the green propellant demo mission announcement, it sounds like there were some matching funds from some of the partners (Air Force, NASA centers, Ball, Aerojet). It would be interesting to know how much that was, from which partners, and why. As with COTS, I think a lot of these technology developments and demonstrations should be done on a “skin in the game” basis, where other partners are showing that they have a compelling need for the technology and expect to use it if it succeeds by contributing cash.”

    The big, TDM missions are suppossed to have at least a 25% cost-share from outside the STP/OCT program. See end of 4th paragraph here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/crosscutting_capability/tech_demos/tdm_solicitations.html

    That could be anyone from another NASA office (e.g., a science or human space flight program interested in the technology), another federal agency (USAF, NRO, DARPA, etc.), industry performers, industry customers, etc. IIRC, the 25% can take any form, from in-kind work/equipment to straight dollar contributions. The contribution is required for exactly your “skin-in-the-game” reason to increase the probability that someone will actually use the technology operationally after NASA funds the bulk of it. It’s a good thing, but I’m not sure that the green propulsion demo, or any of the other TDM missions, have actually met it.

    “Even if the dollar amounts and thus likely impact are less, it would be good to see some space technology demos run much like COTS.”

    Agreed, given the strong industry application/stimulation, things like cryo storage/handing and green propulsion should use the COTS model.

    But aside from the cost-share requirement, TDM missions are not run like COTS. COTS used Space Act Agreements, which gave those managers and performers a lot of latitude to work smart. But TDM missions use BAAs, which still subject managers and performers to the FAR.

    “One thing I’d be careful about with NASA technology demos is not doing a demo if someone (e.g.: in industry) is already planning to do one.”

    AFAIK, that’s not the case here. There’s good battery sets from small suppliers out there, but these firms can’t afford their own tech demo missions.

    Thanks for the exchange, Red. Always a pleasure.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “You make some good points about the hydrazine substitutes and as I said they would only really help on monopropellant systems.”

    Agreed.

    “On the other hand, the cost of handling toxic propellants at the launch site is higher than you might think with the emergency procedures, PPE, medical support, hazardous waste, and other expenses add up.”

    No doubt, starting from scratch, green propellants will be less expensive. But the switching costs from hydrazine to something else will negate the savings for years to come. Just the cleanup costs associated with decomissioning a hydrazine facility probably run into the 10x millions at least, which would probably eat up the savings you list above for a good 5-10 years. Hopefully some new satellite manufacturer or launch site will adopt a green propellant, but I don’t think these systems make economic sense to existing hydrazine users, hence the non-existent adoption rate.

    “A number of thruster failures, some (unmanned) catastrophic, have resulted from the corrosive effects of hypergolics on valves.”

    At a gross level, I think impact on spacecraft life is a wash, given how much easier it is for green propellants to detonate. But I doubt anyone has done a detailed analysis.

    “There have been numerous ground tests with electrically ignited thrusters using ethane/NO, LOX and other nontoxic and nonhypergolic propellants. I think there is some inertia. Whoever changes to a new concept will pay in development and risk. But it would be worth it in the long run.”

    To be clear, I have nothing against green propulsion per se — I hope companies like ECAPS and Firestar Technologies find customers. If NASA’s space technology budget was a couple billion dollars per year, and they had projects addressing most/all of the NRC priorities, then sure, poke at green propulsion again to see if anyone bites.

    But that’s not the reality NASA is dealing with. Instead, they have a ~$600 million/year space technology budget, most of which goes to SBIR/STTR, legacy Constellation projects, and level effort activities like space tech student grants, leaving less than $200 million/year for substantial, new, space systems technology development and demonstration. Low-priority, low-impact, limited-customer technologies like green propulsion and solar sails shouldn’t get multi-ten million dollar demonstration flights in that environment. Stick to the NRC priorities, especially in a very tight budget. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if some sort of deal has been struck along the way to just not go there so as to not threaten SLS. Or maybe the center technology rotations don’t want the headache of being the ones that funded a depot technology demonstration when they return to their center. Maybe ULA’s owners are making the demo less attractive so as to not upset SLS/MPCV.

    I talked to some ULA folks at Space 2012 this past week. They are under orders to not use the “D” word in public presentations.

  • Googaw

    Second, regardless of whether you (or I) agree with the technology priorities, they are what they are and NASA OCT asked for them. If management can’t follow priorities that management itself asked for, then management is dysfunctional.

    Quite the contrary: it’s the idea that you can invent new technologies based on ten-year plans that is dysfunctional. In cultures like Silicon Valley where a great deal of innovation is produced per R&D dollar, the leading management philosophy is known as the pivot:

    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/how_and_when_to_pivot_rules_fo.html

    To see NASA management depart from these silly Procrustean beds, these dogmatic attempts to make long-term prophecies of technological innovation — whether these are iron maidens they have made for themselves or some central planners have made for them — is an extremely refreshing and promising development.

    In this case, management pivoted by moving from a sci-fi story about unfunded, and with high probability unfundable, grand future NASA missions, to the practical problems and needs of today’s space operators (Silicon Valley pivot rule #4: “Build a customer-focused culture, not a product-focused one.”).

    NASA R&D and the taxpayer could also greatly benefit from most of the other pivot rules, including rule #3: “Fail earlier, more cheaply, and more often.” If more promising uses of R&D dollars present themselves, it is pathological to wait ten years to take advantage of them. Smart R&D management recognizes and moves moves on from failure to meet customer needs (or in this case, failure of the original planners to recognize anybody besides their own future sci-fi selves as customers) rather than sticking with obsolete plans.

    As for arguing against researching a replacement for toxic and thus expensive to handle propellants, by arguing about the high costs of decommissioning factories that produce the toxic propellants, that’s one of the more bizarre and backwards arguments I’ve heard in many a season. Some of thte pathologies of this argument should be obvious, but I’ll point out one of the more important ones that people unschooled in economics may not find obvious: that the continuing use of the toxic propellants increases the incentives to expand or build new plants to make them, increasing the long-term decommissioning costs.

    Alas, cosmic fever and the pathological incentives that often creep into government funding and contracting create many a bizarre and backwards argument when it comes to space exploration and development. But the afformentioned decommissioning argument is pretty awful even in that terrible company.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “In cultures like Silicon Valley where a great deal of innovation is produced per R&D dollar, the leading management philosophy is known as the pivot”

    And, if you had bothered to actually read the NRC report instead of waxing philosophical, you’d know that the NRC was recommending that NASA work on exactly such a “pivot”, or “tipping point” in the report’s language:

    “Recommendation. Cryogenic Storage and Handling. Reduced-gravity cryogenic storage and handling technology is close to a ‘tipping point,’ and NASA should perform on-orbit flight testing and flight demonstrations to establish technology readiness.”

    It’s not the only such “tipping point” laid out in the report linked above.

    Your argument is based on false premises and ignorance about the very document you’re criticizing. Try reading it before you comment.

    “NASA R&D and the taxpayer could also greatly benefit from most of the other pivot rules, including rule #3: ‘Fail earlier, more cheaply, and more often.’ If more promising uses of R&D dollars present themselves, it is pathological to wait ten years to take advantage of them.”

    Who is recommending that NASA wait ten years to do anything? Or not “fail earlier, more cheaply, and more often.” The NRC identified technologies priorities to start work on now, and in the case of cryo prop handling/storage, industry can execute ~$50M flight demonstrations executed in under a couple years. There are links to all of this above.

    No one is talking about a decade-long, multi-billion dollar, Apollo-class effort except you. Your argument is based on a strawman, again driven by ignorance, when multiple links are provided in earlier posts that you could use to understand the actual size and schedule of the effort being discussed.

    “needs of today’s space operators (Silicon Valley pivot rule #4: ‘Build a customer-focused culture, not a product-focused one.’).”

    Doctor, heal thyself. Green propellants have been available commercially at companies like ECAPS more than a decade and no customer is interested.

    Your argument doesn’t apply to the example you’re using to support it. Again, your ignorance about the specifics of the industry undercuts your argument.

    “arguing about the high costs of decommissioning factories that produce the toxic propellants, that’s one of the more bizarre and backwards arguments I’ve heard in many a season.”

    First, it’s not just hydrazine production “factories”. It’s the satellite processing facilities. It’s the launch pads. It’s the storage tanks, piping, and transfer points. Etc.

    Second, this is a real cost of business in any industry that handles materials that are dangerous to the environment or health. Federal and state regulations, not to mention insurers, don’t allow companies to abandon a tainted facility. Either the company remediates the location, or governments and insurers will take it out of company’s hide at much higher cost, if not put the company out of business. Or, if a company is going to switch a facility to a non-toxic alternative, they have to remediate the facility anyway to reap the lower operating costs of that non-toxic alternative. Otherwise, all the same high-cost health and safety procedures will still apply.

    You’re in fairyland if you think businesses can ignore the costs of decommissioning facilities that handle toxic chemicals. For someone who repeatedly champions a more business-based approach to the nation’s space program, you have a very unrealistic and naive view of what’s actually involved in running these companies.

    Again, I appreciate your broad, high-level viewpoint. But your critique based on “management philosophies” is highly lacking when you don’t bother to understand the specific reports, activities, and technologies in question before commenting.

  • Googaw

    I invite everyone to have a look at the “Inflated Delta Vs” post on
    Hop David’s blog and at the Wikipedia delta-v chart to see how strategic a location Lagrange points are.

    Oversimplified nonsense, especially if you are using such tables to create some grand master plan for our future in space. Both fail to list the vast majority of interesting destinations in earth orbit and the solar system, for starters. Basically they just compute ideal delta-Vs under certain largely unstated assumptions for the locations that have been deemed important by traditional astronaut cult dogma. Even for the moon, which seems to be the obsessive interest of those obsessed by the earth-moon Lagrangian halos, they fail to list the most interesting locations: the northern and southern poles, and the orbits most appropriate to get to same.

    They also list mere delta-Vs without showing the launch window availiabilities and trip times corresponding to the delta-Vs, which is extremely misleading. And they fail to properly account for the wide variety of opportunities to do gravity assist, especially for the interplanetary trajectories.

    Planning future NASA projects based on such tables would be like trying to design a chemical process based on a junior high school periodic table that included only the top 20 most cool-sounding elements.

  • DougSpace

    I was at AIAA and was sitting at the dinner table with a NASA COTS fella. When Garver mentioned that they were going back to the Moon, I was suprised to hear this. I turned to the NASA guy and asked if she was talking about L1 because, most people would have thought that going to the Moon meant landing on the Moon. But he confirmed that it was only L1.

    My take on this overall topic is that the Administration is largely muddling along. They essentially didn’t want the HLV (delaying it 5 years so that the builders get jobs elsewhere = cancelling it). But when it was clear that the congressmen who would benefit the most from the HLV would pull their colleagues along with them, the Administration rolled over and went along (leading from behind and all that). Space is too small an item to risk political capitol on. Since Obama didn’t fight them on it he has decided to embrace it and claim that it was going along well enough since now they are responsible for it. Garver is going along with it.

    But the Administration does seem to be consistently more supportive of commercial space than Congress. And commercial space is proving more successful than the HLV although they serve different roles (LEO vs BEO).

    Falcon Heavy will likely be a discussion-changer, IMO. The moment it launches, there will be this datapoint that commercial space supporters and anti-HLV detractors will point to. I think that fence sitters will be swayed by the demonstration and the SLS will, from then on, be vulnerable to cancellation. Anything will jeopardize it – shrinking budgets, schedule slippages, cost over-runs, Elon docking two FH payloads or sending a FH payload to a libration point before the SLS – any number of things will do.

    My guess is that the Obama administration will probably continue to muddle along hoping to keep the SLS limping along and to kick the can to the next administration while trying to protect commercial space. Even if various budgets have to be cut a bit, they don’t want to fight Congress. Only if Congress decides on its own to cancel the SLS will the Administration go along (again, lead from behind).

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Oversimplified nonsense, especially if you are using such tables to create some grand master plan for our future in space.

    I fear that, again, your lack of knowledge of Lagrange point dynamics has you in a bit of a tizzy. The delta-Vs listed in the convenient summaries are not intended to represent “ideal” ones though you could certainly kludge up some less efficient trajectories. They are actually largely representative of the many Lagrange point trajectories that have been worked out over the past three or four decades in the professional journals, and AAS and AIAA symposia. You’re just saying what you’re saying here because you’re in a state of denial. Re launch window availabilities, it really isn’t that hard in going from Earth to these Lagrange points. If you could point us to a technical reference showing what you’re ranting about, it would be helpful.

    By the way, with regard to access to the most important points on the lunar surface, EM L1 and L2 are highly enabling, in that the propulsion required to get to anywhere on a hemisphere is the same, and it’s pretty much an “anytime” proposition. (Though admittedly with a delay of a day rather than a few hours.) The ESAS folks admitted that, though again, Mike didn’t want to get hung up in orbit. If you’re in a lunar polar orbit to get convenient access to the poles, you’re pretty much not going to any lower latitude site, unless you wait until your orbit precesses over it.

    That’s correct about gravity assist trajectories, though. Insertion into Lagrange point orbits is now being found to offer practical elimination of the Lagrange orbit insertion delta-v (6-700 m/s) that you need in a regular Hohmann transfer. It’s the delta-Vs for those Hohmann trajectories that are listed in the summaries we’ve been pointed to.

    I think Fe and Si are pretty cool, don’t you? Would much rather use them in a chemical process than Ir or Os. There’s about a billion times more of the former than the latter.

  • Googaw

    If you’re in a lunar polar orbit to get convenient access to the poles, you’re pretty much not going to any lower latitude site, unless you wait until your orbit precesses over it.

    So what? Use lunar polar orbits to get to the lunar poles — which with their ice deposits are much more interesting than other lunar locations for many purposes — and use other trajectories to get to other places. Orbits are not some constrained network of roads you have to stick to — there are an infinite number of orbits in largely empty space and you choose the orbit that is best for the given task.

    Even if we confined ourselves to polar orbits, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until the orbit precesses over the desired location, and using small nudges a few orbits before to hurry that process along. The delay from nudging and waiting to a lined-up precession is normally still going to be much less than the delay caused by going out of your way to an EML.

    And of course assuming the moon is far more important than any other destination for science, future commerce, or future security purposes is a whoppingly bad assumption, and is quite contradicted by the priorities scientists actually give to various destinations in the solar system.

    In short, the crux of our debate is not about the orbital mechanics of the heavenly halos that you pretend to know more of than I do, but about pretensions of prophecy regarding what locations and operations will and won’t be important in the future of space development. Dogmas like that of the Lagrangian infrastructure put extreme artificial constraints on these possibilities. There are far more possibilities outside than inside those constraints, so if you confine your thinking to them the future is highly unlikely to resemble what you were expecting.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Even if we confined ourselves to polar orbits, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until the orbit precesses over the desired location, and using small nudges a few orbits before to hurry that process along.

    Ah, the “nudge and wait” strategy of orbital access.

    delay caused by going out of your way to an EML

    Huh? It’s harder, propulsion-wise, to go into a lunar polar orbit than into an EM Lagrange point. Not sure where the “delay” or the “out of your way” comes from here. You go right past EM L1 on your way to lunar orbit. By the way, if you’re going into lunar polar orbit, be sure to take plenty of batteries with you. It gets dark when the Sun sets. Sure, a high orbit might mitigate that, but high lunar orbits are as unstable (because of the perturbations from the Earth) as low ones are (because of mascons).

    assuming the moon is far more important than any other destination for science, future commerce, or future security purposes is a whoppingly bad assumption, and is quite contradicted by the priorities scientists actually give to various destinations in the solar system

    Well, aside from asteroids, and the starry eyed folks who would mine them, it isn’t obvious that Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, or Pluto (which is where our current solar system destinations are) have any commercial or security value.

    Look, let’s be honest. There are no “dogmas” or “pretensions of prophecy” of Lagrangian infrastructure, nor are there confining artificial constraints being applied. You’re just making stuff up. What’s being talked about are opportunities that need to considered in the light of national goals, and fiscal and technical capability. As to the future being unlikely to resemble what we were expecting, hey, this is space policy. Been there, done that.

    I will say that I appreciate this discussion, as it goes way beyond the usual Lagrange point denialists who believe that they aren’t credible destinations simply because they aren’t made of rock.

  • Googaw

    There are no “dogmas” or “pretensions of prophecy” of Lagrangian infrastructure, nor are there confining artificial constraints being applied.

    That is exactly what we are talking about here — dogmas and pretensions of prophecy about future space activities. There is no justification for sending spacecraft to Lagrangian halos in the foreseeable future outside of such economic fantasies.

    There’s no scientifically interesting thing to study in the Lagrangian halos that requires going there. There is nothing that can be mined there and brought back for sale. There is no military advantage there. The only argument proponents have is dogma about its supposed future value as infrastructure, based on dogmatic prophecies of unfunded and quite likely unfundable future space activities, and that somehow sending astronaut doll houses there will bring such fantasy infrastructure to life. The voodoo doll theory of space development.

    In short, we have here one expensive and useless astronaut mission justified in terms of another even more extremely expensive and yet still useless astronaut misison, all based on a retro-futuristic dogma spawned by the same pulp fiction culture that spawned Scientology. Only this cult has laid its hands on billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

    If you ignore the actual results of the last forty years of space infrastructural dogma, the vast amounts of money wasted on it, and the extensive damage those dogmas have done to real space commerce and security, then you will conclude that there’s no danger of that from these economic fantasies either. A rational space policy, however, would be based on what we have learned from real history rather than what we have been taught to believe about a fantasy future.

    What’s being talked about are opportunities that need to considered in the light of national goals

    No, what is at issue is whether we should have national goals based on economic fantasies and dogmatic retro-futuristic prophecies.

    Well, aside from asteroids, and the starry eyed folks who would mine them, it isn’t obvious that Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, or Pluto (which is where our current solar system destinations are) have any commercial or security value.

    It isn’t obvious that the moon has any commercial or security value, either. If we were to speculate on such a matter, the poles with their ice would be the leading candidates for commercial value, and for these destinations the EMLs don’t bring any special advantage.

    It is earth orbits from LEO to GEO that are the actual observed realm of space commerce and security — and for all those real operations the EMLs are useless. Beyond GEO, and for any sort of idea that we are going to use astronauts in real commerce or security, we have quite thoroughly entered the realm of science fiction and economic fantasy. In the future all sorts of possible discoveries could make other destinations more commercially attractive than the moon. Mars, for example, is geologically more diverse than the moon, and ore-forming processes are likely to have been more common there than on the moon. And some asteroids consist of differentiated material rich in heavy elements that have sunk to the core on the earth and moon. Jupiter-family comets are rich in volatiles ices that could be processed into propellants. But of course under the dogma such possibilities are merely diversions of attention away from the precious next logical steps. We are only supposed to pay attention to the dogmatically correct possibilities, and then we are supposed to have preposterous confidence that those possibilities and not the others are sure to happen.

    It doesn’t seem to bother the cult that the previous “logical steps” of this dogma, space shuttles and space stations, are museum pieces and sitting on the bottom of the ocean respectively (with the ISS soon to join its retro-futuristic infrastructural brethren), while real space commerce and security has long since evolved in a completely different direction. But it should severely bother anybody interested in setting rational national goals in space.

    To lay down a dogma of “next logical steps” in the development of future technologies and frontiers and base national goals on them is to engage in an economic policy akin to, but far more insane than, any Soviet central plan ever was.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ September 19th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    To lay down a dogma of “next logical steps” in the development of future technologies and frontiers and base national goals on them is to engage in an economic policy akin to, but far more insane than, any Soviet central plan ever was.

    Good grief, someone that rails against planning and exploration.

    You seem to be the one beholden to a dogma, in all it’s space-religion glory. It’s like you don’t want anyone touching the sky because it will invalidate your beliefs or something.

    In case you haven’t noticed, Congress and a significant amount of people around the world want to explore space. Sure there are disagreements on where to go next and how to do it, and yes there have been expensive efforts that have failed (the Shuttle failing at a number of things, but succeeded at others). Welcome to life on Earth, where nothing is perfect.

    But no matter what you say, the exploration of space will still continue – it’s in the nature of humans to keep exploring.

    So you can either be constructive in what you suggest (where to go, how much to spend, the goals, etc.), or you can keep acting like the crazy person walking around with the sandwich board that says “The End Is Near” and proclaiming you’re right every time someone dies. I’m hoping you decide to be the former, since we have too many of the later…

  • Googaw

    Congress and a significant amount of people around the world want to explore space.

    If you really wanted to explore space — as in discover, learn, increase scientific knowledge, uncover any commercial possibilities, and other such fruits of real exploration — you would be spending most of your words in these parts promoting astronomy and planetary science. But just as your interest in “commerce” does not extend much beyond NASA contracts to transport and house your Buzz Lightyear collecton, your interest in “exploration” is little more than a cult interest in building heavenly shrines for our diapered pilgrims.

    Of course you are entitled to your religious beliefs. Feel free to review the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on what that means for government funding of same. And feel free to pass the plate at your next NSS meeting. But stop lobbying the federal government to build your churches.

    and yes there have been expensive efforts that have failed

    Hundreds of billions of dollars of funds yanked out of the wallets of taxpayers have been squandered on your beliefs, the result being museum pieces and junk sitting at the bottom ocean, scattered across Texas, and posing hazards in LEO. Hundreds of billions ho hum — it’s just other people’s money.

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw wrote

    Coastal Ron wrote: “Congress and a significant amount of people around the world want to explore space.”

    googoo responded “If you really wanted to explore space — as in discover, learn, increase scientific knowledge, uncover any commercial possibilities, and other such fruits of real exploration — you would be spending most of your words in these parts promoting astronomy and planetary science.”

    Wow Ron, it is like he has a learning disablity or something.

    googoo … you turned a statement NOT about the author, INTO a response about the author…

    Does Ron need to drag out a chalkboard and do a flowchart of the statement?

    CONGRESS, which represents MILLIONS of people, are freely choosing to allocate tax revenues for human spaceflight and human exploration. Ron was starting from that point as a given, it is going to happen regardless. So if some event is going to happen, if funds are going to flow not matter what … do you understand ‘ no matter what’? Is that concept clear to you? The author, Ron, is stating .. that this funding stream is going to happen regardless of what Ron wants or advocates. Lets call that ..

    A GIVEN.

    Now starting from that given… what is the best way to allocate those funds. No not for funding robbie the robot, we all know about your robot cult you are constantly pushing, but we are not talking about your cult of mechanics.

    The author, Ron, was talking about humans in space and what will give the biggest bang for the buck.. and NO .. it is not about moving the funding away from human spaceflight and to your robot cult funding.

    Stay with us here… Human spaceflight .. what is the best way forward with the funding available.

  • Googaw

    CONGRESS…MILLONS…A GIVEN.

    Oh no, you’ve brought out your strongest argument of all: ALL CAPS. I guess you win again!

    I’ve soundly debunked these “HSF funding is inevitable” prophecies many times on this forum, but since true believers don’t seem to have any long-term memory for any facts or logic that contradict their precious faith, please allow me to quote myself:

    ‘…the retro-futuristic pretensions of the astronaut cult have never been more vulnerable to political recognition of [the obsolescence of HSF]…. Do you think most voters and politicians are ignorant of the fact that the great astronaut projects of the past led to nothing lasting beyond space junk and museum pieces? There are constant reminders of this. There were news stories just today about one of the shuttles being taken to a museum.

    Mitt Romney … tossed Gingrich out of the running for the Republican nomination … by saying he’d fire people who were so ignorant of economics as to propose such [grandiose HSF] “investments”. And he hasn’t proposed any of his own at any funding level. There is not a single current or proposed HSF program that Romney has come out in favor of. Political cost to Romney? Nil. Political benefit to Romney? He did soundly thump Gingrich in every primary election after that debate, when he’d lost the previous one to the former Speaker…

    Indeed the Republican platform only speaks of HSF in the past tense, and the Democratic platform doesn’t speak of it at all…In an era of radical reforms such as those to health care, do you think the billions of dollars spent every year on these bizarre gigashrines are going to be ignored? It’s no coincidence that the Republican platform lists NASA under the “Reform” section rather than the “National Greatness” section.’

    [I prophecy an undiminishing amount of funding in the future for my cult fetishes]…Stay with us here…Human spaceflight … what is the best way forward with the funding available.

    Oops, it looks like I’m “off topic” again by daring to suggest that there are better things to do with our tax money than fund your religious paraphenalia. And that many more taxpayers and election-winning politicians are coming to this realization as well, posing a rather formidable problem to your pretentious prophecy.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ September 20th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve soundly debunked these “HSF funding is inevitable” prophecies many times on this forum…

    Apparently not, since NASA has a budget line item called “Exploration” for human exploration, and it is budgeted at about $4B/year.

    Reality just ran over your dogma… ;-)

  • Googaw

    it is budgeted at about $4B/year.

    This is so delightfully confused. It’s about $3.8 billion for the budget Congress is working on this year. Actually over 8% less than that once sequestration goes through: $3.5 billion. Oops, that wasn’t in the prophecy! Worse, by confusing this years’ budget with future budgets, thereby pretending that there is some inevitable constant rate per year, you have violated that most basic wisdom about attempts at financial prophecy: “Past performance does not guarantee future results”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ September 20th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Regardless the amount – $3.8B or the $4B I rounded up to – human spaceflight is funded. That debunks your whole proposition that it never will be.

    Next you’ll predict that man will fly in heavier-than-air vehicles, but not for many years… ;-)

  • Vladislaw

    wow .. did you notice that Ron? A freakin’ long post .. yet, if his answer was a nuclear bomb, he missed the target not by miles, but by continents.

    goo goo gah gah

    here was the question:

    “Human spaceflight .. what is the best way forward with the funding available.”

    We can argue till the cows come home about where money COULD be going. That has absolutely nothing to do with the question.

    Money IS going to be spent on something, like it or not. It is going to be spent on human spaceflight, so what is the best bang for the buck, with money that is going to be spent anyway, doesn’t matter if you approve of the spending or not. Or do you have some sort of learning disablity and are incapable of answering.

    Ah .. so what year do you estimate we are going to stop funding the ISS and zero out all human spaceflight spending, 2013, 2014?

  • Googaw

    That debunks your whole proposition that it never will be.

    Having hopelessly lost the argument about the alleged inevitability of the future funding of HSF, you now hallucinate that I said something completely different from what I actually said. A typical cult reaction to reality.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ September 20th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Having hopelessly lost the argument about the alleged inevitability of the future funding of HSF…

    There you go again.

    Congress is currently funding HSF, and has been funding it for over 40 years, so it’s not “alleged inevitability”. And since no one of any power in Congress is talking about zeroing out that funding, it will continue to be funded.

    I know it hurts your feelings when reality tramples your “theories”, but that’s not my concern.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

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