Congress, Pentagon

Members of Congress express concern about EELV new entrants

Members of Congressional delegations from Alabama and Colorado have written to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about their concerns regarding potential competition for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) missions, Space News reported this week. Those launches are currently performed by the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 vehicles from United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin headquartered in Colorado that builds those rockets in Decatur, Alabama. Although those vehicles have been highly successful in launching primarily US government (civil and military) payloads, concerns about increasing EELV launch costs have led to efforts to open up the EELV program to new entrants, in particular SpaceX.

The members whose signed the letter (specific names aren’t mentioned in the article, and the full text of the letter isn’t available) are concerned that bringing in companies that have shorter track records than ULA could jeopardize national security. “Newly developed space launch systems do not yet meet most government mission needs, have not flown any significant complex payloads, and are still aspiring to launch vehicles at a rate of one or more per year,” a portion of the letter quoted in the Space News article states. “While new entrants may someday possess such a capability to compete, we must not put the payload and schedule of our national security space assets in jeopardy in a process that also requires the taxpayer to underwrite the development of rockets and engines which have not yet flown.”

The alternative to new entrants would be for a “block buy” of EELV rockets from ULA spanning several years, which would lower per-unit costs over buying them on a year-by-year basis but could also lock out new entrants during the course of that contract. ULA received a $1.17-billion contract from the Air Force last Friday to cover EELV activities for fiscal year 2013.

126 comments to Members of Congress express concern about EELV new entrants

  • SpaceColonizer

    So the monopoly held by ULA led to higher prices… DOD wants to open up competition to reduce prices… and congress’s suggestion is to reinforce the monopoly with a block buy, shutting out any competitors for multiple years?

    Isn’t allowing our costs to grow out of control and further contribute to our debt/deficit the REAL national security issue?

  • common sense

    You gotta love this Congress people. Don’t you?

    Competition has become a dirty word in the US? Nice.

    Whatever.

  • amightywind

    SpaceX should be given access to the the government EELV oligopoly, but it should be based on performance. It would be best if they launched some high value commercial payloads first before they are given consideration to launch strategic US payloads.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Members of Congressional delegations from Alabama and Colorado have written to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about their concerns regarding potential competition for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) missions, Space News reported this week. ”

    god fearing patriots all just concerned about our fine men and women getting the best support possible from the satellite assets launched at an ever increasing cost by business in their district.

    Fine Americans chanting USA USA

    …what a bunch of zeros RGO

  • josh

    this is crony capitalism, plain and simple. corrupt politicians trying to protect underperforming companies.

  • Rhyolite

    Delta IV flew one commercial mission before launching its first national security payloads It was essentially an all new vehicle – new engine, new first stage, and modified upper stage. If SpaceX were held to the EELV standard, F9 would be ready for national security payloads today.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rhyolite wrote @ October 3rd, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    If SpaceX were held to the EELV standard, F9 would be ready for national security payloads today.

    It’s worse than that. They have made up new standards that are meant to keep out new competitors. From the SpaceNews article:

    Rockets developed without close government oversight must log 14 consecutive successful launches to be certified; those developed with tight government oversights would require only two consecutive successes.

    So you have to ask yourself – what is the difference between two rockets that have had two successful flights? If both succeeded in their intended mission, then what does it matter who had input into their design?

    Anyone have any idea why involving the government in the design of a rocket makes it 7x more reliable?

  • common sense

    Funny because I was under the impression the customers dictate the requirements.

    Is Congress going to design yet another set of rockets after SLS?

    Now if I were Congress I would write a law that keeps ULA as a provider ad vitam aeternam. They should also write a law that every new entrant has to have had the market for the past say 20 years to be able to bid.

    What else? Something about the current provider to be able to sell recovered artifacts of rockets launched to serve national security. Did I mention all that is done in the context of national security? Ah yeah, TSA should check all people going back and forth to the launchpad and yes those commercial passengers will have to be frisked just in case they bring some unauthorized Apollo artifact in space aboard SS-2 or Dragon.

    How’s that? Enough work for the next few weeks? If not let me know I can figure something important for you to do like working sequestration maybe? Of course as we all know sequestration is not a national security concern. Because if there is no nation then who needs security?

    Oh well.

  • PatMcC

    The Air Force is not locking out SpaceX with the block buy. They are trying to figure out how to size the block buy so it maximizes their savings while providing the earliest realistic opportunity for SpaceX to work into the lineup. The Air Force is doing the right thing in this case. They’ve got a challenge that’s bounded by their need to cut the budget and their need to meet the projected manifest for the next several years, all without losing a mission since they don’t have spare satellites and losing a mission would likely cost more than savings from launch. It’s a tricky path to juggle all that.

  • Bartosz Malinowski

    “we must not put the payload and schedule […] in jeopardy in a process that also requires the taxpayer to underwrite the development of rockets and engines which have not yet flown”.

    This indeed does not seem to be related to Spacex. :)

  • Just a few comments on this:

    The projected cost of the EELV program for the first 150 missions has doubled, to about $70 billion, prompting several prominent lawmakers to press the Air Force to bring competition to the national security launch marketplace.

    First, it isn’t ULA’s fault that the prices are so high… it is the government’s fault, they regulate way too much. The US Government inflicts tons of requirements upon ULA. These requirements are not cheap and ULA simply passes along the cost to the customer. The bureaucracy is sickening and truly retards progress of America’s space exploration and settlement program.

    I know people at ULA. I know more about it than most would want to admit. ULA could easily lower prices if the the contracting mechanism (FAR) and requirements were only reasonable. Right now, it would be by almost any measure, unreasonable.

    The expanding bureaucracy is expanding to support the expanding bureaucracy.

    Secondly, how many times will we have to suffer through right wing crony capitalism? This is congress picking the winners and losers. This is not how our founding fathers and framers intended the government to work.

    Frankly, if America ever really paid attention to the space program, they would be aghast at what these elected members are doing. This is nothing more than politicians protecting their pork.

    ULA can compete on its own without the likes of Alabama and Colorado defending the business.

    Dear Congress:

    You can protect your pork from competition within the United States but not outside of it. Look in the rear view mirror, not only are countries like China and India catching up to “US” but so is the private sector.

    If the congress refuses to change its views on space exploration and settlement NASA will not be a leader, but a follower, and another example of BIG government losing out to innovation and less regulation.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • E.P. Grondine

    Once again, we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money wasted on ATK’s Ares 1 launcher, with no disruption to our nation’s tech base.

    It looks to me like Griffin’s decisions cost the nation a generation in launch vehicle development, though we still don’t know the details. And now these
    legislators are going after SpaceX’s marginal cost per unit.

    The conflict between these states for jobs holds a certain amusement for me, but then I have a strange sense of humor.

    While I would like to see ULA working on fly back re-usables, I expect far worse if Romney wins, like a renewal of work on the Ares 1.

    It is interesting that DoD did its block buy before sequestration.

    I am just pleased that US sat manufacturers now have a domestic low cost launcher available to them.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 3rd, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    “First, it isn’t ULA’s fault that the prices are so high… it is the government’s fault, they regulate way too much. The US Government inflicts tons of requirements upon ULA. These requirements are not cheap and ULA simply passes along the cost to the customer. The bureaucracy is sickening and truly retards progress of America’s space exploration and settlement program.”

    I am not totally sure that is completely accurate.

    It is hard to quantify what is ULA and what is government but there are a few metrics which are well there.

    First ULA has not demonstrated any real ability to market the hardware OUTSIDE of the government for a lower price…The rocket is the rocket, they are doing some changes but not all that much so if the US Government has X amount of dollar overhead; ULA has demonstrated no real ability to market the vehicles to any group outside the government.

    If SpaceX starts to sell Falcon9 and Heavy’s to the government there should be some increase in cost to accomodate the paperwork…it is hard to tell how that is in the recent NASA buy.

    One of the metrics will be as to what cost ULA markets the Atlas to say SNC for Dreamchaser if that takes off…

    There is more to the Falcon then just lack of paperwork…just as the DC-3 had more going for it then lack of paperwork RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    maybe space will come up in the debate? LOL RGO

  • Fred Willett

    The magnitude of the problem was revealed by Frank Kendall, U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics when he said the first 150 EELV purchaces was likely to cost $70B.
    http://www.spacenews.com/military/120824-120824-execution-factor-eelv-cost-growth.html
    That’s $466M apiece.
    Compare this to SpaceX $56M a launch for Falcon 9 and $125M for Falcon Heavy.
    Admittedly you need to add in $20M for the cost of government paperwork – and that’s another issue. What does the govt add to a launch that’s worth $20M – but still, say $80M and $150M for SpaceX vs. an average launch cost of $466M for EELV’s. Wow.
    No wonder ULA has resorted to calling in the political pork chorus.

  • Coastal Ron

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 3rd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    First, it isn’t ULA’s fault that the prices are so high… it is the government’s fault, they regulate way too much.

    Not to say there isn’t enough government regulation, but I seriously doubt that is the reason why their costs are so high.

    ULA (and it’s owners Boeing and Lockheed Martin) have been obfuscating their costs when the government has asked for details on the block buys. Having been in operations management at numerous DoD contractors, I can tell you that it’s not that hard to roll up your costs so you can figure out what your cost drivers are, as well as what your long-lead items are.

    That, and a number of other indicators, lead me to believe that Boeing and Lockheed Martin are milking the U.S. Government for all they can for as long as they can. Now we could all be saying “shame on you”, but you know what? That’s capitalism baby!

    And that’s also what you get with a monopoly, which is why the quicker additional launch providers come online, the less money the government will be spending on launches.

    Now that will hurt ULA’s bottom line, but… wait for it… that’s capitalism baby!

    If the congress refuses to change its views on space exploration and settlement NASA will not be a leader, but a follower, and another example of BIG government losing out to innovation and less regulation.

    Let’s not confuse things that are needed (like DoD/NRO launch services), with things that are nice to have (space exploration). And “space settlement” doesn’t even enter into the picture here, as no one – not he President, his election opponent, nor congress – has stated that that is a priority for the United States of America.

    All the supposed activity by other countries for doing things in space sound nice, but they are many years away. For instance, China wants to put up a space station in LEO 1/4 the size of the ISS by 2020. Should we be afraid? No.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space did not come up in the debate but nothing that happened before now matters. Romney is back in the game, he simply won the debate. Obama didnt have two minutes where he controlled the “game”.

    RGO

  • A M Swallow

    SpaceX is not the only new comer. Orbital Science Corporation (OSC) and Blue Origin are also entering the medium sized satellite market.

  • It wasn’t ATK’s fault Ares I was so expensive – it was the people at MSFC who couldn’t correctly crunch the numbers and the FAR.

    NewSpacer types with abject vitriol for ATK look silly when they demonize them. Seriously, just call up MSFC and FOIA the contracts. What you will find is a bunch of regulations and bureaucracy thrown in by the people at NASA who were managing the Ares I program.

    It is not ATK’s fault the manager would ask for some documentation or point out a silly requirement only to find out it was beyond the scope of the contract and had to ask for more money. The more you study the FAR, and the CxP program, the more you realize these companies are simply playing by the NASA bureaucrat’s game.

    Personally, I like all the companies working with NASA. Well, except one. One of you owes me two new suits for all the daggers stuck in my back during last year’s crusade on Capitol Hill. We lost that battle but ultimately won the war.

    You know you are.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • Mader

    Welcome to corporate america, guys.It would be fun to watch legalized corruption lobbying in action, if not for fact that we are talking about world superpower, not third rate banana republic.

  • numbers_guy101

    It’s easy to blame people, or organizations, rather than ask “why” the many times it takes to really understand a situation. It’s the system of incentives, motives and processes that get our defense access to space that should be talked about. Alongside, the necessary question is also about the vision everyone, players public and private, has for the US space launch industry.

    It has baffled me endlessly to see attempts at explaining ULA’s costs as passed along in prices to DoD. The usual suspects get rounded up (like government regulation) but are never convincing when looked upon in more detail. For example, recent reports on the EELV program actually point out how many regulations were dropped going into the program, such as requirements on cost reporting. How this was consistent with procuring a service and having a streamlined procurement, and so on. Just Google your recent EELV GAO reports and read up.

    Other causes blamed for what appear to be high EELV prices point to the collapse of the EELV business case back in the 90’s, whereby more commercial customers were supposed to show up, over which the costs (especially fixed costs) would be more amortized and shared, lowering per unit costs. Yet even that explanation lacks detail. Nothing prevents ULA from seeking commercial business today, at least more commercial launches than they get now, knowing the DoD payments cover most costs (especially fixed), and offering competitive, even very low prices, at marginal costs, to private customers. So that explanation about the collapse of the commercial market in the 90’s also fails at the details, on the numbers.

    Come up with a model that supports the status quo, and you’ll find a process that gets you there. It’s that process that has to change. Of course, assuming we wish to improve and grow access to space.

  • Coastal Ron

    numbers_guy101 wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Nice summation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 1:41 am

    The more you study the FAR, and the CxP program, the more you realize these companies are simply playing by the NASA bureaucrat’s game.

    As is ULA with the current government launch business. Look Andrew, big government contractor are smarter than their government counterparts, and big government contractors don’t do anything they don’t get reimbursed for – otherwise the company program managers would be fired. If something is asked of by the government, and the contractor can increase their profit by doing it – even if it doesn’t make complete economic sense to do it – don’t be surprised if the contractors salute and go ahead and do it.

    For instance, with E.P.’s favorite whipping boy ATK, after 30 years of building essentially one product, now they discover they can cut total assembly time on Shuttle-derived SLS boosters by 46% overall. ATK had no incentive to lower costs during the 30 year Shuttle program, regardless what government paperwork you may claim they had to endure.

    Talking about the future, this SpaceNews article from last year talks about the ULA cost increases, and this quote from NASA is very telling:

    “This really is a difficult financial environment,” Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary sciences, said at a December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “We are surprised at how extensive those cost increases are. You start to wonder where we go from here. How do we get out of low Earth orbit on a regular basis?

    ULA’s inability to keep costs in check is what has created the environment for SpaceX to flourish. This is Econ 101 at work here, so it shouldn’t be surprising. And in this case it is the company with the market monopoly that is bears the majority of the blame, not the customer with the gun at their head.

  • Coastal Ron

    The last paragraph in my last post was not supposed to be italicized. They were my remarks, not from the article I referenced.

  • common sense

    @ Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Looks like out Tea Party friends are not that clear on what they actually support anymore.

    Maybe just maybe they should ask why a former ATK executive became a senior leader at NASA and then awarded sole source contract to ATK.

    Then come back and please tell us all the good things about ATK. In the mean time I suggest you review your facts.

    “NewSpacer types with abject vitriol for ATK look silly when they demonize them.”

    Not sure who is looking silly. TeaPartyer types or NewSpacer types?

    http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/horowitz_bio.html

    Scott J. Horowitz is the Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. A former NASA astronaut and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, he will lead the agency in the development of the nation’s new spacecraft that will return astronauts to the moon and travel to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

    After retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 2004, Horowitz joined ATK Thiokol, Inc., as director of space transportation and exploration. At ATK, he was responsible for developing the company’s strategy to support NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 1:41 am

    It wasn’t ATK’s fault Ares I was so expensive – it was the people at MSFC who couldn’t correctly crunch the numbers and the FAR.

    NewSpacer types with abject vitriol for ATK look silly when they demonize them. Seriously, just call up MSFC and FOIA the contracts. What you will find is a bunch of regulations and bureaucracy thrown in by the people at NASA who were managing the Ares I program.:
    |”
    Not a very sophisticated analysis.

    I have no doubt that there is an enormous issue with “cost” in terms of NASA management and regulations but that alone does not explain the issues with ATK…IF IT DID then those issues should vanish when ULA or ATK deal with non government agencies.

    The status quo is comfortable and self sustaining to both the government that manages it and the “private sector” companies that live by it.

    Here is an excersize for you. Go look at the P-8 program and the 737-800 or even “nextgen” development and compare cost. You will be enlightened.

    RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 3rd, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    “maybe space will come up in the debate? LOL RGO”

    Implicitly it did- as in the glare of the television lights, the Big Eye clearly revealed one side of the stage to be surrisingly void; empty of any substantive presence.

  • Mary

    Fear of competition or just to lock in another another monopoly. The Obama administration even sent Bolden to Utah to reassure the state legislature that the SRB monopoly would continue. Now we have ULA looking for a permanent handout while Dynetics / PWR and Aerojet are coming alongside. If Romney junks SLS, ULA will have a hard time convincing the new administration to beef up and rate the Delta as well.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Andrew, CR, RGO –

    While I am not a nu-spacer, it is amazing how ATK can suddenly lower their costs. By the way, have I mentioned this bridge I have for sale to you before?

    Unpleasant truth for the day: .7 G oscillations are not good.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Implicitly it did- as in the glare of the television lights, the Big Eye clearly revealed one side of the stage to be surrisingly void; empty of any substantive presence.”

    LOL really a great line…and descriptive of the entire event. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    The Obama administration even sent Bolden to Utah to reassure the state legislature that the SRB monopoly would continue.

    I think that’s an urban myth. NASA has already stated that the current ATK SRM for the SLS is only going to be used for just a couple of flights, and the future version is up for competition. ATK is assured of nothing.

    If Romney junks SLS, ULA will have a hard time convincing the new administration to beef up and rate the Delta as well.

    If Commercial Crew is used to get people to a mission assembly point in LEO, there would be no need to “human rate” Delta IV (I’m assuming you mean the Heavy version). Delta IV Heavy (or Falcon Heavy) – as is – can lift the MPCV to orbit sans crew.

    So far no one has been able to point out something that CAN’T be done with existing rockets, so the SLS is still the #1 priority for cancellation.

  • common sense

    “Space did not come up in the debate but nothing that happened before now matters.”

    Well I guess Florida Space Coast will stay home on election day and it will rival the medicare recipients and soon to be recipients in the total vote tally. Right?
    Ah!

  • Mary

    “I think that’s an urban myth…” No myth. The meeting was held for Utah’s congressional legislators so NASA would comply with the 2010NAA 70mt requirement. Utah did not trust NASA for good reason back then. If everyone jumps on the commercial bandwagon it will be a matter of mission capability, not just cost alone. I believe the next administration will either change SLS dramatically or cancel it all together. The problem right now is a lot of taxpayer money is senselessly being wasted on a dead end program.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mary wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    No myth. The meeting was held for Utah’s congressional legislators so NASA would comply with the 2010NAA 70mt requirement.

    I’m not disputing that a meeting happened. I’m disputing that Bolden would have made such a promise (i.e. to continue an SRB monopoly), especially since he would be powerless to enforce such a thing.

    And again, the evidence that I mentioned above (SLS boosters being competed) points to no agreement being made, or if there was one, he completely ignored it.

  • NeilShipley

    Mary wrote @ October 4th, 2012 at 9:25 pm
    ‘The problem right now is a lot of taxpayer money is senselessly being wasted on a dead end program.’

    Not if the program’s aim is simply to provide jobs, which I think it may well be.

  • pathfinder_01

    “And again, the evidence that I mentioned above (SLS boosters being competed) points to no agreement being made, or if there was one, he completely ignored it.”

    If I recall correctly yes they will be competed but ATK will build the ones for the next launch. It was one of those crazy things where the competition was to happen in the future (so you build SLS one way, competes the booster after it is built). Congress loved the idea but probably not a good way to build a rocket.

    “If Commercial Crew is used to get people to a mission assembly point in LEO, there would be no need to “human rate” Delta IV (I’m assuming you mean the Heavy version). Delta IV Heavy (or Falcon Heavy) – as is – can lift the MPCV to orbit sans crew.”

    And we have a mission assembly point in LEO already. Bigger problem lack of service module(all of the systems) on the MPCV. As well as having all the systems in the capsule ready.

    IMHO if SLS could be downsized to a transfer stage lifted by Falcon heavy, Orion compelted(or a BEO dragon subsituted) as well as some place to go(EML-1 gateway). I think we could get something sustianable, but it is probably too little too late now.

  • A M Swallow

    Alternatives to working on the SLS include NASA to working on a long distance transfer vehicle or EML-2 spacestation or lunar base.

  • vulture4

    Government contractong and commercial marketing require very different approaches to maximize profits. When ULA became a “sole source” for government launches it became advantageous to raise prices, since there was no competition and the government is not very sensitive to price. This was the case even though ULA lost all its price-sensitive commercial customers. It’s not a question of whether ULA could have kept costs down; the issue is selling price, not cost. A company serves its stockholders. ULA could be more profitable with higher prices, so they had little choice. In the commercial market ULA was in competition with providers including Sealaunch (part owned by Boeing) and ILS (part owned by Lockheed) so perhaps the parent companies did not even want ULA to compete.

    ULA did justify these increases to some extent with increased costs, but these are easy to arrange. I heard of a case where they had an O-ring that cost $200, and they had a chance to get it from an outside supplier for $600, so of course that’s what they did. And they shut down Delta II, forcing its remaining customers to the more expensive Atlas or Delta IV.

    The situation for SpaceX is entirely different. Musk is a new producer, attracted, over the long term, to the industry by the high prices available to the monopoly, quite literally textbook economics. He has to compete to build sales and so naturally is setting his prices much lower.

    Obviously Shelby et al are just working for whoever will pay them the most in bribes, sorry, campaign contributions.

    The number of launches required for a new LV to reach a consistent launch reliability was well established by Chan’s Aerospace Corp. paper in 2002. Although there was some variation between programs it was almost always between 6 and 10. The Falcon will apparently have at least ten launches before it would start launching DOD payloads, or crews, for that matter, so will be at a mature reliability level. NASA safety reviews are well intentioned, but they have little impact on launch vehicle reliability because they only consider failures that can be anticipated, and most major failures are the result of unanticipated failure modes.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Mary –

    “Utah did not trust NASA for good reason back then.”

    One has to ask exactly when one state became capable of dictating the nation’s space program. I’d have to say it happened under Nixon, when he picked up the Wallace “States’ Rights” vote. Note that Romney promised vouchers for all white schools in his closing remarks. So muvh for the myth of race free politics. The confederacy has risen again.

    “If everyone jumps on the commercial bandwagon it will be a matter of mission capability, not just cost alone. I believe the next administration will either change SLS dramatically or cancel it all together. The problem right now is a lot of taxpayer money is senselessly being wasted on a dead end program.”

    Thr problem rith now is the mess that ATK created by “persuading” the legislature to fund a crummy rocket which could not do what they claimed even if it worked. Then blowing the budget and schedule, and squeezing as many federal tax dollars out of NASA as they could. You want to know whtat happened to ATK’s Iraq war profits?

    As far as Romney and Ryan go, like I said before here: they’ll cancel everything but Ares1, and further try to promote Ares1 as a way to instaneously replace defense assets on orbit.

    Obama just learned what other GOP candidates know already, which is that when you debate Romney, you dojn’t know beforehand which Romney you’ll be debating.

  • Yes – it is funny how ATK prices dropped once they didn’t have to listen to NASA regulation and the FAR.

    Look – it is what it is.

    ULA cannot keep costs in check when they are required to complete tasks outlined in the FAR. You cannot make this stuff up.

    It is funny actually – people will see what they want to see. Like E.P. who speak about the vibrations and immediately assume it is ATK causing all the cost and engineering problems. NASA drove those costs and yet people just want to run around and scream “ATK”. It is much like some people in the Tea Party who just want to run around throwing grenades.

    Its hella fun but at some point you have to lead and your rhetoric has to make sense. Much like 2010 when we sent 60+ freshman to congress, we quickly realized this wasn’t some college binge drinking party, you have to lead.

    And that is exactly what we are doing. We did get a free pass running around screaming about CxP and Ares I. We were right to do so; however, we did not know exactly WHY the costs were so high. It is 2012 now and we do understand.

    If this disappoints some of the NewSpace crowd, sorry. It is what it is – the FAR, some NASA leadership, and congress that are causing the problems for industry – not the industry itself. The industry will only conform to “the rules of the game” that have been declared by the FAR, some NASA leadership, and congress.

    How much did ATK lobby compared to say… Boeing? #justaskin #winkwinknodnod

    Commercial is still the best path forward – we haven’t strayed from that either. It is much like the railroads in the 1800s. Government paid the private sector to build it. Obviously, there was one clear advantage with the railroads over building space vehicles… no, not that space vehicles are more difficult, the railroads didn’t have to deal with the FAR.

    If you want have a debate about it, that is fine – we will be at ISDC and NewSpace2013. I look forward to chatting with you then. You cannot miss us.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • common sense

    @ Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 5th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I tell you what I don’t like. The past few posts you had sound condescending towards the “NewSpace crowd” as you say. Why would you draw such a line? I suggest you step back for a minute and re-evaluate your goals and the way you address your audience. You are the one who wants to lead after all right? So think about it. Oddly enough some NewSpace crowd also supports Boeing. And Sierra Nevada. Go figure. NewSpace? Really? So again maybe you want to look at your audience and at your statements. Because the way you start to sound is like some on who is defending in that particular case ATK as being the poor victim of government contracting. I am still waiting to read your explanation about Scott Horowitz and sole source contracting to ATK. Once you do that then maybe we can talk about poor victim ATK.

    Respectfully, of course.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 5th, 2012 at 2:34 pm
    “ULA cannot keep costs in check when they are required to complete tasks outlined in the FAR. You cannot make this stuff up.”

    sorry Andrew thats not it.

    People who are looking for a single issue solution for a multifaceted problems are simply fooling themselves. It is the “we can cut spending, cut taxes and balance the budget” stupidity.

    A more sophisticated approach is to recognize that there are both sides have gotten use to pulling their end of the rope toward the notion of perpetuating the status quo.

    And ULA like all major government contractors excells at this.

    I am curious…have you read the brief in the court case that ULA has with the Air Force over cost? You should…there is example after example of ULA taking a “fix” that the USAF wanted or a “change” and then instead of looking at how to accomplish it at the lowest cost came to a conclusion of how to run the plus part of the cost plus as high as possible.

    Particularly exciting is some O ring on the Delta IV which was as I recall less then 200 dollars but by the time ULA got through with it, the same item was over 1500 and with no corresponding reductions in ULA FTE’s charged.

    This, not spec overload, coupled with Pork is why there are “fuel shields” On the Blackhawk that are stunningly expensive.

    But all this aside; what I have noticed about the tea party in general is that they look for “one shot” solutions and those solutions are usually those which match up with the ideology of the group…

    I am certainly not defending cost plus contracts or the FAR’s (not the FAR’s but the FAR you are talking about)…but there are multiple players in the equation. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 5th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Yes – it is funny how ATK prices dropped once they didn’t have to listen to NASA regulation and the FAR.

    I have enjoyed your contributions since you have joined this group, but I completely disagree with your point of view on this topic. And keep in mind that I don’t particularly like the SRM business part of ATK, and I am part of the pro-commercial faction that comments here.

    What ATK is doing is part of the SLS program, not some company-funded effort to save the U.S. Taxpayer money. They are being paid to lower costs. NASA had them implement a “SLS Booster Value Stream Mapping” cost reduction program – you can watch the promotional & inspiring video at that link.

    So this was not ATK doing something outside of the government-funded system.

    Now I’m sure you didn’t dream up this “NASA regulation and the FAR” stuff on your own – where is the documentation that you’re relying on for this line of thinking? Or is it just water-cooler “they don’t let me be creative” type stuff?

    Having worked in the government contractor environment, I know how these things work, but also keep in mind that the nature of the beast is that the SLS is a custom product, and there is little that can be done to optimize it’s cost. That is, of course, because it will never be built in any sort of volume, at least not for at least a decade.

    Also, ATK built Shuttle SRM’s for 30 years, so they could have implemented some of this stuff decades ago, but did they? Doesn’t look like it. The incentive to reduce cost wasn’t there because that would have resulted in less revenue – a cardinal sin for a public corporation. Even now ATK is being paid to come up with these supposed savings, but guess what? The SLS only flies with these SRM’s for only two flights, and after that there is some new design. So was it worth money to try and save production costs for two shipsets? Unknown.

  • George

    When an owner is fool enough to have work done cost plus that shouldn’t be. Then he should not be surprised when his contractor screws him.

    That us folks we need to speak up!!!!

    I have built buildings cost plus. lolol It’s funnnnnnn

  • common sense wrote:

    Well I guess Florida Space Coast will stay home on election day and it will rival the medicare recipients and soon to be recipients in the total vote tally. Right?

    I really think the “space vote” is vastly overrated. The GOP has a sizable majority in registration. The stats are here:

    Republican 160,730 (42.8%)
    Democrat 129,741 (34.6%)
    Non-Partisan 70,892 (18.9%)
    Other Party 13,927 (3.7%)

    Most of those non-partisans are probably going to vote Republican too.

    Very few are going to vote one way or the other simply based on the current state of the space program. North Brevard in particular is much more Republican than the rest of the county, so it’s unlikely that they would vote for Obama even if he’d managed somehow to convince Congress to triple NASA’s budget. Outside of maybe a 10-15 mile radius from KSC, few people care about the space program.

    Just my prediction, but I think Obama will lose Brevard County something like 55-45 and Posey will defeat Roberts by about the same margin. Space will have very little to do with it.

  • Note that Romney promised vouchers for all white schools in his closing remarks.

    OT now, but on what planet did that occur?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SFHhz0TR4Q

    So muvh for the myth of race free politics. The confederacy has risen again.

    This is nuts.

  • tom hancock

    In relation to access to the EELV market, SpaceX has not proven they should be trusted to launch a 1-3 billion dollar payload. They need to demonstrate a sustainable, maintainable, reliable system before they get to fly significant payloads. Especially payloads tied to the NRO, NSA, and DoD. For all the issues people have with EELV cost you have a 99.9999+% change of making it orbit. It maybe 400 million a shot, and that’s too high, but right now its insurance for launch success. Most Atlas V rockets ship perfect, no open paper and they work. SpaceX may one day be able to prove they can be trusted to fly an EELV mission, but not today (IMHO).

    In relation to ATK, the Ares I 1st stage works, it’s finished, post CDR and all paid for. It will make a nice addition for Liberty when it fly’s. With changes in administration come changes in fortune.

    In relation to SLS. Well, the nation needs a booster of that class to meet our exploration needs and it should be designed/built/tested/flow/operated on the civil side.

    In relation to jobs, it not just people and paychecks, it’s keeping critical capabilities in place, people who can do the work, the ability to develop systems and pass that knowledge on. Many of the best who left or lost a job on CxP are thriving in other areas. Most will not come back to nasa. It will take a generation to undo the damage done these past few years.

    In relation to the overall path of nasa, Obama and Lori turned an exploration agency into the NACA for the 21st century.
    If we (the US) lose ISS, we will lose human spaceflight for the next 30 years.
    These past 4 years have added about 50 years to the dream on landing people on Mars. We are going no place fast.

  • tom hancock wrote:

    In relation to the overall path of nasa, Obama and Lori turned an exploration agency into the NACA for the 21st century.

    And that’s why Obama gets my vote. NASA was never intended to be a space taxi. Or Starfleet. Or a propaganda tool. Or a jobs welfare program.

    NASA needs to go back to what is written in its charter. It’s supposed to be an aerospace research and development agency, sharing its knowledge with other federal agencies and with the American private sector. NewSpace is a classic example of what NASA can do right when it returns to its roots.

    By the end of this decade, humanity will routinely access space thanks to NASA. They just won’t be on vehicles with a NASA logo, for the most part. Which means the taxpayers reap the benefit without paying all the cost.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Andrew –

    The combustion oscillation problems were known going into Ares 1.
    Griffin managed to single thread NASA’s launchers through ATK.

    ATK has been making solids for a long time, and at no previous time attempted to develop a commercial launcher out of their own pocket.

    You can view this as industry collusion over markets, or a reflction of ATK’s desire to not lower solid booster costs to NASA. I simply view their last effort as an attempt at diversification, and a way to invest profits from munition sales from the Iraq war.

    Perhaps I’ve become more aware of braing trauma since my stroke; but subjecting our astronauts to .7 G combustion oscillations is simply unacceptable to me. For that matter I don’t think its too good for payloads either. If ATK wants to tackle them, they have their own money to do it with

    Rand, go to the end of the debate: that’s what Romney said. Aside from that, you can look at the electoral map.

    “nuts” is your word,; “ugly” is mine.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Tom

    “In relation to access to the EELV market, ATK has not proven they should be trusted to launch a 1-3 billion dollar payload. They need to demonstrate a sustainable, maintainable, reliable system before they get to fly significant payloads. Especially payloads tied to the NRO, NSA, and DoD. For all the issues people have with EELV cost you have a 99.9999+% change of making it orbit. It maybe 400 million a shot, and that’s too high, but right now its insurance for launch success. Most Atlas V rockets ship perfect, no open paper and they work. ATK may one day be able to prove they can be trusted to fly an EELV mission, but not today (IMHO).”

    Speaking about croney capitalism, after some $9 Billionr, where is ATK?

    Yes, ATK has been fighting a delaying battle, waiting for a change in Administration. But large grain combustion osillations are independent of politics. So ATK now proposes the federal government now spend billions more to tackle a problem that should have been addressed at the very start of this? Again, why was NASA funding what the DoD should have funded?

    I disagree with your asssertion that large launchers are necessarey for BEO. I think that large rcommercial derived launchers may be sufficient. In any case, the key issue is launch costs.

    My guess, based on Energia/Zenit, is that China will try to develop fly-back re-usable versions of the Long March 5 instead of larger launchers.

  • @tom hancock
    “In relation to SLS. Well, the nation needs a booster of that class to meet our exploration needs and it should be designed/built/tested/flow/operated on the civil side. “
    For what purpose? NASA’s own studies show that we can go beyond LEO without such a vehicle, sooner, and cheaper besides. The links to these studies have been posted in this forum a number of times, so I won’t bother to post them again.
    You’re living in a dream world.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom hancock wrote @ October 5th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    In relation to access to the EELV market, SpaceX has not proven they should be trusted to launch a 1-3 billion dollar payload. …………….

    In relation to ATK, the Ares I 1st stage works, it’s finished, post CDR and all paid for. It will make a nice addition for Liberty when it fly’s. With changes in administration come changes in fortune. ”

    that sound you hear Tom is the “contradiction” gods amusing themselves with your post.

    Apparantly it is ok for you to declare the Ares 1 first stage as working even though it has never flown…and SpaceX Falcon as needing to prove itself even though it has flown…three times now with a fourth on the go.

    That is why the GOP is losing…which is amazing to me after the last debate performance.

    So far no tracking poll has picked up a national bump or even a “lunge” for Romney after the debate…its a tad to early and certainly the ones in the morning will be more informative…but today’s should have seen some movement and nada.

    I am a little amused because I predicted some movement over on my facebook page; and Luntz was heralding a four point swing…now there are polls going into the field tomorrow…for the Sunday and Monday news cycle…but gee I wouldnt get to excited.

    Work on your contradictions they might prove logically helpful

    R. G. Oler

  • vulture4

    ” For all the issues people have with EELV cost you have a 99.9999+% change of making it orbit.”

    The EELV historical reliability is not nearly that high; Atlas V and Delta IV have each experienced one failure. As Chan demonstrates in “Space Launch Vehicle Reliability”, predicted reliability reaches an essentially constant level after 6-10 successful launches; the Falcon already has three. Even with a billion dollar payload a savings of $100M in launch cost is worth it even with a 10% failure rate.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    NASA was never intended to be a space taxi. Or Starfleet. Or a propaganda tool. Or a jobs welfare program.

    NASA needs to go back to what is written in its charter. It’s supposed to be an aerospace research and development agency, sharing its knowledge with other federal agencies and with the American private sector. NewSpace is a classic example of what NASA can do right when it returns to its roots.

    Bingo. Well said. During the cold war, NASA became all of those things it shouldn’t have been. Especially a propaganda tool.

    In fact, the business about NASA being an “exploration agency” is a self-made definition. No question our nation should be exploring, but NASA was not originally charted to do that, except perhaps scientific exploration. It became a human exploration agency when exploration became a propaganda tool. To the extent that NASA can develop the tools for humans to explore, in such a way that this exploration benefits us in a way that offers value, that’s what it should be doing. The main question here is whether a propaganda tool still offers value.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom hancock wrote @ October 5th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    In relation to jobs, it not just people and paychecks, it’s keeping critical capabilities in place, people who can do the work, the ability to develop systems and pass that knowledge on>>

    can you name me a “critical technology” or capability that is not self sustaining…for instance why is the knowledge at ATK for large solids “necessary” or “critical” or anything but pork RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Wait until the right wing figures out that we have just deployed a satellite from ISS that was “zounds” built in Vietnam….

    ITS ALL OBAMA’s fault…RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    NASA needs to go back to what is written in its charter. It’s supposed to be an aerospace research and development agency, sharing its knowledge with other federal agencies and with the American private sector.

    I don’t know. Yes, NASA ought to do what its charter says, but it also has to do what it budget tells it to do, since that’s the law too. Perhaps you think the budget is wrong, and I agree, but I feel the charter may have to be updated too. Or at least that the NACA model is an outdated and undesirable model too.

    I don’t like the idea of civil servants deciding what research to do, hiring the private sector to do what they think is interesting and crowding out private R&D. R&D should ultimately be driven by demand, and subject to competition. FFRDCs providing subsidised R&D personnel and facilities would be better, but why does the aerospace sector need subsidies at all?

    I like exploration better as a mission for NASA. Certainly for unmanned exploration and perhaps manned exploration too. R&D is best left to the market, aerospace shouldn’t get any subsidies and R&D could benefit greatly though indirectly from an extensive exploration program.

  • Heinrich Monroe wrote:

    Bingo. Well said. During the cold war, NASA became all of those things it shouldn’t have been. Especially a propaganda tool.

    Check out this article I wrote in October 2011 about Ralph Cordiner. His 1961 article “Competitive Private Enterprise in Space” was cited by Lori Garver last year.

    Just as Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex, Cordiner warned about “nationalized industry in space.”

    Click here to read Cordiner’s article. How right he was — at a time when JFK morphed NASA from its purpose as defined in the National Aeronautics and Space Act into a giant government jobs program.

    I also recommend John Logsdon’s John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. Once all the hoo-rah died down and people started realizing post-Cuban Missile Crisis just how expensive an endeavour the Moon program would be, much of Congress and the American public started to question its wisdom. When JFK proposed the Moon program in May 1961, no one seemed to give much thought to what would be done with that massive bureaucracy once we had boots on the Moon. We’re still trying to answer that question a half-century later.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    You know the defense needs for large solids as well or better than I do.
    Since I am well out of the loop, there may be legitimate defense needs for
    something in the Ares1 class, and I worry about opining without absolute knowledge.

    But if that is the case, Ares 1 should have been funded by DoD, not NASA.
    As it sits, we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems for the money wasted on Ares 1, all with no disruption to our tech base.

    Heinrich –

    MASA now has an operational role in planetary defense as well.

  • tom hancock

    can you name me a “critical technology” or capability that is not self sustaining…

    The cost of solids will become so high the industrial base will erode. The principle user of ATK products is the US Gov. We don’t build ICBMs like the old days, So Shuttle SRBs ended up being one of the largest consumers of that product. It’s in our national interest to keep that critical capability going. Commercial launch and other DoD needs can’t keep cost down alone.

    On a side note, I created and am Chair for this:

    https://info.aiaa.org/Regions/SE/HSV_AIAA/Civil%20Space%20Symposium%202013/Civil_Space_Symposium_2013.aspx

    My way of helping commercial space along.

    Please consider attending.

  • vulture4

    I agree with Stephen, we need an agency that helps our industry with research and development the returns practical value in transportation, value-added manufacturing, exports, protection of the environment, human health, communication, energy, and a host of other investments that can bring our country practical benefits. The NACA may be a good model. It was hurt in later years by an inability to decide how to help industry without being seen to subsidize some companies at the expense of others, but there are solutions; in-house development, proposal-based funding such as SBIR, and contracting for basic R&D.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom hancock wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    The cost of solids will become so high the industrial base will erode. The principle user of ATK products is the US Gov. We don’t build ICBMs like the old days, So Shuttle SRBs ended up being one of the largest consumers of that product. ”

    For what it cost on a yearly basis to Keep ATK and the shuttle solids “around” the cost of ICBM’s which we are not building simply refueling can go up a lot and we still save money.

    The ridiculous argument is that “we have to keep Y so X is not that expensive”…that is right wing BS designed to justify something that is not justifiable RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 9:33 am

    The cost of solids will become so high the industrial base will erode.

    With the end of the Shuttle program, the only demand for large SRM’s is the SLS development program. Are you saying we should build the SLS because otherwise the cost of large SRM’s will go up? That makes no sense.

    It’s in our national interest to keep that critical capability going. Commercial launch and other DoD needs can’t keep cost down alone.

    The DoD already provides robust demand for solid rocket motors across the whole range of applications, including EELV PAMs, strategic ICBMs and a whole slew of tactical missiles. Again, with the Shuttle program ended, that demand level has already seen SRM prices readjust. Nothing the SLS program does over the next decade is going to have a significant effect on pricing.

    One other thing you are forgetting about is that NASA will be competing the SLS boosters for production flights, and SRM’s of any type are not a sure thing to win the competition. I say let the marketplace determine the future of large booster technology, not lobbying money from a company with facilities in Utah.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “For all the issues people have with EELV cost you have a 99.9999+% change of making it orbit.”

    No, you don’t. 99.9999+% implies that you’ll lose less than 1 out of every 10,000 payloads using EELVs. That’s simply not true based on EELV history (96.3% reliability or a failure 1 out of every 20 or 25 launches) or all launch vehicle history to date (the best launchers like Soyuz have only achieved ~98% reliability or a failure 1 out of every 50-odd launches).

    Together, both EELV families (Atlas V and Delta IV) have only launched 54 payloads total. And they’ve have already had two launch failures. That’s a proven reliability of only 96.3%, not 99.9999+%. Based on history, you’ll lose about 1 out of every 20 or 25 launches using EELVs, not 1 out of every 10,000+ launches.

    Airlines have flight reliabilities in excess of 99.9999+%. Not launch vehicles.

    “It maybe 400 million a shot, and that’s too high, but right now its insurance for launch success.”

    That’s a stupidly expensive way to pay for insurance.

    A Falcon 9 goes for a little more than $50 million. Using your $400 million figure for an EELV launch, your “insurance” is costing you $350 million or seven times more than what your launch should cost you, every time you launch. That’s like buying a car for $20,000 and paying for $140,000 worth of insurance every time you drive to the store. Nutty.

    Instead of paying $350 million worth of insurance on every launch, just pay $350 million one time to buy six to seven Falcon 9 launches and get a demonstrated reliability over ten or so Falcon 9 launches that’s comparable to or better than your EELVs.

    “In relation to ATK, the Ares I 1st stage works,”

    Wrong. The five-stage SRB has never flown, especially in a single-stick configuration.

    “it’s finished, post CDR and all paid for.”

    Wrong. Ares I barely passed PDR, not CDR, before the program was terminated.

    “It will make a nice addition for Liberty when it fly’s.”

    Wrong. Liberty is designed for the existing 4-stage SRB, not the 5-stage. (Assuming ATK ever decides to pursue Liberty, a big “if” right now.)

    “With changes in administration come changes in fortune.”

    Even if a Romney Administration threw more money at NASA (and their white paper states that they won’t), why on God’s green Earth would they throw it at a launcher that was hounded by technical issues, experienced more than a half-decade worth of delays, and had its costs balloon by several tens of billions of dollars?

    Even if you hate Romney, do you really think they’d be that stupid?

    “In relation to SLS. Well, the nation needs a booster of that class to meet our exploration needs”

    Wrong. Per this paper, there is no need for a 70-ton or 130-ton launcher for any of the nation’s human space exploration targets for the next 30 years.

    http://www.newspacewatch.com/docs/IAC-12.D3.2.3.x15379-NASAStudy.pdf

    “and it should be designed/built/tested/flow/operated on the civil side.”

    Even if a 70-ton to 130-ton launcher was needed, why should the civil side develop or run it given the awful, multi-decade history of launch vehicle cost growth and cancellation at NASA?

    “In relation to jobs, it not just people and paychecks, it’s keeping critical capabilities in place, people who can do the work, the ability to develop systems and pass that knowledge on.”

    What critical skills does NASA have with respect to launch vehicle development and operations that are not present in industry?

    “Many of the best who left or lost a job on CxP are thriving in other areas. Most will not come back to nasa.”

    Well, if the best-skilled employees at NASA have left, are productive in the launch vehicle industry, and aren’t coming back, then what is it that we’re trying to preserve on the civil side?

    The worst-skilled employees?

    “In relation to the overall path of nasa, Obama and Lori turned an exploration agency into the NACA for the 21st century.”

    And given how successful NACA was at generating the airline industry, this is bad because…?

    “If we (the US) lose ISS, we will lose human spaceflight for the next 30 years.

    No, we don’t. ISS could disappear magically tomorrow, and we’d still have MPCV and three commercial crew vehicles in development (along with a couple suborbital efforts).

    “These past 4 years have added about 50 years to the dream on landing people on Mars. We are going no place fast.”

    That is certainly true with respect to SLS and MPCV, given that we need neither for Mars and given how they’re eating all the budget for the research and technology that we actually need to get to Mars.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The cost of solids will become so high the industrial base will erode. The principle user of ATK products is the US Gov. We don’t build ICBMs like the old days, So Shuttle SRBs ended up being one of the largest consumers of that product. It’s in our national interest to keep that critical capability going. Commercial launch and other DoD needs can’t keep cost down alone.”

    This is baloney.

    The unit cost of an LGM-30 Minuteman is $7 million. There are 450 of them in service. The entire arsenal could be replaced for $3.2 billion.

    That’s $1-2 billion less than one year of Shuttle operations costs ($4-5 billion), and a very small fraction of Shuttle’s life-cycle cost (almost $200 billion).

    It’s about $2 billion less than what was actually spent on Ares I development (over $5 billion), and a small fraction of what it would have cost to finish Ares I ($30-40 billion total).

    It’s a very small fraction of what SLS is going to cost (at least $30 billion in development alone).

    And technically speaking, the huge, segmented motors on an SRB have very little in common with the small, monolithic motors on an ICBM.

    If DOD needs a solid rocket motor activity to keep ATK experience up and costs down on the Minuteman, then just replace Minutemen. The taxpayer will save billions and billions of dollars, DOD will get an experienced workforce relevant to the Minuteman, and (gasp!) we’ll get a modern, refurbished ICBM fleet.

  • vulture4

    The current issue of Aviation Week has an extensive review of all the spacecraft and human launch capabilities under development (including extensive coverage of the Liberty and ATK capsule) without any suggestion that the cost and lack of mission for SLS/Orion might be a problem. Interesting because in AW articles on aviation, cost and productivity are often discussed in detail.

  • Rand, go to the end of the debate: that’s what Romney said.

    I posted a Youtube of the closing words. He said nothing of the kind.

  • The ridiculous argument is that “we have to keep Y so X is not that expensive”…that is right wing BS

    The notion that it is “right wing BS” is BS. It’s just plain old BS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    the only presidential candidate proposing defense increases is the right wing standard bearer Willard Romney. and most of his proposals are along the lines of we have to have X to keep Y not expensive…and “we have to be strong” both of which are BS

    Robert G. Oler

  • “We have to be strong” is BS?

    Who knew?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    “We have to be strong” is BS?

    Who knew?”

    apparently not the low information voter you are!

    Lets focus on space…from a few threads back this is Paul Ryan (who you like) partial statement on NASA…he has just lamented that American astronauts are riding the Soyuz to the station; something you must know is a reality that was agreed to long before Obama and would remain so even if the shuttles were flying…and will stay that way until an American vehicle “qualifies” as the ACRV…

    then Ryan throws out one of those “be strong” statements.

    “Mitt Romney and I believe that America must lead in space. ”

    I challenge you to make the case that 1) the US is not leading in both crewed and mechanical spaceflight…and 2) that the fact that the Soyuz is the ACRV means the US is not leading in human spaceflight.

    Go ahead

    And then when you are finished make the case that any other military on the planet is in some position to pass the US as the worlds strongest military power today or in the next four years.

    If you cannot do that then you must admit those statements are BS and then if there is any logic left in your life wonder why you are voting for such con artist.

    Robert G. Oler

  • tom hancock

    Opinions vary. Without ISS why does the US need a human spaceflight capability? How many commercial space stations are on order? Consider your arguments. The US Gov is the anchor customer for commercial space. With out exploration in the plan (actively). Sorry no point in going.

    Building spare 3 billion dollar satellites just incase a new EELV fails is far more expensive than paying 400 million a launch with great assurance you will make orbit.

    SpaceX costs. Only they know for sure.

    Also yes, Ares I 1st stage finished CDR. Liberty will fly, basically the Ares mission but with a European upper stage and engine, off a US pad putting dollars in the pockets of ESA.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    MASA now has an operational role in planetary defense as well.

    Er, would that be the “Mexicana Aeronáutica y Spacia Administración” or perhaps the “Malaysian Aeronautics and Space Administration”, or what has been termed “Her Majesty’s Space Agency”? Or perhaps how the right wing tweaked Bolden and Obama with the suggestion to rename NASA the “Muslim Affirmation and Self-esteem Agency”?

    Entrusting these outfits to do any kind of planetary defense would be somewhat ludicrous.

    Not that this had anything to do with anything I wrote, but then again, planetary defense requires money, so you go where the “dough” is. If it won’t support planetary defense, then my masa can support a few tortillas.

  • [Babble deleted]

    if there is any logic left in your life wonder why you are voting for such con artist.

    Don’t worry, I am not voting for Barack Obama, despite his space policy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://spaceflightnow.com/delta/d361/rl10.html

    so much for airline reliability RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Also yes, Ares I 1st stage finished CDR.

    By cheating as I recall.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Building spare 3 billion dollar satellites just incase a new EELV fails is far more expensive than paying 400 million a launch with great assurance you will make orbit.

    Not every payload the DoD/NRO sends up is valued at $3B. The upcoming GPS III replacement program is a good example of where the Air Force can save a lot of money, and they are already looking at using SpaceX. The Block IIIA versions cost $117M each, and since they are in serial production stretched over many years, a loss would not be hard to replace.

    These types of missions – starting out with the less-sensitive DoD/NRO payloads – is a prudent way for all parties involved to find the best way to increase competition and lower costs without endangering our national security.

    SpaceX costs. Only they know for sure.

    Well, their internal costs, of course. Are you advocating that all private companies should publish their proprietary cost information for their competitors to see? I don’t think you understand business.

    What SpaceX does publish is their basic rocket prices. Need to send 13,150 kg to LEO or 4,850 to GTO? That will cost $54M. Need to send up to 53,000 kg to LEO or 12,000 kg to GTO? That will cost you no more than $128M.

    The GPS IIF-2 satellites weigh 1,630 kg (3,600 lb), and orbit in a Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), so it looks like a Falcon 9 could do a dual launch. Just dealing with the base pricing, that would be $27M per satellite. Compare that to the $140-170M per satellite the Air Force pre-negotiated with Boeing for the Delta IV (4,2) before they merged into ULA (which Boeing says they are losing money on each flight), and you can see where the Air Force can save some serious money.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Liberty will fly

    There are a number of things I don’t think you’re taking into account here.

    1. Who needs it? This is the most basic question a company can ask, and one that drives everything about a product. Who specifically needs it, and why? Answer this from a customer perspective.

    2. ATK is assuming the use of a number of government assets in order to keep prices down. They need to use the VAB, the crawlers, and the launch platform originally built for the Ares I. They can assume those would be available, but they may not have exclusive use of them, especially if the SLS survives and continues NASA leasing out portions of the VAB to other commercial companies. Not having control of critical assets is not a good recipe for success, and potential customers will consider that in their procurement choices.

    3. Money – the Liberty is going to take a LOT of money to develop. Unless they get launch deposits (see #1 above) like SpaceX has done, that is a HUGE risk for a public company to take on without any clear market or market advantage.

    4. Competition – why buy the Liberty for $180M/launch when the Falcon Heavy can lift twice as much for $128M? Or if you’re the Air Force, why change from the dependable Delta IV Heavy, even if it does cost more? And if you were going to change rockets, you would be more inclined to change to a rocket that already flies many times per year, and costs significantly less (i.e. the Falcon 9-based Falcon Heavy).

    Despite the enthusiasm some have for the pieces and parts the Liberty would be built from, it still lacks the most basic thing – a business case. A need.

    And because of that, it will never get built.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 7th, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Just as I suspected…you cannot defend either position.

    A sterling example of the Romney/Ryan voter. epic fail RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom hancock wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Opinions vary. Without ISS why does the US need a human spaceflight capability?>>

    A nice question but almost useless actually.

    A sign of people not being able to handle reality is that folks who reveal in “alternate timelines” both personally (“If only I had done this or that” or today the right wing mantra is “If only the liberals had not forced this on me”) and nationally (on NASAspaceflight.com they have along running thread “what if the lunar landings had not ended” and one of the theories floating around “RedState” is “the American Empire Obama lost”) .

    Several decades ago (sigh) I was at a reception at the Georgia Tech Experimental Station (which became GTRI) and was having a converstation with a “military history” person who was lamenting how things would have been different if Lee had done this or that on the first and second day of Gettysburg…and all it was was wasted air. Lee blundered every day at Gettysburg until he cleaned his own clock…so who cares.

    We have ISS…what “the future” would have been like without it is subject to debate without end and not relevant to sane people…We have it.

    So the issue is what to do with it

    The folks who say “get rid of it” are holding on slightly better to reality but not much. IN the end every single government and space program that is involved with ISS is so involved in the program that they cannot see it fail or “gotten rid of” so it is not going to happen.

    NASA is NOT GOOD at making programs work. When they got the lunar capability or Skylab they had no real clue what to do with it…”doing” a project actually is make work for them…so they always want to go on to “whats next”

    The reality is that we need to find a method to us ISS and to get some value from the money spent. NASA is an epic fail at that so we need to take the operation out side of NASA.

    I am curious however, what do you think is Liberty’s “customer”? RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Opinions vary.”

    Facts don’t.

    “Without ISS why does the US need a human spaceflight capability?”

    Why does the U.S. _need_ a space station? We had a “human spaceflight [sic] capability” for over a decade and a half (16 years) without any space station. It was called the Space Shuttle.

    The ISS is dependent on the existence of some human space transport capability.

    But human space transport capabilities are not dependent on the ISS.

    “How many commercial space stations are on order?”

    One is planned to start orbital assembly in 2014:

    http://bigelowaerospace.com/orbital-complex-construction.php

    A second is planned to start orbital assembly in 2016:

    http://www.space.com/9519-balloons-space-history.html

    Bigelow sees a market for ten or more stations in LEO:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20101114/NEWS02/11140318/1006/NEWS01/Space%20%20Inc

    Bigelow has agreements with seven nations, including the U.K., Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Sweden, interested in using the company’s inflatable stations. Hiring and expansion at Bigelow is ramping up accordingly:

    http://www.8newsnow.com/story/13967660/i-team-bigelow-aerospace-begins-big-expansion

    “Building spare 3 billion dollar satellites just incase a new EELV fails is far more expensive than paying 400 million a launch with great assurance you will make orbit.”

    Who recommended building $3 billion spares?

    “SpaceX costs. Only they know for sure.”

    Wrong again. SpaceX pricing is advertised on its website. $54 million for a full standard Falcon 9 in 2012.

    http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

    “Also yes, Ares I 1st stage finished CDR.”

    Still wrong.

    The Ares I 1st stage CDR was not scheduled until Q3 (third quarter or July through September) of CY10 (calendar year 2010), per these NASA milestones:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/210208main_MPIM-rev-2008-01-25-04.pdf

    The Obama Administration terminated Ares I with the President’s FY 2012 Budget in early February 2010:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/02/budget-summary.html

    “Liberty will fly,”

    This is not a factual statement, given that ATK still hasn’t committed to developing Liberty as of last week:

    “‘We are regrouping, circling the wagons, looking at what makes the most sense,’ says Kent Rominger, a former space shuttle commander who is ATK’s vice president for strategy and business development and the Liberty program manager.”

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_10_01_2012_p48-498330.xml

    “basically the Ares mission but with a European upper stage and engine,”

    Wrong again. Ares I came to employ a 5-segment SRB for its first-stage. Liberty plans to use the old 4-segment SRB.

    Even on the second stage. Ares I uses a second-stage LOX/LH2 engine (J-2X) for its second-stage. Liberty plans to adapt a first-stage LOX/LH2 engine (Vulcain) for its second-stage.

    Liberty and Ares I have little substantive technical content in common.

  • tom hancock

    One of the great things about CxP, it was all about exploration. Crew to ISS until a commercial capability existed. Cancelling Orion cargo in 2007 to make way for COTS. Lunar missions, lots of other things possible along the way and one day Mars. When we develop the ability to reach Mars most of the solar system will be open to us. It’s not left/right thing, it’s a goal and 1st step to reach for the stars.

    Today we have ISS! An awesome accomplishment and we learn a lot about building, crewing and operation large structure in space. We also learned to join many different space fairing nations together to a common goal. Also a great accomplishment.

    Some systems on ISS are 2 fault tolerant. If we should happen (and GOD forbid we do lose it) what’s the mission for Gov human space flight?

    We need NASA to explore, build ships on orbit and buy rides for cargo, crew and structure from commercial vendors.

    In 2013 the commercial environment will change a bit and Liberty (IMHO) will gain a friend @ NASA.

    Ad Astra folks!

  • tom hancock

    “Also yes, Ares I 1st stage finished CDR.”

    Still wrong.

    The Ares I 1st stage CDR was not scheduled until Q3 (third quarter or July through September) of CY10 (calendar year 2010), per these NASA milestones:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/210208main_MPIM-rev-2008-01-25-04.pdf

    The Obama Administration terminated Ares I with the President’s FY 2012 Budget in early February 2010:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/02/budget-summary.html

    __

    Ah.. work on CxP continued for over a year past Feb 2010 and 1st stage PDR was completed. No one @ nasa or the contractor (ATK, Boeing) teams stopped working on CxP, Obama just killed the jobs of about 8,000 support contractors nation wide. That in an effort to make sure it could never be completed. Remember only congress could kill CxP it was law. killing the jobs to 8,000 people by requiring NASA contractors to hold back 1 billion in termination cost (never done before in history) was wrong, heartless and cruel (IMHO).

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 6th, 2012 at 1:16 am

    LOL They still choke on dealing with the Ruskies- you know, as Mr. Romney has stated, them Reds are our biggest geopolitical foes. Wonder if Mitt watches Cheers or Hill Street Blues? ;-)
    .
    @Rand Simberg wrote @ October 7th, 2012 at 12:19 am

    [Babble deleted] “…if there is any logic left in your life wonder why you are voting for such con artist [Romney.] Don’t worry, I am not voting for Barack Obama, despite his space policy.”

    Hilarious. =yawn= And, of course, California is squarely in the Obama column already. You’re on the wrong side of history again, Rand. But then, at lleast you’re consistent.

  • tom hancock

    Basically the Ares mission but with a European upper stage and engine,”

    Wrong again. Ares I came to employ a 5-segment SRB for its first-stage. Liberty plans to use the old 4-segment SRB.

    Even on the second stage. Ares I uses a second-stage LOX/LH2 engine (J-2X) for its second-stage. Liberty plans to adapt a first-stage LOX/LH2 engine (Vulcain) for its second-stage.

    Liberty and Ares I have little substantive technical content in common.

    ———-

    No Liberty will use the Ares I 1st stage. Paid for. You think they are going to throw that away and start over??

    How does using a European 1st stage (as the upper stage on Liberty) and a European engine not put money in the pocket of Europe?

  • tom hancock

    Building spare 3 billion dollar satellites just incase a new EELV fails is far more expensive than paying 400 million a launch with great assurance you will make orbit.”
    Who recommended building $3 billion spares?

    That is the flow in the argument you’re making. Trust the new guy, his rocket won’t blow up. He has 2.5 successes under his belt.

    It takes years and billions to make some of the systems. Not worth the risk until new providers prove that have what it takes.

  • Interested Reader

    Ares I came to employ a 5-segment SRB for its first-stage

    Technically, Ares I never employed anything, it was never built and it never flew, with or without the five segment SRB,

    Trust the new guy, his rocket won’t blow up.

    Rockets occasionally blow up. The ones I recall blowing up used SRBs. Rockets more often occasionally fail to deliver their payloads to orbit, and more often fail to deliver their payloads to the correct orbit. Trains, planes and automobiles also occasionally crash, and passengers and innocent civilians are occasionally killed as well. Aircraft occasionally divert to alternative airports and passengers are inconvenienced by bus rides.

    It takes years and billions to make some of the systems.

    In Elon Musk’s case, it took ten years and less than a billion dollars to produce a couple of rockets and engines that scale well, simplify operations, reduce costs to the point that they can out compete most if not all of the competition, and contain the promise of partial if not complete reusability. They have also flown successfully and met all of the criteria of success. That appears to me to be worthy of praise, not criticism.

    Risk is something the customers take and the bystanders criticize. If you, as the customer known as a US citizen, feel that risk is too great, then I suggest you write a letter to your congressperson and senator rather than continuing to support and praise rockets that don’t exist and have never flown (Ares I and Liberty).

  • Robert G. Oler

    Well SpaceX made that look easy. We should hear again about how Liberty is “ready to fly” LOL

    as the spaceX commentator said “totally awesome” …yes indeed

    Enjoy this moment Mark Whittington…I am RGO

  • josh

    “killing the jobs to 8,000 people by requiring NASA contractors to hold back 1 billion in termination cost (never done before in history) was wrong, heartless and cruel (IMHO).”

    it was exactly the right thing to do. you’re simply advocating corporate welfare and make work programs. also, you’re delusional about the frankenrocket aka liberty. it is deader than dead.

    btw: spacex proved again tonight that they’re ready.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 7th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Trust the new guy, his rocket won’t blow up. He has 2.5 successes under his belt.

    Not sure how you get 1/2 a success – it either gets the job done or it doesn’t.

    Oh, and now it’s four straight successful launches for Falcon 9, and the fifth launch is tentatively set for January. Falcon 9 is proving itself at a pretty fast clip now.

    Now, use the same standards you say should be applied to Falcon 9 for the Liberty rocket. Or do you assume because the Liberty is built out of pieces and parts that have flown on other vehicles, that it magically means the Liberty should be ultra-reliable after it’s first launch?

    But if the Liberty rocket has to held to the “14 flights before a government contract” standard that some have suggested, then ATK/Astrium are going to need a lot of business & flights before that will happen. Which brings up the question you continue to avoid – who needs the $180M Liberty when there are so many existing and/or lower cost alternatives?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “One of the great things about CxP, it was all about exploration… Lunar missions, lots of other things possible along the way and one day Mars.”

    There was no exploration content in Constellation. They terminated work on a lunar lander to fund overruns on Ares I/Orion, which was a LEO transport system.

    “Cancelling Orion cargo in 2007 to make way for COTS.”

    Orion’s cargo variant was cancelled because Orion (and Ares I) were overrunning. They didn’t have the budget or the schedule to do another variant, so they ceded cargo to COTS.

    “If we should happen (and GOD forbid we do lose it) what’s the mission for Gov human space flight?”

    Whatever the government thinks it should be at that time. It may be LEO flights. It may be another LEO station. It may be a Lagrange point station. It may be lunar missions. NEO missions. Mars missions.

    No human space flight program is dependent upon a single space station. The Soviets/Russians didn’t end their human space flight program every time they retired a Salyut or Mir station. The U.S. didn’t end its human space flight program when Skylab came down.

    “In 2013 the commercial environment will change a bit and Liberty (IMHO) will gain a friend @ NASA.”

    NASA scored Liberty worse than every other viable CCDev2 proposal and by a substantial margin. No one at NASA is going to revisit it, certainly not in 2013.

    The only way Liberty survives is if ATK decides to fund it internally. ATK has not made that commitment yet. Given the other, less risky, bigger and/or higher margin munitions markets that ATK can invest in, it’s very doubtful the company will make that decision.

    “1st stage PDR was completed.”

    You originally claimed that the Ares I first-stage finished “CDR” (Critical Design Review). That was proven to be false.

    Now you’re claiming “PDR” (Preliminary Design Review).

    Learn the difference and make up your mind.

    “Paid for.”

    It’s not “paid for”. It’s never flown. It’s not in development. It’s not even past CDR.

    The Ares I first-stage requires a lot more funding.

    “How does using a European 1st stage (as the upper stage on Liberty) and a European engine not put money in the pocket of Europe?”

    No one said it didn’t.

    “That is the flow in the argument you’re making. Trust the new guy, his rocket won’t blow up.”

    No one argued that $3 billion spares should be built.

    Instead of “trusting the new guy” or blowing $350 million in “insurance” on every launch ad infinitum, I argued that $350 million should be spent one time to buy six to seven Falcon 9s. That, combined with the three that have launched successfully, would provide a demonstrated flight reliability for multi-billion dollar class payloads.

    I never recommended, suggested, or intimated that $3 billion payloads be risked on those test flights. There are plenty of test payloads that could use those launches. STP alone has dozens.

    “He has 2.5 successes under his belt.”

    Falcon 9 successfully launched and got another Dragon in the correct orbit tonight — its first CRS payload. That brings the total to four, including the two COTS test flights and the self-funded SpaceX test flight.

  • NeilShipley

    Off topic but SpaceX has successfully launched it’s first CRS mission.
    Congrat’s to all concerned.

  • NeilShipley

    BTW CRS is a FAR contract. Haven’t seen any inordinate price increases for the SpaceX missions under this contract. Just sayin.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    Thanks for pointing out the typo.
    My hands and eyes are not operating as well as they used to.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y6zsZiVa998

    KC has this up at NASA watch and its at parabolic arc. I was rewatching the video here at the house in slow mo and saw what the number 1 engine went through.

    It seems to have an “unplanned rapid dissasemble” and its very impressive that the vehicle handled this. I’ve had blades from on CF 6 “dissasemble rapidly” and the Kevlar works there as well.

    Kudos to spacex …but they would want to think on this a tad before the next one. RGO

  • NeilShipley

    RGO Guess it’s going to take a while to determine root cause. I’m not sure what to think since they’ve done a large number of tests including full duration burns on the Merlin 1Cs. Also impressed by the fact that they completed the launch requirements.

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 12:10 am

    It seems to have an “unplanned rapid dissasemble” and its very impressive that the vehicle handled this.

    There will be lots of discussion about this in the days to come, as well as more detail released, but the first statement from Musk was provided on the Spaceflight Now website mission page for the CRS-1 mission:

    SpaceX says Engine No. 1 on the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage experienced some sort of anomaly about 80 seconds into the launch.
    Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and chief designer, said the engine was shut down by the rocket’s on-board computers.

    “Falcon 9 detected an anomaly on one of the nine engines and shut it down,” Musk wrote in an email to Spaceflight Now. “As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in realtime to reach the target orbit, which is why the burn times were a bit longer.”

    The first stage burned nearly 30 seconds longer than planned.

    FWIW

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 7th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Well SpaceX made that look easy.

    LOLOLOL Thanks to NASA. And in case you’ve forgotten, Russia – and NASA (along with the military) have been launching unmanned satellites and making it ‘look easy’ for nearly half a century. So Elon doing what already’s been done for multiple decades should ‘look easy.’ When, of coure, it’s not. Ah, how the proponents of the Magnified Importance of Diminshed Vision are easily distracted.

    And the payload for this ‘officially contracted’ Dragon from Elon, – just 1,000 lbs. Pretty paltry. The max. payload for Progress supply spacecraft per wiki is 5,200 lbs., and they’ve been servicing orbiting space platrforms for nearly four decades. Dragon is redundant. And a waste of dwindling resources ro service a doomed space platform from past -planning of an era long, long, over. ,. But- oh yes, Elon’s Dragon can bring back the trash. A garbagecan. Quaint. And a great sales pitch. Quaint.

  • tom hancock

    “One of the great things about CxP, it was all about exploration… Lunar missions, lots of other things possible along the way and one day Mars.”
    There was no exploration content in Constellation. They terminated work on a lunar lander to fund overruns on Ares I/Orion, which was a LEO transport system.
    __*
    Exploration was consent in CxP. Work on the Lander was not ended, not even slowed. You have zero idea what you talking about. On overruns? Everything experiences an overrun. Welcome to aerospace.
    –*
    “Cancelling Orion cargo in 2007 to make way for COTS.”
    Orion’s cargo variant was cancelled because Orion (and Ares I) were overrunning. They didn’t have the budget or the schedule to do another variant, so they ceded cargo to COTS.
    –* No, It was done for COTS. Again you have zero clue what you talking about. Going from Orion crew to cargo is simple and cheap. Going from a cargo variant to crew is hard and expensive.
    –*
    “If we should happen (and GOD forbid we do lose it) what’s the mission for Gov human space flight?”
    Whatever the government thinks it should be at that time. It may be LEO flights. It may be another LEO station. It may be a Lagrange point station. It may be lunar missions. NEO missions. Mars missions.
    No human space flight program is dependent upon a single space station. The Soviets/Russians didn’t end their human space flight program every time they retired a Salyut or Mir station. The U.S. didn’t end its human space flight program when Skylab came down.

    –*
    Your opinion and depends on leadership. Our Human spaceflight program is 100% dependent on a space station. To deny that is to ignore facts.
    –*
    “In 2013 the commercial environment will change a bit and Liberty (IMHO) will gain a friend @ NASA.”
    NASA scored Liberty worse than every other viable CCDev2 proposal and by a substantial margin. No one at NASA is going to revisit it, certainly not in 2013.
    The only way Liberty survives is if ATK decides to fund it internally. ATK has not made that commitment yet. Given the other, less risky, bigger and/or higher margin munitions markets that ATK can invest in, it’s very doubtful the company will make that decision.
    –*
    Again your opinion, I don’t agree with you. Time will tell
    –*
    “1st stage PDR was completed.”
    You originally claimed that the Ares I first-stage finished “CDR” (Critical Design Review). That was proven to be false.
    Now you’re claiming “PDR” (Preliminary Design Review).
    Learn the difference and make up your mind.
    –*
    CDR, if you any connection you would know what happened and why.
    __*
    “Paid for.”
    It’s not “paid for”. It’s never flown. It’s not in development. It’s not even past CDR.
    The Ares I first-stage requires a lot more funding.
    –*
    Nope the design is ready for production (for Ares –some changes for Liberty), but it’s paid for by the Gov
    –*
    “How does using a European 1st stage (as the upper stage on Liberty) and a European engine not put money in the pocket of Europe?”
    No one said it didn’t.
    –*
    you did??
    –*
    “That is the flow in the argument you’re making. Trust the new guy, his rocket won’t blow up.”
    No one argued that $3 billion spares should be built.
    Instead of “trusting the new guy” or blowing $350 million in “insurance” on every launch ad infinitum, I argued that $350 million should be spent one time to buy six to seven Falcon 9s. That, combined with the three that have launched successfully, would provide a demonstrated flight reliability for multi-billion dollar class payloads.
    I never recommended, suggested, or intimated that $3 billion payloads be risked on those test flights. There are plenty of test payloads that could use those launches. STP alone has dozens.
    –*
    Now you making my argument and the Gov will do that over the next few years flying COTS
    –*
    “He has 2.5 successes under his belt.”
    Falcon 9 successfully launched and got another Dragon in the correct orbit tonight — its first CRS payload. That brings the total to four, including the two COTS test flights and the self-funded SpaceX test flight.
    –*
    OK a few hours after my post – 3.5

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 2:18 am

    But- oh yes, Elon’s Dragon can bring back the trash.

    Actually, no. Since the Dragon is the only cargo vehicle that can return cargo to Earth, it will be the only vehicle that WON’T be subjected to trash duty. Everything they put in Dragon on the ISS is slated for safe return to Earth, like the year’s worth of scientific samples that NASA wants back on this mission and the equipment they want back for refurbishment (which could go back up on the next Dragon).

    Progress doesn’t do that.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Tom –

    You continue to walk by Ares 1’s .7 G combustion oscilaltions – whistling in the graveyard, so to speak.

    ATK’s lack of concern on this is understandable, given that they’re ATK,
    but how this slipped through NASA Safety is an issue for the IG’s office.

    Bottom line for me: we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems with no disruption to our tech base for the money wasted on Ares1. And that would have been sufficient to meet all of W.’s and NASA’s goals.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Exploration was consent in CxP.”

    That’s not even an intelligible sentence.

    “Work on the Lander was not ended, not even slowed.”

    Wrong yet again. Read the article excerpt below:

    “Altair Defunded:

    On the subject of exploration, the state of NASA’s plans continue to deteriorate, with sources noting they were informed on Monday that the Altair Lunar Lander project has been defunded. No official statement has been made at this time.

    Very little has been heard from the Altair Program since heading into the opening development cycles (DACs) last year, which had been building from the Minimum Functionality Approach – as the relatively small team went about defining the lander concept.

    The last cycle of the lander baseline, which was known simply as the ‘p711-b Lunar Lander’, had visible heritage in the ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study) ’spider lander’. This concept was expected to change during downstream DACs – related to numerous elements, including the capabilities of the Ares V that was tasked to lift it into space.

    With large scale funding shortages across the Constellation Program, and no realistic – from a monetary and schedule standpoint – lunar plans being built, the decision to end or mothball the Altair Program may be strategic, although it is likely they simply ran out of money.

    With all of Constellation’s efforts being focused on the Ares I program – a vehicle that won’t be ready in time to launch to the ISS before it is currently scheduled to be deorbited and many years from playing a role in a Lunar mission – the need for increased funding is being made ever more apparent by decision makers at NASA, as the Agency continues to move towards a gap of up to seven years in human space flight capability.”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/10/bolden-directs-msfc-special-team-to-evaluate-hlv-alternatives/

    “You have zero idea what you talking about.”

    Read the article excerpt above.

    Stop inserting your foot when you open your mouth.

    “On overruns? Everything experiences an overrun. Welcome to aerospace.”

    Wrong yet again and a lazy, lame excuse for crappy program formulation and management to boot.

    The Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission came in a million dollars under its budget:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1996-02-07/news/1996038085_1_asteroid-earth-nasa-space

    Per this GAO report, two of NASA’s current large space missions came in on budget and schedule:

    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-207SP

    The Apollo Program cost $20.4 billion in then-year dollars over its life-cycle. That was within rounding error of Administrator Webb’s $20 billion estimate for the program:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1579/1

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/106/1

    “No, It was done for COTS.”

    Still wrong. At the time that the cargo variant was terminated, NASA had to find funding to pay for an additional two years of design and two additional abort tests on Orion. COTS wasn’t even part of the equation. See NASA PR excerpt below:

    “NASA has modified its contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. of Littleton, Colo., to design, test and build the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

    The updated contract contains three significant changes. Two years have been added to the design phase. Two test flights of Orion’s launch abort system have been added. And production of a pressurized cargo carrier for the International Space Station has been deleted from the initial design phase…

    NASA awarded the Orion prime contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. on Aug. 31, 2006. At that time, the development portion of the contract was valued at $3.9 billion with a period of performance through December 2011. This contract modification, in the amount of $385 million, brings the total value to approximately $4.3 billion and adjusts the development period of performance through December 2013.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2007/apr/HQ_C0721_Orion_Contract_Mod.html

    “Again you have zero clue what you talking about.”

    See NASA PR excerpt above.

    Again, stop sticking your foot in your mouth when you open it.

    “Our Human spaceflight program is 100% dependent on a space station. To deny that is to ignore facts.”

    To argue that the U.S. civil human space flight program will end if/when ISS ends ignores the fact that every time the U.S. or the Soviets/Russians terminated a space station, their human space flight programs continued.

    You’ve presented no “facts” to the contrary.

    “Again your opinion, I don’t agree with you. Time will tell”

    It’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. NASA did not fund Liberty because it was not technically sound, and the project is now entirely dependent on ATK funding to continue.

    http://www.space.com/17489-nasa-space-taxis-atk-liberty-system.html

    http://www.aviationweek.com/awmobile/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_10_01_2012_p48-498330.xml&p=1

    “CDR, if you any connection you would know what happened and why.”

    Connections (of which I have plenty) have no bearing on the fact that no Ares I first-stage CDR was ever held, information which is publicly available as follows.

    In January 2008, the Ares I first-stage CDR was scheduled for Q3 of CY10, per these NASA milestones.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/210208main_MPIM-rev-2008-01-25-04.pdf

    That initially put the CDR sometime in July-September 2010.

    By 2009, the Ares I 1st stage CDR had slipped to the middle of FY11, per p. 10 of this presentation:

    ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs…/20090034468_2009034776.pdf

    That slipped the CDR to sometime around April 2011.

    The Obama Administration terminated Ares I with the President’s FY 2012 Budget in early February 2010:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/02/budget-summary.html

    So the CDR was last scheduled at least a full 13 months (March 2011) after the Obama Administration terminated Ares I (February 2010).

    The President also signed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act into law and officially defunded Ares I in October 2010:

    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1779.html

    So the CDR was last scheduled at least a full 6 months (March 2011) after the 2010 NASA Authorization Act formally ended the Ares I project (October 2010).

    The CDR was never held.

    “Nope the design is ready for production (for Ares –some changes for Liberty), but it’s paid for by the Gov”

    By definition, if a design is not through CDR or completed flight testing, it is not ready for production. The Ares I first-stage has done neither. Even more so for the Liberty first-stage.

    “you did??”

    No, I did not. I never argued your point about the Liberty upper stage taking jobs away from the U.S. aerospace industry.

    “Now you making my argument”

    No, I am not making your argument.

    You argued that military payloads should not move from EELV to Falcon 9 and should continued paying $350 million worth of “insurance” (the cost differential between EELV and Falcon 9) on every flight.

    I argued that this is stupidly wasteful, and instead, the military should expend $350 million one-time to purchase six or seven Falcon 9 launches and put whatever military test payloads (of which there are dozens on the STP backlog alone) it wishes on those launches. This would get Falcon 9’s demonstrated flight reliability up, get a lot of technology flown and demonstrated in space, and contrary to your false claim, not risk a single, $3 billion payload.

    “OK a few hours after my post – 3.5″

    You finally got something right.

    Better late than never.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Our Human spaceflight program is 100% dependent on a space station. To deny that is to ignore facts.

    Well here’s a fact – the SLS/MPCV don’t rely on the ISS for their hoped-for missions.

    Now you may define “Human spaceflight program” as only the ISS, but the plans that Congress and the President have for space exploration don’t run through the ISS. While many of us think the ISS (or some other LEO station) could act as a transit point or some sort of mission assembly location, so far no NASA plans have been dependent on such ideas.

    So, no, our Human spaceflight program is NOT 100% dependent on “a” space station.

  • Vladislaw

    Tom Hancock wrote:
    “Cancelling Orion cargo in 2007 to make way for COTS. “

    I do not understand this timeline you are suggesting. COTS was announced:

    Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
    “Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) is a NASA program to coordinate the delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station by private companies. The program was announced on January 18, 2006″

    Orion (spacecraft)

    Design revisions and updates

    July 2006 design revisions

    In late July 2006 NASA’s second design review resulted in major changes to the spacecraft design.[20] Originally, NASA wanted to use liquid methane (LCH4) as the SM fuel, but due to the infancy of oxygen/methane-powered rocket technologies and the need to launch the Orion by 2012, the switch to hypergolic propellants was mandated in late July 2006. This switch will allow NASA to man-rate the Orion and Ares I stack by no later than 2011,[citation needed] and eliminate one potential cause of the gap between the shuttle’s retirement in 2010 and the first manned Orion flight.

    April 2007 contract revision

    On 20 April 2007 NASA and Lockheed-Martin signed a modification to the Orion contract. The updated contract adds two years to the Orion project design phase, adds two test flights of Orion’s launch abort system, and deletes from the initial design phase production of a pressurized cargo carrier for the International Space Station.
    (my bold)

    May 2007 design update

    An article in “Aerospace Daily & Defense Report” indicates that in the latest Orion design revision, called configuration “606” by Lockheed Martin, the service module will have exterior panels that are jettisoned shortly after the second stage engine of the Ares I ignites. This configuration will save 1,000 pounds of the mass compared with the prior “605” configuration.

    August 2007 design update

    On 5 August, a report surfaced stating that the airbag landing system was removed from the next Orion design cycle (“607″) in a weight saving measure, opting to return to an Apollo-style splashdown for the vehicle’s end of mission.”

    COTS had already been around for 18 months. According to testimony given by Bill Gerstenmaier to both Senate and House committees.

    He stated that Ares I and Orion were going to be the plan A for cargo to the ISS and COTS was plan B. It was only after the Constellation program blowing up both the budget and schedule that COTS became Plan A and NASA then moved more funds towards it to buy down risk because there was not going to be any plan B.

    What Bill said does not match up with what you are saying.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tom hancock wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 8:39 am

    “Our Human spaceflight program is 100% dependent on a space station. To deny that is to ignore facts.”

    you are at least close to correct on this…except it is not “a” space station it is ISS.

    IF ISS flounders economically, politically, technically, then the appitete in the US and elsewhere for large expensive human spaceflight programs will go to zero; particularly if next year the economies of the world start to implode as is completely possible.

    The Chinese economy is on the brink of imitating the Boeings CST 100 landing without the airbags deploying. RGO

  • tom hancock

    Wikipedia as a source?
    Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia.. :)

    Orion cargo was taken out of the way in 2007 to make room for COTS. No competing mission. Griffin made that decision.
    __*
    Well here’s a fact – the SLS/MPCV don’t rely on the ISS for their hoped-for missions.
    –*
    what mission? Journey to the far side of the decade?
    Orion flying twice a year is a direct competition to commercial crew. If only Orion could go to the moon or other destination.

    –*
    Wrong yet again and a lazy, lame excuse for crappy program formulation and management to boot.
    The Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission came in a million dollars under its budget:
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1996-02-07/news/1996038085_1_asteroid-earth-nasa-space
    –*
    That’s one!
    Overruns- Galileo, Voyager, STS, ISS, Hubble, Compton, Chandra, Curiosity……
    Budgets are goals. That’s why we have a reserve. But we should do much, much better.

    on 1st stage thrust osculation. I did ask about it a year or so ago and the ATK people I talked to said it’s not a problem. Not the same story as 2008-2010

    We all want the something, people going to the stars! Vote for people that will help make that happen.

    NASA will use the next 11 Falcon 9 launchs to help SpaceX prove what it needs to prove to fly high value missions. The USAFneed not. Lets hope the next 11 flights are a great succuss.

    Go spaceX, limping to orbit is still orbit!.

  • NeilShipley

    TH Try stringing a sentence together will you and forming a coherent argument. I for one, can’t be bothered trying to make sense of your ramblings and disjointed phrases. I’m surprised anyone did.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Orion cargo was taken out of the way in 2007 to make room for COTS. No competing mission. Griffin made that decision.”

    Still wrong and my reference isn’t Wikipedia. It’s NASA’s own press release. I repeat again, at the time that the cargo variant was terminated, NASA had to find funding to pay for an additional two years of design and two additional abort tests on Orion. COTS wasn’t even part of the equation. See NASA PR excerpt below:

    “NASA has modified its contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. of Littleton, Colo., to design, test and build the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

    The updated contract contains three significant changes. Two years have been added to the design phase. Two test flights of Orion’s launch abort system have been added. And production of a pressurized cargo carrier for the International Space Station has been deleted from the initial design phase…

    NASA awarded the Orion prime contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. on Aug. 31, 2006. At that time, the development portion of the contract was valued at $3.9 billion with a period of performance through December 2011. This contract modification, in the amount of $385 million, brings the total value to approximately $4.3 billion and adjusts the development period of performance through December 2013.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2007/apr/HQ_C0721_Orion_Contract_Mod.html

    “That’s one!”

    I referenced four missions, including two major current missions and Apollo, across four different references. See my last post.

    And learn to count.

    “on 1st stage thrust osculation.”

    It’s “oscillation”, not “osculation”.

    Learn to write in the english language.

    “I did ask about it a year or so ago and the ATK people I talked to said it’s not a problem.”

    I hope you can understand why we are underwhelmed, to say the least, by your sources.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia.

    At least information on Wikipedia is backed up by references – everything you provide seems to lack independent confirmation… ;-)

    For instance:

    on 1st stage thrust osculation. I did ask about it a year or so ago and the ATK people I talked to said it’s not a problem.

    My brothers friend said that his cousins next-door neighbor heard at a 7-11 in Utah that thrust oscillation CONTINUES to be a problem. And I believe my brother more than I believe you.

    I’ll let E.P. continue to worry about this problem, but since the Liberty has no customers and no business case, I can focus my attention on more likely space transportation systems.

  • josh

    @ tom

    would you please stop to post this contrafactual bs? altair *was*cancelled, and ares 1 was *not* ready for “production” (not even close). learn you facts and stop insulting the knowledgeable members of this community while being completey clueless yourself.

  • @josh
    Like most SLS huggers, Tom don’t need no stinkin’ facts. No matter how many reliable sources with solid evidence are stated, they can’t be right simply because it isn’t what he wants to believe.

    Perhaps “osculation” was indeed the right word for Tom to use, since he is willing to “kiss” the facts goodbye.

  • tom hancock

    When the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the loser. – Socrates

  • “on 1st stage thrust osculation.”

    What did it kiss? This sounds almost obscene.

  • common sense

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    “My brothers friend said that his cousins next-door neighbor heard at a 7-11 in Utah that thrust oscillation CONTINUES to be a problem. And I believe my brother more than I believe you.”

    Look who is talking!!!

    It was not in Utah, it was in New Mexico. It was not a 7-11. It was right there in the desert UFO Highway. And more importantly it was not about thrust “osculation” but about wave-rider osculation design.

    So who’s wrong now?

    Ah!

  • Vladislaw

    Dark Blue Nine, it appears Tom has taken my wiki linked comments and transfered them onto you. He seems to be answering both of us in the same post.

    Lincoln did not mention wiki, it didn’t exist, but I am sure that Lincoln did know you do not shoot the messenger. The wiki post has linked refrences. Dark Blue provided the actual links to the source material.

    You are committing a fallacy of logic, argue the facts, not the messenger. The fact remains . COTS was around and being funded for 16 months BEFORE the cargo version of Orion was defunded. As DBN stated, more money was needed for Ares I and Griffin took it from the cargo version account and eliminated that option just as the Promethus Program was also defunded.

  • Coastal Ron

    tom hancock wrote @ October 9th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Socrates

    You do realize that by using that quote that you are slandering those that have merely questioned your lack of supporting facts?

    Nevertheless, another famous quote comes to mind:

    If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen… ;-)

  • josh

    “When the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the loser. – Socrates”

    that would make you the loser of this debate.

  • josh

    btw: it’s telling that instead of making a valiant (if futile) attempt to back up your claims you instead posted another trite one-liner. don’t expect to be taken seriously around here in the future.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 8th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Except it will.

    ‘Progress doesn’t do that.’

    Soyuz has, can and does. =eyeroll=

  • @Tom Hancock
    “When the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the loser. – Socrates.”
    No slander. Just an observation that you conveniently ignore evidence that you don’t like.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Dark Blue Nine, it appears Tom has taken my wiki linked comments and transfered them onto you. He seems to be answering both of us in the same post.”

    No worries. I realized as much. I just wanted to reiterate my evidence, which came from a NASA website (and concurs with your argument/evidence).

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA [Putin fanboi] wrote @ October 9th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Soyuz has, can and does [bring back significant cargo].

    What an ignorant statement.

    If the Soyuz is carrying it’s normal complement of three people, there is only room for small items to be stuffed in and around the cabin – haven’t you ever seen the inside of the Soyuz reentry module? It sure doesn’t sound like you have.

    Just to refresh everyones memory, Dragon is scheduled to bring back a total of 1,995 lbs of cargo (plus packaging), and the manifest can be seen here (both up and down cargo).

    If Russia were to dedicate one complete Soyuz mission to just cargo, they could probably bring back some of this, but they wouldn’t have the internal power for the freezers, and the trajectory the Soyuz reentry module takes is pretty brutal compared to what the Dragon offers.

    All in all, the new generation is passing the old. Get used to it.

    Cargo now. Crew next.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Just to refresh everyones memory, Dragon is scheduled to bring back a total of 1,995 lbs of cargo (plus packaging), and the manifest can be seen here (both up and down cargo).

    If Russia were to dedicate one complete Soyuz mission to just cargo, they could probably bring back some of this.”

    To be specific, a Soyuz could only bring back one-tenth of the CRS-1 mission’s downmass. Soyuz only has 100kg of downmass, or 220lbs, compared to the 1,995lbs of downmass on CRS-1.

    http://www.spaceflight101.com/soyuz-spacecraft-information.html

    In terms of downmass, NASA would have to buy ten Soyuz missions to do what one Dragon is doing on the CRS-1 mission.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ October 9th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Soyuz only has 100kg of downmass, or 220lbs, compared to the 1,995lbs of downmass on CRS-1.

    I should have stated “a Soyuz flight without crew devoted only to cargo”, but your example highlights the small amount of space that is available when the Soyuz is carrying three crew.

    In any case, the Soyuz is not designed for cargo transport, so it’s not even an option at this point despite what DCSCA wishes.

  • pathfinder_01

    DCSA, Soyuz was designed to hold humans first that is why it only holds 100kg…it comes down with crew and 100kg.

    Progress although derived from it has only 7.6M cubed worth of volume because it only uses the foward section for dry cargo. Water and Propellant is in what would be the renentry module of Soyuz.

    In short if you want to replace Dragon with Soyuz, you would first have to seriously modify Soyuz. Not to mention Dragon has a large hacth.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “I’ll let E.P. continue to worry about this problem, but since the Liberty has no customers and no business case, I can focus my attention on more likely space transportation systems.”

    Gosh, gee, leaving it all up to me, CR? Remember all of the propaganda that ATK has managed to spread among the ignorant? Remember Ryan’s budget, which features cancelling everything else to restart Ares 1? Remember that $9 billion wasted on Ares1? Remember I’ve had a stroke? Remember all my typos, dropped words, ect?

    And now I’m supposed to do the job of NASA Safety and NASA’s IG?
    And you’re not sending along any money to do all of this?

    I’m sorry, but I’ll have to decline your offer.